Pope Benedict XVI reposes: a reflection on his life and legacy


Gaudete in Domino semper: Rejoice in the Lord always (cf Philippians 4:4). These words we heard only recently in Advent and though they may at first appear strange in connection with the passing of an individual, they express our Christian Hope and our faith regarding the ultimate destination for those who are baptised in Christ. They express the joy with which we should all hope to approach our dying and the prayer that Jesus will come to take us home Dominus prope est: the Lord is nigh (cf Philippians 4:5).

As a Christian, Pope Benedict held to the belief that those who are baptized into Christ are destined for eternal life in Heaven. This hope is based on Jesus’ promise that He has gone to prepare a place for us (John 14:2). As Pope Benedict stated in his first encyclical Deus Caritas Est, and which I too quoted only yesterday in my epistle for the New Year, “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). Therefore, we have hope and assurance that those who have been baptized into Christ will one day be with Him in Heaven for eternity.

Pope Benedict XVI was the 265th Pope of the Catholic Church, and his life was a testament to his faith in Jesus Christ and service to His Church. Born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger on April 16, 1927 in Bavaria, Germany, he was ordained a priest in 1951 and consecrated as Bishop of Munich-Freising in 1977. In the consistory of 27 June 1977, he was named Cardinal Priest of Santa Maria Consolatrice al Tiburtino by Pope Paul VI. He served as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 1981 until his election as Pope on April 19th, 2005.

Pope Benedict XVI was known for his intelligence, humility, and commitment to justice and peace. He sought to bring unity within the Church by emphasizing its core teachings and through his novel “hermeneutic of continuity” approach tried to reconcile the divergent doctrinal and liturgical trends following Vatican Council II. Particularly notable was his attempt at restoring to the wider Church the Traditional Latin Mass through his apostolic letter “Summorum Pontificum” (2007) and his attempt to reconcile Anglicans with the Church through the apostolic constitution “Anglicanorum coetibus” (2009). He also lifted the excommunications of the Society of St Pius X bishops in 2009 bringing then fresh hope for restoration to the Church of the perennial Faith.

Pope Benedict wrote three encyclicals: Deus Caritas Est (2005), Spe Salvi (2007), and Caritas in Veritate (2009). He also convened two Synods of Bishops, held four consistories to create new cardinals, and visited various countries such as the United Kingdom, Brazil, the United States, Cameroon, Angola and Australia. Of particular note were his catechetical Wednesday Audiences on various themes but particularly on the teachings of St Augustine of Hippo, of whom he was a noted scholar. Pope Benedict wrote extensively on topics such as faith, the Church, and the modern world and he was a strong advocate for the sanctity of life and consistently defended traditional Christian moral teaching.

Sadly his pontificate was also marred by scandals, the revelatory extent of clerical sexual abuse in America that broke under Pope John Paul II continued to expose major flaws in Vatican policy and the handling of abuse cases by the Church worldwide. The “Vatileaks Scandal” in which leaked documents showed infighting among Benedict’s aides and general dysfunction in the Curia; financial corruption and allegations about the existence of a so-called “gay lobby” that used blackmail to protect its members. He was never favoured by the MSM who constantly misportrayed or deliberately misconstrued his meaning when reporting his speeches and negativized his socially conservative views.

The legacy of Pope Benedict XVI will no doubt be analysed and proposed by others far more insightful and informed than I over the days, months and years to come. History will be written and re-written as new sources and testimonies come to light. From a deeply personal perspective, I will mourn the loss of one who, of all contemporary Popes, did the most to – and might have succeeded in – restoring orthodoxy to the Catholic Church; how his pontificate was ultimately impeded, I am sure will one day be revealed, “For there is not any thing secret that shall not be made manifest, nor hidden, that shall not be known and come abroad.” (Luke 8:17)

I am consoled by and offer to you these words of the apostle, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18) That Pope Benedict suffered is obvious and in his retirement in the Mater Ecclesiae monastery within the Vatican precincts, he spent days in recollection and prayer; repentance and reparation. It is my prayer for Benedict XVI and for yourselves who strive to hold fast to Christ, trusting in His promises, that we will realise our Christian Hope and Rejoice in the Lord always (cf Philippians 4:4)!

With my prayers for you all in consolation


S. Silvestri Papæ et Conf. MMXXII A.D.



Deus, qui inter summos sacerdótes fámulum tuum Benedictum ineffábili tua dispositióne connumerári voluisti: praesta, quáesumus; ut, qui Unigéniti Filii tui vices in terris gerébat, sanctórum tuórum Pontíficum consortio perpétuo aggregétur. Per eundem Christum, Dóminum nostrum. Amen.

God, Who in Thy ineffable providence, did will that Thy servant Benedict should be numbered among the high priests, grant, we beseech Thee, that he, who on earth held the place of Thine Only-begotten Son, may be joined forevermore to the fellowship of Thy holy pontiffs. Through the same Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Please note that all material on this website is the Intellectual Property (IP) of His Grace, the Titular Archbishop of Selsey and protected by Copyright and Intellectual Property laws of the United Kingdom, United States and International law. Reproduction and distribution without written authorisation of the owner is prohibited.

(©)The Titular Archbishop of Selsey 2012-2022. All Rights Reserved.

“Dum spiro spero”: a pastoral epistle for New Year 2023


“Dum spiro spero” (While I breathe, I hope) was the personal motto inscribed by King Charles I of England in a folio of Shakespeare’s works discovered as one of the last books he read before his execution in 1649. Here in the UK following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, we enter 2023 and another Carolingian reign, that of King Charles III in a world filled with uncertainty. Globally we have faced immense challenges over the past year – a pandemic, war, economic hardship, and social divides that have been deepened by politics. The crisis for the Faith in the Church is still extant. These issues remain unresolved, yet there is hope for us who breathe to find new strength and courage to continue forward.

As Christians, we know that hope is never lost. As I write, Catholics and others of goodwill around the world are praying for Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI. May his life and example inspire us to continue in faith and hope. As we pray for whatever God wills for him, let us remember the Scripture that reminds us: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11). Let us trust in God’s will for each of us and remember the future He ultimately desires for us all, to be with Him.

The apostle tells us that “Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:5) This New Year’s Day, let us embrace this hope and use it to guide our lives. Let us also remember that God is with us in every moment and that He will never leave us or forsake us. He is our source of strength and comfort, and He will give us the courage to face whatever comes our way. We can put our trust in Him and know that His love will never fail.

In this New Year, I invite you to join me in reflecting on what is most important in life. Even amidst the difficulties of our current reality, let us remember that God is with us at all times and His love never fails. Let us be filled with gratitude for our blessings – both big and small – and use these gifts to bring hope and healing to our world. Let us also strive to be more mindful of the needs of others and practice compassion towards those who are different from us. Together, let us be an example of God’s love and grace in this New Year.

Let us take this time as an opportunity for growth – not only in our understanding of faith but also in our relationships with one another. We are all called to be ambassadors of peace; may we strive each day to embody this calling through acts of kindness, mercy, and justice. May we use this New Year as a chance to open ourselves up even further to God’s plan for our lives so that He can work through us for His glory!

As we embark on this journey into 2023 together, may the Lord bless you abundantly! Remember it is only while we breathe that we may attain our Christian Hope! May your faith grow stronger every day as you seek Him above all else! Amen!

With my prayers for you all this New Year


Dominica Infra Octavam Nativitatis MMXXII A.D.

Please note that all material on this website is the Intellectual Property (IP) of His Grace, the Titular Archbishop of Selsey and protected by Copyright and Intellectual Property laws of the United Kingdom, United States and International law. Reproduction and distribution without written authorisation of the owner is prohibited.

(©)The Titular Archbishop of Selsey 2012-2023 All Rights Reserved.

ORDO January 2023


11 Jan 1958 ✠Carmel Henry Carfora – reposed in the Lord
30 Jan ✠Francis Everden Glenn OSC

31 Jan 2020 Mt Revd Rommel Banag (sub con) – ordained to the sacred presbyterate
31 Jan 2020 Revd Juvanni (Cyril) A. Bernales (sub con) – ordained to the sacred presbyterate
31 Jan 2020 Mt Revd Joash Diaz Jaime (sub con) – ordained to the sacred presbyterate
31 Jan 2020 Revd José Rodelon Portez (sub con) – ordained to the sacred presbyterate

Lumen Gentium V: The Christmas Octave

A repeat series of conferences by His Grace for Advent through to Candlemas exploring the Sunday liturgies, the themes, Scripture lessons, Propers and customs of the Traditional Latin Rite. Titled “Lumen gentium” (light to the nations) the series will continue after Advent into the New Year through Christmas and Epiphany to Candlemas.

What is it Holy Mother Church wants us to experience, to believe, to live from the worship she has developed and offered over two thousand years to adore and glorify God? What is she asking us to believe about God, about ourselves in relationship with Him and what does this mean for our lives and how and why we should worship Him and manifest this belief in our lives?

Taking the Proper (Latin: proprium) of the Mass i.e. those variable parts of the liturgy reflecting the liturgical season, or of a particular saint or significant event; the Archbishop will explain the Scriptural derivation, context and thus relevance to the theme of the liturgy. From the Introit through to the Communion Antiphon, the Archbishop will explain the origins of the verses and the “anamnesis” i.e. what we are supposed to remember or recall of God’s saving deeds.

His Grace will also take us through the lections i.e. the readings of the Mass, using exegesis to explain the context and thus the relevance of the reading to the theme of the liturgy. Part bible-study and part spiritual reflection, the Archbishop will draw out the themes Holy Church wishes us to understand from the Scriptures.

Finally, His Grace will explain how all this information may be relevant to our lives as Christians; what it means for worship, what it means for our understanding and knowledge, what it means for our lives and the application of these lessons to our living out of the Faith. If there’s time… His Grace will take questions live from viewers in the comments!

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“Gaudium magnum”: a pastoral epistle for Christmas 2022


Gaudium magnum[i] (great joy) is how the angel described to the shepherds the first Christmas, but is this the experience of most people today in the 21C? The people displaced by war in Ukraine and other places, the persecuted Christians of the underground church in China and in other places, the homeless sleeping rough on our streets, the families struggling with the rise in the cost of living, the elderly frightened to heat their homes… the lonely, will they experience “great joy” this Christmas?

The word “Christmas” is derived from the old English phrase “Christes maesse”, meaning “Christ’s Mass”. This title reminds us of the real reason for the season, which is the remembrance of the birth of a Saviour, the Messiah, our Redeemer, Jesus, the Christ.

The Mass is the re-presentation of the sacrifice of Calvary, the testimony of God’s love in Christ for us, Who sacrifices Himself for our trespasses and restores us to right relationship with God. This ultimate sacrifice for the redemption of the world is why we celebrate Christmas and is the meaning of its name.

Without the Christ i.e., the Saviour, without the Mass i.e., the Cross, there is no point in feasting and celebrating what is meant to express our joy, hope and faith in God’s love.

St Pius X wrote, “Without any doubt there is a desire in all hearts for peace. But how foolish is he who seeks this peace apart from God; for if God be driven out, justice is banished, and once justice fails, all hope of peace is lost.”[ii] Sadly, dark forces are striving to negate the whole point of Christmas, and in so doing quash true joy from our lives.

Corrupted by Commercialism and Secularisation

Regrettably, over time, Christmas has been slowly diminished by consumerism and secularism. Rather than being a spiritual holiday, it has become a period of shopping, socialising, and indulgence. The authentic intent of the holiday has been forgotten and the emphasis on materialism has stripped Christmas of its true felicity and its genuine elation.

Christmas, for most people, is to be mired in debt, anxiety, and fear of not meeting expectations, a far cry from its original purpose of being an expressive and demonstrative time of faith, hope and love. Regrettably, it has become a time of material worship, hopelessness, and self-centeredness. This is having a deleterious effect on our children, our society and even our faith.

So many Christians have succumbed to this secularised version of Christmas, allowing consumerism and materialism to take over a religious season which was to symbolize trust, expectation, and affection. Instead of honouring our faith, we have allowed our observance to devolve into a season of materialism, unhappiness, and selfishness, the very antithesis of its true meaning and purpose.

Ignorance of our inherited traditions and customs, theology, and history has caused our contemporary witness to become distorted by the values of the world. Forfeiting our unique faith heritage, losing our religious culture and by doing so depriving ourselves and others of the spiritual richness and significance of the season. This infidelity to Christ and His sacrifice on Calvary is why for so many, this season is wretched and despairing.

Our surrender to the secularist narrative and failure to denounce the consumerist zeitgeist is why we fail as ambassadors of the Gospel in our own time and generation. Our apathy and thus capitulation have allowed the corruption of our holiday season and in doing so we have robbed the world of the true spirit and meaning of Christmas.

Reclaim by restoring Christmas!

It is paramount that we re-establish Christmas as a period of joy, hope, and love. We must remember its historical roots, its spiritual significance, and its true meaning. We must strive to reclaim the holiday from its secularisation and consumerism and bring back to the forefront the values of faith, hope and love that are at the core of what Christmas should be about.

In the first instance, we should observe appropriately the pre-season of Advent, through genuine prayer and fasting, not indulging with others in pre-emptive celebrations that spoil the eventual joy of the Christmas season.

We must example ourselves the reconciliation and mercy that is at the heart of the true reason for Christmas and strive to make peace with all. Humbling ourselves to apologise for past hurts or even to accept the contrition of others towards us. Particularly among family, but also acquaintances and colleagues. Let us restore the sense of “goodwill” that was so redolent of this season.

We should encourage thoughtfulness, kindness, and compassion by spending time in activities that reflect the true spirit of Christmas, such as carolling for charities, visiting the sick, elderly, or lonely, volunteering at shelters or soup kitchens, and other ways that express consideration and service. We should strive to demonstrate our faith and how it can make a difference in our communities.

We should take the time to explain the spiritual significance of Christmas and its true meaning to our families, friends, and colleagues. Not shying away from explaining why we are volunteering in charitable activities or attending religious services. We should make a conscious effort to send greeting cards and buy gifts that are meaningful and have a purpose that can also help to restore the meaning of Christmas.

We must counter the concept that Christmas ends on December 26th and restore an extended celebration, like the traditional twelve days of Christmas, that for centuries enabled our forebears to forget their apprehension of the darker days, long nights, and depression regarding the winter months. We should try to reserve our celebratory gatherings and socialising events for the period after Christmas Day, making a point and using any influence we have over the organisation of such events; in times past this was the customary time for seasonal parties, and we could make it so again.

We should rediscover our seasonal customs and traditions and catechise ourselves about their religious and theological significance. This is best done by supporting and restoring authentic Catholic tradition and spirituality, the sacred liturgy and devotional life that in times past turned sinners into saints and formed the basis of our culture and way of life.

We should restore the concept of Christmas as primarily a family-centred celebration, recalling the experience and example of the Holy Family, challenging the rampant individualist attitude prevalent today and fostering an appreciation of familial ties. From there, we can expand the concept to include friends and neighbours and hope to restore “society”.

Pope St. Leo I, “Our Saviour, Dear Friends, was born today: let us rejoice! For there is no proper place for sadness, when we keep the birthday of the Life, which destroys the fear of mortality and brings us the joy of promised eternity. No one is kept from sharing in this happiness. There is for all one common measure of joy, because as our Lord the destroyer of sin and death finds none free from charge, so is He come to free us all. Let the saint exult in that he draws near to victory. Let the sinner be glad in that he is invited to pardon. Let the gentle take courage in that he is called to life.”[iii]

We should strive to ensure that our celebrations are not merely a matter of exchanging gifts, but that we find time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas and its spiritual dimension. We should not forget to pray together, worship together, serve each other and in so doing mirror Him “who came first to serve us”[iv] by offering us salvation, restoration, and reconciliation with God.

Finally, we must not forget that Christmas is ultimately about Jesus and the transformative hope that He brings, for as the carol states, “the hopes and fears of all the years, are met in Thee tonight…”[v] We should strive to re-establish Him at the centre of our lives as we celebrate His coming into this world and hope thereby to bring true “great joy” to all people.

With my prayers for you all this holy season


In Vigilia Nativitatis Domini MMXXII A.D.

[i] Luke 2:10 “And the angel said to them: Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people:”

[ii] “E supremi” October 4, 1903

[iii] Pope St. Leo I, Sermon on the Feast of the Nativity

[iv] Cf Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

[v] O little town of Bethlehem” Rector Phillips Brooks (1835-1903) of Philadelphia, wrote the words to O Little Town of Bethlehem in 1868, following a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He was inspired by the view of Bethlehem from the hills of Palestine especially at night time. His church organist Lewis Redner (1831-1908) wrote the melody to O Little Town of Bethlehem for the Sunday school children’s choir.

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Please note that all material on this website is the Intellectual Property (IP) of His Grace, the Titular Archbishop of Selsey and protected by Copyright and Intellectual Property laws of the United Kingdom, United States and International law. Reproduction and distribution without written authorisation of the owner is prohibited.

(©)The Titular Archbishop of Selsey 2012-20232. All Rights Reserved.

O Virgo virginum

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Although the antiphons and dates before have been fairly universally recognised throughout western Christendom, an alternative English medieval practice arose of moving all of the antiphons forward by one day (commencing therefore on 16 December) and adding an additional (eighth) antiphon on 23 December, with the acrostic thus becoming Vero cras, “truly, tomorrow”. Perhaps an example of why England was known as “Mary’s Dowry” because of the high affection held for her in this country? This is the antiphon O Virgo virginum (O Virgin of virgins), with the following text:

O Virgo virginum, quomodo fiet istud? Quia nec primam similem visa es nec habere sequentem. Filiae Jerusalem, quid me admiramini? Divinum est mysterium hoc quod cernitis.

English: O Virgin of virgins, how shall this be? For neither before thee was any like thee, nor shall there be after. Daughters of Jerusalem, why marvel ye at me? The thing which ye behold is a divine mystery.

It seems appropriate then to conclude our reflections on the O Antiphons with this last, on this the eve of the Nativity, when Our blessed Lady will fulfil all that God had intended for her from the beginning of the ages, “before the world was, I was” ever with the Son Whom she is about to bear for our redemption.

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O Immanuel

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The seventh great “O” is: O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster, exspectatio gentium, et Salvator earum: veni ad salvandum nos Domine Deus noster.

English: O Emmanuel, God with us, our King and lawgiver, the expected of the nations and their Savior: come to save us, O Lord our God.

It reflects the following prophecies and Scripture:

O Emmanuel, God with us, our King and lawgiver, the expected of the nations and their Saviour:

  • immanuel03Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14 [also Isaiah 8:8; Isaiah 8:10] The Hebrew word ‘virgin’ occurs seven times in the Old Testament. It means a young woman of marriageable age, normally a virgin (Gen. 24:43). The Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament made about 150 b.c.) translated with a word more specifically meaning “virgin.” The New Testament understands Isaiah to be designating the Virgin Mary (Matt. 1:23). See “The Virgin Birth of Jesus” at Luke 1:27. Immanuel means “God with us.” The name conveys God’s promise to save, bless, and protect His children. Tradition identifies the child as the Messiah, a divine personage whose birth is above nature. It equates the Child named “Immanuel” with the Child possessing God’s titles in 9:6, and with the “Branch” of ch. 11.
  • Isaiah7.14Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Matthew 1:23 Jesus’ conception by a virgin is miraculous, announcing that God will soon redeem His people and is present with them. This quotation is the first of a number of Old Testament references Matthew uses to show that Jesus fulfills the Old Testament. A parallel thought is found in  John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. Highlighting the fulfilment of the Messianic prophecies in Christ (see O Adonai)
  • And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts. Haggai 2:7 (see O Rex gentium)

come to save us, O Lord our God.

  • Again the Church expresses the prayer of the redeemed who recognise Christ as the “Word” i.e. the “logos”, the “Ruach Elohim” the Creator with God of the world, see O Sapientia.

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O Rex gentium

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The sixth great “O” is: O Rex gentium, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum: veni, et salva hominem, quem de limo formasti.

English: O King of the gentiles and their desired One, the cornerstone that makes both one: come, and deliver man, whom you formed out of the dust of the earth.

It reflects the following prophecies and Scripture:

O King of the gentiles and their desired One,

  • council_in_heaven2And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Revelation 15:3 Most probably the song of deliverance after the passage of the Red Sea (Exodus 15.), to which this bears a general resemblance. Moses is called the “servant of God” in Exodus 14:31 and elsewhere. The song of Moses is also the song of the Lamb; the Old Testament and the New Testament Churches are one. Saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty (cf. Exodus 15:7, “And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them;” also Psalm 111:2; Psalm 139:14). This song, like that in Revelation 4:8, is addressed to the “Lord God Almighty.” Christ is in this song addressed as a divine person, as Lord of all, God over all, blessed for ever, the Almighty God, as His works declare Him to be; His works of creation, providence, and redemption, which are all great and marvellous, particularly the accomplishment of the glorious things spoken of His church, and the destruction of His enemies, which are here designed (see O Adonai and O Clavis David).

the cornerstone…

  • The Corner StoneTherefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. Isaiah 28:16 [comp. The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. Psalm 118:22] In contrast with the insecure refuge and false ground of confidence whereon the nobles relied, the prophet puts forward the one sure “Rock” on which complete dependence may be placed – which he declares that Jehovah is laying, or “has laid,” in Zion as a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation. The imagery is, no doubt, drawn from the practice of Oriental kings, and notably Solomon, to employ foundation-stones of enormous size and weight at the corners of buildings. Some of those uncovered at the corners of Solomon’s temple by the Palestine Exploration Fund are more than thirty-eight feet long, and weigh above a hundred tons (see ‘Our Work in Palestine,’ pp. 38, 115). But the reference cannot, of course, be to the material structure of the temple as Israel’s true refuge. Rather, Jehovah himself would seem to be the Rock (Isaiah 26:4; Isaiah 30:29, etc.) intended; and hence the application to Christ by the writers of the New Testament (Romans 9:33; Ephesians 2:20; 1 Peter 2:6-8) was natural and easy.

…that makes both one:

  • High_Priest_Jesus_heaven_Ark-of-the-Covenant“Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?” Matthew 21:42 [Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17] By the Old Testament saints, and by saints in all ages, who have ventured their souls on Him, and laid the whole stress of their salvation upon Him, and have been saved by Him; and by Satan, and his principalities and powers, by his temptations of Him in the wilderness, and by his attacks upon Him in the garden, and on the cross, and found Him to be an immovable stone, and were broken by Him; and by His divine Father, who tried His faithfulness by trusting Him with all His elect, and the salvation of them; and His great strength, by laying upon Him all their sins, and the punishment due unto them. Some render it, “a stone of trial”, or “a trying stone” by which men are tried, and discovered to be what they are, whether believers or unbelievers, sincere Christians or hypocrites; which may be known by their conduct and behaviour to Christ; if they come to Him as a living stone, and He is precious to them, they are true believers; but if He is to them a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, they are unbelievers, and reprobate persons, 1 Peter 2:4,
  • This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Acts 4:11 So the Apostles preach themselves that Christ is the foundation of all their ministry, so that the churches “…are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” Ephesians 2:20

come, and deliver man, whom you formed out of the dust of the earth.

  • So the Church expresses the prayer of the redeemed who recognise Christ as the “Word” i.e. the “logos”, the “Ruach Elohim” the Creator with God of the world, see O Sapientia.

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O Oriens

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The fifth great “O” is: O Oriens, splendor lucis aeternae, et sol iustitiae: veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris et umbra mortis.

English: O dawn of the east, brightness of light eternal, and sun of justice: come, and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

It reflects the following prophecies and Scripture:

O dawn of the east, brightness of light eternal, and sun of justice:

  • desert_sunriseBut unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. Malachi 4:2 The sun which is righteousness, who radiates the healing rays of salvation. This Divine righteousness shall shine forth upon them that live in holy fear of the the Name of God, filling and flooding them with joy and light, healing all wounds, removing all miseries, making them incalculably blessed. The Fathers generally apply the title of “Sun of Righteousness” to Christ, who is the Source of all justification and enlightenment and happiness, and who is called  “The Lord our Righteousness.” (Jeremiah 23:6)
    The happiness of the righteous is illustrated by a homely image drawn from pastoral pursuits. They had been, as it were, hidden in the time of affliction and temptation; they shall go forth boldly now, free and exulting, like calves driven from the stall to pasture (comp. Psalm 114:4, 6; Song of Solomon 2:8, 17).
  • Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, Luke 1:78 So praises Zacharias in his noble hymn, all this tender care for Israel (though really for all humanity, if he hadn’t guessed it) is owing to the deep love of God. Whereby “the Dayspring from on high hath visited us.” In his temple service at Jerusalem the priest must have seen the ruddy dawn rise grandly over the dark chain of the distant mountains, and lighting up with a blaze of golden glory the everlasting hills as they stood around Jerusalem. This same thought has ever been held by the Church who in her worship bids us face East towards the Lord. The thought which pictured the advent of Messiah as a sunrise was a favourite with the prophets, “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For behold… Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of the; rising” (Isaiah 60:1-3). “Unto you that fear my Name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings” (Malachi 4:2).

come, and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

  • walkedindarknessThe people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. Isaiah 9:2 All the world was “in darkness” when Christ came; but here the Jews especially seem to be intended. “The Light of the world,” “the Sun of righteousness,” “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world,” “first broke on man in that northern tract” by the way of the sea, “when Jesus came forward to teach and to preach in “Galilee of the Gentiles.” For thirty years He had dwelt at Nazareth, in Zebulon. There He had first come forward to teach in a synagogue (Luke 4:16-21); in Galilee He had performed His first miracles (John 2:11; John 4:54); at Capernaum. “Upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim,” He commenced His preaching of repentance (Matthew 4:13-17). The “light” first streamed forth in this quarter, glorifying the region on which contempt had long been poured, before bursting forth across the world, through the rays of the apostolic mission reaching through the ages to every quarter of the globe through their preaching of the Gospel.


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O Clavis David

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The fourth great “O” is: O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel; qui aperis, et nemo claudit; claudis, et nemo aperit: veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

English: O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel; you open and no one can shut; you shut and no one can open: Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house, those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

It reflects the following prophecies and Scripture:

O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel;

  • sceptre“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 (comp. Isaiah 7:14-16, where the promise of “a child,” “a son,” is first made – a child who was, like this Child, to be “God with us”). The word translated “government” (misrah) occurs only here and in verse 7, it is probably to be connected with sat, “prince,” and Israel. Government was regarded as a burden, to be born on the back or shoulders, and was sometimes symbolized by a key laid upon the shoulder. Vizier means “burdened.” The Latin writers often speak of the civil power as borne on the shoulders of magistrates (Cic., ‘Orat. pro Flacc,’ § 95; Plin., ‘Paneg.,’ § 10).
    “His name shall be called.” It is not important whether we view what follows as one name or several. Isaiah does not mean that the “Child” should bear as a name, or names, any of the expressions, but only that they should be truly applicable to him.
    “Wonderful” The Messiah would be “wonderful” in His nature as God-Man; in His teaching, which “astonished” those who heard it (Matthew 7:28); in His doings (Isaiah 25:1); in the circumstances of His birth and death; in His resurrection, and in His ascension. “Wonder” would be the first sentiment which His manifestation would provoke, and hence this descriptive epithet is placed first.
    “Counsellor” As the Word, as Wisdom itself, as He who says, “Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am Understanding” (Proverbs 8:14), He is well named “Counsellor.” None will ever seek His counsel in vain, much less repent of following it.
    “The mighty God” The term “El”, God, had been previously applied to the Messiah only in Psalm 45:6. It denotes in Isaiah absolute divinity; it is never used hyperbolically or metaphorically.
    “The Everlasting Father”  If the term “Father,” applied to our Lord, sits uncomfortably with us, we must remember that the distinction of three Persons in the Godhead had not yet been revealed (in Scripture). But the reference here is indeed to the Everlasting Father, the one Creator, Preserver, Protector of mankind who is absolutely eternal.
    “The Prince of Peace” A “Prince of Peace” had been long shadowed forth, as in Melchizedek, “King of Salem,” i.e. “of Peace;” and again in Solomon, “the peaceful one;” and Isaiah himself had already prophesied the peacefulness of the Messiah’s kingdom (Isaiah 2:4). Compare the song of the angels at our Lord’s birth (Luke 2:14). If the peacefulness has not vet very clearly shown itself, our Lord’s kingdom has yet to come into the hearts of most men. Christ is a Prince, often so called, Ezekiel 34:24 He is so by birth, being the King’s Son, the Son of God, and by office, power, and authority; He is so a Prince as that He is a King; He is exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour; and He is a Prince superior to kings, being the Prince of the kings of the earth, Acts 5:31 and He is called the “Prince of peace”, because he is the author of peace; just as He is said to be the “Prince of life”, Acts 3:15 for the same reason: He is the author of peace between Jew and Gentile, by abrogating the ceremonial law, the enmity between them, and by sending the Gospel to both, and making it the power of God to salvation to some of each of them, and by bringing them into the same Gospel church state, and making them partakers of the same privileges and blessings, internal and external, Ephesians 2:14 and He is the author of peace between God and sinners; He has made it by the blood of the cross, having the chastisement of their peace laid upon Him, in consequence of a covenant of peace He made with his Father, who was in Him reconciling the world to Himself.
  • “His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onwards and for evermore.” Isaiah 9:7 The Messiah’s kingdom shall ever increase more and more; there shall be no limits to it; ultimately it shall fill the world (comp. Matthew 28:18, 19). The continual spread of Christianity tends to the accomplishment of this prophecy. That the Messiah is to sit on the throne of David, suggests, but does not absolutely imply, His Davidic descent. That descent is, however, announced with sufficient clearness in Isaiah 11:1, 10 (see O Radix Jesse). A gradual establishment of the kingdom would seem to be implied, such as is taught also in the parables of the mustard seed and the leaven. The kingdom is to be both universal in respect of extent and in respect of duration eternal. God’s jealousy of his own honour, which is bound up with the prosperity and final triumph of his people over all their enemies, will assure the performance of all that is here prophesied.
  • Key_David_Bookcover“I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and no one shall shut; he shall shut, and no one shall open.” Isaiah 22:22 The first mention of the key of the house of David is found in the book of Isaiah, in a description of the duties of Eliakim, the royal chamberlain of King Hezekiah of Judah: And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah: And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. (Isaiah 22:20-22) The key of the house of David is symbolic for the government of Eliakim in Isaiah 22 (v.21), which is a type or symbol of the government of Jesus Christ as described in Isaiah 9. Note also that according to Isaiah, the government or kingdom of Jesus Christ is established, or founded, on a work of judgement (Isa 9:7). This is an important aspect of the key of the house of David.The key of the house of David, possessed by Christ, opens two important doors. In the travelling Tabernacle of Moses, there were two “doors”. Through the first door was the Holy Place, the first apartment. This is the door opened first chronologically in Revelation 4:1, in the heavenly Tabernacle, with the key of David. “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit; and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.” Rev 4:1-2 The scene that John sees in heaven after the first door is opened, is a throne room (Rev 5:6-11).  In this scene, the one on the throne is God the Father, and the Lamb as it had been slain is Jesus, returning to His Father from His crucifixion. There is a book or scroll with seven seals which only Jesus as the slain Lamb can open, and the seals are opened in sequence from Rev. 6:1 to 8:1. Christ as the sacrificed Lamb is the only one qualified to receive the title deed to the Kingdom, containing the names of all the saved, the Lamb’s book of life. The type of this in the Old Testament is the kinsman redeemer Boaz, who by purchasing the land of Naomi, also took Ruth as his wife. Jesus is our kinsman redeemer, who by His sacrifice bought back ownership of the earth, which Adam had forfeited to Satan at the fall. By this, Jesus also takes those faithful believer’s He has redeemed as His bride, restoring to them their inheritance. “For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth; and they that be cursed of him shall be cut off.” Psalm 37:22
    The second door opened the veil or door from the Holy Place into the Most Holy. On the Day of Atonement the high priest entered the Most Holy apartment of the Sanctuary or Temple, which was symbolic of the judgement of God’s people. In the Most Holy was the Ark of the Covenant, containing the standard of judgement the Ten Commandments of God (Exodus 20:2-17). The last of the seven churches is called Laodicea “a people judged” because they are living in the time of the judgement. This event is also described in Daniel: “I beheld till the thrones were cast down [set in place], and the Ancient of days [God the Father] did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgement was set, and the books were opened.” Dan 7:9-10 The books being opened in the judgement are the evidence, to include the Lamb’s book of life (Rev. 3:5), which is Christ’s last will and testament: “And for this cause he [Christ] is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.” Hebrews 9:15-17 Those being judged are the professed people of God, those who claim to be the heirs of Christ, the rightful inheritors of eternal life: “For the time is come that judgement must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” 1 Peter 4:17 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” Matthew 19:29 

you open and no one can shut; you shut and no one can open:

  • heaven...

    “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” 

    Matthew 28:18 Jesus here asserts that He, as Son of man, has received from the Father supreme authority in heaven and earth, over the whole kingdom of God in its fullest extent. This is not given to Him as Son of God; for, as God, naught can be added to Him or taken from Him; it is a power which He has merited by His incarnation, death, and Passion (Philippians 2:8-10), which was foretold in the Old Testament (Psalm 2:8; Psalm 8:5-8 & Daniel 7:13, 14), and with which he was imbued on the day that He rose victorious from the grave. The power is exercised in His mediatorial kingdom, and will continue to be exercised till He has put all enemies under His feet, and destroyed death itself (1 Corinthians 15:24-27); but His absolute kingdom is everlasting; as God and Man He reigns forever and ever. This mediatorial authority extends not only over men, so that He governs and protects the Church, disposes bureau events, controls hearts and opinions; but the forces of heaven also are at his command, the Holy Spirit is bestowed by Him, the angels are in His employ as ministering to the members of His body. It is with this authority that He imbues His apostles and their successors in the Church

    “And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.”  Matthew 6:19,

  • And to the angel of the church of Philadelphia write: These things saith the Holy One and the true one, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth and no man shutteth, shutteth and no man openeth: I know thy works. Behold, I have given before thee a door opened, which no man can shut: because thou hast a little strength and hast kept my word and hast not denied my name. Revelation 3:7-8 Like the Philadelphians in Revelation 3 (see above ref the key of David), we must never deny the Lord, nor be overly proud of our attempts at holiness, remembering always from Whom our strength is supplied. “The keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 16:19) are not to be confounded with “the key of knowledge” in Christ’s rebuke to the hypocritical Pharisees “Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.” Luke 11:52. The keys belong to Christ, but have been committed to His Church, but not unreservedly. If the Church errs in binding or loosing, He cancels the judgement. Binding and loosing, in the common language of the Jews, signified to forbid and to allow, or to teach what is lawful or unlawful. The Church may open where Christ will shut, and shut where Christ will open. He alone openeth so that none shall shut, and shutteth so that none can open.

Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house, those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

  • “…To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.” Isaiah 42:7. Though in Christ, the Messiah has the power to heal both physical as well as spiritual blindness, it is the latter we should interpret here.
    “Come and lead the prisoners” we might understand as those Jews shut up under the law, i.e. entrapped by ignorance and hypocrisy, tied to the “letter and not the spirit” of the law (cf 2 Corinthians 3:6); “from the prison house” we may understand as those entrapped and enslaved by sin and Satan; “those who dwell in darkness” i.e. the Gentiles, destitute of all divine knowledge, having not known the prophets and the law as had the Jews.


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