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August

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

WHAT is this dawn before which the brightest constellations pale? Laurence, who has been shining in the August heavens as an incomparable star, is wellnigh eclipsed, and becomes but the humble satellite of the Queen of Saints, whose triumph is preparing beyond the clouds.

Mary stayed on earth after her Son’s Ascension, in order to give birth to his Church; but she could not remain for ever in exile. Yet she was not to take her flight to heaven until this new fruit of her maternity had acquired the growth and strength which it belongs to a mother to give. How sweet to the Church was this dependence!—a privilege given to her members by our Lord in imitation of Himself.[1] As we saw, at Christmas-time, the God-Man carried first in the arms of His Mother, gathering His strength and nourishing His life at her virginal breast; so the mystical body of the Man-God, the Holy Church, received, in its first years, the same care from Mary as the divine Child our Emmanuel.

As Joseph heretofore at Nazareth, Peter was now ruling the house of God; but our Lady was none the less to the assembly of the faithful the source of life in the spiritual order, as she had been to Jesus in His Humanity. On the day of Pentecost the Holy Ghost and every one of His gifts rested first upon her in all fulness; every grace bestowed on the privileged dwellers in the cenacle was given more eminently and more abundantly to her. The sacred stream of the river maketh the city of God joyful, because first of all the Most High has sanctified His own tabernacle, made her the well of living waters, which run with a strong stream from Libanus.

Eternal Wisdom herself is compared in the Scripture to overflowing waters; to this day, the voice of her messengers traverses the world, magnificent, as the voice of the Lord over the great waters, as the thunder which reveals His power and majesty: like a new deluge overturning the ramparts of false science, levelling every height raised against God, and fertilizing the desert. O fountain of the gardens hiding thyself so calm and pure in Sion, the silence which keeps thee from the knowledge of the profane hides from their sullied eyes the source of thy wavelets which carry salvation to the furthest limits of the Gentile world. To thee, as to the Wisdom sprung from thee, is applied the prophetic word: I have poured out rivers.[2] Thou givest to drink to the new-born Church thirsting for the Word. Thou art, as the Holy Spirit said of Esther, thy type, 'the little fountain which grew into a river, and was turned into a light, and into the sun, and abounded into many waters.'[3] The apostles, inundated with divine science, recognized in thee the richest source, which having once given to the world the Lord God, continued to be the channel of His grace and truth to them.

As a mountain spreads out at its base in proportion to the greatness of its height, the incomparable dignity of Mary rested on her ever-growing humility. Nevertheless we must not think that the Mother of the Church was to do nothing more than win heaven's favours silently. The time had come for her to communicate to the friends of the Spouse the ineffable secrets known to her virginal soul alone; and as to the public facts of our Saviour's history, what memory surer or more complete than hers, what deeper understanding of the mysteries of salvation, could furnish the Evangelists with the inspiration and the matter of their sublime narrations? How could the chiefs of the Christian people not consult in every undertaking the heavenly prudence of her whose judgment could never be obscured by the least error, any more than her soul could be tarnished by the least fault? Thus, although her gentle voice was never heard abroad, although she loved to put herself in the shade and take the last place in their assemblies, Mary was truly from that time forward, as the Doctors observe, the scourge of heresy, the mistress of the apostles and their beloved inspirer. 'If,' says Rupert,[4] ‘ the Holy Ghost instructed the apostles, we must not therefore conclude that they had not recourse to the most sweet teaching of Mary. Yea, rather, her word was to them the word of the Spirit Himself; she completed and confirmed the inspirations received by each one from Him who divideth as He wills.' And St. Ambrose, the illustrious Bishop of Milan, speaking of the privilege of the beloved disciple at the Last Supper, does not hesitate to attribute the greater sublimity of his teachings to his longer and more intimate intercourse with our Lady: ‘ This beloved of the Lord, who, resting on his bosom, drank from the depths of Wisdom, I am not astonished that he has explained divine mysteries better than all the others, for the treasure of heavenly secrets hidden in Mary was ever open to him.'[5]

Happy were the faithful of those days, permitted to contemplate the ark of the covenant, wherein, better than on tables of stone, dwelt the plenitude of the law of love! At her side, the rod of the new Aaron, the sceptre of Simon Peter, kept its vigour and freshness, and under her shadow the true manna of heaven was accessible to the elect of this worlds desert. Denis of Athens, Hierotheus, both of whom we shall soon see again beside this holy ark, and many others, came to the feet of Mary to rest on their journey, to strengthen their love, to consult the august propitiatory where the divinity had resided. From the lips of the Mother of God they gathered words sweeter than honey, calming their souls, ordering their life, filling their noble minds with the brightness of heaven. To these privileged ones of the first age might be addressed those words of the Spouse, who in these years was completing His gathering from His chosen garden: I have gathered My myrrh with My aromatical spices: I have eaten the honeycomb with My honey: I have drunk My wine with My milk: eat, Ofriends, and drink, and be inebriated, My dearly beloved.[6]

No wonder that in Jerusalem, favoured with so august a presence, the first group of faithful rose unanimously above the observance of the precepts to the perfection of the counsels; they persevered in prayer, praising God in gladness and simplicity of heart, having favour with all the people; and they were of one heart and one soul. This happy community could not but be an image of heaven on earth, since the Queen of heaven was a member of it; the example of her life, her allpowerful intercession, her merits more vast than all the united treasures of all created sanctities, was Mary’s contribution to this blessed family where all things were common to all.

From the hill of Sion, however, the Church had spread its branches over every mountain and every sea; the vineyard of the King of Peace was extended among all nations; it was time to let it out to the keepers appointed to guard it for the Spouse. It was a solemn moment; a new phase in the history of our salvation was about to begin: Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the friends hearken: make me hear Thy voice.[7] The Spouse, the Church on earth, the Church in heaven, all were waiting for her, who had tended the vine and strengthened its roots, to utter a word such as that which had heretofore brought down the Spouse to earth. But to-day heaven, not earth, was to be the gainer. Flee away, O my Beloved;[8] it was the voice of Mary about to follow the fragrant footsteps of the Lord her Son up to the eternal mountains whither her own perfumes had preceded her.

Let us enter into the sentiments of the Church, who prepares by the fasting and abstinence of this Vigil to celebrate the triumph of Mary. Man may not venture to join on earth in the joys of heaven, without first acknowledging that he is a sinner and a debtor to the justice of God. The light task imposed on us to-day will appear still easier if we compare it with the Lent whereby the Greeks have been preparing for our Lady’s feast ever since the first of this month.

Prayer

Deus, qui virginalem aulam beatæ Mariæ, in qua habitares, eligere dignatus es: da, quæsumus; ut sua nos defensione munitos, jucundos facias suæ interesse festivitati. Qui vivis.
O God, who didst vouchsafe to choose for Thy habitation the virginal womb of the Blessed Mary, grant, we beseech Thee, that, defended by her protection, we may joyfully assist at her festival. Who livest, etc.

To this Collect of the Vigil let us add, with the holy liturgy, the commemoration of a holy confessor, whose imprisonment and sufferings at Rome, in the time of the Arians, made him wellnigh equal to the martyrs. As he is honoured with a church in the Eternal City, Eusebius is entitled to the homage of the whole world.

Prayer

Deus, qui nos beati Eusebii, Confessoris tui, annua solemnitate lætificas: concede propitius; ut, cujus natalitia colimus, per ejus ad te exempla gradiamur. Per Dominum.
O God, who givest us joy by the annual solemnity of the blessed Eusebius, Thy Confessor, mercifully grant that, celebrating his festival, we may approach to Thee by following his example. Through our Lord, etc.

[1] Carnalia in te Christus ubera suxit, ut per te nobis spiritualia fluerent. —Richard a S. Victore, in Cant. Cap. xxiii.
[2] Eccli. xxiv. 40.
[3] Esther x. 6.
[4] Rupert in Cant. i.
[5] Ambr. De Instit. Virg. vii.
[6] Cant. v. 1.
[7] Ibid. viii. 13.
[8] Ibid 14.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

TO-DAY the Virgin Mary ascended to heaven; rejoice, for she reigns with Christ for ever.'[1] The Church will close her chants on this glorious day with this sweet antiphon, which resumes the object of the feast and the spirit in which it should be celebrated.

No other solemnity breathes, like this one, at once triumph and peace; none better answers to the enthusiasm of the many and the serenity of souls consummated in love. Assuredly that was as great a triumph when our Lord, rising by His own power from the tomb, cast hell into dismay; but to our souls, so abruptly drawn from the abyss of sorrows on Golgotha, the suddenness of the victory caused a sort of stupor to mingle with the joy of that greatest of days. In presence of the prostrate angels, the hesitating apostles, the women seized with fear and trembling, one felt that the divine isolation of the Conqueror of death was perceptible even to His most intimate friends, and kept them, like Magdalen, at a distance.

Mary's death, however, leaves no impression but peace; that death had no other cause than love. Being a mere creature, she could not deliver herself from that claim of the old enemy; but leaving her tomb filled with flowers, she mounts up to heaven, flowing with delights, leaning upon her Beloved.[2] Amid the acclamations of the daughters of Sion, who will henceforth never cease to call her blessed, she ascends surrounded by choirs of heavenly spirits joyfully praising the Son of God. Never more will shadows veil, as they did on earth, the glory of the most beautiful daughter of Eve. Beyond the immovable Thrones, beyond the dazzling Cherubim, beyond the flaming Seraphim, onward she passes, delighting the heavenly city with her sweet perfumes. She stays not till she reaches the very confines of the Divinity; close to the throne of honour where her Son, the King of ages, reigns in justice and in power; there she is proclaimed Queen, there she will reign for evermore in mercy and in goodness.

Here on earth Libanus and Amana, Sanir and Hermon dispute the honour of having seen her rise to heaven from their summits; and truly the whole world is but the pedestal of her glory, as the moon is her footstool, the sun her vesture, the stars of heaven her glittering crown. ‘Daughter of Sion, thou art all fair and sweet,’[3] cries the Church, as in her rapture she mingles her own tender accents with the songs of triumph: 'I saw the beautiful one as a dove rising up from the brooks of waters; in her garments was the most exquisite odour; and as in the days of spring, flowers of roses surrounded her and lilies of the valley.’[4]

The same freshness breathes from the facts of Bible history wherein the interpreters of the sacred Books see the figure of Mary’s triumph. As long as this world lasts a severe law protects the entrance to the eternal palace; no one, without having first laid aside the garb of flesh, is admitted to contemplate the King of heaven. There is one, however, of our lowly race, whom the terrible decree does not touch; the true Esther, in her incredible beauty, advances without hindrance through all the doors. Full of grace, she is worthy of the love of the true Assuerus; but on the way which leads to the awful throne of the King of kings, she walks not alone: two handmaids, one supporting her steps, the other holding up the long folds of her royal robe, accompany her; they are the angelic nature and the human, both equally proud to hail her as their mistress and lady, and both sharing in her glory.

If we go back from the time of captivity, when Esther saved her people, to the days of Israel's greatness, we find our Lady's entrance into the city of endless peace represented by the Queen of Saba coming to the earthly Jerusalem. While she contemplates with rapture the magnificence of the mighty prince of Sion, the pomp of her own retinue, the incalculable riches of the treasure she brings, her precious stones and her spices, plunge the whole city into admiration. There was brought no more, says the Scripture, such abundance of spices as these which the Queen of Saba gave to King Solomon.[5]

The reception given by David's son to Bethsabee, his mother, in the third Book of Kings, no less happily expresses the mystery of to-day, so replete with the filial love of the true Solomon. Then Bethsabee came to King Solomon . . . and the king arose to meet her, and bowed to her, and sat down upon his throne, and a throne was set for the king's mother: and she sat on his right hand.[6] O Lady, how exceedingly dost thou surpass all the servants and ministers and friends of God! ‘On the day when Gabriel came to my lowliness,' are the words St. Ephrem puts into thy mouth, ' from handmaid I became Queen; and I, the slave of Thy Divinity, found myself suddenly the mother of Thy humanity, my Lord and my Son! O Son of the King who hast made me His daughter, O Thou heavenly One, who thus bringest into heaven His daughter of earth, by what name shall I call Thee?'[7] The Lord Christ Himself answered; the God made Man revealed to us the only name which fully expresses Him in His twofold nature; He is called The Son. Son of Man as He is Son of God, on earth He has only a Mother, as in heaven He has only a Father. In the august Trinity He proceeds from the Father, remaining consubstantial with Him; only distinguished from Him in that He is Son; producing together with Him, as one Principle, the Holy Ghost. In the external mission He fulfils by the Incarnation to the glory of the Blessed Trinity—communicating to His humanity the manners, so to say, of His Divinity, as far as the diversity of the two natures permits—He is in no way separated from His Mother, and would have her participate even in the giving of the Holy Ghost to every soul. This ineffable union is the foundation of all Mary’s greatnesses, which are crowned by to-day’s triumph. The days within the Octave will give us an opportunity of showing some of the consequences of this principle; to-day let it suffice to have laid it down.

'As Christ is the Lord,' says Arnold of Bonneval, the friend of St. Bernard, 'Mary is Lady and sovereign. He who bends the knee before the Son kneels before the Mother. At the sound of her name the devils tremble, men rejoice, the angels glorify God. Mary and Christ are one flesh, one mind, and one love. From the day when it was said, The Lord is with thee,the grace was irrevocable, the unity inseparable; and in speaking of the glory of Son and Mother, we must call it not so much a common glory as the selfsame glory.’[8] ‘O Thou, the beauty and the honour of Thy Mother,’ adds the great deacon of Edessa, ‘ thus hast Thou adorned her in every way; together with others she is Thy sister and Thy bride, but she alone conceived Thee.”[9]

Rupert in his turn cries out: 'Come then, O most beautiful one, thou shalt be crowned in heaven Queen of saints, on earth Queen of every kingdom. Wherever it shall be said of the Beloved that He is crowned with glory and honour, and set over the works of His Father’s hands, everywhere also shall they proclaim of thee, O well beloved, that thou art His Mother, and as such Queen over every domain where His power extends; and, therefore, emperors and kings shall crown thee with their crowns and consecrate their palaces to thee.'[10]

FIRST VESPERS

 

Among the feasts of the saints this is the solemnity of solemnities. 'Let the mind of man,’ says St. Peter Damian, ‘ be occupied in declaring her magnificence; let his speech reflect her majesty. May the sovereign of the world deign to accept the goodwill of our lips, to aid our insufficiency, to illumine with her own light the sublimity of this day.’[11]

It is no new thing, then, that Mary’s triumph fills the hearts of Christians with enthusiasm. Before our times the Church showed by the prescriptions kept in the Corpus juris the pre-eminence she assigned to this glorious anniversary. Thus, under Boniface VIII, she granted to it, as to no other feast, except Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost, the privilege of being celebrated with ringing of bells and the customary splendour in countries laid under interdict.[12]

In his instructions to the newly-converted Bulgarians, St. Nicholas I, who occupied the Apostolic See from 858 to 867, had already united these four solemnities when recommending the fasts of Lent, of the Ember days, and of the Vigils of these feasts—'Fasts,' he says, 'which the Holy Roman Church has long since received and observed.’[13]

We must refer to the preceding century the composition of the celebrated discourse which, until the time of St. Pius V, furnished the Lessons for the Matins of the feast; while its thoughts, and even its text, are still found in several parts of the Office.[14] The author, worthy of the greatest ages for style and science, but screening himself under a false name, began thus: ' You wish me, O Paula and Eustochium, to lay aside my usual form of treatises, and strive (a new thing to me) to celebrate in oratorical style the Assumption of the Blessed Mary ever Virgin.' And the supposed St. Jerome eloquently declared the grandeur of this feast: 'Incomparable as is she who thereon ascended glorious and happy to the sanctuary of heaven: a solemnity, the admiration of the heavenly hosts, the happiness of the citizens of our true country, who, not content with giving it one day as we do, celebrate it unceasingly in the eternal continuity of their veneration, of their love, and of their triumphant joy.’[15] Unfortunately a just aversion for the excesses of certain apocryphal writers led the author of this beautiful exposition of the greatness of Mary to hesitate in his belief as to the glorious privilege of her corporal Assumption. This over-discreet prudence was soon exaggerated in the martyrologies of Usuard and of Odo of Vienne.

That such a misconception of the ever-growing tradition should be found in Gaul is truly astonishing, since it was the ancient Gallican liturgy which gave to the West the explicit formula of that complete Assumption, the consequence of a divine and virginal maternity: ‘No pain in childbirth, no suffering in death, no dissolution in the grave, for no tomb could retain her whom earth had never sullied.’[16]

When the first Carlovingians abandoned the Gallican liturgy, they bowed to the authority of the false St. Jerome.[17] But the faith of the people could not be suppressed. In the thirteenth century the two princes of theology, St. Thomas and St. Bonaventure, subscribed to the general belief in our Lady’s anticipated resurrection. Soon this belief, by reason of its universality, claimed to be the doctrine of the Church herself. In 1497 the Sorbonne severely censured all contrary propositions.[18] In 1870 an earnest desire was expressed to have the doctrine defined; but the Vatican Council was unfortunately suspended too soon to complete our Lady’s glorious crown. Yet the proclamation of the Immaculate Conception, of which our times can boast, gives us hope for the future. The corporal Assumption of our Lady follows naturally from that dogma as its necessary result. Mary, having known nothing of original sin, contracted no debt with death, the punishment of that sin; she freely chose to die in order to be conformable to her Divine Son; and, as the Holy One of God, so the holy one of His Christ could not suffer the corruption of the tomb.

If certain ancient calendars give to this feast the title of Sleep or Repose, Dormitio or Pausatio, of the Blessed Virgin, we cannot thence conclude that at the time they were composed the feast had no other object than Mary’s holy death; the Greeks, from whom we have the expression, have always included in the solemnity the glorious triumph that followed her death. The same is to be said of the Syrians, Chaldeans, Copts, and Armenians.

Among the last named, according to the custom of arranging their feasts by the day of the week rather than the date of the month, the Assumption is fixed for the Sunday which occurs between August 12 and 18. It is preceded by a week of fasting, and gives its name to the series of Sundays following it, up to the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in September.

At Rome the Assumption or Dormitio of the holy Mother of God appears in the seventh century to have already been celebrated for an indefinite length of time;[19] nor does it seem to have had any other day than August 15. According to Nicephorus Callistus,[20] the same date was assigned to it for Constantinople by the Emperor Maurice at the end of the sixth century. The historian notes, at the same time, the origin of several other solemnities, while of the Dormitio alone, he does not say that it was established by Maurice on such a day; hence learned authors have concluded that the feast itself already existed before the imperial decree was issued, which was thus only intended to put an end to its being celebrated on various days.[21]

At that very time, far away from Byzantium, the Merovingian Franks celebrated the glorification of our Lady on January 18, with all the plenitude of doctrine we have mentioned above. However the choice of this day may be accounted for, it is remarkable that to this very time the Copts on the borders of the Nile announce in their synaxaria on the 21st of the month of Tobi, our January 28, the repose of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and the Assumption of her body into heaven; they, however, repeat the announcement on Mesori 16, or August 21, and on the 1st of this same month of Mesori they begin their Lent of the Mother of God, lasting a fortnight like that of the Greeks.[22]

Some authors think that the Assumption has been kept from apostolic times; but the silence of the primitive liturgical documents is not in favour of the opinion. The hesitation as to the date of its celebration, and the liberty so long allowed with regard to it, point rather to the spontaneous initiative of divers Churches, owing to some fact attracting attention to the mystery or throwing some light upon it. Of this nature we may reckon the account everywhere spread abroad about the year 451 in which Juvenal of Jerusalem related to the Empress St. Pulcheria and her husband Marcian the history of the tomb which was empty of its precious deposit, and which the apostles had prepared for our Lady at the foot of Mount Olivet. The following words of St. Andrew of Crete in the seventh century show how the new solemnity gained ground in consequence of such circumstances. The saint was born at Damascus, became a monk at Jerusalem, was afterwards deacon at Constantinople, and lastly bishop of the celebrated island from which he takes his name; no one then could speak for the East with better authority. 'The present solemnity,' he says, 'is full of mystery, having for its object to celebrate the day whereon the Mother of God fell asleep; this solemnity is too elevated for any discourse to reach; by some this mystery has not always been celebrated, but now all love and honour it. Silence long preceded speech, but now love divulges the secret. The gift of God must be manifested, not buried; we must show it forth, not as recently discovered, but as having recovered its splendour. Some of those who lived before us knew it but imperfectly: that is no reason for always keeping silence about it; it has not become altogether obscured; let us proclaim it and keep a feast. To-day let the inhabitants of heaven and of earth be united, let the joy of angels and men be one, let every tongue exult and sing Hail to the Mother of God.'[23]

Let us, too, do honour to the gift of God; let us be grateful to the Church for having given us this feast whereon to sing with the angels the glory of Mary.

The Psalms and Hymn of Vespers are the same as for the other feasts of our Lady. The Antiphons, Capitulum, and Versicle gracefully express the mystery of the day.

1. Ant. Assumpta est Maria in cœlum; gaudent angeli, laudantes benedicunt Dominum.

1. Ant. Mary is taken up into heaven; the angels rejoice, and praising bless the Lord.


Ps. Dixit Dominus, page 35


2. Ant. Maria Virgo assumpta est ad æthereum thalamum, in quo Rex regum stellato sedet solio.

2. Ant. The Virgin Mary is taken up into the heavenly dwelling, where the King of kings sit6 on His starry throne.


Ps. Laudate pueri, page 39


3. Ant. In odorem unguentorum tuorum currimus: adolescentulæ dilexerunt te nimis.

3. Ant. We run after Thee to the odour of Thy ointments: young maidens have loved Thee exceedingly.


Psalm 121

Lætatus sum in his quæ dicta sunt mihi: * In domum Domini ibimus.
Stantes erant pedes nostri: * in atriis tuis, Jerusalem.
Jerusalem quæ ædificatur ut civitas: * cujus participatio ejus in idipsum.
Illuc enim ascenderunt tribus, tribus Domini: * testimonium Israel ad confitendum Nomini Domini.
Quia illic sederunt sedes in judicio: * sedes super domum David.
Rogate quæ ad pacem sunt Jerusalem: * et abundantia diligentibus te.
Fiat pax in virtute tua: * et abundantia in turribus tuis.
Propter fratres meos et proximos meos: * loquebar pacem de te.
Propter domum Domini Dei nostri: * quæsivi bona tibi.
I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: We shall go into the house of the Lord.
Our feet were standing in thy courts, O Jerusalem! our heart loves and confides in thee, O Mary.
Mary is like to Jerusalem, that is built as a city, which is compact together.
For thither did the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord: the testimony of Israel, to praise the name of the Lord.
Because seats sat there in judgment: seats upon the house of David; and Mary is of a kingly race.
Pray ye, through Mary, for the things that are for the peace of Jerusalem: and may abundance be on them that love thee, O Church of our God.
The voice of Mary: let peace be in thy strength, O thou new Sion, and abundance in thy towers.
I, a daughter of Israel, for the sake of my brethren and of my neighbours, spoke peace of thee.
Because of the house of the Lord our God, I have sought good things for thee.

4. Ant. Benedicta filia tu a Domino: quia per te fructum vitæ communicavimus.

4. Ant. Daughter of Sion, thou art blessed of the Lord: for by thee we have partaken of the fruit of life.


Psalm 126

Nisi Dominus ædificaverit domum: * in vanum laboraverunt qui ædifìcant eam.
Nisi Dominus custodierit civitatem: * frustra vigilat qui custodit eam.
Vanum est vobis ante lucem surgere: * surgite postquam sederitis, qui manducatis pa nem doloris.

Cum dederit dilectis suis somnum: * ecce hæreditas Domini, filii, merces, fructus ventris.
Sicut sagittæ in manu potentis: * ita filii excussorum.
Beatus vir qui implevit desiderium suum ex ipsis: * non confundetur cum loquetur inimicis suis in porta.
Unless the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it.
Unless the Lord keep the city, he watcheth in vain that keepeth it.
It is vain for you to rise before light; rise ye after you have sitten, you that eat of the bread of sorrow.

When He shall give sleep to His beloved: behold the inheritance of the Lord are children: the reward, the fruit of the womb.
As arrows in the hand of the mighty, so the children of them that have been shaken.
Blessed is the man that hath filled his desire with them: he shall not be confounded when he shall speak to his enemies at the gate.

5. Ant. Pulchra es et decora, filia Jerusalem, terribilis ut castrorum acies ordinata.

5. Ant. Thou art beautiful and comely, O daughter of Jerusalem, terrible as an army set in array.


Psalm 147

Lauda, Jerusalem, Dominum: * lauda Deum tuum, Sion.
Quoniam confortavit seras portarum tuarum: * benedixit filiis tuis in te.
Qui posuit fines tuos pacem: * et adipe frumenti satiat te.
Qui emittit eloquium suum terræ: * velociter currit sermo ejus.
Qui dat nivem sicut lanam: * nebulam sicut cinerem spargit.
Mittit crystallum suam sicut buccellas: * ante faciem frigoris ejus quis sustinebit?
Emittet Verbum suum, et liquefaciet ea: * flabit Spiritus ejus, et fluent aquæ.
Qui annuntiat Verbum suum Jacob: * justitias, et judicia sua Israel.
Non fecit taliter omni nationi: * et judicia sua non manifestavit eis.
Praise the Lord, O Mary, thou true Jerusalem: O Mary, O Sion ever holy, praise thy God.
Because he hath strengthened against sin the bolts of thy gates: he hath blessed thy children within thee.
Who hath placed peace in thy borders, and filleth thee with the fat of corn, with Jesus, who is the Bread of life.
Who sendeth forth by thee His Word to the earth; His Word runneth swiftly.
Who giveth snow like wool; scattereth mists like ashes.
He sendeth His crystal like morsels: who shall stand before the face of His cold?
He shall send forth His Word by Mary, and shall melt them: His Spirit shall breathe, and the waters shall run.
Who declareth His Word to Jacob: His justices and His judgments to Israel.
He hath not done in like manner to every nation; and His judgments He hath not made manifest to them.

 


Capitulum
(Eccli. xxiv.).

In omnibus requiem quæsivi, et in hæreditate Domini morabor. Tunc præcepit, et dixit mihi Creator omnium: et qui creavit me, requievit in tabernaculo meo.
In all things I sought rest, and I shall abide in the inheritance of the Lord. Then the Creator of all things commanded and said to me: and He that made me rested in my tabernacle.

Hymn

Ave, Maris Stella,
Dei Mater alma,
Atque semper Virgo,
Felix cœli porta.

Sumens illud Ave
Gabrielis ore,
Funda nos in pace,
Mutans Evæ nomen.

Solve vincla reis,
Profer lumen cæcis,
Mala nostra pelle,
Bona cuncta posce.

Monstra te esse Matrem,
Sumat per te preces,
Qui, pro nobis natus,
Tulit esse tuus.

Virgo singularis,
Inter omnes mitis,
Nos culpis solutos,
Mites fac et castos.

Vitam præsta puram,
Iter para tutum,
Ut videntes Jesum,
Semper collætemur.

Sit laus Deo Patri,
Summo Christo decus,
Spiritui Sancto,
Tribus honor unus.

Amen.
Hail, Star of the Sea!
Blessed Mother of God,
yet ever a Virgin!
O happy gate of heaven!

Thou that didst receive
the Ave from Gabriel’s lips,
confirm us in peace,
and so let Eva be changed into an Ave of blessing for us.

Loose the sinner’s chains,
bring light to the blind,
drive from us our evils,
and ask all good things for us.

Show thyself a Mother,
and offer our prayers to Him
who would be born of thee
when born for us.

O incomparable Virgin
and meekest of the meek,
obtain us the forgiveness of our sins,
and make us meek and chaste.

Obtain us purity of life
and a safe pilgrimage;
that we may be united
with thee in the blissful vision of Jesus.

Praise be to God the Father,
and to the Lord Jesus,
and to the Holy Ghost:
to the Three one self-same praise.

Amen.

℣. Exaltata est sancta Dei Genitrix.
℟. Super choros angelorum ad cœlestia regna.
℣. The holy Mother of God has been exalted.
℟. Above the choirs of angels to the heavenly kingdom.

Antiphon of the Magnificat

Virgo prudentissima, quo progrederis, quasi aurora valde rutilans? Filia Sion, tota formosa et suavis es, pulchra ut luna, electa ut sol.
Virgin most prudent, whither goest thou, like to the rosy dawn? Daughter of Sion, all beautiful and sweet art thou, fair as the moon, chosen as the sun.

Prayer

Famulorum tuorum, quæsumus Domine, delictis ignosce: ut qui tibi piacere de actibus nostris non valemus, Genitricis Filii tui Domini nostri intercessione salvemur. Qui tecum.
Pardon, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the sins of Thy servants; that we, who are not able to please Thee by our deeds, may be saved by the intercession of the Mother of Thy Son. Who lives, etc.

'When the time came for the Blessed Mary to leave this earth, the apostles were gathered together from all lands; and, having learnt that the hour was at hand, they watched with her. Now the Lord Jesus came with His angels and received her soul. In the morning the apostles took up her body and placed it in the tomb. And again the Lord came, and the holy body was taken up in a cloud.'[24]

To this testimony of Gregory of Tours the whole West and East respond, extolling 'the solemnity of the blessed night whereon the venerated Virgin made her entry into heaven.'[25] ' What a brilliant light pierces the darkness' of this night, says St. John Damascene;[26] and he goes on to describe the assembly of the faithful, eagerly pressing during the sacred night to hear the praises of the Mother of God.[27]

How could Rome, so devout to Mary, allow herself to be outdone? On the testimony of St. Peter Damian, the whole people spent the glorious night in prayer, singing and visiting the different churches; and, according to several privileged persons enlightened from above, still greater, at that blessed hour, was the number of souls delivered from Purgatory by the Queen of the universe, and all visiting likewise the sanctuaries consecrated to her name.[28] But the most imposing of all demonstrations in the city was the memorable litany or procession, which dates back to the Pontificate of St. Sergius (687-701);[29] up to the second half of the sixteenth century it continued to express, as Rome alone knows how, the august visit our Lady received from her Son at the solemn moment of her departure from this world.

Two principal sanctuaries in the Eternal City represent, as it were, the residences or palaces of Mother and Son: the basilica of our Saviour on the Lateran and that of St. Mary on the Esquilme. As the latter rejoices in possessing the picture of the Blessed Virgin painted by St. Luke, the Lateran preserves in a special oratory, holy of holies, the picture not made by hand of man representing the form of our Saviour upon cedar-wood.[30] On the morning of the Vigil the Sovereign Pontiff, accompanied by the Cardinals, went barefoot, and, after seven genuflections, uncovered the picture of the Virgin’s Son. In the evening, while the bell of Ara cali gave from the Capitol the signal for the preparations prescribed by the city magistrates, the Lord Pope went to St. Mary Major, where, surrounded by his court, he celebrated First Vespers. At the beginning of the night the Matins with nine lessons were chanted in the same church.

Meanwhile an ever-growing crowd gathers on the piazza of the Lateran, awaiting the Pontiff's return. From all sides appear the various guilds of the arts and crafts, each led by its own head and taking up its appointed position. Around the picture of the Saviour, within the sanctuary, stand the twelve bearers who form its perpetual guard, all members of the most illustrious families, and near them are the representatives of the senate and of the Roman people.

But the signal is given that the papal retinue is redescending the Esquilme. Instantly lighted torches glitter on all sides, either held in the hand, or carried on the brancards of the corporations. Assisted by the deacons, the Cardinals raise on their shoulders the holy image, which advances under a canopy, escorted in perfect order by the immense multitude. Along the illuminated and decorated streets,[31] amid the singing of psalms and the sound of instruments, the procession reaches the ancient Triumphal Way, winds round the Coliseum, and, passing through the arches of Constantine and Titus, halts for a first Station on the Via Sacra, before the church called St. Mary Minor or Nnova.[32] In this church, while the second Matins with three lessons are being chanted in honour of the Mother, some priests wash, with scented water in a silver basin, the feet of her Son, our Lord, and then sprinkle the people with the water thus sanctified. Then the venerable picture sets out once more, crosses the Forum amidst acclamations, and reaches the church of St. Adrian; thence returning to mount the slopes of the Esquiline by the streets where lie the churches of that part—St. Peterad-Vincula, St. Lucy, St. Martin-on-the-hill, St. Praxedes—it at last enters the piazza of St. Mary Major. Then the delight and the applause of the crowd are redoubled; all, men and women, great and little, as we read in a document of 1462,[33] forgetting the fatigue of a whole night spent without sleep, cease not till morning to visit and venerate our Lord and Mary. In this glorious basilica, adorned as a bride, the glorious Office of Lauds celebrates the meeting of the Son and the Mother and their union for all eternity.

Striking miracles often showed the divine pleasure in this manifestation of the people's faith and love. Peter the Venerable[34]and other reliable witnesses[35] mention the prodigy, annually renewed, of the torches burning throughout the whole night, and being found on the morrow to be of the same weight as on the eve. In the year 847, as the procession headed by St. Leo IV passed by the Church of St. Lucy, a monstrous serpent, which had lived in a cavern hard by to the continual terror of the inhabitants, took to flight and was never seen again. In gratitude for this deliverance an octave was added to the feast.[36] Four centuries later, in the pontificate of the heroic Gregory IX, when the sacred cortège stopped according to custom before the church of St. Mary Nuova, the partisans of the excommunicated Frederick II, occupying the tower of the Frangipani not far off, began to cry out: 'Here is the Saviour, let the Emperor come!' when suddenly the tower fell to the ground, crushing them under its ruins.[37]

But let us return to the great basilica where other recollections invite us. On another night we joyfully celebrated within its walls the birth of our Emmanuel. How ineffable are the divine harmonies! At the same hour, when for the first time Mary had pressed to her heart the Infant God in the stable, she herself now awakes in the arms of her Well-Beloved at the very height of heaven. The Church, who reads during this month the Books of Divine Wisdom, did well to select for to-night the Canticle of Canticles.

The Bishop of Meaux thus describes this death: ‘The Most Holy Virgin gave up her soul without pain and without violence into the hands of her Son. It was not necessary for her love to exert itself by any extraordinary emotions. As the slightest shock causes the fully ripe fruit to drop down from the tree, so was this blessed soul culled, to be suddenly transported to heaven; thus the holy Virgin died by a movement of divine love: her soul was carried to heaven on a cloud of sacred desires. Therefore the holy angels said: Who is she that goeth up ... as a pillar of smoke of aromatical spices, of myrrh, and frankincense?[38]—a beautiful and excellent comparison admirably explaining the manner of her happy, tranquil death. The fragrant smoke that we see rising up from a composition of perfumes is not extracted by force nor propelled by violence: a gentle, tempered heat delicately detaches it and turns it into a subtle vapour which rises of its own accord. Thus was the soul of the holy Virgin separated from her body: the foundations were not shaken by a violent concussion; a divine heat detached it gently from the body and raised it up to its Beloved.[39]

For a few hours that sacred body remained in our world, 'the treasure of the earth, soon to become the wonder of the heavens.'[40] Who could tell the sentiments of the august persons gathered by our Lord around His Mother, to render her in His name the last duties? An illustrious witness, Denis of Athens, reminded Timothy, who had been there present with him, of the discourses which, coming from hearts filled with the Holy Ghost, rose up as so many hymns to the Almighty Goodness, whereby our littleness had been divinized. There was James, the brother of the Lord, and Peter, the leader of the choir, and the Pontiffs of the Sacred College, and all the brethren who had come to contemplate the body which had given us life and had borne God; above them all, after the apostles, did Hierotheus distinguish himself; for being ravished far from earth and from himself, he seemed to all like a divine cantor.[41]

But this assembly of men, in whom reigned the light of God, understood that they must carry out to the end the desires of her who even in death was still the humblest of creatures. Carried by the apostles, escorted by the angels of heaven and the saints of earth, the virginal body was borne from Sion to the valley of Gethsemani, where so often since that bleeding Agony our Lady had returned either in body or in heart. For a last time ' Peter, joining his venerable hands, gazed attentively at the almost divine features of the Mother of our Saviour; his glance, full of faith, sought to discover through the shades of death some rays of the glory wherewith the Queen of heaven was already shining’[42] John, her adopted son, cast one long, last, sorrowful look upon the Virgin's countenance, so calm and so sweet. The tomb was closed; earth was deprived for ever of the sight of which it was unworthy.

More fortunate than men, the angels, whose gaze could penetrate the marble monument, watched beside the tomb. They continued their songs until, after three days, the most holy soul of the Mother of God came down to take up her sacred body; then leaving the grave, they accompanied her to heaven. Let us too, then, have our hearts on high! Let us to-day forget our exile to rejoice in Mary’s triumph; and let us learn to follow her by the odour of her sweet perfumes.

Let us make our own this ancient formula which was said at Rome over the assembled people, when about to start on the solemn litany we have described above.

Prayer

Veneranda nobis, Domine, hujus est diei festivitas, in qua sancta Dei Genitrix mortem subiit temporalem; nec tamen mortis nexibus deprimi potuit, quæ Filium tuum Dominum nostrum de se genuit incarnatum. Qui tecum.
It behoves us to honour, O Lord, the solemnity of this day, whereon the holy Mother of God suffered temporal death; yet she could not be held by the bonds of death, who of her own flesh brought forth our Lord, Thy Son, incarnate. Who liveth and reigneth with Thee.

MASS

 

Who is this King of glory? asked the keepers of the eternal gates on the day of Emmanuel’s triumphant Ascension. Their question is twice repeated in the Psalm,[43] and a third time in Isaias, who cries out in the name of the heavenly citizens: Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bosra, this beautiful one in His robe, walking in the greatness of His strength?[44] In like manner do the angelic princes thrice express their admiration of the Virgin Mother. It is the sacred Canticle that tells us so. Who is she that cometh forth as the morning rising?[45] This first question, as St. Peter Damian says, refers to Mary’s birth, which put an end to the night of sin.

Who is she that goeth up by the desert, as a pillar of smoke of aromatical spices?[46] This is the expression of the angel’s astonishment at the Virgin’s incomparable life, with its uninterrupted progress in all the virtues, like the sweet smoke rising from the incense.

Who is this that cometh up from the desert, flowing with delights, leaning upon her beloved?[47] Such, in the sight of the angels, was Mary rising from her tomb.

She had fulfilled her mission, accomplished the prophecy, crushed the head of the serpent. The blessed spirits who accompanied her cried out to the guardians of the heavenly ramparts, in the words of the triumphant Psalm: 'Open your gates!’ So Judith, a type of Mary returning victorious, had cried: Open the gates, for God is with us, who hath shown His power in Israel.[48] The eternal gates were lifted up, and all the inhabitants of heaven, from the least to the greatest, went forth to meet the second Judith coming up from earth’s lowly valley; and they rejoiced with far greater exultation than did Israel when David brought the figurative ark into the holy city.

Let us echo heaven's joy, and with our solemn Introit as a triumphal march, usher Mary into the true Jerusalem. The verse is taken from the forty-fourth Psalm, the Epithalantium, thus linking the chants of the holy Sacrifice with last night's lessons from the sacred Canticle.

Introit

Gaudeamus omnes in Domino, diem festum celebrantes sub honore beatæ Mariæ Virginis: de cujus assumptione gaudent angeli, et collaudant Filium Dei.

Ps. Eructavit cor meum verbum bonum: dico ego opera mea Regi. ℣.Gloria Patri. Gaudeamus.
Let us all rejoice in the Lord, celebrating a festival day in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for whose Assumption the angels rejoice and give praise to the Son of God.

Ps. My heart hath uttered a good word: I speak my works to the King. ℣. Glory, etc. Let us all.

The following prayer asks for pardon and salvation through the intercession of the Mother of God. Its apparent want of harmony with the mystery of the feast might surprise us, did we not remember that it is only the second Collect for the day, in the Sacramentary; the first, which we have given above, said over the faithful at the beginning of the assembly, expressly declares that Mary could not be held by the bonds of death.

Collect

Famulorum tuorum, quæsumus Domine, delictis ignosce; ut, qui tibi piacere de actibus nostris non valemus, Genitricis Filii tui Domini nostri intercessione salvemur. Qui tecum.
Pardon, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the sins of Thy servants; that we, who are not able to please Thee by our deeds, may be saved by the intercession of the Mother of Thy Son. Who liveth, etc.

Epistle

Lectio libri Sapientiæ.

Eccli. xxiv.

In omnibus requiem quæsivi, et in hæreditate Domini morabor. Tunc præcepit, et dixit mihi Creator omnium: et qui creavit me, requievit in tabernaculo meo, et dixit mihi: In Jacob inhabita, et in Israel hæreditare, et in electis meis mitte radices. Et sic in Sion firmata sum, et in civitate sanctificata similiter requievi, et in Jerusalem potestas mea. Et radicavi in populo honorificato, et in parte Dei me! hæreditas illius, et in plenitudine sanctorum detentio mea. Quasi cedrus exaitata sum in Libano, et quasi cypressus in monte Sion. Quasi palma exaltata sum in Cades, et quasi plantatio rosæ in Jericho. Quasi oliva speciosa in campis, et quasi platanus exaitata sum juxta aquam in plateis. Sicut cinnamomum, et balsamum aromatizans odorem dedi: quasi myrrha electa dedi suavitatem odoris.
Lesson from the Book of Wisdom.

Eccli. xxiv.

In all things I sought rest, and I shall abide in the inheritance of the Lord. Then the Creator of all things commanded, and said to me; and He that made me rested in my tabernacle. And He said to me: Let thy dwelling be in Jacob, and thy inheritance in Israel, and take root in My elect. And so was I established in Sion, and in the Holy City likewise I rested, and my power was in Jerusalem: and I took root in an honourable people, and in the portion of my God His inheritance, and my abode is in the full assembly of saints. I was exalted like a cedar in Libanus, and as a cypress-tree on Mount Sion: I was exalted like a palm-tree in Cades, and as a rose-plant in Jericho: as a fair olive-tree in the plains, and as a planetree by the water in the streets was I exalted. I gave a sweet smell like cinnamon and aromatic balm: I yielded a sweet odour like the best myrrh.

The Epistle we have just read is closely connected with the Gospel that is to follow. The rest that Mary sought is the better part, the repose of the soul in the presence of the King of Peace; and when a soul is thus full of peace, she forms the choicest part of her Lord’s inheritance. No creature has attained so nearly as our Lady to the eternal, unchangeable peace of the evertranquil Trinity; hence no other has merited to become, in the same degree, the resting-place of God.

A soul occupied by active works cannot attain the perfection or the fruitfulness of one in whom our Lord takes His rest, because she is at rest in Him; for this is the nuptial rest. As the Psalm says: ‘ When the Lord shall give sleep to His beloved, then shall their fruit be seen.’

Let us, then, who became Mary's children on the day the Lord first rested in her tabernacle, understand these magnificent expressions of eternal Wisdom; for they reveal to us the glory of her triumph. The branch that sprang from the stock of Jesse bears the divine Flower on which rests the fulness of the Holy Ghost; but it has taken root also in the elect, into whose branches it passes the heavenly sap which transforms them and divinizes their fruit. These fruits of Jacob and of Israel—i.e., the works of the ordinary Christian life or of the life of perfection—belong therefore to our Blessed Mother. Rightly, then, does Mary enter to-day upon her unending rest in the eternal Sion—the true holy city and glorified people—the Lord’s inheritance. Her power will be established in Jerusalem, and the saints will for ever acknowledge that they owe to her the fulness of their perfection.

But the plenitude of Mary’s personal merits far surpasses that of all the saints together. As the cedar of Libanus towers above the flowers of the field, far more does our Lady’s sanctity, next to that of her divine Son, surpass the sanctity of every other creature. The Angelic Doctor says: 'The trees to which the Blessed Virgin is compared in this Epistle may be taken to represent the different orders of the blessed. This passage therefore means that Mary has been exalted above the angels, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, confessors, virgins, and all the saints, because she possesses all their merits united in her single person.’[49]

The Gradual is taken, as was the verse of the Introit, from the 44th Psalm. In it we sing those perfections of the Bride that have caused the King of kings to call her to Himself. The Alleluia verse tells us how the angelic army hailed the entrance of its Queen.

Gradual

Propter veritatem, et mansuetudinem, et justitiam, et deducet te mirabiliter dextera tua.
℣. Audi filia, et vide, et inclina aurem tuam: quia concupivit Rex speciem tuam.
Alleluia, alleluia.
℣. Assumpta est Maria in cœlum, gaudet exercitus Angelorum. Alleluia.
Because of truth, and meekness, and justice, and thy right hand shall conduct thee wonderfully.
℣. Hearken, O daughter, and see, and incline thy ear: for the King hath greatly desired thy beauty.
Alleluia, alleluia.
℣. Mary is assumed into, heaven: the host of angels rejoiceth. Alleluia.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam.

Cap. x.

In illo tempore; Intravit Jesus in quoddam castellum: et mulier quædam Martha nomine excepit illum in domum suam, et huic erat soror nomine Maria, quæ etiam sedens secus pedes Domini audiebat verbum illius. Martha autem satagebat circa frequens ministerium: quæ stetit, et ait: Domine, non est tibi curæ quod soror mea reliquit me solam ministrare? die ergo illi ut me adjuvet. Et respondens dixit illi Dominus: Martha, Martha, sollicita es, et turbaris erga plurima. Porro unum est necessarium. Maria optimam partem elegit, quæ non auferetur ab ea.
Sequel of the Holy Gospel according to Luke. 

Ch.x.

At that time, Jesus entered into a certain town; and a certain woman named Martha received Him into her house: and she had a sister called Mary, who, sitting also at the Lord’s feet, heard His word. But Martha was busy about much serving: who stood and said, Lord, hast Thou no care that my sister hath left me alone to serve? Speak to her therefore, that she help me. And the Lord answering said to her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and art troubled about many things: but one thing is necessary. Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her.

To this Gospel the Roman Liturgy[50] formerly added, as the Greek and the Mozarabic still add, the following verses from another chapter of St. Luke: As He spoke these things a certain woman from the crowd lifting up her voice said to Him: Blessed is the womb that bore Thee, and the paps that gave Thee suck. But He said: Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God, and keep it.[51]

The words thus added turned the people’s thoughts towards our Lady; still the episode of Martha and Mary in the Gospel of the day remained unexplained. We will use the words of St. Bruno of Asti to express the reason tradition gives for the choice of this Gospel. 'These two women,’ he says, ' are the leaders of the army of the Church, and all the faithful follow them. Some walk in Martha's footsteps, others in Mary's; but no one can reach our heavenly fatherland unless he follows one or the other. Rightly, then, have our fathers ordained that this Gospel should be read on the principal feast of our Lady, for she is signified by these two sisters. For no other creature combined the privileges of both lives, active and contemplative, as did the Blessed Virgin. Like Martha she received Christ—yea, she did more than Martha, for she received Him not only into her house, but into her womb. She conceived Him, gave Him birth, carried Him in her arms, and ministered to Him more frequently than did Martha. On the other hand, she listened, like Mary, to His words, and kept them for our sake, pondering them in her heart. She contemplated His humanity, and penetrated more deeply than all others into His Divinity. She chose the better part, which shall not be taken away from her.’[52]

‘He,’ continues St. Bernard, ' whom she received at His entrance into this poor world, receives her to-day at the gate of the Holy City. No spot on earth so worthy of the Son of God as the Virgin’s womb: no throne in heaven so lofty as that whereon the Son of Mary places her in return. What a reception each gave to the other! It is beyond the power of expression, because beyond the reach of our thought. Who shall declare the generation of the Son and the Assumption of the Mother?’[53]

In honour of both Mother and Son, let us put this lesson of the Gospel into practice in our lives. When our soul is troubled, like Martha, or distracted with many anxieties, let us always remember, as Mary did, that there is but one thing necessary. Our Lord alone, either in Himself or in His members, should be the one object of our thoughts.

Every human thing is of more or less importance in proportion to its relation to God's glory; we should value everything in this proportion, and then the grace of God which surpasseth all understanding will keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

To-day the Church on earth, represented by Martha, complains that she has been left alone to struggle and labour; but our Lord defends Mary, and confirms her in her choice of the better part. The angels are keeping a great feast in heaven; the offertory once more tells of their joy.

Offertory

Assumpta est Maria in cœlum: gaudent angeli, collaudantes benedicunt Dominum. Alleluia.
Mary is assumed into heaven, the angels rejoice; praising together they bless the Lord. Alleluia.

We must not allow anything like regret or envy to cast a shadow over our hearts. Mary has finished her pilgrimage and left our earth; but now that she has entered into her glory, she still prays for us. So says the Secret.

Secret

Subveniat, Domine, plebi tuæ Dei Genitricis oratio: quam etsi pro conditione carnis migrasse cognoscimus, in cœlesti gloria apud te pro nobis intercedere sentiamus. Per eumdem.
May the prayer of the Mother of God assist Thy people, O Lord; though we know her to have passed out of this world, may we experience her intercession for us with Thee in the glory of heaven. Through the same Lord, etc.

Preface

Vere dignum et justum est, æquum et salutare, nos tibi semper et ubique gratias agere: Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, æterne Deus: Et te in Assumptione beatæ Mariæ semper Virginis collaudare, benedicere et prædicare. Quæ et Unigenitum tuum Sancti Spiritus obumbratione concepit, et virginitatis gloria permanente, lumen æternum mundo effudit, Jesum Christum Dominum nostrum. Per quem majestatem tuam laudant Angeli, adorant Dominationes, tremunt Potestates; Cœli cœlorumque Virtutes, ac beata Seraphim, socia exsultatione concelebrant. Cum quibus et nostras voces ut admitti jubeas deprecamur, supplici confessione 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, Father Almighty, eternal God: and that we should praise, bless and glorify Thee on the Assumption of the blessed Mary ever a Virgin, who by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost conceived Thy only begotten Son, and the glory of her Virginity still remaining, brought forth to the world the Eternal Light, Jesus Christ our Lord. By whom the angels praise Thy majesty, the Dominations adore it, the Powers tremble before it; the heavens and the heavenly Virtues, and the blessed Seraphim with common jubilee glorify it. Together with whom we beseech Thee that we may be admitted to join our humble voices, saying: Holy! Holy! Holy!

If you loved Me, said our Lord to His disciples when about to leave them, you would indeed be glad because I go to the Father. Let us who love our Lady be glad because she goes to her Son, and as we sing in the Communion anthem, the better part is hers for ever.

Communion

Optimam partem elegit sibi Maria: quæ non auferetur ab ea in æternum.
Mary hath chosen for herself the best part: which shall not be taken from her for ever.

The sacred Bread, for which we are indebted to Mary, remains always with us. May it, through her intercession, preserve us from all evils!

Postcommunion

Mensæ cœlestis participes effecti, imploramus clementiam tuam, Domine Deus noster; ut, qui Assumptionem Dei Genitricis colimus, a cunctis malis imminentibus, ejus intercessione liberemur. Per eumdem.
Having been made partakers of a heavenly banquet, we implore Thy mercy, O Lord our God: that we who celebrate the Assumption of the Mother of God, may by her intercession be delivered from all threatening evils. Through the same Lord, etc.

SECOND VESPERS

 


The antiphons, psalms, capitulum, hymn, and versicle are the same as at First Vespers, page 360.


Antiphon of the Magnificat

Hodie Maria Virgo cœlos ascenditi gaudete, quia cum Christo regnat in æternum.
This day the Virgin Mary went up to heaven: rejoice that she reigneth for ever with Christ.

In all the churches of France there takes place to-day the solemn procession which was instituted in memory of the vow whereby Louis XIII dedicated the most Christian Kingdom to the Blessed Virgin.

By letters given at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, February 10, 1638, the pious king consecrated to Mary his person, his kingdom, his crown, and his people. Then he continued: ‘We command the Archbishop of Paris to make a commemoration every year, on the Feast of the Assumption, of this decree at the High Mass in his cathedral; and after Vespers on the said day let there be a procession in the said church, at which the royal associations and the corporation shall assist, with the same ceremonies as in the most solemn processions. We wish the same to be done also in all churches, whether parochial or monastic, in the said town and its suburbs, and in all the towns, hamlets, and villages of the said diocese of Paris. Moreover, we exhort and command all the archbishops and bishops of our kingdom to have Mass solemnly celebrated in their cathedrals and in all churches in their dioceses; and we wish the Parliaments and other royal associations and the principal municipal officers to be present at the ceremony. We exhort the said archbishops and bishops to admonish all our people to have a special devotion to the holy Virgin, and on this day to implore her protection, so that our Kingdom may be guarded by so powerful a patroness from all attacks of its enemies, and may enjoy good and lasting peace; and that God may be so well served and honoured therein, that both we and our subjects may be enabled happily to attain the end for which we were created; for such is our pleasure!’

Thus was France again proclaimed Mary’s kingdom. Within a month after the first celebration of the feast, according to the royal prescriptions, the Queen, after twenty years’ barrenness, gave birth on September 5, 1638, to Louis XIV. This prince also consecrated his crown and sceptre to Mary. The Assumption, then, will always be the national feast of France, except for those of her sons who celebrate the anniversaries of revolutions and assassinations.

The following are the special prayers said every year, until the fall of the monarchy, in fulfilment of the vow of Louis XIII. We give the original text of the Collect:

Antiphon

Sub tuum præsidium confugimus, sancta Dei Genitrix: nostras deprecationes ne despicias in necessitatibus; sed a periculis cunctis libera nos semper, Virgo gloriosa et benedicta.

℣. Deus judicium tuum regi da, et justitiam tuam filio regis.
℟. Judicare populum tuum in justitia, et pauperes tuos in judicio.
We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God! despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us from all dangers, O ever glorious and Blessed Virgin.

℣. Give to the king Thy judgment, O God; and to the . king’s son Thy justice.
℟. To judge Thy people with justice: and Thy poor with judgment.

Prayer

Deus, regum et regnorum rex, moderator et custos, qui Unigenitum Filium tuum, Beatissimæ Virginis Mariæ filium, et ei subjectum esse voluisti, famuli tui christianissimi Francorum regis, fidelis populi et totius regni sui vota, secundo favore prosequere, et qui ejusdem se Virginis imperio mancipant, et ipsius servituti devota sponsione consecrant, perennis in vita tranquillitatis ac pacis et æternæ libertatis in cœlo præmia consequantur. Per eumdem.
O God of kings and of kingdoms, the King and Guide and Protector, who didst will Thy only begotten Son to be the Son of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and to be subject to her; graciously regard the prayers of Thy servant the most Christian king of the Franks, of his faithful people, and of all his kingdom. They have put themselves under the rule of that Blessed Virgin and consecrated themselves by vow to her service. May they obtain in reward perpetual tranquillity and peace in this life and everlasting liberty in heaven.

We must not forget that Hungary was similarly consecrated to the holy Mother of God by its first king, St. Stephen. From that time the Hungarians called the Feast of the Assumption the ' Day of the great Queen,' Dies magnœ Dominœ. Our Lady recompensed the piety of the apostolic king by calling him, on August 15, 1038, to exchange his earthly for a heavenly crown; we shall find his feast in the cycle on September 2.

In the sixteenth century the Lutherans in several places continued to celebrate the Assumption of our Lady, even after they had apostatized, because the people would not give up the feast. Many of the churches of Germany, as we learn from their breviaries and missals, were accustomed to celebrate Mary's triumph for thirty days by canticles and assemblies.

Let us offer to Mary a garland of liturgical pieces on this day of her triumph. We could find nothing better to commence with than these beautiful and fragrant flowers produced by Gaul in early times. They are taken from the Mass of January 16, in which our forefathers celebrated both the Maternity and the triumph of our Lady.

Missa In Adsumptione S. M. M. D. N.

Generosæ diei Dominicæ Genitricis inexplicabile Sacramentum, tanto magis præconabile, quantum est inter homines Assumptione Virginis singuiare. Apud quem vita integritas obtinuit Filium; et mors non invenit par exemplum. Nec minus ingerens stuporem de transitu, quam exultatione ferens unico beata de partu. Non solum mirabilis pignore, quod fide concepit; sed translatione prædicabilis, qua migravit. Speciali tripudio, affectu multimodo, fideli voto, fratres dilectissimi, corde deprecemur attento: ut ejus adjuti muniamur suffragio; quæ fœcunda Virgo, beata de partu, clara de merito, felix pradicatur abscessu: obsecrantes misericordiam Redemptoris nostri: ut circumstantem plebem illuc dignetur introducere; quo Beatam Matrem Mariam, famulantibus Apostolis, transtulit ad honorem. Quod ipse præstare dignetur qui cum Patre et Spiritu Sancto vivit et regnatDeus in sæcula.
Ineffable is the mystery of this glorious day sacred to the Mother of our Lord; yet it is meet that we praise it exceedingly, for it has been made singularly honourable by the Assumption of the Virgin. In this mystery we see virginity bearing a Son, and a death that never found its like. Her passing away was no less wonderful than her child-bearing had been joyful. Admirable in conceiving her Son by her faith, she was admirable also in her passage to God. With special joy and increased love, with faithful prayer and attentive heart, let us, beloved brethren, call upon Mary: that we may be aided and protected by her intercession, while we proclaim her a fruitful Virgin and a happy Mother, glorious in merits, and blessed in her death. Let us beseech our merciful Redeemer to deign to lead the people here present to the heaven whereunto He gloriously assumed His blessed Mother Mary, while the Apostles stood around her. May He deign to grant us this grace who with the Father and the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth God for ever and ever.

Collectio Post Nomina

Habitatorem Virginalis hospitii, Sponsum beati thalami, Dominum tabernaculi, Regem Templi, qui eam innocentiam contulit Genitrici, qua dignaretur incarnata Deitas generari: quæ nihil sæculi conscia, tantum precibus mens attenta, tenuit puritatem in moribus, quam perceperat Angeli benedictione, visceribus: nec per Assumptionem de morte sensit inluviem: quæ vitæ portavit Auctorem: fratres karissimi, fusis precibus Dominum imploremus: ut ejus indulgentia illuc defuncti liberentur a tartaro; quo BeatæVirginis translatum corpus est de sepulchro. Quod ipse præstare dignetur qui in Trinitate perfecta vivit.
Let us beseech the divine Guest of the Virgin’s womb, the Spouse of the sacred nuptial chamber, the Lord of the Tabernacle, the King of the Temple, who bestowed such innocence upon His Mother that His Deity deigned to take flesh and be born of her. She knew nothing of the world; and with her mind fixed upon prayer, she showed forth in her manners that purity which she had conceived at the angel’s greeting; and by her Assumption she was preserved from the corruption of death, she who had borne the Author of life. Yea, dearly beloved brethren, let us earnestly beseech our Lord, that in His mercy He would save the souls of the dead from hell and bring them to that place whither the body of the Blessed Virgin was translated. May He deign to hear our prayer who liveth in perfect Trinity.

Contestatio

Dignum et justum est, omnipotens Deus, nos tibi magnas merito gratias agere, tempore celeberrimo, die præ cæteris honorando. Quo fidelis Israhel egressus est de Ægypto. Quo Virgo Dei Genitrix de mundo migravit ad Christum. Quæ nec de corruptione suscepit contagium; nec resolutionem pertulit in sepulchro, pollutione libera, germine gloriosa, assumptione secura, Paradiso dote prælata, nesciens damna de coitu, sumens vota defructu, non subdita dolori per partum, non labori per transitum, nec vita voluntate, nec funus solvitur vi naturæ. Speciosus thalamus, de quo dignus prodit Sponsus, lux gentium, spes fidelium, prædo dæmonum, confusio Judæorum: vasculum vitæ; tabernaculum gloriæ, templum cœleste: cujus juvenculæ melius prædicantur merita; cum veteris Evæ conferuntur exempla.

Siquidem ista mundo vitam protulit; illa legem mortis invexit. Illa prævaricando, nos perdidit; ista generando, salvavit. Illa nos pomo arboris in ipsa radice percussit; ex hujus virga flos exiit, qui nos odore reficeret, fruge curaret. Illa maledictione in dolore gebnerat: ista benedictionem in salute confirmat. Illius perfidia serpenti consensit, conjugem decepit, prolem damnavit; hujus obedientia Patrem conciliavit, Filium meruit, posteritatem absolvit. Illa amaritudinem pomi suco propinat; ista perennem dulcedinem Nati fonte desudat. Illa acerbo gustu natorum dentes deterruit; hæc suavissimi panis blandimenti cibo formavit: cui nullus deperet, nisi qui de hoc pane saturare fauce fastidit. Sed jam veteres gemitus in gaudia nova vertamus.

Ad te ergo revertimur Virgo fœta, Mater intacta, nesciens virum, puerpera, honorata per Filium non polluta. Felix, per quam nobis inspirata gaudia successerunt. Cujus sicut gratulati sumus ortu, tripudiavimus partu; ita glorificamur in transitum. Parum fortasse fuerat si te Christus solo sanctificasset introitu; nisi etiam talem Matrem adornasset egressu. Recte ab ipso suscepta es in Assumptione feliciter; quem pie suscepisti conceptura per fidem: ut quæ terræ non eras conscia, non teneret rupes inclusa.

Vere diversis insolis anima redempta: cui Apostoli sacrum reddunt obsequium, angeli cantum, Christus amplexum, nubis vehiculum, Assumptio Paradisum, inter choros Virginum gloria principatum. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Cui Angeli atque Archangeli.
It is right and just, O Almighty God, that we duly give Thee great thanks at this glorious season, on this most venerable day, whereon the faithful Israel came forth from Egypt; whereon the Virgin Mother of God passed from this world to Christ. She knew no corruption in life, no dissolution in the tomb; for she was free from all stain of sin, glorious by her divine Offspring; and being set free by her Assumption, she was made Queen of Paradise for her dower. Ever a spotless Virgin, she was filled with joy by the fruit of her womb. She knew no pain in childbirth, no sorrow in death. Her life and her death were above the laws of nature. She was the loveliest of bridal chambers whence came forth the noblest of bridegrooms, He who is the light of the nations, the hope of the faithful, the spoiler of the demons, and the shame of the Jews. She was a vessel of Ught, a tabernacle of glory, a heavenly temple. Now, the better to proclaim the merits of this Virgin, let us compare her life with that of the first Eve.

Mary brought forth life for the world, and Eve brought upon it the law of death. She by her sin ruined us, Mary by her divine Child saved us. Eve poisoned our very root by the fruit of the tree; Mary is the branch whence springs the flower that refreshed us with its fragrance and healed us by its fruit. Under the curse Eve brings forth her children in sorrow, Mary gives us blessing and salvation. Faithless Eve yielded to the serpent, deceived her husband, and ruined her children; Mary by her obedience appeased the Father's wrath, merited to have God for her Son, and saved her posterity. Eve gave us to drink the juice of a bitter fruit, Mary pours upon us unending sweetness from its fountain-head, her Son. Eve's bitter apple set her children's teeth on edge, our Lady has made us the sweetest bread for our food; near her none can perish unless he disdain to feast upon this bread. But let us turn from mourning past evils to our present joy

To thee, then, we return, O fruitful Virgin, spotless Mother, Maiden not knowing man, ennobled not polluted by thy Son. O happy one! the joy thou didst conceive thou hast transmitted to us. We were glad at thy birth, we exulted at thy pure delivery, and in like manner we glory in thy passing. It were a small thing that Christ sanctified thee at thine entrance into the world, had he not also honoured thee, O worthy Mother, at thy departure hence. Justly then did thy Son joyfully receive thee in thy Assumption, for thou didst lovingly receive Him when thou didst conceive Him by faith. Thou knewest nought of earth's bonds, how could that rocky tomb hold thee prisoner?

O soul redeemed amidst unwonted marvels! The Apostles pay thee the last sacred duties; the angels sing thy praises; Christ welcomes thee with His embrace; a cloud is thy chariot; thou art assumed into Paradise, there to reign in glory as Queen of the choirs of Virgins. Through Christ our Lord, to whom the angels and archangels, etc.

 

 


In the Ambrosian Liturgy the preface for the Mass of the Vigil is composed of the very same words as the Roman Collect said in the great procession described above. We will borrow the two following antiphons from the Mass of the day:

Confractorium

Lætare Virgo, Mater Christi, stans a dextris ejus in vestitu deaurato, circumamicta jucunditate.
Rejoice, O Virgin, Mother of Christ, standing at His right hand in a vesture of gold, surrounded with delights.

Transitorium

Magnificamus te, Dei Genitrix; quia ex te natus est Christus, salvans omnes, qui te glorificant. Sancta Domina, Dei Genitrix, sanctificationes tuas transmitte nobis.
We extol thee, O Mother of God; for from thee was born Christ, saving all who glorify thee. O holy Lady, Mother of God, give unto us thy sanctifying graces.

The Mozarabic Liturgy gives us these pieces from the Vespers of the feast:

Lauda

Virgo Israel, ornare tympanis tuis.
℟. Et egredere in choro psallentium.

℣. Beata es Regina, quæ prospicis quasi lumen.
℟. Et egredere.

Dominus sit semper vobiscum.
℟. Et cum spiritu tuo.
O Virgin of Israel, be ready with thy timbrels.
℟. And go forth with a choir of singers.

℣. Blessed art thou, O Queen, who risest as the light.
℟. And go forth.

May the Lord be ever with you.
℟. And with thy spirit.

Sono

Dominus Deus cœli benedicat tibi: honor regni David in manu tua.
℟. Et adorabunt coram te filii multarum gentium. Alleluia.

℣. Audi, filia Sion, quia exaitata es, et facies tua fulget in tempio Dei: Sol justitiæ ingressu tuo orietur.
℟. Et adorabunt.

Dominus sit.
℟. Et cum.
May the Lord God of heaven bless thee: the honour of David’s kingdom is in thy hands.
℟. And the sons of many nations shall adore before thee. Alleluia.

℣. Hearken, O daughter of Sion, for thou art exalted, and thy countenance shineth in the temple of God: the Sun of Justice riseth up at thine entrance.
℟. And the sons.

May the Lord.
℟. And with.

Antiphona

Benedicta tu Deo altissimo, præ omnibus mulieribus.
Propter hoc non discedet iaus tua ab ore hominum usque in sæculum.

℣. Non det in commotionem pedem tuum: neque dormiet qui custodit te.
℟. Propter.

℣. Gloria et honor Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
℟. Propter.

Dominus sit.
℟. Et cum.
Blessed art thou by the Most High God above all women.
℟. Wherefore thy praise shall not depart out of the mouth of men for ever.

℣. He shall not suffer thy foot to be moved, neither shall He slumber that keepeth thee.
℟. Wherefore.

℣. Glory and honour be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.
℟. Wherefore.

May the Lord.
℟. And with.

Lauda

Rami mei rami honoris et gratiæ. Alleluia.
℟. Ego quasi vitis fructificavi suavitatem odoris. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

℣. Ego autem, sicut oliva fructifera in domo Domini, sperabo in misericordia Dei mei in æternum, et in sæculum sæculi.
℟. Ego quasi.

℣. Gloria et honor Patri.
℟. Ego quasi.
My branches are branches of honour and grace. Alleluia.
℟. As the wine I have brought forth a pleasant odour. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

℣. But I, as a fruitful olivetree in the house of the Lord, will hope in the mercy of my God for ever, yea, for ever and ever.
℟. As the vine.

℣. Glory and honour be to the Father.
℟. As the vine.

Oratio

Hæc est, Domine Deus, gloriosa illa Virgo Maria, quæ hodie a convalle lachrymarum et mundi deserto cognoscitur superassumi incumbens super dilectum Unigenitum tuum, Filiumque suum loco videlicet inenarrabili: cujus vero quasi signaculum et monile detegitur pretiosum, dum unius naturæ illud corpus confitemur Dominicum istius inlibatæ genitricis a Divinitate assumptum. Proinde quasumus, ineffabilis summe Deus, ut illic extendatur nostra intentio, quo per fortem dilectionem hodie pracessit dignasuflragatrix pro nobis ac beatissima Virgo.

℟. Amen.

Per misericordiam tuam. Deus noster, qui es benedictus, et vivis, et omnia regis in sæcula saculorum.

℟. Amen.
Behold, O Lord God. the glorious Virgin Mary, who from the valley of tears and the desert of this world is known to have been taken up this day, leaning upon her Beloved, thine only begotten Son and her Son, even to an unspeakable height. We show, as it were, her special seal and most precious jewel, when we confess the unity of nature between the Immaculate Mother and the human Body taken of her by the Divinity. Therefore we beseech Thee, O ineffable, Most High God, that thither all our energy may turn, whither on this day precedes us in her mighty love, our worthy advocate, the most Blessed Virgin.

℟. Amen.

Through Thy mercy, O our God, who art blessed, who livest and rulest all things for ever and ever.

℟. Amen.

The Greeks offer us this graceful composition, the first eight stanzas of which are set to the eight musical tones, while the ninth returns to the first, thus making all the modes sing the triumph of Mary.[54]

In Officio Vespertino

Divinæ majestatis nutu, undecumque deiferi apostoli nubium sublati culmine,
Ad metam ubi pervenerunt, immaculatum vas tuum, vitæ principium, summa veneratione salutarunt.
At illæ sublimissimæ cœlorum potestates, cum suo Domino accedentes, Dei capax et illibatum corpus occursu honorabant, tremore corripiebantur, tum ad supernas sedes procedebant.
Et arcana voce clamabant superioribus agminum ducibus: Ecce universi mundi regina, mater Dei accedit.
Tollite portas, inque superna recipite eam, lucis uti perpetuæ matrem.
Per ipsam enim mortalium omnium salus facta est, in quam dirigere oculos non possumus.
Ipsi namque dari dignum præmium nequit; ejus enim præstantia omnem superat cogitatum.
Idciro intemerata Deipara, semper cum vivifico rege et filio vivens, intercede continuo, ut circummunias et salves ab omni inimico impetu juventutem tuam. In te enim tutelam possidemus.
Te per sæcula in splendoribus, beatam dicentes.
By the will of the Divine Majesty, the God bearing Apostles were taken up from all parts and borne upon the clouds;
Having reached their destination, they salute with deepest veneration thy immaculate body.
But the most high powers of heaven, coming with their Lord, honoured with their company the spotless body which had held God; they were seized with trembling as they returned to the heavenly mansions.
With mysterious voice they cried to the chiefs of the heavenly hosts: Behold the Queen of the universe, the Mother of God approaches.
Lift up your gates and receive her into the highest places, as the Mother of eternal light.
The salvation of all mankind was wrought through her, upon whom we cannot fix our gaze.
No condign honour can be given to her, for her excellence surpasses all thought.
Wherefore, O Immaculate Mother of God, ever living with the King of life, thy Son, intercede for us unceasingly, so as to protect and save from every attack of the enemy the youth who are thine, for in thee we have our defence.
Thee we proclaim blessed in the eternal splendours.

Let us now gather from the Chaldean chants:

In Assumptione V. Mariæ

Matrem Domini angelorum hominumque labia hominis laudare non sufficiunt, quam nec homines piane mente assequuntur, nec angeli sat perspiciunt:

Mirandam in vita mortali, stupendam in morte vitali.

Vivens mundo mortua fuit, moriens mortuos exsuscitavit.

Ad ipsam apostoli properant e longinquis, angeli descendunt e superis, honoris causa debiti.

Virtutes invicem cohortantur, Principatus ut flammeæ nubes exspatiantur, lætantur Dominationes, Potestates tripudiant.

Throni laudem ingeminant; Seraphim clamantibus: Beatum o corpus gloriæ; dum Cherubim illam cantibus extollunt inter ipsos procedentem.

Æthera, nubes, ipsi se submittunt; tonitrua plaudunt, collaudantia Filium; pluvia et ros uberibus ejus æmulantur: Siquidem virentia pascunt, hæc autem virentium Dominum enutrivit.
The lips of man are not worthy to praise the Mother of the Lord of angels and of men, for neither can men understand her, nor angels know her sufficiently:

Admirable in her mortal life, marvellous in her life-giving death, living she was dead to the world, dying she raised the dead to life.

The apostles hasten to her from distant lands, the angels descend from on high, to pay her honour due.

The Virtues animate each other, the Principalities come forward like flaming clouds, the Dominations rejoice, the Powers exult.

The Thrones redouble their praise: while the Seraphim cry out: O blessed and glorious body; and the Cherubim extol her with their songs, as she passes through their midst.

The sky and the clouds bend down before her; the thunder claps, praising her Son; the rain and the dew envy her breasts: for they indeed nourish the plants, but she fed the Lord of the plants.

Ralph of Tongres, who wrote in the fourteenth century of the observance of the canons in the Offices of the Church, points out the following hymn as used in his time for to-day's feast:[55]

Hymn

O quam glorifica luce coruscas,
Stirpis Davidicæ regia proles:
Sublimis residens Virgo Maria,
Supra cœligenas ætheris omnes.

Tu cum virgineo mater honore,
Angelorum Domino pectoris aulam
Sacris visceribus casta parasti;
Natus hinc Deus est corpore Christus.

Quem cunctus venerans orbis adorat,
Cui nunc rite genuflectitur omne:
A quo te, petimus, subveniente,
Abjectis tenebris, gaudia lucis.

Hoc largire, Pater luminis omnis,
Natum per proprium,
Flamine sacro: Qui tecum nitida vivit in æthra,
Regnans, ac moderans sæcula cuncta.

Amen.
Oh, with what glorious light thou dost shine,
royal daughter of David’s race:
seated on high, O Virgin Mary,
above all the dwellers in heaven.

Thou with thy virginal honour art Mother;
a home in thy heart for the Lord of the angels,
thou, pure one, didst prepare in thy sacred womb;
the Christ born of thee is God in the flesh.

'Tis He whom the whole world doth trembling adore,
He before whom each knee rightly bends;
from Him we implore, by thy intercession,
the dispelling of darkness, the joys of light.

This do Thou grant, O Father of light,
through Thine own Son, in the Holy Spirit:
who liveth with Thee in the glittering heavens,
reigning and governing all the ages.

Amen.

Let us conclude with this sweet Sequence:

Sequence

Affluens deliciis,
David regis filia,
Sponsi fertur brachiis
Ad cœli sedilia:
Et amica properat
Sponsum, quo abierat,
Quærens inter lilia.

Hodie cubiculum
Regis Hester suscipit,
Sedare periculum,
Quod hostilis efficit
Aman instans fraudibus,
Peccati rudentibus
Mundo mortem conficit.

Per cœli palatia
Cuncta transit ostia
Intra regis atria,
Ubi sceptrum aureum,
Christum, os virgineum
Osculatur hodie,
Ut sit pax Ecclesiæ.

Vox Rachelis in Rama
Hic auditur: sed drama
Tibi dulce canitur,
Ubi te amplectitur
Sponsus, et alloquitur,
Quo beata frueris
Plusquam cunctis superis.

Te transmittit hodie
Tellus cœli curiæ,
David regis Thecuitem,
Helisæi Sunamitem,
Ut fugati revocemur,
Et prostrati suscitemur
Ad æterna gaudia,
Ubi es in gloria.

Amen.
Flowing with delights
the daughter of King David
is borne in the Bridegroom’s arms
to the heavenly thrones;
the beloved hastens,
seeking the Spouse among the lilies
whither He had gone.

To-day the chamber
of the King opens to Esther
seeking to avert the danger
brought about by her enemy Aman,
eager with his deceits,
who prepares death for the world
with the ropes of sin.

She traverses the mansions of heaven,
passing through all the doors,
into the court of the King:
there to-day her virginal mouth
kisses the golden sceptre Christ,
that peace may be
given to the Church.

Here in Rama the voice of Rachel
is heard: there sweet music
is sung to thee,
where the Spouse embraces thee and converses with thee;
the Spouse whom thou, O blessed one,
enjoyest more than all the heavenly citizens.

To-day our earth sends thee
to the heavenly court,
as the wise woman of Thecua to King David,
as the Sunamitess to Eliseus,
that we exiles may be called home,
we who are cast down may be raised up
even to the eternal joys,
where thou art in glory.

Amen.

Thou didst taste death, O Mary! But that death, like the sleep of Adam at the world’s beginning, was but an ecstasy leading the Bride into the Bridegroom’s presence. As the sleep of the new Adam on the great day of salvation, it called for the awakening of resurrection. In Jesus Christ our entire nature, soul and body, was already reigning in heaven; but as in the first paradise, so in the presence of the Holy Trinity, it was not good for man to be alone.[56] To-day at the right hand of Jesus appears the new Eve, in all things like to her Divine Head, in His vesture of glorified flesh: henceforth nothing is wanting in the eternal paradise.

O Mary, who, according to the expression of thy devout servant John Damascene, hast made death blessed and happy,[57]detach us from this world, where nothing ought now to have a hold on us. We have accompanied thee in desire; we have followed thee with the eyes of our soul, as far as the limits of our mortality allowed; and now, can we ever again turn our eyes upon this world of darkness? O Blessed Virgin, in order to sanctify our exile and help us to rejoin thee, bring to our aid the virtues whereby, as on wings, thou didst soar to so sublime a height. In us, too, they must reign; in us they must crush the head of the wicked serpent, that one day they may triumph in us. O day of days, when we shall behold not only our Redeemer, but also the Queen who stands so close to the Sun of Justice as even to be clothed therewith, eclipsing with her brightness all the splendours of the saints!

The Church, it is true, remains to us, O Mary, the Church who is also our Mother, and who continues thy struggle against the dragon with its seven hateful heads. But she, too, sighs for the time when the wings of an eagle will be given her, and she will be permitted to rise like thee from the desert and to reach her Spouse. Look upon her passing, like the moon, at thy feet, through her laborious phases; hear the supplications she addresses to thee as Mediatrix with the divine Sun; through thee may she receive light; through thee may she find favour with Him who loved thee, and clothed thee with glory and crowned thee with beauty.


[1] Magnificat Ant. for 2nd Vesp.
[2] Cant. viii. 5.
[3] Mag. Ant. of 1st Vesp.
[4] 1st Resp. of Matins fr. Cant. v. 12 and Eccli. l. 8.
[5] 3 Kings x. 10.
[6] 2 Ibid. ii. 19.
[7] Ephrem in Natal. Dom., Sermo iv.
[8] Arnold. Carnotsnsis, De laudibus Mariæ.
[9] Ephrem in Natal. Dom., Sermo viii.
[10] Rupert in Cant., lib. iii, c. iv.
[11] Petr. Dam. Sermo in Assumpt. B.M.V.
[12] Cap. Alma Mater, De sent, ezcommunicat in vi°.
[13] Mansi, xv. 403.
[14] Especially the Mag. Ant. for and Vesp., already quoted.
[15] Pseudo-HIERONYMUS. De Assumpt. B.M.V., 1., VIII., XIV.
[16] Missale Gothicum.
[17] Hæ sunt festivitates in anno quæ per omnia servari debent. ... De Assumptione Sanctæ Mariæ interrogandum reliquimus. Capitulare Caroli Magni, i. 158; cui pro festo admittendo responsum a Ludovico Pio, capit. 11., 33, ex can. xxxvi concilii Mogunt. anni 813.
[18] Propositio J. Morcelli: Non lenemur credere sub poena Peccati mortalis quod Virgo fuit assumpta in corpore et anima, quia non est articulus fidei; qualifica tur: Utjacet, temeraria, scandalosa, imftia, devotionis populi ad Virginem dimmutiva, falsa et hœetica ; ideo revocanda publice.
[19] Liber pontific.: in Sergio I.
[20] Niceph. Call. Hist. Eccli., Liber xvii., cap. 28.
[21] Benedict XIV de festis B.M.V., c. viii.
[22] Nilles, Kalendarom utriusque Eccl. orientalis ct occidentalis.
[23] Andr. Cret. Oratio xiii. in Dormitionem Deiparæ, ii.
[24] Greg. Turon. De gloria Martyr., iv.
[25] Inter opera Hildefonsi Tolet. De Assumptione Sermo iv.
[26] Joan. Damasc. in Dormitionem B.M.V., Homilia i.
[27] Ibid., Homilia iii.
[28] Petr. Dam. Opusc xxxiv. Disputat De variis apparit. et miraculis, Cap. 3.
[29] Liber Pontific. in Sergio I.
[30] Imago SS. Salvatoris achcropita, quæ servatur in oratorio dicto Sancta Sanctorum.
[31] Hittorp. Ordo Rom.
[32] Now St. Frances of Rome.
[33] Archivio della Compagnia di Sancta Sanctorum.
[34] Petr. Venbrab. De miraculis, 11. xxx.
[35] Marangoni, Istoria dell' Oratorio di Sancta Sanctorum, p. 127.
[36] Liber Pontific in. Leone IV
[37] Raynald. ad an. 1239.
[38] Cant. iii. 6.
[39] Bossuet, First Sermon on the Assumption.
[40] Dom Guéranger, Essai historique sur l’abbaye de Solesmes, suivi de la description de l'eglise abbatiale, avec l'explication des monuments qu'elle renferme, p. 113.
[41] Dionys. Areopagit. De divinis nominibus, cap. iii., § ii.
[42] Dom Gurranger, ubi supra.
[43] Ps. xxiii. 8, 10.
[44] Isa. lxiii. 1.
[45] Cant. vi. 9.
[46] Ibid. iii. 6.
[47] Ibid. viii. 5.
[48] Judith xiii. 13.
[49] Thom. Aquin. Sermo in Assumpt. B.M.V.
[50] Thomasii Capitulare Evangeliorum.
[51] St. Luke xi. 27, 28.
[52] Bruno Ast. Homil. cxvii. in Assumpt. S.M.V.
[53] Bern, in Assumpt. B.M.V., Senno i.
[54] J. B. Pitra, Analecta Spicilegio Solesmensi, parata I. lxx. ex Anthologio.
[55] Radulph. De canon, observ., Prop. xiii.
[56] Gen ii. 18.
[57] Joan. Damasc. in Dormit. B.M.V., Homil. i.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

FROM time immemorial the Greeks have celebrated the feast of St. Joachim on the day following our Lady's birthday. The Maronites kept it on the day after the Presentation in November, and the Armenians on the Tuesday after the Octave of the Assumption of the Mother of God. The Latins at first did not keep his feast. Later on it was admitted and celebrated sometimes on the day after the Octave of the Nativity, September 16, sometimes on the day following the Conception of the Blessed Virgin, December 9. Thus both East and West agreed in associating St. Joachim with his illustrious daughter when they wished to do him honour.

About the year 1510, Julius II placed the feast of the grandfather of the Messias upon the Roman Calendar with the rank of double major; and remembering that family, in which the ties of nature and of grace were in such perfect harmony, he fixed the solemnity on March 20, the day after that of his son-in-law, St. Joseph. The life of the glorious patriarch resembled those of the first fathers of the Hebrew people; and it seemed as though he were destined to imitate their wanderings also, by continually changing his place upon the sacred cycle.

Hardly fifty years after the Pontificate of Julius II the critical spirit of the day cast doubts upon the history of St. Joachim, and his name was erased from the Roman breviary. Gregory XV, however, re-established his feast in 1622 as a double, and the Church has since continued to celebrate it. Devotion to our Lady’s father continuing to increase very much, the Holy See was petitioned to make his feast a holiday of obligation, as it had already made that of his spouse, St. Anne. In order to satisfy the devotion of the people without increasing the number of days of obligation, Clement XII in 1738 transferred the feast of St. Joachim to the Sunday after the Assumption of his daughter, the Blessed Virgin, and restored to it the rank of double major.

On August 1, 1879, the Sovereign Pontiff, Leo XIII, who received the name of Joachim in baptism, raised both the feast of his glorious patron and that of St. Anne to the rank of doubles of the second class.

The following is an extract from the decree Urbi et Orbi, announcing this decision with regard to the said feasts: ' Ecclesiasticus teaches us that we ought to praise our fathers in their generation; what great honour and veneration ought we then to render to St. Joachim and St. Anne, who begot the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God, and are on that account more glorious than all others.'

'By your fruits are you known,' says St. John Damascene; 'you have given birth to a daughter who is greater than the angels and has become their Queen.'[1] Now since, through the divine mercy, in our unhappy times the honour and worship paid to the Blessed Virgin is increasing in proportion to the increasing needs of the Christian people, it is only right that the new glory which surrounds their blessed daughter should redound upon her happy parents. May this increase of devotion towards them cause the Church to experience still more their powerful protection.


MASS

Prayer is good with fasting and alms more than to lay up treasures of gold.[2] Far better than Tobias did Joachim experience the truth of the Archangel’s word. Tradition says that he divided his income into three parts: the first for the Temple, the second for the poor, and the third for his family. The Church, wishing to honour Mary’s father, begins by praising this liberality, and also his justice which earned him such great glory.

Introit

Dispersit. dedit pauperibus: justitia ejus manet in sæculum sæculi: cornu ejus exaltabitur in gloria. 

Ps. Beatus vir qui timet Dominum: in mandatis ejus cupit nimis. Gloria Patri. Dispersit.
He hath distributed, he hath given to the poor: his justice remaineth for ever and ever: his horn shall be exalted in glory.

Ps. Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord: he delighteth exceedingly in His commandments. Glory, etc. He hath.

Mother of God: such is the title which exalts Mary above all creatures; but Joachim, too, is ennobled by it; he alone can be called, for all eternity, Grandfather of Jesus. In heaven, even more than on earth, nobility and power go hand in hand. Let us, then, with the Church, become humble clients of one so great.

Collect

Deus, qui præ omnibus Sanr ctis tuis beatum Joachim Genitricis Filii tui patrem esse voluisti: concede, quæsumus; ut cujus festa veneramur, ejus quoque perpetuo patrocinia sentiamus. Per eumdem Dominum.
O God, who before all Thy saints wert pleased that blessed Joachim should be the father of her who bore Thy Son, grant, we beseech Thee, that we may ever experience his patronage, whose festival we venerate. Through the same Lord, etc.

Epistle

Lectio libri Sapientiæ. 

Eccli. xxxi.

Beatus vir qui inventus est sine macula: et qui post aurum non abiit, nec speravit in pecunia et thesauris. Quis est hic, et laudabimus eum? Fecit enim mirabilia in vita sua. Qui probatus est in illo et perfectus est, erit illi gloriaæterna: qui potuit transgredi, et non est transgressus: tacere mala, et non fecit. Ideo stabilita sunt bona illius in Domino, et eleemosynas illius enarrabit omnis ecclesia sanctorum.
Lesson from the Book of Wisdom.

Eccli. xxxi.

Blessed is the man that is found without blemish, and that hath not gone after gold, nor put his trust in money nor in treasures. Who is he, and we will praise him? For he hath done wonderful things in his life. Who hath been tried thereby, and made perfect, he shall have glory everlasting: he that could have transgressed, and hath not transgressed, and could do evil things, and hath not done them: therefore are his goods established in the Lord, and all the Church of the saints shall declare his alms.

Joachim’s wealth, like that of the first patriarchs, consisted chiefly in flocks and herds. The holy use he made of it drew down God’s blessing upon it. But the greatest of all his desires heaven seemed to refuse him. His holy spouse Anne was barren. Amongst all the daughters of Israel expecting the Messias, there was no hope for her. One day the victims Joachim presented in the Temple were contemptuously rejected. Those were not the gifts the Lord of the Temple desired of him; later on, instead of lambs from his pastures, he was to present the mother of the Lamb of God, and His offering would not be rejected.

This day, however, he was filled with sorrow and fled away without returning to his wife. He hastened to the mountains where his flocks were at pasture; and living in a tent, he fasted continually, for he said: 'I will take no food till the Lord my God look mercifully upon me; prayer shall be my nourishment.'

Meanwhile Anne was mourning her widowhood and her barrenness. She prayed in her garden as Joachim was praying on the mountain.[3] Their prayers ascended at the same time to the Most High, and He granted them their request. An angel of the Lord appeared to each of them and bade them meet at the Golden Gate; and soon Anne could say: ‘Now I know that the Lord hath greatly blessed me. For I was a widow and I am one no longer, and I was barren, and lo! I have conceived!'[4]

The Gradual again proclaims the merit of almsgiving and the value God sets upon holiness of life. The descendants of Joachim shall be mighty and blessed in heaven and upon earth. May he deign to exert his influence with his all-holy daughter, and with his grandson Jesus, for our salvation.

Gradual

Dispersit, dedit pauperibus: justitia ejus manet in sæculum sæculi.
℣. Potens in terra erit semen ejus: generatio rectorum benedicetur.
Alleluia, alleluia.
℣. O Joachim, sanctæ conjux Annæ, pater almæ Virginis, hic famulis confer salutis opem. Alleluia.
He hath distributed, he hath given to the poor: his justice remaineth for ever and ever.
℣. His seed shall be mighty upon the earth: the generation of the mighty shall be blessed.
Alleluia, alleluia.
℣. O Joachim, spouse of holy Anne, father of the glorious Virgin, assist now thy servants unto salvation. Alleluia.

Gospel

Initium sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum.

Cap. i.

Liber generationis Jesu Christi, filii David, filii Abraham. Abraham genuit Isaac. Isaac autem genuit Jacob. Jacob autem genuit Judam, et fratres ejus. Judas autem genuit Phares, et Zaram de Thamar. Phares autem genuit Esron. Esron autem genuit Aram. Aram autem genuit Aminadab. Aminadab autem genuit Naasson. Naasson autem genuit Salmon. Salmon autem genuit Booz de Rahab. Booz autem genuit Obed ex Ruth. Obed autem genuit Jesse. Jesse autem genuit David regem. David autem rex genuit Salomonem ex eaquæ fuit Uriæ. Salomon autem genuit Roboam. Roboam autem genuit Abiam. Abias autem genuit Asa. Asa autem genuit Josaphat. Josaphat autem genuit Oziam. Ozias autem genuit Joatham. Joatham autem genuit Achaz. Achaz autem genuit Ezechiam. Ezechias autem genuit Manassen. Manasses autem genuit Amon. Amon autem genuit Josiam. Josias autem genuit Jechoniam et fratres ejus in transmigratione Babylonis. Et post transmigrationem Babylonis: Jechonias genuit Salathiel. Salathiel autem genuit Zorobabel. Zorobabel autem genuit Abiud. Abiud autem genuit Eliacim. Eliacim autem genuit Azor. Azor autem genuit Sadoc. Sadoc autem genuit Achim. Achim autem genuit Eliud. Eliud autem genuit Eleazar. Eleazar autem genuit Mathan. Mathan autem genuit Jacob. Jacob autem genuit Joseph, virum Mariæ, de qua natus est Jesus, qui vocatur Christus.
The beginning of the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew. 

Ch. i.

The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begot Isaac; and Isaac begot Jacob; and Jacob begot Judas and his brethren; and Judas begot Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begot Esron; and Esron begot Aram; and Aram begot Aminadab; and Aminadab begot Naasson; and Naasson begot Salmon; and Salmon begot Booz of Rahab; and Booz begot Obed of Ruth; and Obed begot Jesse; and Jesse begot David the king. And David the king begot Solomon, of her who had been the wife of Urias; and Solomon begot Roboam; and Roboam begot Abia; and Abia begot Asa; and Asa begot Josaphat; and Josaphat begot Joram; and Joram begot Ozias; and Ozias begot Joatham; and Joatham begot Achaz; and Achaz begot Ezechias; and Ezechias begot Manasses; and Manasses begot Amon; and Amon begot Josias: and Josias begot Jechonias and his brethren in the transmigration of Babylon. And after the transmigration of Babylon, Jechonias begot Salathiel; and Salathiel begot Zorobabel; and Zorobabel begot Abiud; and Abiud begot Eliacim; and Eliacim begot Azor; and Azor begot Sadoc; and Sadoc begot Achim; and Achim begot Eliud; and Eliud begot Eleazar; and Eleazar begot Mathan; and Mathan begot Jacob; and Jacob begot Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus; who is called Christ.

‘Rejoice, O Joachim, for of thy daughter a Son is born to us,’[5] exclaims St. John Damascene. It is in this spirit the Church reads to us to-day the list of the royal ancestors of our Saviour. Joseph, the descendant of these illustrious princes, inherited their rights and passed them on to Jesus, who was his Son according to the Jewish law, though according to nature He was of the line of His Virgin Mother alone.

St. Luke, Mary's Evangelist, has preserved the names of the direct ancestors of the Mother of the Man-God, springing from David in the person of Nathan, Solomon's brother. Joseph, the son of Jacob, according to St. Matthew, appears in St. Luke as son of Heli. The reason is, that by espousing Mary, the only daughter of Heli or Heliachim, that is Joachim, he became legally his son and heir.

This is the now generally received explanation of the two genealogies of Christ the Son of David. It is not surprising that Rome, the queen city who has become the Bride of the Son of man in the place of the repudiated Sion, prefers to use in her liturgy the genealogy which by its long line of royal ancestors emphasizes the kingship of the Spouse over Jerusalem. The name of Joachim, which signifies 'the preparation of the Lord,' is thus rendered more majestic, without losing aught of its mystical meaning.

He is himself crowned with wonderful glory. Jesus, his Grandson, gives him to share in His own authority over every creature. In the Offertory we celebrate St. Joachim’s dignity and power.

Offertory

Gloria et honore coronasti eum: et constituisti eum super opera manuum tuarum, Domine.
Thou hast crowned him with glory and honour: and hast set him over the works of thy hands, O Lord.

‘Joachim, Anne and Mary,’ says St. Epiphanius: ‘what a sacrifice of praise was offered to the Blessed Trinity by this earthly trinity!’ May their united intercession obtain for us the full effect of the sacrifice which is being prepared upon the altar in honour of the head of this noble family.

Secret

Suscipe, clementissime Deus, sacrifìcium in honorem sancti patriarchæJoachim patris Mariæ Virginis, majestati tuæ oblatum: ut, ipso cum conjuge sua, et beatissima prole intercedente, perfectam consequi mereamur remissionem peccatorum, et gloriam sempiternam. Per Dominum.
Receive this sacrifice, O most merciful God, offered to Thy majesty in honour of the holy patriarch Joachim, the father of the Virgin Mary; that by his intercession, with that of his spouse and most blessed offspring, we may deserve to obtain the entire remission of sins, and everlasting glory. Through, etc.

While enjoying the delights of the sacred mysteries, let us not forget that, if Mary gave us the Bread of Life, she herself came to us through Joachim. Let us confidently entrust to his prudent care the precious germ which we have just received, and which must now fructify in our souls.

Communion

Fidelis servus et prudens, quem constituit Dominus super familiam suam, utdet illis in tempore tritici mensuram.
A faithful and wise steward, whom his Lord set over his family; to give them their measure of wheat in due season.

The sacraments produce of themselves the essential grace belonging to them; but we need the intercession of the saints to remove all obstacles to their full operation in our hearts. Such is the sense of the Postcommunion.

Postcommunion

Quæsumus, omnipotens Deus: ut, per hæc sacramenta, quæ sumpsimus, intercedentibus meritis et precibus beati Joachim, patris Genitricis dilecti Filii tui Domini nostri Jesu Christi, tuæ gratiæ in futuro participes esse mereamur. Per eumdem.
We beseech Thee, Almighty God, that by these mysteries which we receive, the merits and prayers of blessed Joachim, father of her who bore Thy beloved Son our Lord Jesus Christ, interceding for us, we may be made worthy to be partakers of Thy grace in this life, and of eternal glory in the life to come. Through the same Lord, etc.

 

VESPERS

 

Yesterday at First Vespers the Church sang the praises of Joachim as 'a man glorious in his generation, unto whom the Lord gave the blessings of all nations, and upon whose head He confirmed His testament.’[6] The Second Vespers are taken from the Common of a Confessor not a Bishop, the Antiphons of which are so full of graceful simplicity. No more fitting words could be found wherewith to praise this just man whose path, as we read in the Book of Wisdom, was truly as a brilliant light going forward and increasing even to perfect day. He offered to the Lord in His temple the Virgin Mother who was to give our human nature to the Word. His life had no evening. It closed when his daughter’s sanctity was attaining its zenith, and the father of the Immaculate Virgin went to carry hope to the souls of the just in limbo.

1. Ant. Domine, quinque talenta tradidisti mihi: ecce alia quinque superlucratus sum.

1. Ant. Lord, Thou gavest me five talents: behold I have gained five more.


Ps. Dixit Dominus, page 35.

2. Ant. Euge, serve bone, in modico fidelis, intra in gaudium Domini tui.

2. Ant. Well done, thou good servant, faithful in few things, enter into the joy of thy Lord.


Ps. Confitebor tibi, Domine, page 37.

3. Ant. Fidelis servus et prudens, quem constituit Dominus super familiam suam.

3. Ant. Faithful and prudent servant, whom his Lord hath placed over his family.


Ps. Beatus vir, page 38.

4. Ant. Beatus ille servus, quem cum venerit Dominus ejus, et pulsaverit januam, invenerit vigilantem.

4. Ant. Blessed is that servant, whom when his Lord shall come and knock at the gate, He shall find watching.


Ps. Laudate pueri, page 39.

5. Ant. Serve bone et fidelis, intra in gaudium Domini tui.

5. Ant. Good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of thy Lord.


Ps. Laudate Dominum omnes gentes, page 305.


Capitulum
(Eccli. xxxi.).

Beatus vir, qui inventus est sine macula, et qui post aurum non abiit, nec speravit in pecunia et thesauris. Quis est hic, et laudabimus eum? fecit enim mirabilia in vita sua.
Blessed is the man that is found without blemish: and that hath not gone after gold, nor put his trust in money nor in treasures. Who is he, and we will praise him? For he hath done wonderful things in his life.

Hymn[7]

Iste Confessor Domini colentes
Quem pie laudant populi per orbem,
Hac die lætus meruit supremos
Laudis honores.

Qui pius, prudens, humilis, pudicus,
Sobriam duxit sine labe vitam,
Donec humanos animavit auræ
Spiritus artus.

Cujus ob præstans meritum frequenter,
Ægra quæ passim jacuere membra
Viribus morbi domitis, saluti
Restituuntur.

Noster hinc illi chorus obsequentem
Concinit laudem, celebresque palmas:
Ut piis ejus precibus juvemur
Omne per ævum.

Sit salus illi, decus, atque virtus,
Qui super cœli solio coruscans,
Totius mundi seriem gubernat
Trinus et unus.

Amen.
On this day the blessed
confessor of the Lord,
whom all nations throughout the world lovingly venerate,
merited the highest honours of praise.

Pious, prudent, humble, and chaste,
he led a sober and spotless life,
as long as quickening breath
animated his frame.

Oft does it happen, through his eminent merit,
that the languishing limbs of poor sufferers,
overcoming the power of the disease,
are restored to health.

Therefore does our choir devoutly sing his praise,
telling his glorious victories:
may we be evermore assisted
by his benevolent prayers.

Salvation and honour and power be to Him
who, seated glorious
on His heavenly throne One and Three,
ruleth the whole universe.

Amen.

℣. Potens in terra erit semen ejus.
℟. Generatio rectorum benedicetur.
℣. His seed shall be mighty upon earth.
℟. The generation of the righteous is blessed.

Antiphon of the Magnificat

Laudemus virum gloriosum in generatione sua, quia benedictionem omnium gentium dedit illi Dominus: et testamentum suum confirmavit super caput ejus.
Let us praise a man glorious in his generation, for the Lord gave him the blessing of all nations, and confirmed His covenant upon his head.

The Prayer is the Collect of the Mass, 395.


The Acts of the Saints reproduce on March 20 this hymn from the ancient Roman Breviary, which will serve as a prayer to the father of Mary:

Hymn

O pater summæ, Joachim, puellæ
Quæ Deum clauso genuit pudore
Promove nostras Domino querelas,
Castaque vota.

Scis quot hic sævis agitemur undis,
Triste quos mundi mare defatigat:
Scis quot adnectat Satanas carove
Prælia nobis.

Jam sacris junctus superum catervis,
Imo præcedens, potes omne, si vis:
Nil nepos Jesus merito negabit,
Nil tibi nata.

Fac tuo nobis veniam precatu
Donet et pacem Deitas beata:
Ut simul juncti resonemus illi
Dulciter hymnos.

Amen.
O Joachim, father of the sovereign Maiden,
who in all purity gave birth to God,
present to the Lord our petitions
and our chaste desires.

Thou knowest by what angry waves we are here tossed,
whom the cruel sea of this world wearies out:
thou knowest how many battles Satan
and the flesh prepare for us.

Now that thou art united to the holy companies in heaven,
or rather art placed at their head, thou canst do all if thou wilt: for rightly
neither Jesus thy Grandson nor Mary thy daughter
can deny thee aught.

Obtain by thy prayer that our blessed God
may give us pardon and peace:
that united with thee
we may sweetly sing canticles to Him.

Amen.

Father of Mary, we thank thee. All creation owes thee a debt of gratitude, since the Creator was pleased that thou shouldst give Him the Mother He had chosen for Himself.

Husband of holy Anne, thou showest us what would have been in paradise; thou seemest to have been reinstated in primeval innocence, in order to give birth to the Immaculate Virgin; sanctify Christian life, and elevate the standard of morals. Thou art the Grandfather of Jesus: let thy paternal love embrace all Christians who are His brethren. Holy Church honours thee more than ever in these days of trial; she knows how powerful thou art with the Eternal and Almighty Father, who made thee instrumental, through thy blessed daughter, in the temporal generation of his Eternal Son.


[1] J. Damasc. Oratio I. de V.M. Nativit
[2] Tobias xii. 8.
[3] Epiphan. Oratio de laudibus Virg.
[4] Protevang. Jacobi.
[5] J. Damasc. Oratio I de V. M. Nativit. ex Isa. ix. 6.
[6] Ant. of Magnificat at 1st Vespers.
[7] In the Monastic Breviary it is as follows:
℟. brev. Os justi * Meditabitur sapientiam. Os justi.
℣. Et lingua eius loquetur judicium. * Meditabitur. Gloria. Os justi.
Ad sacrum cujus tumulum frequenter Membra languentum modo sanitati Quolibet morbo fuerint gravata Restituuntur.
Iste confessor Domini sacratus Festa plebs cujus celebrat per orbem, Hac die lætus meruit supremos Laudis honores.
Unde nunc noster chorus in honorem Ipsius hymnum canit hunc libenter; Ut piis ejus meritis juvemur Omne per ævum.
Qui pius, prudens, humilis, pudicus, Sobrius, castus fuit et quietus, Vita dum præsens vegetavit ejus Corporis artus.
Sit salus illi, decus, atque virtus, Qui supra cœli residens cacumen, Totius mundi machinam gubernat Trinus et unus. Amen.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

THREE years of famine, three months of defeats, three days of pestilence: the choice given to the guilty David between these three measures of expiation shows them to be equivalent before the justice of God. The terrible scourge, which makes more havoc in three days than would famine or a disastrous war in months and years, showed in the fourteenth century that it kept its sad pre-eminence; the Black Death covered the world with a mantle of mourning, and robbed it of a third of its inhabitants. Doubtless the world had never so well merited the terrible warning: the graces of sanctity poured in profusion on the preceding century had but checked for a while the defection of the nations; every embankment being now broken down, entrance was given to the irresistible tide of schism, reform, and revolution by which the world must die. Nevertheless God has mercy so long as life lasts; and while striking sinful mankind, He gave them at the same time the saint predestined to appease His vengeance.

At his birth he appeared marked with the cross. When a young man he distributed his goods to the poor, and, leaving his family and country, became a pilgrim for Christ's sake. Going to Italy to visit the sanctuaries, he there found the cities devastated by a terrible plague. Roch took up his abode among the dead and dying, burying the former, and healing the latter with the sign of the cross. Himself stricken with the evil, he hid himself so as to suffer alone; and a dog brought him food. When, cured by God, he returned to Montpellier, his native town, it was only to be there seized as a spy and thrown into prison, where he died after five years. Such are Thy dealings with Thy elect, O Wisdom of God! But no sooner was he dead than prodigies burst forth, making known his origin and history, revealing the power he still enjoyed of delivering from pestilence those who had recourse to him.

The reputation of his influence, increased by fresh benefits at each visitation of plague, caused his cultus to become popular; hence, although the feast of St. Roch is not universal, this short notice was due to him. It will be completed by the following legend and prayer borrowed from the proper office for certain places in the supplement of the Roman Breviary:

Rochus in monte Pessulano natus, quanta in proximum cantate flagraret, tum maxime ostendit, cum sævissima peste longe lateque per Italiam grassante, patria relicta, Italicam peregrinationem suscepit, urbesque et oppida peragrans, seipsum in ægrotantium obsequium impendere, animamque suam pro fratribus ponere non dubitavit. Quod beati viri studium quam gratum Deo fuerit, miris sanationibus declaratum est. Complures enim pestilentia infectos e mortis periculo signo crucis eripuit, et integræ sanitati restituit. In patriam reversus, virtutibus et meritis dives, sanctissime obiit, ejusque obitum statim subsecuta est veneratio fidelium, quæ in Constantiensi deinde concilio magnum recepisse dicitur incrementum, cum ad propulsandam ingruentem luem Rochi imago solemni pompa, omni comitante populo, per eamdem civitatem, episcopis approbantibus, est delata. Itkque ejus cultus mirifice propagatus est in universo terrarum orbe, qui eumdem sibi apud Deum adversus contagiosam luem patronum religioso studio adoptavit. Quibus accurate perpensis, Urbanus Octavus Pontifex Maximus, ut ejus dies festus iis in locis, in quibus forent ecclesiæ sancti Rochi nomine Deo dicatæ, Officio ecclesiastico celebraretur, indulsit.
Roch was born at Montpellier. He showed his great love for his neighbour, when a cruel pestilence ravaged the length and breadth of Italy; leaving his native country he undertook a journey through Italy, and passing through the towns and villages, devoted himself to the service of the sick, not hesitating to lay down his life for his brethren. Miraculous cures bore witness how pleasing to God was the zeal of the holy man. For by the sign of the Cross he saved many who were in danger of death through the plague, and restored them to perfect health. He returned to his own country, and, rich in virtues and merits, died a most holy death. He was honoured by the veneration of the faithful immediately after his death. It is said their devotion was greatly increased at the Council of Constance, when, in order to avert the pestilence that threatened them, the image of St. Roch was, with the approbation of the bishops, carried solemnly through that town followed by the whole people. Thus devotion to him has spread in a wonderful way through the whole world, and he has been piously declared the universal protector against contagious diseases. Having carefully considered all this, Pope Urban VIII allowed his feast to be celebrated with an ecclesiastical office in those places where there are churches dedicated to God under the invocation of St. Roch.

Prayer

Populum tuum, quæsumus Domine, continua pietate custodi: et beati Rochi suffragantibus meritis, ab omni fac animæ et corporis contagione securum. Per Dominum.
We beseech thee, O Lord, protect Thy people in Thy unceasing goodness; and through the merits of blessed Roch, preserve them from every contagion of soul and body. Through.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

ONE of the loveliest lilies from the Dominican field to-day unfurls its petals at the foot of Mary's throne. Hyacinth represents on the sacred cycle that intrepid band of missionaries who, in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, faced the barbarism of the Tartars and Mussulmans which was threatening the West. From the Alps to the northern frontiers of the Chinese Empire, from the islands of the Archipelago to the Arctic regions, he propagated his Order and spread the kingdom of God. On the steppes, where the schism of Constantinople disputed its conquests with the idolatrous invaders from the North, he was seen for forty years working prodigies, confounding heresy, dispelling the darkness of infidelity.

The consecration of martyrdom was not wanting to this, any more than to the first apostolate. Many were the admirable episodes where the angels seemed to smile upon the hard combats of their earthly brethren. In the convent founded by Hyacinth at Sandomir on the Vistula, forty-eight Friars Preachers were gathered together under the rule of blessed Sadoc. One day the lector of the Martyrology, announcing the feast of the morrow, read these words which appeared before his eyes in letters of gold: At Sandomir on the fourth of the Nones of June, the Passion of Forty-nine Martyrs. The astonished brethren soon understood this extraordinary announcement; in the joy of their souls they prepared to gather the palm, which was procured for them by an irruption of the Tartars on the very day mentioned. They were assembled in choir at the happy moment, and whilst singing the Salve Regina they dyed with their blood the pavement of the church.

No executioner’s sword was to close Hyacinth’s glorious career. John, the beloved disciple, had had to remain on earth till the Lord should come; our saint waited for the Mother of his Lord to fetch him.

Neither labour nor the greatest sufferings, nor, above all, the most wonderful divine interventions were wanting to his beautiful life. Kieff, the holy city of the Russians, having for fifty years resisted his zeal, the Tartars, as avengers of God's justice, swept over it and sacked it. The universal devastation reached the very doors of the sanctuary where the man of God was just concluding the holy Sacrifice. Clothed as he was in the sacred vestments, he took in one hand the most holy Sacrament and in the other the statue of Mary, who asked him not to leave her to the barbarians; then, together with his brethren, he walked safe and sound through the very midst of the bloodthirsty pagans, along the streets all in flames, and lastly across the Dnieper, the ancient Borysthenes, whose waters, growing firm beneath his feet, retained the marks of his steps. Three centuries later, the witnesses examined for the process of canonization attested on oath that the prodigy still continued; the footprints always visible upon the water, from one bank to the other, were called by the surrounding inhabitants St. Hyacinth’s Way.

The saint, continuing his miraculous retreat as far as Cracow, there laid down his precious burden in the convent of the Blessed Trinity. The statue of Mary, light as a reed while he was carrying it, now resumed its natural weight, which was so great that one man could not so much as move it. Beside this statue Hyacinth, after many more labours, would return to die. It was here that, at the beginning of his apostolic life, the Mother of God had appeared to him for the first time, saying: 'Have great courage and be joyful, my son Hyacinth! Whatsoever thou shalt ask in my name, shall be granted thee.’ This happy interview took place on the Vigil of the Assumption. The saint gathered from it the superhuman confidence of the thaumaturgus, which no difficulty could ever shake; but above all he retained from it the virginal fragrance which embalmed his whole life, and the light of supernatural beauty which made him the picture of his father Dominic.

Years passed away: heroic Poland, the privileged centre of Hyacinth’s labours, was ready to play its part, under Mary’s shield, as the bulwark of Christendom; at the price of what sacrifices we shall hear in October from a contemporary of our saint, St. Hedwiges, the blessed mother of the hero of Liegnitz. Meantime, like St. Stanislaus his predecessor in the labour, the son of St. Dominic came to Cracow, to breathe his last sigh and leave there the treasure of his sacred relics. Not on the Vigil this time, but on the very day of her triumph, August 15, 1257, in the church of the Most Holy Trinity, our Lady came down once more, with a brilliant escort of angels, and virgins forming her court. ‘Oh! who art thou?’ cried a holy soul who beheld all this in ecstasy. ‘I,’ answered Mary, 'am the Mother of mercy; and he whom I hold by the hand is brother Hyacinth, my devoted son, whom I am leading to the eternal nuptials.’ Then our Lady intoned herself with her sweet voice: ‘I will go to the mountain of Libanus,’ and the angels and virgins continued the heavenly song with exquisite harmony, while the happy procession disappeared into the glory of heaven.

Let us read the notice of St. Hyacinth given by the liturgy. We shall there see that his above-mentioned passage over the Dnieper was not the only circumstance wherein he showed his power over the waves.

Hyacinthus Polonus, nobilibus et Christianis parentibus in Camiensi villa episcopatus Vratislaviensis natus est. A pueritia litteris instructus, post datam jurisprudentiæ et sacris litteris operam, inter canonicos Cracovienses ascitus, insigni morum pietate et summa eruditone ceteros antecelluit. Romæ in Prædicatorum ordinem ab ipso institutore sancto Dominico adscriptus, perfectam vivendi rationem, quam ab ipso didicerat, usque ad finem vitæ sanctissime retinuit. Virginitatem perpetuo coluit: modestiam, patientiam, humilitatem, abstinentiam, ceterasque virtutes, ut certum religiosæ vitæpatrimonium, adamavit.

Caritate in Deum fervens, integras sæpe noctes fundendis precibus, castigandoque corpori insumens, nullum eidem levamentum, nisi lapidi innixus, sive humi cubans, adhibebat. Remissus in patriam, Frisaci primum in itinere amplissimum sui ordinis monasterium, mox Cracoviæ alterum erexit. Inde per alias Poloniæ regni provincias, aliis quatuor Exædificatis, incredibiledictu est quantum verbi Dei prædicatone et vitæ innocentia apud omnes profecerit. Nullum diem prætermisit, quo non præclara aliqua fidei, pietatis atque innocentiæ argumenta præstiterit.

Sanctissimi viri studium erga proximorum salutem maximis Deus miraculis illustravit. Inter que illud insigne, quod Vandalum fluvium prope Visogradum aquis redundantem, nullo navigio usus, trajecit, sociis quoque expanso super undas pallio traductis. Admirabili vitæ genere ad quadraginta prope annos post prolessioneni perducto, mortis die suis fratribus prænuntiato, ipso assumptæ Virginis festo, Horis Canonicis persolutis, sacramentis ecclesiasticis summa cum veneratione perceptis, iis verbis: In manus tuas Domine, spiritum Deo reddidit, anno salutis millesimo ducentesimo quinquagesimo septimo. Quem miraculis, etiam post obitum, illustrem, Clemens Papa Octavus in Sanctorum numerum retulit.
Hyacinth was a Pole and born of noble and Christian parents in the town of Camien of the diocese of Breslau. In his childhood he received a liberal education, and later he studied law and Divinity. Having become a canon of the church of Cracow, he surpassed all his fellow-priests by his remarkable piety and learning. He was received at Rome into the Order of Preachers by the founder St. Dominic, and till the end of his life he observed in a most holy manner the mode of life he learnt from him. He remained always a virgin, and had a great love for modesty, patience, humility, abstinence and other virtues, which are the true inheritance of the religious life.

In his burning love for God he would spend whole nights in prayer and chastising his body. He would allow himself no rest except by leaning against a stone, or lying on the bare ground. He was sent back to his own country; but first of all on the way there, he founded a large house of his Order at Friesach, and then another at Cracow. Then in different provinces of Poland he built four other monasteries, and it seems incredible what an amount of good he did in all these places by preaching the Word of God and by the innocence of his life. Not a day passed but he gave some striking proof of his faith, his piety, and his innocence.

God honoured the holy man’s zeal for the good of his neighbour by very great miracles. The following is one of the most striking: he crossed without a boat the river Vistula, which had overflowed, near Wisgrade, and drew his companions also across on his cloak which he spread out over the water. After having persevered in his admirable manner of life for forty years after his profession, he foretold to his brethren the day of his death. On the feast of our Lady’s Assumption in the year 1257, having finished the Canonical Hours, and received the sacraments of the Church with great devotion, saying these words: 'Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit,’ he gave up his soul to God. He was illustrious for miracles in death as in life, and Pope Clement VIII numbered him among the saints.

Great was thy privilege, O Son of Dominic, to be so closely associated to Mary as to enter into thy glory on the very feast of her triumph. As thou occupiest so fair a place in the procession accompanying her to heaven, tell us of her greatness, her beauty, her love for us poor creatures, whom she desires to make sharers, like thee, in her bliss.

It is through her that thou wert so powerful in this thy exile, before being near her in happiness and glory. Long after Adalbert and Anschar, Cyril and Methodius, thou didst traverse once more the ungrateful North, where thorns and briars so quickly spring up again, where the people, whom the Church has with such labour delivered from the yoke of paganism, are continually letting themselves be caught in the meshes of schism and the snares of heresy. In his chosen domain the prince of darkness suffered fresh defeats, an immense multitude broke his chains, and the light of salvation shone further than any of thy predecessors had carried it. Poland, definitively won to the Church, became her rampart, until the days of treason which put an end to Christian Europe.

O Hyacinth, preserve the faith in the hearts of this noble people. Obtain grace for the Northern regions, which thou didst warm with the fiery breath of thy word. Nothing thou askest of Mary will be refused, for the Mother of Mercy promised thee so. Keep up the apostolic zeal of thy illustrious Order. May the number of thy brethren be multiplied, for it is far below our present needs.

Akin to thy power over the waves, is another attributed to thee by the confidence of the faithful, and justified by many prodigies: viz., that of restoring life to the drowned. Many a time also have Christian mothers experienced thy miraculous power, in bringing to the saving font their little ones, whom a dangerous delivery threatened to deprive of baptism. Prove to thy devout clients that the goodness of God is ever the same, and the influence of His elect not lessened.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

AT Christmas Stephen watched beside the crib, where the Infant God attracted our hearts; Laurence to-day escorts the Queen whose beauty out-shines the heavens. It was fitting that a deacon should be present at both triumphs of love, shown at Bethlehem in the weakness of the Babe, and in heaven in the glory wherewith the Son delights to honour His Mother. During her pilgrimage through the desert of this world, the deacons are the guardians of the Bride, the Church, signified by the ancient tabernacle, wherein was the Ark of the Covenant, a figure of Mary.

‘Beloved sons,’ said the Pontiff to them on the day of their consecration, 'consider by how great a privilege, inheriting both the office and the name of the Levitical tribe, you surround the tabernacle of the testimony, which is the Church, to defend it against an untiring enemy. As your fathers carried the tabernacle, so must you support the Church; adorn her by sanctity, strengthen her by the divine word, uphold her by the example of perfection. Levi signifies set apart; be you then separated from earthly desires; shine with the brightness of spotless purity, as beseems the tribe beloved of the Lord.’[1]

By this disengagement from earth which gives true liberty, the Church, who is free herself, whereas the Synagogue was a slave, clothes her deacons with a grace unknown to the Levites of old. It would be true to say of Laurence what was written of Stephen, that his face appeared as the face of an angel amongst men; from the brow of each shone the light of Wisdom who dwelt in them, and the Holy Ghost who spoke by them put a grace upon their lips. In blood not his own did the Levite of Sinai, raising his sword, consecrate his hands to Jehovah; the deacon, ever ready to give his own blood, manifests his power by a fidelity of love, not of servitude; keeps up his energy by righteousness and self-forgetfulness; and while his feet are on the earth, where he combats, his eyes are on heaven, to which he aspires, and his heart is given to the Church, who has entrusted herself to him.

With what devotedness he guards both her and her treasures; from the precious pearl of the Body of her spouse, to the jewels of the Mother, which are her poor and suffering children; from the purely spiritual riches springing from baptism and the word of God, to those material goods, the possession of which proves the Bride’s right of citizenship here below. It were well to recall this lesson in our days: God willed that the greatest martyr of the holy City should win his crown by refusing to deliver up the revenues of the Church; and yet, under the circumstances, the confiscation of the treasure was legal, at least as far as an edict of Cæsar could legalize injustice. Laurence did not consider that this pretended legality authorized him to yield to the governor’s demands; he had no answer but disdain for this man who knew not that the earth being the Lord’s the Bride of the Lord is responsible to Him alone in the administration of His goods. Would he have acted differently if the State had then, as later, joined hypocrisy to tyranny, and tried to vindicate its spoliations by artful language, unknown to the straightforward highway robber? Where are now the State and the Cæsar of those days? It is no new thing for persecutors to end in shame; the imperial murderer of the great deacon had not long to wait; in less than two years, Valerian had become the footstool of Sapor, and afterwards his skin, dyed red, was hung from the roof of a Persian temple.

Laurence, meanwhile, has received more homage than was ever offered to king or Cæsar. What ancient Roman conqueror ever attained to his glory? Rome itself became his conquest: twenty-four sanctuaries dedicated to Christ in his name in the Eternal City eclipse all the imperial palaces. And throughout the world, how many important churches and monasteries rejoice in his powerful patronage. The New World imitates the Old, giving the name of St. Laurence to its towns and provinces, its islands, bays, rivers, capes, and mountains. But among all Christian kingdoms, his native Spain justly distinguishes itself in paying honour to the illustrious archdeacon; it celebrates the feast of his holy parents Orentius and Patience, who gave him birth in the territory of Huesca; and it consecrated to him the noblest monument of its grandest age, St. Laurence of the Escurial, at once a church, a monastery, and a palace, built in the form of a gigantic gridiron.

Let us close the Octave with the prayer addressed to him to-day by our common Mother: 'Raise up, O Lord, in Thy Church the spirit which was followed by the blessed Levite, Laurence; that we, being filled with it, may study to love what he loved, and in our works to practise what he taught.’

We have just quoted the Collect of the octave day; it is borrowed, together with the Introit and other prayers of to-day, from the Mass which was anciently celebrated in the night of August 10. We take the opportunity of remarking that supernatural prodigies at various times have proved that this glorious night won for the martyr a special privilege of delivering souls from purgatory in virtue of his own fiery torture. It became the custom in Rome to pray for the dead in the basilica of St. Laurence in agro Verano, raised by the first Christian emperor over the martyr’s tomb. The faithful of the Eternal City come to sleep their last sleep under its shadow, and within its walls Pius IX, of happy memory, willed to await his resurrection.

Notker gives us this fine Sequence, after which we will conclude with a prayer from the Leonine Sacramentary.

Sequence

Laurenti, David magni martyr milesque fortis,
Tu imperatoris tribunal.
Tu manus tortorum cruentas,
Sprevisti, secutus desiderabilem atque manu fortem,
Qui solus potuit regna superare tyranni crudelis,
Cujusque sanctus sanguinis prodigos facit amor milites ejus,
Dummodo illum liceat cernere dispendio vitæ præsentis.
Cæsaris tu fasces contemnis et judicis minas derides.
Carnifex ungulas et ustor craticulam vane consumunt.
Dolet impius urbis præfectus, victus a pisce assato, Christi cibo.
Gaudet Domini conviva favo, conresurgendi, cum ipso saturatus.
O Laurenti, militum David invictissime, regis æterni,
Apud ilium servulis ipsius deprecare veniam semper,
Martyr milesque fortis.

Amen.
O Laurence, martyr and brave soldier of the great and true David,
The tribunal of the emperor,
The bloodstained hand of the executioners,
Are set at nought by thee, who followest the Desirable One, who is mighty at hand.
Who alone could overthrow the kingdom of the cruel tyrant,
And whose holy love maketh his soldiers prodigal of their blood,
Provided they may behold Him, at the price of the present life.
Thou despisest the fasces of Cæsar, and laughest to scorn the judge’s threats.
In vain does the torturer use his iron hooks and the executioner his gridron.
The impious prefect of the city laments, overcome by the broiled fish, the food of Christ.
But the guest of the Lord rejoices, feasting with Him on the honeycomb, the type of resurrection.
O Laurence, most invincible of all the soldiers of the eternal king David,
Ever implore of Him pardon for His servants.
O brave martyr and soldier.

Amen.

Prayer

Auge, quæsumus Domine, fidem populi tui, de sancti Laurentii Martyris festivitate conceptam; ut ad confessionem tui Nominis nullis properare terreamur adversis, sed tantæ virtutis intuitu potius incitemur. Per Dominum.
Increase, O Lord, we beseech Thee, the faith of Thy people gotten on the feast of the holy martyr Laurence; that we may by no adversities be terrified from hastening to confess Thy Name, but may rather be encouraged by the sight of such great valour. Through, etc.

[1] Pontificale Rom. in Ordinat. Diaconi.
[2] An allusion to the mysterious scene of Easter evening, when our risen Lord ate a piece of broiled fish and some honeycomb before His disciples, and gave them the remains.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

IN the eternal decrees Mary was never separated from Jesus; together with Him, she was the type of all created beauty. When the Almighty Father prepared the heavens and the earth, His Son, who is His Wisdom, played before Him in His future humanity as first exemplar, as measure and number, as starting point, centre, and summit of the work undertaken by the Spirit of Love; but at the same time the predestined Mother, the woman chosen to give to the Son of God from her own flesh His quality of Son of Man, appeared among mere creatures as the term of all excellence in the various orders of nature, of grace, and of glory. We need not, then, be astonished at the Church putting on Mary’s lips the words first uttered by Eternal Wisdom: ‘From the beginning and before the world was I created.’

The divine ideal was realized in her whole being, even in her body. To form out of nothing a reflection of the divine perfections is the purpose of creation and the law even of matter. Now, next to the face of the most beautiful of the sons of men, nothing on earth so well expressed God as the Virgin's countenance. St. Denis is said to have exclaimed on seeing our Lady for the first time: 'Had not faith revealed to me thy Son, I should have taken thee for God.’ Whether it be authentic or not to place it in the mouth of the Areopagite,[1] this cry of the heart expresses the feeling of the ancients. We shall be the less surprised at this, if we remember that no son ever, resembled his mother as Jesus did; it was the law of nature doubled in Him, since He had no earthly father. It is now the delight of the angels to behold in the glorified bodies of Jesus and Mary new aspects of eternal beauty, which their own immaterial substances could not reflect.

Now the unspeakable perfection of Mary’s body sprang from the union of that body with the most perfect soul that ever was, excepting, of course, the soul of our Lord her Son. With us, the original Fall has broken the harmony that ought to exist between the two very different elements of our human being, and has generally displaced, and sometimes even destroyed, the proportions of nature and grace. It is very different where the divine work has not thus been vitiated from the beginning; so that in each blessed spirit of the nine choirs, the degree of grace is in direct relation to His gifts of nature.[2] Exemption from sin allowed the soul of the Immaculate One to inform the body of its own image with absolute sway, while the soul itself, lending itself to grace to the full extent of its exquisite powers, suffered God to raise it supernaturally above all the Seraphim, even to the steps of His own throne.

For in the kingdom of grace, as in that of nature, Mary's supereminence was such as became a Queen. At the first moment of her existence in the womb of St. Anne, she was set far above the highest mountains; and God, who loves only what He has made worthy of His love, loved this entrance, this gate of the true Sion, above all the tabernacles of Jacob. It was indeed impossible that the Word, who had chosen her for His Mother, should, even for an instant, love any creature more, as being more perfect. Throughout her life there was never in Mary the least want of correspondence with her preventing graces; so great perfection could not brook the least failing, the least interruption, the least delay. From the first moment of her most holy Conception till her glorious death, grace operated in her without hindrance, to the utmost of its divine power. Thus, starting from heights unknown to us, and doubling her speed at each stroke of her wings, her powerful flight bore her up to that nearness to God, where our admiring contemplation follows her during these days.

Our Lady, moreover, is not only the first-born, the most perfect, the most holy, of creatures and their Queen—or rather she is all this, only because she is also the Mother of the Son of God. If we wish only to prove that she alone surpasses all the united subjects of her vast empire, we may compare her with men and with angels, in the order of nature and of grace. But all comparison is out of the question if we try to follow her to the inaccessible heights, where, still the handmaid of the Lord, she participates in the eternal relations which constitute the Blessed Trinity. What mode of divine charity is that whereby a creature loves God as her Son? But let us listen to the Bishop of Meaux, not the least of whose merits is to have understood as he did the greatness of Mary: ‘To form the holy Virgin's love, it was necessary to mingle together all that is most tender in nature and most efficacious in grace. Nature had to be there, for it was love of a son; grace had to act, for it was love of a God. But what is beyond our imagination is that nature and grace were insufficient; for it is not in nature to have God for a son; and grace, at least ordinary grace, cannot love a son as God: we must therefore rise higher. Suffer me, O Christians, to raise my thoughts to-day beyond nature and grace, and to seek the source of this love in the very bosom of the Eternal Father. The divine Son, of whom Mary is Mother, belongs to her and to God. She is united with God the Father by becoming the Mother of His only begotten Son, who is common to her and the Eternal Father by the manner of His conception. But to make her capable of conceiving God, the Most High had to overshadow her with His own power—that is, to extend to her His own fecundity. In this way Mary is associated in the eternal generation. But this God, who willed to give her His Son, was obliged also, in order to complete His work, to place in her chaste bosom a spark of the love He himself bears to His only Son, who is the splendour of His glory and the living image of His substance. Such is the origin of Mary’s love: it springs from an effusion of God’s heart into hers; and her love of her Son is given to her from the same source as her Son Himself. After this mysterious communication, what hast thou to say, O human reason? Canst thou pretend to understand the union of Mary with Jesus Christ? It has in it something of that perfect unity which exists between the Father and the Son. Do not attempt any more to explain that maternal love which springs from so high a source, and which is an overflow of the love of the Father for His only begotten Son.’[3]

Palestrina, the ancient Præneste, sends a representative to Mary’s court to-day, in the person of its valiant and gentle martyr, Agapitus. By his youth and his fidelity, he reminds us of that other gracious athlete, the acolyte Tarcisius, whose victory, gained on August 15, is eclipsed by the glory of Mary’s queenly triumph. During the persecution of Valerian, and just before the combats of Sixtus and Laurence, Tarcisius, carrying the body of our Lord, was met by some pagans, who tried to force him to show them what he had; but, pressing the heavenly treasure to his heart, he suffered himself to be crushed beneath their blows rather than 'deliver up to mad dogs the members of the Lord.’[4] Agapitus, at fifteen years of age, suffered cruel tortures under Aurelian. Though so young he may have seen the disgraceful end of Valerian; while the new edict, which enabled him to follow Tarcisius to Mary’s feet, had scarcely been promulgated throughout the empire, when Aurelian, in his turn, was cast down by Christ, from whom alone kings and emperors hold their crowns.

Prayer

Lætetur Ecclesia tua, Deus, beati Agapiti Martyris tui confisa suffragiis; atque ejus precibus gloriosis, et devota permaneat, et secura consistat. Per Dominum.
Let Thy Church rejoice, O God, relying on the intercession of blessed Agapitus, Thy martyr; and by his glorious prayers, may she remain devout, and be securely supported. Through, etc.

As we return from Palestrina to the Eternal City, we pass on our left the cemetery of Saints Marcellinus and Peter, where were first deposited the holy relics of the pious empress Helena, who entered heaven on this day. The Roman Church deemed no greater honour could be given her than to mingle, so to say, her memory on May 3 with that of the sacred Wood which she restored to our adoring love. We shall not, then, speak to-day about the glorious discovery, which, after three centuries of struggle, gave so happy a consecration to the era of triumph. Nevertheless, let us offer our homage to her who set up the standard of salvation, and placed the Cross on the brow of princes who were once its persecutors.

Prayer

Domine Jesu Christe, qui locum, ubi crux tua latebat, beatæ Helenæ revelasti, ut per eam Ecclesiam tuam hoc pretioso thesauro ditares: ejus nobis intercessione concede; ut vitalis ligni pretio æternæ vitæ præmia consequamur. Qui vivis.
O Lord Jesus Christ, who unto blessed Helena didst reveal the place where Thy Cross lay hid: thus choosing her as the means to enrich Thy Church with that precious treasure: do Thou, at her intercession, grant that by the price of the Tree of Life we may attain unto the rewards of everlasting life. Who livest and reignest, etc.

But let us return to the empress of heaven, for Helena is but her happy handmaid and the martyrs are her army. Adam of St. Victor offers us this sweet sequence wherewith to praise her and pray to her in the midst of this stormy sea:

Sequence

Ave, Virgo singularis,
Mater nostri salutaris,
Quæ vocaris stella maris,
Stella non erratica;

Nos in hujus vitæ mari
Non permitte naufragan,
Sed pro nobis salutari
Tuo semper supplica.

Sævit mare, fremunt venti,
Fluctus surgunt turbulenti;
Navis currit, sed currenti
Tot occurrunt obvia!

Hic sirenes voluptatis,
Draco, canes, cum piratis,
Mortem pene desperatis
Hæc intentant omnia.

Post abyssos, nunc ad cœlum,
Furens unda fert phaselum;
Nutat malus, fluit velum,
Nautæ cessat opera;

Contabescit in his malis
Homo noster animalis:
Tu nos, mater spiritalis,
Pereuntes libera.

Tu, perfusa cœli rore,
Castitatis salvo flore,
Novum florem novo more
Protulisti sæculo.

Verbum Patri coæquale,
Corpus intrans virginale,
Fit pro nobis corporale
Sub ventris umbraculo

Te prævidit et elegit
Qui potenter cuncta regit,
Nec pudoris claustra fregit,
Sacra replens viscera;

Nec pressuram, nec dolorem,
Contra primæ matris morem,
Pariendo Salvatorem,
Sensisti, puerpera.

O Maria, pro tuorum
Dignitate meritorum,
Supra choros angelorum
Sublimaris unice:

Felix dies hodierna
Qua conscendis ad superna!
Pietate tu materna
Nos in imo respice.

Radix sancta, radix viva,
Flos, et vitis, et oliva,
Quam nulla vis insitiva,
Juvit ut fructificet;

Lampas soli, splendor poli,
Quæ splendore præes soli,
Nos assigna tuæ proli,
Ne districte judicet.

In conspectu summi Regis,
Sis pusilli memor gregis
Qui, transgressor datæ legis,
Præsumit de venia:

Judex mitis et benignus,
Judex jugi laude dignus
Reis spei dedit pignus,
Crucis factus hostia.

Jesu, sacri ventris fructus,
Nobis inter mundi fluctus
Sis dux, via et conductus
Liber ad cœlestia:

Tene clavum, rege navem;
Tu, procellam sedans gravem,
Portum nobis da suavem
Pro tua clementia.

Amen.
Hail, matchless Virgin,
Mother of our salvation,
who art called Star of the Sea,
a star that wandereth not;

permit us not in this life’s ocean
to suffer shipwreck,
but ever intercede for us
with the Saviour born of thee.

The sea is raging, the winds are roaring,
the boisterous billows rise;
the ship speeds on, but her swift course
what fearful odds oppose!

Here the sirens of pleasure,
the dragon, the sea-dogs, pirates,
all at once menace well-nigh
despairing man with death.

Down to the depths and up to the sky
does the raging surge bear the frail bark;
the mast totters, the sail is snatched away,
the mariner ceases his useless toil;

our animal man faints
amid so great evils:
do thou, O Mother, who art spiritual,
save us ere we perish.

The dew of heaven being sprinkled on thee,
thou, without losing the flower of thy purity,
didst in a new manner
give to the world a new flower.

The Word co-equal with the Father,
entering thy virginal body,
took for our sakes a body
in the secret of thy womb.

He who rules all things in His power,
foresaw and elected thee.
He filled thy sacred bosom
without breaking the seal of thy virginity.

Unlike the first mother,
thou, O Mother, didst feel
neither anguish nor pain
in bringing forth the Saviour.

O Mary, by the dignity
of thy merits,
thou alone art raised
far above the choirs of angels:

happy is this day whereon
thou didst ascend to such heights!
Oh! in thy motherly love,
look down upon us here below.

O holy root, O living root,
O flower and vine and olive,
no in-grafted energy
made thee fruitful;

light of the earth and brightness of heaven,
thou outshinest the sun in splendour;
present us to thy Son,
that He judge us not sternly.

In presence of the Most High King,
be mindful of the little flock,
which, though it has transgressed the law given it,
dares to hope for pardon;

the Judge, who is mild and merciful,
Judge worthy of everlasting praise,
becoming the victim of the Cross,
gave to the guilty the pledge of hope.

O Jesus, fruit of a holy Mother,
to us amid the world’s
billows be a guide,
a way and a free passage to heaven:

take the helm and guide the ship:
and stilling the tempest,
do Thou in Thy clemency
lead us to a pleasant harbour.

Amen.

[1] Ex pseudo-epistola Dionys. ad Paulum
[2] Thom. Aquin., Ia. P., qu. lxii., art. 6.
[3] Bossuet, First sermon for the Assumption.
[4] Damas, in Callisti.

 

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