Advent: December 22nd
December 22, O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations); Ember Friday
Other Titles: Day 6 O Antiphons: O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations)
Today is the Sixth of the O Antiphons, O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations). "A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return" (Luke 19:12). This nobleman is Christ, the Son of God, King of all nations. His kingdom is over all men and over all things, both material and spiritual. He has everything in His hand as God and man. But another, Satan, has broken into His kingdom and has made himself master of many of Christ's subjects. In the old dispensation only a small part of humanity, the chosen people, remained faithful to the almighty King.
Christ, the Son of God, came into this "far country" in order to become man and, by means of humility, obedience, and poverty, to cast out the usurper who had taken His subjects. He came to reassert His dominion over all those who had left Him, both Jews and Gentiles.
The Roman Martyrology includes today as the day of death of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, Founder of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. Her feast is celebrated on November 13 in the United States.
For those following the Jesse Tree, you can either continue through Christmas Eve following Catholic Culture's Jesse Tree, or use symbols based on the “O” Antiphons (see Jesse Tree Instructions and O Antiphons).
Advent Ember Friday:
Today is the traditional Ember Friday of the December Ember Days. The traditional station church is the Twelve Apostles in Rome, a minor basilica. The older liturgy of Ember Friday presented St. Elizabeth and the Visitation of Mary. The lectionary and prayers of the current missal for December 21 reflect the liturgy of the traditional December Ember Friday. The former fasting and abstinence rules of Ember Days are no longer binding; it now is a personal choice. Advent has endowed the December Ember days with their special character of expectation and preparation for Christmas, thus reducing the idea of fasting and penance to a secondary position.
O King of the Gentiles
"Come and save man, whom Thou hast made out of dust." What is man? He is but a particle of dust, an insignificant creature who has further separated himself from God through sin. He has been cut off from the fountain of truth and banished from God to darkness and misery. Still in the ruins there dwells a spirit that possesses a capacity for truth. In these ashes there is yet a spark that may be fanned to life to burn with the brilliance of divine life. But only God can revive this flame. For this reason the Church cries out, "Come and save man, whom Thou hast made out of dust." Save him who is so weak, so miserable and helpless. Remember his nothingness. Consider the many enemies who lay snares to rob him of divine life and to entice him into sin. Think of his obscured knowledge and his proneness to evil, of his tendency to error, and his weakness in the face of temptation. Guard him from the enticements of the world; shelter him from the poison of erroneous teaching; deliver him from the devil and his angels.
During these days before Christmas, the Church contemplates the overwhelming misery of unregenerated mankind. She cries out, "Come and save man, whom Thou hast made out of dust."
Jesus is King of all nations. "The kings of the earth stood up and the princes met together against the Lord and against His Christ. Let us break their bonds asunder, and let us cast away their yoke from us. He that dwelleth in heaven shall laugh at them, and the Lord shall deride them. Then shall He speak to them in His anger and trouble them in His rage. But I am appointed king by Him over Sion, His holy mountain.... The Lord hath said to Me; Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee. Ask of Me and I will give Thee the Gentiles for Thy inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for Thy possession" (Ps. 2:2-8). Well may Herod seek the life of the newborn king. Indeed, many kings and tribes and nations in the course of time shall deprecate the divine King, Christ. But to Him has been given all power in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28: i8). Before Him every knee shall bend, and every tongue shall confess that He is the Lord (Phil. 2:10f.).
The more the mighty condemn the kingship of Christ, the more shall He be exalted by the Father.
Now He comes to us in the form of a lovely child. One day in the presence of the Roman governor He will assert His right to kingship. But after this one public confession of His royal origin He withdraws again into the obscurity which He had freely chosen. For the present He is satisfied with this manifestation of His royal dignity. The day will come, however, when He will manifest it with power and majesty as He comes again on the clouds of heaven. Before all nations God will declare: "I have anointed Him King of Sion. My holy mountain." All men shall pay Him homage as king; all nations shall acclaim Him the King of Glory.
—Excerpted from The Light of the World by Benedict Baur, O.S.B.
6th O Antiphon: O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations)
Symbols: Crown and Scepter
Come, and deliver man, whom You formed out of the dust of the earth.
Traditional Antiphon: 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.
O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum: veni, et salva hominem, quem de limo formasti.
Vespers Antiphon: O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.
The crown and scepter signify Christ's universal kingship. As we sing in the fifth O Antiphon, Christ is not only the King of the Jewish nation, but the "Desired One of all," the cornerstone which unites both Jew and Gentile.
Recommended Reading: Revelation 15:1-4
Today is Day Seven of the Christmas Novena.
Ember Friday of Advent
Station ad Santi Dodici Apostoli, also Santi Apostoli (Station at the Twelve Holy Apostles):
The stational church for today's Mass is the church of the Twelve Apostles in Rome. Mary is the apostle of the liturgy, the Mediatrix of all grace. She is the root from which springs the full bloom, Christ. "And of His fullness we all have received, and grace for grace" (John 1:16). It was erected by Julius I (337-352) over the barracks of ancient Rome's firemen and entrusted since 1463 to the Conventual Franciscans. Originally dedicated to the Apostles St. James and St. Philip, it was rededicated to all the Apostles in the 16th century. It is currently in the care of Conventual Franciscans.
For more on Santi Dodici Apostoli, see:
For further information on the Station Churches, see The Stational Church.