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Epiphanytide

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

THE Feast of the Epiphany is the continuation of the mystery of Christmas; but it appears on the Calendar of the Church with its own special character. Its very name, which signifies Manifestation, implies that it celebrates the apparition of God to his creatures.

For several centuries the Nativity of our Lord was kept on this day; and when, in the year 376, the decree of the Holy See obliged all Churches to keep the Nativity on the 25th December, as Rome did, the Sixth of January was not robbed of all its ancient glory. It was still to be called the Epiphany, and the Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ was also commemorated on this same Feast, which Tradition had marked as the day on which that Baptism took place.

The Greek Church gives this Feast the venerable and mysterious name of Theophania, which is of such frequent recurrence in the early Fathers, as signifying a divine Apparition. We find this name applied to this Feast by Eusebius, St Gregory Nazianzen, and St Isidore of Pelusium. In the liturgical books of the Melchite Church the Feast goes under no other name.

The Orientals call this solemnity also the Holy Lights, on account of its being the day on which Baptism was administered; for, as we have just mentioned, our Lord was baptized on this same day. Baptism is called by the holy Fathers Illumination, and they who received it Illuminated.

Lastly, this Feast is called, in many countries, King's Feast: it is of course an allusion to the Magi, whose journey to Bethlehem is so continually mentioned in to-day's Office.

The Epiphany shares with the Feasts of Christmas, Easter. Ascension, and Pentecost the honour of being called, in the Canon of the Mass, a Day most holy. It is also one of the cardinal Feasts, that is, one of those on which the arrangement of the Christian Year is based; for, as we have Sundays after Easter, and Sundays after Pentecost, so also we count six Sundays after the Epiphany.

The Epiphany is indeed a great Feast, and the joy caused us by the Birth of our Jesus must be renewed on it, for as though it were a second Christmas Day, it shows us our Incarnate God in a new light. It leaves us all the sweetness of the dear Babe of Bethlehem, who hath appeared to us already in love; but to this it adds its own grand manifestation of the divinity of our Jesus. At Christmas it was a few Shepherds that were invited by the Angels to go and recognize the Word made Flesh; but now, at the Epiphany, the voice of God himself calls the whole world to adore this Jesus, and hear him.

The mystery of the Epiphany brings upon us three magnificent rays of the Sun of Justice, our Saviour. In the calendar of pagan Rome, this Sixth day of January was devoted to the celebration of a triple triumph of Augustus, the founder of the Roman Empire: but when Jesus, our Prince of peace, whose empire knows no limits, had secured victory to his Church by the blood of the Martyrs, then did this his Church decree that a triple triumph of the Immortal King should be substituted, in the Christian Calendar, for those other three triumphs which had been won by the adopted son of Cæsar.

The Sixth of January, therefore, restored the celebration of our Lord's Birth to the Twenty-Fifth of December; but in return, there were united in the one same Epiphany three manifestations of Jesus' glory: the mystery of the Magi coming from the East, under the guidance of a star, and adoring the Infant of Bethlehem as the divine King; the mystery of the Baptism of Christ, who, whilst standing in the waters of the Jordan, was proclaimed by the Eternal Father as Son of God; and thirdly, the mystery of the divine power of this same Jesus, when he changed the water into wine at the marriage-feast of Cana.

But did these three Mysteries really take place on this day? Is the Sixth of January the real anniversary of these great events? As the chief object of this work is to assist the devotion of the Faithful, we purposely avoid everything which would savour of critical discussion; and with regard to the present question, we think it enough to state that Baronius, Suarez, Theophilus Raynaldus, Honorius de Sancta-Maria, Cardinal Gotti, Sandini, Benedict XIV, and an almost endless list of other writers, assert that the Adoration of the Magi happened on this very day. That the Baptism of our Lord, also, happened on the Sixth of January, is admitted by the severest historical critics, even by Tillemont himself, and has been denied by only two or three. The precise day of the miracle at the marriage feast of Cana is far from being as certain as the other two mysteries, though it is impossible to prove that the Sixth of January was not the day. For us the children of the Church, it is sufficient that our Holy Mother has assigned the commemoration of these three manifestations for this Feast; we need nothing more to make us rejoice in the triple triumph of the Son of Mary.

If we now come to consider these three mysteries of our Feast separately, we shall find that the Church of Rome, in her Office and Mass of to-day, is more intent on the Adoration of the Magi than on the other two. The two great Doctors of the Apostolic See, St Leo and St Gregory, in their Homilies for this Feast, take it as the almost exclusive object of their preaching; though, together with St Augustine, St Paulinus of Nola, St Maximus of Turin, St Peter Chrysologus, St Hilary of Arles, and St Isidore of Seville, they acknowledge the three mysteries of to-day's Solemnity. That the mystery of the Vocation of the Gentiles should be made thus prominent by the Church of Rome is not to be wondered at; for, by that heavenly vocation which, in the three Magi, called all nations to the admirable light of Faith, Rome, which till then had been the head of the Gentile world, was made the head of the Christian Church and of the whole human race.

The Greek Church makes no special mention, in her Office of to-day, of the Adoration of the Magi, for she unites it with the mystery of our Saviour's Birth in her celebration of Christmas Day. The Baptism of Christ absorbs all her thoughts and praises on the solemnity of the Epiphany.

In the Latin Church, this second mystery of our Feast is celebrated, unitedly with the other two, on the Sixth of January, and mention is made of it several times in the Office. But as the coming of the Magi to the crib of our new-born King absorbs the attention of Christian Rome on this day, the mystery of the sanctification of the waters was to be commemorated on a day apart. The day chosen by the Western Church for paying special honour to the Baptism of our Saviour is the Octave of the Epiphany.

The third mystery of the Epiphany being also somewhat kept in the shade by the prominence given to the first (though allusion is several times made to it in the Office of the Feast) a special day has been appointed for its due celebration; and that day is the second Sunday after the Epiphany.

Several Churches have appended to the Mystery of changing the water into wine that of the multiplication of the loaves, which certainly bears some analogy with it, and was a manifestation of our Saviour's divine power. But whilst tolerating the custom in the Ambrosian and Mozarabic rites, the Roman Church has never adopted it, in order not to interfere with the sacredness of the triple triumph of our Lord, which the Sixth of January was intended to commemorate; as also because St John tells us, in his Gospel, that the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves happened when the Feast of the Pasch was at hand,[1] which, therefore, could not have any connection with the season of the year when the Epiphany is kept.

We propose to treat of the three mysteries united in this great solemnity in the following order. To-day, we will unite with the Church in honouring all three; during the Octave, we will contemplate the Mystery of the Magi coming to Bethlehem; we will celebrate the Baptism of our Saviour on the Octave Day; and we will venerate the Mystery of the Marriage of Cana on the Second Sunday after the Epiphany.

Let us, then, open our hearts to the joy of this grand Day; and on this Feast of the Theophany, of the Holy Lights, of the Three Kings, let us look with love at the dazzling beauty of our Divine Sun, who, as the Psalmist expresses it,[2] runs his course as a Giant, and pours out upon us floods of a welcome and yet most vivid light. The Shepherds, who were called by the Angels to be the first worshippers, have been joined by the Prince of Martyrs, the Beloved Disciple, the dear troop of Innocents, our glorious Thomas of Canterbury, and Sylvester the Patriarch of Peace; and now to-day these Saints open their ranks to let the Kings of the East come to the Babe in his crib, bearing with them the prayers and adorations of the whole human race. The humble Stable is too little for such a gathering as this, and Bethlehem seems to be worth all the world besides. Mary, the Throne of the divine Wisdom, welcomes all the members of this court with her gracious smile of Mother and Queen; she offers her Son to man for his adoration, and to God, that he may be well pleased. God manifestshimself to men, because he is great; but he manifests himself by Mary, because he is full of mercy.

The great Day, which now brings us to the crib of our Prince of Peace, has been marked by two great events of the first ages of the Church. It was on the Sixth of January in the year 361, and Julian, who in heart was already an apostate, happened to be at Vienne in Gaul. He was soon to ascend the imperial throne, which would be left vacant by the death of Constantius, and he felt the need he had of the support of that Christian Church in which it is said he had received the order of Lector, and which, nevertheless, he was preparing to attack with all the cunning and cruelty of a tiger. Like Herod, he too would fain go on this Feast of the Epiphany, and adore the new-born King. His panegyrist Ammianus Marcellinus tells us that this crowned Philosopher, who had been seen, just before, coming out of the pagan temple, where he had been consulting the soothsayers, made his way through the porticoes of the church, and standing in the midst of the faithful people, offered to the God of the Christians his sacrilegious homage.

Eleven years later, in the year 372, another Emperor found his way into the Church, on the same Feast of the Epiphany. It was Valens; a Christian, like Julian, by baptism; but a persecutor, in the name of Arianism, of that same Church which Julian persecuted in the name of his vain philosophy and still vainer gods. As Julian felt himself necessitated by motives of worldly policy to bow down, on this day, before the divinity of the Galilean; so, on this same day, the holy courage of a saintly Bishop made Valens prostrate himself at the feet of Jesus the King of kings.

Saint Basil had just then had his famous interview with the Prefect Modestus, in which his episcopal intrepidity had defeated all the might of earthly power. Valens had come to Cæsarea, and, with his soul defiled with the Arian heresy, he entered the Basilica, when the Bishop was celebrating, with his people, the glorious Theophany. Let us listen to St Gregory Nazianzen, thus describing the scene with his usual eloquence: 'The Emperor entered the church. The chanting of the psalms echoed through the holy place like the rumbling of thunder. The people, like a waving sea, filled the house of God. Such was the order and pomp in and about the sanctuary, that it looked more like heaven than earth. Basil himself stood erect before the people, as the Scripture describes Samuel—his body and eyes and soul motionless, as though nothing strange had taken place, and, if I may say so, his whole being was fastened to his God and the holy Altar. The sacred ministers, who surrounded the Pontiff, were in deep recollectedness and reverence. The Emperor heard and saw all this. He had never before witnessed a spectacle so imposing. He was overpowered. His head grew dizzy, and darkness veiled his eyes.’

Jesus, the King of ages, the Son of God and the Son of Mary, had conquered. Valens was disarmed; his resolution of using violence against the holy Bishop was gone; and if heresy kept him from at once adoring the Word consubstantial to the Father, he at least united his exterior worship with that which Basil's flock was paying to the Incarnate God. When the Offertory came, he advanced towards the Sanctuary, and presented his gifts to Christ in the person of his holy priest. The fear lest Basil might refuse to accept them took such possession of the Emperor, that had not the sacred ministers supported him, he would have fallen at the foot of the Altar.

Thus has the Kingship of our new-born Saviour been acknowledged by the great ones of this world. The Royal Psalmist had sung this prophecy—the Kings of the earth shall serve him, and his enemies shall lick the ground under his feet.[3]

The race of Emperors like Julian and Valens was to be followed by Monarchs who would bend their knee before this Babe of Bethlehem, and offer him the homage of orthodox faith and devoted hearts. Theodosius, Charlemagne, our own Alfred the Great and Edward the Confessor, Stephen of Hungary, the Emperor Henry II, Ferdinand of Castile, Louis IX of France, are examples of Kings who had a special devotion to the Feast of the Epiphany. Their ambition was to go in company with the Magi to the feet of the Divine Infant, and offer him their gifts. At the English Court the custom is still retained, and the reigning Sovereign offers an ingot of gold as a tribute of homage to Jesus the King of kings: the ingot is afterwards redeemed by a certain sum of money.

But this custom of imitating the Three Kings in their mystic gifts was not confined to Courts. In the Middle Ages, the Faithful used to present, on the Epiphany, gold, frankincense and myrrh, to be blessed by the Priest These tokens of their devotedness to Jesus were kept as pledges of God's blessing upon their houses and families. The practice is still observed in some parts of Germany: and the prayer for the Blessing was in the Roman Ritual, until Pope Paul V suppressed it, together with several others, as being seldom required by the Faithful.

There was another custom which originated in the Ages of Faith, which is still observed in many countries. In honour of the Three Kings, who came from the East to adore the Babe of Bethlehem, each family chose one of its members to be King. The choice was thus made. The family kept a feast, which was an allusion to the third of the Epiphany Mysteries—the Feast of Cana in Galilee—a cake was served up, and he who took the piece which had a certain secret mark was proclaimed the King of the day. Two portions of the cake were reserved for the poor, in whom honour was thus paid to the Infant Jesus and his Blessed Mother; for on this Day of the triumph of him who, though King, was humble and poor, it was fitting that the poor should have a share in the general joy. The happiness of home was here, as in so many other instances, blended with the sacredness of Religion. This custom of King's Feast brought relations and friends together, and encouraged feelings of kindness and charity. Human weakness would sometimes, perhaps, show itself during these hours of holiday-making; but the idea and sentiment and spirit of the whole feast was profoundly Catholic, and that was sufficient guarantee to innocence.

King's Feast is still a Christmas joy in thousands of families; and happy those where it is kept in the Christian spirit which first originated it! For the last three hundred years, a puritanical zeal has decried these simple customs, wherein the seriousness of religion and the home enjoyments of certain Festivals were blended together. The traditions of Christian family rejoicing have been blamed under pretexts of abuse; as though a recreation, in which religion had no share and no influence, were less open to intemperance and sin! Others have pretended (though with little or no foundation) that the Twelfth Cake and the custom of choosing a King are mere imitations of the ancient pagan Saturnalia. Granting this to be correct (which it is not), we would answer that many of the old pagan customs have undergone a Christian transformation, and no one thinks of refusing to accept them thus purified. All this mistaken zeal has produced the sad effect of divorcing the Church from family life and customs, or excluding every religious manifestation from our traditions, and of bringing about what is so pompously called (though the word is expressive enough) the secularization of society.

But let us return to the triumph of our sweet Saviour and King. His magnificence is manifested to us so brightly on this Feast! Our mother, the Church, is going to initiate us into the mysteries we are to celebrate. Let us imitate the faith and obedience of the Magi; let us adore, with the holy Baptist, the divine Lamb, over whom the heavens open: let us take our place at the mystic feast of Cana, where our dear King is present, thrice manifested, thrice glorified. In the last two mysteries, let us not lose sight of the Babe of Bethlehem; and in the Babe of Bethlehem let us cease not to recognize the Great God, in whom the Father was well pleased, and the supreme Ruler and Creator of all things.

The Church begins the Solemnity of the Epiphany by singing First Vespers.

FIRST VESPERS

1. Ant. Ante luciferum genitus et ante sæcula, Dominus Salvator noster hodie mundo apparuit.
1. Ant. The Lord our Saviour, begotten before the day-star and all ages, appeared to the world on this day.

Psalm, Dixit Dominus, p. 89.


2. Ant. Venit lumen tuum, Jerusalem, et gloria Domini super te orta est; et ambulabunt Gentes in lumine tuo. Alleluia.
2. Ant. Thy light is come, O Jerusalem, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee; and the Gentiles shall walk in thy light. Alleluia.

Psalm, Confitebor tibi, p. 90.


3. Ant. Apertis thesauris suis, obtulerunt Magi Domino aurum, thus, et myrrham. Alleluia.
3. Ant. Opening their treasures, the Magi offered to the Lord gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Alleluia.

Psalm, Beatus vir, p. 91.


4. Ant. Maria et flumina, benedicite Domino: hymnum dicite, fontes, Domino. Alleluia.
4. Ant. Ye seas and rivers, bless the Lord: ye fountains, sing a hymn to the Lord. Alleluia.

Psalm, Laudate pueri, p. 92.


5. Ant. Stella ista sicut flamma coruscat, et Regem regum Deum demonstrat: Magi eam viderunt, et magno Regi munera obtulerunt.
5. Ant. This star shineth as a flame, and pointeth out God, the King of kings: the Magi saw it, and offered gifts to the great King.

Psalm 116

Laudate Dominum omnes gentes: * laudate eum omnes populi.

Quoniam confirmata est super nos misericordia ejus: * et veritas Domini manet in æternum.
O praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people.

For his mercy is confirmed upon us: and the truth of the Lord remaineth for ever.

The holy Church, after having thus celebrated the power given to the Divine Babe over kings, whom he shall break, in the day of his wrath: his covenant with the Gentiles, whom he will give as an inheritance to his Church; the light that is risen up in darkness: his Name blessed from the rising to the setting of the sun: and after having, on this day of the Vocation of the Gentiles, invited all nations and all people to praise the eternal mercy and truth of God, addresses herself to Jerusalem, the figure of the Church, and conjures her, by the Prophet Isaias, to take advantage of the Light which has this day risen upon the whole human race.

Capitulum
(Isa. lx)

Surge, illuminare, Jerusalem, quia venit lumen tuum, et gloria Domini super te orta est.
Arise, be enlightened, O Jerusalem, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.

Then follows the Hymn. It is the beautiful one composed by Sedulius, of which we sang the opening stanzas in the Lauds of Christmas Day. In the verses selected for the present Feast, the Church celebrates the three Epiphanies: Bethlehem, the Jordan, and Cana, each in its turn, manifested the glory of Jesus, our great King.

Hymn[4]

Crudelis Herodes, Deum
Regem venire quid times?
Non eripit mortalia,
Qui regna dat cœlestia.


Ibant Magi, quam viderant
Stellam sequcntes præviam;
Lumen requirunt lumine;
Deum fatentur munere.

Lavacra puri gurgitis
Cœlestis Agnus attigit:
Peccata quæ non detulit,
Nos abluendo sustulit.

Novum genus potentiæ:
Aquæ rubescunt hydriæ,
Vinumque jussa fundere,
Mutavit unda originem.

Jesu, tibi sit gloria,
Qui te revelas Gentibus,
Cum Patre, et almo Spiritu,
In sempiterna sæcula.

Amen.

℣. Reges Tharsis et insulæ munera offerent.
℟. Reges Arabum et Saba dona adducent.

Cruel tyrant Herod!
why tremblest thou at the coming of the King our God?
He that gives men a heavenly kingdom,
takes not from kings their earthly ones.


On went the Magi, following the Star that went before them,
and which they had seen in the East.
They seek by this light Him that is the light,
and by their gifts acknowledge him to be God.

The heavenly Lamb touched the pure stream,
wherein he deigned to be baptized:
it is we whom he hereby washes from our sins,
for he could have none to be cleansed.

At Cana he showed a new sort of power:
the water in the vases at the feast turns red;
and when ordered to be poured out, lo!
it had changed its nature, and was wine.

Glory be to thee, O Jesus,
who manifestest thyself to the Gentiles:
and to the Father, and to the Spirit of love,
for everlasting ages.

Amen.

℣. The kings of Tharsis and the islands shall offer presents.
℟. The kings of the Arabians and of Saba shall bring gifts.


Antiphon Of The Magnificat

Magi videntes stellam, dixerunt ad invicem: Hoc signum magni Regis est: eamus et inquiramus eum, et offeramus ei munera, aurum, thus et myrrham. Alleluia.
The Magi, seeing the Star, said to each other: This is the sign of the great King: let us go and seek him, and offer him gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Alleluia.

The Canticle, Magnificat, p. 96.


Collect

Deus, qui hodierna die Unigenitum tuum Gentibus, stella duce, revelasti: concede propitius, ut qui jam te ex fide cognovimus, usque ad contemplandam speciem tuæ celsitudinis perducamur. Per eumdem.
O God, who by the direction of a star didst this day manifest thy only Son to the Gentiles; mercifully grant that we, who now know thee by faith, may come at length to see the glory of thy Majesty. Through the same, etc.

The Church has thus opened her chants in honour of the divine Theophany. To-morrow, the offering of the great Sacrifice will unite us all in the prayers we present to our King and Saviour. Let us finish this day in recollection and joy.

The Matins for the Epiphany are exceedingly rich and magnificent; but, as the Faithful do not assist at them, we will not give them. At Milan, they are sung during the Night, like the Christmas Matins, and are also composed of three Nocturns—contrary to the custom of the Ambrosian Liturgy, which has only one Nocturn at Matins. The people assist at them, and altogether these holy Vigils are kept up with almost as much devotion as those of Christmas Night.

January 6

THE day of the Magi, the day of the Baptism, the day of the Marriage Feast, has come: our divine Sun of Justice reflects upon the world these three bright rays of his glory. Material darkness is less than it was; Night is losing her power; Light is progressing day by day. Our sweet Infant Jesus, who is still lying in his humble crib, is each day gaining strength. Mary showed him to the shepherds, and now she is going to present him to the Magi. The gifts we intend to offer him should be prepared; let us, like the three Wise Men, follow the star, and go to Bethlehem, the House of the Bread of Life.

MASS

At Rome, the Station is at St Peter's on the Vatican, near the tomb of the Prince of the Apostles, to whom, in Christ, all nations have been given as an inheritance.

The Church proclaims, in the opening chant of the Mass, the arrival of the great King, for whom the whole earth was in expectation, and at whose Birth the Magi are come to Jerusalem, there to consult the prophecies.

Introit

Ecce advenit Dominator Dominus: et regnum in mann ejus, et potestas et imperium.

Ps. Deus, judicium tuum Regi da: et justitiam tuam Filio Regis. Gloria Patri. Ecce advenit.
Magi videntes stellam, dixerunt ad invicem: Hoc signum magni Regis est: eamus et inquiramus eum, et offeramus ei munera, aurum, thus et myrrham. Alleluia.

Ps. Give to the King thy judgement, O God, and to the King's Son thy justice. Glory. Behold.

After the Angelic Hymn, Gloria in excelsis, the holy Church, all in gladness at the bright Star which leads the Gentiles to the crib of the Divine King, prays, in the Collect, that she may be permitted to see that living Light for which faith pepares us, and which will enlighten us for all eternity.

Collect

Deus, qui hodierna die Unigenitum tuum Gentibus, stella duce, revelasti: concede propitius, ut qui jam te ex fide cognovimus, usque ad contemplandam speciem tuæ celsitudinis perducamur. Per eumdem.
O God, who by the direction of a star didst this day manifest thy only Son to the Gentiles: mercifully grant that we, who now know thee by faith, may come at length to see the glory of thy Majesty. Through the same, etc.

Epistle

Lectio Isaiæ Prophetæ.

Cap. LX.

Surge, illuminare, Jerusalem: quia venit lumen tuum, et gloria Domini super te orta est. Quia ecce tenebræ operient terram, et caligo populos; super te autem orietur Dominus, et gloria ejus in te videbitur. Et ambulabunt Gentes in lumine tuo, et Reges in splendore ortus tui. Leva in circuitu oculos tuos, et vide: omnes isti congregati sunt, venerunt tibi: filii tui de longe venient, et filiæ tuæ de latere surgent. Tunc videbis et afflues, et mirabitur et dilatabitur cor tuum, quando conversa fuerit ad te multitudo maris, fortitudo Gentium venerit tibi. Inundatio camelorum operiet te, dromedarii Madian et Epha: omnes de Saba venient, aurum et thus deferentes, et laudem Domino annuntiantes.
Lesson from the Prophet Isaias.

Ch. LX.

Arise, be enlightened, O Jerusalem: for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For behold darkness shall cover the earth, and a mist the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall walk in thy light, and Kings in the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all these are gathered together, they are come to thee: thy sons shall come from afar, and thy daughters shall rise up at thy side. Then shalt thou see and abound, and thy heart shall wonder, and be enlarged, when the multitude of the sea shall be converted to thee, the strength of the Gentiles shall come to thee. The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Madian and Epha: all they from Saba shall come, bringing gold and frankincense, and showing forth praise to the Lord.

Oh! the greatness of this glorious Day, on which begins the movement of all nations towards the Church, the true Jerusalem! Oh! the mercy of our heavenly Father, who has been mindful of all these people that were buried in the shades of death and sin! Behold! the glory of the Lord has risen upon the Holy City; and Kings set out to find and see the Light.Jerusalem is not large enough to hold all this sea of nations; another city must be founded, and towards her shall be turned the countless Gentiles of Madian and Epha. Thou, O Rome! art this Holy City, and thy heart shall wonder and be enlarged. Heretofore thy victories have won thee slaves; but from this day forward, thou shalt draw within thy walls countless children. Lift up thine eyes, and see—all these, that is the whole human race, give themselves to thee as thy sons and daughters; they come to receive from thee a new birth. Open wide thine arms, and embrace them that come from North and South, bringing gold and frankincense to him who is thy King and ours.

Gradual

Omnes de Saba venient, aurum et thus deferentes, et laudem Domino annuntiantes. ℣. Surge et illuminare, Jerusalem, quia gloria Domini super te orta est.

Alleluia, alleluia. ℣. Vidimus stellam ejus in Oriente: et venimus cum muneribus adorare Dominum. Alleluia.

All shall come from Saba, bringing gold and frankincense, and publishing the praises of the Lord. ℣. Arise, be enlightened, O Jerusalem, for the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.

Alleluia, alleluia. ℣. We saw his star in the east, and are come with our offerings to adore the Lord. Alleluia.


Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum.

Cap. II.

Cum natus esset Jesus in Bethlehem Juda, in diebus Herodis regis, ecce Magi ab Oriente venerunt Jerosolymam, dicentes: Ubi est qui natus est Rex Judæorum? vidimus enim stellam ejus in Oriente, et venimus adorare eum. Audiens autem Herodes rex, turbatus est, et omnis Jerosolyma cum illo. Et congregans omnes principes sacerdotum, et scribas populi, sciscitabatur ab eis ubi Christus nasceretur. At illi dixerunt ei: In Bethlehem Judæ: sic enim scriptum est per Prophetam: Et tu, Bethlehem, terra Juda, nequaquam minima es in principibus Juda: ex te enim exiet dux qui regat populum meum Isræl. Tunc Herodes, clam vocatis Magis, diligenter didicit ab eis tempus stellæ, quæ apparuit eis: et mittens illos in Bethlehem, dixit: Ite, et interrogate diligenter de puero: et cum inveneritis, renuntiate mihi, ut et ego veniens adorem eum. Qui cum audissent regem, abierunt. Et ecce Stella quam viderant in Oriente antecedebat eos, usque dum veniens staret supra ubi erat puer. Videntes autem stellam, gavisi sunt gaudio magno valde. Et intrantes domum, invenerunt puerum cum Maria matre ejus, (here all kneel) et procidentes adoraverunt eum. Et apertis thesauris suis, obtulerunt ei munera, aurum, thus et myrrham. Et responso accepto in somnis ne redirent ad Herodem, per aliam viam reversi sunt in regionem suam.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.

Ch. II.

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Juda, in the days of King Herod, behold there came wise men from the East to Jerusalem, saying: Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to adore him. And Herod hearing this was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And assembling together all the chief priests, and the scribes of the people, he enquired of them where Christ should be born. But they said to him: In Bethlehem of Juda: for it is written by the Prophet: And thou, Bethlehem, the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come forth the captain that shall rule my people Israel. Then Herod privately calling the Wise Men, learned diligently of them the time of the star which appeared to them: and sending them into Bethlehem, said: Go, and diligently enquire after the Child: and when you have found him, bring me word again, that I also may come and adore him. Who, having heard the king, went their way. And behold the star, which they had seen in the east, went before them, until it came and stood over where the Child was. And seeing the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And entering into the house, they found the Child with Mary his Mother (here all kneel) and falling down, they adored him. And opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having received an answer in sleep that they should not return to Herod, they went back another way into their own country.

The Magi, the first-fruits of the Gentile world, have been admitted into the court of the great King whom they have been seeking, and we have followed them. The Child has smiled upon us, as he did upon them. All the fatigues of the long journey which man must take to reach his God—all are over and forgotten; our Emmanuel is with us, and we are with him. Bethlehem has received us, and we will not leave her again: for in Bethlehem we have the Child and Mary his Mother. Where else could we find riches like these that Bethlehem gives us? Oh! let us beseech this incomparable Mother to give us this Child of hers, for he is our light, and our love, and our Bread of life, now that we are about to approach the Altar, led by the Star of our faith. Let us at once open our treasures; let us prepare our gold, our frankincense, and our myrrh, for the sweet Babe, our King. He will be pleased with our gifts, and we know he never suffers himself to be outdone in generosity. When we have to return to our duties, we will, like the Magi, leave our hearts with our Jesus; and it shall be by another way, by a new manner of life, that we will finish our sojourn in this country of our exile, looking forward to that happy day when life and light eternal will come and absorb into themselves the shadows of vanity and time which now hang over us.

In Cathedral and other principal Churches, after the Gospel has been sung, the approaching Feast of Easter Sunday is solemnly announced to the people. This custom, which dates from the earliest ages of the Church, shows both the mysterious connection which unites the great Solemnities of the year one with another, and the importance the Faithful ought to attach to the celebration of that which is the greatest of all, and the centre of all Religion. After having honoured the King of the universe on the Epiphany, we shall have to celebrate him on the day which is now announced to us, as the conqueror of death. The following is the formula used for this solemn announcement.

The Announcement Of Easter

Noveritis, fratres carissimi, quod annuente Dei misericordia, sicut de Nativitate Domini nostri Jesu Christi gavisi sumus, ita et de Resurrectione ejusdem Salvatoris nostri gaudium vobis annuntiamus. Die... erit Dominica in Septuagesima . . . Dies cinerum, et initium jejunii sacratissima Quadragesimæ . . . Sanctum Pascha Domini nostri Jesu Christi cum gaudio celebrabimus. Dominica secunda post Pascha, Diœcesana Synodus habebitur . . . erit Ascensio Domini nostri Jesu Christi . . . Festum Pentecostes . . . Festum sacratissimi Corporis Christi . . . Dominica prima Adventus Domini nostri Jesu Christi, cui est honor et gloria in sæcula sæculorum.

Amen.
Know, dearly beloved Brethren, that by the mercy of God, as we have been rejoicing in the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, so also do we announce unto you the joy of the Resurrection of the same our Saviour. Septuagesima Sunday will be on the . . . day of . . . Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the fast of most holy Lent will be on the ... of .. On the . .. of... we shall celebrate with joy the holy Pasch of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Diocesan Synod will be held on the second Sunday after Easter. The Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ will be on the . . . of . . . The Feast of Pentecost on the ... of ... The Feast of Corpus Christi on the . . . of . . . On the ... of . . . will occur the first Sunday of the Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom are honour and glory for ever and ever.

Amen.

During the Offertory, the holy Church, whilst presenting the Bread and Wine to God, makes use of the words of the Psalmist, who prophesied that the Kings of Tharsis, Arabia, and Saba, together with the Kings and people of the whole earth, would come to the new-born Saviour and offer him their gifts.

Offertory

Reges Tharsis et insulæ munera offerent: Reges Arabum et Saba dona adducent: et adorabunt eum omnes Reges terræ; omnes gentes servient illi.
The Kings of Tharsis and the islands shall offer presents: the Kings of the Arabians and of Saba shall bring gifts: and all the Kings of the earth shall adore him; all nations shall serve him.

Secret

Ecclesiæ tuæ, quæsumus, Domine, dona propitius intuere, quibus non jam aurum, thus et myrrha profertur: sed quod eisdem muneribus declaratur, immolatur et sumitur, Jesus Christus Filius tuus Dominus noster. Qui tecum.
Mercifully look down, O Lord, we beseech thee, on the offerings of thy Church, among which gold, frankincense and myrrh are no longer offered: but what is signified by these offerings is sacrificed and received, Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Who liveth, etc.

There is a proper Preface for the Feast and Octave of the Epiphany. It celebrates the Divine and immortal Light that appeared through the veil of our human nature, under which the Word, out of love for us, concealed his glory.

Preface

Vere dignum et justum est, æquum et salutare, nos tibi semper et ubique gratias agere: Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, æterne Deus: quia cum Unigenitus tuus in substantia nostræ mortalitatis apparuit, nova nos immortalitatis suæ luce reparavit. Et ideo cum Angelis et Archangelis, cum Thronis et Dominationibus, cumque omni militia Cœlestis exercitus, hymnum gloriæ tuæ canimus, sine fine dicentes: Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus.
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; because when thine Only Begotten Son appeared in the substance of our mortal flesh, he repaired us by the new light of his immortality. And therefore, with the Angels and Archangels, with the Thrones and Dominations, and with all the heavenly host, we sing a hymn to thy glory, saying unceasingly: Holy, Holy, Holy.

During the Communion, the holy Church, now united to him who is her King and Spouse, sings the praises of that star which was the messenger of this Jesus; she is full of joy that she followed its light, for it has brought her to her God.

Communion

Vidimus stellam ejus in Oriente: et venimus cum muneribus adorare Dominum.
We have seen his star in the east: and are come with offerings to adore the Lord.

Such graces as these that you have received require from you a corresponding fidelity; the Church asks it for you in her Postcommunion; she begs of God to give you that spiritual understanding and purity which these ineffable mysteries call for.

Postcommunion

Præsta, quæsumus, omnipotens Deus, ut quæ solemni celebramus officio, purificatæ mentis intelligentia consequamur. Per Dominum.
Grant, we beseech thee, O Almighty God, that our minds may be so purified as to understand what we celebrate on this great solemnity. Through, etc.

SECOND VESPERS

The Second Vespers of our great Feast are almost exactly the same as the First. The same Antiphons tell us of the Theophany, the divine Apparition here below of that eternal Word, begotten before the day-star, and come down to us to be our Saviour; of the glory of the Lord that has risen upon Jerusalem, and of the Gentiles walking in the light he gives them; of the Magi opening their treasures, and laying their mystic gifts at the feet of the Child our King; of the seas, and rivers, and fountains, that are sanctified by the baptism of the God-Man; and lastly, of the wonderful brightness of the star, which points out the King of kings.

But the fifth Psalm is changed. Instead of the Psalm which yesterday invited all nations to praise the Lord, the Church sings the 113th, In exitu Israel (p. 93), wherein the Royal Prophet, after having commemorated the deliverance of Israel, denounces the idols of the Gentiles as the works of the hands of men; all are to fall at the approach of Jesus. The adoption granted to Jacob is now extended to all nations. God will bless, not only the house of Israel, and the house of Aaron, but all that fear the Lord, no matter of what race or nation they may be.

The Antiphons and Psalms are, therefore, as in First Vespers (p. 116) excepting the fifth Psalm, which is In exitu Israel (p. 93).

The Capitulum is also as in First Vespers, p. 117.

The Hymn, Crudelis Herodes, after the Capitulum. After the Hymn, the following versicle:

℣. Reges Tharsis et insulæ munera offerent.
℟. Reges Arabum et Saba dona adducent.
℣. The Kings of Tharsis and the islands shall offer presents.
℟. The Kings of the Arabians and of Saba shall bring gifts.

In the Antiphon of our Lady's Canticle, the Church once more commemorates the triple mystery of to-day's solemnity.

Antiphon Of The Magnificat

Ant. Tribus miraculis ornatum diem sanctum colimus: hodie stella Magos duxit ad præsepium: hodie vinum ex aqua factum est ad nuptias: hodie in Jordane a Joanne Christus baptizari voluit, ut salvaret nos. Alleluia.

Oremus

Deus, qui hodierna die Unigenitum tuum Gentibus stella duce revelasti: concede propitius, ut qui jam te ex fide cognovimus, usque ad contemplandam speciem tuæ celsitudinis perducamur. Per eumdem.
Ant. We celebrate a festival adorned by three miracles: this day a star led the Magi to the manger; this day water was changed into wine at the marriage-feast; this day Christ vouchsafed to be baptized by John in the Jordan for our salvation. Alleluia.

Let us Pray

O God, who by the direction of a star didst this day manifest thy only Son to the Gentiles: mercifully grant that we who now know thee by faith, may come at length to see the glory of thy Majesty. Through the same, etc.

On each day during the Octave of this great Feast, we intend giving portions from the ancient Liturgies which were used by the several Churches in honour either of the triple mystery of the Epiphany, or of the coming of the Wise Men to Bethlehem, or of the Baptism of Christ. Some of these pieces were upon the Birth of the Infant God, or upon the Maternity of the Holy Virgin.

We commence our selection for to-day by the Hymn composed by St Ambrose; it is used by the Church of Milan.

Hymn

Illuminans Altissimus
Micantium astrorum globos,
Pax, vita, lumen, veritas,
Jesu, fave precantibus.


Seu mystico baptismate,
Fluenta Jordanis retro
Conversa quondam tertio,
Præsentem sacraris diem.

Seu Stella partum
Virginis Cœlo micans signaveris.
Et hac adoratum die
Præsepe Magos duxeris.

Vel hydriis plenis aqua
Vini saporem infuderis:
Hausit minister conscius
Quod ipse non impleverat.

Gloria tibi, Domine,
Qui apparuisti hodie,
Cum Patre et Sancto Spiritu,
In sempiterna sæcula.

Amen.

Most High God! thou that enkindlest the fires of the shining stars!
O Jesus! thou that art
peace and life and light and truth,
hear and grant our prayers.


This present day has been made holy
by thy mystic Baptism,
whereby thou didst sanctify those waters of the Jordan,
which of old were thrice turned back.

It is holy by the star shining in the heavens,
whereby thou didst announce thy Virginal Mother’s delivery,
and didst, on the same day, lead the Magi
to adore thee in thy Crib.

It is holy, too, by thy changing the water of the pitchers into wine;
which the steward of the feast,
knowing that he had not so filled them,
drew forth for the guests.

Glory be to thee, O Lord Jesus,
that didst appear on this Day!
and to the Father and to the Holy Ghost,
for everlasting ages.

Amen.


The following Preface is from the Sacramentary of St Gelasius.

Preface

Vere dignum et justum est, æquum et salutare, te laudare mirabilem Dominum in omnibus operibus tuis, quibus regni tui mysteria revelasti. Hancque enim festivitatem index puerperævirginalis stella præ cessit, quæ natum in terra cœli Dominum Magis stupentibus nuntiaret, ut manifestandus mundo Deus, et Cœlesti denunciaretur indicio, et temporaliter procreatus, signorum temporalium ministerio panderetur.
It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we give thee praise, O Lord, for that thou art wonderful in all thy works, whereby thou hast revealed the mysteries of thy Kingdom. Thus it was that a star, the messenger of the Virginal Delivery, was the forerunner of this Feast; a star, which proclaimed to the wondering Magi that the Lord of heaven was born on the earth: that thus the God who was to be manifested unto the world, might both be made known by a heavenly indication, and He that was to be born in time be revealed by the ministry of those signs which serve to mark time.

The Sequence-book of the Monastery of St Gall contains the one we now give: it was composed in the ninth century by the celebrated Notker.

Sequence

Festa Christi omnis christanitas celebret.

Quæ miris sunt modis ornata, cunctisque veneranda populis.


Per omnitenentis adventum, atque vocationem Gentium.

Ut natus est Christus, est stella Magis visa lucida.

At illi non cassam putantes tanti signi gloriam,
Secum numera deferunt. parvulo offerunt, ut Regi Cœli quem sidus prædicat.

Atque aureo tumidi principis lectulo transito, Christi præsepe quæritant.

Hinc ira sævi Herodis fervida invidi recens rectori genito.
Bethlehem parvulos præcipit ense crudeli perdere.

O Christe! quantum Patri exercitum, juvenis doctus ad bella maxima, populis prædicans colliges, sugens cura tantum miseris.
Anno hominis tricesimo, subtus famuli se inclyti inclinaverat magnus Deus, consecrans nobis baptisma, in absolutionem criminum.

Ecce Spiritus in specie ipsum alitis innocuææ uncturus sanctus præ omnibus, visitat, semper ipsius contentus mansione pectoris.
Patris etiam insonuit vox pia, veteris oblita sermonis: pœnitet me fecisse hominem.

Vere Filius es tu meus, mihimet placitus, in quo sum placatus: hodie, Fili mi, genui te.

Huic omnes auscultate populi præceptori. Amen.

Let the whole of Christendom celebrate the feasts of Christ.
They are adorned in a wonderful way, and are venerated by all nations.

They commemorate the coming of Him that is Lord of all things, and the vocation of the Gentiles.
When Christ was born, a bright star was seen by the Magi.

Whereupon they, knowing that the splendour of such a sign could not be unmeaning.

Take with them gifts, and offer them to the Little Child, as the King foretold by the star of heaven.

Passing by the golden couch of a haughty prince, they set out in search of the Crib of Christ.

At this, the cruel Herod boils with anger; he is jealous of the new-born King.

He commands the male children of Bethlehem to be cruelly put to death by the sword.

O Jesus! what an army wilt thou not levy for thy Father, when in the fulness of thine age thou shalt carry on the supreme battle, preaching thy doctrines to mankind!—for even now that thou art a weak Babe thou sendest such a host.

Having reached his thirtieth year, this great God bowed himself down beneath the hand of his glorious servant; thus consecrating Baptism for us, unto the remission of our sins.

Lo! the Spirit visits him in the form of the innocent dove: he is about to anoint him above all the Saints, and will abide with everlasting love in the dwelling of that Breast.

The loving voice of the Father is also heard; and those ancient words: it repents me that I made man, are now forgotten.

'Thou art,' he says, ‘my Son, my beloved, in whom I am well pleased. This day, my Son! have I begotten thee.

'All ye people, hear this your Teacher.’ Amen.


The Menæa of the Greek Church gives us the following fine stanzas in the Hymn for the Nativity of our Lord.

In Natali Domini

Gloria in excelsis Deo, in Bethlehem audio ab Angelis; in terra pacem fieri hominibus bonæ voluntatis. Nunc Virgo Cœlis amplior; exortum est enim lumen sedentibus in tenebris, et exaltavit humiles ac angelice canentes: Gloria in excelsis Deo.

Lætare, Isræl; laudem dicite omnes qui diligitis Sion. Solutum est vinculum damnationis Adam; Paradisus apertus est nobis; serpens debilitatus est:quam enim deceperat principio, nunc contemplatur Creatoris Matrem effectam. O abyssus divitiarum et sapientiæ et scientiæ Dei! Quæ mortem in omnem carnem introduxerat peccati opus, salutis principium facta est per Deiparam. Parvulus enim ex ea nascitur, omniperfectus Deus, et per partum Virginitati apponit sigillum, peccatorum catenas fasciis resolvens, et propria infantia. Evæ mœste parturientis doloribus medelam afferens. Chorea ducat nunc omnis creatura et exsullet: ad revocandam enim eam advenit Christus, et ad salvandas animas nostras.

Nativitas tua, Deus noster, lumen gnoseos attulit mundo: in ipsa enim qui adorabant sidera, a sidere discunt adorare te Solem Justitiæ, et cognoscere Orientem ex alto: Domine, gloria tibi.
Eden in Bethlehem apertum est: venite, videamus, thesaurum absconditum inveniemus; venite, teneamus in antro quæ sunt in Paradiso. Hic apparuit radix non irrigata, germinans veniam; hic invenitur puteus infossus e cujus aqua olim David bibere desideravit; hic Virgo parvulum enixa, sitim Davidis et Adami ocius sedavit: ideoque magis festinemus ad locum ubi natus est parvulus novus ante sæcula Deus.

Gaudete justi; cœli jubilate, exsultate montes: Christus natus est; Virgo sedet, Cherubini imitata, portans in sinu suo Deum Verbum caro factum; pastores natum glorificant: Magi Domino dona offerunt: Angeli hymnificantes clamant: Incomprehensibilis Domine, gloria tibi.

I hear the angels singing at Bethlehem Gloria in excelsis Deo! I hear them tell us that there is peace on earth to men of good will. Oh! see that Virgin, she is lovelier than the heavens: for from her has risen a light to them that sat in darkness, exalting humble hearts that sing, as did the Angels, Gloria in excelsis Deo!

Rejoice, O Israel! Sing forth praise, all ye that love Sion! The chain of Adam's condemnation is broken; Paradise is opened to us; the Serpent is weakened, for woman, whom he had deceived in the beginning, is now before his gaze the Mother of the Creator. Oh! the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! She that had brought Death, the work of sin, into all flesh, is now, through the Mother of God, made the source of salvation. For of Her is born a Little Child who is the allperfect God, and who, by his Birth, did but consecrate the Virginity of his Mother; by his swathing-bands he loosened the chains of sin; and by his own Infancy he comforted the pangs of child-birth to sorrowing Eve. Let every creature now keep choir and be glad, for Christ is come that he may reclaim mankind, and save our souls.

Thy Nativity, O Lord our God! brought to the world the light of knowledge; for by it they that had adored the stars, were taught, by a Star, to adore thee, the Sun of Justice, and acknowledge thee as the Orient from on high. Glory be to thee, O Lord!
Eden has been opened in Bethlehem! Come, let us go and see; we shall find the hidden Treasure. Come, let us go and possess in the Cave the things that are in Paradise. Here it is that there has appeared the unwatered Root that has budded forth our pardon. Here is the well not dug by human hand, of whose water David heretofore desired to drink. Here a Virgin has brought forth a Child, by whom she quickly slakes the thirst of Adam and David. Therefore let us go more hastily to the placewhere is born the new Babe, who is God before all ages.

Rejoice, ye just; be glad, ye heavens; exult, ye mountains! Christ is born. The Virgin, cherub-like, sits bearing on her lap God, the Word made Flesh. The Shepherds are giving glory to the Babe. The Magi are offering gifts to the Lord. The Angels are singing this hymn: O Incomprehensible God! glory be to thee.


Let us recite the following Prose, composed by the pious Monk Herman Contractus: it will assist us to honour the ever Blessed Mother of our Jesus.

Sequence

Ave, præclara maris stella, in lucem gentium, Maria, divinitus orta.


Euge, Dei porta, quæ non aperta; veritatis lumen, ipsum Solem justitiæ, indutum carne, ducis in orbem.

Virgo decus mundi, regina cœli, præelecta ut sol, pulchra lunaris ut fulgor: agnosce omnes te diligentes.

Te plena fide, virgam almæ stirpis Jesse nascituram priores desideraverant Patres et Prophetæ.

Te lignum vitæ, Sancto rorante Pneumate parituram divini floris amygdalum, signavit Gabriel.

Tu Agnum, Regem terræ dominatorem, Moabitici de petra deserti ad montem filiæ Sion traduxisti.

Tuque furentem Leviathan, serpentem tortuosum et vectera collidens, damnoso crimine mundum exemisti.

Hinc gentium nos reliquiæ, tuæ sub cultu memoriæ, mirum in modum quem es enixa Agnum regnantem cœlo æternaliter, revocamus ad aram, mactandum mysterialiter.

Hinc manna verum Isrælitis veris, veri Abrahæ filiis admirantibus, quondam Moysi quod Typus figurabat, jam nunc abducto velo datur perspici. Ora Virgo, nos illo pane cœli dignos effici.

Fac fontem dulcem, quem in deserto petra præmonstravit, degustare cum sincera fide, renesque constringi lotos in mari, anguem æneum in crucespeculari.

Fac igni sancto Patrisque verbo, quod, rubus ut flammam, tu portasti, Virgo mater facta, pecuali distinctos pede, mundos labiis cordeque propinquare.

Audi nos: nam te Filius nihil negans honorat.

Salva nos, Jesu, pro quibus Virgo mater te orat.

Da fontem boni visere, da puræ mentis oculos in te defigere.

Quo haustu sapientiæ saporem vitææ valeat mens intelligere.

Christianismi fidem operibus redimire, beatoque fine ex hujus incolatu, sæculi auctor, ad te transire.

Amen.

Hail, Mary! beautiful Star of the Sea! that hast risen by God’s mercy, to give light to all nations.


Welcome! O Gate open to none but God! Thou bringest. into the world the Light of truth, the very Sun of Justice, clad in human flesh.

O Virgin! thou beauty of the world, Queen of heaven, brilliant as the Sun, lovely as the moon’s brightness! think on us all who love thee.

The ancient Fathers and Prophets, full of faith, longed for thee to be born, the Rod of the fair root of Jesse.

Gabriel spoke of thee as the Tree of Life, that by the dew of the Holy Spirit shouldst bring forth the divine flowering Almond Tree.

'Twas thou didst lead the Lamb, the King that rules the earth, from the rock of the desert of Moab to the mount of the daughter of Sion.

'Twas thou didst free the world of its destroying sin, by crushing the angry Leviathan, the bar and crooked Serpent.

We therefore, the remnants of the nations, in honour of thy dear memory, call down upon our altar, there to be mystically immolated, the Lamb that reigns eternally in heaven, whom thou didst so wonderfully bring forth.

The veil is now drawn aside, and we, the true Israelites, the children of the true Abraham, are permitted to fix our astonished eyes on the true Manna, of which that of Moses was the figure and type. Pray for us, O Virgin, that we may be made worthy of that Bread of heaven.

Pray for us, that with sincere faith we may taste of that sweet fountain, which was prefigured by the rock in the desert; and that, having our loins girt, we may safely cross the sea, and be permitted to look upon the brazen serpent on the Cross.

Having our sandals off our feet, and our lips and hearts made pure, pray for us, that we may come nigh to that holy flame, the Word of the Father, which thou, O Virgin Mother, didst carry within thee, as the Bush did the fire.

Hear us, O Mary! for thy Son honours thee by granting thee all thy prayers.

And thou, O Jesus! save us. for whom thy Virgin Mother prays.
Grant us to see the source of every good! Grant us to fix on thee the eyes of our purified souls.

May our souls drink in the water of wisdom, and feed with understanding on the sweet food of Life.

Do thou, Creator of the world! give us grace to adorn our Christian faith with works and by a happy death to pass from this life’s exile to thee.

Amen.


 

We also, O Jesus! come to adore thee on this glorious Epiphany, which brings all nations to thy feet. We walk in the footsteps of the Magi; for we too have seen the star, and we are come to thee. Glory be to thee, dear King! to thee who didst say in the Canticle of David thine ancestor: 'I am appointed King over Sion, the holy mountain, that I may preach the commandment of the Lord. The Lord hath said to me, that he will give me the Gentiles for mine inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for my possession. Now, therefore, O ye kings, understand: receive instruction, ye that judge the earth.'[5]

Thou wilt say, O Emmanuel! with thine own lips: All power is given to me in heaven and on earth,[6] and a few years after, the whole earth will have received thy law. Even now Jerusalem is troubled; Herod is trembling on his throne; but the day is at hand when the heralds of thy coming will go throughout the whole world, proclaiming that he, who was the Desired of nations,[7] is come. The word that is to subject the earth to thee will go forth,[8] and, like an immense fire, will stretch to the uttermost parts of the universe. In vain will the strong ones of this world attempt to arrest its course. An Emperor will propose to the Senate, as the only means of staying the progress of thy conquests, that thy Name be solemnly enrolled in the list of those gods whom thou comest to destroy. Other Emperors will endeavour to abolish thy kingdom by the slaughter of thy soldiers. But all these efforts are vain. The day will come when the Cross, the sign of thy power, will adorn the imperial banner; the Emperors will lay their crowns at thy feet; and proud Rome will cease to be the Capital of the empire of this world’s strength and power, in order that she may become, for ever, the centre of thy peaceful and universal kingdom.

We already see the dawn of that glorious day. Thy conquests, O King of ages! begin with thine Epiphany. Thou callest, from the extreme parts of the unbelieving East, the first-fruits of that Gentile world, which hitherto had not been thy people, and which is now to form thine inheritance. Henceforth there is to be no distinction of Jew and Greek, of Barbarian and Scythian.[9] Thou hast loved Man above Angel, for thou hast redeemed the one, whilst thou hast left the other in his fall. If thy predilection, for a long period of ages, was for the race of Abraham, henceforth thy preference is to be given to the Gentiles. Israel was but a single people; we are numerous as the sands of the sea, and the stars of the firmament.[10] Israel was under the law of fear; thou hast reserved the law of love for us.

From this day of thy Manifestation, O divine King! begins thy separation from the Synagogue, which refuses thy love; and on this same Day, thou takest, in the person of the Magi, the Gentiles as thy Spouse. Thy union with her will soon be proclaimed from the Cross, when, turning thy face from the ungrateful Jerusalem, thou wilt stretch forth thy hands towards the nations of the Gentiles. O ineffable joy of thy Birth! but O still better joy of thine Epiphany, wherein we, the once disinherited, are permitted to approach to thee, offer thee our gifts, and see thee graciously accept them, O merciful Emmanuel!

Thanks be to thee, O Infant God! for that unspeakable gift[11] of Faith, which, as thy Apostle teaches us, hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into thy kingdom, making us partakers of the lot of the Saints in Light.[12] Give us grace to grow in the knowledge of this thy Gift, and to understand the importance of this great Day, whereon thou makest alliance with the whole human race, which thou wouldst afterwards make thy Bride by espousing her. Oh! the Mystery of this Marriage Feast, dear Jesus! ‘A Marriage,' says one of thy Vicars on earth,[9] ‘that was promised to the Patriarch Abraham, confirmed by oath to King David, accomplished in Mary when she became Mother, and consummated, confirmed, and declared on this day; consummated in the adoration of the Magi, confirmed in the Baptism in the Jordan, and declared in the miracle of the water changed into wine.' On this Marriage-Feast, where the Church, thy Spouse, already receives queenly honours, we will sing to thee, O Jesus! with all the fervour of our hearts, these words of to-day’s Office, which sweetly blend the Three Mysteries into one—that of thy Alliance with us.

 

Antiphon Of Lauds

Ant. Hodie Cœlesti Sponso juncta est Ecclesia, quoniam in Jordane lavit Christus ejus crimina: currunt cum muneribus Magi ad regales nuptias, et ex aqua facto vino lætantur convivæ. Alleluia.
Ant. This day is the Church united to the heavenly Spouse, for Christ, in the Jordan, washes away her sins: the Magi run to the royal Nuptials with their gifts: and the guests of the Feast are gladdened by the water changed into wine. Alleluia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] St John vi 4.
[2] Ps. xviii 6.
[3] Ps. lxxi 9, 11.
[4] In the Monastic Rite it is as follows: ℟. breve. Omnes de Saba venient: * Alleluia, alleluia. Omnes. ℣. Aurum et thus deferentes. * Alleluia. Gloria Patri. Omnes. Hostis Herodes impie, Christum venire quid times? Non eripit mortalia, Qui regna dat cœlestia. Ibant Magi quam viderant, Stellam sequentes præviam; Lumen requirunt lumine, Deum fatentur munere. Lavacra puri gurgitis Cœlestes Agnes atteignit: Piccata qui non Detroit, Nos abluendo sustulit. Novum tenus potentat: Aquæ rubescunt hydriæ, Vinumque jussa fundere Mutavit unda originem, Gloria tibi Domine, Qui apparuisti hodie, Cum Patre, et Sancto Spiritu, In sempiterna sæcula. Amen.
[5] Ps. ii 6, 8, 10.
[6] St Matt xxviii 18.
[7] Agg. ii 8.
[8] Ps. xviii 5.
[9] Col. iii 11
[10] Gen. xxii 17.
[11] 2 Cor. ix 15.
[12] Col. i 12, 13.
[13] Innocent III.

 

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

THIS Sunday has been chosen by the Church for the celebration of the Feast of the Holy Family; the liturigy of the day, as expressed in the Gospel, harmonizes well with the mystery of the new Feast, for it already carries us forward to the childhood of our Emmanuel and gives us those wonderful words which, after the example of his Blessed Mother, we must ever ponder within our hearts: ‘And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was subject to them.’

The Feast of the Holy Family is of recent origin. In 1663 Barbara d'Hillehoust founded at Montreal the Association of the Holy Family; this devotion soon spread and in 1893 Leo XIII expressed his approval of a feast under this title and himself composed part of the Office. The Feast was welcomed by succeeding Pontiffs as an efficacious means for bringing home to the Christian people the example of the Holy Family at Nazareth, and by the restoration of the true spirit of family life, stemming, in some measure, the evils of present-day society. These motives led Benedict XV to insert the Feast in the universal Calendar, and from 1921 it has been fixed for this present Sunday.

MASS

The Introit recalls the joy that must have filled the cave of Bethlehem on that Christmas night; let us again rejoice with Mary and Joseph and sing the praises of the resting-place of the Lord of Hosts.

Introit

Exsultet gaudio pater Justi, gaudeat pater tuus et mater tua, et exsultet quæ genuit te.

Ps. 83. Quam dilecta tabernacula tua, Domine virtutum: concupiscit et deficit anima mea in atria Domini. ℣. Gloria.
Let the father of the Just One exult with joy; let thy father and thy mother rejoice; and let her that bare thee be glad.

Ps. 83. How lovely are thy tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts: my soul longeth and fainteth for the courts of the Lord. ℣. Glory.

The Church prays in the Collect that the home life of every Christian family may be sanctified and perfected by the example of that of the Holy Family; this is her unceasing wish for her children.

Collect

Domine Jesu Christe, qui, Mariæ et Joseph subditus, domesticam vitam ineffabilibus virtutibus consecrasti: fac nos, utriusque auxilio, Familiæ sanctæ tuæ exemplis instrui; et consortium consequi sempiternum. Qui vivis.
O Lord Jesus Christ, who, becoming subject to Mary and Joseph, didst hallow home life by singular virtues; by the help of both, do thou grant that we may be taught by the example of thy Holy Family, and have fellowship with it for evermore: Who livest.

Commemoration is made of the Sunday within the Octave:

Vota, quæsumus, Domine, supplicantis populi cœlesti pietate prosequere: ut et quæ agenda sunt, videant; et ad implenda quæ viderint, convalescant. Per Dominum.
According to thy divine mercy, O Lord, receive the vows of thy people, who pour forth their prayers to thee: that they may know what their duty requireth of them, and be able to comply with what they know. Through, etc.

Then of the Epiphany:

Deus, qui hodierna die Unigenitum tuum Gentibus, Stella duce, revelasti: concede propitius, ut qui jam te ex fide cognovimus, usque ad contemplandam speciem tuæ celsitudinis perducamur. Per cumdem
O God, who by the direction of a star, didst this day manifest thy only Son to the Gentiles: mercifully grant, that we, who now know thee by faith, may come at length to see the glory of thy Majesty. Through the same, etc.

Epistle

Lectio Epistolæ beati Pauli Apostoli ad Colossenses.

Cap. III.

Fratres, induite vos, sicut electi Dei, sancti, et dilecti, viscera misericordiæ, benignitatem, humilitatem, modestiam, patientiam, supportantes invicem, et donantes vobismetipsis, si quis adversus aliquem habet querelam: sicut et Dominus donavit vobis, ita et vos. Super omnia autem hæc, caritatem habete, quod est vinculum perfectionis: et pax Christi exsultet in cordibus vestris, in qua et vocati estis in uno corpore; et grati estote. Verbum Christi habitet in vobis abundanter, in omni sapientia, docentes, et commonentes vosmetipsos, psalmis, hymnis, et canticis spiritualibus, in gratia cantantes in cordibus vestris Deo. Omne quodcumque facitis, in verbo aut in opere, omnia in nomine Domini nostri Jesu Christi, gratias agentes Deo et Patri per Jesum Christum Dominum nostrum.
Lesson of the Epistle of St Paul the Apostle to the Colossians.

Ch. III.

Brethren, put ye on therefore as the elect of God. holy, and beloved, the bowels of mercy, benignity, humility, modesty, patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if any have a complaint against another; even as the Lord hath forgiven you, so you also. But above all these things have charity, which is the bond of perfection; and let the peace of Christ rejoice in your hearts, wherein also you are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you abundantly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing in grace in your hearts to God. All whatsoever you do in word, or in work, all things do ye in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 


If we would attain to charity, the bond of perfection which unites all Christians together in the one great family of God, we must pay heed to those virtues which the Epistle puts before us. We must be full of mercy, benignity, humility, modesty and patience; we must bear with one another and forgive one another, after the example of the Incarnate Word. Then the peace of Christ will dwell not only in our hearts, but in those around us, and our homes will truly become like that of Nazareth, where Mary and Joseph were ever singing in grace to the Lord God.

In the Gradual Holy Church again celebrates the praises of the House of the Lord; she proclaims the blessedness of those that obtain lasting fellowship in the heavenly home above; yet in the Alleluia verse she recalls the lowliness of the earthly home of our Emmanuel which made him truly a hidden King.

Gradual
(Ps. xxiii)

Unam petti a Domino, hanc requiram: ut inhabitem in domo Domini omnibus diebus vitæ meæ. ℣. Ps. 83. Beati qui habitant in domo tua, Domine, in sæcula sæculorum laudabunt te.

Alleluia, alleluia. ℣. Isa. 45. Vere tu es Rex absconditus. Deus Isræl Salvator. Alleluia.
One thing have I asked of the Lord, this will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. ℣. Ps. 83. Blessed are they that dwell in thy house, O Lord: they shall praise thee for ever and ever.

Alleluia, alleluia. ℣. Isa. 45. Verily thou art a hidden King, the God of Israel, the Saviour. Alleluia.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam.

Cap. II.

Cum factus esset Jesus annorum duodecim, ascendentibus illis Jerosolymam secundum consuetudinem diei festi, consummatisque diebus, cum redirent, remansit puer Jesus in Jerusalem, et non cognoveruntparentes ejus. Existimantes autem ilium esse in comitatu, venerunt iter diei, et requirebant eum inter cognatos et notos. Et non invenientes, regressi sunt in Jerusalem, requirentes eum. Et factum est, post triduum invenerunt illum in tempio sedentem in medio doctorum, audientem illos, et interrogantem eos. Stupebant autem omnes, qui eum audiebant, super prudentia et responsis ejus. Et videntes admirati sunt. Et dixit mater ejus ad ilium: Fili, quid fecisti nobis sic? ecce pater tuus et ego dolentes quærebamus te. Et ait ad illos: Quid est quod me quærebatis? Nesciebatis quia in his quæ Patris mei sunt, oportet me esse? Et ipsi non intellexerunt verbum, quod locutus est ad eos. Et descendit cum eis, et venit Nazareth: et erat subditus illis. Et mater ejus conservabat omnia verba hæc in corde suo. Et Jesus proficiebat sapientià, et ætate, et gratia apud Deum et homines.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Luke.

Ch. II.

When Jesus was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem, according to the custom of the feast; and having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the Child Jesus remained in Jerusalem, and his parents knew it not. And thinking that he was in the company, they came a day’s journey, and sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And not finding him, they returned into Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his wisdom and his answers. And seeing him, they wondered. And his Mother said to him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? Behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said to them: How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business? And they understood not the word that he spoke unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. And his Mother kept all these words in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom, and age, and grace with God and men.

Thus, O Jesus! didst thou come down from heaven to teach us. The tender age of Childhood, which thou didst take upon thyself, is no hindrance to the ardour of thy desire that we should know the one only God, who made all things, and thee, his Son, whom he sent to us. When laid in the Crib, thou didst instruct the Shepherds by a mere look; when swathed in thy humble swaddling-clothes, and subjected to the voluntary silence thou hadst imposed on thyself, thou didst reveal to the Magi the light they sought in following the star. When twelve years old, thou explainest to the Doctors of Israel the Scriptures which bear testimony to thee. Thou gradually dispellest the shadows of the Law by thy presence and thy words. In order to fulfil the commands of thy heavenly Father, thou dost not hesitate to occasion sorrow to the heart of thy Mother, by thus going in quest of souls that need enlightening. Thy love of man will pierce that tender Heart of Mary with a still sharper sword, when she shall behold thee hanging on the Cross, and expiring in the midst of crudest pain. Blessed be thou, sweet Jesus, in these first Mysteries of thine Infancy, wherein thou already showest thyself devoted to us, and leavest the company of thy Blessed Mother for that of sinful men, who will one day conspire thy Death.

The Offertory takes us in thought to the Feast of the Purification; let us again offer ourselves to the Lord.

Offertory
(Luke ii)

Tulerunt Jesum parentes ejus in Jerusalem, ut sisterent eum Domino.
The parents of Jesus carried him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.

In the Secret the Church again prays that she may be strengthened in peace and grace; these gifts have been purchased for us by our Lord himself; it is through the Holy Mass that we can be more strongly established in them.

Secret

Placationis hostiam offerimus tibi, Domine, suppliciterdeprecantes: ut, per intercessionem Deiparæ Virginis cum beato Joseph, familias nostras in pace et gratia tua firmiter constituas. Per eundem Dominum.
We offer to thee, O Lord, an atoning victim, humbly entreat ing that through the inter cession of the Virgin Mother of God and blessed Joseph, thou wouldst strongly establish our families in thy peace and grace. Through the same Lord.

Commemoration of the Sunday

Oblatum tibi Domine Sacrificium vivificet nos semper et muniat. Per Dominum.
May the sacrifice we have offered to thee, O Lord, always enlighten and defend us. Through, etc.

Commemoration of the Epiphany

Ecclesiæ tuæ, quæsumus Domine, dona propitius intuere; quibus non jam aurum, thus et myrrha profertur; sed quod eisdem muneribus declaratur, immolatur et sumitur, Jesus Christos Filius tuus Dominus noster. Qui tecum.
Mercifully look down, O Lord, we beseech thee, on the offerings of thy Church; among which, gold, frankincense, and myrrh, are no longer offered; but what was signified by those offerings is sacrificed, and received, Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Who liveth, etc.

The Preface is as on the Epiphany, p. 126.


The Communion recalls the subject of to-day's Gospel; let us never cease to meditate on the divine humility shown us in these words.

Communion
(Luke ii)

Descendit Jesus cum eis et venit Nazareth, et erat subditus illis.
Jesus went down with them, and came to Nazareth: and was subject to them.

If we have kept before our eyes the example of the holy Family, we may humbly trust that at the hour of our death we shall be helped and consoled and be found worthy to have fellowship with Christ in the eternal dwellings. Such is the last prayer of the Church, and may it be one we love to repeat and dwell on.

Postcommunion

Quos cœlestibus reficis sacramentis, fac, Domine Jesu, sanctæ familiæ tuæ exempla jugiter imitari: ut in hora mortis nostræ, occurrente gloriosa Virgine Matre tua cum beato Joseph; per te in æterna tabernacula recipi mereamur. Qui vivis et regnas.
Let us whom thou dost refresh by thy heavenly sacraments, O Lord, ever follow the example of thy Holy Family; that at the hour of our death thy glorious Virgin Mother and blessed Joseph may be near us, and we may be found worthy to be received by thee into eternal dwellings: Who livest, etc.

Commemoration of the Sunday

Supplices te rogamus, omnipotens Deus: ut quos tuis reficis Sacramentis, tibi etiam placitis moribus dignanter deservire concedas. Per Dominum.
Grant, we humbly beseech thee, O Almighty God, that those whom thou refreshest with thy Sacraments, may, by a life well-pleasing to thee, worthily serve thee. Through, etc.

Commemoration of the Epiphany

Præsta, quæsumus, omnipotens Deus: ut quæ solemni celebramus officio, purificatæ mentis intelligentia consequamur. Per Dominum.
Grant, we beseech thee, O Almighty God, that our minds may be so purified, as to understand what we celebrate on this great solemnity. Through, etc.

VESPERS

Antiphons

1. Post triduum invenerunt Jesum in tempio sedentem in medio doctorum, audientem illos, et interrogantem eos.
1. After three days * they found Jesus in the temple sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them and asking them questions.

The Psalms are from the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and will be found on the Feast of the Purification, p. 488.

2. Dixit mater * Jesu ad ilium: Fili, quid fecisti nobis sic? Ecce pater tuus et ego dolentes quærebamus te.

3. Descendit Jesus * cum eis, et venit Nazareth, et erat subditus illis.

4. Et Jesus * proficiebat sapientia, et ætate, et gratia apud Deum et homines.

5. Et dicebant: * Unde huic sapientia hæc, et virtutes? Nonne hic est fabri filius?
2. The Mother of Jesus* said to him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? Behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.

3. And Jesus went down * with them, and came to Nazareth: and was subject to them.

4. And Jesus * advanced in wisdom and age, and grace with God and men.

5. And they said: * How came this man by this wisdom and miracles? Is not this the carpenter's son?

Little Chapter
(Luke ii)

Descendit Jesus cum Maria et Joseph, et venit Nazareth, et erat subditus illis.
And Jesus went down with Mary and Joseph, and came to Nazareth: and was subject to them.

Hymn

O Lux beata Cælitum,
Et summa spes mortalium, Jesu,
O cui domestica
Arrisit orto caritas.

Maria, dives gratia,
O sola quæ casto potes
Fovere Jesum pectore,
Cum lacte donans oscula.

Tuque ex vetustis patribus
Delecte custos Virginis,
Dulci patris quem nomine
Divina proies invocat.

De stirpe Jesse nobili
Nati in salutem gentium,
Audite nos qui supplices
Vestras ad aras sistimus.

Dum sol redux ad vesperum
Rebus nitorem detrahit,
Nos hic manentes intimo
Ex corde vota fundimus.

Qua vestra sedes floruit
Virtutis omnis gratia,
Hanc detur in domesticis
Referre posse moribus.

Jesu, tibi sit gloria,
Qui natus es de Virgine,
Cum Patre, et almo Spiritu,
In sempiterna sæcula.

Amen.

℣. Ponam universos filios tuos doctos a Domino.
℟. Et multitudinem pacis filiis tuis.
Blest light of all the heavenly hosts,
Sole hope of them that dwell on earth,
The purest love that ever graced
A home, did smile upon thy birth.

Mary, dear Mother, who but thee
Was ever yet so rich in grace?
Didst nourish Christ upon thy knee
And fold him in a sweet embrace?

And Joseph, chosen out to guard
The Virgin with thy gentle might,
The Infant Jesus smiled on thee
And called thee father as by right.

You, who to save a guilty race
Were born of David’s noble line,
O hear the humble prayers of all
To-day, who gather round your shrine.

The sun now wends his way to rest
And earth is veiled in shadows gray;
Yet hearts a-fire with joy and love
Still bid us linger on to pray.

O may the grace of that sweet home
Which held the earthly Trinity,
Be shed abroad upon the world
And bless the Christian family.

O Jesu, born of Virgin bright,
Immortal glory be to thee;
Praise to the Father infinite
And Holy Ghost eternally.

Amen.

℣. I will make all thy children to be taught of the Lord.
℟. And great the peace of thy children.

At the Magnificat

Ant. Maria autem conservabat omnia verba hæc, conferens in corde suo.
Ant. But Mary * kept all these words, pondering them in her heart.

Collect as at Mass, p. 139.


Commemoration of the Epiphany

Ant. Magi videntes stellam, dixerunt ad invicem: Hoc signum magni Regis est: eamus et iniquiramus eum, et offeramus ei munera, aurum, thus et myrrham. Alleluia.
Ant. The Magi, seeing the Star, said to each other: This is the sign of the great King: let us go and seek him, and offer him gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh. Alleluia.

or—

 

Ant. Tribus miraculis ornatum diem sanctum colimus: hodie stella Magos duxit ad præsepium: hodie vinum ex aqua factum est ad nuptias: hodie in Jordane a Joanne Christus baptizari voluit, ut salvaret nos. Alleluia.

℣. Reges Tharsis et insulæ munera offerent.
℟. Reges Arabum et Saba dona adducent.
Ant. We celebrate a festival adorned by three miracles: this day, a star led the Magi to the manger; this day, water was changed into wine, at the marriage-feast; this day, Christ vouchsafed to be baptized by John, in the Jordan, for our salvation. Alleluia.

℣. The Kings of Tharsis and the islands shall offer presents.
℟. The Kings of the Arabians and of Saba shall bring gifts.

The Collect as on p. 139.


Commemoration of the Sunday

Ant. Fili! quid fecisti nobis sic? ego et pater tuus dolentes quærebamus te. Quid est quod me quærebatis? nesciebatis quia in his quæ Patris mei sunt, oportet me esse?

℣. Omnes de Saba venient. Alleluia.
℟. Aurum et thus deferentes. Alleluia.
Ant. Son! why hast thou done so to us? Behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?

℣. All they from Saba shall come. Alleluia.
℟. Bringing gold and frankincense. Alleluia.

The Collect as on p. 139.


MASS OF THE SUNDAY WITHIN THE OCTAVE OF THE EPIPHANY

(In some Churches, the Feast of the Holy Family is not observed on this day; the Mass will then be of the Sunday.)

It is the Kingship of the divine Infant that the Church again proclaims in the opening Canticle of the Mass for the Sunday within the Octave of the Epiphany. She sings the praises of her Emmanuel's Throne, and takes her part with the Angels who hymn the glory of Jesus' eternal Empire. Let us do the same, and adore the King of Ages, in his Epiphany.

Introit

In excelso throno vidi sedere virimi, quem adorat multitudo Angelorum psallentes in unum: ecce cujus imperii nomen est in æternum. Ps. Jubilate Deo omnis terra: servite Domino inlætitia. Gloria Patri. In excelso.
I saw a man seated on a high throne, whom a multitude of Angels adored, singing all together: Behold him, whose name and empire are to last for ever. Ps. Sing joyfully to God, all the earth: serve ye the Lord with gladness. Glory. I saw.

The Collect is given on p. 139.


Epistle

Lectio Epistolæ beati Pauli Apostoli ad Romanos.

Cap. XII.

Fratres, obsecro vos per misericordiam Dei, ut exhibeatis corpora vestra hostiamviventem, sanctam, Deo placentem, rationabile obsequium vestrum. Et nolite conformari huic sæculo, sed reformamini in novitate sensus vestii: ut probetis quse sit voluntas Dei bona, et beneplacens, et perfecta. Dico enim per gratiam quæ data est mihi, omnibus qui sunt inter vos: Non plus sapere quam oportet sapere, sed sapere ad sobrietatem: et unicuique sicut Deus divisit mensuram fidei. Sicut enim in uno corpore multa membra habemus, omnia autem membra non eumdem actum habent: ita multi unum corpus sumus in Christo, singuli autem alter alterius membra: in Christo Jesu Domino nostro.
Lesson of the Epistle of Saint Paul the Apostle to the Romans.

Ch. XII.

Brethren, I beseech you, by the mercy of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing unto God, your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world, but be reformed in the newness of your mind: that you may prove what is the good, and the acceptable, and the perfect will of God. For I say, by the grace that is given me, to all that are among you, not to be more wise than it behoveth to be wise, but to be wise unto sobriety, and according as God hath divided unto every one the measure of faith. For as in one body we have many members, but all the members have not the same office: so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members of one another, in Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Apostle invites us to make our offering to the new-born King, after the example of the Magi; but the offering which this Lord of all things asks of us is not anything material or lifeless. He that is Life gives his whole self to us; let us, in return, present him our hearts, that is, a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing unto God; whose service may be reasonable, that is, whose obedience to the divine will may be accompanied by a formal intention of offering itself to its Creator. Here again, let us imitate the Magi, who went back another way into their own country—let us not adopt the ideas of this world, for the world is the covert enemy of our beloved King. Let us reform our worldly prudence according to the divine wisdom of Him, who may well be our guide, seeing he is the Eternal Wisdom of the Father. Let us understand, that no man can be wise without Faith, which reveals to us that we must all be united by love, so as to form one body in Christ, partaking of his life, his wisdom, his light, and his kingly character.

In the chant which follows the Epistle, the Church returns to her praise of the ineffable wonders of a God with us: Justice and righteousness have come down from heaven, to take up their abode on our mountains and hills.

Gradual

Benedictus Dominus Deus Isræl, qui facit mirabilia magna solus a sæculo. ℣. Suscipiant montes pacem populo tuo, et colles justitiam.

Alleluia, alleluia. ℣. Jubilate Deo omnis terra: servite Domino in lætitia. Alleluia.
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone hath done great wonders from the beginning. ℣. Let the mountains receive peace for thy people, and the hills righteousness.

Alleluia, alleluia. ℣. Sing joyfully to the Lord, ail the earth: serve ye the Lord with gladness. Alleluia.

The Gospel is the one for the Feast of the Holy Family, p. 141.


During the Offertory, the Church resumes her canticles of joy; the presence of the Divine Infant fills her with joy.

Offertory

Jubilate Deo omnis terra: servite Domino in lætitia: intrate in conspectu ejus in exsultatione: quia Dominus ipse est Deus.
Sing joyfully to the Lord, all the earth: serve ye the Lord with gladness: present yourselves to him with transports of joy: for the Lord is God.

The Secret is given on p. 143.


Whilst distributing the Bread of Life come down from heaven, the Church repeats the words addressed by Mary to her Son: Why hast thou done so to us? I and thy father have sought thee. The Good Shepherd, who feeds his Sheep with his own Flesh, replies, that he must needs do the will of his Father who is in heaven. He is come to be our Life, our light, and our food: he, therefore, leaves everything in order to give himself to us. But, whilst the Doctors in the Temple only saw and heard him, we, in this Living Bread, possess him and are united with him in sweetest union.

Communion

Fili, quid fecisti nobis sic? Ego et pater tuus dolentes quærebamus te. Et quid est, quod me quærebatis? Nesciebatis, quia in his, quæ Patris mei sunt, oportet me esse?
Son, why hast thou done so with us? I and thy father have sought thee with sorrow.—And why did you seek me? Did you not know that I must be about the concerns of my Father?

The Postcommunion is given on p. 144.


 

 

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

A SOLEMNITY of such importance as the Epiphany could not be without an Octave. The only Octaves during the year that are superior to this of the Epiphany, are those of Easter and Pentecost. It has a privilege which the Octave of Christmas has not; for no Feast can be kept during the Octave of the Epiphany, unless it be that of a principal Patron; whereas Feasts of double and semi-double rite are admitted during the Christmas Octave. It would even seem, judging from the ancient Sacramentaries, that anciently the two days immediately following the Epiphany were Days of Obligation, as were the Monday and Tuesday of Easter and Whitsuntide. The names of the Stational Churches are given, where the Clergy and Faithful of Rome assembled on these two days.

In order that we may the more fully enter into the spirit of the Church during this glorious Octave, we will contemplate, each day, the Mystery of the Vocation of the Magi, and we will enter, together with them, into the holy Cave of Bethlehem, there to offer our gifts to the Divine Infant, to whom the star has led the Wise Men.

These Magi are the harbingers of the conversion of all nations to the Lord their God; they are the Fathers of the Gentiles in the faith of the Redeemer that is come; they are the Patriarchs of the human race regenerated. They arrive at Bethlehem, according to the tradition of the Church, three in number; and this tradition is handed down by St Leo, by St Maximus of Turin, by St Cesarius of Arles, and by the Christian paintings in the Catacombs of Rome, which paintings belong to the period of the Persecutions.

Thus is continued in the Magi the Mystery prefigured by the three just men at the very commencement of the world: Abel, who, by his death, was the figure of Christ; Seth, who was the father of the children of God, as distinct from the family of Cain; and Enos, who had the honour of regulating the ceremonies and solemnity to be observed in man's worship of his Creator.

The Magi also continued, in their own person, that other Mystery of the three new parents of the human family, after the Deluge, and from whom all races have sprung: Sem, Cham, and Japheth, the Sons of Noe.

And, thirdly, we behold in the Magi that third Mystery of the three fathers of God's chosen people: Abraham, the Father of believers; Isaac, another figure of Christ immolated; and Jacob, who was strong against God,[1] and was the father of the twelve Patriarchs of Israel.

All these were but the receivers of the Promise, although the hope of mankind, both according to nature and grace, rested on them; they, as the Apostle says of them, saluted the accomplishment of that Promise afar off.[2] The nations did not follow them, by serving the true God; nay, the greater the light that shone on Israel, the greater seemed the blindness of the Gentile world. The three Magi, on the contrary, come to Bethlehem, and they are followed by countless generations. In them the figure becomes the grand reality, thanks to the mercy of our Lord, who having come to find what was lost, vouchsafed to stretch out his arms to the whole human race, for the whole was lost.

These happy Magi were also invested with regal power, as we shall see further on; as such, they were prefigured by those three faithful Kings who were the glory of the throne of Juda, the earnest maintainers among the chosen people of the traditions regarding the future Deliverer, and the strenuous opponents of idolatry: David, the sublime type of the Messias; Ezechias, whose courageous zeal destroyed the idols; and Josias, who reestablished the Law of the Lord, which the people had forgotten.

And if we would have another type of these holy pilgrims, who come from a far distant country of the Gentiles to adore the King of Peace, and offer him their rich presents, the sacred Scripture puts before us the Queen of Saba, also a Gentile, who hearing of the fame of the wisdom of Solomon, whose name means the Peaceful, visits Jerusalem, taking with her the most magnificent gifts—camels laden with gold, spices, and precious stones—and venerates, under one of the sublimest of his types, the kingly character of the Messias.

Thus, O Jesus! during the long and dark night, in which the justice of thy Father left this sinful world, did the gleams of grace appear in the heavens, portending the rising of that Sun of thine own Justice, which would dissipate the shadows of death, and establish the reign of Light and Day. But now all these shadows have passed away; we no longer need the imperfect light of types: it is thyself we now possess; and though we wear not royal crowns upon our heads, like the Magi and the Queen of Saba, yet thou receivest us with love. The very first to be invited to thy Crib, there to receive thy teachings, were simple Shepherds. Every member of the human family is called to form part of thy court. Having become a Child, thou hast opened the treasures of thine infinite wisdom to all men. What gratitude do we not owe for this gift of the light of Faith, without which we should know nothing, even whilst flattering ourselves that we know all things! How narrow and uncertain and deceitful is human science, compared with that which has its source in thee! May we ever prize this immense gift of Faith, this Light, O Jesus! which thou makest to shine upon us, after having softened it under the veil of thy humble Infancy. Preserve us from pride, which darkens the soul’s vision and dries up the heart. Confide us to the keeping of thy Blessed Mother; and may our love attach us for ever to thee, and her maternal eye ever watch over us lest we should leave thee, O thou the God of our hearts!

Let us now listen to the Hymns and Prayers of the several Churches in praise of the Mysteries of the glorious Epiphany. We will begin with this of Prudentius, in which he celebrates that never-setting Star, of which the other was but a figure.

Hymn

Quicumque Christura quæritis,
Oculos in altum tollite:
Illic licebit visere
Signum perennis gloriæ.

Hæc stella, quæ solis rotam
Vincit decore ac lumine,
Venisse terris nuntiat
Cum carne terrestri Deum.

Non illa servit noctibus,
Secuta lunam menstruam:
Sed solam cœlum possidens
Cursum dierum temperat.

Arctoa quamvis sidera
In se retortis motibus
Obire nolint; attamen
Plerumque sub nimbis latent.

Hoc sidus æternum manet:
Hæc stella numquam mergitur:
Nec nubis occursu abdita
Obumbrat obductam facem.

Tristis cometa intercidat,
Et si quod astrum
Sirio Fervet vapore, jam
Dei Sub luce destructum cadet.
O ye, that are in search of Jesus,
raise up your eyes aloft:
there shall you see
the sign of his eternal glory.

This Star, which surpasseth
the sun’s disc in beauty and light,
announces that God has come
upon the earth clothed in human flesh.

It is not a Star that is made to serve the night,
following the monthly changes of the moon;
but it seems to preside over the heavens
and mark the course of the day.

’Tis true, that Polar Stars
are lights that never set;
yet are they often hid
beneath the clouds.

But this Star is never dimmed;
this Star is never extinguished;
nor does a coming cloud
o'ershadow her blaze of light.

Let comet, the harbinger of ill,
and meteors formed by Dogstar’s vaporous heat,
now fade away
before this God’s own light.

We take the three following solemn Prayers from the Gregorian Sacramentary.

Prayers

 

Deus, illuminator omnium gentium, da populis tuis perpetua pace gaudere, et illud lumen splendidum infunde cordibus nostris, quod trium Magorum mentibus aspirasti.

Omnipotens et sempiterne Deus, fidelium splendor animarum, qui hanc solemnitatem electionis gentium primitiis consecrasti; imple mundum gloria tua, et subditis tibi populis per luminis tui appare claritatem.

Concede nobis, omnipotens Deus, ut Salutare tuum nova cœlorum luce mirabile, quod ad salutem mundi hodierna festivitate processit, nostris semper innovandis cordibus oriatur. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
O God, the enlightener of all nations, give thy people to enjoy perpetual peace, and infuse into our hearts that shining light which thou didst enkindle in the minds of the three Magi.

Almighty and eternal God, the light of faithful souls, who hast consecrated this solemnity by the first-fruits of the vocation of the Gentiles; fill this world with thy glory, and manifest thyself to thy devoted people by the brightness of thy light.

Grant unto us, O Almighty God, that the Saviour sent by thee, who was made known by a new light in the heavens, and comes down for the salvation of the world on this day’s solemnity, may arise in our hearts and give them a perpetual renovation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The following Sequence is found in the ancient Roman-French Missals.

Sequence

Epiphaniam Domino canamus gloriosam,
Qua prolem Dei vere Magi adorant:
Immensam Chaldæi cujus Persæque venerantur potentiam.
Quem cuncti Prophetæ cecinere venturum, gentes ad salvandas:
Cujus Majestas ita est inclinata, ut assumeret servi formam.
Ante sæcula qui Deus, et tempora, homo factus est in Maria:
Balaam de quo vaticinans: Exhibit et Jacob rutilans, inquit, stella,
Et confringet ducum agmina regionis Moab, maxima potentia.
Huic Magi munera deferunt præclara: aurum, simul thus et myrrham.
Thure Deum prsedicant, auro Regem magnum, hominem mortalem myrrha.
In somnis hos monet Angelus, ne redeant ad regem commotum propter regna;
Pavebat etenim nimium Regem natum, verens amittere regni jura.
Magi, stella sibi micante prævia, pergunt alacres itinera, patriam quæ eos ducebat ad propriam, liquentes Herodis mandata.
Qui percussus corde nimium præ ira, extemplo mandat eludia magica non linqui taliter impunita, sed mox privari eos vita.
Omnis nunc caterva tinnulum jungat laudibus organi pneuma,
Mystice offerens Regi regum Christo munera, pretiosa,
Poscens ut per orbem regna omnia protegat in sæcula sempiterna. Amen.
Let us sing to the Lord the glorious Epiphany,
Wherein the Magi adore the true Son of God.
The Chaldeans and Persians offer homage to his infinite power.
All the Prophets had foretold that he would come to save the nations.
His Majesty so far humbled itself, as to assume the form of a servant.
He that was God before all ages and time, was made Man in Mary's womb.
Balaam thus prophesied concerning him: There shall go forth a bright star from Jacob,
And with exceeding power he shall break the armies of the chiefs of Moab.
The Magi bring him rich presents, gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
By the frankincense they confess him to be God; by the gold, the great King; by the myrrh, a mortal Man.
An Angel warns them in their sleep, that they return not to King Herod, who feared to lose his kingdom.
For he was exceedingly troubled at the birth of the new King, and trembled lest he should be deprived of his throne.
The Magi, guided by a Star that went before them, set out on their journey with joy. The Star guided them to their own country, and Herod's commands were not heeded.
This prince, struck to the heart with exceeding wrath, straightway commands that the disobedience of the Magi be chastised, and that they be speedily put to death.
Now, therefore, let this assembly sing its songs of praise accompanied by the organ's shrill sounding notes.
And offer to Christ, the King of kings, its precious mystic gifts,
Beseeching him that he protect all the kingdoms of the universe for ever and ever. Amen.

St Ephrem gives us the following beautiful Hymn upon the Nativity of our Lord.

Hymn

Nascente Filio, altis resonat clamoribus Bethlehem. Cœlo delapsi Vigiles canunt vocibus tonitruum imitantibus. Concentu exciti novo convenere silentes, silentium rupere laudes nascentis Filii Dei.

Plaudamus, aiebant, Infanti qui Evæ Adæque juventutis restituit annos. Confluxere pastores, gregum suorum proventum portantes, dulcis lactis copiam, mundas carnes, et decoram laudem.

Distinxere munera, carnes Josepho, Mariæ lac, Filio laudem. Obtulere agnum lactentem paschali Agno, primum Primo, hostiam Hostiæ, agnum caduci temporis Agno veritatis sempiternæ.

Decorum sane spectaculum! agnus oblatus Agno! balavit agnus Unigenito præsentatus, agnus Agno acceptam referebat gratiam, quod suo adventu greges et armenta mactationi subtraxisset, et novum a veteri Paschata traductum Pascha Filii introduxisset.

Illum adoravere pastores, et prophetantes Pastorum Principem salutarunt. Mosaica virga, aiebant, tuum, universalis Pastor, sceptrum commendat, quique illam gestavit Moses te magnum prædicat, dolens gregum suorum mutatas formas, et agnos in lupos transiisse, ac oves evasisse dracones, et ferocissimas bestias. Scilicet et istæ in illa horribili solitudine passæ fuerant malum, quando furentes rabidæ in suum incubuere Pastorem.

Divine Puer, hanc tibi acceptam profitentur gratiam pastores, quod lupos et agnos in easdem caulas congregaveris: Puer Noe antiquior, et Noe recentior, qui intra arcam, pelago fremente, pacem dissidentibus vectoribus sanxisti.

David proavus tuus agni necem leonis cæde vindicavit: tu vero, fili David, occultum peremisti lupum, a quo interfectus fuerat Adamus, agnus ille simplex, qui in Paradiso pastus est et balavit.
The Son being born, Bethlehem resounds with loud shouts of joy. The ever wakeful Angels come down from heaven, singing their hymn with voices loud as thunder. Men that were in still silence ran to the cave, aroused by the strange music: they too broke the silence with their praises of the new-born Son of God.

'Let us,’ said they, 'give praise to the Infant, who has restored to Adam and Eve the years of their youth.' These Shepherds came bringing with them the produce of their flocks, abundance of sweet milk, clean meats, and songs of praise.

Thus did they divide the gifts: the meats to Joseph; the milk to Mary; their praise to Jesus. They offered a lambkin to the paschal Lamb, a first-born to the First-Born, a victim to the Victim, a mortal lamb to the true eternal Lamb.

Fair sight indeed! A lamb offered to the Lamb! The lamb bleated, thus offered to the Only Begotten Son of God; it thanked him for that his coming would save the flocks and herds from being immolated, and that a new Pasch, that of the Son of God, would be brought in in place of the Pasch of old.

The Shepherds adored him, and prophesying, saluted him as the Prince of Shepherds. They said: 'Thy sceptre, O universal Shepherd! is prefigured by the rod of Moses; and Moses, who held it in his hand, declares thy greatness. But he grieves over the change that befell his flock: he grieves to see his lambs changed into wolves, and his sheep transformed into dragons and savage beasts. This evil happened to them in that terrible desert, where this flock, grown mad with rage, attacked their Shepherd.

‘O Divine Child! the Shepherds give thee thanks, for that thou hast united into the one fold both wolves and lambs. O Child! that art older and younger than Noe! ’twas thou didst establish peace among them that sailed in the ark on the stormy sea, and were enemies.

'Thy ancestor David avenged the massacre of a lamb by slaying the lion: but thou, O Son of David! didst slay the invisible lion, who murdered that simple lamb, who fed and bleated in Eden—our first parent Adam.'

The Greek Church gives us, in honour of the VirginMother, this beautiful song of Saint Joseph the Hymnographer.

Ut inferiores superioribus ac cœlestibus conjungeret solus omnium Deus, virginalem uterum ingressus est, cumquein similitudine carnis apparuisset, intermedio inimicitiæ pariete sublato, pacem interposuit, vitamque ac divinam redemptionem largitus est.

Virgo casta post partum permansisti, O sanctissima: Deum enim Verbum genuisti similem nobis factum sine peccato.

Sana vulnera cordis mei, o puella, et motus animæ meæ recta ac felici tramite dirige, o Virgo, ad Dei voluntatem faciendam.

Salve, o unica Genitrix illius qui carnem emendicavit. Salve collapsi mundi erectio, o immaculatissima: salve, mœroris dissolutio; salve, salus fidelium; salve, throne Dei altissime.

Mente revolventes divineloqui Prophetæ mysterii tui profunditatem, o Virgo, prophetice prænunciaverunt illud divino Spiritu illustrati. Nos vero cum illorum vaticinia opere completa nunc læti intueamur, credimus.

O Puella omnibus miraculis admirabilior; illum genuisti qui est ante omnia sæcula, nobis similem factum propter summam misericordiam suam, ut salvos faceret eos qui canunt: Benedictus es Deus Patrum nostrorum.

Divinis verbis tuis hominum generationes inhærentes, beatam te dicunt, o semper beatissima, suaviter concinentes: Benedicite omnia opera Dominum.

O Virgo bonorum amatrix, bonam effice animam meam, peccati malitia depravatam: tu enim bonum Deum ac Dominum peperisti.

Horrescunt Cherubim atque universa cœlestis natura ob reverentiam venerandæ Prolis tuæ incomprehensibilis, o immaculatissima, quæ similis facta est nobis propterineffabilem misericordiam suam, et secundum carnem baptizata est, cujus divinam Apparitionem nunc omnes exsultantes celebramus.
The one only God of all, wishing to unite the inferior creation with the superior and heavenly, entered the womb of the Virgin; ,and when he had appeared in the likeness of the flesh, he established peace between God and man, having taken away the wall of enmity that had stood between them; he also bestowed on us life and divine redemption,

Thou, O most holy Mary! didst remain a pure Virgin after thy delivery; for thou didst give birth to God the Word, made like unto us in all save sin.

Heal the wounds of my heart, O Virgin! and direct the movements of my soul in a bright and happy path, so that I may fulfil God’s will.

Hail, incomparable Mother of Him who deigned to take our flesh! Hail. O most Immaculate Mary, that didst bring the fallen world its resurrection! Hail, thou dispeller of sorrow! Hail, thou that givest the faithful their Saviour! Hail, most high throne of God!

The divinely-speaking Prophets, revolving in their minds the depth of thy mystery, O Virgin! prophetically foretold it, for they were enlightened by the divine Spirit. We that now joyfully behold their prophecies fulfilled, we believe.

O Virgin! thou that art more admirable than all miracles! thou didst give birth to Him who was before all ages, and who was made like unto us through his great mercy, for he came that he might save them that sing: Blessed art thou, the God of our Fathers!

All generations of men, keeping to thy most sacred words, call thee Blessed, O most Blessed Mother! and sweetly sing in choral hymns: All ye works of the Lord, bless the Lord!

O Virgin, that lovest holy souls! make mine holy, for it is depraved by the evil of sin: make it good, for thou hast given birth to the good God and Lord,

The Cherubim and the whole heavenly kingdom tremble in reverence before the incomprehensible majesty of thy Son, O most Immaculate Mother! He was made like unto us, through his ineffable mercy, and was baptized according to the flesh: and now do we all exultingly celebrate his divine Apparition.

 

 

 

[1] Gen. xxxii 28.

[2] Heb. xi 13.

 

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

THE great Mystery of the Alliance of the Son of God with the universal Church, which is represented in the Epiphany by the Magi, was looked forward to by the world in every age previous to the coming of our Emmanuel. The Patriarchs and Prophets had propagated the tradition; and the Gentile world gave frequent proofs that the tradition prevailed even with them.

When Adam in Eden first beheld her whom God had formed from one of his ribs, and whom he called Eve, because she was the Mother of all the living.[1] he exclaimed: 'This is the bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh. Man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall be two in one flesh.'[2] In uttering these words, the soul of our first Parent was enlightened by the Holy Spirit, and, as we are told by the most profound interpreters of the Sacred Scriptures (such as Tertullian, St Augustine, St Jerome, etc.), he foretold the alliance of the Son of God with his Church, which issued from his Side, when opened by the spear, on the Cross; for the love of which Spouse he left the right hand of his Father, and the heavenly Jerusalem, his mother, that he might dwell with us in this our earthly abode.

The second father of the human race, Noe, after he had seen the Rainbow in the heavens, announcing that now God’s anger was appeased, prophesied to his three Sons their own respective future, and in theirs, that of the world. Cham had drawn upon himself his father’s curse; Sem seemed to be the favoured son, for from his race there should come the Saviour of the world; but, the Patriarch immediately adds: 'May God enlarge Japheth, and may he dwell in the tents of Sem.'[3] In the course of time, the ancient alliance that had been made between God and the people of Israel was broken; the Semitic race fluctuated in its religion, and finally fell into infidelity; and at length God adopts the family of Japheth, that is, the Gentiles of the West, as his own people; for ages, they had been without God, and now the very Seat of religion is established in their midst, and they are put at the head of the whole human race.

Later on it is the great God himself that speaks to Abraham, promising him that he shall be the father of a countless family. ‘I will bless thee,' says the Lord, 'and I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven.'[4] As the Apostle tells us, more numerous was to be the family of Abraham according to the faith than that which should be born to him of Sara. All they that have received the faith of a Mediator to come, and all they that, being warned by the Star, have come to Jesus as their God—all are the children of Abraham.

The Mystery is again expressed in Rebecca, the wife of Isaac. She feels that there are two children struggling within her womb;[5] and this is the answer she received from God, when she consulted him: ‘Two nations are in thy womb, and two peoples shall be divided out of thy womb; and one people shall overcome the other, and the elder shall serve the younger.'[6] Now, who is this ‘younger’ child that overcomes the elder, but the Gentiles, who struggle with Juda for the light, and who, though but the child of the promise, supplants him who was son according to the flesh? Such is the teaching of St Leo and St Augustine.

Next it is Jacob, who, when dying, calls his twelve sons, the fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel, around his bed, and prophetically assigns to each of them the career they were to run. Juda is put before the rest; he is to be the king of his brethren, and from his royal race shall come the Messias. But the prophecy concludes with the prediction of Israel's humiliation, which humiliation is to be the glory of the rest of the human race. 'The sceptre shall not be taken away from Juda, nor a Ruler from his thigh, till he come that is to be sent, and he shall be the Expectation of the Nations.'[7]

When Israel had gone out of Egypt, and was in possession of the Promised Land, Balaam cried out, setting his face towards the desert where Israel was encamped: 'I shall see him, but not now; I shall behold him, but not near. A Star shall rise out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall spring up from Israel. . . . Who shall live when God shall do these things? They shall come in galleys from Italy; they shall overcome the Assyrians, and shall waste the Hebrews, and at the last they themselves also shall perish.'[8] And what kingdom shall succeed this? The kingdom of Christ, who is the Star, and the King that shall rule for ever.

David has this great day continually before his mind. He is for ever celebrating, in his Psalms, the Kingship of his Son according to the flesh: he shows him to us as bearing the Sceptre, girt with the Sword, anointed by God his Father, and extending his kingdom from sea to sea: he tells us how the Kings of Tharsis and the Istlands, the Kings of the Arabians and of Saba, and the Princes of Ethiopia, shall prostrate at his feet and adore him: he mentions their gifts of gold.[9]

In his mysterious Canticle of Canticles, Solomon describes the joy of the spiritual union between the divine Spouse and his Church, and that Church is not the Synagogue. Christ invites her, in words of tenderest love, to come and be crowned; and she, to whom he addresses these words, is dwelling beyond the confines of the land where lives the people of God. 'Come from Libanus, my Spouse, come from Libanus, come! Thou shalt be crowned from the top of Amana, from the top of Sanir and Hermon, from the dens of the lions, from the mountains of the leopards.’[10] This daughter of Pharaoh confesses her unworthiness: I am black, she says; but, she immediately adds that she has been made beautiful by the grace of her Spouse.[11]

The Prophet Osee follows with his inspired prediction: 'And it shall be in that day, saith the Lord, that she shall call me My Husband, and she shall call me no more Baali. And I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and she shall no more remember their name. . . . And I will espouse thee to me for ever. . . . And I will sow her unto me in the earth, and I will have mercy on her that was without mercy. And I will say to that which was not my people: Thou art my people:and they shall say: Thou art my God.'[12]

The elder Tobias, whilst captive in Babylon, prophesies the same alliance. The Jerusalem which was to receive the Jews after their deliverance by Cyrus, is not the City of which he speaks in such glowing terms; it is a new and richer and lovelier Jerusalem. 'Jerusalem! City of God! bless the God eternal, that he may rebuild his tabernacle in thee, and may call back all the captives to thee. Thou shalt shine with a glorious light. Nations from afar shall come to thee, and shall bring gifts, and shall esteem thy land as holy. For they shall call upon the great Name in thee. . . . All that fear God shall return thither. And the Gentiles shall leave their idols, and shall come into Jerusalem, and shall dwell in it. And all the kings of the earth shall rejoice in it, adoring the King of Israel.'[13]

It is true, the Gentiles shall be severely chastised by God on account of their crimes; but that justice is for no other end than to prepare those very Gentiles for an eternal alliance with the great Jehovah. He thus speaks by his Prophet Sophonias: 'My judgement is to assemble the Gentiles, and to gather the kingdoms: and to pour upon them my indignation, all my fierce anger: for with the fire of my jealousy shall all the earth be devoured. Because then I will restore to the people a chosen lip, that all may call upon the name of the Lord, and may serve him with one shoulder. From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia shall my suppliants, the children of my dispersed people, bring me an offering.'[14]

He promises the same mercy by his Prophet Ezechiel: ‘One King shall be over all, and they shall no more be two nations, neither shall they be divided any more into two kingdoms. Nor shall they be defiled any more with their idols: and I will save them out of all the places in which they have sinned. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. And they shall have One Shepherd. And I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will establish them, and will multiply them, and will set my Sanctuary in the midst of them for ever.'[15]

After the prophet Daniel has described the three great Kingdoms which were successively to pass away, he says there shall be a Kingdom 'which is an everlasting Kingdom, and all kings shall serve him' (the King) 'and shall obey him.' He had previously said: ‘The power' (that was to be given to the Son of man) ‘is an everlasting power that shall not be taken away; and his Kingdom shall not be destroyed.'[16]

Aggeus thus foretells the great events which were to happen before the coming of the One Shepherd, and the establishment of that everlasting Sanctuary which was to be set up in the very midst of the Gentiles: ‘Yet one little while, and I will move the heaven, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land. And I will move all nations, and the Desired of all nations shall come.'[17]

But we should have to cite all the Prophets in order to describe in all its grandeur the glorious spectacle promised by God to the world, when, being mindful of the Gentiles, he should lead them to the feet of Jesus. The Church has quoted the Prophet Isaias in the Epistle of the Feast, and no Prophet is so explicit and so sublime as this son of Amos.

The expression of the same universal expectation and desire is found also among the Gentiles. The Sibyls kept up the hope in the heart of the people; and in Rome itself we find the Poet Virgil repeating in one of his poems the oracles they had pronounced. ‘The last age,' says he, ‘foretold by the Cumean Sibyl, is at hand; a new and glorious era is coming: a new race is being sent down to earth from heaven. At the birth of this Child, the iron age will cease, and one of gold will rise upon the whole world.... No remnants of our crimes will be left, and their removal will free the earth from its neverending fear.'[18]

If we are unwilling to accept, as did St Augustine and so many other holy Fathers, these Sibylline oracles as the expression of the ancient traditions—we have pagan philosophers and historians, such as Cicero, Tacitus, and Suetonius, testifying that in their times the world was in expectation of a Deliverer; that this Deliverer would come, not only from the East, but from Judea; and that a Kingdom was on the point of being established which would include the entire world.

O Jesus, our Emmanuel! this universal expectation was that of the holy Magi, to whom thou didst send the star. No sooner do they receive the signal of thy having come, than they set out in search of thee, asking, 'Where is he born, that is King of the Jews?' The oracles of thy Prophets were verified in them; but if they received the first-fruits of the great promise, we possess it in all its fulness. The Alliance is made, and our souls, for love of which thou didst come down from heaven, are thine. The Church is come forth from thy divine side, with the Blood and Water; and all that thou dost for this thy chosen Spouse, thou accomplishest in each of her faithful children. We are the sons of Japheth, and we have supplanted the race of Sem, which refused us the entrance of its tents; the birthright which belonged to Juda has been transferred to us. Each age do our numbers increase, for we are to become numerous as the stars of heaven. We are no longer in the anxious period of expectation; the star has risen, and the Kingdom it predicted will now for ever protect and bless us. The Kings of Tharsis and the Islands, the Kings of Arabia and Saba, the Princes of Ethiopia, are come, bringing their gifts with them; all generations have followed them. The Spouse has received all her honours, and has long since forgotten Amana, and Sanir, and Hermon, where she once dwelt in the mdist of wild beasts; she is not black, she is beautiful, with neither spot nor wrinkle upon her, but in every way is worthy of her divine Lord. Baal is forgotten for ever, and she lovingly speaks the language given her by her God. The One Shepherd feeds the one flock. The last Kingdom, the Kingdom which is to continue for ever, is faithfully fulfilling its glorious destiny.

It is thou, O Divine Infant! that bringest us all these graces, and receivest all this devoted homage of thy creatures. The time will soon come, dear Jesus! when thou wilt break the silence thou hast imposed on thyself in order that thou mightest teach us humility—thou wilt speak to us as our Master. Cæsar Augustus has long ruled over Pagan Rome, and she thinks herself the kingdom that is to have no end; but she and her Rulers must yield to the Eternal King and his eternal City: the throne of earthly power must now give place for the Throne of Christian charity, and a new Rome is to spring up, grander than the first. The Gentiles are looking for thee, their King; but the day will come when they will have no need to seek thee, but thou, in thy mercy, wilt go in search of them, by sending them apostles and missioners who will preach thy Gospel to them. Show thyself to them as he to whom all power has been given in heaven and on earth; and show them also Her whom thou hast made to be Queen of the universe. May this august Mother of thine be raised up from the poor Stable of Bethlehem, and from the humble dwelling of Nazareth, and be taken on the wings of Angels to that throne of mercy which thou hast made for her, and from which she will bless all peoples and generations with her loving protection.

We will now borrow some of those Canticles wherewith the several Churches were formerly wont to celebrate the Epiphany. Prudentius, the Prince of our Latin liturgical Poets, thus sings the Magi's journey to Bethlehem.

Hymn

 

En Persici ex orbis sinu,
Sol unde sumit januam,
Cernunt periti interpretes
Regale vexillum Magi.

Quod ut refulsit, cæteri
Cessere signorum globi:
Nec pulcher est ausus suam
Conferre formam Lucifer.

Quis iste tantus, inquiunt,
Regnator, astris imperans;
Quem sic tremunt cœlestia,
Cui lux, et æthra inserviunt?

Illustre quiddam cernimus,
Quod nesciat finem pati:
Sublime, celsum, interminum,
Antiquius cœlo, et chao.

Hic ille Rex est Gentium,
Populique Rex Judaici,
Promissus Abrahæ Patri,
Ejusque in ævum semini.

Æquanda nam stellis sua
Cognovit olim germina
Primus sapor credential,
Nati isolator unici.

Jam flos subit Davidicus,
Radice Jesse editus:
Sceptrique per virgam virens,
Rerum cacumen occupat.

Exin sequuntur perciti
Fixis in altum vultibus,
Qua stella sulcum traxerat,
Claramque signabat viam.

Sed verticem pueri supra
Signum pependit imminens,
Pronaque submissum face
Caput sacratum prodidit.

Videre quod postquam Magi,
Eoa promunt munera,
Stratique votis offerunt
Thus, myrrham, et aurum regium.

Agnosce clara insignia
Virtutis, ac regni tui,
Puer o, cui trinam
Pater Prædestinavit indolem.

Regem Deumque annuntiant
Thesaurus et fragrans odor
Thuris Sabæi: ac myrrheus
Pulvis sepulcrum prædocet.

Hoc est sepulcrum, quo Deus,
Dum corpus exstingui sinit,
Atque id sepulcrum suscitat,
Mortis refregit carcerem.
Lo! in the heart of Persia’s world,
where opens first the gate unto the rising sun,
the Magi, most wise interpreters,
perceive the standard of the King.

It shone, and the other stars of heaven
put out their lights:
not even would the lovely
DayStar show his face.

'Who, ‘say they, 'is this great King,
who commands the stars?
at whose presence the heavens tremble,
and light and air do his bidding?

‘The sign we see tells us of that great Being,
who is eternal and infinite
—the most, high, exalted, boundless One,
who existed before heaven and earth were made.

‘This is he that is King of the Gentiles,
and King of the Jews:
he was promised to our Father Abraham,
and to his seed for ever.

‘For Abraham, the first parent of believers,
and the sacrificer of his only Son,
was told that his race should become numerous
as the stars of heaven.

‘At length the Flower of David is come,
springing from Jesse's root:
blooming by his sceptre's rod,
he now rules over the universe.’

Then quickly do they follow,
with their gaze fixed aloft,
and the Star sails through the air,
pointing the bright path to be pursued.

But when the Star had reached the point
direct above the Child’s head,
it hovered there: then stooping down its torch,
it showed the sacred face they sought.

The Magi looked upon the Babe,
then opening their eastern treasures,
prostrate, and offer him the votive homage
of incense, myrrh, and kingly gold.

These, dear Babe, are the rich tokens
of thy power and kingdom,
for they mark the triple character
which thy Father would have us recognize.

The Gold proclaims him King;
the sweet-smelling Saba Incense declares him to be God;
and the Myrrh signifies that he is Man,
for it is the symbol of his future tomb;

That Tomb, whereby God
broke open the prison of Death,
after he had permitted his sacred Body to suffer death,
and the Tomb had raised it up again to life.

We find in the Sacramentary of the ancient Gallican Church the following beautiful prayer.

Prayer

Deus qui dives es in omnibus misericordia, Pater gloriæ, qui posuisti Filium tuum lumen in nationibus, prædicare captivis redemptionem, cæcis visum, remissionem peccatorum, et sortem inter sanctos per fidem, qui es in Christo largus miserator indulge. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
O God, who in all thy works art rich in mercy! Father of glory! who didst set thy Son as a light to the Gentiles, that he might preach redemption to captives, and give sight to the blind; O thou that art through Christ plenteous in thy mercy! grant us the remission of our sins, and fellowship through faith with the Saints. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Let us celebrate the mystery of the Birth of Jesus and his alliance with mankind, by this Sequence taken from the ancient Roman-French Missals.

Sequence

Ecce jam votiva festa recurrunt annua.
Addat se vox nostra ad Angelorum carmina.
Christus hac ut sponsus materna die processit clausula.
Exsultans ut gigas ad hujus vitæ currendas semitas.
Angelica gloriam reboant in excelsis agmina.
Pax in terra homines te~ neat, cum benevolentia.
Jam se replicat sæculi series maxima: venit etiam vatis Cumææ veridica jam ætas carminis ultima.
Virgo remeat sæcla revehens altera: adsunt tempora quo gens ferrea jam desinat, et mundo pullulet aurea.
Adauctus solis jubar die pluscula menses producere inchoat.
Nocturnas stella fugat, Magos excitat, Balaamitica tenebras.
Impleta, quæ prædixerat plebs utraque, et Gentilitas et Hebræa, oracula, Christo nascente, sunt omnia.
Sunt cuncta jam nunc scelerum recidiva et recentia et antiqua vestigia, quæque remanserant irrita.
O mira atque nova genitural fit gravida Virgo fideliter credula.
Et porta, quæ fuerat semper clausa, est reserata, Naturam dum hominis induit Deitas.
Conserva hæc, quæsumus, Christe, nobis munera tanta, a te prærogata. Amen.
Lo! the year has brought us once again the much loved Feasts.
Let our voices unite in the hymns of the Angels.
On this day, Christ, as a Bridegroom, came from his Mother’s womb.
He hath rejoiced to run, as a giant, the way of this our life.
The Angelic host make earth re-echo with their song: Glory in the highest!
Peace on earth to men of good will!
Now begins the most glorious of the eras of time; now too has come that truthful last age of the Cumæan Sibyl’s song.
Let the Virgin come, bringing new times to the world. The day is at hand for the iron age to cease, and the golden one to spring up on the earth.
The bright sun begins to lengthen out our days and months.
Balaam’s Star wakens up the Magi, and puts to flight the night’s dark gloom.
Christ is born:—all the prophecies are fulfilled which were fore-spoken by the two people, the Gentiles and the Jews.
The vestiges of crime, both new and old, are now all wiped away and destroyed.
O wonderful and unheardof Mother! A Virgin faithfully believes, and the Fruit is in her womb.
The gate, which was ever closed, is opened to the Lord, When he, the great God, assumed the nature of man.
Grant us, O Jesus! ever to hold fast these wondrous gifts, which thou hast bestowed upon us. Amen.

 

Hymn

Venere agrorum cultores, et vitæ sospitatorem suæ venerati sunt, lætique talia prophetabant: Ave, designatus nostrorum cultor agrorum, tu cordium nostrorum arva coles, et frumenta inde collecta in horreum vitæ congregabis.

Secuti sunt vinitores, vineamque laudarunt ex radice ramisque Jesse propagatam, quæ virginem botrum ex veneranda vite protulit, nos, quæso, refingito in vasa digna vino tuo novo innovante omnia; statum vineæ tuæ restitue, quæso; nil illa præter siliquas hucusque protulit; tuos jam insere vitibus surculos.

Ad filium Joseph propter Joseph venere fabri. Beatum natalem tuum auguramur, aiebant, artificum Princeps, qui Noeticam arcam delineasti; atque tabernaculum architectatus es illud extemporaneum, et ad tempus duraturum; nostra te laudant opificia: esto, precamur, tu gloria nostra, jugumfabricare, futurum gestaturi, leve et suave onus.

Simili instinctu salutavere natum infantem novi conjuges, ut dicerent: Salve puer, cujus mater sponsa Sancti facta est. Beatas nuptias, quibus inter futurus es, beatos sponsos, quibus, cum vinum defuerit, tuo repente nutu, illud affluere cernent.

Clamavere simul parvuli: O nos beatos, quibus contigit habere te fratrem, et in foris sodalem: felicem diem, felices pueros, quibus continget laudare te arborem vitæ, qui celsitudinem tuam ad nostram ætatulam demisisti.

Rumor pervaserat aures feminarum, fore ut virgo aliquando pareret; injecta est cuilibet illarum hujusmodi partus spes; speravere nobiles, speravere formosæ tuas se fore matres. Tibi, Altissime, benedicimus, quod pauperem matrem elegeris.

Prophetavere etiam puellæ, quibus obtigit ad ilium deferri, dicentes: Seu deformis sim, seu formosa sim, seu humilis sim, tibi ero, adhærebo tibi: mortales thalamituo numquam mihi erunt potiores.
There came the husbandmen of Bethlehem, and they paid homage to him who was the protector of their life, and thus, in their joy, did they prophesy: 'Hail! thou the appointed cultivator of our lands! Thou shalt till the soil of our hearts, and thou shalt put into the garnerhouse of life the harvests they yield.'

The vine-dressers came next. They spoke the praises of the Vine grown from the root and branch of Jesse, that bore, from its venerable stock, the virginal Fruit. 'We beseech thee,' said they, 'reform us into vessels worthy of thy new Wine, which maketh all things new. Restore thy vineyard to its former state. Hitherto, it has produced nought but wild grapes. Ingraft thine own scions on our vines.'

Then, because Joseph was a Carpenter, Carpenters approach to this his Son. ‘We greet thy happy birth,' say they: ‘ we hail thee as our Prince, for thou it was didst plan the Ark of Noe. Thou wast Architect of that tabernacle so soon built, and to last but for a time. Our works praise thee. We beseech thee, be thou our glory, and make for us that yoke of thine, which we intend to carry; for it is a light yoke, and a sweet burden.'

A like instinct brought the newly married to the new-born Babe: they saluted him, and said: 'Hail, Child! whose Mother is the Spouse of the Holy One! O blessed nuptials those, where thou art to be present! O blessed Spouses they, who shall see the Wine that had failed flow out abundantly at thy bidding!’

Little Children, too, cried out: 'O happy we, to whom it has been given to have thee for our Brother and our Companion! Happy day! and happy children who, on that day, shall be permitted to praise thee, the tree of life, who hast humbled thy immensity to the littleness of our infant age!’

The report of the prophecy that a Virgin would one day bring forth a Child, came to the women’s ears; and each one hoped that this privilege would fall to their lot. ‘Noblewomen, and beautiful women, hoped that they might be thy mother. We bless thee, O Most High God, that thou choosest for thy Mother one that was poor.'

Young Maidens, too, were presented to Jesus, and they prophesied, saying: 'I may be uncomely, or I may be beautiful, or I may be poor: but thine will I be, and to thee will I cling. I will prefer espousals with thee to those I could contract with mortal man.'

Let us, in honour of the Blessed Mother, sing this sweet Hymn used by some Churches in the Middle Ages.

Sequence

Verbum bonum et suave,
Personemus illudi Ave
Per quod Christi fit conclave
Virgo, mater, filia.

Per quod Ave salutata
Mox concepit fœcundata
Virgo David stirpe nata,
Inter spinas lilia.

Ave, veri Salomonis
Mater, vellus Gedeonis,
Cujus Magis tribus donis
Laudant puerperium.

Ave, solem genuisti;
Ave, solem protulisti,
Mundo lapso contulisti
Vitam et imperium.

Ave, sponsa Verbi summi,
Maris portus, signum dumi,
Aromatum virga fumi,
Angelorum Domina.

Supplicamus: nos emenda,
Emendatos nos commenda
Tuo Nato, ad habenda
Sempiterna gaudia.

Amen.
Let us sing that word, so good and sweet:
Ave—Hail! It was by that salutation
that the Virgin was made the sanctuary of Christ
—the Virgin, who was both his Mother and his Child.

Greeted by that Hail,
the Virgin, born of the family of David,
conceived the Divine Fruit in her womb
—She that was the Lily amidst the thorns.

Hail! thou Mother of the true Solomon,
thou Fleece of Gedeon!
The Magi, by their three gifts,
praise thy delivery.

Hail! thou hast given birth to the Sun!
Hail! thou hast given us to see the Sun,
and thereby hast restored life
and power to this fallen world.

Hail! thou Spouse of the Divine Word!
Haven of the sea! Burning Bush!
Cloud of sweet aromatic spices!
Queen of Angels!

We beseech thee, convert us;
and commend us, so converted,
to thy Son, that he bestow upon us
the eternal joys of heaven.

Amen.

 

 


 

[1] Gen. iii 20.
[2] Ibid. ii 23, 24.
[3] Gen. ix 27.
[4] Ibid. xxii 17.
[5] Ibid. xxv 22.
[6] Ibid. xxv 23.
[7] Gen. xlix 10.
[8] Num. xxiv 17, 23, 24.
[9] Ps. lxxi.
[10] Cant. iv 8.
[11] Ibid. i 4.
[12] Osee ii 16 et seq.
[13] Tob. xiii, xiv.
[14] Soph. iii. 8, 9, 10.
[15] Ezech. xxxvii 22 et seq.
[16] Dan. vii 27.
[17] Agg. ii 7, 8.
[18] Eclog. iv.

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

THE star foretold by Balaam having risen in the East, the three Magi, whose hearts were full of the expectation of the promised Redeemer, are immediately inflamed with the desire of going in search of him. The announcement of the glad coming of the King of the Jews is made to these holy Kings in a mysterious and silent manner; and hereby it differs from that made to the Shepherds of Bethlehem, who were invited to Jesus’s Crib by the voice of an Angel. But the mute language of the star was explained to them by God himself, for he revealed his Son to them; and this made their Vocation superior in dignity to that of the Jewish Shepherds, who, according to the dispensation of the Old Law, could know nothing save by the ministry of Angels.

The divine grace which spoke, directly and by itself, to the souls of the Magi, met with a faithful and unhesitating correspondence. St Luke says of the Shepherds, that they came with haste to Bethlehem;[1] and the Magi show their simple and fervent eagerness by the words they addressed to Herod: We have seen his star in the East, they say, and we are come to adore him.[2]

When Abraham received the command from God to go out of the land of Chaldea, which was the land of his fathers and kindred, and go into a strange country, he obeyed with such faithful promptitude as to merit being made the Father of all them that believe.[3] so, likewise, the Magi, by reason of their equally docile and admirable faith, have been judged worthy to be called the Fathers of the Gentile Church.

They too, or at least one or more of them, went out from Chaldea, if we are to believe St Justin and Tertullian. Several of the Fathers, among whom are the two just mentioned, assert that one, if not two, of these holy Kings was from Arabia. A popular tradition, now for centuries admitted into Christian Art, tells us that one of the three was from Ethiopia; and certainly, as regards this last opinion, we have David and other Prophets telling us that the coloured inhabitants of the banks of the Nile were to be objects of God's special mercy.

The term Magi implies that they gave themselves to the study of the heavenly bodies, and that, too, for the special intention of finding that glorious star whose rising had been prophesied. They were of the number of those Gentiles who, like the centurion Cornelius, feared God, had not been defiled by the worship of idols, and maintained, in spite of all the ignorance which surrounded them, the sacred traditions of the religion that was practised by Abraham and the Patriarchs.

The Gospel does not say that they were Kings, but the Church applies to them those verses of the Psalm, where David speaks of the Kings of Arabia and Saba, that should hereafter come to the Messias bringing their offerings of gold. The tradition of their being Kings rests on the testimony of St Hilary of Poitiers, of St Jerome, of the poet Juvencus, of St Leo, and several others; and it would be impossible to controvert it by any well-grounded arguments. Of course, we are not to suppose them to have been Monarchs, whose kingdoms were as great as those of the Roman Empire; but we know that the Scripture frequently applies this name of King to petty princes, and even to mere governors of provinces. The Magi, therefore, would be called Kings if they exercised authority over a considerable number of people; and that they were persons of great importance, we have a strong proof in the consideration and attention showed them by Herod, into whose palace they enter, telling him that they are come to pay their homage to the new-born King of the Jews. The city of Jerusalem is thrown into a state of excitement by their arrival, which would scarce have occurred had not the three strangers, who came for a purpose which few heeded, been attended by a numerous retinue, or had they not attracted attention by their imposing appearance.

These Kings, then, docile to the divine inspiration, suddenly leave their country, their riches, their quiet, in order to follow a star: the power of that God, who had called them, unites them in the same path, as they were already one in faith. The star goes on before them, marking out the route they were to follow: the dangers of such a journey, the fatigues of a pilgrimage which might last for weeks or months, the fear of awakening suspicions in the Roman Empire towards which they were evidently tending—all this was nothing to them; they were told to go, and they went.

Their first stay is at Jerusalem, for the star halts there. They, Gentiles, come into this Holy City, which is soon to have God's curse upon it, and they come to announce that Jesus Christ is come! With all the simple courage and all the calm conviction of Apostles and Martyrs, they declare their firm resolution of going to him and adoring him. Their earnest inquiries constrain Israel, who was the guardian of the divine prophecies, to confess one of the chief marks of the Messias—his Birth in Bethlehem. The Jewish Priesthood fulfils, though with a sinful ignorance, its sacred ministry, and Herod sits restlessly on his throne, plotting murder. The Magi leave the faithless City, which has turned the presence of the Magi into a mark of its own reprobation. The Star reappears in the heavens, and invites them to resume their journey. Yet a few hours, and they will be at Bethlehem, at the feet of the King of whom they are in search.

O dear Jesus! we also are following thee; we are walking in thy light, for thou hast said, in the Prophecy of thy beloved Disciple: I am the bright and morning Star.[4] The meteor that guides the Magi is but thy symbol, O divine Star! Thou art the morning Star; for thy Birth proclaims that the darkness of error and sin is at an end. Thou art the morning Star; for, after submitting to death and the tomb, thou wilt suddenly arise from that night of humiliation to the bright morning of thy glorious Resurrection. Thou art the morning Star; for by thy Birth and the Mysteries which are to follow, thou announcest unto us the cloudless day of eternity. May thy light ever beam upon us! May we, like the Magi, be obedient to its guidance, and ready to leave all things in order to follow it! We were sitting in darkness when thou didst call us to thy grace, by making this thy light shine upon us. We were fond of our darkness, and thou gavest us a love for the Light! Dear Jesus! keep up this love within us. Let not sin, which is darkness, ever approach us. Preserve us from the delusion of a false conscience. Avert from us that blindness into which fell the City of Jerusalem and her king, and which prevented them from seeing the Star. May thy Star guide us through life, and bring us to thee, our King, our Peace, our Love!

We salute thee, too, O Mary, thou Star of the Sea that shinest on the waters of this life, giving calm and protection to thy tempest-tossed children who invoke thee! Thou didst pray for the Magi as they traversed the desert; guide also our steps, and bring us to Him who is thy Child and thy Light eternal.

Let us close this day with the expressions of divine praise offered us by the ancient Liturgies. Let us begin with the continuation of the Hymn of Prudentius, on the vocation of the Gentiles. The following are the concluding stanzas.

Hymn

O sola magnarum urbium
Major Bethlem: cui contigit
Ducem salutis cœlitus
Incorporatum gignere.

Altrice te, summo Patri
Hæres creatur unicus.
Homo ex Tonantis Spiritu,
Idemque sub membris Deus.

Hunc et Prophetis testibus,
Iisdemque signatoribus,
Testator et Sator jubet
Adire regnum, et cernere.

Regnum, quod ambit omnia,
Dia, et marina, et terrea,
A solis ortu ad exitum,
Et tartara, et cœlum supra.

Hic Rex priorum judicum,
Rexere qui Jacob genus,
Dominæque Rex ecclesiæ,
Templi et novelli et pristini.

Hunc posteri Ephraim colunt,
Hunc sancta Manasse domus,
Omnesque suscipiunt tribus,
Bissena fratrum semina.

Quin et propago degener,
Ritum secuta inconditum,
Quæcumque dirum fervidis
Baal caminis coxerat:

Fumosa avorum numina,
Saxum, metallum, stipitem,
Rasum, dolatum, sectile,
In Christi honorem deserit.

Gaudete quidquid gentium est,
Judæa, Roma et Græcia,
Ægypte, Thrax, Persa, Scytha,
Rex unus omnes possidet.

Laudate vestrum Principem,
Omnes beati ac perditi,
Vivi, imbecilli, ac mortui:
Jam nemo posthac mortuus.
O Bethlehem! greater than the greatest of cities!
'Twas thy happy lot to give birth
to the Prince of our salvation,
who had become incarnate by the heavenly mystery.

'Twas thou didst nurse him who is the Only-Begotten Son
and Heir of the eternal Father;
he was made Man by the power of the Spirit of the God who darts the thunderbolts;
and this same Jesus is God under human flesh.

His eternal Father, who bears witness to him,
bids him enter on his kingdom and inherit it.
The Prophets, who are his witnesses and vouchers,
were the proclaimers of the Father’s will.

This kingdom of Jesus includes all things
—the firmament, the sea, the earth
from where the sun rises to where he sets,
and hell and heaven.

He is the King of those ancient judges
who ruled the race of Jacob:
he is the King of the Church, the Mistress of the earth:
he is King of both temples, the new and old.

The children of Ephraim
and the holy family of Manasses worship him;
the tribes of the twelve Brethren,
sons of Jacob, also receive him as their God.

The degenerate race too,
which, observing the rites of idolatrous worship,
had framed in hot furnaces
the statue of the cruel Baal,

Now turns to worship Christ,
leaving for his sake the smokegrimed gods of their fathers,
stones and metals and stocks,
planed, hewn and chiselled by the hands of man.

Rejoice, all ye nations of the earth!
Judea, Rome and Greece,
Egypt, Thrace, Persia, Scythia!
Ye are now all under the one same King!

Praise your King,
O all ye people! just and sinners,
living, weak and dead, give him praise.
None must die henceforth!

The following beautiful prayer from the Mozarabic Missal will assist us to celebrate in a becoming manner the triple Mystery of the Epiphany.

Oratio

Deus qui nobis ad relevandos istius vitæ labores, diversadonorumtuorum solatia et gaudia contulisti, quibus insignes annuis recursibus dies agimus, ut Ecclesiæ tuæ vota solemnia præsenti festivitate celebremus: unde et proxime Natalem Domini Salvatoris peregimus, qui nobis natus in tempore est, qui de te natus sine tempore, omnium sæculorum et temporum est antecessor et œ: deinde subsecutum diem Circumcisionis octavum, Unigeniti luce signatum, pari observantia recolentes, sacrificiis solemnibus honoravimus: nunc Epiphaniæ diem, revelante in homine divinitate, excolimus, diversa Domini nostri Jesu Christi Filii tui in hoc mundo suum adventum manifestantia insignia prædicantes, sive quod stellam ortus sui nunciam misit e cœlo, quam stupentibus Magis usque ad cunabula suæ carnalis infantiæ præviam fecit: sive quod aquas baptismate suo, ad omnium gentiumlavationem, Jordanis alveum sanctificaturus intravit: ubi ipsum esse Filium unigenitum dilectum, Spiritu, columbæ specie, advolante, monstrasti, et paterna insuper voce docuisti: sive quod primum in Cana Galilææ prodidit signum, cum in connubio nuptiali, aquas in vinum convertit, alto et admirabili Sacramento docens, quod a sæculis sponsæ sibi jungendus Ecclesiæ advenerat, ac in vinum prudentiæ spiritualis saporis fidem veritatis esse mutandum: itaque in his tribus mirabilium tuorum causis fide hodiernæ solemnitatis edita, Dominus noster Jesus Christus, Filius tuus, nihilominus tuæ virtutis operatio et nostræ salutis præparatio est. Propterea, Domine, secundum hæctria magna mirabilia,maneat in nobis gratiæ spiritualis integritas, sapiat in cordibus nostris vinum prudentiæ,fulgeatin operibus Stella justitiæ. Amen.
O God, who to lighten the labours of this present life hast conferred upon us the various consolations and joys of thy gifts which we commemorate in the yearly recurrence of the festivals: thou grantest us now, on this present solemnity, to unite in the mysteries celebrated by thy Church. Having kept, a few days past, the feast of the Nativity of our Lord and Saviour, who was born unto us in time and yet was born of thee from eternity, and preceded and created all ages and time; having, eight days after that, with like devotion and with the same solemn sacrifice, honoured the Circumcision, that feast resplendent with the light of thine Only Begotten Son; we now on this day worship the Epiphany, which revealed unto us the divinity of him who had assumed our Humanity. We proclaim those various manifestations, whereby our Lord Jesus Christ thy Son made known his having come into this world. We proclaim his having sent from the heavens that Star which announced his own rising, and by whose guidance he led the wondering Magi to the cradle where helay in his assumed Infant Flesh. We proclaim his sanctifying, unto the cleansing of all nations, the waters by his own Baptism, when he entered the bed of the Jordan, and where by thy Spirit hovering in the shape of a dove over him, thou didst show and by thy paternal voice didst declare that he was thy beloved Only-Begotten Son. We proclaim his first miracle wrought in Cana of Galilee, when, at the marriage-feast, he changed the water into wine, teaching us, by a sublime and admirable mystery, that he had come in order to be united to the Church, the Spouse he had, for ages, chosen to himself, and that the faith in the promises was henceforth to be changed into the wine of sweet spiritual wisdom. Thus it is, that in the three wonders which are the object of our faith on thisday’s solemnity, our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son, achieves both the operation of thy power, and the preparation of our salvation. Wherefore, we beseech thee, O Lord, grant us, agreeably to these three prodigies, that there may abide in us the soundness of spiritual grace, that our hearts may relish the wine of prudence, and that the star of justice may shine forth in our works. Amen.

The ancient Paris Missal of 1584 contains the following Sequence for one of the days during this Octave. It is full of unction.

Sequence

Orto crucis sidere,
Quæramus summopere
Regem regum omnium.

Quæramus humiliter,
Non panditur aliter
Cordibus quærentium.

Jacet in præsepio.
Spreto regum solio,
Degens in penuria.

Formam dans quærentibus,
Calcatis terrestribus,
Amare cœlestia.

Herode postposito,
Magos cultu debito
Sequamur celeriter.

Stella duce cursitant
Ad Regem quem prædicant
Regnare perenniter.

Offeramus typice,
Quod illi magnifice
Tulerunt realiter.

Thus superno Numini,
Myrrham vero homini,
Aurum Regi pariter.

His donis, o lilium,
Placa nobis Filium
Repletum dulcedine.

Ut possimus libere
Secum semper vivere
Paradisi culmine.

Amen.
The Star of the Cross has risen;
let us most earnestly seek
the King of kings.

Let us seek him in humility,
for it is to humble hearts alone
that he shows himself.

He lies in a crib,
for he scorns a regal couch,
and lives in poverty.

He thus teaches them that seek him
to despise the things of earth,
and love those of heaven.

Let us turn away from Herod,
and follow without delay, the Magi,
and pay our homage to Jesus.

They are led by the Star,
and hasten to the King, whom they proclaim
as the everlasting Ruler.

Let us mystically offer the gifts,
which they really offered him
so magnificently:

Let us offer Incense to Jesus, as our God;
our Myrrh to him, as Man;
our Gold to him, as King.

Do thou, O Mary, pure Lily!
pray for us to thy Son, who is full of sweetness,
that these our gifts may render him propitious;

That so, being freed from this world,
we may live with him for ever
in the heavenly land above.

Amen.

We here insert a few stanzas from the exquisite Hymn composed by St Ephrem for the Syrian Church.

Hymn

Quam mitis es Puer, quam vehemens judiciorum tuorum vis omnipotens, et ineluctabilis est, suavis et dulcis est amor tuus; quis tibi obsistet?

In sublimi habitat Pater tuus, tua Mater humi jacet; undenam tui notitiam quis capiat? Si quis terrenus homo tuam disquirat naturam ab humanis remotam sensibus, hæc supereminet cœlo in magnum divinitatis retrusa sinum.

Si rursus quispiam corpus cognoscere cupiat oculi expositum, en humi jacet, teque ab angusto Mariæ gremio præbet aspectabilem. Errat incertus animus, neque sibi constat mens tuas, o dives, rationes supputans.

Congeminatis seris clauditur tua divinitas; pelagus es tamen immensum, cedo, qui ejus fundum attingat, etiam postquam magnitudinem tuam ad nostram parvitatem deduxisti. Cum tuum conspectum petimus, hominem videmus, visuros nos Deum sperantes; si hominem videre velimus, inde statim in oculos incurrit hebetatque aciem coruscans divinitatis splendor.

Jam quis credat hæredem te esse Davidici throni, cui ex lauta ejus supellectile præsepe duntaxat relictum est, et ex amplissimis ædibus, spelunca, deque ejus equitatu vix vilem asellum cernere aliquando continget?

Attamen quam benignus es, puer, qui te omnibus indulges, et obviis quibusque arrides! talis nempe tuus amor est, qualem credibile est futurum fuisse ejus, quihomines desideraret, ut panem quilibet esuriens.

Parentes ab externis non discernís, nec genitricem ab ancillis, nec virginem te lactantem ab impuris prostitutæ pudicitiæ feminis. Quid? Num tui ingenii naturalis facilitas huc te demisit, an caritas, qui nihil od isti eorum quæ fecisti?

Quidistuc quod te movet, ut ad omnes descendas, ad locupletes ac tenues, et ad eos accurras etiam non vocatus? Unde tibi istud inditum, ut homines tantopere cupias?

Quæ hæc tua caritas est, ut si quis te objurgat, non succenseas, si minis terret, non trepides, si duriter tecum agit, frontem non contrahas? Tua nimirum caritas antecellit legem illorum, qui suas persequebantur injurias et vindicabant.
How gentle art thou, dear Babe! How mighty is the omnipotent and irresistible power of thy judgements I How sweet and amiable is thy love! Who can withstand thee?

Thy Father dwells in the high heavens; thy Mother stands on the lowly earth; who can understand thee? If the earthly man investigate thy nature, which surpasses the ken of mortals, it is found in the highest heavens, hid in the vast bosom of the divinity.

If, again, one wish to see thy Body made visible to the eye of man, lo! it lies upon the earth: it has issued from the narrow womb of Mary, and all may see it. The soul knows not what to think, and the mind grows bewildered in the calculation of thy ways, O Jesus! rich Lord and God!

Thy divinity is shut beneath a twofold barrier; yet art thou, and I confess it, an immeasurable ocean to him who attempts to fathom thee, even now that thou hast humbled thy greatness to our littleness. When we seek for a sight of thee, we see thee a Man, having hoped to see thee as the great God: and when we wish to look upon thee as Man, then straightway is our eye struck and dazzled by the bright splendour of thy Divinity.

And who would think thee to be the Heir of David’s throne? Instead of costly furniture, thou hast but a Crib: instead of the regal palaces, thou hast but a Cave: instead of the richly caparisoned steeds, there stands near thee one poor ass.

Yet, dear Babe, how lovely art thou! accessible to all, and meeting with thy smile all who come to thee! Thy love is verily the love of one who longeth after men, as a hungry man that longeth after bread.

Thou welcomest to thee, with a like affection, strangers and thy kindred, women and thy Mother, impure prostitutes and the Virgin that feeds thee at her Breast. And how is this? Is it the sweet condescension of thy heart, or is it the love wherewith thou lovest all things thou hast made, that has brought thee to this excess of affection?

What is it that induces thee to stoop thus towards all, rich and poor, and run even to them that ask thee not to come? Whence hast thou this inclination to love us men so much?

What charity is this, that if a man insult thee, thou art not indignant? or if he threaten thee, thou fearest not to go to him? or if he treat thee with cruelty, there is not a wrinkle on thy brow? Ah! thy charity is of another sort from theirs who persecute them that do them wrong and who seek revenge upon their enemies.

 

Let us honour the Virgin-Mother by addressing to her these stanzas of a Hymn composed by St Joseph the Hymnographer. It is in the Menæa of the Greek Church.

Die IV Januarii

Divinum Regis palatium honoremus, in quo quemadmodum ipse voluit, habitavit, innuptam ac solam Deiparam, per quam deificati sumus, collaudemus.

Casta ante partum, in partu, et post partum, vere, o Virgo mater, apparuisti: Deum enim peperisti, quem Apostolorum collegium manifeste prædicavit.

Beatissimus olim Prophetarum chorus sacris vaticiniis in Spiritu divinitus te, o castissima, Portam et Montem umbrosum nominavit.

Illumina, o Virgo, oculos cordis mei, effulge super me pœnitentiæ radio; a tenebris perennibus libera me; o Porta lucis, Refugium omnium christianorum te fideliter laudantium.

Laudo te, o sola digna omni laude; glorifico te, o semper a Deo glorificatissima; et beatifico te, o Virgo, divina beatitudine felicissima, quam generationes generationum beatam appellant.

Expiatorium facta es, o purissima, eorum qui assidue delinquunt, supra naturæ ordinem enixa Christum, qui tollit peccata mundi, ad quem clamamus; Dominus ac Deus patrum, benedictus es.

O miraculum, quod omnia miracula transcendit; quomodo paris et permanes virgo, o castissima sponsa Dei! nimirum Verbum Patri coæternum genuisti, cui omnes psallimus: Laudate omnia opera, et superexaltate Dominum in omnia sæcula.

Jubar fulgoris partus tui eflulsit, atque universum terrarum orbem lætissimo lumine perfudit, actenebrarum principem perdidit, o Dei Genitrix castissima, Angelorum gloriatio, atque omnium hominum salus, qui incessantibus vocibus te concelebrant.
Let us honour the divine Palace of the King, in which it was his will to dwell: the virgin and incomparable Mother of God: let us sing our praises to Her by whom we were raised up to God.

Thou, O truly Virgin-Mother, wast pure before thy delivery, and in thy delivery, and after thy delivery; for thou didst give birth to that God whom the Apostolic College made known to the world by their preaching.

The most blessed choir of the Prophets of old, divinely inspired by the Spirit, did, in their sacred prophecies, call thee, O most chaste one, the Gate and the Mountain o’ershadowed.

Enlighten, O Virgin! the eyes of my heart, and send within me the bright ray of compunction; deliver me from eternal darkness; O thou Gate of Light, and Refuge of all Christians faithfully praising thee.

I praise thee, the creature alone worthy of all praise; I glorify thee, O thou that hast ever been glorified by God; and I bless thee, O Virgin, thou most happy in a divine blessedness, who art called Blessed by all generations.

O most pure one! thou hast been made the propitiatory of them that sin often, for thou didst miraculously bring forth Christ, who taketh away the sins of the world, and to whom we cry: Blessed art thou, O Lord and God of our fathers!

O miracle that surpasseth all miracles! How is it, O most chaste Spouse of God, that thou bearest a Child, yet remainest a Virgin? Thou hast given birth to the Word, coeternal with the Father, to whom we all thus sing: Praise him, all ye his works, and magnify the Lord above all for ever.

The bright splendour of thy delivery has shone forth, and has shed a most joyful light over the whole earth, and has destroyed the prince of darkness, O most chaste Mother of God, thou joy of the Angels, and protectress of all who honour thee with their unceasing praises.

 

 

 

[1] St Luke ii 16.
[2] St Matt. ii 2.
[3] Rom. iv 11.
[4] Apoc. xxii 16.

 

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

THE Magi have reached Bethlehem; the humble dwelling of the King of the Jews has been thrown open to them; there, says St Matthew, they found the Child with Mary his Mother.[1] Falling down, they adore the divine King they have so fervently sought after, and for whom the whole earth has been longing.

Here we have the commencement of the Christian Church. In this humble stable we have the Son of God made Man, presiding as Head over his mystical body; Mary is present, as the co-operatrix in the world's salvation, and as the Mother of divine Grace; Juda is represented by this holy Queen and her Spouse St Joseph; the Gentiles are adoring, in the person of the Magi, whose faith is perfect now that they have seen the Child. It is not a Prophet that they are honouring, nor is it to an earthly King that they open their treasures; he before whom they prostrate in adoration is their God. ‘See, I pray you,’ says St Bernard, ‘and attentively consider how keen is the eye of faith. It recognizes the Son of God whether feeding at his Mother's breasts, or hanging on the Cross, or dying in the midst of suffering; for the Good Thief recognizes him on the Cross, and the Magi recognize him in the stable; he in spite of the nails which fasten him, and they in spite of the clouts which swathe him.’[2]

So that all is consummated, Bethlehem is not merely the birthplace of our Redeemer; it is the cradle of the Church. Well did the Prophet say of it: And thou, Bethlehem, art not the least among the princes of Juda.[3] We can understand St Jerome leaving all the ambitions and comforts of Rome to go and bury himself in the seclusion of this cave, where all these mysteries were accomplished. Who would not gladly live and die in this privileged place, sanctified as it is by the presence of our Jesus, embalmed with the fragrance of the Queen of Heaven, filled with the lingering echoes of the songs of Angels, and fresh, even yet, with the memory of those ancestors of our faith, the holy Magi!

These happy kings are not scandalized at the sight they behold on entering the humble dwelling. They are not disappointed at finding at the end of their long journey a weak Babe, a poor Mother, and a wretched stable. On the contrary, they rightly understand the mystery. Once believing in the promise that the Infinite God would visit his creature Man, and show him how he loved him, they are not surprised at seeing him humble himself, and take upon himself all our miseries that he might be like us in all save sin. Their own hearts told them that the wound inflicted on man by pride was too deep to be healed by anything short of an extreme remedy; so that to them these strange humiliations at Bethlehem bespeak the design and action of a God. Israel, too, is in expectation of the Messias, but he must be mighty and wealthy and exalted above all other kings in earthly glory; the Magi, on the contrary, see in the humility and poverty of this weak Babe of Bethlehem the indications of the true Messias. The grace of God has triumphed in these faithful men; they fall down before him, and, full of admiration and love, they adore him.

Who could describe the sweet conversations they held with his blessed Mother? for the King himself, of whom they were come in search, broke not, even for their sakes, the voluntary silence he had imposed on himself by becoming an Infant. He accepted their homage, he sweetly smiled upon them, he blessed them; but he would not speak to them; Mary alone was to satisfy, by her sublime communications, the holy curiosity of the three pilgrims, who represented the entire human race. How amply must she not have rewarded their faith and love, by announcing to them the Mystery of that virginal Birth which was to bring salvation to the world; by telling them of the joys of her own maternal heart; and by describing to them the sweet perfections of the divine Child! They themselves would fix their eyes on the blessed Mother, and listen to her every word with devout attention; and oh! how sweetly must not divine grace have penetrated their hearts through the words of her whom God himself has chosen as the means to lead men to the knowledge and the love of his sovereign Majesty! The star which, but an hour ago, had brightly shone for them in the heavens, was replaced by another, of a lovelier light and stronger influence; and it prepared them for the contemplation of that God who calls himself the bright and morning Star![4] The whole world seemed now a mere nothing in their eyes; the stable of Bethlehem held within it all the riches of heaven and earth. They had shared in that long expectation of the human race, the expectation of four thousand years—and now it seemed but as a moment, so full and perfect was their joy at having found the God who alone can satisfy the desires of man's heart.

They understood and entered into the merciful designs of their Emmanuel; they gratefully and humbly contracted with him the alliance he so mercifully made, through them, with the human race; they adored the just judgements of God, who was about to cast off an unbelieving people; they rejoiced at the glories of the Christian Church, which had thus been begun in their persons; they prayed for us, their posterity in that same Church.

We, dear Babe of Bethlehem!—we, the Gentiles, who by our regeneration have become the posterity of these first Christians—we adore thee as they did. Since their entrance into Bethlehem, long ages have passed away; but there has been an unbroken procession of people and nations tending towards thee under the guidance of the Star of Faith. We have been made members of thy Church, and we adore thee with the Magi. In one thing are we happier than these firstborn of the Church; we have heard thy sacred words and teachings, we have contemplated thy sufferings and thy Cross, we have been witnesses of thy Resurrection, we have heard the whole universe, from the rising to the setting of the sun, hymning thy blessed and glorious Name: well may we adore and love thee as King of the earth! The Sacrifice whereby all thy Mysteries are perpetuated and renewed is now offered up daily in every part of the world; the voice of thy Church is heard speaking to all men; and all this light and all these graces are ours! The Church, the ever-enduring Bethlehem, the House of the Bread of Life, gives thee to us; and we are for ever feasting on thy adorable beauty. Yea, sweet Jesus, we adore thee with the Magi.

And thou, O Mary! teach us as thou didst teach the Magi. Unfold to us, and each year more clearly, the sweet Mystery of thy Jesus, and at length win us over unreservedly to his service. Thou art our Mother; watch over us, and suffer us not to lose any of the lessons he teaches us. May Bethlehem, wherein we have entered in company with the holy Magi, work in us the renovation of our whole lives.

Let us close the day by reciting some of the ancient hymns written in honour of the Mystery of our new-born King. Let us begin with these stanzas of one composed by St Ambrose.

Hymn

Fit porta Christi pervia,
Referta plena gratia,
Transitque Rex, et permanet
Clausa ut fuit per sæcula.

Genus superni Numinis
Processit aula Virginis,
Sponsus, Redemptor, conditor,
Suæ gigas Ecclesiæ.

Honor Matris et gaudium,
Immensa spes credentium,
Per atra mortis pocula
Resolvit nostra crimina.

Lapis de monte veniens,
Mundumque replens gratia,
Quem non præcisum manibus
Vates vetusti nuntiant.

Qui Verbum caro factus est
Præconio angelico,
De claustris virginalibus
Virginis virgo natus est.

Rorem dederunt æthera,
Nubesque justum fuderunt,
Patens excepit Dominum
Terra salutem generans.

Mirabilis conceptio:
Christum protulit sobolem,
Ut Virgo partum funderet,
Post partum virgo sisteret.

Exsulta omnis anima,
Nunc Redemptorem gentium
Mundi venisse Dominum
Redimere quos condidit.

Creator cuncti generis,
Orbis quem totus non capit,
In tua, sancta Genitrix,
Sese reclusit viscera.

Quem Pater ante tempora
Deus Deumque genuit,
Matris almæ virginitas
Cum tempore partum edidit.

Tollens cuncta facinora.
Et donans sancta munera,
Augmentum lucis afferens,
Tenebris damnum inferens.
The Gate of Christ is opened
—a Gate all filled with grace:
—the King passes, and the Gate remains
shut, as it had for ever been

The Son of the infinite God
came forth from the Virgin's womb:
he is the Spouse, Redeemer, Creator,
and (as the Psalm speaks) the Giant of his Church.

He is the glory and the joy of his Mother;
he is the immense hope of them that believe in him.
He drank the bitter cup of death,
and so absolved our sins.

He is the Stone that came from the mountain,
filling the world with grace.
The ancient prophets tell us that this Stone is to come,
and is not to be cut by the hand.

It is he, the Word, who was made Flesh
as the Angel was speaking;
He was born a Virgin
from the Virgin’s virginal womb.

The heavens gave forth their Dew,
and the clouds rained down the Just One;
the earth opens
and buds forth its Saviour, our Lord.

O wonderful conception!
the Child it has produced is Christ,
and the Mother that was Virgin in giving him birth
remained a Virgin after she had given him birth.

Let every soul be glad,
for the Redeemer of nations,
the Lord of the world,
is come to redeem the creatures he had made.

The Creator of the human race,
whom the whole world is too little to hold,
has hid himself, O holy Mother!
in thy womb.

He that was born of his Father
before all ages, God of God,
is now born in time
of his dear Virgin-Mother.

He takes away all sin,
and gives his sacred gifts;
he brings increase of light,
and breaks the power of night.

The following prayer is from the Breviary of the Gothic Church of Spain.

Prayer

Domine Jesu Christe, qui ad interrogationem Herodis, ita Magorum ora præconio veritatis tuæ irradias, ut te Regem regum per eos nuntiatum ostendas, dum se vidisse aiunt stellæ refulgentis indicium, quod mundum illuminet universum: Te quæsumus, te precamur, ut des in Ecclesia tua visionis tuæ lumen optatum: appareas etiam in ea sidus omnibus pretiosum, quod nulla adversarii interrogatione deterriti, sic magnalia tua prædicemus ore diffuso, ut in æternæ lucis radiemus usquequaque præsidio. Amen.
O Lord Jesus Christ, who, when the Magi were questioned by Herod, didst enlighten them with the announcement of thy truth by showing thyself to be the King of kings whom they declared by saying that they had seen thy sign, the bright Star, which gives light to the whole world: we beseech and implore thee that thou grant to thy Church the light she so much desires of thy vision. Show thyself also in her as the Star prized by all; that so, when questioned by our enemy, we may not be afraid, but may so boldly confess thy mysteries as that we may shine for all eternity in the mansion of eternal light. Amen.

The Church of Syria received the following Hymn of the Magi from her admirable Poet, St Ephrem.

Hymn

Exsultantes Principes Persidis ex sua regione acceperunt munera, et Filio Virginis attulerunt aurum, myrrham et incensum.

Ingressi ut infantem repererunt illum in domo jacentem pauperculæ: at procidentes exsultando adoraverunt eum, et suos ipsi obtulerunt thesauros.

Dixit Maria: Cui hæc? et ad quid? et quæ causa vocavit vos ex vestra regione, ut ad puerum cura thesauris vestris veniretis?

Respondent illi: Rex est filius tuus, et diademata connectit cum sit Rex omnium, altiusque mundo est regnum ejus, ac imperioipsiussingula parent.

Quando contigit hoc unquam, ut paupercula Regem pariat? Inops sane sum, ac egena, undeque mihi erit ut Regem pariam?

Tibi soli hoc contigit, ut magnum Regem parias; et per te magnificabitur paupertas, filioque tuo subjicientur diademata.

Non sunt mihi gazæ regum, nec divitiæ unquam mihi obvenerunt; domus en paupercula est, et vacuum domicilium: cur ergo filium meum Regem prædicatis?

Gazæ magnæ est filius tuus, et divitiæ, quæ omnes ditare valent; gazæ namque regum deficiunt; ille vero nec deficiet, nec mensurabitur.

Ne alius forte sit vester Rex, qui natus est, hunc perquirite; etenim hic pauperculæ est filius, quæ Regem vel videre nequit.

Numquid fieri unquam potest, ut aberret viam lumen, quando immittitur? Siquidem non tenebræ nos vocarunt et adduxerunt: sed in lumine ambulavimus, et filius tuus Rex est.

Ecce videtis infantem silientem, et matris domum inanem et vacuam, nullumque in ea Regis apparere vestigium; quomodo ergo ejusmodi incolans domum Rex est?

Ecce sane videmus ilium silentem, et quietum; sed Regem, etsi pauperem, ut dixisti: at videmus etiam eum suo commovere imperio astra cœli, ut prænuntient ortum ejus.

Parvulus est infans, et ecce, ut cernitis, nec diadema regium habet, nec thronum: quid ergo videtis ut honoretis eum thesauris vestris, ut Regem?

Parvulus est, quia ipse voluit, et diliget mansuetudinem, et humilitatem, donec manifestetur. At erit tempus, cum incurvabuntur illi diademata, ac illum adorabunt.

Virtutes nullas habet, neque legiones; neque cohortes filius meus, in paupertate suæ jacet matris; et Rex a vobis quomodo appellatur?

Virtutes filii tui desuper sunt, cœlum equitant, et micant flammis, ex quorum numero unus nos vocare venit, totaque perterrita est regio nostra.
The Persian Princes were filled with joy, and took with them such gifts as their country yielded, and brought to the Son of the Virgin gold, myrrh, and frankincense.

Having entered, they found the Child lying in the house of a poor maid: but falling down they adored him with much joy, and offered him their treasures.

Mary spoke to them and said: To whom offer ye these things? and why offer ye them? what has brought you from your country, to come to my Child with your treasures?

They answered: Thy Child is King, and all diadems are made by him, for he is the King of all kings, and his kingdom is above this world, and all things are subject to his dominion.

But how could this have happened, that a poor maid should have given birth to a King? I am indeed needy and poor: could I have brought forth a King?

Thou alone hast had this happiness, to give birth to the great King. Poverty shall now be honoured on thy account, and thrones shall be subject to thy Son.

But I have no treasures such as kings have, nor did I ever possess riches. Lo! my house is little and poor, and empty is this my dwelling: why then call you my Son King?

Thy Son himself is treasure and riches enough to enrich all men; for the treasures of kings fail; but he shall never fail, and there shall be no limits to his wealth.

Go, seek this your King, who is born; for this Babe is the Child of a poor maid, who would not be allowed to even look at a king.

No, it cannot be that light sent down from heaven can mislead us. It is not darkness that has called and guided us; but we have walked in the light, and thy Son is King.

But this Babe is speechless, and his Mother’s house is poor and empty, and there is nought here that suits a King: how can he be King that dwells in such a house?

Silent indeed he is, and motionless, and as thou sayest, poor; still is he King, for we have seen him move the stars of heaven, when he bade them proclaim his birth.

He is but a tiny Babe, and as you see, he has neither crown nor throne: what is it that makes you honour him with your treasures, as though he were a King?

He is a little Child, for he wished so to be, and he will love meekness and humility, until the day shall come for him to show himself: but the time shall be when crowned heads shall bow before him and adore him.

My Son has no troops or legions or armies, but lies couched as best his Mother's poverty can provide: how, then call you him King?

The armies of thy Child are there above, they ride on the clouds of heaven, and light up the firmament with their brightness, and one of their number came down to call us, and all our people were in consternation.

As our offering to our Lady, we will recite this beautiful Sequence, which our own dear England used to sing in the Middle Ages.

Sequence

Flos pudicitiæ,
Aula munditiæ,
Mater misericordiæ.

Salve, Virgo serena,
Vitæ vena,
Lux amœna,
Rore plena
Septiformis Spiritus,
Virtutibus Ornantibus,
Ac moribus Vernantibus!

Rosa jucunda,
Castitatis lilium,
Prole fœcunda,
Gignis Dei Filium;
Virgoque munda
Tu post puerperium.

Modo miro,
Sine viro,
Prole fœcundaris.

Summi Ducis,
Veræ lucis
Partu decoraris.

Virga, flore,
Rubo, rore
Virgo designaris.

Vellereque
Madenteque
Digna Domini paris.

Virgo prolem,
Stella solem,
Profers, expers paris.

Ob hoc rite,
Via vitæ
Jure prædicaris.

Tu spes, et refugium
Lapsorum humilium:
Tu medela criminum,
Salus pœnitentium.

Tu solamen tristium,
Levamen debilium;
Tu purgatrix sordium,
Confirmatrix cordium.

Tu laus, tu remedium
In te confidentium:
Tu vitale præmium
Tibi servientium.

O pia Maria,
Lapsis advocata,
Tu cunctis miseris
Dulcis spes et grata.

Erige, dirige
Corda tuorum,
Ad pia gaudia
Regni cœlorum.

Quo vere gaudere
Per te possimus,
Cum Natoque tuo,
Regnantes simus.

Amen.
O flower of purity!
Sanctuary of chastity!
Mother of mercy!

Hail, gentle Maid!
Source of Life!
Beautiful light!
Full of the dew
of the sevenfold Spirit!
Adorned with all virtues,
and blooming in holiness of life!

Sweet Rose!
Lily of chastity!
Fruitful Mother,
thou givest birth to the Son of God!
And after thy delivery
thou remainest a pure Virgin!

Thou art made his Mother in a wonderful way
—nature stood aside
to let its God do all.

How beautiful art thou
by giving birth to him
that is the very Light—the great King!

Those ancient figures of the Law
—the Rod, the Flower, the Bush, the Dew
—all were types of thee, sweet Virgin-Mother!

And Gedeon's Fleece,
soaked with the dew of heaven, foreshadowed thee,
O Mary, the worthy Mother of our God!

Thou art a Virgin, and thou hast a Child!
Thou art a Star,
and thou bringest forth a Sun! Dear peerless Queen!

And after this,
can men be found who deem it wrong to call thee
‘the Way of Life'?

Thou art the Hope, and the Refuge of humble sinners:
thou healest them
whose hearts are sick from crime,
and thou winnest salvation for them that repent.

Thou art the comfortress of the afflicted,
and the support of the weak;
the unclean of heart ask thee to pray them pure,
and souls discouraged obtain bravery from thee.

Thou art the glory and the helper of them
that have confidence in thee;
and by thy prayers thou obtainest the reward
of eternal life for them that serve thee.

O Mary, full of motherly love!
thou art the sinner's advocate,
and the sweet consoling hope
of them that are in wretchedness.

Raise up the hearts
of us thy clients,
and turn them to the holy joys
of the heavenly kingdom.

Where we may,
by thy intercession,
truly rejoice,
and reign together with thy Son.

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

[1] St Matt, ii 11.
[2] Second Sermon for the Epiphany.
[3] St Matt. ii 6; Mich. v 2.
[4] Apoc. xxii 16.

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

THE Magi were not satisfied with paying their adorations to the great King whom Mary presented to them. After the example of the Queen of Saba, who paid her homage to the Prince of Peace in the person of King Solomon, these three Eastern Kings opened their treasures and presented their offerings to Jesus. Our Emmanuel graciously accepted these mystic gifts, and suffered them not to leave him until he had loaded them with gifts infinitely more precious than those he had vouchsafed to receive. The Magi had given him of the riches which this earth produces; Jesus repays them with heavenly gifts. He strengthened in their hearts the virtues of faith, hope, and charity; he enriched, in their persons, the Church of which they were the representatives; and the words of the Canticle of Mary were fulfilled in them: He hath filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he hath sent empty away,[1] for the Synagogue refused to follow them in their search after the King of the Jews.

But let us consider the gifts made by the Magi, and let us, together with the Church and the Holy Fathers, acknowledge the Mysteries expressed by them. The gifts were three in number, in order to honour the sacred number of the Persons in the divine Essence, as likewise to express the triple character of Emmanuel. He had come that he might be King over the whole world; it was fitting that men should offer gold to him, for it is the emblem of sovereign power. He had come to be High Priest, and, by his mediation, reconcile earth to heaven; incense, then, was an appropriate gift, for the Priest uses it when he offers sacrifice. But thirdly, it was only by his own death that he was to obtain possession of the throne which was prepared for his glorified Human Nature, and the perpetual Sacrifice of the Divine Lamb was to be inaugurated by this same his Death; the gift of Myrrh was expressive of the Death and Burial of an immortal Victim. The Holy Ghost, who inspired the Prophets, had guided the Magi in their selection of these three gifts. Let us listen to St Leo, who, speaking of this Mystery, says with his usual eloquence:

O admirable Faith, which leads to Knowledge and perfect Knowledge, and which was not taught in the school of earthly wisdom, but was enlightened by the Holy Ghost himself! For whence had they learnt the supernatural beauty of their three Gifts? they that had come straight from their own country, and had not as yet seen Jesus, nor beheld in his infant Face the Light which directed them in the choice of their offerings? Whilst the star met the gaze of the bodily eye, their hearts were instructed by a stronger light—the ray of Truth. Before setting out on the fatiguing journey they knew him, to whom were due, by Gold, the honours of a King; by Incense, the worship of God; by Myrrh, the faith in his Mortal Nature.[2]

But these three gifts, which so sublimely express the three characters of the Man-God, are fraught with instruction for us. They signify three great virtues, which the Divine Infant found in the souls of the Magi, and to which he added increase by his grace. Gold signifies charity, which unites us to God; Frankincense prayer, which brings God into man's heart; and Myrrh self-abnegation, suffering and mortification, whereby we are delivered from the slavery of corrupt nature. Find a heart that loves God, that raises herself up to him by prayer, that understands and relishes the power of the cross—and you have in that heart the worthiest offering which can be made to God, and one which he always accepts.

We, too, O Jesus! offer thee our treasure and our gifts. We confess thee to be God and Priest and Man. We beseech thee to accept the desire we have of corresponding to the love thou showest us by giving thee our love in return; we love thee, dear Saviour! do thou increase our love. Receive also the gift of our Prayer, for though of itself it be tepid and poor, yet it is pleasing to thee because united with the prayer of thy Church: teach us how to make it worthy of thee and how to give it the power of obtaining what thou desirest to grant: form within us the gift of prayer, that it may unceasingly ascend up like sweet Incense in thy sight. And lastly, receive the homage of our contrite and humble hearts, and the resolution we have formed of restraining and purifying our senses by mortification and penance.

The sublime Mysteries which we are celebrating during this holy season have taught us the greatness of our own misery, and the immensity of thy love for us, and we feel more than ever the obligation we are under of fleeing from the world and its concupiscences, and of uniting ourselves to thee. The Star shall not have shone upon us in vain: it has brought us to thee, dear King of Bethlehem! and thou shalt be King of our hearts. What have we that we prize and hold dear, which we can hesitate to give thee in return for the sweet infinite treasure of thyself, which thou hast given to us?

Dear Mother of our Jesus! we put these our offerings into thy hands. The gifts of the Magi were made through thee, and they were pleasing to thy Son; thou must present ours to him, and he will be pleased with them, in spite of their poverty. Our love is deficient; fill up its measure by uniting it with thine own immense love. Second our prayer by thy maternal intercession. Encourage us in our warfare against the world and the flesh. Make sure our perseverance, by obtaining for us the grace of a continual remembrance of the sweet Mysteries which we are now celebrating; pray for us that, after thine own example, we may keep all these things in our hearts. That must be a hard and depraved heart which could offend Jesus in Bethlehem; or refuse him anything now that he is seated on thy lap, waiting for our offering! O Mary! keep us from forgetting that we are the children of the Magi, and that Bethlehem is ever open to receive us.

Let us borrow the language of the ancient Liturgies, in order to give expression to the sentiments awakened in us by all these ineffable Mysteries. Let us begin with this Hymn on the Nativity of our Lord left us by the saintly Bishop of Poitiers, Venantius Fortunatus.

Hymn

Agnoscat omne sæculum
Venisse vitæ præmium;
Post hostis asperi jugum
Apparuit redemptio.

Esaias quæ cecinit
Completa sunt in Virgine:
Annuntiavit Angelus,
Sanctus replevit Spiritus.

Maria ventre concipit
Verbi fidelis semine:
Quem totus orbis non capit
Portant puellæ viscera.

Radix Jesse floruit,
Et Virga fructum edidit;
Fœcunda partum protulit,
Et Virgo mater permanet.

Præsepe poni pertulit
Qui lucis auctor exstitit,
Cum Patre cœlos condidit,
Sub Matre pannos induit.

Legem dedit qui sæculo,
Cujus decem præcepta sunt,
Dignando factus est homo
Sub Legis esse vinculo.

Adam vetus quod polluit
Adam novus hoc abluit:
Tumens quod ille dejicit
Humillimus hic erigit.

Jam nata lux est et salus,
Fugata nox et victa mors,
Venite gentes, credite,
Deum Maria protulit.

Amen.
Let all ages acknowledge
that he is come who is the reward of life.
After mankind had carried the yoke of its cruel enemy,
our Redemption appeared.

What Isaias foretold
has been fulfilled in the Virgin;
an Angel announced the mystery to her,
and the Holy Ghost filled her by his power.

Mary conceived in her womb,
for she believed in the word that was spoken to her:
the womb of a youthful maid
holds him whom the whole earth cannot contain.

The Root of Jesse has given its flower,
and the Branch has borne its fruit:
Mary has given birth to Jesus,
and the Mother is still the spotless Virgin.

He that created the light
suffers himself to be laid in a manger;
he that, with the Father, made the heavens,
is now wrapt by his Mother's hand in swaddling-clothes.

He that gave to the world
the ten commandments of the law,
deigns, by becoming Man,
to be under the bond of the law.

What the old Adam defiled,
that the new Adam has purified;
and what the first cast down by his pride,
the second raised up again by his humility.

Light and salvation are now born to us,
night is driven away, and death is vanquished:
oh! come, all ye people, believe;
God is born of Mary.

Amen.

The Mozarabic Breviary contains the following eloquent prayer.

Prayer

Deus, Dei Filius, Patris ineffabilis Virtus, qui novo sidere in Gentibus Rex regum ostenderis magnus, et in civitate illa beata appares gloriosus: quem insulæ tremunt: cui principes et nationes Gentium obsequuntur, dum tibi omnia regna cedunt, tibi regum diademata substernuntur; dignare jam gratianostris te ostendere sensibus pium, et in conversationibus manifestum: ut primitias Spiritus habentes, ea tibi semper munera dedicemus, per quæ introire beatam illam Hierusalem placitis cordibus mereamur, ut tibi mundissimum aurum nostrorum operum deferentes, regni tui mereamur esse participes. Amen.
O God, Son of God, the ineffable Power of the Father, who, by the rising of a new star, didst reveal thyself to the Gentiles as the King of kings, and now art seen in thy glory in that happy city above: O thou before whom the islands tremble, and the Gentile princes and nations bow in homage, and to whom all kingdoms are subject, and at whose feet all kings lay down their crowns: vouchsafe now, by thy grace, to show thyself in thy mercy to our souls, and manifest thyself by our lives: that having within us the firstfruits of the Spirit, we may ever offer thee such gifts as thereby to merit to enter, with hearts well-pleasing to thee, into the blessed Jerusalem, and by offering thee now the most pure gold of our works, we may deserve to be partakers of thy kingdom. Amen.

We take the following Sequence from the Paris Missal of 1584.

Sequence

In excelsis canitur
Nato Regi gloria,
Per quem terræ redditur
In cœlo concordia.

Jure dies colitur
Christi natalitia,
Quo nascente, nascitur
Novæ legis gratia.

Mediator nobis datus
In salutis præmium,
Non nature, sed reatus
Effugit consortium.

Non amittit claritatem
Stella fundens radium,
Nec Maria castitatem,
Pariendo Filium.

Quis de monte lapis cæsus
Sine manu, nisi Jesus
Qui de Regum linea,

Sine carnis opere,
De carne puerperæ
Processit virginea?

Solitudo gaudeat,
Et desertum floreat:
Virga Jesse floruit.

Radix virgam, virga florem,
Virgo profert Salvatorem,
Sicut Lex præcinuit.

Radix David typum gessit:
Virga, matris quæ processit
Ex regali semine.

Flos est Puer nobis natus,
Jure flori comparatus
Præ mira dulcedine.

In præsepe reclinatur,
Cujus ortus celebratur
Cœlesti præconio.

Cœli cives jubilant,
Dum pastores vigilant
Sub noctis silentio.

Cuncta laudes intonant
Super partum Virginis.

Lex et psalmi consonant
Prophetarum paginis.

Angelorum et pastorum,
Stellæ simul et Magorum
Concordant indicia.

Reges currunt Orientis
Ad præsepe vagientis,
Gentium primordia.

Jesu puer immortalis,
Ex terreno temporalis,
Nos ab hujus vitæ malis
Tu potenter erue.

Tu, post vitam hunc mortalem,
Sive mortem hanc vitalem,
Vitam nobis immortalem
Clementer restitue.

Amen.
There is sung in the highest heavens:
Glory be to the newborn King,
by whom peace is restored
between heaven and earth.

Rightly do we keep
the Birthday of Jesus as a feast;
for by his birth,
the grace of the new law is born.

He, our Mediator, is given to us
to be the reward of our salvation:
he takes upon himself our nature,
refusing only to be like us in our sin.

As a star loses nothing of its brightness
by giving forth its ray;
so neither does Mary suffer the loss of her purity
by giving birth to her Son.

Who is the Stone cut from the mountain
and not by the hand of man, if not our Jesus,
who was of the line of kings.

And was born from the womb
of his Virgin-Mother,
after she had virginaily conceived?

Let the wilderness be glad,
and the desert bloom;
—the rod of Jesse has flowered.

As was foretold in the Law, the Root has yielded its Branch,
the Branch its Flower,
and the Virgin our Saviour.

The Root was the figure of David:
the Branch was the type of Mary,
who was born of a kingly race.

The Flower is the Child that is born unto us,
well likened to a flower,
by reason of his wonderful sweetness.

He, whose birth is celebrated
by the heavenly spirits,
is laid in a manger!

The citizens of heaven are in jubilee,
whilst the Shepherds are keeping
watch in the still night.

Let all creatures give forth praise
for that the Virgin has given birth to her Son.

The law and the psalms harmonize
with the writings of the Prophets.

The Angels and the Shepherds,
the Star and the Magi,
all agree in proclaiming the Birth.

The Eastern Kings run
to the Crib of the Babe
—they are the first-fruits of the Gentiles.

O Jesus, immortal Babe!
born in time because thou wouldst assume our nature,
snatch us, by thy power,
from this life's woes.

After this our mortal life,
or rather this living death,
mercifully restore unto us
that life which is immortal.

Amen.

Hymn

Totum mysterium ut actum est apud vos in regione vestra, aperite nunc mihi, ut amici; et quis vocabit vos, ut ad me veniretis?

Magna stella nobis apparuit, reliquis multo splendidior stellis, cujus lumine nostra terra est inflammata, et quod Rex ortus sit, nobis annuntiavit.

Nollem, vos quæso, loquamini hæc in regione nostra, ne sentientes Reges terræ, machinentur sua invidia adversus puerum.

Ne timeas, Virgo, quia omnia diademata solvet Filius tuus, eaque pessumdabit, nec sua invidia nocumentum inferre illi valebunt.Herodem timeo, lupum pollutum, ne me perturbet, gladium stringat, quo præcidat dulcem botrum adhuc immaturum.

Herodem ne timeas: per Filium enim tuum subvertetur ejus thronus, et statim atque regnabit, destruetur, et ejus diadema decidet.

Torrens sanguinis est Hierusalem, in eaque optimi quique cadunt: quare si hoc præsenserit, machinabitur in ilium; ideoque secreto loquamini, precor, et ne tumultuetis.

Torrentes omnes, et lanceæ etiam per manus Filii tui sedabuntur, et Hierosolymæ obstupescet gladius, et nisi voluerit, non cadet.

Scribæ et sacerdotes Hierusalem, qui sanguinem subdole effundere solent, excitabunt forte lethale litigium adversum me, et adversum puerum: Magi, quæso, silete.

Scribæ et sacerdotes nequáquam valebunt sua invidia Filio tuo nocere; et per ipsum solvetur eorum sacerdotium, et solemnitates eorum cessabunt.

Angelus apparuit mihi, quando concepi puerum; quod Rex sit Filius meus, et quod ab alto sit ejus diadema, et non solvetur, ipse quoque explicavit mihi ut et vobis.

Angelus igitur, quem dicis, ipse venit sub specie sideris et apparuit nobis, atque annuntiavit quod Puer major sit et splendidior stellis.

Coram vobis ecce aperio aliud arcanum, ut confirmemini; scilicet virgo peperi filium, Filiumque Dei; euntes prædicate ipsum.

Jam nos prædocuit stella, nativitatem ejus extra ordinem esse naturæ, et super omnia esse Filium tuum, eumdemque etiam Filium esse Dei.

Pacem referte in terram vestram; pax gliscat in finibus vestris: veraces veritatis nuntii habeamini in toto itinere vestro.

Pax Filii tui nos reducat incolumes in regionem nostram, ut duxit; et cum imperium ejus mundo manifestabitur, invisat terram nostram, et benedicat illi.

Gaudeat Persis vestro nuntio, exsultet Assyria vestro reditu; et quando regnum Filii mei manifestabitur, in regione vestra suum collocabit vexillum.
Tell me, I beg of you as friends, how the mystery was declared to you in your country, and who it was that told you to come to me?

A star of great size appeared to us, more brilliant far than other stars; its light illumined our land, and it was an announcement to us that the King was born.

Tell not this, I pray you, in these our parts, lest the kings of the earth should hear it, and plot, in their envy, against the Child.

Fear not, O Virgin! for thy Son shall be master of all crowns, and shall crush them; neither shall the envy of kings be able to hurt him.

I fear that unclean wolf Herod, lest perhaps he bring grief upon me, and draw his sword to cut from off its vine my sweet though not yet ripened Fruit.

Fear not Herod, for his throne shall be o'erthrown by thy Son, and his reign shall be short, and his crown shall fall from his head.

Jerusalem is a torrent of blood, and all that are good are slain; if this be known, the city will plot against my Child. I pray you, then, whisper these things, and noise them not abroad.

All blood-shedding shall be stayed, and all weapons sheathed by the hand of thy Son; Jerusalem's sword shall be stupefied, powerless to strike, unless by his consent.

The Scribes and Pharisees of Jerusalem are skilled in secret murders, and may stir up some deadly purposes against me and the Child. Be silent, Magi, I beseech you.

Not so: the envious Scribes and Pharisees shall not have power to injure thy Child; nay, he will take away their priesthood, and put an end to their solemn feasts.

An Angel appeared to me when I conceived my Babe; he told me, as he told you, that my Child is King, and that his throne is from above, and shall never have an end.

This Angel, then, of whom thou speakest, is he that appeared to us under the figure of the star, and told us that thy Son is greater and brighter than the stars.

Lo, now I will reveal to you another secret, that you may take fresh courage: I have given birth to my Child, who is the Son of God, and yet am I a Virgin. Go forth and preach his name to the nations.

All this was taught us by the Star: it told us that his birth was beyond the course of nature, and that thy Son is above all creatures, and that he is the Son of God.

Take peace back with you to your land; may peace be in your territories; may you be the truthful messengers of the Truth on all your journey.

May the peace of thy Son, which brought us hither, lead us back safe to our country; and, when his kingdom shall be declared to the world, may he visit our land, and bless it.

May Persia rejoice at your tidings, and Assyria be glad in your return; and when the kingdom of my Son shall be declared, he shall set his standard in your land.

Die XV Januarii

Molestissimis passionum insultibus, quasi tempestatibus exagitatus, et peccatorum ictibus quasi fluctibus concussus, ad indefessam protectionem tuam confugio cum affectu, o puella omni laude dignissima: miserere mei, et salva me, o Virgo perpetua.

Cum te tamquam rosam redolentem punis ille in convallibus reperisset, o inviolata; in medio tui habitavit, humanum genus suavissimo replens odore.

Dirige motus animæ meæ, o purissima, ad divina illius præcepta qui ex utero tuo coruscavit, atque a tempestate scandalorum hujus vitæ eripe me intercessionibus tuis.

Omnium Dominum Emmanuel sine viri opera peperisti, manens Virgo post partum, o Virgo mater. Eumdem incessanter exora ut ab hostium invasionibus liberentur illi qui confugiunt sub protectionem tuam.

Verbum quod æquale est in operatione et in throno Genitori suo, ex visceribus tuis corporasti, o casta; atque inde propter ineffabilem misericordiam suam, totam naturam nostram assumpsit.

Prolem tuam laudamus, o benedicta, per quam ab antiqua damnatione redempti sumus; te vero beatificamus, o divina felicitate cumulatissima; quam solam dilexit ille qui est benedictus ac supergloriosus.

Fluvium perennem nobis effundis recurrentibus ad te, o casta; cujus uberem gratiam delibantes, partum tuum laudamus, o inviolatissima, et superexaltamus in omnia sæcula.

Lucis habitacuium venter tuus factus est, per quam sedentes in tenebris viderunt lumen: unde te incessabili voce semper laudamus, o Dei Mater; et cum affectu veneramur te spem animarum nostrarum.
Tossed by the troublesome attacks of my passions, as by so many storms, and buffeted by the blows of my sins as by angry billows, I lovingly fly to thy untiring protection, O Maid most worthy of all praise. Have pity on me, and save me, O ever spotless Virgin!

When the God of purity found thee, O spotless Virgin, in the lowly valleys as the Rose that breathes forth sweet fragrance, he dwelt within thee, and filled the human race with the most delicious perfume.

Turn the faculties of my soul, O most pure one, to the divine commandments of him who shone forth from thy womb, and by thy prayers deliver me from the storm of this life's scandals.

Thou didst virginally bring forth our Emmanuel, the Lord of all, O Virgin-Mother, and didst remain a Virgin after thy delivery. Pray to him unceasingly, that they who fly to thy protection may be freed from the attacks of their enemies.

O chaste Virgin! thou didst, from thy womb, clothe with a human body him who is the Word equal to his Father in works and in majesty; from thee, by reason of his unspeakable mercy, did he assume our entire human nature.

O Blessed Mother! we praise thy Son, who redeemed us from the old curse. We bless thee, O blessed by God above all women, who art loved above all by him who is blessed and glorious above all.

Thou pourest forth an everflowing stream on us who have recourse to thee, O VirginMother! Refreshed by its plentiful grace, we praise thy Son, O purest Maid, and we extol him above all for ever.

Thy womb was made the dwelling-place of Light, whereby they saw the light that sat in darkness. Therefore do we ever praise thee with our unceasing hymns, O Mother of God, and devoutly venerate thee, the hope of our hearts.

 

The Church makes commemoration, to-day, of the holy Pope and Martyr Hyginus. He held the Apostolic Chair under the reign of Antoninus, and closed his four years’ Pontificate by martyrdom. We have no history of his life, but we venerate in him one of the links of that grand chain of Pontiffs which unites us, by St Peter, to our Lord Jesus Christ. The whole weight of the government of the Church was upon his shoulders, and he was courageous and faithful in the discharge of his duties; his reign was during the age of Persecution, when to be Pope was to be a victim of tortures and death. As we have already said, he soon won his Palm, and was associated in heaven with the three Magi, who had, before leaving this world, preached the Gospel in Greece, the country of our Saint. Let us ask him to bless the offerings we are making to the Divine Infant of Bethlehem, and to pray for us, that we may obey this sweet King, who asks us to give him not our blood by martyrdom, but our hearts by charity.

Let us honour the memory of this holy Pope, and say with the Church:

Ant. Iste Sanctus pro lege Dei sui certavit usque ad mortem, et a verbis impiorum non timuit; fundatus enim erat supra firmam petram.

Oremus

Infirmitatem nostram respice, omnipotens Deus, et quia pondus propriæactionis gravat, beati Hygini Martyris tui atque Pontificis intercessio gloriosa nos protegat. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Ant. This Saint fought, even unto death, for the law of his God, and feared not the words of the wicked; for he was set upon a firm rock.

Let us Pray

Have regard, O Almighty God, to our weakness; and whereas we sink under the weight of our own doings, let the glorious intercession of blessed Hyginus, thy Martyr and Bishop, be a protection to us. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

 

 

[1] St Luke i 53.
[2] Sermon the Fourth On the Epiphany.

 

 

 

 

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