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The Liturgical Year

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Under this heading of Proper of the Time, we here comprise the movable Office of the Sundays and Ferias of Advent. Though anxious to give to the faithful the flowers of the Advent liturgy, yet were we to bring forward even those which might be considered as the choicest, four volumes would have barely sufficed. The fear of making our work too expensive to the faithful, persuaded us to limit it within much narrower bounds, and out of the abundant treasures before us, to give what we thought could be least dispensed with.

The plan we have adopted is this: We give the whole of the Mass and Vespers for the four Sundays of Advent. On the ferial days, we give one, at least, of the lessons from Isaias, which are read in the Office of Matins; adding to this a hymn or sequence, or some other poetic liturgical composition. All these have been taken from the gravest sources, for example, from the Roman and Mozarabic breviaries, from the Greek anthology and menæa, from the missals of the middle ages, &c. After this hymn or sequence, we have given a prayer from the Ambrosian, Gallican, or Mozarabic missal. So that the faithful will find in our collection an unprecedented abundance of liturgical formulæ, each of which carries authority with it, as being taken from ancient and approved sources.

We have not thought it desirable to give a commentary to each of the liturgical formulæ inserted in our work. It seemed to us that they would be rendered sufficiently intelligible by the general explanation which runs through our work, in which explanation we have endeavoured to excite the devotion of the reader, give unity to the several parts, and afford solid instruction. We shall thus avoid all those repetitions and commonplace remarks, which do little more than fatigue the reader.

We have inserted the Great Antiphons and the Office of Christmas Eve in the proper of the saints, because both of these have fixed days in the calendar, and to put them in the proper of the time, as they stand in the breviary and missal, would have required us to introduce into a book, destined for the laity, rubrics somewhat complicated, which would, perhaps, not have been understood.

For more information on the season of Advent, visit here.

We apply the name of Christmas to the forty days which begin with the Nativity of our Lord, December 25, and end with the Purification of the Blessed Virgin, February 2. It is a period which forms a distinct portion of the Liturgical Year, as distinct, by its own special spirit, from every other, as are Advent, Lent, Easter, or Pentecost. One same Mystery is celebrated and kept in view during the whole forty days. Neither the Feasts of the Saints, which so abound during this Season; nor the time of Septuagesima, with its mournful Purple, which often begins before Christmastide is over, seem able to distract our Holy Mother the Church from the immense joy of which she received the good tidings from the Angels[1] on that glorious Night for which the world had been longing four thousand years. The Faithful will remember that the Liturgy commemorates this long expectation by the four penitential weeks of Advent.
[1] St Luke ii 10.

(From Chapter 1: The History of Christmas)

For more information on the season of Christmas, visit here.

This third section of the liturgical year is much shorter than the two preceding ones; and yet it is one of real interest. The season of Septuagesima has only three weeks of the Proper of the Time, and the feasts of the saints are far less frequent than at other periods of the year. The volume we now offer to the faithful may be called one of transition, inasmuch as it includes the period between two important seasons—viz., Christmas and Lent. We have endeavoured to teach them how to spend these three weeks; and our instructions, we trust, will show them that, even in this the least interesting portion of the ecclesiastical year, there is much to be learned. They will find the Church persevering in carrying out the one sublime idea which pervades the whole of her liturgy; and, consequently, they must derive solid profit from imbibing the spirit peculiar to this season.

Were we, therefore, to keep aloof from the Church during Septuagesima, we should not have a complete idea of her year, of which these three weeks form an essential part. The three preliminary chapters of this volume will convince them of the truth of our observation; and we feel confident that, when they have once understood the ceremonies, and formulas, and instructions, offered them by the Church during this short season, they will value it as it deserves.

For more information on the season of Septuagesima, visit here.

We begin, with this volume, the holy season of Lent; but such is the richness of its liturgy, that we have found it impossible to take our readers beyond the Saturday of the fourth week. Passion-week and Holy Week, which complete the forty days of yearly penance, require to be treated at such length, that we could not have introduced them into this volume without making it inconveniently large.

The present volume is a very full one, although it only comprises the first four weeks of the season of Lent. We have called it Lent; and yet the two weeks of the next volume are also comprised in Lent; nay, they are its most important and sacred part. But, in giving the name of Lent to this first section, we have followed the liturgy itself, which applies this word to the first four weeks only; giving to the two that remain the names of Passion-week and Holy Week. Our next volume will, therefore, be called Passiontide and Holy Week.

For more information on Lent, visit here.

After having proposed the forty-days’ fast of Jesus in the desert to the meditation of the faithful during the first four weeks of Lent, the holy Church gives the two weeks which still remain before Easter to the commemoration of the Passion. She would not have her children come to that great day of the immolation of the Lamb, without having prepared for it by compassionating with Him in the sufferings He endured in their stead.

(From Chapter 1: The History of Passiontide and Holy Week)

For more information on Passiontide and Holy Week, visit here.

WITH this volume we begin the season of Easter, wherein are accomplished the mysteries prepared for, and looked forward to, since Advent. Such are the liturgical riches of this portion of the Christian year, that we have found it necessary to devote three volumes to it.

The present volume is wholly taken up with Easter Week. A week is indeed a short period; but such a week as this, with the importance of the events it brings before us, and the grandeur of the mysteries it celebrates, is, at least, equivalent to any other section of our Liturgical Year. We have abridged our explanations as much as possible; and yet we have exceeded two-thirds of one of our ordinary volumes. Hence, it was out of the question to add the remaining weeks; the more so, as the saints’ feasts recommence on the Monday following the Easter Octave, and their insertion would have obliged us to have made our volume considerably more bulky than even that of Passiontide. We have, therefore, been satisfied with giving the Mass and Office of the Annunciation, already given in our volume for Lent, but which are needed for the Monday after Low Sunday, when Easter falls between March 22 and April 2, which is frequently the case.

For more information on Paschal Tide, visit here.

This volume opens to us the second part of the Liturgical Year, beginning the long period of the Time after Pentecost. It treats of the feasts of the most holy Trinity, of Corpus Christi, and of the sacred Heart of Jesus. These three feasts require to be explained apart. Their dates depend on that of Easter; and yet they are detached, if we consider their object, from the moveable cycle, whose aim is to bring before us, each year, the successive, and so to speak historic, memories of our Lord’s mysteries. After the sublime drama, which has, by gradually presenting to us the facts of our Redeemer’s history, shown us the divine economy of the redemption, these feasts immediately follow, and give us a deep and dogmatic teaching: a teaching which is a marvellous synthesis, taking in the whole body of Christian doctrine.

The Holy Ghost has come down upon the earth, in order to sanctify it. Faith being the one basis of all sanctification, and the source of love, the holy Spirit would make it the starting-point of His divine workings in the soul. To this end, He inspires the Church, which has sprung up into life under the influence of His impetuous breathing, to propose at once to the faithful that doctrinal summary, which is comprised in the three feasts immediately coming after Pentecost. The volumes following the present one will show us the holy Spirit continuing His work, and, on the solid foundations of the faith He established at the outset, building the entire superstructure of the Christian virtues.

This was the idea which the author of the Liturgical year was busy developing in the second part of his work, when death came upon him; and the pen that had begun this volume was put by obedience into the hands of one, who now comes before the faithful, asking their prayers for the arduous task he has undertaken, of continuing the not quite finished work of his beloved father and master. He begs of them to beseech our Lord, that He Himself will vouchsafe to bring to a successful termination an undertaking that was begun for His honour and glory, and that has already produced so much fruit in the souls of men.

Br. L.F. O.S.B.

Solesmes, May 10, 1879.

 

For more information on Time after Pentecost, visit here.

Introduction to the Season of advent

Introduction to the Season of CHRISTMAS

For more information on the season of Christmas, visit here.

Introduction to the Season of Septuagesima

Introduction to the Season of Lent

Introduction to passiontide and holy week

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

We open our Proper of Saints for Advent with St. Andrew, because, although his feast frequently occurs before this holy season has begun, it sometimes happens that we have entered Advent when the memory of this great apostle has to be celebrated by the Church. This feast is therefore destined to terminate with solemnity the cycle which is at its close, or to add lustre to the new one which has just begun. It seems, indeed, fitting that the Christian year should begin and end with the cross, which has merited for us each of the years that it has pleased the divine goodness to grant us, and which is to appear, on the last day, in the clouds of heaven, as the seal put on time.

We should remember that Saint Andrew is the apostle of the cross. To Peter, Jesus has given firmness of faith; to John, warmth of love; the mission of Andrew is to represent the cross of his divine Master. Now it is by these three, faith, love, and the cross, that the Church renders herself worthy of her Spouse. Everything she has or is, bears this threefold character. Hence it is that after the two apostles just named, there is none who holds such a prominent place in the universal liturgy as Saint Andrew.

But let us read the life of this glorious fisherman of the lake of Genesareth, who was afterwards to be the successor of Christ Himself, and the companion of Peter, on the tree of the cross. The Church has compiled it from the ancient Acts of the martyrdom of the holy apostle, drawn up by the priests of the Church of Patras, which was founded by the saint. The authenticity of this venerable piece has been contested by Protestants, inasmuch as it makes mention of several things which would militate against them. Their sentiment has been adopted by several critics of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. On the other hand, these Acts have been received by a far greater number of Catholic writers of eminence; amongst whom may be mentioned the great Baronius, Labbe, Natalis Alexander, Gallandus, Lumper, Morcelli, &c. The Churches, too, of both east and west, which have inserted these Acts in their respective Offices of St. Andrew, are of some authority, as is also St. Bernard, who has made them the groundwork of his three admirable sermons on St. Andrew.

Andreas apostolus Bethsaidæ natus, qui est Galilææ vicus, frater Petri, discipulus Joannis Baptistae, quum eum de Christo dicentem audisset, Ecce Agnus Dei, secutus Jesum, fratrem quoque suum ad eumdem perduxit. Quum postea una cum fratre piscaretur in mari Galilææ, ambo a praetereunto Christo Domino ante alios apostolos vocati illis verbis: Venite post me, faciam vos fieri piscatores hominum: nullam interponentes moram, et relictis retibus secuti sunt eum. Post cujus Passionem et Resurrectionem Andreas cum in Scythiam Europæ, quæ ei provincia ad Christi fidem disseminandam obtigerat, venisset, deinde Epirum ac Thraciam peragrasset, doctrina et miraculis innumerabiles homines ad Christum convertit. Post Patras Achaiæ profectus, et in ea urbe plurimis ad veritatem Evangelicam perductis, Ægeam proconsulem prædicationi Evangeliæ resistentem, liberrime increpavit quod qui judex hominum haberi vellet, Christum Deum omnium Judicem a dæmonibus elusus non agnosceret.

Tunc Ægeas iratus: Desine, inquit, Christum jactare, cui similia verba nihil profuerunt, quominus a Judæis crucifigeretur. Andream vero do Christo nihilominus libere praedicantem, quod pro salute humani generis se crucifigendum obtulisset, impia oratione interpellat; ac demum hortatur, ut sibi consulens, diis velit immolare. Cui Andreas: Ego omnipotenti Deo, qui unus et verus est, immolo quotidie, non taurorum carnes, nec hircorum sanguinem, sed immaculatum Agnum in altari, cujus carnem posteaquam omnis populus credentium manducaverit, Agnus, qui sacrificatus est, integer perseverat et vivus. Quamobrem ira accensus Ægeas jubet eum in carcerem detrudi: unde populus Andream facile liberasset, nisi ipse sedasset multitudinem; vehementius rogans, ne se ad optatissimam martyrii coronam properantem impedirent.

Igitur paulo post in tribunal productum, cum Ægeas crucis extollentem mysteria, sibique suam impietatem exprobrantem diutius ferre non posset, in crucem tolli, et Christi mortem imitari jussit. Adduotus Andreas ad locum martyrii, cum crucem vidisset longe, exclamare cœpit: O bona crux, quæ decorem ex membris Domini suscepisti, diu desiderata, sollicite amata, sine intermissione quaesita, et aliquando cupienti animo praeparata: accipe me ab hominibus, et redde me magistro meo; ut per te me recipiat, qui per te me redemit. Itaque cruci affixus est: in qua biduum vivus pendens, et Christi fidem prædicare numquam intermittens, ad eum migravit, cujus mortis similitudinem concupierat. Quæ omnia presbyteri et diaconi Achaiæ qui ejus passionem scripserunt, se ita ut commemorata sunt audisse et vidisse testantur. Ejus ossa primum Constantio imperatore Constantinopolim, deinde Amalphim translata sunt. Caput, Fio secundo Pontifice, Romam allatum, in basilica sancti Petri collocatum est.
Andrew, the apostle, born at Bethsaida, a town of Galilee, was brother of Peter, and disciple of John the Baptist. Having heard his master say, speaking of Christ: Behold the Lamb of God! he followed Jesus, and brought to him his brother also. When, afterwards, he was fishing with his brother in the sea of Galilee, they were both called, before any of the other apostles, by our Lord, who, passing by, said to them: Come after me; I will make you to be fishers of men. Without delay, they left their nets and followed him. After the Passion and Resurrection, Andrew went to spread the faith of Christ in Scythia in Europe, which was the province assigned to him; then he travelled through Epirus and Thrace, and by his teaching and miracles converted innumerable souls to Christ. Afterwards, having reached Patras in Achaia, he persuaded many in that city to embrace the truth of the Gospel. Finding that the proconsul Ægeas resisted the preaching of the Gospel, he most freely upbraided him for that he, who desired to be considered as a judge of men, should be so far deceived by devils as not to acknowledge Christ to bo God, the Judge of all.

Then Ægeas being angry, said: Cease to boast of this Christ, whom such words as these kept not from being crucified by the Jews. But finding that Andrew continued boldly preaching that Christ had offered himself to be crucified for the salvation of mankind, he interrupts him by an impious speech, and at length exhorts him to look to his own interest and sacrifice to the gods. Andrew answered him: I offer up every day to almighty God, who is one and true, not the flesh of oxen, nor the blood of goats, but the spotless Lamb upon the altar; of whose flesh the whole multitude of the faithful eat, and the Lamb that is sacrificed, remains whole and living. Whereupon Ægeas being exceedingly angry, orders him to be thrust into prison, whence the people would easily have freed Andrew, had he not himself appeased the multitude, begging of them, with most earnest entreaty, that they would not keep him from the long-desired crown of martyrdom, to which he was hastening.

Not long after this, he was brought before the tribunal; where he began to extol the mystery of the cross, and rebuke the judge for his impiety. Ægeas, no longer able to contain himself on hearing these words, ordered him to be hoisted on a cross, and so to die like Christ. Andrew, having been brought to the place of execution, seeing the cross at some distance, began to cry out: O good cross, made beautiful by the body of my Lord! so long desired, so anxiously loved, so unceasingly sought after, and now at last ready for my soul to enjoy! take me from amidst men, and restore me to my Master; that by thee he may receive me, who by thee redeemed me. He was therefore fastened to the cross, on which he hung alive two days, preaching without cessation the faith of Christ: after which he passed to him, whose death he had so coveted. The priests and deacons of Achaia, who wrote his passion, attest that all the things which they have recorded were heard and seen by them. His relics were first translated to Constantinople under the emperor Constantius, and afterwards to Amalfi. During the Pontificate of Pius II., the head was taken to Rome, and placed in the basilica of St. Peter.

Let us now listen to the several Churches on earth, celebrating the grand triumph of our apostle. Let us begin with Rome, the mother and mistress of all Churches. Nothing could be more expressive than the language she uses in praise of the apostle of the cross. First, she employs the words of the Gospel, which record the circumstances of his vocation; then, she selects the most touching passages from the Acts of his martyrdom, drawn up by the priests of Patras; and both are intermingled with appropriate sentiments of her own. Our first selection shall be from the responsories of Matins.

R. Cum perambularet Dominus juxta mare Galilææ, vidit Petrum et Andream retia mittentes in mare: et vocavit eos, dicens:
* Venite post me, faciam vos fieri piscatores hominum.

V. Erant enim piscatores, et ait illis:
* Venite post me, faciam vos fieri piscatores hominum.

R. Mox ut vocem Domini prædicantis audivit beatus Andreas, relictis retibus, quorum usu actuque vivebat,
* Æternæ vitæ secutus est præmia largientem.
V. Hic est qui pro amore Christi pependit in cruce, et pro lege ejus sustinuit passionem.
* Æternæ vitae secutus est præmia largientem.

R. Doctor bonus, et amicus Dei Andreas ducitur ad crucem; quam a longe aspiciens dixit: Salve, crux!
* Suscipe discipulum ejus, qui pependit in te, magister meus Christus.
V. Salve, crux, quæ in corpore Christi dedicata es; et ex membris ejus tamquam margaritis ornata.
* Suscipe discipulum ejus qui pependit in te, magister meus Christus.

R. Videns crucem Andreas exclamavit, dicens: O crux admirabilis! O crux desiderabilis! O crux quae por totum mundum rutilas!
* Suscipe discipulum Christi, ac per te me recipiat, qui per te moriens me redemit.
V. O bona crux, quæ decorem et pulchritudinem de membris Domini suscepisti.
* Suscipe discipulum Christi, ac per te me recipiat, qui per te moriens me redemit.

R. Oravit sanctus Andreas, dum respiceret in cœlum, et voce magna clamavit et dixit: Tu es Deus meus, quem vidi: ne me patiaris ab impio judico deponi:
* Quia virtutem sanctæ crucis agnovi.
V. Tu os magister meus Christus, quem dilcxi, quem cognovi, quem confessus sum: tantummodo in ista voce, exaudi me.
* Quia virtutem sanctæ crucis agnovi.
R. When the Lord was walking by the sea of Galilee, he saw Peter and Andrew casting nets into the sea, and he called them, saying:
* Come after me, I will make you to be fishers of men.

V. For they were fishers, and he saith to them:
* Come after me, I will make you to be fishers of men.

R. As soon as blessed Andrew heard the voice of the Lord calling him, leaving his nets, by the use and working of which he lived,
* He followed him who gives the reward of eternal life.
V. This is he who, for the love of Christ, hung upon a cross, and for his law endured a passion.
* He followed him who gives the reward of eternal life.

R. Andrew, the good teacher, and the friend of God, is led to the cross; which seeing afar off, he says: Hail, O cross!
* Receive the disciple of him who hung upon thee, Christ, my Master.
V. Hail, O cross, which art consecrated by the body of Christ, and art adorned by his members, as with pearls.
* Receive the disciple of him who hung upon thee, Christ, my Master.

R. Andrew seeing the cross, cried out, saying: O admirable cross; O desirable cross! O cross which shinest throughout the whole world!
* Receive the disciple of Christ, and by thee may he receive me, who dying by thee redeemed me.
V. O good cross, which art made fair and beautiful by the body of the Lord.
* Receive the disciple of Christ, and by thee may he receive me, who dying by thee redeemed me.

R. Saint Andrew prayed, as he looked up to heaven, and with a loud voice, cried out and said: Thou art my God, whom I have seen: suffer me not to be detached by the impious judge:
* For I have learnt the power of the holy cross.
V. Thou art the Christ my master, whom I have loved, whom I have known, whom I have confessed: graciously hear me in this one prayer.
* For I have learnt the power of the holy cross.

The antiphons of Vespers are full of a lyric gracefulness and unction.

Antiphons

Salve crux pretiosa! suscipe discipulum ejus qui pepondit in te, magister meus Christus.

Beatus Andreas orabat, dicens: Domine, Rex æternæ gloriæ, suscipe me pendentem in patibulo.

Andreas Christi famulus, dignus Dei apostolus, germanus Petri, et in passione socius.

Maximilla Christo amabilis, tulit corpus apostoli, optimo loco cum aromatibus sepelivit.

Qui persequebantur justum, demersisti eos, Domine, in inferno, et in ligno crucis dux justi fuisti.
Hail, O precious cross! receive the disciple of him who hung upon thee, Christ my master.

The blessed Andrew prayed saying: O Lord, King of eternal glory, receive me hanging on this gibbet.

Andrew, the servant of Christ, the worthy apostle of God, the brother of Peter, and his companion in the cross.

Maximilla, a woman dear to Christ, took the body of the apostle, and embalming it, buried it in a most honoured place.

Thou, O Lord, didst plunge into hell them that persecuted thy just one, and wast his guide and helper on the wood of the cross.

The following hymn was composed in honour of the holy apostle, by Pope St. Damasus, the friend of St. Jerome. There is an allusion in it to the name Andrew, which amongst its many meanings has that of beauty.

Hymn

Decus sacrati nominis,
Vitamque nomen exprimens,
Hoc to decorum prædicat
Crucis beatæ gloria.

Andrea, Christi apostolo,
Hoc ipso jam vocabulo
Signaris, isto nomine
Decorus idem mystice.

Quem crux ad alta provehit,
Crux quem beata diligit,
Cui crux amara præparat
Lucis futurae gaudia.

In te crucis mysterium
Cluit gemello stigmate,
Dum probra vincis per crucem,
Crucisque pandis sanguinem.

Jam nos foveto languidos,
Curamque nostri suscipe,
Quo por crucis victoriam
Cœli potamus patriam.

Amen.
The beauty of thy sacred name,
expressive of thy life,
declares how beautiful thou art
in the glory of thy blessed cross.

Andrew, apostle of Christ,
thy very name
points to the mystic
beauty of thy soul.

The cross exalts thee,
the blessed cross loves thee,
the bitter cross prepares for thee
the joys of the light to come.

The mystery of the cross
shines in thee with a twofold beauty:
for by the cross thou dost vanquish insults,
and thou preachest to men the divine blood shed on the cross.

Then warm up our languid hearts,
and take us under thy care;
that so, by the victory of the cross,
we may reach our heavenly country.

Amen.

The two following sequences, in honour of the apostle of the cross, were written in the middle ages. The first belongs to the eleventh century. Like all the sequences of that period, it has no regular rhythm.

Sequence

Sacrosancta hodiernae festivitatis praeconia,
Digna laude universa categorizet Ecclesia.

Mitissimi sanctorum sanctissima extollenda merita,
Apostoli Andreæ, admiranda praefulgentis gratia.

Hic accepto a Joanne Baptista quod venisset qui tolleret peccata:
Mox ejus intrans habitacula, audiebat eloquia.

Inventoque fratre suo Barjona: Invenimus, ait ovans, Messiam.
Et duxit eum ad dulcifluam Salvatoris presentiam.

Hunc perscrutantem maria, Christi vocavit clementia.
Artem piscandi commutans dignitate apostolica.

Hujus animam post clara festi Paschalis gaudia,
Sancti Spiritus præclara perlustravit potentia;

Ad prædicandum populis pœnitentiam, et Dei Patris per Filium clementiam.
Gratulare ergo tanto patre, Achaia;

Illustrata ejus salutari doctrina;
Honorata multimoda signorum frequentia.

Et tu gemens plora, trux carnifex Ægea.
Te lues inferna et mors tenet æterna.

Sed Andream felicia per crucem manent gaudia.
Jam Regem tuum spectas, jam in ejus conspectu, Andrea, stas.

Odorem suavitatis jam adspiras, quem divini amoris aroma dat.
Sis ergo nobis inclyta dulcedo, spirans intima cœlestis vitæ balsama.

Amen.
The most holy praises of this day’s solemnity,
Let the universal Church sing in worthy strains.

The most holy merit of the meekest of saints is to be extolled,
Of the apostle Andrew, so bright in his admirable graces.

Having learned from John the Baptist, that he had come who would take sin away,
He straightway entered his dwelling, and listened to his words;

And finding his own brother, Barjona, he said to him with great joy: We have found the Messias.
And he led him to the loved presence of the Saviour.

As Andrew was fishing in the sea, the mercy of Christ called him,
Giving him, in exchange for his art of fishing, the dignity of an apostle.

His soul, after the grand joys of the Paschal feast,
Was visited by the glorious power of the Holy Ghost,

That he might go and preach penance to the world, and tell it of the mercy of the Father by the Son.
Rejoice, then, O Achaia! that thou hast such an apostle,

Who enlightened thee with his saving doctrine,
And honoured thee with his many and manifold miracles.

But thou fierce torturer, Ægeas, cry and weep:
The pains of hell and eternal death are thine:

Whilst Andrew has won happiness and joy by his cross.
O Andrew! now thou seest thy King: now thou art in his presence;

Now thou art breathing the odour of sweetness, which comes from the aroma of divine love.
Be, then, unto us a delicious sweetness, giving out the hidden balsam of the celestial life.

Amen.

The second sequence, written in rhythm and correct metre, is the composition of the pious Adam of Saint Victor, the greatest lyric poet of the middle ages.

Sequence

Exsultemus et lætemur:
Et Andreae delectemur
Laudibus apostoli.

Hujus fidem, dogma, mores,
Et pro Christo tot labores,
Digne decet recoli.

Hic ad fidem Petrum duxit,
Cui primum lux illuxit,
Joannis indicio.

Secus mare Galilaeæ,
Petri simul et Andreæ
Sequitur electio.

Ambo prius piscatores,
Verbi fiunt assertores,
Et forma justitiæ.

Rete laxant in capturam;
Vigilemque gerunt curam
Nascentis Ecclesiæ.

A fratre dividitur,
Et in partes mittitur
Andreas Achaiæ.

In Andreæ retia
Currit, Dei gratia,
Magna pars provinciæ.

Fide, vita, verbo, signis,
Doctor pius et insignis
Cor informat populi.

Ut Ægeas comperit
Quid Andreas egerit,
Iræ surgunt stimuli.

Mens secura, mens virilis,
Cui præsens vita vilis,
Viget patientia.

Blandimentis aut tormentis
Non enervat robur mentis
Judicis insania.

Crucem videns præparari,
Suo gestit conformari
Magistro discipulus.

Mors pro morte solvitur,
Et crucis appetitur
Triumphalis titulus.

In cruce vixit biduum,
Victurus in perpetuum:
Neo vult volente populo
Deponi de patibulo.

Hora fere dimidia,
Luce perfusus nimia,
Cum luce, cum lætitia,
Pergit ad lucis atria.

O Andrea gloriose,
Cujus preces pretiosæ,
Cujus mortis luminosae
Dulcis est memoria,

Ab hac valle lacrymarum,
Nos ad illud lumen clarum,
Pie pastor animarum,
Tua transfer gratia.

Amen.
Let us exult and rejoice,
and be delighted in the praises
sung to Andrew the apostle.

His faith and teachings, and actions,
and all his labours for Christ,
deserve a worthy celebration.

’Twas he led Peter to the faith.
’Twas he on whom the light first shone;
the Baptist showed it him.

Near the sea of Galilee,
our Lord called Peter and Andrew
by the one same election.

They who were once fishermen,
are become heralds of the Word,
and models of every virtue.

They let down their nets for a draught of men;
and carefully watch over
the infant Church.

Andrew is separated
from his brother, and sent
into the country about Achaia.

A great portion of that province enters,
by the grace of God,
into Andrew’s net.

The holy and learned doctor
forms the hearts of his people
by his faith, life, preaching, and miracles.

When Ægeas discovered
what Andrew had done,
he was excited to great anger.

But Andrew’s mind, ever calm and manly,
set little value on this life,
and armed itself with patience.

The senseless judge offers him his favour,
or threatens him with tortures,
but cannot shake his constant soul.

Seeing the cross being prepared,
Andrew, as a true disciple, is proud
to be thus made like his Master.

He repays the death of Jesus by his own,
ambitious to have
the trophy of triumph, the cross.

He lived two days hanging on that cross,
which was to make him live for ever;
the people resolve to loose him from it:
but he would not have it so; and clings to his cross.

An exceeding bright light surrounds him
for nearly half an hour;
and then, in this light, and in this joy,
he mounts to the realms of light.

O glorious Andrew,
whose prayers are so precious,
and whose bright death
is so sweet to think on,

Take us, by thy loving prayers,
from this vale of tears,
and transfer us to that fair land of light,
O thou good shepherd of souls.

Amen.

The pieces so far given belong to the Roman liturgy, being taken from the books of this mother of Churches, or from those of the different Churches of the west, which follow the form of her Offices. We will now give, in honour of our holy apostle, some of the formulæ which the other ancient liturgies used for his feast; we will begin with the Ambrosian rite, from which we take the following beautiful preface.

Preface

Vere dignum et justum est, æquum et salutare, nos tibi semper et ubique gratias agere, Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, æterne Deus. Adest enim nobis dies sacri votiva mysterii: qua beatus Andreas germanum se Petri apostoli tam prædicatione Christi tui, quam confessione monstravit; et apostolicæ numerum dignitatissimul passione supplevit et gloria; ut id, quod libera prædicaverat voce, nec pendens taceret in cruce: auctoremque vitae perennis tam in hac vita sequi, quam in mortis genere meruit imitari: ut cujus præcepto terrena in semetipso crucifixerat desideria, ejus exemplo ipse patibulo figeretur. Utrique igitur germani piscatores, ambo cruce elevantur ad cœlum; ut, quos in hujus vitae cursu tua gratia tot vinculis pietatis constrinxerat, hos similis in regno cœlorum necteret et corona: et quibus erat una causa certaminis, una retributio esset et praemii.
It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should always, and in all places, give thanks to thee, O holy Lord, almighty Father, eternal God; for we are keeping the feast of a sacred mystery, a day on which the blessed Andrew showed himself to be indeed the brother of Peter the apostle, both by his preaching and his confession of thy Christ: and filled up the measure of the apostolic dignity by his passion and his glory; for what he had loudly and boldly preached, he would not cease to proclaim even on his cross: and he deserved to follow, during life, the author of eternal life, and to imitate him in the manner of his death; that thus having, in obedience to his precept, crucified in himself all earthly desires, he might, in accordance with his example, be fastened to a cross. The two brothers, the two fishermen, are both, therefore, raised up to heaven by a cross; that so, having been, by thy grace, bound together by so many ties during this life, they might also be like each other by the crown they wear in heaven; and as their combat was the same, their reward might be the same.

The Gallican liturgy also celebrated the glories of St. Andrew. Amongst the few fragments which have been handed down to us of this liturgy, there is not a single piece in poetry. The following preface, or, as it was then called, Contestation, will show that the Church of Gaul, from the fourth to the eighth century, shared the enthusiasm of the Roman and Ambrosian Churches for the glorious apostle of the cross.

Contestation

Dignum et justum est; æquum et justum est; piotati tuæ ineffabiles gratias referre, omnipotens sempiterne Deus; et inæstimabili gaudio passionem tuorum prædicare sanctorum, per Christum Dominum nostrum. Qui beato Andreæ in prima vocatione dedit fidem; et in passione donavit victoriam. Acceperat hæc utraque beatus Andreas; ideo habebat et in prædicatione constantiam, et in passione tolerantiam. Qui post iniqua verbera, post carceris septa, alligatus suspendio se purum sacrificium tibi obtulit Deo. Extendit mitissimus brachia ad cœlos; amplectitur crucis vexillum; defigit in osculis ora: Agni cognoscit arcana. Denique dum ad patibulum duceretur, in cruce suspenderetur, carne patiebatur, et Spiritu loquebatur. Obliviscitur crucis tormenta; dum de cruce Christum præconat. Quantum enim corpus ejus in ligno extendebatur: tantum in lingua ejus Christus exaltabatur: quia pendens in ligno, sociari se ei gratulabatur. Absolvi se non patitur a cruce, ne tepescat certamen in tempore. Turba circumspicit, et lamentat: demitti a vinculo petit, quem reparatorem mentis intelligit. Laxari postulat justum, ne pereat populus hoc delicto. Interea fundit martyr spiritum, possessurus sempiterni Judicis regnum: pro cujus meritis concede nobis, omnipotens Deus, ut a malis omnibus tuti atque defensi, tibi Domino nostro, Deo martyrum et Principi apostolorum, laudes semper et gratias referamus.
It is meet and just; it is right and just, that we should give ineffable thanks to thy mercy, O almighty and eternal God! and celebrate with incomparable joy the sufferings of thy saints, through Christ our Lord. Who gave to the blessed Andrew, at his first calling him, the gift of faith; and in his martyrdom, victory. Both had the blessed Andrew received; therefore had he constancy in his preaching, and patience in his passion. After being unjustly scourged, and thrust into prison, he was tied to a gibbet, and on it offered himself a pure sacrifice to thee his God. Most gentle saint, he lifts up his hands to heaven; he embraces the standard of the cross; he kisses it; he understands the secrets of the Lamb. When, at last, he was led to the cross, and fastened to it, his flesh suffered, but he spoke by the holy Spirit. He forgot the torture of the cross whilst he preached Christ from the cross; for the more his body was being stretched on the wood, the more did his tongue extol Christ, seeing that by thus hanging on the cross he was honoured with being made a companion of Christ. He suffers not himself to be loosened from the cross, lest the combat should lose intensity by the delay. The crowd looks upon him, and is in lamentation; it knows him to be the physician of the soul, and demands that he be freed from his chains. It demands that the just man be liberated, lest this crime should destroy the people. Meanwhile the martyr breathes forth his soul, and goes to take possession of the kingdom of the eternal Judge. Grant us, O almighty God, by his merits, that we, being safe and protected from all evils, may for ever give praise and thanks to thee, our Lord, the God of the martyrs, and the Prince of the apostles.

The Mozarabic liturgy is extremely rich in its praises of St. Andrew, both in the missal and the breviary: we must limit ourselves to the following beautiful prayer.

Capitulum

Christe Dominus noster, qui beatissimum Andream, et apostolatus gratia, et martyrii decorasti corona; hoc illi specialiter in munere præstans, ut crucis prædicando mysterium, ad crucis mereretur pervenire patibulum: da nobis, ut sanctae crucis tuæ verissimi amatores effecti, abnegantes nosmetipsos tollamus crucem nostram, et sequamur te: ut passionibus tuis in hac vita communicantes, ad æternam vitam pervenire mereamur felices.
O Christ, our Lord, who didst beautify the most blessed Andrew with the grace of apostleship, and the crown of martyrdom, by granting to him this special gift, that by preaching the mystery of the cross, he should merit the death of the cross: grant us to become most true lovers of thy holy cross, and, denying ourselves, to take up our cross and follow thee; that by thus sharing thy sufferings in this life, we may deserve the happiness of obtaining life everlasting.

The Greek Church is as fervent as any of the Churches of the west in celebrating the prerogatives and merits of St. Andrew. He is the more dear to it, because Constantinople considers him as her patron apostle. It would, perhaps, be difficult for the Greeks to give any solid proofs of St. Andrew’s having founded, as they pretend, the Church of Byzantium; but this is certain, that Constantinople enjoyed, for many centuries, the possession of the precious treasure of the saint’s relics. They were translated to that city in the year 357, through the interest of the emperor Constantius, who placed them in the basilica of the apostles built by Constantine. Later on, that is, about the middle of the sixth century, Justinian caused them to be translated a second time, but only from one part of that same basilica to another. We borrow the two following beautiful hymns from the Menæa of the Greeks; the first is sung in the evening Office, the second in the morning Office.

In the solemn evening office

Luci antelucanæ assimilatus, quem splendorem hypostaticum Paternæ gloriæ dicimus, hominum genus per suam magnam misericordiam salvare cum voluisset, tunc primus, gloriose illi occurristi, illustratus interius perfectissima ejus Deitatis claritate: unde et præco et apostolus vocaris Christi Dei nostri; quem deprecare salvare et illuminare animas nostras.

Præcurrenti voce insonans, quando omnisanctum Verbum caro factum est, quando nobis vitam donavit, salutemque in terris evangelizavit, tunc, sanctissime, istud secutus es, et teipsum primitias et sacrificium quasi primam ipsi oblationem constituisti: quem cognoscere fecisti, fratri que tuo monstrasti Deum nostrum; hunc deprecare salvare animas nostras.

Qui carnem e sterili florescenti induit, quando Virginalis Filius apparuit, præceptor pietatis puritatem demonstrans, tunc tu, ardentissime virtutis amator, Andrea, beatus effectus es; ascensiones in tuo corde disponens, a gloria in gloriam sublimatus es inauditam Domini Dei nostri: quem deprecare salvare et illuminare animas nostras.

Piscium piscationem derelinquens, homines carpis calamo prædicationis, mittens hamum pietatis, et extrahens e profundo erroris omnes Gentes, Andrea apostolo, coryphæi frater, et terræ dux celeberrime, excellens et non deficiens; tenebrosos homines illustra tua veneranda memoria.

Primovocatus discipulus et imitator passionis tuæ, assimilatus tibi, Domine, Andreas apostolus in abysso degentes ignorantiæ olimque errantes, hamo tuae crucis cum abstraxisset, tibimetipsi adduxit: et ideo salvati fideles ad te clamamus precibus illius, optime, Domine, vitam nostram pacifica, et salva animas nostras.

Ignis illuminans mentes et comburens peccata, in corde interius arripiens, apostolus Christi discipulus fulget mysticis radiis instructionum in Gentium tenebrosis cordibus. Urit autem iterum surculosas impiorum fabulas; ignis enim Spiritus tantam habet energiam! O mirabiliter terribile! Cœnosa lingua, fictilis natura, corpus pulverinum, intellectualem et immaterialem praebuit Gnosim. Sed tu, O initiate rerum ineffabilium, et contemplator cœlestium, deprecare illuminari animas nostras.

Gaudeas, disertum cœlum, gloriam Dei passim enarrans. Primus Domino obediens ardenter effectus, ipsi immediate adhærens, ab ipso accensus, lumen apparuisti alterum, et degentes in tenebris, tuis illuminasti radiis, hanc Domini benignitatem imitatus: unde tuam omni8anctam perficimus laudem et reliquiarum thecam cum gaudio magno deosculamur, ex qua scaturit salus petentibus et magna misericordia.

Gentes nescientes Deum quasi ex abysso ignorantiæ vivas carpsisti sagena tuorum oraculorum, salsaque commoves æquora sapienter, equus optimus visus Dominatoris maris, celebrande; qui siccasti putredinem impietatis, sal honorandum, spargens sapientiam tuam: quam stupentes admirati sunt, apostole gloriose, qui malesanam sapientiam inflati amplexi erant, ignorantes Dominum donantem mundo magnam misericordiam.
When he, who is likened to the star of early mom, whom we call the hypostatic splendour of the Father’s glory, willed in his great mercy to save the human race: thou, O glorious Andrew, wast the first to meet him, being enlightened interiorly with the most perfect brightness of his Divinity; hence thou art called the herald and apostle of Christ our Lord. Pray to him for us, that he may save and enlighten our souls.

When he, whom the Precursor’s voice had proclaimed, the all-holy Word, was made flesh, and gave us life, and gave the good tidings of salvation to the earth; then didst thou, most holy Andrew, follow him, and make thyself his first-fruits, and sacrifice, and as it were the first oblation of men: thou didst make him known to thy brother, telling him that this was our God. Pray to Jesus for us, that he save our souls.
When he appeared who clothed himself with our flesh in a virginal yet fruitful womb, and was thus the Son of a Virgin, the teacher of piety, giving us this model of purity; then wast thou happy, O Andrew, most ardent lover of virtue; disposing in thy heart to ascend step by step, and wast raised up from glory to the unspeakable glory of the Lord our God. Beseech him, that he save and enlighten our souls.

Leaving thy fishing of fish, thou catchest men by the rod of thy preaching, throwing to them the bait of virtue, and dragging all nations from the depths of error. O Andrew, the apostle, brother of the leader, most honoured prince of the earth, excelling and unfailing! may the venerable remembrance of thee enlighten them that are in darkness.

Andrew, the apostle, the first-called of thy disciples, O Lord, and the imitator of thy Passion, and made like to thee, drew out with the hook of thy cross them that lived and wandered in the sea of ignorance, and then brought them unto thee: therefore do we thy faithful. who have been saved, cry to thee by his prayers, O infinitely good Lord: grant us peaceful lives, and save our souls.

The apostle, disciple of Christ, is a fire which inflames men’s minds and bums out their sins, penetrating into the very depth of their hearts: and by the mystic rays of his instructions he shines in the dark hearts of the Gentiles. Then, too, he bums the wild brambles of pagan fables, for the fire of the Spirit has such energy! And is it not a wonder to be trembled at, that a tongue of slime, a nature of clay, a body of dust, should make known the intellectual and the immaterial Knowledge? Do thou, the initiated into unspeakable things, the contemplator of heavenly truths, pray that our minds be illumined.

Be glad, O thou heaven of eloquence, everywhere telling the glory of God! The first to obey our Lord with ardour, immediately uniting thyself to him, thou wast set on fire by him, and didst appear as a second light, enlightening with thy rays them that sat in darkness, thus imitating the mercy of Jesus for man. Therefore do we celebrate thy most holy memory, and kiss with great joy the shrine of thy relics, from which flows health and every sort of boon to thy clients.

By the nets of thy oracles thou didst draw from the abyss of ignorance the nations that knew not God, and gavest them life. Like the splendid courser of the Ruler of the sea, thou, O worthy of all praise, didst stir up the bitter waves by thy wisdom. Thou, the venerable salt of earth, didst season with thy penetrating wisdom what ungodliness was corrupting. This thy wisdom, O glorious apostle, struck dumb with admiration those who had become imbued and puffed up with an unsound wisdom, and ignored the Lord that showed his great mercy to the world.

In the morning office

Accurristi siti non vocatus, Andrea, sed voluntarie, sicut cervus ad fontem vitæ. Fide innixus, de incorruptionis fontibus siti fatigatas extremas usque regiones potasti.

Cognovisti naturæ leges, Andrea admirande, et comparticipem accepisti fratrem, clamans: Invenimus Desideratum; atque ei qui iter fecerat secundum camis generationem, accersisti Spiritus cognitionem.

Verbum cum dixisset: 'Hic retro mei,' Christum alacer secutus est cum Andrea et Cephas, genitori valedicentes, et naviculæ, et retibus, tanquam fidei propugnacula.

Deifica inexhaustaque potentis omnifactoris atque flammantis Spiritus virtus in te, Andrea divine, inhabitans in igneæ linguæ forma, ineffabilium te indicavit praeconem.

Non arma ad defensionem attulit carnea, et ad destructionem terribilium inimici propugnaculorum, Andreas honoratissimus; sed ad Christum loricatus, quas captivitate redegerat Gentes, adduxit submissas.

Tuam ineffabilem pulchritudinem Andreas videns primus, Jesu, fratrem clara voce vocavit: Petre ardenter desiderans, invenimus Messiam, qui in Lege et in Prophetis proclamatus est; veni, veræ Vitæ agglutinemur.

Hunc pro mercede recuperasti quem desiderabas, Andrea apostole, ligatis cum eo laborum manipulis, tuisque digne cum eo collectis: unde te hymnis glorificamus.

Magistrum desiderasti, et illum insecutus es, qui illius vestigiis ad vitam ambulasti, et illius passiones, vere honorande Andrea, usque ad mortem imitatus.

Spiritualem vitæ tranquille navigatus abyssum, apostole, perambulasti cum velo Spiritus, fide Christi: ideoque ad vitæ portum pervenisti gaudens in cuncta sæcula.

Spiritali Sole in cruce occidente, voluntate propria, solis jubar cum illo quaerens dissolvi et occidere in Christum, in ligno suspensus est Andreas, fax magna et fulgida Ecclesiae.

Velut discipulus omnium optimus, illius qui voluntarie affixus est cruci, magistrum tuum usque ad mortem secutus, cum gaudio in altitudinem ascendisti crucis, viam instruens ad cœlos, beate apostole.

Gaude nunc, Bethsaida; in te enim floruerunt e materno fonte nimis odorifera lilia, Petrus et Andreas, universo mundo fidei prædicationis odorem ferentes gratia Christi, cujus passionibus communicaverunt.

Te patrum civitas pastorem possidet, et divinum præsidem, et periculorum omnium liberatorem, et custodem te, Andrea sapiens; gratanter honoravit te: sed tu deprecare incessanter pro ea, ut sorvetur ab omni perditione.
Not by thirst but by love wast thou urged, O Andrew, when thou didst run, as a stag, to the fountain of life. Leaning on faith, thou didst give to drink of the fountains of incorruption to the distant nations that were parched with thirst.

Thou didst feel the law of nature, O admirable Andrew, and thou didst take thy brother into partnership, crying out to him: ‘We have found the Desired One!’ and thus he who was walking in the ways of the flesh, was brought by thee to the knowledge of the Spirit.

When the Word said: ‘Now, follow me,' Cephas also joyfully followed Christ with Andrew, and bidding farewell to father, boat, and nets, they became the citadels of the faith.

The deifying and exhaustless virtue of the mighty Creator of all things, and of the burning Spirit, dwelt in thee in the form of a fiery tongue; showing that thou, O divine Andrew, wast a herald of unspeakable things.

Most honoured Andrew! he boro not weapons of the flesh for his defence, or for the destruction of the formidable ramparts of the enemy; but with a breast plate on him, he led subject to Christ the nations which had been redeemed by Christ from captivity.

Thy ineffable beauty, O Jesus, was first seen by Andrew, who then called out with a loud voice to his brother: 'Peter,' he said, 'thou man of ardent desires! we have found the Messias, whom the Law and the Prophets have foretold. O come, let us cling to this true life.’

As thy reward, O apostle Andrew, thou hast regained him whom thou desiredst: him with whom thou didst bind up and worthily garner the sheaves of thy labours. Therefore do we sing to thee our hymns of praise.

Thou desiredst the Master, and thou hast followed him, walking unto life in his footsteps, and imitating, even unto death, his passion, O verily venerable Andrew!

Calmly sailing the sea of the spiritual life, O apostle, thou didst cross it with the sails of the Spirit and the faith of Christ. Therefore didst thou enter with joy into the port of life for ever.

The spiritual Sun having, by his own will, sunk on the cross, Andrew, that Sun’s reflection, the great and bright light of the Church, wishing also to be dissolved and to set with him, was hung upon a cross.

As the best of all the disciples of him, who, of his own will, was fastened to the cross, thou, O blessed apostle, following thy Master even unto death, didst ascend with joy to the summit of the cross, showing us the way that leads to heaven.

Rejoice now, O Bethsaida! for in thee and thy maternal fount bloomed the two most fragrant lilies, Peter and Andrew, bearing by the grace of Christ, whom they resembled in his passion, the odour of the preaching of the faith to the whole world.

The city of the fathers possesses thee as its pastor, and its divine chief, and its liberator in all dangers, and its keeper, O Andrew, full of wisdom! Gratefully has it kept thy feast; but do thou unceasingly pray for it, that it may be preserved from all danger.

The Church of Constantinople, so devoted, as we have seen, to the glory of St. Andrew, was at length deprived of the precious treasure of his relics. This happened in the year 1210, when the city was taken by the crusaders. Cardinal Peter of Capua, the legate of the holy See, translated the body of St.

Andrew into the cathedral of Amalfi, a town in the kingdom of Naples, where it remains to this day, the glorious instrument of numberless miracles, and the object of the devout veneration of. the people. It is well known how, at the same period, the most precious relics of the Greek Church came, by a visible judgement of God, into the possession of the Latins. Byzantium refused to accept those terrible warnings, and continued obstinate in her schism. She was still in possession of the head of the holy apostle, owing, no doubt, to this circumstance, that in the several translations which had been made, it had been kept in a separate reliquary by itself. When the Byzantine empire was destroyed by the Turks, divine Providence so arranged events, as that the Church of Rome should be enriched with this magnificent relic. In 1462, the head of St. Andrew was, therefore, brought thither by the celebrated Cardinal Bessarion; and on Palm Sunday, the twelfth of April, the heroic Pope Pius II. went in great pomp to meet it as far as the Milvian bridge (Ponte Molle), and then placed it in the basilica of St. Peter, on the Vatican, where it is at present, near the confession of the prince of the apostles. At the sight of this venerable head, Pius II. was transported with a religious enthusiasm, and before taking up the glorious relic in order to carry it into Rome, he pronounced the following magnificent address, which we give as a conclusion to the liturgical praises given by the several Churches to St. Andrew.

‘At length thou hast arrived, O most holy and venerable head of the saintly apostle! The fury of the Turks has driven thee from thy resting-place, and thou art come as an exile to thy brother, the prince of the apostles. Thy brother will not fail thee; and by the will of God, the day will come when men shall say in thy praise: O happy banishment, which caused thee to receive such a welcome! Meanwhile, here shalt thou dwell with thy brother, and share in his honours.

‘This is Rome, the venerable city, which was dedicated by thy brother’s precious blood. The people thou seest, are they whom the blessed apostle, thy most loving brother, and St. Paul, the vessel of election, regenerated unto Christ our Lord. Thus the Romans are thy kinsmen. They venerate, and honour, and love thee as their father’s brother; nay, as their second father; and are confident of thy patronage in the presence of the great God.

‘O most blessed apostle Andrew! thou preacher of the truth, and defender of the dogma of the most holy Trinity! with what joy dost thou fill us on this day, whereon it is given us to behold thy sacred and venerable head, which deserved that, on the day of Pentecost, the holy Paraclete should rest upon it in the form of fire!

‘O ye Christians that visit Jerusalem out of reverence for your Saviour, that there ye may see the places where His feet have stood; lo! here is the throne of the Holy Ghost. Here sat the Spirit of the Lord. Here was seen the Third Person of the Trinity. Here were the eyes that so often saw Jesus in the flesh. This was the mouth that so often spake to Jesus; and on these cheeks did that same Lord doubtless impress His sacred kisses.

‘O wondrous sanctuary, wherein dwelt charity, and kindness, and gentleness, and spiritual consolation. Who could look upon such venerable and precious relics of the apostle of Christ, and not be moved? and not be filled with tender devotion? and not shed tears for very joy? Yea, O most admirable apostle Andrew! we rejoice, and are glad, and exult, at this thy coming, for we doubt not that thou thyself art present here, and bearest us company as we enter with thy head into the holy city.

‘The Turks are indeed our enemies, as being the enemies of the Christian religion: but in that they have been the occasion of thy coming amongst us, we are grateful to them. For what greater blessing could have befallen us than that we should be permitted to see thy most sacred head, and that our Rome should be filled with its fragrance? Oh! that we could welcome thee with the honours which are due to thee, and receive thee in a way becoming thy exceeding holiness! But accept our good will, and our sincere desires to honour thee, and suffer us now to touch thy relics with our unworthy hands, and, though sinners, to accompany thee within the walls of the city.

‘Enter, then, the holy city, and show thy love to her people. May thy coming be a boon to Christendom. May thy entrance be peaceful, and thy abode amongst us bring happiness and prosperity. Be thou our advocate in heaven, and, together with the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, defend this city, and protect, with thy love, all Christian people; that, by thy intercession, the mercy of God may be upon us; and if His indignation be enkindled against us by reason of our manifold sins, let it fall upon the impious Turks and the pagan nations that blaspheme our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.’

Thus has the glory of St. Andrew been blended, in Rome, with that of St. Peter. But the apostle of the cross, whose feast was heretofore kept in many Churches with an octave, has also been chosen as patron of one of the kingdoms of the west. Scotland, when she was a Catholic country, had put herself under his protection. May he still exercise his protection over her, and, by his prayers, hasten her return to the true faith!

Let us now, in union with the Church, pray to this holy apostle, for this is the glorious day of his feast: let us pay him that honour which is due to him, and ask him for the help of which we stand in need.

We have scarce begun our mystic journey of Advent, seeking our divine Saviour Jesus, when lo! God grants us to meet thee, O blessed Andrew, at our very first step. When Jesus, our Messias, began His public life, thou hadst already become the obedient disciple of His Precursor, who preached His coming: thou wast among the first of them who received the Son of Mary as the Messias foretold in the Law and the Prophets. But thou couldst not keep the heavenly secret from him who was so dear to thee; to Peter, then, thou didst bear the good tidings, and didst lead him to Jesus.

O blessed apostle! we also are longing for the Messias, the Saviour of our souls; since thou hast found Him, lead us also unto Him. We place under thy protection this holy period of expectation and preparation, which is to bring us to the day of our Saviour’s Nativity, that divine mystery in which He will manifest Himself to the world. Assist us to render ourselves worthy of seeing Him on that great night. The baptism of Penance prepared thee for receiving the grace of knowing the Word of life; pray for us that we may become truly penitent and may purify our hearts, during this holy time, and thus be able to behold Him, who has said: ‘Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.’

Thou hast a special power of leading souls to Jesus, O glorious saint! for even he, who was to be made the pastor of the whole flock, was presented to the Messias by thee. By calling thee to Himself on this day, our Lord has given thee as the patron of Christians who, each year at this season, are seeking that God in whom thou art now living: they must begin it with praying to thee to show them the way which leads to Jesus.

Thou teachest us this way; it is that of fidelity, of fidelity even to the cross. In that way thou didst courageously walk: and because the cross leads to Jesus Christ, thou didst passionately love the cross. Pray for us, O holy apostle! that we may begin to understand this love of the cross; and that, having understood it, we may put it in practice. Thy brother says to us in his Epistle: ‘Christ having suffered in the flesh, be you also armed with the same thought.’[1] Thy feast, O blessed Andrew! shows us thee as the living commentary of this doctrine. Because thy Master was crucified, thou wouldst also be crucified. From the high throne to which thou hast been raised by the cross, pray for us, that the cross may be unto us the expiation of the sins which are upon us, the quenching of the passions which burn within us, and the means of uniting us by love to Him, who, through love alone for us, was nailed to the cross.

Important, indeed, and precious are these lessons of the cross: but the cross, O blessed apostle, is the perfection and the consummation, and not the first commencement. It is the Infant God, it is the God of the crib that we must first know and love; it was the Lamb of God that St. John pointed out to thee; and it is that Lamb whom we so ardently desire to contemplate. The austere and awful time of Jesus’ Passion has not come; we are now in Advent. Fortify us for the day of combat; but the grace we now most need is compunction and tender love. We put under thy patronage this great work of our preparation for the coming of Jesus into our hearts.

Remember also, O blessed Andrew, the holy Church, of which thou wast the pillar, and which thou hast beautified by the shedding of thy blood: lift up thy hands for her to Him, whose battle she is for ever fighting. Pray that the cross she has to bear in this her pilgrimage may be lightened; that she may love this cross, and that it may be the source of her power and her glory. Remember with especial love the holy Roman Church, the mother and mistress of all Churches; and by reason of that fervent love she has for thee, obtain for her victory and peace by the cross. Visit anew, in thy apostolic zeal, the Church of Constantinople, which has forfeited true light and unity, because she would not render homage to Peter, thy brother, whom thou honouredst as thy chief, out of love to Him who is the common Master of both him and thee. And lastly, pray for Scotland, that has dishonoured thy protection for these three past ages; obtain for her that the days of her rebellion from the faith may be shortened, and, with the rest of our isle of saints, she may soon return to the fold of the one Shepherd.

We will close this day with a prayer to the Saviour, whom we are expecting; and celebrate, by this ancient and venerable hymn, the mystery of His coming.

Hymn for the time of Advent
(In the Mozarabic breviary; in the hymnarium)

Gaudete, flores martyrum!
Salvete, plebes gentium,
Visum per astra mittite,
Sperate signum gloriæ.

Voces prophetarum sonant,
Venire Jesum nuntiant,
Redemptionis praevia
Quæ nos redemit gratia.

Hic mane nostrum promicat,
Et corda laeta exaestuant,
Cum vox fidelis personat
Praenuntiatrix gloriam.

Tantæ salutis gaudium,
Quo est redemptum saeculum,
Exceptionis inclytum
Abhinc ciamus canticum.

Adventus hic primus fuit,
Punire quo non saeculi
Venit, sed ulcus torgere,
Salvando quod perierat.

At hunc secundus præmonet
Adesse Christum januis,
Sanctis coronas reddere,
Cœli que regna pandere.

Æterna lux promittitur,
Sidusque salvans promitur;
Jam nos jubar præfulgidum
Ad jus vocat cœlestium.

Te, Christe, Solum quaerimus
Videre sicut es Deus,
Ut laeta nos haec visio
Evellat omni tartaro.

Quo dum Redemptor veneris,
Cum candidato martyrum
Globo, adunes cœlibi
Nos tunc beato cœtui.

Deo Patri sit gloria,
Eljusque soli Filio,
Cum Spiritu Paraclito,
Et nunc et in perpetuum.

Amen.
Rejoice, ye flowers of the martyrs!
Hail, all ye people and nations!
lift up your eyes to heaven,
and await the sign of glory.

The voice of the prophets is heard,
announcing the coming of Jesus;
it is the harbinger of our redemption,
of the grace which saved us.

How bright is our morn,
and how do our hearts swell with joy,
when the faithful voice comes
heralding in our glory!

May the joy of so great a salvation,
whereby the world is redeemed,
inspire us with a solemn canticle
in praise of Jesus’ coming.

It was his first:
and he came not to punish,
but to heal the sores and sins of the world,
saving his creature that was lost.

But when the second Advent comes,
it will tell the world that Christ is at its very doors,
to give the saints their crowns,
and throw open the kingdom of heaven.

We have a promise of eternal light:
the star of our salvation is rising;
and even now its splendid rays are calling us
to our right to heaven.

Thee alone, O Jesus, do we seek,
and wish to see thee as thou art, God.
Happy vision,
which will put us out of all reach of hell!

That thus, when thou comest, O Redeemer,
surrounded by the white-robed army of martyrs,
thou mayst admit us also
into their pure company.

To God the Father,
and to his only Son,
and to the holy Paraclete,
be glory both now and for over.

Amen.

[1] 1 St. Peter iv. 1.

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

O Oriens, splendor lucis æternæ, et sol justitiæ; veni et illumina sedentesin tenebris, et umbra mortis.
O Orient! splendour of eternal light, and Sun of justice! come and enlighten them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death.

O Jesus, divine Sun! Thou art coming to snatch us from eternal night: blessed for ever be Thy infinite goodness! But Thou puttest our faith to the test, before showing Thyself in all Thy brightness. Thou hidest Thy rays, until the time decreed by Thy heavenly Father comes, in which all Thy beauty will break upon the world. Thou art traversing Judea; Thou art near Jerusalem; the journey of Mary and Joseph is nigh its term. Crowds of men pass or meet Thee on the road, each one hurrying to his native town, there to be enrolled, as the edict commands. Not one of all these suspects that Thou, O divine Orient! art so near him. They see Thy Mother Mary, and they see nothing in her above the rest of women; or if they are impressed by the majesty and incomparable modesty of this august Queen, it is but a vague feeling of surprise at there being such dignity in one so poor as she is; and they soon forget her again. If the Mother is thus an object of indifference to them, it is not to be expected that they will give even so much as a thought to her Child, that is net yet born. And yet this Child is Thyself, O Sun of justice! Oh! increase our faith, but increase, too, our love. If these men loved Thee, O Redeemer of mankind, Thou wouldst give them the grace to feel Thy presence. Their eyes, indeed, would not yet see Thee, but their hearts, at least, would burn within them, they would long for Thy coming, and would hasten it by their prayers and sighs. Dearest Jesus! who thus traversest the world Thou hast created, and who forcest not the homage of Thy creatures, we wish to keep near Thee during the rest of this Thy journey: we kiss the footsteps of her that carries Thee in her womb; we will not leave Thee, until we arrive together with Thee at Bethlehem, that house of bread, where, at last, our eyes will see Thee, O splendour of eternal light, our Lord and our God!

Prayer for the Time of Advent
(The Mozarabic breviary, Monday of the fifth week. Oratio)

Immane satis facinus video coram tuis, Deus Pater, oculis a reprobis perpetratum: qui, dum Filium tuum, prædicatum in Lege, contemnunt, in incredulitatis suæ voragine remanserunt; dum hi quibus non erat de eo nuntiatum, viderunt eum, et qui non audierunt, intelligentia contemplati sunt. Amove ergo, quæsumus, quidquid resistit tibi in opere, ut credulo pectore sic in nobis virgulta donorum praepolleant, ut radix humilitatis nunquam arescat. Amen.
O God, our Father! what horrid crime is this I see committed in thy presence by the reprobate Jews! They spurn thy Son, that was foretold in the Law, and remain in the gulf of their incredulity; whereas, they to whom he was not announced, have seen him; and they who heard not, contemplated him in their spirit. Remove, therefore, we beseech thee, from us all that resists thee in our conduct, that so, with a believing heart, we may in such manner bring forth the branches of thy gifts bestowed on us, as that the root of humility may never dry up within us. Amen.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

‘At length,’ says St. Peter Damian, in his sermon for this holy eve, 'at length we have come from the stormy sea into the tranquil port; hitherto it was the promise, now it is the prize; hitherto labour, now rest; hitherto despair, now hope; hitherto the way, now our home. The heralds of the divine promise came to us; but they gave us nothing but rich promises. Hence our psalmist himself grew wearied and slept, and, with a seemingly reproachful tone, thus sings his lamentation to God: “But Thou hast rejected and despised us; Thou hast deferred the coming of Thy Christ.”[1] At another time he assumes a tone of command and thus prays: “O Thou that sittest upon the Cherubim, show Thyself!”[2] Seated on Thy high throne, with myriads of adoring angels around Thee, look down upon the children of men, who are victims of that sin, which was committed indeed by Adam, but permitted by Thy justice. Remember what my substance is;[3] Thou didst make it to the likeness of Thine own; for though every living man is vanity, yet inasmuch as he is made to Thy image, he is not a passing vanity.[4] Bend Thy heavens and come down, and turn the eyes of Thy mercy upon us Thy miserable suppliants, and forget us not unto the end!

'Isaias, also, in the vehemence of his desire, thus spoke: “For Sion’s sake I will not hold my peace, and for the sake of Jerusalem I will not rest, till her Just One come forth as brightness. Oh! that thou wouldst rend the heavens, and wouldst come down!” So, too, all the prophets, tired of the long delay of the coming, have prayed to Thee, now with supplication, now with lamentation, and now with cries of impatience. We have listened to these their prayers; we have made use of them as our own, and now, nothing can give us joy or gladness, till our Saviour come to us, and, kissing us with the kiss of His lips, say to us: “I have heard and granted your prayers.”

‘But, what is this that has been said to us: “Sanctify yourselves, O ye children of Israel, and be ready; for on the morrow the Lord will come down”? We are, then, but one half day and night from the grand visit, the admirable birth of the Infant God! Hurry on your course, ye fleeting hours, that we may the sooner see the Son of God in His crib, and pay our homage to this world-saving birth. You, brethren, are the children of Israel, that are sanctified, and cleansed from every defilement of soul and body, ready, by your earnest devotion, for to morrow’s mysteries. Such, indeed, you are, if I may judge from the manner in which you have spent these sacred days of preparation for the coming of your Saviour.

‘But if, notwithstanding all your care, some drops of the stream of this life’s frailties are still on your hearts, wipe them away and cover them with the snow-white robe of confession. This I can promise you from the mercy of the divine Infant: he that shall confess his sins and be sorry for them, shall have born within him the Light of the world; the darkness that deceived him shall be dispelled; and he shall enjoy the brightness of the true Light. For how can mercy be denied to the miserable this night, in which the merciful and compassionate Lord is so mercifully born? Therefore, drive away from you all haughty looks, and idle words, and unjust works; let your loins be girt, and your feet walk in the right paths; and then come, and accuse the Lord, if this night He rend not the heavens, and come down to you, and throw all your sins into the depths of the sea.’

This holy eve is, indeed, a day of grace and hope, and we ought to spend it in spiritual joy. The Church, contrary to her general practice, prescribes that, if Christmas Eve fall on a Sunday, the fasting alone shall be anticipated on the Saturday; but that the Office and Mass of the vigil should take precedence of the Office and Mass of the fourth Sunday of Advent. How solemn, then, in the eyes of the Church, are these few hours, which separate us from the great feast! On all other feasts, no matter how great they may be, the solemnity begins with first Vespers, and until then the Church restrains her joy, and celebrates the Divine Office and Sacrifice according to the lenten rite. Christmas, on the contrary, seems to begin with the vigil; and one would suppose that this morning’s Lauds were the opening of the feast; for the solemn intonation of this portion of the Office is that of a double, and the antiphons are sung before and after each psalm or canticle. The purple vestments are used at the Mass, but all the genuflexions peculiar to the Advent ferias are omitted; and only one Collect is said, instead of the three usually said when the Mass is not that of a solemnity.

Let us enter into the spirit of the Church, and prepare ourselves, in all the joy of our hearts, to meet the Saviour who is coming to us. Let us observe with strictness the fast which is prescribed; it will enable our bodies to aid the promptness of our spirit. Let us delight in the thought that, before we again lie down to rest, we shall have seen Him born, in the solemn midnight, who comes to give light to every creature. For surely it is the duty of every faithful child of the Catholic Church to celebrate with her this happy night, when, in spite of all the coldness of devotion, the whole universe keeps up its watch for the arrival of its Saviour. It is one of the last vestiges of the piety of ancient days, and God forbid it should ever be effaced!

Let us, in a spirit of prayer, look at the principal portions of the Office of this beautiful vigil. First, then, the Church makes a mysterious announcement to her children. It serves as the Invitatory of Matins, and as the Introit and Gradual of the Mass. They are the words which Moses addressed to the people of God when he told them of the heavenly manna, which they would receive on the morrow. We, too, are expecting our Manna, our Jesus, the Bread of life, who is to be born in Bethlehem, which is the house of Bread.

Invitatory

Hodie scietis quia veniet Dominus, et mane videbitis gloriam ejus.
This day ye shall know that the Lord will come, and in the morning ye shall see his glory.

The responsories are full of sublimity and sweetness. Nothing can be more affecting than their lyric melody, sung to us by our mother the Church, on the very night which precedes the night of Jesus’ birth.

R. Sanctificamini hodie et estote parati: quia die crastina videbitis * Majestatem Dei in vobis. V. Hodie scietis quia veniet Dominus, et mane videbitis * Majestatem Dei in vobis.

R. Constantes estote; videbitis auxilium Domini super vos; Judæa et Jerusalem, nolite timere: * Cras egrediemini, et Dominus erit vobiscum: V. Sanctificamini, filii Israel et estote parati * Cras egrediemini, et Dominus erit vobiscum.

R. Sanctificamini, filii Israel, dicit Dominus: die enim crastina descendet Dominus: * Et auferet a vobis omnem languorem. V. Crastina die delebitur iniquitas terrae, et regnabit super nos Salvator mundi. * Et auferet a vobis omnem languorem.
R. Sanctify yourselves this day, and be ye ready: for on the morrow ye shall see * the Majesty of God amongst you. V. This day ye shall know that the Lord will come, and in the morning ye shall see * the Majesty of God amongst you.

R. Be ye constant; ye shall see the help of the Lord upon you: fear not, Judea and Jerusalem: * To-morrow ye shall go forth, and the Lord shall be with you: V. Sanctify yourselves, ye children of Israel, and be ye ready. * Tomorrow ye shall go forth, and the Lord shall be with you.

R. Sanctify yourselves, ye children of Israel, saith the Lord: for on the morrow, the Lord shall come down: * And shall take from you all that is languid. V. To-morrow the iniquity of the earth shall be cancelled, and over us shall reign the Saviour of the world. * And he shall take from you all that is languid.

At the Office of Prime, in cathedral chapters and monasteries, the announcement of to-morrow’s feast is made with unusual solemnity. The lector, who frequently is one of the dignitaries of the choir, sings, to a magnificent chant, the following lesson from the martyrology. All the assistants remain standing during it, until the lector comes to the word Bethlehem, at which all genuflect, and continue in that posture until all the glad tidings are told.

Octavo Kalendas Januarii

Anno a creatione mundi, quando in principio Deus creavit cœlum et terram, quinquies millesimo centesimo nonagesimo nono: A diluvio vero, anno bis millesimo nongentesimo quinquagesimo septimo: A nativitate Abrahæ, anno bis millesimo quintodecimo: A Moyse et egressu populi Israel de Ægypto, anno millesimo quingentesimo decimo: Ab unctione David in regem, anno millesimo trigesimo secundo: Hebdomada sexagesima quinta juxta Danielis prophetiam: Olympiade centesima nonagesima quarta: Ab urbe Roma condita, anno septingentesimo quinquagesimo secundo: Anno imperii Octaviani Augusti quadragesimo secundo: toto orbe in pace composito, sexta mundi ætate, Jesus Christus æternus Deus, æternique Patris Filius, mundum volens adventu suo piissimo consecrare, de Spiritu sancto conceptus, novemque post conceptionem decursis mensibus, in Bethlehem Judæ nascitur ex Maria Virgine factus homo: NATIVITAS DOMINI NOSTRI JESU CHRISTI SECUNDUM CARNEM!
The Eighth of the Calends of January

The year from the creation of the world, when in the beginning God created heaven and earth, five thousand one hundred and ninety-nine: from the deluge, the year two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seven: from the birth of Abraham, the year two thou, sand and fifteen: from Moses and the going out of the people of Israel from Egypt, the year one thousand five hundred and ten: from David’s being anointed king, the year one thousand and thirty-two: in the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel: in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad: from the building of the city of Rome, the year seven hundred and fiftytwo: in the forty-second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus: the whole world being in peace: in the sixth age of the world: Jesus Christ, the eternal God, and Son of the eternal Father, wishing to consecrate this world by his most merciful coming, being conceived of the Holy Ghost, and nine months since his conception having passed, in Bethlehem of Juda, is born of the Virgin Mary, being made Man: THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST ACCORDINO TO THE FLESH!

Thus have passed before us, in succession, all the generations of the world.[5] Each of them is asked if it have seen Him whom we are expecting, and each is silent; until the name of Mary is pronounced, and then is proclaimed the Nativity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, made Man. St. Bernard, speaking of this announcement, says: 'The voice of joy has gone forth in our land, the voice of rejoicing and of salvation is in the tabernacles of the just. There has been heard a good word, a word that gives consolation, a word that is full of gladsomeness, a word worthy of all acceptance. Resound with praise, ye mountains, and all ye trees of the forests clap your hands before the face of the Lord, for He is coming. Hearken, O ye heavens, and give ear, O earth! be astounded and give praise, O all ye creatures! but thou, O man, more than all they! JESUS CHRIST, THE SON OF GOD, IS BORNIN BETHLEHEM OF JUDA! Who is there that is so hard of heart, that this word does not touch him? Could anything be told us sweeter than this? Could any news delight us like this? Was such a thing ever heard, or anything like it ever told to the world? JESUS CHRIST, THE SON OF GOD, IS BORN IN BETHLEHEM OF JUDA! O brief word of the Word abridged![6] and yet how full of heavenly beauty! The heart, charmed with the honeyed sweetness of the expression, would fain diffuse it and spread it out into more words; but no, it must be given just as it is, or you spoil it: JESUS CHRIST, THE SON OF GOD, IS BORN IN BETHLEHEM OF JUDA!’[7]

MASS

Introit

Hodie scietis, quia veniet Dominus, et salvabit nos: et mane videbitis gloriam ejus. Ps. Domini est terra et plenitudo ejus; orbis terrarum, et universi qui habitant in eo. V. Gloria.
This day ye shall know that the Lord will come, and save us: and in the morning ye shall see his glory. Ps. The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world and all that dwell therein. V. Glory.

In the Collect, the Church makes a last allusion to the coming of Jesus as our Judge at the end of the world. But after this, she can look upon her Jesus only as the Prince of peace, and as the Spouse who comes to her. Her children must imitate her confidence.

Collect

Deus, qui nos redemptionis nostræ annua exspectatione lætificas: præsta, ut Unigenitum tuum, quem Redemptorem læti suscipimus, venientem quoque Judicem securi videamus, Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum. Qui tecum.
O God, who makest us rejoice in the yearly expectation of the feast of our redemption: grant that we who joyfully receive thy only-begotten Son as a Redeemer, may behold, without fear, the same Lord Jesus Christ coming as our Judge. Who liveth, &c.

In the Epistle, the apostle St. Paul, addressing himself to the Romans, makes known to them the dignity and holiness of the Gospel, that is, of those good tidings, which the angels are to bring to us this very night. Now, the subject of this Gospel is Jesus, the Son that is born unto God, of the family of David, according to the flesh. This Jesus comes that He may be to His Church the source of grace and apostleship. It is by these two gifts that we are still associated, after so many ages, to the joys of the great mystery of His birth in Bethlehem.

Epistle

Lectio Epistolae beati Pauli Apostoli ad Romanos.

Cap. i.

Paulus, servus Jesu Christi, vocatus apostolus, segregatus in Evangelium Dei, quod ante promiserat per prophetas suos in Scripturis sanctis, de Fillo suo, qui factus est ei ex semine David secundum carnem, qui prædestinatus est Filius Dei in virtute, secundum Spiritum sanctificationis, ex resurrectione mortuorum Jesu Christi Domini nostri: per quem accepimus gratiam et apostolatum, ad obediendum fidei in omnibus gentibus pro nomine ejus, in quibus estis et vos vocati Jesu Christi Domini nostri
Lesson of the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Romans.

Ch. i.

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle separated unto the Gospel of God, which he had promised before by his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was made to him of the seed of David according to the flesh, who was predestinated the Son of God in power, according to the spirit of sanctification by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead: by whom we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith in all nations for his name, among whom are you also the called of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Gradual

Hodie scietis quia veniet Dominus, et salvabit nos: et mane videbitis gloriam ejus.

V. Qui regis Israel intende: qui deducis velut ovem Joseph: qui sedes super Cherubim, appare coram Ephraim, Benjamin et Manasse.
This day ye shall know that the Lord will come, and save us: and in the morning ye shall see his glory.

V. Thou who rulest Israel, hearken: thou who leadest Joseph like a sheep: thou who sittest on the Cherubim, show thyself to Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasses.

If the vigil of Christmas fall on a Sunday, the following is added:

Alleluia, alleluia.

V. Crastina die delebitur iniquitas terræ, et regnabit super nos Salvator mundi. Alleluia.
Alleluia, alleluia.

V. To-morrow the sins of the earth shall be cancelled, and the Saviour of the world shall reign over us. Alleluia.

The Gospel of to-day’s Mass is the passage which relates the trouble of St. Joseph and the visit he received from the angel. This incident, which forms one of the preludes to the birth of our Saviour, could not but enter into the liturgy for Advent; and so far, there was no suitable occasion for its insertion. The vigil of Christmas was the right day for this Gospel, for another reason: the angel, in speaking to St. Joseph, tells him that the name to be given to the Child of Mary is Jesus, which signifies that He will save His people from their sins.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum

Cap. i.

Quum esset desponsata Mater Jesu Maria Joseph, antequam convenirent, inventa est in utero habens de Spiritu sancto. Joseph autem vir ejus, quum esset justus, et nollet eam traducere, voluit occulte dimittere eam. Hæc autem eo cogitante, ecce angelus Domini apparuit in somnis ei, dicens: Joseph, fili David, noli timere accipere Mariam conjugem tuam: quod enim in ea natum est, de Spiritu sancto est. Pariet autem Filium: et vocabis nomen ejus Jesum: ipse enim salvum faciet populum suum a peccatis eorum.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew

Ch. i.

When Mary, the Mother of Jesus, was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Whereupon Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing publicly to expose her, was minded to put her away privately. But while he thought on these things, behold the angel of the Lora appeared to him in his sleep, saying: Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a Son: and thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins.

Offertory

Tollite portas, principes, vestras, et elevamini portæ æternales: et introibit Rex gloriæ.
Lift up your gates, O ye princes, ana be ye lifted up, O eternal gates; and the King of glory shall enter in.

 


Secret

Da nobis, quæsumus, omnipotens Deus: ut sicut adoranda Filii tui natalitia prævenimus; sic ejus munera capiamus sempiterna gaudentes. Qui tecum.
Grant, we beseech thee, O almighty God, that as we celebrate the eve of the adorable birth of thy Son; we may one day receive with joy his eternal rewards. Who liveth, &c.

During the Communion, the Church expresses her joy at receiving, in the Eucharistic Sacrament, Him whose flesh purifies and nourishes ours. She is strengthened by the consolation given to her by the divine Food, to wait yet a little longer for that happy moment, in which angels will come and invite her to the crib of the Messias.

Communion

Revelabitur gloria Domini: et videbit omnis caro salutare Dei nostri.
The glory of the Lord shall be revealed: and all flesh shall see the salvation of our God.

 

Postcommunion

Da nobis, quæsumus, Domine, unigeniti Filii tui recensita Nativitate respirare: cujus cœlesti mysterio pascimur, et potamur. Per eumdem.
Grant us, we beseech thee, O Lord, relief by celebrating the birth of thy only Son, whose sacred mystery is our meat and drink. Through, &c.

The Ambrosian and Mozarabic liturgies have nothing in their Office and Mass for this vigil which we deem telling enough for insertion here. In the anthology of the Greeks there is a hymn, which will assist our devotion, and from which we take the following stanzas. It is called: The beginning of the Hours of the Nativity: Tierce, Sext, and None.

Hymn for the Vigil of Christmas
(Taken from the Anthology of the Greeks)

Inscribebatur die quadam cum sene Joseph, tanquam ex semine David, in Bethlehem, Maria, sine semine foetum utero gestans; advenerat pariendi tempus, et nullus erat in diversorio locus, sed pro splendido palatio spelunca Reginæ aderat.

Adimpleri nunc urget propheticum præconium mystice nuncians: Et tu Bethlehem, terra Juda, nequaquam minima es in principibus, prima adornans speluncam. Ex te enim mihi veniet dux gentium, per carnem ex puella Virgine, Christus Detis qui reget populum suum novum Israel. Demus ei omnes magnificentiam.

Iste Deus noster, præter eum non numerabitur alius, natus ex Virgine, et cum hominibus conversatus: in pauperculo jacens præsepio Filius Unigenitus mortalis apparet, et fasciis implicatur gloriae Dominus: stella Magis indicat ut illum adorent, nosque canamus: Trinitas sancta, salva animas nostras.

Venite, fideles: divinitus extollamur, Deumque videamus ex alto in Bethlehem manifeste descendentem, et sursum mentem elevantes, pro myrrha vitæ afferamus virtutes, praeordinantes cum fide natalitium introitum, et dicamus: Gloria in excelsis Deo qui trinus est, cujus erga homines manifestatur benevolentia! qui Adam redimens et plasma tuum elevasti, philanthrope!

Audi, cœlum, et auribus percipe, terra: commoveantur fundamenta orbis, tremorem apprehendant terrestria; quia Deus et auctor carnis plasmatis formam induit, et qui creaturam creatrice corroboravit manu, misericordia motus videtur forma indutus. O divitiarum sapientiæ scientiæque Dei abyssus! quam inscrutabilia illius judicia, et investigabiles viæ ejus!

Venite, Christiferi populi, videamus prodigium omnem stupefaciens et cohibens cogitationem, et pie procumbentes cum fide hymnificemus. Hodie ad Bethlehem puella advenit paritura Dominum; præcurrunt angelorum chori: illamque videns Joseph sponsus ejus clamabat: Quidnam in te prodigiosum mysterium, Virgo? Et quomodo parturire debes, jugi expers juvenca?

Hodie nascitur ex Virgine qui pugillo omnem creaturam continet: panniculis sicut mortalis fasciatur qui essentia intactibilis est; Deus in præsepio reclinatur, qui olim in principio cœlos stabilivit; ex uberibus lacte nutritur per quem in deserto manna pluebat populo; Magos advocat Sponsus Ecclesiæ; dona illorum accipit Virginis Filius. Adoramus tuam Nativitatem, Christe; ostende nobis tuas divinas Theophanias.

On a certain day, there was enrolled at Bethlehem, together with the old man Joseph, as being of the family of David, Mary, who bore in her virginal womb the divine fruit. The time of her delivery was come, and there was no place in the inn; and instead of a splendid palace for the Queen there was but a cave.

The moment has come for the accomplishment of the mystic prophecy: ‘And thou Bethlehem, land of Juda, art not the least among the princes, for thou art the first to adorn the cave. For there shall come to me from thee the leader of the nations, born of a Virgin-Maid according to the flesh; it is Christ, who is God, and he shall rule his new people of Israel.’ Let us all give him highest praise.

This is our God, and there is none other; he was born of a Virgin, and he conversed with men; the only-begotten Son becomes mortal, and is laid in a poor crib; the Lord of glory is wrapped in swaddling clothes; the star invites the Magi to adore him, and let us sing: O holy Trinity, save our souls!

Come, all ye faithful: let us be transported with divine enthusiasm; let us look at God coming in a visible form from on high and descending into Bethlehem; then raising up our minds, let us bring to him our virtues as the myrrh we offer him, thus preparing, with faith, for his birth among us: let us sing, Glory in the highest be to God, one in three Persons, whose good-will to man is thus made manifest! for thou, O Jesus! the Lover of man, hast redeemed Adam and restored the work of thy hands!

Hear, O ye heavens, and give ear, O earth! let the foundations of the earth be moved, and all the earth tremble: for God the maker of man has himself put on a created form, and he whose creative hand upheld his creatures, has, by mercy moved, clothed himself with a body. Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are his judgements, and how unsearchable his ways!

O come, ye Christian people! let us see the prodigy that stupefies all thought and holds it in suspense; then let us devoutly adore, and sing our hymns with hearts full of faith. This day there hath come to Bethlehem a Maid that is to give birth to God! Choirs of angels are already there! Joseph, her spouse, seeing her, has already received the answer to his question: What is this mystery which I see in thee, pure Virgin? How canst thou bring forth, that never hast borne a mother’s humiliation?

This day, there is bora of a Virgin, he that holds in his hand the whole creation. He whose very essence 'tis to be intangible, has become mortal and is bound in swathing-bands. He who, of old, in the beginning, poised and set the heavens, is laid in a manger. He who rained down manna on his people in the desert, is fed with milk at his Mother’s breast. The Spouse of the Church invites the Magi; the Son of the Virgin accepts their gifts. We adore thy Nativity, O Jesus! show unto us thy divine manifestations.


Let us contemplate our blessed Lady, and her faithful spouse Joseph, leaving the city of Jerusalem, and continuing their journey to Bethlehem, which they reach after a few hours. In obedience to the will of heaven, they immediately repair to the place where their names are to be enrolled, as the emperor’s edict requires. There is entered in the public register, Joseph, a carpenter of Nazareth in Galilee. To his name, there is, doubtless, added that of Mary, spouse of the above-named Joseph. Perhaps they enter her as a young woman, in the ninth month of her pregnancy. And this is all! O Incarnate Word! Thou art not yet counted by men! Thou art upon this earth of Thine, and men set Thee down as nothing! And yet, all this excitement of the enrolment of the world is to be for nothing else but this, that Mary, Thy august Mother, may come to Bethlehem, and there give Thee birth!

O ineffable mystery! how grand is this apparent littleness! how mighty this divine weakness! But God has still lower to descend than merely coming on our earth. He goes from house to house of His people: not one will receive Him. He must go and seek a crib in the stable of poor dumb beasts. There, until such time as the angels sing to Him their hymn, and the shepherds and the Magi come with their offerings, He will meet ‘the ox that knoweth its Owner, and the ass that knoweth its Master’s crib!’[8] O Saviour of men, Emmanuel, Jesus! we, too, will go to this stable of Bethlehem. Thy new birth, which is to-night, shall not be without loving and devoted hearts to bless it. At this very hour, Thou art knocking at the doors of Bethlehem, and who is there that will take Thee in? Thou sayest to my soul in the words of the Canticle: ‘Open to me, my sister, my beloved! for my head is full of dew, and my locks of the drops of the night!’[9] Ah! sweet Jesus! Thou shalt not be refused here! I beseech Thee, enter my house. I have been watching and longing for Thee. Come, then, Lord Jesus! come![10]

 

 


 

[1] Ps. lxxxviii
[2] Ibid. lxxix.
[3] Ibid. lxxxviii.
[4] Ibid. xxxviii.
[5] On this one day alone, and on this single occasion, does the Church adopt the Septuagint chronology, according to which the birth of our Saviour took place five thousand years after the creation; whereas the Vulgate version, and the Hebrew text, place only four thousand between the two events. This is not a fitting place to explain this discrepancy of chronology; we merely allude to it as showing the liberty which the . Church allows us on this question.
[6] Rom. ix. 28.
[7] Second sermon for Christmas Eve.
[8] Is. i. 3.
[9] Cant. v. 2.
[10] Apoc. xxii. 20.

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

THE Church sings this antiphon in to-day’s Lauds:

Ant. Ecce completa sunt omnia quæ dicta sunt per angelum, de Virgine Maria.
Ant. Lo! all things are accomplished that were said by the angel, of the Virgin Mary.

 

O Emmanuel, Rex et Legifer noster, exspectatio gentium, et salvator earum; veni ad salvandum nos, Domine Deus noster.
O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Expectation and Saviour of the nations! come and save us, O Lord our God!

O Emmanuel! King of peace! Thou enterest today the city of Thy predilection, the city in which Thou hast placed Thy temple—Jerusalem. A few years hence the same city will give Thee Thy cross and Thy sepulchre: nay, the day will come on which Thou wilt set up Thy judgement-seat within sight of her walls. But to-day Thou enterest the city of David and Solomon unnoticed and unknown. It lies on Thy road to Bethlehem. Thy blessed Mother and Joseph her spouse would not lose the opportunity of visiting the temple, there to offer to the Lord their prayers and adoration. They enter; and then, for the first time, is accomplished the prophecy of Aggeus, that great shall be the glory of this last house more than of the first;[1] for this second temple has now standing within it an ark of the Covenant more precious than was that which Moses built; and within this ark, which is Mary, is contained the God whose presence makes her the holiest of sanctuaries. The Lawgiver Himself is in this blessed ark, and not merely, as in that of old, the tablet of stone on which the Law was graven. The visit paid, our living ark descends the steps of the temple, and sets out once more for Bethlehem, where other prophecies are to be fulfilled. We adore Thee, O Emmanuel! in this Thy journey, and we reverence the fidelity wherewith Thou fulfillest all that the prophets have written of Thee; for Thou wouldst give to Thy people the certainty of Thy being the Messias, by showing them that all the marks, whereby He was to be known, are to be found in Thee. And now, the hour is near; all is ready for Thy birth; come then, and save us; come, that Thou mayst not only be called our Emmanuel, but our Jesus, that is, He that saves us.

The Great Antiphon to Jerusalem

O Hierusalem! civitas Dei summi, leva in circuitu oculos tuos; et vide Dominum tuum, quia jam veniet solvere te a vinculis.
O Jerusalem! city of the great God: lift up thine eyes round about, and see thy Lord, for he is coming to loose thee from thy chains.

 

[1] Agg. ii. 10.

 

 

 

O Rex gentium, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum; veni, et salva hominem quem de limo formasti.
O King of nations, and their desired One, and the corner stone that makest both one; come and save man whom thou formedst out of slime.

O King of nations! Thou art approaching still nigher to Bethlehem, where Thou art to be born, The journey is almost over, and Thy august Mother, consoled and strengthened by the dear weight she bears, holds an unceasing converse with Thee on the way. She adores Thy divine Majesty; she gives thanks to Thy mercy; she rejoices that she has been chosen for the sublime ministry of being Mother to God. She longs for that happy moment when her eyes shall look upon Thee, and yet she fears it. For, how will she be able to render Thee those services which are due to Thy infinite greatness, she that thinks herself the last of creatures? How will she dare to raise Thee up in her arms, and press Thee to her heart, and feed Thee at her breasts? When she reflects that the hour is now near at hand, in which, being born of her, Thou wilt require all her care and tenderness, her heart sinks within her; for, what human heart could bear the intense vehemence of these two affections—the love of such a Mother for her Babe, and the love of such a creature for her God? But Thou supportest her, O Thou the Desired of nations! for Thou, too, longest for that happy birth, which is to give to the earth its Saviour, and to men that corner-stone, which will unite them all into one family. Dearest King! be Thou blessed for all these wonders of Thy power and goodness! Comespeedily, we beseech Thee, come and save us, for we are dear to Thee, as creatures that have been formed by Thy divine hands. Yea, come, for Thy creation has grown degenerate; it is lost; death has taken possession of it: take Thou it again into Thy almighty hands, and give it a new creation; save it; for Thou hast not ceased to take pleasure in and love Thine own work.

The Great Antiphon in Honour of Christ.

O Rex pacifice, tu ante sæcula nate, per auream egredere portam, redemptos tuos visita, et eos illuc revoca, unde ruerunt per culpam.
O King of peace! that wast born before all ages, come by the golden gate; visit them whom thou hast redeemed, and lead them back to the place whence they fell by sin.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The Church announces to us, to-day, in her Office of Lauds, these solemn words:

Nolite timere: quinta enim die veniet ad vos Dominus noster.
Fear not: for on the fifth day, our Lord will come unto you.

This is the last feast the Church keeps before the great one of the Nativity of her Lord and Spouse. She interrupts the greater ferias in order to pay her tribute of honour to Thomas, the apostle of Christ, whose glorious martyrdom has consecrated this twenty-first day of December, and has procured for the Christian people a powerful patron, who will introduce them to the divine Babe of Bethlehem. To none of the apostles could this day have been so fittingly assigned as to St. Thomas. It was St. Thomas whom we needed; St. Thomas, whose festal patronage would aid us to believe and hope in that God whom we see not, and who comes to us in silence and humility in order to try our faith. St. Thomas was once guilty of doubting, when he ought to have believed, and learnt the necessity of faith only by the sad experience of incredulity: he comes then most appropriately to defend us, by the power of his example and prayers, against the temptations which proud human reason might excite within us. Let us pray to him with confidence. In that heaven of light and vision, where his repentance and love have placed him, he will intercede for us, and gain for us that docility of mind and heart, which will enable us to see and recognize Him, who is the Expected of nations, and who, though the King of the world, will give no other signs of His majesty, than the swaddling-clothes and tears of a Babe. But let us first read the acts of our holy apostle. The Church has deemed it prudent to give us them in an exceedingly abridged form, which contains only the most reliable facts, gathered from authentic sources; and thus she excludes all those details, which have no historic authority.

Thomas apostolus, qui et Didymus, Galilaeus, post acceptum Spiritum sanctum, in multas provincias profectus est ad prædicandum Christi Evangelium. Parthis, Medis, Persis, Hircanis, et Bactris christianæ fidei et vitæ praecepta tradidit. Postremo ad Indos se conferens, eos in Christiana religione erudivit. Qui ad extremum, vitæ doctrinæque sanctitate, et miraculorum magnitudine, quum cæteris omnibus sui admirationem, et Jesu Christi amorem commovisset, illius gentis regem, idolorum cultorem, magis ad iram accendit: cujus sententia condemnatus, telisque confossus, Calaminæ apostolatus honorem martyrii corona decoravit.
Thomas the apostle, who was also named Didymus, was a Galilean. After he had received the Holy Ghost, he travelled through many provinces, preaching the Gospel of Christ. He taught the principles of Christian faith and practice to the Parthians, Medes, Persians, Hircanians, and Bactrians. He finally went to the Indies, and instructed the inhabitants of those countries in the Christian religion. Up to the last, he gained for himself the esteem of all men by the holiness of his life and teaching, and by the wonderful miracles he wrought. He stirred up, also, in their hearts, the love of Jesus Christ. The king of those parts, a worshipper of idols, was, on the contrary, only the more irritated by all these things. He condemned the saint to be pierced to death by javelins: which punishment was inflicted at Calamina, and gave Thomas the highest honour of his apostolate, the crown of martyrdom.

 

The Great Antiphon of St. Thomas

 

O Thoma Didyme! qui Christum meruisti cernere; te precibus rogamus altisonis, succurre nobis miseris; ne damnemur cum impiis, in adventu Judicis.
O Thomas Didymus! who didst merit to see Christ; we beseech thee, by most earnest supplication, help us miserable sinners, lest we be condemned with the ungodly, at the coming of the Judge.

Prayer

Da nobis, quæsumus, Domine, beati apostoli tui Thomæ solemnitatibus gloriari: ut ejus semper et patrociniis sublevemur, et fidem congrua devotione sectemur. Per Dominum, &c. Amen.
Grant, O Lord, we beseech thee, that we may rejoice on the solemnity of thy blessed apostle, Thomas; to the end that we may always have the assistance of his prayers, and zealously profess the faith he taught. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The following prayer is from the Matins of the Gothic, or Mozarabic, breviary:

Domine Jesu Christe, qui posuisti in capite martyris tui Thomæ apostoli coronam de lapide pretioso, in fundamento fundatam; ut non confundatur,quia in te credidit; coronetur, quia pro te animam posuit: sit ergo intercessionibus ejus in nobis famulis tuis fides vera, qua te etiam coram persecutoribus promptissima devotione confiteamur: quatenus interveniente tanto martyre, coram te et angelis tuis minime confundamur. Amen.
O Lord Jesus Christ, who hast placed on the head of thy martyr, Thomas the apostle, a crown made of that precious stone, that is founded in the foundation; that so he might not be confounded, because he believed in thee; nor be uncrowned, because he laid down his life for thee; may there be, by his intercession, in us thy servants, that true faith, whereby we may confess thee with most ready hearts before persecutors: that thus, by the same great martyr’s intercession, we may not be confounded before thee and thy angels. Amen.

The Greek Church celebrates, with her usual solemnity, the feast of St. Thomas; but she keeps it on the sixth of October. We extract the following stanzas from her hymns.

Hymn of St. Thomas
(Taken from the Menæa of the Greeks)

Domini palpato latere, bonorum assecutus es summitatem; nam velut spongia hinc hausisti latices, fontem bonorum, æternamque potasti vitam, mentibus expellens ignorantiam, divinaque Dei cognitionis dogmata scaturire faciens.

Tua incredulitate et tua fide stabilisti tentatos, nunciare incipiens omni creaturae Deum ac Dominum, carne pro nobis in terris indutum, crucem mortemque subeuntem, clavis perforatum, cujus lancea latus apertum, ex quo vitam haurimus.

Indorum omnem terram fulgere fecisti, sacratissime, ac Deum videns apostole! Quum enim illuminasses filios luminis et diei, horum, in Spiritu, sapiens, idolica evertisti templa, et sublimasti eos in charitate Dei ad laudem et gloriam Ecclesiæ, beate intercessor pro animabus nostris.

Divina videns, Christi Sapientiæ spiritualis demonstratus es crater mysticus, O Thoma apostole, in quem fidelium animæ laetantur, et Spiritus sagena populos eruisti ex abysso ignorantiæ: unde ex Sion sicut fluvius devenisti charitatis, tua divina scaturire faciens dogmata in omnem creaturam. Christi Passionis imitatus, latere pro ipso perforatus, induisti immortalitatem: illum deprecare misereri animabus nostris.
When thy hand touched Jesus’ side, thou didst find the perfection of good things; for, as a mystic sponge, thou didst thence imbibe the water of life, the fount of all that is good, and didst drink in everlasting life; whereby thou didst cleanse men’s minds from ignorance, giving them to drink of the divine dogmas of the knowledge of God.

Thou didst, by thine own incredulity and thy after-faith, confirm such as were tempted; for thou didst proclaim to all men, how he, that is thy Lord and thy God, became incarnate on this earth for us, was nailed to the cross and suffered death, and had his side opened with a spear, whence we draw life.

Thou didst make all the Indies shine with much light, O most holy apostle, thou contemplator of the Divinity! For after thou hadst enlightened these people, and made them to be children of the light and day, thou, by the Spirit of God, didst wisely overthrow the temples of their idols, and didst elevate the people to the love of God, making them an honour and a glory to the Church, O thou that helpest us by thy intercession!

By the vision thou hadst of divine things, thou becamest, O apostle Thomas! the mystic cup of the Wisdom of Christ, which gives joy to the souls of the faithful. Thou wert the spiritual net, drawing men from the sea of ignorance. Hence is it, that thou camest from Sion as a stream of charity, watering the world with the divine dogmas. Thou didst imitate the Passion of Jesus, thou wert pierced in thy side, thou hast put on immortality. Pray to God, that he have mercy on our souls.

O glorious apostle, Thomas! who didst lead to Christ so many unbelieving nations, hear now the prayers of the faithful, who beseech thee to lead them to that same Jesus, who, in five days, will have shown Himself to His Church. That we may merit to appear in His divine presence, we need, before all other graces, the light which leads to Him. That light is faith; then, pray that we may have faith. Heretofore, our Saviour had compassion on thy weakness, and deigned to remove from thee the doubt of Hishaving risen from the grave; pray to Him for us, that He will mercifully come to our assistance, and make Himself felt by our heart. We ask not, O holy apostle! to see Him with the eyes of our body, but with those of our faith; for He said to thee, when He showed Himself to thee: ‘Blessed are they who have not seen, and have believed!’ Of this happy number we desire to be. We beseech thee, therefore, pray that we may obtain the faith of the heart and will, that so, when we behold the divine Infant wrapped in swaddling-clothes and laid in a manger, we may cry out: ‘My Lord! and my God!’ Pray, O holy apostle, for the nations thou didst evangelize, but which have fallen back again into the shades of death. May the day soon come, when the Sun of justice will once more shine upon them. Bless the efforts of those apostolic men, who have devoted their labours and their very lives to the work of the missions; pray that the days of darkness may be shortened, and that the countries, which were watered by thy blood, may at length see that kingdom of God established amongst them, which thou didst preach to them, and for which we also are in waiting.

 

 

 

 

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 openest, and no man shutteth: who shuttest, and no man openeth; come, and lead the captive from prison, sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death.

O Jesus, Son of David! heir to his throne and his power! Thou art now passing over, in Thy way to Bethlehem, the land that once was the kingdom of Thy ancestor, but now is tributary to the Gentiles. Scarce an inch of this ground which has not witnessed the miracles of the justice and mercy of Jehovah, Thy Father, to the people of the old Covenant, which is so soon to end. Before long, when Thou hast come from beneath the virginal cloud which now hides Thee, Thou wilt pass along this same road doing good,[1] healing all manner of sickness and every infirmity,[2] and yet having not where to lay Thy head.[3] Now, at least, Thy Mother’s womb affords Thee the sweetest rest, and Thou receivest from her the profoundest adoration and the tenderest love. But, dear Jesus, it is Thine own blessed will that Thou leave this loved abode. Thou hast, O eternal Light, to shine in the midst of this world’s darkness, this prison where the captive, whom Thou hast come to deliver, sits in the shadow of death.Open his prison-gates by Thy all-powerful key. And who is this captive, but the human race, the slave of error and vice? Who is this captive, but the heart of man, which is thrall to the very passions it blushes to obey? Oh! come and set at liberty the world Thou hast enriched by Thy grace, and the creatures whom Thou hast made to be Thine own brethren.

Antiphon to the Angel Gabriel

O Gabriel! nuntius cœlorum, qui januis clausis ad me intrasti, et Verbum nunciasti: Concipies et paries: Emmanuel vocabitur.
O Gabriel! the messenger of heaven, who camest unto me through the closed doors, and didst announce the Word unto me: Thou shalt conceive and bear a Son, and he shall be called Emmanuel.

 

[1] Acts x. 38.
[2] St. Matt. iv. 23.
[3] St. Luke ix. 58.