Saturday, 17 December 2011

O Sapientia

O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti,
attingens a fine usque ad finem,
fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia:
veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.
or in English:
O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,
reaching from one end to the other mightily,
and sweetly ordering all things:
Come and teach us the way of prudence.
This liturgical antiphon for today is based on words from Isaiah:

"The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord." Isaiah 11:2-3

"he is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in wisdom." Isaiah 28:29

It would be quite flattering to be regarded as a source of Wisdom I imagine, but the other day I was regarded by a number of folks at Waverly Station as a source of information.  They were all Chinese and kept on asking me if this was the train for London, despite the visible presence of a train person with a whistle on the platform.  I wondered if I projected some mysterious aura of great knowledge?  Rachel pointed out I was wearing my Russian black fur ushanka, complete with a red star with a hammer and sickle on it.  They probably thought I was People's Police and might be helpful!!! (An ushanka is literally  an "ear hat") - a Russian fur cap with ear flaps that can be tied up to the crown of the cap, or tied at the chin to protect the ears, jaw and lower chin from the cold. The word ushanka derives from ushi, "ears" in Russian.)

People can make assumptions about who they can find wisdom from.  A dog collar for spiritual wisdom, an ushanka for practical help.  Neither items of dress guarantee any wisdom in the wearer, even in the right context.  Wisdom comes from both knowledge of and being experienced in the tradition and practise of the area in which wisdom is sought. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever." (Ps 111:10).  Our wisdom comes from a source other than ourselves and it alone can teach us what the antiphon calls "prudence" which quells the devices and desires of our unruly hearts and draws us nearer to God.  and god who is Wisdom draws near to us as we prepare to celebrate the feast of the Incarnation.

This, if you are interested, is what an ushanka looks like:

It keeps the wise man's head very warm BTW!


  1. Why do you keep the red star and hammer and sickle on the hat? Is it impossible to remove? Or do you think it's a harmless nothing?

  2. Pretty much a permanent attachment I find. Is it harmless? Not sure but Soviet rule is pretty much defunct, so it's more of a fashion than a political statement. If non-Christians can wear rosary's without believing in what it symbolises, why not the other way round?