From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.
THE thoughts of the Church today are fixed on the Baptism of our Lord in the Jordan, which is the second of the three Mysteries of the Epiphany. The Emmanuel manifested himself to the Magi, after having shown himself to the Shepherds; but this manifestation was made within the narrow space of a stable at Bethlehem, and the world knew nothing of it. In the Mystery of the Jordan, Christ manifested himself with greater publicity. His coming is proclaimed by the Precursor; the crowd that is flocking to the river for Baptism is witness of what happens; Jesus makes this the beginning of his public life. But who could worthily explain the glorious circumstances of this second Epiphany?
It resembles the first in this, that it is for the benefit and salvation of the human race. The star has led the Magi to Christ; they had long waited for his coming, they had hoped for it; now they believe. Faith in the Messias having come into the world is beginning to take root among the Gentiles. But faith is not sufficient for salvation; the stain of sin must be washed away by water. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. The time is come, then, for a new manifestation of the Son of God, whereby there shall be inaugurated the great remedy, which is to give to Faith the power of producing life eternal.
Now the decrees of divine Wisdom had chosen Water as the instrument of this sublime regeneration of the human race. Hence, in the beginning of the world, we find the Spirit of God moving over the Waters, in order that they might ‘even then conceive a principle of sanctifying power,' as the Church expresses it in her Office for Holy Saturday. But before being called to fulfil the designs of God’s mercy, this element of Water had to be used by the Divine Justice for the chastisement of a sinful world. With the exception of one family, the whole human race perished, by the terrible judgement of God, in the Waters of the Deluge.
A fresh indication of the future supernatural power of this chosen element was given by the Dove, which Noe sent forth from the Ark; it returned to him, bearing in its beak an Olive-branch, the symbol that peace was given to the earth by its having been buried in Water. But this was only the announcement of the mystery; its accomplishment was not to be for long ages to come.
Meanwhile, God spoke to his people by many events, which were figurative of the future Mystery of Baptism. Thus, for example, it was by passing through the waters of the Red Sea that they entered into the Promised Land, and during the miraculous passage, a pillar of a cloud was seen covering both the Israelites and the Waters to which they owed their deliverance.
But in order that Water should have the power to purify man from his sins, it was necessary that it should be brought in contact with the Sacred Body of the Incarnate God. The Eternal Father had sent his Son into the world, not only that he might be its Lawgiver, and Redeemer, and the Victim of its salvation, but that he might also be the Sanctifier of Water; and it was in this sacred element that he would divinely bear testimony to his being his Son, and manifest him to the world a second time.
Jesus, therefore, being now thirty years of age, comes to the Jordan, a river already celebrated for the prophetic miracles which had been wrought in its waters. The Jewish people, roused by the preaching of John the Baptist, were flocking thither in order to receive a Baptism which could indeed excite a sorrow for sin, but could not effect its forgiveness. Our divine King approaches the river, not, of course, to receive sanctification, for he himself is the author of all Justice—but to impart to Water the power of bringing forth, as the Church expresses the mystery, a new and heavenly progeny. He goes down into the stream, not, like Josue, to walk dry-shod through its bed, but to let its waters encompass him, and receive from him, both for itself and for the Waters of the whole earth, the sanctifying power which they would retain for ever. The saintly Baptist places his trembling hand upon the sacred head of the Redeemer, and bends it beneath the water; the Sun of Justice vivifies this his creature; he imparts to it the glow of life-giving fruitfulness; and Water thus becomes the prolific source of supernatural life.
But in this the commencement of a new creation, we look for the intervention of the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity. All Three are there. The heavens open; the Dove descends, not as a mere symbol, prophetic of some future grace, but as the sign of the actual presence of the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of love, who gives peace to men and changes their hearts. The Dove hovers above the head of Jesus, overshadowing at one and the same time the Humanity of the Incarnate Word and the water which bathed his sacred Body.
The manifestation is not complete; the Father's voice is still to be heard speaking over the Water, and moving by its power the entire element throughout the earth. Then was fulfilled the prophecy of David: The Voice of the Lord is upon the waters; the God of majesty hath thundered. The Voice of the Lord breaketh cedars, that is, the pride of the devils. The Voice of the Lord divideth the flame of fire, that is, the anger of God. The Voice of the Lord shaketh the desert, and maketh the flood to swell, that is, announces a new Deluge, the Deluge of divine Mercy. And what says this Voice of the Father? This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
Thus was the Holiness of Emmanuel manifested by the presence of the Dove and by the voice of the Father, as his kingly character had been previously manifested by the mute testimony of the star. The mystery is accomplished, the Waters are invested with a spiritual purifying power, and Jesus comes from the Jordan and ascends the bank, raising up with himself the world, regenerated and sanctified, with all its crimes and defilements drowned in the stream. Such is the interpretation and language of the Holy Fathers of the Church regarding this great event of our Lord's Life.
The Feast of the Epiphany celebrates this wonderful mystery of Jesus' Baptism; and we cannot be surprised at the Eastern Church having selected this day for one of the solemn administrations of the sacrament of Baptism. The same custom was observed, as we learn from ancient documents, in certain Churches in the West. John Mosch tells us that, as regards the Oriental Church, the Font was more than once miraculously filled with water on the Feast of the Epiphany, and that immediately after having administered the Sacrament, the people saw the water disappear. The Roman Church, even so early as the time of St Leo, decreed that Easter and Pentecost should be the only two days for the solemn administration of Baptism; but the custom of blessing the baptismal water with great solemnity on the Epiphany was still retained, and is observed even now in some parts of the West.
The Eastern Church has always religiously observed it. Amidst all the pomp of sacred rites, accompanied by his Priests and Ministers, who are clothed in the richest vestments, and followed by the whole people, the Bishop repairs to the banks of a river. After reciting certain beautiful prayers, which we regret not being able to offer to our readers, the Bishop plunges into the water a Cross richly adorned with precious stones; it represents our Lord being baptized by St John. At St Petersburg, the ceremony takes place on the River Neva, and it is through a hole made on the ice that the Metropolitan dips the Cross into the Water. This same ceremony is observed by those Churches in the West which have retained the custom of blessing the baptismal water on this Feast.
The faithful are very anxious to carry home with them the water of the stream thus sanctified; and St John Chrysostom, in his twenty-fourth Homily, on the Baptism of Christ, speaks to his audience of the circumstance, which was well known by all of them, of this water never turning corrupt. The same has been often seen in the Western Church.
Let us honour our Lord in this second Manifestation of his divinity, and thank him, with the Church, for having given us both the Star of Faith which enlightens us, and the Water of Baptism which cleanses us from our iniquities. Let us lovingly appreciate the humility of our Jesus, who permits himself to be weighed down by the hand of a mortal man, in order, as he says himself, that he might fulfil all justice; for having taken on himself the likeness of sin, it was requisite that he should bear its humiliation, that so he might raise us from our debasement. Let us thank him for this grace of Baptism, which has opened to us the gates of the Church both of heaven and earth; and let us renew the engagements we made at the holy Font, for they were the terms on which we were regenerated to our new life in God.
The Introit, Epistle, Gradual and Alleluia-Verse, Offertory, Preface, and Communion, are the same as on the Feast.
Ecce advenit dominator Dominus; et regnum in manu ejus, et potestas, et imperium.
Ps. Deus, judicium tuum Regi da, et justitiam tuam filio Regis. ℣. Gloria Patri.
Behold the Lord the ruler is come; and dominion, power, and empire are in his hand.
Ps. Give to the king thy judgement, O God, and to the king’s son thy justice. ℣. Glory.
In the Collect, the Church prays that her children may have the grace of becoming like to Jesus, who appeared in the Jordan, filled, indeed, with the Holy Ghost, and the object of the Heavenly Father's love, but at the same time, truly Man like us, and faithful in the fulfilment of all justice.
Deus, cujus Unigenitus in substantia nostræ carnis apparuit: præsta, quæsumus, ut per eum, quem similem nobis foris agnovimus, intus reformari mereamur. Qui tecum.
O God, whose Only Begotten Son appeared in the substance of our flesh: grant, we beseech thee, that we may be interiorly reformed by him, whom we confess to have outwardly taken our flesh on himself. Who liveth, etc.
Lectio Isaiæ Prophetæ.
Surge, illuminare, Jerusalem; quia venit lumen tuum, et gloria Domini super te orta est. Quia ecce tenebra operient terram, et caligo populos; super te autem onetur 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; filli 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 Isaias the Prophet.
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, thedromedaries of Madian and Epha; all they from Saba shall come, bringing gold and frankincense, and showing forth praise to the Lord.
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, and 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.
Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem.
In illo tempore: Vidit Joannes Jesum venientem ad se, et ait: Ecce Agnus Dei, ecce qui tollit peccatum mundi. Hic est de quo dixi: Post me venit vir, qui ante me factus est quia prior me erat. Et ego nesciebam eum; sed ut manifestetur in Isræl, propterea veni ego in aqua baptizans. Et testimonium perhibuit Joannes, dicens: Quia vidi Spiritum descendentem quasi columbam de cœlo, et mansit super eum. Et ego nesciebam eum, sed qui misit me baptizare in aqua, ille mihi dixit: Super quem videris Spiritum descendentem, et manentem super eum, hic est qui baptizat in Spiritu Sancto. Et ego vidi: et testimonium perhibui, quia hic est Filius Dei.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to John.
At that time: John saw Jesus coming to him, and he saith: Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who taketh away the sins of the world. This is he of whom I said: After me there cometh a man who is preferred before me; because he was before me. And I knew him not; but that he may be made manifest in Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. And John gave testimony, saying: I saw the Spirit coming down as a dove from heaven, and he remained upon him. And I knew him not; but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me: he upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining upon him, he it is that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw: and I gave testimony, that this is the Son of God.
O Lamb of God! thou didst enter into the stream to purify it, the Dove came down from heaven, for thy sweet meekness attracted the Spirit of love; and having sanctified the waters, the mystery of thy Baptism was over. But what tongue can express the prodigy of mercy effected by it! Men have gone down after thee into the stream made sacred by contact with thee; they return regenerated; they were wolves, and Baptism has transformed them into lambs. We were defiled by sin, and were unworthy to stand near thee, the spotless Lamb; but the waters of the holy Font have been poured upon us and we are made as the sheep of the Canticle, which come up from the washing fruitful, and none is barren among them; or as doves upon the brooks of water, white and spotless as though they had been washed with milk, sitting near the plentiful streams! Preserve us, O Jesus, in this white robe which thou hast put upon us. If, alas! we have tarnished its purity, cleanse us by that second Baptism, the Baptism of Penance. Permit us, too, dear Lord, to intercede for those countries to whom thy Gospel has not yet been preached; let this river of peace, the waters of Baptism, flow out upon them, and inundate the whole earth. We beseech thee, by the glory of thy manifestation at thy Baptism, forget the crimes of men, which have hitherto caused the Gospel to be kept from those unhappy countries. Thy heavenly Father bids every creature hear thee; speak, dear Jesus! to every creature.
Reges Tharsis et insulæ munera offerent, Reges Arabum et Saba dona adducent: et adorabunt eum omnes Reges terræ; omnes gentes servient ei.
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.
In the Secret, the Church once more proclaims the divine Manifestation, and begs that the Lamb, who by his Sacrifice has enabled us to offer God an acceptable oblation, may graciously receive it at our hands.
Hostias tibi, Domine, pro nati Filii tui Apparitione deferimus, suppliciter exorantes; ut sicut ipse nostrorum auctor est munerum, ita sit ipse misericors et susceptor, Jesus Christus Dominus noster. Qui tecum.
We offer sacrifice to thee, O Lord, in remembrance of the Manifestation of thy new-born Son, humbly beseeching thee; that as our Lord Jesus Christ is the author of what we offer, so he may mercifully receive the same. Who liveth, etc.
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.
While giving thanks for the heavenly nourishment just received, the holy Church prays for the unceasing help of that divine Light, which has appeared to her, and which will enable her to contemplate the purity of the Lamb, and to love him as he deserves.
Cœlesti lumine, quæsumus, Domine, semper et ubique nos præveni; ut mysterium, cujus nos participes esse voluisti, et puro cernamus intuitu, et digno percipiamus affectu. Per Dominum.
May thy heavenly light, we beseech thee, O Lord, go before us at all times and in all places; that we may contemplate with a clear sight, and receive with due affection, the mystery whereof thou hast been pleased we should partake. Through, etc.
Let us once more sing the praises of the divine Epiphany—the Theophany. Let us make a concert, as it were, of the Liturgies of all the Churches. St Hilary of Poitiers shall be our first chanter, in the Hymn he has written on the three mysteries of this great Octave.
Jesus refulsit omnium
Pius Redemptor gentium;
Totum genus fidelium
Laudes celebret dramatum.
Quem stella naturn fulgida
Monstrat micans in æthera,
Magosque ducit prævia
Ipsius ad cunabula.
Illi cadentes parvulum
Pannis adorant obsitum
Verum fatentur ut Deum,
Munus ferendo mysticum.
Denis ter annorum cyclis,
Jam parte vivens temporis,
Lympham petit baptismatis,
Cunctis carens contagiis.
Felix Joannes mergere
Illum tremiscit flumine,
Potest suo qui sanguine
Peccata cosmi tergere.
Vox ergo Prolem de polis
Testatur excelsa Patris,
Virtus adestque Pneumatis,
Sancti datrix charismatis.
Nos, Christe, subnixa prece
Omnes, precamur, protege,
Qui præcipis rubescere
Aquas potenter hydriæ.
Laus Trinitati debita,
Honor, potestas omnium,
Perenniter sint omnia
Per sæculorum sæcula.
Jesus, the merciful Redeemer of all nations,
shone forth on this day;
let the faithful of every race
celebrate him in their songs of praise.
A Star, shining in the heavens,
announces his Birth;
it leads the way,
and guides them to his Crib.
Prostrating, they adore the Infant
wrapped in swaddling clothes;
they confess him to be the true God,
offering him their mystic gifts.
Thirty years of his life
had passed, and he,
the infinitely pure God,
seeks the laver of baptism.
John, the favoured Baptist,
trembles as he bends the head of Jesus beneath the waters
—that Jesus whose Blood was to purify
the whole earth from its sins.
The divine voice of the Father is heard from heaven,
bearing testimony to his Son;
and the Holy Spirit, too, is present,
the giver of holy grace.
We beseech thee in humble supplication,
O Jesus! protect thy people;
we ask it of thee by the power thou didst show
when thou didst command the water to be changed into wine.
honour, and all power
be to the Trinity
for ever and for ever.
The Ambrosian Church of Milan thus celebrates the Baptism of our Lord in the beautiful Preface we take from its Missal.
Vere dignum et justum est, æquum et salutare, nos tibi semper hic et ubique gratias agere, Domine sáncte, Pater omnipotens, æterne Deus, qui te nobis super Jordanis alveum de cœlis in voce tonitrui præbuisti, ut Salvatorem cœli demonstrares, et te Patrem æterni iuminis ostenderes, cœlos aperuisti, ærem benedixisti, fontem purificasti: et tuum unicum Filium per speciem columbæ Sancto Spiritu declarasti. Susceperunt hodie fontes benedictionem tuam, et abstulerunt maledictionem nostram, ita ut credentibus purificationem omnium delictorum exhibeant, et Dei filios adoptione faciant ad vitam æternam. Nam quos ad temporalem vitam carnalis nativitas fuderat, quos mors per prævaricationem ceperat, hos vita æterna recipiens, ad regni cœlorum gloriam revocavit.
It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should always, here and in all places, give thanks to thee, O Holy Lord, Almighty Father, Eternal God, who didst show thyself unto us in the river Jordan by speaking to us from heaven in the voice of thunder, whereby thou wouldst manifest unto us our heavenly Saviour, and show thyself to be the Father of eternal light; and therefore thou didst open the heavens, and bless the air, and purify the stream: and thou didst announce him to be thine Only Begotten Son by the Holy Ghost, who appeared in the form of a Dove. On this day did the waters receive thy benediction, and take away our malediction, so that they give to believers the purification of all their sins, and make them by adoption sons of God unto life everlasting. For, they that were born by the flesh unto temporal life, and made by sin subject to death, have been admitted into life everlasting, and restored to the glory of the heavenly kingdom.
The venerable Antiphons we now give are the precious remnants of the ancient Gallican Liturgy: they are of Oriental origin, and are still preserved in the Cistercian Breviary.
Veterem hominem renovans Salvator venit ad baptismum, ut naturam quæ corrupta est, per aquam recuperaret: incorruptibili veste circumamictans nos.
Te, qui in Spiritu et igne purificas humana contagia, Deum et Redemptorem omnes glorificamus.
Baptista contremuit, et non audet tangere sanctum Dei verticem; sed clamat cum tremore: Sanctifica me, Salvator.
Caput draconis Salvator contrivit in Jordane flumine, et ab ejus potestate omnes eripuit.
Magnum Mysterium declarator hodie, quia Creator omnium in Jordane expurgat nostra facinora.
Baptizat miles Regem, servus Dominum suum, Joannes Salvatorem: aqua Jordanis stupuit, columba protestabatur: paterna vox audita est: Hic est Filius meus.
Fontes aquarum sanctificati sunt, Christo apparente in gloria: orbis terrarum, haurite aquas de fonte Salvatoris: sanctifica vit enim tunc omnem creaturam Christus Deus noster.
Renewing our old man, the Saviour comes to Baptism, that he might by water restore our nature which had been corrupted: he clothed us with an incorruptible garment.
We glorify thee as our God and Redeemer, that didst purify the contagious defilements of mankind in the Spirit and in fire.
The Baptist trembled, and dares not to touch the head of God; but cries out, with fear: Sanctify me, O Saviour!
The Saviour crushed the serpent's head in the river Jordan, and delivered us all from his power.
A great Mystery is this day declared to us; for the Creator of all wipes away our sins in the Jordan.
The soldier baptizes his King, the servant his Lord, and John his Saviour: the waters of the Jordan were amazed, and testimony was borne by the Dove: the voice of the Father was heard: This is my Son.
The springs of water were sanctified when the glory of Christ was manifested: all ye countries of the earth, draw out waters from the Saviour's fountains, for on that day did Christ our God sanctify every creature.
Orta lux mirifice,
Nunc lucis deificæ
Hac Magus instruitur,
Ad Jesum gens ducitur,
Stella prodit Puerum,
Et ultorem scelerum,
Quem mystico munere
Monstrat cuncta regere
Et tandem redimere
Nos per mortem.
Hic aquis abluitur,
Et aquis infunditur
Virtus qua diluitur
Vox Patris complectitur
Natum, quo dignoscitur
Et sumit initium
Cum facit officium
Vini, liquor fontium,
In Virginis clausula,
Sponsæ sine macula,
Dulci nubit copula
Nostra solvat vincuia,
Protegens in sæcula
A Star has miraculously risen,
that was foretold by the Prophets:
it tells the rising
of the divine Light.
It guides the Magi,
it terrifies Herod,
it leads the Gentiles to Jesus,
the haven of peace.
It reveals the Child,
the creator of the stars,
the avenger of crime,
the Strong God.
The mystic gifts proclaim him
to be the Ruler of all things,
and the Redeemer who saved
us by his death.
He is baptized in the waters,
and the waters imbibe from him
a virtue whereby they wash away
The Dove is seen:
the voice of the Father speaks
his love of the Son,
therefore making known his glory.
The word of John
bears also testimony;
and the law of love
The guests are gladdened
when the spring-water is made
to do the service
of the better wine.
The Word of the Father
is espoused in sweet love
in the womb of the Virgin,
the Spouse without stain.
May he cleanse our sins,
and so loosen our chains,
protecting us for ever,
at his Mother’s prayer.
Die VI Januarii, In Theophania
Conversus est olim Jordanis fluvius Elisei melota, rapto in altum Elia, et divisæ sunt aquæ hinc et inde, et ipsi sicca facta est via, et humida in typum vere baptismatis, per quod nos fiuidum vitæ transimus iter. Christus apparuit, omnem volens renovare creaturam.
Hodie aquarum sanctificata natura, scinditur Jordanis, et suorum sistit fluenta fontium, Dominum videns lavatum.
Tamquam homo in flumen venisti, Christe Rex, servile baptisma accipere; festinas, o bone, sub Præcursoris manu, propter peccata nostra, philanthrope.
Ad vocem clamantis in deserto: Præparate viam Domini, venisti, Domine, formam servi assumens, baptisma flagitans, qui peccatum nescis: viderunt te aquæ et tremuerunt; contremiscens effectus est Præcursor, et exclamavit dicens: Quomodo illuminabit lampas lumen? Quomodo imponet manus servus super Dominum? Sanctifica me et aquas, Salvator, qui tollis mundi peccatum.
Præcursoris et Baptistæ et Prophetæ, super omnes Prophetas honorati, tremuit dextera, quia contemplabatur Agnum Dei peccata mundi lavantem, et anxietate sollicitus, exclamabat: Non audeo imponere, o Verbum, manum capiti tuo; tu ipse sanctifica me et illumina, o misericors; ipse enim es vita et lux et pax mundi.
Mira res erat videre cœli terræque Dominum in fluvio denudatimi, baptismum a servo pro nostra salute suscipientem quasi servum; et stupebant Angelorum chori in timore et gaudio: cum illis te adoramus; salva nos.
Manum tuam, quæ Domini intactum tetigit caput, cum qua et digito ipsum nobis submonstrasti, eleva pro nobis ad ilium, Baptista, tamquam potestatem habens magnam: nam ab ipso major Prophetis declaratus es, oculosque iterum tuos, qui sanctissimum viderunt Spiritum in columbæ specie descendentem, ad ipsum converte, Baptista, misericorditer cum nobis operatus, et hic sta nobiscum approbans hymnum, incipiensque primus panegyriam.
Jordanica flumina te fontem receperunt, et Paraclitus in forma columbæ descendit. Inclinat caput, qui cœlos inclinavit; ejulat et clamat lutum plasmanti: Cur mihi jubes quæ supra me sunt; ego opus habeo tuo baptismate, o impeccabilis.
Inclinasti caput Præcursori, capita contrivisti draconum; in flumina descendisti, illuminasti omnia ad glorificandum te, Salvator, lumen animarum nostrarum.
Qui indutus est lumine sicut vestimento, pro nobis secundum nos fieri dignatus
est: fluenta induit hodie Jordanica, istis ipse ad purificationem non indigens, sed nobis in seipso dispensans regenerationem: o prodigium!
Venite, imitemur sapientes virgines; venite, eamus obviam manifestato Domino; quia venit tamquam sponsus ad Joannem. Jordanis te videns conversus est retrorsum; inflexit se et stetit. Joannes clamabat: Non audeo tangere immortale caput; Spiritus descendebat in forma columbæ ad sanctificandum aquas; et vox de cœlo: Hic est Filius meus veniens in mundum ad salvandum genus humanum. Gloria tibi, Christe.
Baptizatur Christus et ascendit de aqua; sursum effert cum seipso mundum, et videt reseratos cœlos, quos Adam sibi suisque clauserat. Et Spiritus confitetur divinitatem, et simul adest vox de cœlo; inde enim declaratur Salvator animarum nostrarum.
Domine, adimplere volens quæ ab æterno decrevisti, ab omni creatura mysterii tui ministeria suscepisti: ex Angelis, Gabrielem; ex hominibus, Virginem; e cœlis, stellam; ex aquis, Jordanem: peccatum mundi suscepisti. Salvator noster, gloria tibi.
Jordanis flumen, quid obstupescis, videns invisibilem nudum? Vidi, inquis, et exhorrui: et quomodo non tremuissem? Hunc videntes Angeli, horruerunt: commoti sunt cœli, terra contremuit, et contractum est mare, et omnia visibilia et invisibilia. Christus manifestatus est in Jordane, et aquas sanctificandas.
Maculatimi solem quis vidit, clamabat Præco, natura coruscantem? quomodo te, splendor gloriæ, æterni Patris imago, aquis abluam, cum fœnum sim? Quomodo ignem tangam tuæ divinitatis? Tu enim Christus, Dei sapientia et virtus.
Galilææ gentium, Zabulon regioni, et Naphtalim terræ, lumen magnum illuxit Christus, his qui erant in tenebris fulgidus visus est splendor in Bethlehem fulgida. Sed amplius ex Maria Dominus universo orbi terrarum ostendit radios, Sol justitiæ.
Ideo qui ex Adam nudi, venite omnes, induamus eum, ut refocillemur; tegumentum enim nudorum, tenebrosorum splendor venisti: manifestatus es inaccessibile lumen.
Elias had been taken up on high: Eliseus touched the Jordan with his cloak, and the stream was turned back; the waters divided, leaving the Prophet a dry yet moistened path, as a true type of that Baptism whereby we pass the streamlike path of life. Christ appeared, desiring to renew his creature.
On this day was sanctified the element of water; the Jordan is divided, and its waters cease to flow, seeing its Lord seeking baptism in its stream.
Thou hast come to the river, O Christ our King! thou hast come as Man to receive baptism at thy servant's hands; good Jesus! lover of mankind! thou art eager to bend beneath thy Precursor’s hand.
At the voice of him that cried out in the desert: Prepare ye the way of the Lord! thou didst come, O Lord! taking to thyself the likeness of a servant, and thou that knowest not sin asking for Baptism! The waters saw thee and trembled. The Precursor trembled, and exclaimed: 'How shall the lamp give light to the Light? How shall the servant impose his hands on his Lord? O Saviour! that takest away the sins of the world, sanctify me and the waters.’
His right hand trembled, for though Precursor, and Baptist, and Prophet greater than all Prophets, he saw before him the Lamb of God that washes away the sins of the world: oppressed with anxious doubt, he exclaimed: 'O Word! I dare not put my hand upon thy head: do thou sanctify and enlighten me, O Merciful One! for thou art the life and light and peace of the world.'
It was a wonderful thing to see the Lord of heaven and earth standing naked in the river, receiving as a servant, and from his servant. Baptism for our salvation. The choirs of Angels stood amazed in fear and in joy. We adore thee, O Jesus! together with them. Save us.
O holy Baptist! raise up to him for us that hand of thine, which touched the untouched Head of our Lord, and wherewith thou didst point him out to us. Thou hast great power, for he declared thee to be greater than all the Prophets. Turn also to him thine eyes, which saw the Most Holy Spirit come down in the form of a Dove. Have pity on us, and be with us encouraging our hymn, and thyself beginning the canticle of praise.
The waters of the Jordan received thee, O Jesus, the Fountain of life! and the Paraclete came down upon thee in the form of a Dove. He who bent down the very heavens now bends his sacred Head! The clay that was formed cries out complainingly to Him who formed it: 'Why biddest thou me do what is above me? I have need to be baptized by thee, O Sinless One!'
Thou didst bend thine Head to thy Precursor; thou didst crush the heads of the serpents. Thou didst go down into the river; thou didst enlighten all things that they might glorify thee, O Saviour, thou Light of our souls!
He that is clad with light as with a garment, deigned for our sakes to become like unto us.
To-day he girds himself with the waters of the Jordan, not needing them for his own purification, but that he might give regeneration to us through himself. O wondrous work!
Come, let us imitate the wise virgins; come, let us go to meet our Lord thus manifested to us, for like a bridegroom he comes to John. The Jordan turned back when it saw thee, O Jesus! it bent its course and stood. John exclaimed: 'I dare not touch the head of the eternal God.' The Spirit came down, in the form of a Dove, to sanctify the waters, and a Voice said from heaven: 'This is my Son, that is come into the world to save mankind.’ Glory be to thee, O Christ!
Christ is baptized, and comes up from the water; he raises up the world with himself, and sees that heaven opened, which Adam had closed against himself and his children. The Spirit, too, proclaims the divinity of Him that was baptized, and a Voice from heaven is heard at the same time. Thus is Christ declared to be the Saviour of our souls.
When thou didst will, O Lord! to fulfil thy eternal decrees, thou didst permit all creatures to minister to thy Mystery! Gabriel among the Angels; the Virgin among men; the Star among the heavenly bodies; the Jordan among the streams of water. Thou didst take on thyself the sin of the world. Glory be to thee, O Saviour!
O Jordan, why wonderest thou at seeing the Invisible thus naked before thee? 'I saw,' thou repliest, 'and how should I not tremble? The angels see him, and are awed. The heavens were moved, the earth shook, the sea curled up its waves, and all things, visible and invisible, feared.' Christ manifested himself in the Jordan, that he might sanctify the waters.
The Precursor, the herald of Christ, exclaimed: 'Who is there that has seen a spot upon the sun, the orb of brightness! And how shall I, that am but as grass of the field, baptize thee, thou brightness of glory, and image of the eternal Father? How shall I dare touch the fire of the Divinity? For thou art the Christ, the wisdom and the power of God.'
Christ, the great Light, has shone on Galilee of the Gentiles, on the country of Zabulon, and on the land of Nephthalim; to them that sat in darkness there has appeared a bright light in Bethlehem the bright. But the Sun of Justice, the Lord, has risen from Mary, and shown far brighter rays on the whole earth.
Let us, therefore, who in Adam are naked of all good, put on Jesus, that we may grow warm; for thou art come, O Christ! to be the clothing of the naked, and the light of them that are in darkness. O Light inaccessible! thou hast appeared to the world.
Sancti Spiritus adsit nobis gratia,
Quo fœcundata Deum peperit Virgo Maria,
Per quem sacrata floret Virginitas in Maria.
Spiritus alme, quo repletur Maria,
Tu rorem sacrum stillasti in Maria.
Amator sancte, quo intacta imprægnatur Maria.
Sub cujus umbra non torretur, dum fovetur Maria.
Tu præservasti ne prima culpa transfusa sit in Maria.
Tu cellam sacrasti sic benedicti ventris in Maria.
Ut tumeret, et Mater fieret Maria,
Sic pareret, nec florem perderet Maria.
Prophetas tu inspirasti, ut præcinerent quod Deum conciperet Maria.
Apostolos confortasti ut astruerent hunc Deum quem edidit Maria.
Quando machinam Deus mundanam fecit, est præfigurata Maria.
Tellus hominem, virgo virginem fudit primum, sic secundum Maria.
Tu animarum spes afflictarum dulcis Maria.
Tu servulorum tuorum nexus solve, Maria;
Tu collisum peccatis mundum ad vitam reparasti, Maria.
Idololatras et leges atras enervasti, Maria.
Ergo nos petimus supplices ut ope benigna subleves, Maria.
Et nato pro nobis supplices, qui tibi psallimus: Ave, Maria.
Tu felicibus felicior, Maria.
Tu sublimibus Angelorum cœtibus es prælata, Maria.
Ipsum hominem induisti, Maria,
Qui sine semine, rigante nemine, te fœcundavit, Maria.
Hunc Deum nobis placa, Maria.
May the grace of that Holy Spirit be now with us,
Whereby the Virgin Mary conceived, and brought forth Jesus, our God,
And holy Virginity, in this Mother, brought forth its Flower.
O Spirit of Love! thou didst fill Mary with thyself,
Thou didst infuse the dew of heaven into her.
O Divine Lover! the purest Virgin receives Jesus from Thee.
Under thy shadow, she continues a Virgin, and is made the Mother of God.
Thou didst preserve Mary from contracting the original guilt.
Thou didst consecrate the sanctuary of this so blessed womb,
That it might be the dwelling of Jesus, and Mary be his Mother,
And so bring forth her Son, as to be still the same pure Flower.
Thou it was that didst inspire the Prophets to foretell how Mary should conceive her God.
Thou it was that didst strengthen the Apostles to preach this God, the Son of Mary.
When God created this world, he gave us a type of Mary.
The virgin-earth produced the first Adam; so did Mary give birth to the second.
Thou art the hope of sorrowing hearts, sweet Mary!
Loosen the fetters of thy devoted servants, O Mary!
Thou didst restore to life the world that was crushed by sin, O Mary!I
Thou didst destroy idolaters and wicked laws, O Mary!
We humbly beseech thee, therefore, that thou mercifully help us, O Mary!
And pray to thy Son for us who sing to thee, Ave Maria!
Thou art Blessed of all the blessed, O Mary!
Thou art raised above the highest choirs of the Angels, O Mary!
Thou didst clothe with the nature of Man, O Mary,
Him who without the aid of man gave thee the fruitfulness of motherhood, O Mary!
He is our God; pray him to have mercy on us, O Mary!
 St Mark xvi 16.
 Gen. 1 2.
 The Blessing, of the Font.
 The Blessing of the Font.
 Ps. cxxviii 3, 5, 7, 8, 10.
 St Matt. iii 17.
 St Matt. iii 15.
 Cant. iv 2.
 Ibid. v 12.
 Isa. lxvi 12.