Monday, December 20, 2010

Dec. 20: O Clavis David (O Key of David)

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.
O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel;
who open and no one shuts;
you shut and no one opens:
Come and lead the chained from the house of bondage,
him sitting in darkness and the shadow of death.

A good first step to understanding what you read and, therefore, a good beginning for reading scripture is to slow yourself down when considering them to make yourself think.  Everyone can, for example, gain a better understanding of scripture by reading it aloud instead of reading it quietly.  You can write out the passage that you are thinking about, diagram the sentences, identify the parts of speech.  Trying to read scripture in the original languages can get me thoroughly to study a passage.  I remember once carefully translating a psalms from Latin to English.  I discovered that I had the thing memorized when the process was done.
Of all these different methods for making a good beginning the best way to approach scripture, should one have the ability, is to try to resolve anything that strikes as contrary to faith. 
It should be clear that in this 'O Antiphon' Christ is the Key of David.  The Protestants may say that this ancient 'O Antiphon'  supports the idea that Christ is our only help, for only he can shut and only he can open.  However, if we look at the words of our Lord from Isaiah, which the first part of this antiphon is based on, we see that another person is involved: "I will lay the key of the house of David upon his shoulder: and he shall open, and none shall shut: and he shall shut, and none shall open." He who opens and shut does not necessarily refer to the Key of David.  Who then carries the burden of this Key on his shoulder?  There is a striking resemblance between this passage of Isaiah and the Gospel of Matthew.  Our Lord says to Peter, "I will give you the keys of the kingdom, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."  It seems that Peter is the one who opens and shuts.  The loosing power of Peter allows the church to forgive sins on God's behalf.
To the protestants we answer that Christ is the only Key that shuts and open certain doors but he chooses to give that Key to his minsters who then are the only ones with the power to open and close those doors.
Now, this power is like the opening of locks which secure chains and prison doors. We pray that Christ through his ministers in the Church, will come and lead those chained by sin out from the state of perdition, and lead out he who sits -- that is, he who is resigned to his poor condition -- in darkness -- that is his mind darkened by sin -- and in the shadow of death -- that is guilt which could lead to eternal punishment.
Reminded that Christ is the only way out of all hopelessness, we are encouraged to pray that he deliver us.
 So now with "O Clavis', we have the letters 'C R A S'. You will notice that I have been giving the letters in reverse order.  I am giving you a clue.  Words are more easily guessed when you get the first letters.  These letters are being given in reverse order so you cannot know what is being said until all the letters are given.  But I will tell you all this: you now have a Latin word!

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