Once again, our friends the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist provide a lovely background to today’s glorious antiphon:
The title “Adonai,” was originally used by the Israelites instead of pronouncing the name of God as revealed to Moses at the burning bush. Not only did God tell Moses His name, but He also gave him the Law, which paradoxically sets us free. Although our culture tells us that freedom is for doing whatever we like, our faith tells us that we have been given a free will so that we might be free to choose the good.
O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.
St. Catherine’s Monastery is on Mt. Sinai. It is the oldest monastery in the world, on very holy ground, and the prayers never stop. The calling, the reaching out to Adonai never stops, for all our sakes. I love this book detailing its Icons, and giving glimpses of the chapel and the life of the monks. Here is sunrise, and, perhaps my favorite in the psalter, Psalm 90:
O Lord, you have been our refuge
from one generation to the next.
Before the mountains were born
or the earth or the world brought forth,
you are God, without beginning or end.
You turn men back to dust
and say: “Go back, sons of men.”
To your eyes a thousand years
are like yesterday, come and gone,
no more than a watch in the night.
You sweep men away like a dream,
like the grass which springs up in the morning.
In the morning it springs up and flowers:
by evening it withers and fades.
So we are destroyed in your anger,
struck with terror in your fury.
Our guilt lies open before you;
our secrets in the light of your face.
Our life is over like a sigh.
Our span is seventy years,
or eighty for those who are strong.
And most of these are emptiness and pain.
They pass swiftly and we are gone.
Who understands the power of your anger
and fears the strength of your fury?
Make us know the shortness of our life
that we may gain wisdom of heart.
Lord, relent! Is your anger for ever?
Show pity to your servants.
In the morning, fill us with your love;
we shall exult and rejoice all our days.
Give us joy to balance our affliction
for the years when we knew misfortune.
Show forth your work to your servants;
let your glory shine on their children.
Let the favor of the Lord be upon us:
give success to the work of our hands.
(give success to the work of our hands).
And here is the unamplified call to Vespers, for the monks on Mt. Sinai:
See also: Dec 17 – O Sapientia
Julie at Happy Catholic has more.
A charmer of a piece on commercialized Christmas from our friend, Fr. James Martin
And Deacon Greg looks at another holy mountainous place. Sort of. More on that here and here