Saturday, December 17, 2005

O Sapientia

O WISDOM, who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: COME, and teach us the way of prudence.

In these days with debate on intelligent design often dominating the Christian discussion of the origin of the cosmos comes the ancient prayer of the Church--the first O Antiphon, O Sapientia in Latin, O Sophia in Greek and O Wisdom in English. The "wisdom" of God which encompasses all of creation and orders all of creation is invoked to "teach us" the way.

In some ways this is another version of "God's ways are not our ways" and so we need to be taught that there is a higher power than ourselves guiding all things to "mightily and sweetly" even though this is beyond our natural perception.

Can we be taught to this way?

Yes, and this is precisely why dying to ourselves is so necessary if we are to follow Christ. It is also in my estimation the most neglected aspect of following Christ and the reason why we make so little progress in the spiritual life. We refuse to leave the "old man" behind. Like Augustine we hear the voices of our past crying out to us, but unlike Augustine we do not leave them.

In order to "see what the Lord has made known to us" we must go where the Angels tell us that we can find Him "in the House of Bread with Mary His Mother"--beyond the natural perception of the Shepherds who first heard the message and beyond the natural perception of those of us who living in the 20-05 still travel to encounter him in the Eucharist in the Churches that reverence His Mother (both in the East and West--isn't it strange how Eucharistic belief and devotion to Mary are maintained only in those churches?)

The Russian Orthodox theologian Fr. Sergius Bulgakov devoted his life to working out a theology of Sophia (again, the Greek word for wisdom)and what he taught fits in well with the first "O Antiphon". The Sophia of God is both within the Trinity but also within creation--in other words within you. Unleashing that Wisdom within you starts by inviting it, realizing that you need it, realizing that the foolishness of man is the wisdom of God.

O Wisdom...come!