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Third Week of Advent

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

To-day, again, the Church is full of joy, and the joy is greater than it was. It is true that her Lord has not come; but she feels that He is nearer than before, and therefore she thinks it just to lessen somewhat the austerity of this penitential season by the innocent cheerfulness of her sacred rites. And first, this Sunday has had the name of Gaudete given to it, from the first word of the Introit;it also is honoured with those impressive exceptions which belong to the fourth Sunday of Lent, called Lœtare. The organ is played at the Mass; the vestments are rose-colour; the deacon resumes the dalmatic, and the subdeacon the tunic; and in cathedral churches the bishop assists with the precious mitre. How touching are all these usages, and how admirable this condescension of the Church, wherewith she so beautifully blends together the unalterable strictness of the dogmas of faith and the graceful poetry of the formulæ of her liturgy! Let us enter into her spirit, and be glad on this third Sunday of her Advent, because our Lord is now so near unto us. To-morrow we will resume our attitude of servants mourning for the absence of their Lord and waiting for Him; for every delay, however short, is painful and makes love sad.

The Station is kept in the basilica of St. Peter, at the Vatican. This august temple, which contains the tomb of the prince of the apostles, is the home and refuge of all the faithful of the world; it is but natural that it should be chosen to witness both the joy and the sadness of the Church.

The night Office commences with a new Invitatory. The voice of the Church no longer invites the faithful to come and adore in fear and trembling the King, our Lordwho is to come. Her language assumes another character; her tone is one of gladness; and now, every day, until the vigil of Christmas, she begins her nocturns with these grand words:

Prope est jam Dominus: venite adoremus.
The Lord is now nigh; come, let us adore.

Now let us take the book of the Prophet, and read with the Church:

De Isaia Propheta.

Cap. xxvi.

In die illa cantabitur canticum istud in terra Juda: Urbs fortitudinis nostræ Sion; Salvator ponetur in ea murus et antemurale. Aperite portas, et ingrediatur gens justa, custodiens veritatem. Vetus error abiit, servabis pacem; pacem, quia in te speravimus. Sperastis in Domino in saeculis æternis: in Domino Deo forti in perpetuum. Quia incurvabit habitantes in excelso, civitatem sublimem humiliabit. Humiliabit eam usque ad terram, detrahet eam usque ad pulverem. Conculcabit eam pes; pedes pauperis, gressus egenorum. Semita justi recta est, rectus callis justi ad ambulandum. Et in semita judiciorum tuorum, Domine, sustinuimus te: nomen tuum, et memoriale tuum in desiderio animæ. Anima mea desideravit te in nocte: sed et spiritu meo in præcordiis meis, de mane vigilabo ad te.
From the Prophet Isaias.

Ch. xxvi.

In that day shall this canticle be sung in the land of Juda. Sion the city of our strength: a Saviour, a wall, and a bulwark shall be set therein. Open ye the gates and lot the just nation, that keepeth the truth, enter in. The old error is passed away, thou wilt keep peace: peace, because we have hoped in thee. You have hoped in the Lord for evermore: in the Lord God mighty for ever. For he shall bring down them that dwell on high, the high city he shall lay low. He shall bring it down even to the ground, he shall pull it down even to the dust. The foot shall tread it down; the feet of the poor, the steps of the needy. The way of the just is right, the path of the just is right to walk in. And in the way of thy judgements, O Lord, we have patiently waited for thee: thy name and thy remembrance are the desire of the soul. My soul hath desired thee in the night: yea, and with my spirit within me in the morning early I will watch to thee.

O holy Roman Church, city of our strength! behold us thy children assembled within thy walls, around the tomb of the fisherman, the prince of the apostles, whose sacred relics protect thee from their earthly shrine, and whose unchanging teaching enlightens thee from heaven. Yet, O city of strength: it is by the Saviour, who is coming, that thou art strong. He is thy wall, for it is He that encircles, with His tender mercy, all thy children; He is thy bulwark, for it is by Him that thou art invincible, and that all the powers of hell are powerless to prevail against thee. Open wide thy gates, that all nations may enter thee; for thou art mistress of holiness and the guardian of truth. May the old error, which sets itself against the faith, soon disappear, and peace reign over the whole fold! O holy Roman Church! thou hast for ever put thy trust in the Lord; and He, faithful to His promise, has humbled before thee the haughty ones that defied thee, and the proud cities that were against thee. Where now are the Cæsars, who boasted that they had drowned thee in thine own blood? where the emperors, who would ravish the inviolate virginity of thy faith? where the heretics, who, during the past centuries of thine existence, have assailed every article of thy teaching, and denied what they listed? where the ungrateful princes, who would fain make a slave of thee, who hadst made them what they were? where that empire of Mahomet, which has so many times raged against thee, for that thou, the defenceless State, didst arrest the pride of its conquests? where the reformers, who were bent on giving the world a Christianity, in which thou wast to have no part? where the more modern sophists, in whose philosophy thou wast set down as a system that had been tried, and was a failure, and is now a ruin? and those kings who are acting the tyrant over thee, and those people that will have liberty independently and at the risk of truth, where will they be in another hundred years? Gone and forgotten as the noisy anger of a torrent; whilst thou, O holy Church of Rome, built on the immovable rock, wilt be as calm, as young, as unwrinkled as ever. Thy path through all the ages of this world’s duration, will be right as that of the just man; thou wilt ever be the same unchanging Church, as thou hast been during the eighteen hundred years past, whilst everything else under the sun has been but change. Whence this thy stability, but from Him who is very truth and justice? Glory be to Him in thee! Each year, He visits thee; each year, He brings thee new gifts, wherewith thou mayst go happily through thy pilgrimage; and to the end of time, He will visit thee, and renew thee, not only with the power of that look wherewith Peter was renewed, but by filling thee with Himself, as He did the ever glorious Virgin, who is the object of thy most tender love, after that which thou bearest to Jesus Himself. We pray with thee, O Church, our mother, and here is our prayer: ‘Come, Lord Jesus! Thy name and Thy remembrance are the desire of our souls: they have desired Thee in the night, yea, and early in the morning have they watched for Thee.’


The assembly of the faithful is attentive; the cantors intone the Gregorian melody, and the church echoes with these sweet words:

The Introit

Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete. Modestia vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus: Dominus enim prope est. Nihil solliciti sitis: sed in omni oratione petitiones vestræ innotescant apud Deum.

Ps. Benedixisti Domine terram tuam: avertisti captivitatem Jacob.

V. Gloria Patri.
Rejoice in the Lord always: again I say, rejoice. Let your modesty be known to all men: for the Lord is nigh. Be nothing solicitous: but in every prayer let your petitions be made known to God.

Ps. O Lord thou hast blessed thy land: thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob.

V. Glory.

In the Collect, the Church asks for the grace of that divine visit, which dispels darkness and brings light. Darkness produces fear in the soul; whereas, light gives courage and joy to the heart.


Aurem tuam, quæsumus, Domine, precibus nostris accommoda: et mentis nostrae tenebras gratia tuæ visitationis illustra. Qui vivis.
Bend thine ear, O Lord, we beseech thee, to our prayers; and enlighten the darkness of our minds by the grace of thy visitation. Who livest, &c.

The other Collects of the blessed Virgin, against the persecutors of the Church, and for the Pope, are the same as on the first Sunday in Advent, page 128.


Lectio Epistolae beati Pauli Apostoli ad Philippenses.

Cap. iv.

Fratres, gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete. Modestia vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus: Dominus prope est. Nihil solliciti sitis; sed in omni oratione, et obsecratione, cum gratiarum actione, petitiones vestræ innotescant apud Deum. Et pax Dei, quae exsuperat omnem sensum, custodiat corda vestra, et intelligentias vestras, in Christo Jesu Domino nostro.
Lesson of the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Philippians.

Ch. iv.

Brethren, rejoice in the Lord always: again I say, rejoice. Let your modesty be known to all men: the Lord is nigh. Be nothing solicitous: but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasseth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Nothing is more just than that we rejoice in the Lord. Both the prophet and the apostle excite us to desire the Saviour, both of them promise us peace. Therefore, let us not be solicitous: the Lord is nigh; nigh to His Church, and nigh to each of our souls. Who can be near so burning a fire, and yet be cold? Do we not feel that He is coming to us, in spite of all obstacles? He will let nothing be a barrier between Himself and us, neither His own infinite high majesty, nor our exceeding lowliness, nor our many sins. Yet a little while, and He will be with us. Let us go out to meet Him by these prayers and supplications, and thanksgivingwhich the apostle recommends to us. Let our zeal to unite ourselves with our holy mother the Church become more than ever fervent: now every day her prayers will increase in intense earnestness, and her longings after Him, who is her light and her love, will grow more ardent. First let us say together with her:


Qui sedes, Domine, super Cherubim, excita potentiam tuam et veni.

V. Qui regis Israel, intende: Qui deducis velut ovem Joseph.

Alleluia, alleluia.

V. Excita Domine potentiam tuam, et veni, ut salvos facias nos. Alleluia.
O Lord, who sittest on the Cherubim, exert thy power and come.

V. Thou who rulest Israel, hearken. Thou who leadest Joseph as a sheep.

Alleluia, alleluia.

V. Exert, O Lord, thy power, and come to save us. Alleluia.



Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem.

Cap. i.

In illo tempore: Miserunt Judæi ab Jerosolymis sacerdotes et levitas ad Joannem ut interrogarent eum: Tu quis es? Et confessus est, et non negavit, et confessus est: Quia non sum ego Christus. Et interrogaverunt eum: Quid ergo? Elias es tu? Et dixit: Non sum. Propheta es tu? Et respondit: Non.Dixerunt ergo ei: Quis es, ut responsum domus his qui miserunt nos? Quid dicis de te ipso? Ait: Ego vox clamantis in deserto: Dirigite viam Domini, sicut dixit Isaias propheta. Et qui missi fuerant erant ex Pharisæis. Et interrogaverunt eum, et dixerunt ei: Quid ergo baptizas, si tu non es Christus, neque Elias, neque propheta? Respondit eis Joannes, dicens: Ego baptizo in aqua: medius autem vestrum stetit, quem vos nescitis. Ipse est, qui post me venturus est, qui ante me factus est: cujus ego non sum dignus ut solvam ejus corrigiam calceamenti. Hæc in Bethania facta sunt trans Jordanem, ubi erat Joannes baptizans
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to John.

Ch. i.

At that time: the Jews sent from Jerusalem priests and levites to John, to ask him: Who art thou? And he confessed, and did not deny, and he confessed: I am not the Christ. And they asked him: What then? Art thou Elias? And he said: I am not. Art thou a prophet? And he answered: No. They said therefore unto him: Who art thou, that we may give an answer to them that sent us? What sayest thou of thyself? Ho said: I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Isaias. And they that were sent were of the Pharisees. And they asked him and said to him: Why then dost thou baptize, if thou be not Christ, nor Elias, nor a prophet? John answered them saying: I baptize with water; but there hath stood one in the midst of you, whom you know not. The same is he that shall come after me, who is preferred before me: the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to loose. These things were done in Bethania, beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

There hath stood One in the midst of you, whom you know not, says Saint John the Baptist to them that were sent by the Jews. So that our Lord may be near, He may even have come, and yet by some be not known! This Lamb of God is the holy Precursor’s consolation: he considers it a singular privilege to be but the voice, which cries out to men to prepare the way of the Redeemer. In this, St. John is the type of the Church, and of all such as seek Jesus. St. John is full of joy because the Saviour has come: but the men around him are as indifferent as though they neither expected nor wanted a Saviour. This is the third week of Advent; and are all hearts excited by the great tidings told them by the Church, that the Messias is near at hand? They that love Him not as their Saviour, do they fear Him as their Judge? Are the crooked ways being made straight, and the hills being brought low? Are Christians seriously engaged in removing from their hearts the love of riches and the love of sensual pleasures? There is no time to lose: the Lord is nigh! If these lines should come under the eye of any of those Christians who are in this state of sinful indifference, we would conjure them to shake off their lethargy, and render themselves worthy of the visit of the divine Infant: such a visit will bring them the greatest consolation here, and give them confidence hereafter, when our Lord will come to judge all mankind. Send Thy grace, O Jesus, still more plentifully into their hearts; 'compel them to go in,’ and permit not that it be said of the children of the Church, as St. John said of the Synagogue: There standeth in the midst of you One, whom you know not.

During the Offertory the faithful should unite in the prayer of the Church, and beg that the captivity in which our sins hold us may be brought to an end, and that the divine Deliverer may come.


Benedixisti, Domine, terram tuam; avertisti captivitatem Jacob, remisisti iniquitatem plebis tuæ.
Lord, thou hast blessed thy land; thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob, thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people.


Devotionis nostræ tibi, quaesumus, Domine, hostia jugiter immoletur: quæ et sacri peragat instituta mysterii, et salutare tuum in nobis mirabiliter operetur. Por Dominum.
May we always, O Lord, offer thee this sacrifice of our devotion; both to effect that for which thou didst institute this mystery, and wonderfully to procure ourselves that salvation which thou designest us. Through, &c.

The other Secrets are given on page 132.

During the Communion, the Church chants the words of the prophet Isaias, which bid the heart of the sinner take courage. Fear not, Christian people! He that is coming is God; but He comes to save His creatures, and to give Himself to them.


Dicite: Pusillanimes, confortamini et nolite timere: ecce Deus noster veniet, et salvabit nos.
Say: Be comforted, O ye timid of heart, and fear not; behold our God will come, and save us.

The Church asks of God, in the following prayer, that the secret visit which she has just been receiving from her divine Spouse, may fit her for that solemn one which she is preparing to receive at the feast of Christmas.


Imploramus, Domine, clementiam tuam: ut hæc divina subsidia, a vitiis expiatos ad festa ventura nos praeparent. Per Dominum.
We implore, O Lord, thy mercy: that these divine helps, having cleansed us from sin, may prepare us for the ensuing solemnity. Through, &c.

The other Postcommunions as on the first Sunday, page 134.


1. Ant. Veniet Dominus, et non tardabit, et illuminabit abscondita tenebrarum, et manifestabit se ad omnes gentes, alleluia.

2. Ant. Jerusalem, gaude gaudio magno, quia veniet Salvator, alleluia.

3. Ant. Dabo in Sion salutem, et in Jerusalem gloriam meam, alleluia.

4. Ant. Montes et omnes colles humiliabuntur: et erunt prava in directa, et aspera in vias planas: veni, Domine, et noli tardaro, alleluia.

5. Ant. Juste et pie vivamus, exspectantes beatam spem, et adventum Domini, alleluia.
1. Ant. The Lord will come, and will not delay, and he will reveal things hidden in darkness, and will manifest himself to all nations, alleluia.

2. Ant. Rejoice, O Jerusalem, with great joy, for thy Saviour will come to thee, alleluia.

3. Ant. I will settle salvation in Sion, and my glory in Jerusalem, alleluia.

4. Ant. Mountains and hills shall be brought low: the crooked paths shall be made straight, and the rough ways smooth: come, O Lord, and delay not, alleluia.

5. Ant. Let us live justly and piously, expecting the blessed hope, and the coming of the Lord, alleluia.


Fratres, gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete. Modestia vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus: Dominus enim prope est.
Brethren, rejoice in the Lord always: again I say rejoice. Let your modesty be known to all men: the Lord is nigh.

The hymn Creator alme siderum, and the canticle Magnificat, are given on pages 107 and 109.

Antiphon of the Magnificat

Beata es, Maria, quæ credidisti Domino; perficientur in te, quæ dicta sunt tibi a Domino, alleluia.
Blessed art thou, O Mary, who didst believe the Lord; what the Lord said to thee shall be fulfilled in thee, alleluia.

But if the third Sunday of Advent fall on December 17, then, instead of the above, is said the first of the Great Antiphons (O Sapientia), which will be found, with the other six, in the proper of saints, from December 17 to 23 (page 484).


Aurem tuam, quæsumus, Domine, precibus nostris accommoda, et mentis nostræ tenebras gratia tuse visitationis illustra. Qui vivis.
Bend thine ear, O Lord, we beseech thee, to our prayers, and onlighten the darkness of our minds by the grace of thy visitation. Who livest, &c.







From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Prope est jam Dominus: venite, adoremus.

De Isaia Propheta.

Cap. xxviii.

Hæc dicit Dominus Deus: Ecce ego mittam in fundamentis Sion lapidem, lapidem probatum, angularem, pretiosum, in fundamento randatum. Qui crediderit, non festinet. Et ponam in pondere judicium, et justitiam in mensura, et subvertet grando spem mendacii, et protectionem aquæ inundabunt. Et delebitur fœdus vestrum cum morte, et pactum vestrum cum inferno non stabit.


The Lord is now nigh; come, let us adore.

From the Prophet Isaias.

Ch. xxviii.

Thus saith the Lord God: Behold I will lay a stone in the foundations of Sion, a tried stone, a corner-stone, a precious stone, founded in the foundation. He that believeth, let him not hasten. And I will set judgement in weight, and justice in measure; and hail shall overturn the hope of falsehood, and waters shall overflow its protection. And your league with death shall be abolished, and your covenant with hell shall not stand.

Heavenly Father! Thou art preparing to set in the foundations of Sion a corner-stone, that is tried and solid; and this stone, which is to give firmness to Sion Thy Church, is Thy Incarnate Son. It was prefigured, as Thy apostle assures us,[1] by that rock of the desert, which yielded the abundant and saving stream that quenched the thirst of Thy people. But now Thou art about to give us the reality; it has already come down from heaven, and the hour is fast approaching when Thou wilt lay it in the foundations. O sacred Stone, which makest all one, and givest solidity to the whole structure! By Thee it will come to pass, that there shall be no longer Jew or Gentile, but all nations shall become one family. Men shall no more build on sand, nor set up houses which floods and storms may overturn. The Church shall rise up from the stone which God now sets, and, secure on the great foundation, her summit shall touch the clouds. With all his weakness, and all his fickleness, man will partake of Thy immutability, O divine Stone, if he will but lean on Thee. Woe to him that rejects Thee, for Thou hast said, and Thou art the eternal Truth: 'Whosoever shall fall upon that stone, shall be bruised; and upon whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.’[2] From this twofold evil, O Thou that art chief corner-stone, deliver us, and never permit us to be of the number of those blind men who rejected Thee. Give us grace ever to honour and love Thee as the cause of our strength, and the one sole origin of our solidity: and since Thou hast communicated this Thy quality of the rock to one of Thine apostles, and by him to his successors unto the end of the world, grant us ever to cling to this rock, the holy Roman Church, in union with which all the faithful on the face of the earth are preparing to celebrate the glorious solemnity of Thy coming, O precious and tried Stone! Thou art coming, that Thou mayst destroy the kingdom of falsehood, and break the league which mankind had made with death and hell.

Hymn for Advent
(In the Mozarabic breviary, first Sunday of Advent)

Christi caterva clamitet,
Rerum parenti proximas
Quas esse sentit gratias,
Laudesque promat maximas.

Vatum poli oracula
Perfecit olim tradita,
Cum nos redemit unicus
Factoris orbis Filius.

Verbum profectum, proditum,
Tulit reatum criminum,
Sumensque nostrum pulverem,
Mortis peremit principem.

A matre natus tempore,
Sed sempiternus a Patre,
Duabus in substantiis,
Persona sola est Numinis.

Venit Deus factus homo,
Nitescat ut cultu novo
Renatus in nato Deo,
Factus novus vetus homo.

Natalis hinc ob gaudium,
Ovans trophæo, gentium
Renata plebs per gratiam
Hæc festa præbet annua.

Adventus hic solemnibus
Votis feratur omnibus,
Quos sustinere convenit,
Tanti diei gloriam.

Secundus ut cum coeperit,
Orbemque terror presserit;
Succurrat hæc humillima
Susceptionis dignitas.

Deo Patri sit gloria,
Ejusque soli Filio,
Cum Spiritu Paraclito,
In sempiterna sæcula.

Let all the assembly of Christ’s faithful ones
laud the graces that are nigh,
and sing their highest praises
to their Creator.

When his only begotten Son,
who created this world, redeemed us,
he fulfilled the promises
which the heavensent prophets spoke in the ages past.

The Word having come down from heaven,
and shown himself to men,
took away the punishment due to their sins;
and assuming our nature, though but dust, he vanquished the prince of death.

Born of a Mother in time,
but begotten eternally from the Father,
in the two substances there is but one Person,
that is the Person of the Word.

God has come into this world made man,
that our old man being changed into the new,
we may put on new beauty
by being regenerated in the new-born God.

Let the Gentiles, who have received this new birth of grace,
in gladness and exultation
at the trophy won by the divine Nativity,
keep every year its feast.

Let this coming of Jesus
be celebrated with devout solemnity by all,
who have so just a share
in the glory of this great day.

That so, when the second coming
shall burst upon the world and fill it with fear,
this most humble expression
of our devout celebration of the first may give us confidence.

To God the Father,
and to his only Son,
and to the holy Spirit,
be glory for ever and ever.


Prayer from the Ambrosian Missal
(In the Mass of the sixth Sunday of Advent, Preface).

Vere dignum et justum est, aequum et salutare, nos beatæ semper Virginis Mariæ solemnia celebrare, quæ parvo utero Dominum cœli portavit; et, angelo praenuntiante, Verbum came mortali edidit Salvatorem. Hic est mundi Redemptor, castis conceptus visceribus; clausa ingrediens, et clausa relinquens.
It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, that in this holy time wo should celebrate the memory of the ever blessed Virgin Mary, who carried in the narrow inclosure of her womb the Lord of heaven, and who, according as the angel had foretold her, brought forth the Word become our Saviour in our mortal flesh. This is he who is the Redeemer of the world, conceived in a chaste womb, his Mother both then and at his birth remaining ineffably the Virgin.



[1] 1 Cor. x. 4.
[2] St. Matt. xxi. 44.


From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Prope est jam Dominus; venite, adoremus.

De Isaia Propheta.

Cap. xxx.

Exspectat Dominus ut misereatur vestri, et idea exaltabitur parcens vobis; quia Deus judicii Dominus, beati omnes qui exspectant eum. Populus enim Sion habitabit in Jerusalem: plorans nequaquam plorabis: miserans miserebitur tui: ad vocem clamoris tui statina ut audierit, respondebit tibi. Et dabit vobis Dominus panem arctum, et aquam brevem: et non faciet avolare a te ultra doctorem tuum, et erunt oculi tui videntes præceptorem tuum. Et dabitur pluvia semini tuo, ubicumque seminaveris in terra: et panis frugum terrae erit uberrimus et pinguis. Pascetur in possessione tua in die illo agnus spatiose, et tauri tui, et pulli asinorum, qui operantur terram, commixtum migma comedent sicut in area ventilatum est. Et erunt super omnem montem excelsum, et super omnem collem elevatum rivi currentium aquarum in die interfectionis multorum, cum ceciderint turres. Et erit lux lunæ sicut lux solis, et lux solis erit septempliciter sicut lux septem dierum, in die qua alligaverit Dominus vulnus populi sui, et percussuram plagæ ejus sanaverit. Ecce nomen Domini venit de longinquo, ardens furor ejus, et gravis ad portandum: labia ejus repleta sunt indignatione, et lingua ejus quasi ignis devorans. Spiritus ejus velut torrens inundans usque ad medium colli, ad perdendas Gentes in nihilum, et frenum erroris quod erat in maxillis populorum.
The Lord is now nigh; come, let us adore.

From the Prophet Isaias.

Ch. xxx.

The Lord waiteth that he may have mercy on you, and therefore shall he be exalted sparing you: because the Lord is the God of judgement, blessed are all they that wait for him. For the people of Sion shall dwell in Jerusalem: weeping thou shalt not weep: he will surely have pity on thee: at the voice of thy cry, as soon as he shall hear, he will answer thee. And the Lord will give you spare bread and short water: and will not cause thy teacher to flee away from thee any more, and thy eyes shall see thy teacher. And rain shall be given to thy seed, wheresoever thou shalt sow in the land: and the bread of the corn of the land shall be most plentiful and fat. The lamb in that day shall feed at large in thy possession, and thy oxen, and the ass-colts, that till the ground, shall eat mingled provender as it was winnowed in the floor. And there shall be upon every high mountain, and upon every elevated hill, rivers of running waters in the day of the slaughter of many, when the towers shall fall. And the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold as the light of seven days, in the day when the Lord shall bind up the wound of his people, and shall heal the stroke of their wound. Behold the name of the Lord cometh from afar, his wrath burneth, and is heavy to bear: his lips are filled with indignation, and his tongue as a devouring fire. His breath as a torrent overflowing even to the midst of the neck, to destroy the nations unto nothing, and the bridle of error that was in the jaws of the people.

And are we then to weep no more, O Jesus? Happy we! How could we be sad now that Thou hast heard our prayers, and our eyes shall behold Thee, our Master, and our Teacher? If Thou yet delayest some days longer, it is only that we may have more time to receive what Thou hast made it Thy glory to give—mercy and the pardon of our sins. Oh, the happiness of Thy kingdom! Oh, the richness of our lands, that is, of our souls, when Thy dew shall have fallen upon them! Oh, the sweetness of our Bread, which is to be Thyself, O living Bread come down from heaven! Oh, the brightness of the light which Thou wilt give us, even on the very day when Thou wilt have bound up our wounds! Blessed day, come quickly! And thou, dear night, when Mary is to give her divine Babe to us, when wilt thou come? So great is our hope in this Thy merciful coming, that we listen with less dread to the awful words of Thy prophet, who, with a rapidity swift as Thine own word, passes over the long ages between the two events, and speaks to us of the approach of the terrible day, when Thou wilt come suddenly in Thy burning wrath, with Thy lips filed with indignation, and Thy tongue as a devouring fire. Our present feeling is hope, for we are looking forward to that coming, in which Thou art the beautiful Prince of peace and love, and we cannot but hope. When that last day comes, have mercy on us! but on this day of Thine amiable visit, permit us to say to Thee the words of one of Thy servants: ‘Yes, dear Jesus, come; come to us! but in swathing-bands, not with Thy hand raised to punish us: in humility, not in Thy greatness: in the crib, not in the clouds of heaven: in the arms of Thy Mother, not on the throne of Thy Majesty: on the colt of the ass, not on the Cherubim: to us, and not against us: to save us, and not to judge: to visit us in Thy peace, not to condemn us in Thy anger. If Thou comest unto us thus, O Jesus! it is not from Thee, but to Thee, that we will flee.’ (The venerable Peter of Celles, First sermon of Advent.)

Hymn Taken from the Anthology of the Greeks
(December 20)

Bethlehem, præparare, omnibus aperitur Eden; lætare, Ephrata, quia arbor vitae in spelunca effloruit ex Virgine; ejus enim venter paradisus demonstratus est spiritualis, in quo est divina planta, de qua manducantes vivimus; neque enim amplius sicut Adam moriemur: nam Christus nascitur, lapsam principio relevans imaginem.

Ministraturus Christus libenter progreditur, plasmatis formam plastes accipit; qui locuples est divinitate, Adam indigenti novam reformationem atque nativitatem ut commiserans elargitur.

Inclinans cœlos et in Virgine habitans progreditur carnaliter, Bethlehem in spelunca pariendus, ut scriptum est, videndus que infantulus qui infantes in vulva vivificat; ipsi gaudentes nunc obviemus omnes corde veloci.

Dominus nascens ut hospes, sapienter in propria venit: recipiamus eum, ut hospites factos paradisi deliciarum iterum habitare faciat natus in spelunca.

Jam divinæ Verbi Incarnationis omnibus aperitur propylæum; cœli, gaudete; angeli, exsultate; lætetur terra cum hominibus, una cum pastoribus et magis in spiritu.

Fert sicut unguentum spirituale non vacuum Virgo alabastrum, et illud gestat in spelunca in spiritu ad evacuandum sapienter illud, ut bono odore repleat animas nostras.

Angelicæ accurrite Virtutes; qui in Bethlehem estis, præparate præsepium, Christus enim nascitur; Sapientia progreditur. Accipe salutationem, Ecclesia; in gaudium Dei Matris dicamus, populi: Benedictus qui venit, Deus noster.

Christus Deus noster manifeste gradiens veniet, et non tardabit; ex nuptinescia nympha videbitur; in spelunca autem requiescet; et tu, præsepe alogorum, quem cœlum non continet, accipe fasciis in te involvendum, qui uno verbo nostras alogias solvit.

Chorum age, Isaia, Verbum Dei demonstra, prophetiza puellæ Mariæ rubum incendiari et igne non consumi. Splendore Deitatis, Bethlehem, adomare; aperi januam, O Eden; atque iter capite magi, Salutem visuri in præsepio fasciatum; quem sidus designavit desuper speluncam, vitæ datorem Dominum salvantem genus nostrum.
Be thou ready, O Bethlehem, for now Eden is open unto all; rejoice, O Ephrata, for the tree of life has blossomed in the cave from the Virgin; for her womb has become a mystic paradise, wherein is the divine plant, of which if we eat we shall live, and not, like Adam, die; for Christ is born, that he may raise up his image which had fallen in the beginning.

Christ comes willingly to minister to us; the Creator puts on the creature’s form; he that is rich in the Godhead, mercifully bestows on the needy Adam a new creation and birth.

He has bowed down the heavens, and, taking up his abode in the Virgin, he comes in our flesh to be born in Bethlehem’s cave, as it is written; and he that gives life to children in the womb has himself become a child: let us all go forth to meet him with our hearts full of ardour and joy.

The all-wise Lord thus born, comes among his own to receive hospitality from his own creatures; let us receive him, that this divine Babe of the cave may make us the guests of the paradise of delights.

Now is the portal of the divine Incarnation opened to all: be glad, ye heavens i exult with joy, all ye angels! let the earth and its inhabitants rejoice in spirit with the shepherds and the magi.

The Virgin, as a precious vase of alabaster, bears the divine perfume into the cave, there wisely and ineffably to yield what she contains, that she may fill our souls with the delicious fragrance.

Ye angelic Powers: hasten thither. Ye who dwell in Bethlehem, prepare the crib, for Christ is coming to be born; Wisdom advances towards you. Receive our greetings, O thou Church of God! and let us, O ye people, thus sing in honour of the divine Mother’s joy: Blessed be our God, that cometh!

Christ our God shall come manifestly, and shall not delay; he shall appear born of a spotless Virgin; he shall be laid in a cave; and thou, the crib of senseless beasts, receive into thyself, wrapt in swathing-bands, him, whom the heavens cannot contain, and whose single word absolves our senseless sins.

Sing, O Isaias! show us the Word of God, predict the bush that is to be on fire, yet not consumed; the Virgin Mary. Put on thy splendour, the rays reflected from the Deity, O Bethlehem! open thy gates, O Eden! Set out on your journey, ye Magi, to see the Saviour laid in swaddling-clothes in a manger, Him whom your star, standing over the cave, pointed out to you the Lord and giver of life, the Saviour of our race.

Prayer from the Gallican Missal
(In Adventu Domini, Immolatio)

Vere dignum et justum est, nos tibi hic et ubique semper gratias agere, Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, æterne Deus, cui proprium est veniam delictis impendere, quam pœnaliter imminere. Qui fabricam tui operis per eumdem rursus lapidem es dignatus erigere, ne imago, quae ad similitudinem tui facta fuerat vivens, dissimilis haberetur ex morte. Munus venialis indulgentiae praestitisti: ut unde mortem peccato contraxerat, inde vitam pietas repararet immensa. Haec postquam prophetica sæpius vox praedixit; et Gabriel angelus Mariæ jam praesentia nuntiavit, mox puellæcredentis in utero, fidelis Verbi mansit aspirata conceptio; et illa proles nascendi sub lege latuit, quae cuncta suo nasci nutu concessit. Tumebatur Virginis sinus; et fœcunditate suorum viscerum corpus mirabatur intactum. Grande mundo spondebatur auxilium, fœminæ partus sine viro mysterium; quando nullius maculae nebula fuscata tenso nutriebat ventre præcordia, mox futura sui genitrix genitoris.
Truly is it meet and just that here and in allplaces we should give thee thanks, O holy Lord, almighty Father, eternal God, who lovest rather to pardon than to punish sin. Who didst mercifully use in the restoration of thy work the same stone wherewith thou hadst made it, lest the image made to thy likeness living, should, dying, become unlike thee. Thou didst bestow on man the gift of an indulgent pardon; that thence thy boundless mercy might restore life, whence man by his sin had wrought death. It is this that the voice of the prophets had often foretold; it is this that the angel Gabriel announced to Mary as then to be presently accomplished. The Virgin believed, and, in that same hour, there was conceived in her womb the long-sighed-for Word, ever faithful to his promises. There did her Child lie concealed until the law, which fixed the time of birth, had been observed, though it was he, whose sovereign will granted all things to be born. The Virgin was seen to be a Mother; it was the prodigy of there being in the same body an immense fruitfulness and an angelic purity. Great was the help augured to the world by this mystery of a Virgin Mother, whereby the Mother of her own Creator nourished him in her womb, she whose purity was undimmed by the least shadow of a stain.





From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Prope est jam Dominus; venite, adoremus.
The Lord is now nigh; come, let us adore.

To-day the Church begins the fast of Quatuor Tempora, or, as we call it, of Ember days: it includes also the Friday and Saturday of this same week. This observance is not peculiar to the Advent liturgy; it is one which has been fixed for each of the four seasons of the ecclesiastical year. We may consider it as one of those practices which the Church took from the Synagogue; for the prophet Zacharias speaks of the fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh, and tenth months.[1] Its introduction into the Christian Church would seem to have been made in the apostolic times; such, at least, is the opinion of St. Leo, of St. Isidore of Seville, of Rabanus Maurus, and of several other ancient Christian writers. It is remarkable, on the other hand, that the orientals do not observe this fast.

From the first ages the Quatuor Tempora were kept, in the Roman Church, at the same time of the year as at present. As to the expression, which is not unfrequently used in the early writers, of the three times and not the four, we must remember that in the spring, these days always come in the first week of Lent, a period already consecrated to the most rigorous fasting and abstinence, and that consequently they could add nothing to the penitential exercises of that portion of the year.

The intentions, which the Church has in the fast of the Ember days, are the same as those of the Synagogue; namely, to consecrate to God by penance the four seasons of the year. The Ember days of Advent are known, in ecclesiastical antiquity, as the fast of the tenth month; and St. Leo, in one of his sermons on this fast, of which the Church has inserted a passage in the second nocturn of the third Sunday of Advent, tells us that a special fast was fixed for this time of the year, because the fruits of the earth had then all been gathered in, and that it behoved Christians to testify their gratitude to God by a sacrifice of abstinence, thus rendering themselves more worthy to approach to God, the more they were detached from the love of created things. 'For fasting,’ adds the holy doctor, 'has ever been the nourishment of virtue. Abstinence is the source of chaste thoughts, of wise resolutions, and of salutary counsel. By voluntary mortifications, the flesh dies to its concupiscences, and the spirit is renewed in virtue. But since fasting alone is not sufficient whereby to secure the soul’s salvation, let us add to it works of mercy towards the poor. Let us make that which we retrench from indulgence, serve unto the exercise of virtue. Let the abstinence of him that fasts, become the meal of the poor man.’

Let us, the children of the Church, practise what is in our power of these admonitions; and since the actual discipline of Advent is so very mild, let us be so much the more fervent in fulfilling the precept of the fast of the Ember days. By these few exercises which are now required of us, let us keep up within ourselves the zeal of our forefathers for this holy season of Advent. We must never forget that although the interior preparation is what is absolutely essential for our profiting by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, yet this preparation could scarcely be real unless it manifested itself by the exterior practices of religion and penance.

The fast of the Ember days has another object besides that of consecrating the four seasons of the year to God by an act of penance: it has also in view the ordination of the ministers of the Church, which takes place on the Saturday, and of which notice was formerly given to the people during the Mass of the Wednesday. In the Roman Church, the ordination held in the month of December was, for a long time, the most solemn of all; and it would appear, from the ancient chronicles of the Popes, that, excepting very extraordinary cases, the tenth month was, for several ages, the only time for conferring Holy Orders in Rome. The faithful should unite with the Church in this her intention, and offer to God their fasting and abstinence for the purpose of obtaining worthy ministers of the word and of the Sacraments, and true pastors of the people.

The Church does not read anything, in the Matins of to-day, from the prophet Isaias: she merely reads a sentence from the chapter of St. Luke, which gives our Lady’s Annunciation, to which she subjoins a passage from St. Ambrose’s Homily on that Gospel. The fact of this Gospel having been chosen for the Office and Mass of to-day, has made the Wednesday of the third week of Advent a very marked day in the calendar. In several ancient Ordinaries, used by many of the larger churches, both cathedral and abbatial, we find it prescribed that feasts falling on this Wednesday should be transferred: that the ferial prayers should not be said kneeling on that day; that the Gospel Missus est, that is, of the Annunciation, should be sung at Matins by the celebrant vested in a white cope, with cross, lights, and incense, the great bell tolling meanwhile; that in abbeys, the abbot should preach a homily to the monks, as on solemn feasts. We are indebted to this custom for the four magnificent sermons of St. Bernard on our blessed Lady, which are entitled: Super Missus est.

As the Mass of the Ember days is seldom sung, excepting in churches where the canonical Office is said, as also that we might not add unnecessarily to this volume, we have thought it advisable to omit the Masses of Ember Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of Advent. The Station for the Wednesday is at St. Mary Major, on account of the Gospel of the Annunciation, which, as we have just seen, has caused this day to be looked upon as a real feast of the blessed Virgin.

Having to speak, later on, of this mystery, in the proper of saints, we will conclude this Wednesday with a prose of the middle ages, in honour of our blessed Lady’s receiving the angel’s salutation, and with a prayer taken from one of the ancient liturgies.

Prose in Honour of the Blessed Virgin
(Taken from the missal of Cluny of 1523.)

Angelus ad Virginem
Subintrans in conclavi,
Virginis formidinem
Demulcens, inquit ei:

Ave, Regina virginum,
Cœli terraeque Dominum
Concipies et paries,

Salutem hominum;
Tu porta cœli facta,
Medela criminum

Quomodo conciperom,
Quæ virum non cognovi?
Qualiter infringerem
Quæ firma mente vovi?

Spiritus sancti gratia
Perficiet haec omnia:
Ne timeas, sed gaudeas,

Quod castimonia
Manebit in te pura,
Dei potentia.

Ad hæc Virgo nobilis
Respondens inquit ei:
Servula sum humilis
Omnipotentis Dei.

Tibi cœlesti nuncio,
Tanti secreti conscio,
Consentiens, et cupiens

Factum quod audio,
Parata sum parere
Dei consilio.

Angelus disparuit,
Et statim puellaris
Uterus intumuit,
Vi partus virginalis.

Qui circumdatus utero,
Novem mensium numero,
Hinc exiit et iniit

Affigens humero crucem,
Quæ dedit ictum
Hosti mortifero.

Eia! Mater Domini,
Quæ pacem reddidisti
Angelo et homini,
Quando Christum genuisti;

Tuum exora Filium
Ut se nobis propitium
Exhibeat, et deleat

Præstans auxilium
Vita frui beata,
Post hoc exsilium.

The angel,
entering the Virgin’s chamber,
and gently bidding her not to fear,
says to her:

Hail, Queen of virgins!
thou shalt conceive in thy womb
the Lord of heaven and earth;

and still remaining a Virgin,
thou shalt bring forth the salvation of mankind,
O gate of heaven bringing to the world
the remedy of its iniquities!

How shall this be, replied the Virgin,
for I know not man?
How wouldst thou have me
break the vow which I have sworn to keep?

The grace of the Holy Ghost
shall accomplish all these things, said the angel.
Fear not, but rejoice.

I assure thee thy virginity
shall be left intact:
the power of God
shall maintain it.

To this the noble Virgin answering,
said to the angel:
I am the lowly handmaid
of the omnipotent God.

Consenting to thy word,
O heavenly messenger,
bearer of so great a secret,

and desiring to see fulfilled
what thou announcest,
I am ready to obey
the decree of God.

The angel left her,
and in that moment her virginal womb conceived
the Word made flesh
from hers.

This was his chosen enclosure
for nine months:
then he left it, and began

the great combat,
carrying the cross upon his shoulders,
wherewith he struck the enemy who brought death into the world.

O dear Mother of Jesus,
who didst bring peace
to angels and to men
by giving birth to Christ,

Pray for us to this thy Son,
that he be merciful to us,
and forgive us

our sins,
and give us his assistance,
whereby, after this exile,
we may possess the blessed joys of eternal life.


Prayer from the Mozarabic Missal
(Second Sunday of Advent, Illatio)

Dignum et justum est; vere æquum et salutare est, Domini nostri Jesu Christi adventum in mirabilibus praedicare: quem inter homines nasciturum cœlestis nuntius nunciavit. Virgo terrena dum salutaretur audivit: Spiritus sanctus in utero, dum veniret creavit, ut Gabriele dicente, Maria credente, Dei Verbo Spiritu co-operante, sequeretur salutationem angelicam securitas, promissionem perficeret veritas; ut Altissimi obumbrante virtute, didicisset se esse fœcundam virginitas. Ecce concipies in utero, et paries filium, angelus prædicavit; et: Quomodo fiet istud, Maria respondit. Sed quia haec credendo, non dubitando respondit, implevit Spiritus sanctus quod angelus spopondit. Virgo ante conceptum, Virgo semper futura post partum, Deum suum prius mente, dehinc ventre concepit; salutem mundi prima suscepit Virgo plena gratia Dei, et ideo vera Mater Filii Dei.
It is meet and just, truly right and available to salvation that we should extol the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ as one of the highest of God’s wonderful works. A heavenly messenger announced that he would be born among men. A Virgin, dwelling on this earth, was saluted by the angel, and heard the great mystery. The Holy Ghost produced it in the Virgin’s womb, when he came to her. So that thus, Gabriel announcing, Mary believing, and the Spirit co-operating with the Word of God, confidence followed the angelical salutation, and the promise was fulfilled by the reality that the Virgin should find herself to be made a mother, by the power of the Most High overshadowing her. Behold, said the angel, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a Son. How shall this be? answered Mary. But because she said it from faith, not from doubt, the Holy Ghost accomplished what the angel promised. Virgin before the conception, and Virgin after the birth of her Son, she had received her God in her soul, before possessing him in her womb. Virgin full of the grace of God, she was the first to receive the salvation of the world, and therefore was chosen to be the true Mother of the Son of God.





[1] Zach. viii. 19.



From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Prope est jam Dominus; venite, adoremus.

De Isaia Propheta.

Ch. xxxiii.

Domine, miserere nostri: te enim exspectavimus: esto brachium nostrum in mane, et salus nostra in tempore tribulationis. A voce angeli fugerunt populi, et ab exaltatione tua dispersæ sunt Gentes. Et congregabuntur spolia vestra sicut colligitur bruchus, velut cum fossæplenæ fuerint de eo. Magnifìcatus est Dominus, quoniam habitavit in excelso: implevit Sion judicio et justitia. Et erit fides in temporibus tuis: divitiæ salutis sapientia et scientia: timor Domini ipse est thesaurus ejus. Conterriti sunt in Sion peccatores: possedit tremor hypocritas. Quis poterit habitare de vobis cum igne devorante? quis habitabit ex vobis cum ardoribus sempiternis? Qui ambulat in justitiis, et loquitur veritatem, qui projicit avaritiam ex calumnia, et excutit manus suas ab omni' munere, qui obturat aures suas ne audiat sanguinem, et claudit oculos suos ne videat malum. Iste in excelsis habitabit, munimonta saxorum sublimitas ejus:panis ei datus est, aquæ cjus fideles sunt. Regem in decore suo videbunt oculi ejus: cernent terram de longe.
The Lord is now nigh; come, let us adore.

Prom the Prophet Isaias.

Cap. xxxiii.

O Lord, have mercy on us: for we have waited for thee: be thou our arm in the morning, and our salvation in the time of trouble. At the voice of the angel the people fled, and at the lifting up thyself the nations arc scattered. And your spoils shall be gathered together as the locusts are gathered, as when the ditches are full of them. The Lord is magnified, for he hath dwelt on high: he hath filled Sion with judgement and justice. And there shall be faith in thy times, riches of salvation, wisdom and knowledge: the fear of the Lord is his treasure. The sinners in Sion are afraid: trembling hath seized upon the hypocrites. Which of you can dwell with devouring fire? which of you shall dwell with everlasting burning? He that walketh in justices, and speaketh truth, that casteth away avarice by oppression, and shaketh his hands from all bribes, that stoppeth his ears lest he hear blood, and shutteth his eyes that he may see no evil. He shall dwell on high, the fortifications of rocks shall be his highness: bread is given him, his waters are sure. His eyes shall see the king in his beauty; they shall see the land far off.

Happy he whose eyes shall thus contemplate the new-born King in the sweet majesty of His love and His humility! He shall be so taken with this His beauty, that the earth, with all its magnificence, shall appear as nothing in his eyes. The only thing he will care to look upon, will be the Child laid in a manger, and wrapped in swaddling clothes. But, that we may have this happiness of closely contemplating the divine King who is coming to us, that we may merit to enter His court, we must do as the prophet bids us: we must walk in justice, and speak truth. Let us listen to the pious Rabanus Maurus, who expresses this, with much unction, in his first sermon on preparation for the feast of Christmas: ‘If at all times it behoves us to be adorned with the comeliness of good works, we should be so, with an especial care, on the day of our Saviour’s birth. Consider within yourselves, my brethren, what you would do, were a king, or prince, to invite you to come to celebrate his birthday. Your garments would be as new, as elegant, even as magnificent, as you could procure them, for you would think it an insult to him who invited you, were you to appear before him with anything upon you that was tom, or poor, or unclean. Show a like solicitude on the occasion of the coming feast: and let your souls, beautified with the several ornaments of virtue, go forth to their King. He loves the pearls of simplicity, and the flowers of chaste sobriety: wear them therefore. Let your consciences be composed in a holy calm, now that the solemn feast of Jesus’ Nativity is so close upon us. Assist at it lovely in your chastity, gorgeous in your charity, beauteous by your almsdeeds, brilliant with justice and humility, and, above all, radiant in the love of God. If the Lord Jesus shall see you thus when you keep His feast, believe me, He will do more than visit your souls; He will treat you with such familiarity, that He will choose them for His favourite abode, and there He will dwell for ever, as it is written: Behold! I will come, and I will dwell with them and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.’ Christians, you have no time to lose: quickly prepare yourselves for this great visit. Let sinners be converted and become just: let the just become more just; let the holy become more holy, for He that is coming is the Lord our God, and none else.

Prose for the Time of Advent
(Composed in the eleventh century, and taken from the ancient Roman-French missals)

Jubilemus omnes una, Deo nostro qui creavit omnia;
Per quem condita sunt sæcula;
Cœlum quod plurima luce coruscat, et diversa sidera;
Sol mundi schema, noctium decus luna, cunctaque splendentia;
Mare, solum, alta, plana, et profunda flumina;
Aeris ampla spatia: quæ discurrunt aves, venti atque pluvia.
Haec simul cuncta tibi soli Deo Patri militant.
Nunc et in ævum, sine fine per sæcula:
Laus eorum tua gloria:
Qui pro salute nostra Prolem unicam,
Pati in terra misisti sine culpa, sed ob nostra delicta.
Te, sancta Trinitas, precamur, ut corpora nostra et corda regas et protegas, et dones peccatorum veniam. Amen.
Let us sing together to our God, who created all things;
By whom all ages were made;
The firmament, which shines with much light, and the countless stars;
The sun, the ornament of the world; the moon, which is the night’s beauty; and all shining things;
The sea, the land, the hills, the plains, and the deep rivers;
The wide space of the air, through which float birds, and winds, and rain;
All these obey thee alone, O God, as their Maker and King.
Now and evermore, for endless ages:
Their praise is thy glory;
Who for our salvation didst send thine only-begotten Son,
In whom could be no sin, to suffer on earth for our sins.
We beseech thee, O holy Trinity, to govern and protect our souls and bodies, and grant us forgiveness of cur sins. Amen.

Prayer from the Ambrosian Missal
(Second Sunday of Advent, Præfatio)

Vere dignum et justum est, æquum et salutare, nos tibi semper et ubique gratias agere, Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, æterne Deus, per Christum Dominum nostrum: cujus Incarnatione salus facta est mundi, et Passione redemptio procurata est hominis procreati. Ipse nos, quæsumus, ad æternum perducat præmium, qui redemit nos de tenebris infernorum: justificetque in adventu secundo, qui nos redemit in primo: quatenus illius nos a malis omnibus defendat sublimitas, cujus nos ad vitam erexit humilitas.
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, through Christ our Lord: by whose Incarnation has been wrought the salvation of the world, and by whose Passion has been purchased the redemption of his creature man. Grant, we beseech thee, that he, who redeemed us from the dark prison of hell, may lead us to the rewards which are eternal; and justify us in his second coming, who redeemed us in the first: that thus, he, whose humility exalted us unto life, may by his most high majesty shield us from all evil.






From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Prope est jam Dominus; venite, adoremus.
The Lord is now nigh; come, let us adore.

The Church does not read anything from the prophet Isaias to-day; she merely gives, in the Office of Matins, a sentence of that chapter of St. Luke’s Gospel, which relates the mystery of our Lady’s Visitation: and to this she subjoins a fragment of St. Ambrose’s homily upon that passage. The considerations and affections with which this important event of our Lady’s life ought to inspire the faithful, will be given further on in the proper of the saints.

The Station for to-day is in the church of the Holy Apostles, which many suppose to have been first built by Constantine. The glorious bodies of the two holy apostles Philip and James the Less, lie buried under the altar, awaiting the second coming of Him who chose them as His co-operators in the work of the first, and who will give them, on the last day, to sit upon thrones near His own, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.[1]

That we may better conform to the intentions of our holy mother the Church, who offers to our contemplation the Visitation of the blessed Virgin, let us recite the following hymn, composed in honour of this mystery during the ages of faith.

A Prose in Honour of the Blessed Virgin
(Taken from the ancient Roman-French missals)

Ave, Verbi Dei parens,
Virginis humilitas.
Ave, omni nodo carons,
Humilis virginitas.

Gaude, quæ sic gravidaris
Nec gravaris Filio:
Gaude quae sic oneraris
Onere gratissimo.

Salve, Jesse stirpe orta
Virgula fructifera.
Salve, clausa templi porta,
Soli Deo pervia.

Plaude, vellus Gedeonis,
Rore madens Pneumatis.
Plaude, pellis Salomonis,
Pulchrior præ cæteris.

Vale, Jacob micans stella,
Circumlustrans maria.
Vale consignata cella,
Rubus in vi flammea.

Euge, sole quod amicta
Solem gignis stellula.
Euge, quod sis præelecta,
Scala cœli fulgida.

Pange, aurora consurgens
Luce novi sideris;
Pange, arca trina ferens
Charismata miseris.

Eia! magnificat tua
Jesum Christum anima;
Eia! tecum ut laudemus
Ora, dulcis Maria.

Hail, Mother
of the divine Word!
Hail, most humble
and most spotless Virgin!

Rejoice, thou Mother
of a Son who supports thee!
Rejoice, thy burden is a burden
most sweet to bear!

Hail, branch of Jesse,
Fruit-bearing branch!
Hail gate of the temple,
closed to all but God!

Be glad, thou fleece of Gedeon,
full of the dew of the holy Spirit!
Be glad, thou tent of Solomon,
of all the first in beauty!

Hail, shining star of Jacob,
lighting up the sea!
Hail, thou sealed-up sanctuary,
thou burning bush!

What bliss is thine, that thou the humble star
shouldst be clad with the Sun, and then bring forth the Sun!
What bliss is thine, that thou shouldst be elected
the bright ladder reaching up to heaven!

Sing to thy God,
thou aurora rising in the light of the new Star!
Sing, thou ark of the covenant,
bearing unto us sinners thy three treasures.

Oh! let thy soul magnify Jesus!
and oh! sweet Mary,
pray that, with thee,
we too may magnify him.


Prayer from the Gallican Sacramentary
(In Adventu Domini, Collect)

Purifica, Domine Deus, Pater omnipotens, pectorum arcana nostrorum, cunctasque propitius maculas ablue peccatorum: ao præsta, Domine, ut benedictione pietatis tuæ a nostris criminibus mundati, metuendum terribilemque adventum Domini nostri Jesu Christi exspectemus interriti.
O Lord God, Father almighty, purify the recesses of our heart, and mercifully wash away all the stains of our sins; and grant, O Lord, that, cleansed from our sins by thy merciful blessing, we may await in confidence the dread and terrible coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.




[1] St. Matt. xix. 28.




From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Prope est jam Dominus; venite adoremus.
The Lord is now nigh: come, let us adore.

The lessons from the prophet Isaias are interrupted to-day also; and a homily on the Gospel of the Mass is read in their place. As this Gospel is repeated to-morrow, in the Mass of the fourth Sunday of Advent, we will, for the present, omit it, and be satisfied with mentioning the reason of the same Gospel being assigned to the two days.

The primitive custom, in the Roman Church, was to hold ordinations in the night between Saturday and Sunday, just as Baptism was administered to the catechumens in the night between Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday. The ceremony took place towards midnight, and Sunday morning was always far advanced before the termination; so that the Mass of ordination was considered as the Mass of Sunday itself. Later on, discipline relaxed, and these severe vigils were given up; the ordination Mass, like that of Holy Saturday, was anticipated; and, as the fourth Sunday of Advent and the second of Lent had not hitherto had a proper Gospel, since they had not had a proper Mass, it was settled, about the tenth or eleventh century, that the Gospel of the Mass of ordinations should be repeated in the special Mass of the two Sundays in question.

The Station is at St. Peter’s on account of the ordinations. This basilica was always one of the largest of the city of Rome, and was therefore the best suited for the great concourse of people.

Let us honour Mary upon this day of the week, which is consecrated to her; let us borrow a canticle from the oriental Church, ever profuse in its praise of the Mother of God.

Hymn Taken from the Anthology of the Greeks
(December 15)

Ut thronus purpuriformis Creatorem fers; ut animatus thalamus regem circumdas, Deo gratissima.

Virga virtutis germinasti Christum in quo stabilimur; te enim figurabat virga Aaron, olim germinans inculta; casta columba, semper Virgo.

Hymnificare modum superadmirabilem, et omnem sensum superantem extraordinariæ tuæ graviditatis nesciunt omnium hominum catervae; omnem enim mentem et cogitationem prætergreditur, ac intelligentias, omnium et verborum virtutem.

Miraculum inenarrabile conceptionis atque immemorandum gestationis tuæ prodigium videns Isaias, divina voce clamabat: Spiritus sanctus supervenit in te, Dei Mater! rubum to servans ut olim incombustum; et ideo cum angelo clamamus: Gaude, Dei tabernaculum.
As a royal throne, thou carriest the Creator; as a living couch, thou encirclest the King, O creature most dear to God:

Branch most vigorous, thou didst bud forth the Christ on whom we lean and are supported; for Aaron’s branch, which, of old, budded unplanted, was a type of thee, thou chaste dove, and ever a Virgin.

To sing the more than wonderful manner of thy extraordinary and incomprehensible maternity, is above the power of all the choirs of men: for no mind, no thought, no understanding, no words, can reach the mystery.

Isaias, seeing the unspeakable miracle, the ineffable miracle of thy maternity, spoke thus divinely: The holy Spirit hath come upon thee, O Mother of God! preserving thee, as heretofore he kept entire the burning bush: and, therefore, we cry out with the angel: Rejoice, O thou tabernacle of God!

Prayer from the Mozarabic Missal
(Fifth Sunday of Advent, Illatio)

Dignum et justum est nos tibi gratias agere, Domine sancte, Pater æterne, omnipotens Deus, per Jesum Christum Filium tuum Dominum nostrum. Ejus incarnatio salus facta est mundi, et passio exstitit redemptio hominis procreati. Ipse igitur nos, omnipotens Pater, quæsumus, perducat ad praemium, qui redemit de tenebris infernorum. Ipse carnem nostram a delictis emaculet, qui eam suscepit ex Virgine. Ipse nos læsos tuæ restituat majestati, qui nos tibi per sanguinem suum reconciliavit. Ipse nos secundi adventus examinatione justificet, qui in primo contulit donum gratiae suas. Ipse ad judicandum veniat mitis, qui olim apparuit humilis. Ipse in judicium ostendatur nobis mitissimus, qui dudum venit occultus.
It is meet and just that we give thee thanks, O holy Lord, eternal Father, almighty God, through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord. His Incarnation was the salvation of the world, and his Passion the redemption of his creature man. Therefore we beseech thee, O almighty Father, may he lead us to heaven, who purchased us from dark hell. May he cleanse our flesh from its sins, who took to himself that flesh from the Virgin. May he again bring us from our treason to fidelity, who reconciled us to thee by his Blood. May he make and find us just in the judgement of his second coming, who conferred upon us the gift of his grace in the first. May he come to judge us in meekness, who heretofore came in humility to dwell with us. May he show himself in gentlest meekness when he judges us, who heretofore hid himself in deepest humility when he redeemed us.