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September

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

‘A simple and upright man, and fearing God, and avoiding evil’:[1] such is the description of the just man in the lessons of the night Office for the time; and it is the portrait of the holy monk whom the Church offers us to-day for our admiration, our imitation, and our devotion. Fleeing from men in order to find God, he quitted his native land, where his rank, and still more his virtues, prevented him from being unknown. He wandered from the coasts of Greece to the borders of the Rhone, and stopped at length in the forests of Septimania, where he seemed to have found his desired solitude. There for three years he dwelt in a cave hidden among the brambles, spending his time in giving thanks to God and praying for the salvation of the people.[2] He lived on herbs and water, until our Lord sent him a hind to nourish him with her milk. But his little friend was soon to betray him. One day, hard pressed by the hounds, she fled in terror to the saint, followed by the royal huntsmen. Safe with her protector her fears were calmed; but an arrow, aimed at her, pierced Saint Giles’s hand, which was never afterwards healed; for he refused to have it dressed, in order that he might bear the pain of it for the rest of his life. But a greater trial awaited him: his retreat having been thus discovered, a monastery soon rose upon the spot, and he was forced to become its abbot; moreover he worked so many miracles that crowds came to see him. Farewell to the silence and oblivion of his beloved forest!

After the death of the servant of God, the place became more and more frequented. From north and east and south pilgrims poured in, to offer up their prayers and fulfil their vows at the tomb of one, who soon became known as one of the most helpful saints in heaven.[3] Among the crowds came Pontiffs[4] and kings.[5] But the most numerous classes of visitors to the holy relics were soldiers and little children, the former equipped for the crusades, the latter borne in their mothers’ arms; all confiding in the humble, gentle monk who, at the risk of his life, calmed the terror of the poor little hind; all imploring his assistance against the fear which even the bravest may feel in the hour of battle, or the fright that disturbs the little one in his cradle. St. Giles’s ranked as one of the three great pilgrimages of the west; the other two being Rome and Compostello.

Over the relics of the saint was raised a colossal church, which has been described as 'the most perfect type of the Byzantine style when at the height of its splendour.’[6] Around it a town of thirty thousand households has sprung up, where formerly there was but a desert. The most illustrious of the powerful Counts of Toulouse gave the preference over his other titles to the one he held from this noble city; he would be known to posterity as Raymund of St. Giles. A hundred years later, Raymund VI. did penance at the threshold of the celebrated basilica, for his connivance with heresy; our saint, who had just given hospitality to Peter of Castelnau for his last resting-place, opened his gates for the reconciliation of the martyr’s presumed murderer.

We should never end, were we to enumerate the churches, parishes, abbeys, and altars consecrated to St. Giles, in all parts of Christendom, which are so many sources of grace, and new centres for pilgrimages. Spain, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Bavaria, Poland, rival France in this respect. England is second to no country in the world; she has one hundred and forty-six sanctuaries dedicated to the pious monk, and even the established church continues to honour him.

Let us hasten to give the short legend that remains to the holy abbot since the sixteenth century, when his feast ceased to be celebrated with nine lessons. Most of his precious relics are preserved in the rich treasury of the church of Saint-Sernin at Toulouse; Saint-Gilles-du-Gard, which had been obliged to give them up in order to save them from the sacrilegious hands of the armed heretics, had, in 1865, the consolation of discovering his original tomb.

Ægidius Atheniensis, regiæ stirpis, a prima ætate divinis litteris et caritatis officiis ita deditus fuit, ut nihil præterea curare videretur. Itaque parentibus mortuis, totum patrimonium in pauperes erogavit: quin etiam tunicam exuit ut ægrotum egentem tegeret; qua ille indutus statim convaluit. Sed multis deinceps clarior miraculis, timens sui nominis celebritatem, Arelatem ad beatum Cæsarium contendit: a quo post biennium discedens, secessit in eremum, ubi diutius herbarum radicibus et cervæ lacte, quæ statis ad eum horis veniebat, admirabili sanctitate vixit. Quæ cerva, insequentibus quodam die canibus regiis, cum in antrum Ægidii refugisset, Galliæ regem impulit, ut ab eo summis precibus peteret, ut in loco speluncæ monasterium exstrui pateretur. Cujus administrationem, flagitante rege, invitus suscepit: eoque munere aliquot annis prudenter pieque gesto, migravit in cœlum.

Giles was an Athenian, of royal race, who from his childhood applied himself so earnestly to the study of divine things and to works of charity, that he seemed to care for nothing else. On his parents’ death he distributed his whole fortune among the poor; even stripping himself of his own garment in order to clothe a poor sick man, who was cured as soon as he put it on. Many other miracles soon made his name so famous, that for fear of renown he fled to St. Cæsarius at Arles. After two years Giles departed thence and retired into a desert, where he lived a life of wonderful holiness: his only food being the roots of herbs and the milk of a hind who came to him at fixed times. One day the hind being pursued by the royal huntsmen took refuge in his cave. Upon this discovery of the holy man, the king of France begged Giles to allow a monastery to be built on the site of the cave. At the king’s desire he was obliged, against his will, to undertake the government of this monastery; and after having, for several years, discharged that office with much piety and prudence, he passed away to heaven.

‘Go to my servant . . . and offer for yourselves a holocaust: and my servant . . . shall pray for you: his face I will accept, that folly be not imputed to you.’[7] This word is unceasingly fulfilled, O blessed Giles, in the innumerable sanctuaries where thou art honoured. Make use of thy prerogatives for our benefit; hear our prayers, for the glory of Him who has crowned thy humility. In return for the beautiful peace thou didst ever preserve in thy soul, thou now hast power over the countless troubles which disturb our miserable existence, from the cradle even to the tomb. Thou aidest mothers to drive away from their babes the nightly phantoms raised by the enemy of the innocents; thou preservest the little ones from the terrible maladies to which childhood is liable. Thou watchest over the youth, to secure his good morals; and givest him the fear of God, which will make him a courageous and upright man. Thou makest him brave and calm in the midst of dangers, whether in thunderstorms or on the field of battle. Above all, thou preservest thy client from the most cowardly of all fears, that of human respect; and from the saddest kind of shame, that which would withhold him from ackowledging his sins in the sacred tribunal of Penance. The cares and disappointments of middle life do not disturb the peace of him who trusts in thee; old age has no anxious future for him; he falls into his last sleep, in the bosom of God, as in infancy he fell asleep in his mother’s arms. Deign to accept us among thy devout clients, and disappoint us not in our expectations.

Beneventum offers to our homage twelve brothers martyrs, natives of Africa, who suffered in divers places, but whose bodies she glories in possessing. Let us unite in the prayer which the Church offers to God, in honour of this admirable group of heroes.

Collect

Fraterna nos, Domine, martyrum tuorum corona lætificet: quæ et fidei nostræ præbeat incrementa virtutum, et multiplici nos suffragio consoletur. Per Dominum.

May the fraternal crown of thy martyrs rejoice us, O Lord, and may it procure for our faith increase of virtue, and console us with multiplied intercession. Through our Lord, etc.


We must not omit to mention briefly that with the Greeks this day is the first of the Calendar; they celebrate it as a feast, called of the Indiction, or of the new year.


[1] Job i. 8.
[2] Acta S. Ægidii
[3] St. Giles is the only confessor in the group of fourteen saints known as helpers, whose names are given in ancient missals in the following order: George, Blase, Erasmus, Pantaleon, Vitus, Christopher, Giles, Achatus or Acathius, Denis, Cyriacus, Eustace, Catharine, Margaret, and Barbara. He was even reckoned among the Jive privileged saints, viz . Denis, George, Christopher, Blase, and Giles, honoured in a more special manner in certain places.
[4] Urban II, who consecrated the altar of the basilica where the holy body rested, Gelasius II, Callistus II, Innocent II; Clement IV was born at St. Giles’s; Julius II had held the abbey in commendam.
[5] Boleslas III of Poland, and St. Louis of France.
[6] Mérimée, Notes d'un voyage dans le midi de la France.
[7] Job xlii. 8.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

‘Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness.[1] The people with teeth of steel, grinding the nations, gives itself up as food to him, to whom was said: “Kill and eat;”[2] the mouth of the Huns, formerly vomiting foam and rage, now distils the honey of charity. Such, O Christ, are thy miracles; such are Thy works, O our God!’[3] Thus does Baronius, on reaching in his history the year of Christ 1000, hail the arrival of the Hungarian deputies, who came to offer to the Roman Church the suzerainty of their land, and beseech the Vicar of Christ to confer the title of king upon their duke Stephen.

We are carried back in thought a century earlier, when, led by Arcades, the son of Aleut, under the banner of the hawk, the Magyars came down from the mountains of Transylvania into the plains watered by the Theiss and the Danube. Attila seemed to live again in those sons of his race, who poured like a torrent over Germany, Gaul, and Italy. But the empire of the Huns over reconquered Pannonia was to be lasting only on condition of its ceasing to be the scourge of God, and becoming the rampart of His Church. In this world, while it is not yet time for eternal justice, the instruments of God’s anger are soon broken unless they are amenable to love. Five centuries earlier, Attila in person was rushing like an overflowing river upon the capital of the world, when he was met by the sovereign Pontiff. The Hungarian chronicles record the following message as having been then received from heaven by the universal devastator: ‘Hearken to the command of the Lord God Jesus Christ. Thy pride shall not be suffered to enter into the holy city where lie the bodies of My apostles. Return. Later on a descendant of thine will come to Rome with humility; and I will cause him there to receive a crown that shall last for ever.’[4] Attila thereupon recrossed the Alps, and had only just time to reach the Danube before he died. In the days of St. Stephen the heavenly promise was fulfilled. Let the reader not be astonished that we do not discuss its authenticity. Legendary or not, as to the forms with which national traditions have clothed it, there is nothing in this divine engagement which the historian need reject; it is in accordance with the rules of God’s Providence, which governs history. God never forgets a service; nor does apostolic gratefulness wear out with years: the debt of gratitude which Leo the Great contracted, Sylvester II. paid at the appointed time. From that tomb respected by the plunderer, a virtue came forth, changing the avenger into an apostle. The crown, placed on the brow of Attila’s successor by Peter’s successor, was destined to be his as long as he should be preceded by the cross, that other mark of honour conferred upon him. Like the Holy Empire, to which Hungary was to be later on united without however being absorbed by it, the Hungarian monarchy was founded upon Peter; for his sake it subsisted, and he alone, under God, was the safeguard of its future.

Let not the sad forebodings of the present hour make us forget the marvellous power shown on this feast by the Lamb the Ruler of the earth.[5] Scarcely had the blood shod by the sons of Arpadus disappeared from the streets of the cities; scarcely had the smoke of burning ruins and the dust of crumbling walls been scattered; when their fierce energy, tempered like a choice blade in the waters of the sacred font, became the defence of Christianity in the east. A new sort of invasion began; the holiness sprung from Stephen put forth numerous branches, which, shedding their beautiful blossoms over the whole earth, filled all lands with perfumes of the Spouse.

Let us read the history of the apostolic king, as given in the book of holy Church.

Stephanus in Hungariam Christi fidem et regium nomen invexit. Regia corona a Romano Pontifice impetrata, ejusque jussu in regera inunctus, regnum Sedi apostolicæ obtulit. Varia pietatis domicilia Romæ, Jerosolymis, Constantinopoli; in Hungaria archiepiscopatum Strigoniensem, episcopatus decem, admirabili religione et munifìcentia fundavit. Par in pauperes amor et liberali tas, quos veluti Christum ipsum complectens, neminem a se mærentum ac vacuum umquam dimisit; quin ad eorum inopiam sublevandam amplissimis facultatibus erogatis, domesticam quoque supellectilem eximia benignitate frequenter distribuit: suis insuper manibus lavare pauperum pedes, noctu solus et ignotlis nosocomia frequentare, decumbentibus inservire, ac cetera caritatis officia exhibere consuevit: quarum virtutum merito illius dextera, resoluto cetero corpore, incorrupta permansit.

Orandi studio noctes pene totas ducebat insomnes, atque in cœlestium rerum contemplatione defixus, interdum extra sensus raptus, sublimis in æra ferri visus fuit. Perduellium conspirationes, ac validorum hostium impetus, miro prorsus modo, non semel orationis præsidio evitavit. Susceptum ex Ghisella Bavarica, sancti Henrici imperatoris sorori, quam sibi matrimonio junxerat, Emericum filium tanta morum disciplina, talique pietate enutrivit, quantum ejus postea sanctitas declaravit. Regni vero negotia ita disposuit, ut accitis undique prudentissimis et sanctissimis viris, nihil umquam sine illorum consilio moliretur. Humillimis interim precibus in cinere et cilicio Deum deprecans, ut Universum Hungariæ regnura, antequam e vita migraret, catholicum videre mereretur. Vere propter ingens dilatandæ fidei studium, illius gentis apostolus nuncupatus, facta a Romana Pontifice ipsi posterisque regibus præferendæ crucis potestate.

Dei Genitricem, quam ardentissime venerabatur, amplissimo in ejus honorem constructo templo, Hungariæ Patronem instituit, ab eadem vicissim Virgine receptus in cœlum ipso suæ Assumptionis die, quem Hungari, e sancti regis instituto, magnæ Dominæ diem appellant. Sacrum ejus corpus suavissimo fragrans odore, liquore cœlesti scatens, inter multa et varia miracula, Romani Pontificis jussu nobiliorem in locum translatum est, atque honorificentius conditum. Ejus autem festum Innocentius undecimus Pontifex Maximus quarto nonas septembris, ob insignem victoriam ab exercitu Leopoldi primi Romanorum electi imperatoris et Hungariæ regis eadem die in Budæ expugnatione, ope divina, e Turcis reportatam, celebrandum inetituit.
Stephen introduced into Hungary both the faith of Christ and the regal dignity. He obtained his royal crown from the Roman Pontiff; and. having been, by his command, anointed king, offered his kingdom to the apostolic See. He built several houses of charity at Rome, Jerusalem, and Constantinople; and with a wonderfully munificent spirit of religion, he founded the archiepiscopal See of Gran and ten other bishoprics. His love for the poor was equalled only by his generosity towards them; for, seeing in them Christ himself, he never sent anyone away sad or emptyhanded. So great indeed was his charity, that, to relieve their necessities, after expending large sums of money, he often bestowed upon them his household goods. It was his custom to wash the feet of the poor with his own hands, and to visit the hospitals at night, alone and unknown, serving the sick and showing them every charity. As a reward for these good deeds his right hand remained incorrupt after death, when the rest of his body had returned to dust.

He was much given to prayer: and would spend almost entire nights without sleep, rapt in heavenly contemplation; at times he was seen ravished out of his senses, and raised in the air. By the help of prayer, he more than once escaped in a wonderful manner from treasonable conspiracies and from the attacks of powerful enemies. Having married Ghisella of Bavaria, sister of the emperor St. Henry, he had by her a son Emeric, whom he brought up in such regularity and piety as to form him into a saint. He summoned wise and holy men from ail parts to aid him in the government of his kingdom, and undertook nothing without their advice. In sackcloth and ashes, he besought God with most humble prayer, that he might not depart this life without seeing the whole kingdom of Hungary Catholic. So great indeed was his zeal for the propagation of the faith, that he was called the apostle of his nation, and he received from the Roman Pontiff, both for himself and for his successors, the privilege of having the cross borne before them.

He had the most ardent devotion towards the Mother of God, in whose honour he built a magnificent church, solemnly declaring her patroness of Hungary. In return the blessed Virgin received him into heaven on the very day of her Assumption, which the Hungarians, by the appointment of their holy king, call 'the day of the great Lady.’ His sacred body, exhaling a most fragrant odour and distilling a heavenly liquour, was, by order of the Roman Pontiff, translated, amidst many and divers miracles, to a more worthy resting-place, and buried with greater honour. Pope Innocent XI. commanded his feast to be celebrated on the fourth of the Nones of September; on which day, Leopold I. emperor elect of the Romans and king of Hungary, had, by the divine assistance, gained a remarkable victory over the Turks at the siege of Buda.

Apostle and king, protect thy people, assist the Church, succour us all. At the close of that tenth century, when anarchy had penetrated even into the sanctuary, hope sprang up once more on the day whereon the holy Spirit, the Creator and Renovator, chose thy race, in all its native vigour, to renew the youth of the world. Satan, who thought that the papacy was humiliated once for all, trembled with rage when he saw new labourers coming to Peter, as to the only foundation on which it is possible to build. The proudest family that had ever caused the empire of Romulus to shake, asked of Rome the right to be counted among the nations of the west. How true it is that the gates of hell shall never prevail against the rock, against the Church founded thereon, against the holy city prepared on the top of mountains to draw all nations to itself! In vain had the storm stirred up the very mire of the torrents of the abyss: it was the hour when God lifted up His hand, as the prophet says, towards the far-off lands, and kings came bringing to the ever holy bride those unknown sons whom they themselves had educated for her.[6]

No, the Lord confounded not them that wait for Him. And therefore we will hope, even against hope, in the future of the noble nation established by thee upon the apostolic strength. A people justly proud of so many irreproachable heroes, could not allow itself to be long led astray by a false liberty kept up by Jewish gold, and extolled by all the enemies of the country’s traditions. Martin watches together with thee over the land of his birth; and the sovereign of Hungary, the august Queen of heaven, will not suffer her loyal subjects to listen to the proposals of the infernal spirit.


[1] Judges xiv. 14.
[2] St. Peter, in the vision at Joppe, which signified the assimilation of the Gentiles by the Church.
[3] Baron. Annal. eccless. Silvestri II. an. 2, Christs 1000.
[4] Chartuicius, Chronica Hangarorum, De victoria Aquile regis.
[5] Isaias xvi. 1.
[6] Cf. Isaias xlix. 12-23.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Come, all ye who are drawn by the desire of unchangeable good, and who seek it in vain in this passing world; I will tell you what heaven has done for me. Like you, I once sought with feverish eagerness; and this exterior world could not satisfy my burning desire. But, by the divine grace, which fed my anguish, at length she, whose name I then knew not, appeared to me, more beautiful than the sun, sweeter than balm. As she approached, how gentle was her countenance, how peace-inspiring her voice, saying to me: “O thou, whose youth is all full of the love wherewith I inspire thee, why dost thou thus pour out thy heart? The peace thou seekest by so many different ways, is with me; thy desire shall be amply fulfilled, I promise thee, if only thou wilt take me for thy bride.” I acknowledge that at these words my heart failed, my soul was all pierced with the dart of her love. As I wished to know her name, her dignity, her origin, she told me she was called the Wisdom of God; and that, at first invisible in the bosom of the Father, she had taken of a mother a visible nature, in order to be more easily loved. Then, with great delight, I gave my consent; and she, kissing me, departed full of joy. Ever since then, the flame of her love has been growing within me, absorbing all my thoughts. Her delights endure for ever; she is my well-beloved bride, my inseparable companion. Through her, the peace I once sought is now the cause of my joy. Hear me then, all of you: go to her in like manner; for she makes it her happiness to reject no one.[1]

Let us read the history of him, who in the foregoing lines has given us the key to his life.

Laurentius, ex illustri Justinianorum familia Venetiis natus, eximiam vel puer morum gravitatem præ se tulit. Exacta inter pietatis officia adolescentia, ad castum Verbi et animæ connubium a divina Sapientia invitatus, de religiosæ vitæ instituto capessendo deliberare coepit. Novæitaque militiæ clam proludens, præter alias corporis afflictationes, super nudos cubabat asseres, sedensque velut arbiter hinc inter sæculi blandimenta, paratasque a matre nuptias, illinc claustrales inter austeritates, oculis in Christi patientis crucem conversis: Tu, inquit, es Domine spes mea: ibi posuisti certissimum refugium tuum: ad canonicorum sancti Georgii in Alga congregationem convolavit: ubi novis excogitatis cruciatibus acrius in seipsum, veluti in hostem infensissimum, instaurans bellum, nullam adeo sibi oblectationem indulgebat, ut ne in doufesticum umquam hortum, nec in paternam quidem domum, nisi cum morienti matri extrema pietatis officia siccis oculis persolvit, exinde intraverii. Par erat obedientiæ, mansuetudinis, ac præcipue humilitatis Studium, cum abjectissima quæque cœnobii munia sibi ultro desumeret, celeberrima per urbis loca, non tam victum quam ludibria emendicaret, illatasque contumelias ac calumnias immotus ac silens perferret: assidue præsertim orationis subsidio, qua sæpe per mentis excessum rapiebatur in Deum; tantoque cor ejus æstuabat ardore, ut nutantes etiam sodales ad perseverantiam ac Jesu Christi amorem inflammaret.

Ab Eugenio quarto patriæ episcopus designatus, quem magna contentione honorem detrectaverat, majori gessit cum laude. Nam consueta vivendi ratione nihil admodum immutata, paupertatem quam semper coluerat, in mensa, supellectili ac lecto perpetuo retinuit. Modicam domi alebat familiam, quod grandem alteram sibi esse diceret, pauperes Christi significans. Quacumque adiretur hora, præsto omnibus erat, paterna oumes caritate allevabat, non renuens vel ære se alieno gravare, iliorum ne inopiædeesset. Rogatus qua spe id faceret: Domini mei, qui pro me dissolvere facile poterit, respondebat. Spem autem non confundere divina Providentia submissis inopinato subsidiis jugiter declarabat. Plura virginum monasteria construxit, quas etiam ad perfectioris vitæ rationem sua vigilantia composuit. Matronis a sæculi pompis et omatus vanitate revocandis, ecclesiasticæ disciplinæ ac moribus reformandis maximopere studuit; dignus sane qui ab eodem Eugenio gloria et decus præsulum coramcardinalibus vocaretur, et qui a Nicolao quinto ejus successore, translato e Gradensi civitate titulo, primus Venetiarum patriarcha renuntiaretur.

Lacrimarum dono insignitus, omnipotenti Deo placationis hoatiam quotidie offerebat. Quod cum aliquando nocte Domiuicæ Nativitatis perageret, Christum Jesum sub pulcherrimi infantis specie videre promeruit; tantumque in eo erat commissi gregis præsidium, ut cœlitus aliquando acceptum fuerit, pontificis sui intercessione ac meritis stetisse rempublicam. Prophetiæ spiritu afflatus, plura humanæ cognitioni prorsua impervia prædixit: morbos ac dæmones suis precibus sæpe fugavit: librosetiam cœlestem doctrinam ac pietatem spirantes, grammaticæ pene rudis, conscripsit. Denique cum lethalem incidisset in morbum, et commodiorem domestici lectum seni atque ægro pararent, aversatus ejusmodi delicias, tamquam a durissima morientis Domini sui cruce plus nimio abhorrentes, consueto in stramine se jussit deponi, et finem vitæ suæ adventare prænoacens, sublatus in cœlum oculis: Venio, inquit, ad te, o bone Jesu; ac die octava januarii obdormivit in Domino. Pretiosam ejus mortem testati sunt angelici concentus, a Carthrasianis quibusdam monachis auditi, et sacrum cadaver per duos ultra menses inhumatum, suavi fragrans odore, etrubescente facie, integrum atque incorruptum, ac nova post mortem patrata miracula: quibus permotus Alexander octavus Pontifex maximus eum sanctorum numero adscripsit. Innocentius vero duodecimus quintam septembris diem, qua vir sanctus ad pontificiam primo cathedram fuerat evectus, celebrando illiras festo assignavit.
Laurence was born at Venice of the illustrious family of the Justiniani, and while still a child was remarkable for the seriousness of his character. He spent his youth in exercises of piety, and then being attracted by divine Wisdom to the chaste espousals of the Word and the soul, he began to think of embracing a religious state. As a prelude to this new warfare, he secretly undertook many bodily austerities, such as sleeping upon bare boards. Sitting, as it were, as judge, he placed the pleasures of the world and the marriage prepared for him by his mother on the one hand, and on the other the austerities of the cloister; then casting his eyes on an image of Christ crucified, he said: ‘Thou, O Lord, art my hope: there thou hast placed thy most secure refuge,’ and he betook himself to the congregation of Canons of St. George in Alga. Here he invented fresh torments, and waged war with even more vehemence than before, against himself, as if against his greatest enemy. So far from allowing himself the least gratification, he would never set foot in the garden belonging to his family nor in his paternal home, except when without a tear he performed the last offices of piety towards his dying mother. He was equally zealous in the practice of obedience, meekness, and especially of humility. He would choose of his own accord the humblest duties of the monastery, and begged his bread in the most crowded parts of the town, seeking rather mockery than alms. He bore insults and calumnies unmoved and in silence. His great support was assiduous prayer, wherein he was often rapt in God in ecstasy. The love of God burnt so brightly in his heart that it kindled a like ardour in the hearts of his companions and encouraged them to perseverance.

Eugenius IV. appointed him bishop of his native city. He made great efforts to decline the dignity, but when obliged to accept it, he so discharged its obligations as to win the praise of all. He changed nothing of his former manner of life, practising holy poverty, as he bad ever done, in what regarded his table, his bed, and his furniture. He kept but few persons in his house or service, for he used to say that he had another large family, meaning Christ’s poor. Every one had free access to him at any hour; he helped and consoled all with fatherly charity, even burdening himself with debts in order to relieve the necessitous. When he was asked on whose help he counted in such cases, he answered: ‘On my Lord’s help, and he can easily pay for me.’ And divine Providence always justified his confidence by sending him help in the most unexpected manner. He built many monasteries for nuns, whom he trained with great vigilance to the life of perfection. He devoted himself zealously to withdrawing the ladies of Venice from worldly pomp and vanity of dress, and to the reformation of ecclesiastical discipline and Christian morals. Thus he truly deserved the title of 'honour and glory of prelates,’ which Eugenius IV. applied to him in presence of the cardinals. Nicholas V. the next Pope, translated the Patriarchate from the See of Grado to that of Venice, and proclaimed him first Patriarch.

He was honoured with the gift of tears, and daily offered to almighty God the Victim of propitiation. Once when saying Mass on the night of our Lord’s Nativity he saw Christ Jesus under the form of a most beautiful Infant. Great was his care for the flock entrusted to him; and on one occasion it was revealed by heaven that Venice owed its safety to its pontiff’s prayers and merits. Filled with the Spirit of prophecy, he foretold many events which no human mind could have foreseen; while his prayers often put the devils to flight and healed diseases. Though he had made but little study of letters, he wrote books full of heavenly doctrine and piety. When his last illness came on, his servants prepared a more comfortable bed for him on account of his sickness and old age; but he, shrinking from such a luxury which was too unlike his Lord’s hard death-bed, the cross, bade them lay him on his usual couch. Knowing the end of his life had come, he raised his eyes to heaven, and saying ‘I come to thee, O good Jesus!’ he fell asleep in the Lord on the eighth of January. The holiness of his death was attested by angelic harmonies heard by several Carthusian monks; as also by the state of his body, which during the two months that it lay unburied, remained whole and incorrupt, of a lively colour and breathing a sweet fragrance. Other miracles, worked after his death, also gave proof of his sanctity; on which account, Pope Alexander VIII. enrolled him among the saints. Innocent XII. assigned for his feast the fifth of September, on which day the holy man had been raised to the pontifical dignity.

‘O Wisdom, who sittest on Thy lofty throne; O Word, by whom all things were made, be propitious to me, in this manifestation of the secrets of Thy holy love.’[2] Such, O Laurence, was thy prayer, when, fearing to be responsible for the hidden talent, if thou shouldst keep to thyself what might profit others, thou didst resolve to make known august mysteries. We thank thee for having given us to share in these heavenly secrets. By the reading of thy devout works, and by thy intercession with God, draw us to the heights of holiness, like the purified flame which can but mount upwards. Man falls from his inborn nobility if he seeks rest in aught save Him to whose image he is made. All things here below are reflections of God’s eternal beauty; they teach us to love Him, and help us to sing our love.[3]

What delights were thine, on those lofty summits of charity so nigh to heaven, which are to be reached by the paths of truth, i.e. the virtues. It is indeed thy own portrait thou drawest, when thou sayest of the soul admitted to ineffable intimacy with the Wisdom of the Father: ‘All things are profitable to her; which way soever she turns, she perceives but the gleams of love. Sights and sounds, sweetnesses and perfumes, delicate viands, concerts of earth, brightness of the skies: all that she hears, all that she sees in the whole of nature, is a nuptial harmony, the beauty of the banquet wherein the Word has espoused her’[4] Oh! may we walk, like thee, by the light of God, live in desire and in union, love ever more and more, that ever more and more we may be loved!


[1] Laurent. Justinian. Fasciculus amoris, cap. xvi.
[2] De caste connubio Verbi et animæ. Proamium.
[3] Ibid. cap. i. & xxv.
[4] De casto connubio Verbi et ammæ, cap. xxv.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

‘Let us celebrate the Nativity of the Virgin Mary; let us adore her Son, Christ our Lord.’[1] Such is the invitation addressed to us to-day by the Church. Let us hearken to her call; let us enter into her overflowing joy. The Bridegroom is at hand, for His throne is now set up on earth; yet a little while, and He will appear in the diadem of our human nature, wherewith His Mother is to crown Him on the day of the joy of His heart, and of ours. To-day, as on the glorious Assumption, the sacred Canticle is heard;[2] but this time it belongs more to earth than to heaven.

Truly a better paradise than the first is given us at this hour. Eden, fear no more that man will endeavour to enter thee; thy Cherubim may leave the gates and return to heaven. What are thy beautiful fruits to us, since we cannot touch them without dying? Death is now for those who will not eat of the fruit so soon to appear amid the flowers of the virgin earth to which our God has led us.

Hail, new world, far surpassing in magnificence the first creation! Hail blessed haven, where we find a calm after so many storms! Aurora dawns; the rainbow glitters in the heavens; the dove comes forth; the ark rests upon the earth, offering new destinies to the world. The haven, the aurora, the rainbow, the dove, the ark of salvation, the paradise of the heavenly Adam, the creation whereof the fomer was but a shadow: all this art thou, sweet infant, in whom already dwell all grace, all truth, all life.

Thou art the little cloud, which the father of prophets in the suppliant anguish of his soul awaited; and thou bringest refreshment to the parched earth. Under the weakness of thy fragile form, appears the Mother of fair love and of holy hope. Thou art that other light cloud of exquisite fragrance, which our desert sends up to heaven. In the incomparable humility of thy soul, which knows not itself, the angels, standing like armed warriors around thy cradle, recognize their Queen.

O Tower of the true David; citadel withstanding the first shock of satan’s attack, and breaking all his power; true Sion, founded on the holy mountains, the highest summits of virtue; temple and palace, feebly foreshadowed by those of Solomon; house built by eternal Wisdom for herself: the faultless lines of thy fair architecture were planned from all eternity. Together with Emmanuel, who predestined thee for His home of delights, thou art thyself, O blessed child, the crowning point of creation, the divine ideal fully realized on earth.

Let us, then, understand the Church, when, even on this day, she proclaims thy divine maternity, and unites in her chants of praise the birth of Emmanuel and thine own. He who, being Son of God by essence, willed to be also Son of man, had, before all other designs, decreed that He would have a Mother. Such, consequently, was the primordial, absolute character of that title of mother, that, in the eternal decree, it was one with the very being of the chosen creature, the motive and cause of her existence, as well as the source of all her perfections natural and supernatural. We too, then, must recognize thee as Mother, even from thy very cradle, and must celebrate thy birthday by adoring thy Son our Lord.

Inasmuch as it embraces all the brethren of the Man-God, thy blessed maternity sheds its rays upon all time, both before and after this happy day. 'God is our king before ages: He hath wrought salvation in the midst of the earth.’[3] ‘The midst of the earth,’ says the Abbot of Clairvaux, 'admirably represents Mary. Mary is the centre of the universe, the ark of God, the cause of creation, the business of ages. Towards her turn the inhabitants of heaven and the dwellers in the place of expiation, the men that have gone before us, and we that are now living, those who are to follow us, our children’s children and their descendants. Those in heaven look to her to have their ranks filled up; those in purgatory look for their deliverance; the men of the first ages, that they may be found faithful prophets; those who come after, that they may obtain eternal happiness. Mother of God, Queen of heaven, Sovereign of the world, all generations shall call thee blessed, for thou hast brought forth life and glory for all. In thee the angels ever find their joy, the just find grace, sinners pardon; in thee, and by thee, and from thee, the merciful hand of the Almighty has reformed the first creation.’[4]

Andrew of Crete calls this day a solemnity of entrance, a feast of beginning, whose end is the union of the Word with our flesh; a virginal feast, full of joy and confidence for all.[5] ‘All ye nations, come hither,’ cries St. John Damascene; 'come every race and every tongue, every age and every dignity, let us joyfully celebrate the birthday of the world’s gladness.’[6] ‘It is the beginning of salvation, the origin of every feast,' says St. Peter Damian; ‘for behold! the Mother of the Bridegroom is born. With good reason does the whole world rejoice to-day; and the Church, beside herself, bids her choirs sing wedding songs.’[7]

Not only do the Doctors of east and west use similar language in praise of Mary’s birth, but moreover the Latin and Greek Churches sing, each in its own tongue, the same beautiful formula, to close the office of the feast: ‘Thy birth O Virgin Mother of God, brought joy to the whole world: for out of thee arose the Sun of justice, Christ our God: who, taking off the curse, hath bestowed blessing; and defeating death, hath given us life everlasting.’[8]

This union of Rome and Byzantium in the celebration of to-day’s festival, dates back as far as the seventh century at least;[9]beyond that we cannot speak with anything like certitude, nor is it known when the feast was first instituted. It is supposed to have originated at Angers, towards the year 430, by an apparition of our Lady to the holy bishop Maurillus in the fields of Marillais; and hence the name of Notre Dame Angevine often given to the feast. In the eleventh century Chartres, the city of Mary, claims for its own Fulbert, together with Robert the Pious, a principal share in the spreading of the glorious solemnity throughout France. It is well known how intimate the bishop was with the king; and how the latter himself set to music the three admirable responsories composed by Fulbert, wherein he celebrates the rising of the mysterious star that was to give birth to the Sun; the branch springing from the rod of Jesse, and producing the divine Flower whereon the holy Spirit was to rest; and the merciful power which caused Mary to blossom in Judæa like the rose on the thorn.[10]

In the year 1245, in the third session of the first Council of Lyons, (the same session which deposed Frederick II. from the empire), Innocent IV. established for the whole Church, not the feast which was already kept everywhere, but the Octave of the Nativity of the blessed Virgin Mary.[11] It was the accomplishment of a vow made by him and the other Cardinals during the Church’s widowhood, which through the intrigues of the crafty emperor, lasted nineteen months after the death of Celestine IV., and which was brought to a close by the election of Sinibaldo Fieschi under the name of Innocent.

In 1377, the great Pope Gregory XI., who broke the chains of captivity in Avignon, wished to add a vigil to the solemnity of our Lady’s birthday. But whether he merely expressed a desire to this effect, as did his successor Urban VI. with regard to a fast on the eve of the Visitation, or whether for some other reason, the intentions of the holy Pope were carried out for only a very short time during the years of trouble that followed his death.

Together with the Church, let us ask, as the fruit of this sweet feast, for that peace which seems to flee ever farther and farther from our unhappy times. Our Lady was born during the second of the three periods of universal peace wherewith the reign of Augustus was blest, the last of which ushered in the Prince of peace Himself.

The temple of Janus is closed; in the eternal city a mysterious fountain of oil has sprung up from the spot where the first sanctuary of the Mother of God is one day to be built; signs and portents are multiplied; the whole world is in expectation; the poet has sung: ‘Behold the last age, foretold by the Sybil, is at hand; behold the great series of new worlds is beginning; behold the Virgin!’[12]

In Judæa, the sceptre has been taken away from Juda; but the usurper of his power, Herod the Idumæan, is hastening to complete the splendid restoration, which will enable the second temple worthily to receive within its walls the Ark of the new Covenant.

It is the sabbatical month, the first of the civil year, the seventh of the sacred cycle; the month of Tisri which begins the repose of each seventh year, and in which is announced the holy year of Jubilee; the most joyous of months, with its solemn Neomeniacelebrated with trumpets and singing, its feast of tabernacles, and the commemoration of the completion of Solomon’s temple.

In the heavens, the sun, in his passage through the zodiac, has left the sign of Leo and entered that of Virgo. On earth, two obscure descendants of David, Joachim and Anne, are thanking God for having blessed their long-barren union.

 

FIRST VESPERS

 

The psalms, capitulum, and hymn, are the same as on the other feasts of our Lady. The antiphons and versicle celebrate the birth of the noblest of Eve’s daughters, which brings honour to our race, gives to God a Mother, and to us an advocate whose prayers are never rejected.

1. Ant. Nativitas gloriosæ Virginis Mariæ ex semine Abrahæ, ortæ de tribu Juda, clara ex stirpe David.

1. Ant. This is the Nativity of the glorious Virgin Mary, of the seed of Abraham, born of the tribe of Juda, of the noble race of David.


Ps. Dixit Dominus, page 38.


2. Ant. Nativitas est hodie sanctæ Mariæ Virginis, cujus vita inclyta cunctas illustrat ecclesias.

2. Ant. To-day is the birthday of the holy Virgin Mary, whose glorious life is the light of all the Churches.


Ps. Laudate pueri, page 41.


3. Ant. Regali ex progenie Maria exorta refulget: cujus precibus nos adjuvari mente et spiritu devotissime poscimus.

3. Ant. Mary, born of a royal race, is illustrious: the aid of her prayers we most devoutly crave with heart and mind.


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 Isræl 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.
4. ANT. Corde et animo Christo canamus gloriam, in hac sacra solemnitate præcelsæ Genitricis Dei Mariæ.
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. With heart and mind let us sing glory to Christ, on this sacred solemnity of Mary, the most high Mother of God.


4. Ant. Corde et animo Christo canamus gloriam, in hac sacra solemnitate præcelsæ Genitricis Dei Mariæ.

4. Ant. With heart and mind let us sing glory to Christ, on this sacred solemnity of Mary, the most high Mother of God.


Psalm 126

Nisi Dominus ædificaverit domum: in vanuin laboraverunt qui ædificant eam.
Nisi Dominus custodierit civitatem: frustra vigilat qui custodit eam.
Vanum est vobis ante lucem surgere: surgite postquam sederitis, qui manducatis panem 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 ye 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; ho shall not be confounded when he shall speak to his enemies at the gate.

5. Ant. Cum jucunditate Nativitatem beatæ Mariæ celebremus, ut ipsa pro nobis intercedat ad Dominum Jesum Christum.

5. Ant. Let us celebrate with joy the birth of blessed Mary; that she may intercede for us with our Lord Jesus Christ.


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.
Mittitcrystallum 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 natio ai: et judicia sua non manifestavit eia.

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.
Until these our days, he hath not done in like manner to every nation; and his judgments he hath not made manifest to them.

 


Capitulum
Ecclus. xxvi.

Ab initio et ante sæcula creata sum, et usque ad futurum sæculum non desinam, et in habitatione sancta coram ipso ministravi.

From the beginning and before the world was I created, and unto the world to come I shall not cease to be, and in the holy dwelling-place I have ministered before him.


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.

℣. Nati vitas est hodie sanctæ Mariæ Virgin is.
℟. Cujus vita inclyta cunctas illustrat ecclesias.

℣. To-day is the birthday of the holy Virgin Mary.
℟. Whose glorious life is the light of all the churches.


Antiphon of the Magnificat

Gloriosæ Virginis Mariæ ortum dignissimum recolamus, quæ et Genitricis dignitatem obtinuit, et virginalem pudicitiam non amisit.
Let us celebrate the most honourable birth of the glorious Virgin Mary, who obtained the dignity of a mother without prejudice to her virginal purity.

The Prayer is the Collect of the Mass, page 158.


An illustrious martyr watches with the angels over the cradle of the Mother of God. On earth, he was an officer of the guards in the court of an emperor: in heaven he holds the same title under the Queen of the universe. Nicomedia was the scene of Adrian’s combat; but his body was taken thence first to Byzantium, and afterwards to the eternal city. Having on this day received the precious relics, Rome knew how to unite with her homage to Mary the honour due to the heroic soldier. In the seventh century,[13] St. Adrian’s church was appointed as the starting-place for the solemn litany or procession, which went from the Forum to St. Mary Major, on this feast of the Nativity, and afterwards on those of the Annunciation and Assumption.

The Acts of St. Adrian’s martyrdom are now recognized as incontestable. The part played therein by his young wife Natalia, lends them a charm of heroic sweetness. Unknown to her pagan husband, she had been a Christian from infancy. When she heard that Adrian had been converted by witnessing the constancy of the confessors, and in the fervour of his generosity had asked to share their captivity, she hastened to him in a transport of joy, and, kissing his chains, cried out: ‘Blessed art thou, my lord Adrian.’ During the days which followed, such admirable scenes took place between the two spouses, as the greatest geniuses of antiquity never invented in their fictions Though she was left free by the gaolers, Natalia would not quit her husband’s side, now that he was far more glorious in her eyes than he had ever been in fighting under Cæsar’s standard. Sitting at his feet in the prison, or accompanying him to the pretorium, she had no thought but to keep up the neophyte, under the pressure of the tortures, to the height of his vocation to martyrdom; bidding him have no solicitude about earthly things. Upon herself, about to be left alone though scarcely more than a child, she made no reflection; except that, on the eve of the sacrifice, she let fall these words: ‘Remember thy co-operatrix in martyrdom; pray that I may die with thee, that other women may learn how to behave towards their husbands, on seeing thy love for me.’ At length the hour had come. Maintaining, in the simplicity of her pure heart, a fidelity whose heroism did not destroy its exquisite tenderness, she herself placed upon the anvil, whereon they were to be crushed, the feet of him she loved alone in this world. And as after this awful torture the martyr was still breathing, he stretched out his hand to Natalia, that she might offer it to the executioner to be cut off. Then he died; and remembering the prayer of his faithful companion, he soon called her after him to heaven.

Our Emmanuel, on the night of His birth, gave a share in His honours to the holy widow Anastasia; so now, with sweet motherly thoughtfulness, the Virgin of virgins inspired the Church to associate with the joys of this happy birthday the glorification of the heroic spouse of St. Natalia.

 

MASS

 

The Church intones the beautiful song of Prudentius to the Mother of God; for, like the Most High, she looks upon Mary as already Mother, since such she has been by predestination from all eternity. Our Lady answers the Church’s greeting, by the song of the bride, the psalm of the epithalamium, which no one else could ever sing as she can even from this her first day.

Introit

Salve, sancta parens, enixa puerpera Regem; qui cœlum terramque regit in sæcula sæculorum.

Ps. Eructavit cor meum verbum bonum: dico ego opera mea Regi. Gloria Patri. Salve.

Hail, holy parent, who didst bring forth the King: who rules heaven and earth for ever and ever.

Ps. My heart hath uttered a good word: I speak my works to the King. Glory be to the Father, etc. Hail.


The liturgy here leaves the historical order of events, to follow that of the annual cycle, which began with the weeks of Advent. Thus, in the Collect we pray that the mystery of to-day may develop in us the work of sanctification and peace begun at Bethlehem.

Collect

Famulis tuis, quæsumus Domine, cœlestis gratiæ munus impertire: ut, quibus beatæ Virginis partus exatitit salutis exordium, Nativitatis ejus votiva solemnitas pacis tribuat incrementum. Per Dominum.

We beseech thee, O Lord, to bestow on thy servants the gift of heavenly grace; that for those to whom the blessed Virgin’s maternity was the beginning of salvation, the votive solemnity of her Nativity may procure increase of peace. Through etc.


In private Masses, after the Collect, Secret, and Postcommunion of the feast, a commemoration is made of St. Adrian.

Prayer

Præsta, quæsumus, omnipotens Deus: ut, qui beati Adriani, martyris tui, natalitia colimus, intercessione ejus in tui nominis amore roboremur. Per Dominum.

Grant, we beseech thee, O almighty God, that we who celebrate the festival of blessed Adrian thy martyr, may by his intercession be strengthened in the love of thy name. Through.


Epistle

Lectio libri Sapientiæ.

Prov. cap. viii.

Dominus possedit me in initio viarum suarum, antequam quidquam faceret a principio. Ab æterno ordinata sum, et ex antiquis, antequam terra fieret. Nondum erant abyssi, et ego jam concepta eram: necdum fontes aquarum eruperant: necdum montes gravi mole constiterant: ante colles ego parturiebar. Adhuc terram non fecerat, et flumina et cardines orbis terræ. Quando præparabat cœlos, aderam: quando certa lege, et gyro vallabatabyssos: quando æthera firmabat sursum, et librabat fontes aquarum: quando circumdabat mari terminum suum, et legem ponebat aquis ne transirent fines suos: quando appendebat fundamenta terræ. Cum eo eram cuncta componens: et dilectabar per singulos dies, ludens coram eo omni tempore, ludens in orbe terrarum: et deliciæ meæ esse cum filiis hominum. Nunc ergo, filii, audite me: Beati qui custodiunt vias meas. Audite disciplinam, et estote sapientes, et nolite abjicere eam. Beatus homo qui audit me, et qui vigilat ad fores meas quotidie, et observat ad postes ostii mei. Qui me invenerit, inveniet vitam, et hauriet salutem a Domino.

Lesson from the Book of Wisdom.

Prov. ch. viii.

The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his ways, before he made anything from the beginning. I was set up from eternity, and of old before the earth was made. The depths were not as yet, and I was already conceived: neither had the fountains of waters as yet sprung out; the mountains with their huge bulk had not as yet been established: before the hills I was brought forth. He had not yet made the earth, nor the rivers, nor the poles of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was present; when with a certain law and compass he enclosed the deep: when he established the sky above, and poised the fountains of waters: when he compassed the sea with its bounds, and set a law to the waters, that they should not pass their limits: when he balanced the foundations of the earth: I was with him forming all things: and was delighted every day, playing before him at ail times, playing in the world: and my delights were to be with the children of men. Now, therefore, ye children, hear me. Blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth me, and that watcheth daily at my gates, and waiteth at the posts of my doors. He that shall find me, shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord.


When princes are born, we prognosticate their future greatness by recalling the glory of their ancestors. The Church does in like manner to-day. The Gospel will recount the temporal genealogy of Messias, which is also the genealogy of her, who was born for the very purpose of giving birth to Him. But first, this passage from the Book of Proverbs sets before us the divine origin of the Son and of the Mother. It is of both that eternal Wisdom says: ‘Before the hills I was brought forth: when He prepared the heavens, I was present.’

Our weak human nature, subject to time, can conceive of things only according to the series of their progressive evolutions; but God sees them independently of time, which He rules with His eternity; He sees them in the order of mutual dependence in which He has placed them with a view to the manifestation of His glory. With God, the beginning and the principle of every work is the purpose for which it is done. Now the Most High acts outside Himself solely to reveal Himself, by His Word made Flesh and become the Son of a created Mother as He is the Son of the Creator. The God-Man as end, Mary as the means: such is the object of the eternal decrees, the purpose of the world’s existence, the fundamental conception, with regard to which all else is but accessory and dependent.

O Lady, who dost deign to call us also thy children, it is well for us that thy goodness is equal to thy greatness! Happy is the human race for having waited and watched for thee during so many long ages, and for having found thee at length; for with thee is salvation and life.

In the Gradual the Church again sings of Mary’s virginal and divine maternity; for this is the day which gave us the Mother of God.

Gradual

Benedicta et venerabilis es, Virgo Maria, quæ sine tactu pudoris inventa es mater Salvatoris.

℣. Virgo Dei Genitrix, quem totus non capit orbis, sin tua se clausit viscera factus homo. Alleluia, alleluia.
℣. Felix es, sacra Virgo Maria, et omni laude dignissima: quia ex te ortus est Sol justitiæ, Christus Deus noster. Alleluia.

Thou art blessed and venerable, O Virgin Mary, who without any violation of purity, wert found the Mother of our Saviour.

℣. O Virgin Mother of God, he whom the whole world is unable to contain, being made man, enclosed himself in thy womb. Alleluia, alleluia.
℣. Thou art happy, O holy Virgin Mary, and most worthy of all praise, because from thee arose the Sun of justice, Christ our God. 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 ea quæ fuit Uriæ .Salomon autem genuit Roboam. Roboam autem genuit Abiam. Abias autem genuit Asa. Asa autem genuit Josaphat. Josaphat autem genuit Joram. Joram autem genuit Oziam. Ozias autem genuit Joatham. Joatham autem genuit Achaz. Acbaz 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 Zororabel. 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 Sonof David, the sou 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 Achira; and Achim begot Eliud; and Eliud begot Eleazar; and Eleazar begot Mathan; and Mathan bogot Jacob; and Jacob begot Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.


Mary of whom was born Jesus: these words contain the whole mystery of our Lady, the title which expresses her whole being according to both nature and grace; for, Jesus, who was to be born of Mary, to be made of a woman,[14] was from the beginning the hidden reason of all creation, to be manifested in the fulness of time. This was God’s great work, of which the prophet said in ecstasy: ‘O Lord, Thy work, ... in the midst of the years Thou shalt make it known; . . . the holy One shall come from the shady mountain.[15]. . . The hills of the world were bowed down by the journeys of His eternity.’[16] This mountain, from whence the holy One, the Eternal, the Ruler of the world, is to come, is the blessed Virgin Mary,[17] whom the power of the Most High will overshadow, and who, at her very birth, is set far above all the heights of earth and of heaven.[18]

The days, then, are accomplished. Ever since the hour when the eternal Trinity came forth from their repose to create heaven and earth, all the generations of heaven and earth have been in labour to bring forth the day which is to give a Mother to the Son of God. Parallel with the direct line from Abraham and David to the Messias, all human genealogies have been preparing for Mary the generation of adoptive sons whom Jesus is to make His brethren.

With the Church, let us congratulate our Lady on this her sublime maternity, which embraces all creatures together with the Creator.

Offertory

Beata es, Virgo Maria, quæ omnium portasti Creatorem: genuisti qui te fecit, et in æternum permanes virgo.

Thou art blessed, O Virgin Mary, who didst hear the Creator of all things: thou didst bring forth him who made thee, and thou remainest for ever a virgin.


May this maternity, and the virginity which it sealed, draw us ever nearer to the Son of Mary and the Son of God; may they unite us in greater purity to the Sacrifice prepared on the altar.

Secret

Unigeniti tui, Domine, nobis succurrat humanitas: ut, qui natus de Virgine, Matris integritatem non minuit, sed sacravit, in Nativitatis ejus solemniis, nostris nos piaculis exuens, oblationem nostram tibi faciat acceptam Jesus Christus Dominus noster. Qui tecum.

May the humanity of thy only-begotten Son be our succour, O Lord; that Jesus Christ our Lord, who, when born of a Virgin, did not diminish, but consecrated the integrity of his Mother, may on this solemnity of her Nativity deliver us from our sins, and make our oblation acceptable to thee. Who liveth.


Commemoration of St. Adrian

Muneribus nostris, quæsuraus Domine, precibusque susceptis; et cœlestibus nos munda mysteriis, et dementer exaudi. Per Dominum.

Receive our offerings and prayers, O Lord, we beseech thee; and purify us by heavenly mysteries, and mercifully hear us. Through our Lord.


Preface

Vere dignum et justum est, æquum et salutare, nos tibi sernper et ubique gratias agere: Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, æterne Deus: Et te in Nativitate beatæ Mariæ semper Virginis collaudare, benedicere, et prædicare. Quæ et Unigenitum tuum sancti Spiritus obumbratione concepit, et virginitatis gloria permanente, lumen leternum mundo effudit, Jesum Christum Dominum nostrum. Per quem Majestatem tuam laudant Angeli, adorant Dominationes, treraunt 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 Nativity of the blessed Mary ever a Virgin. Who by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost conceived thine only-begotten Son, and, the glory of her virginity still remaining, brought forth the eternal light to the world, Jesus Christ our Lord. By whom the Angels praise thy Majesty, the Dominations adore it, the Powers tremble before it, the Heavens, the heavenly Virtues, and 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!


When we receive our Lord in holy Communion, let us not forget that we owe His coming to the blessed child who was horn on this day nineteen centuries ago.

Communion

Beata viscera Mariæ Virginis, quæ portaverunt æterni Patris Filium.

Blessed is the womb of the Virgin Mary, which bore the Son of the eternal Father.


May the annual return of the beautiful feast never be without fruit in our souls; and may the adorable mysteries it has led us to receive, deliver us from evils both temporal and eternal. This is what we ask for in the Postcommunion.

Postcommunion

Sumpsimus, Domine, annuæ votiva sacramenta: præsta, quæsumus; ut et temporalis vitæ nobis remedia præbeant et æternæ. Per Dominum.

Wo have received, O Lord, the votive mysteries of this annual celebration; grant, we beseech thee, that they may confer upon us remedies for time and eternity. Through our Lord.


Commemoration of St. Adrian

Da, quæsumus, Domine Deus noster: ut, sicut tuorum commemoratione sanctorum temporali gratulamur otficio; ita perpetuo lætemur aspectu. Per Dominum.

Grant we beseech thee, O Lord our God, that as in commemorating thy saints, we rejoice in a temporal festival; so we may exult in beholding them for eternity. Through our Lord.


 

SECOND VESPERS

 


The antiphons, psalms, capitulum, hymn, and versicle are the same as at First Vespers, page 152.


Antiphon of the Magnificat

Nativitas tua, Dei Genitrix Virgo, gaudium annuntiavit universo mundo: ex te enim ortus est Sol justitiæ, Christus Deus noster: qui solvens maledictionem, dedit benedictionem, et confundens mortem, donavit nobis vitam sempiternam.

Thy birth, O Virgin Mother of God, brought joy to the whole world: for out of thee arose the Sun of justice, Christ our God: who, taking off the curse, hath bestowed blessing; and, defeating death, hath given us life everlasting.


After the Collect of the feast, a commemoration is made of a holy martyr, whom the Church associates in the honours paid to our Lady on the second day of her earthly life. Gorgonius was chamberlain of the emperor Diocletian. The ‘saints of Cæsar’s household,' whose greetings St. Paul sent to the Philippians, had, ever since then, been increasing in numbers. Eusebius shows that before the last persecution they were in great favour with the emperors; such preference was shown them, that they were exempted from all participation in public rites in order that they might accept the government of the provinces.[19] In the palace, their wives, children, and servants, were allowed full liberty to practise and profess their faith; so much so, that the court of Nicomedia formed as it were a little church around the empress Prisca and her daughter Valeria, who were then Christians, but who, unhappily, did not persevere.[20]

It required all the craft of Galerius to make Diocletian publish the bloody edicts of the year 303 against the religion of such devoted men, whom he loved, says Eusebius, as his own sons. But once the gate of martyrdom was opened, and Cæsar had become Nero once more, the officers of the palace surpassed in glory all the other heroes of Christ illustrioue for their courage throughout the empire, and even beyond its limits. Chief among these valiant men, the historian mentions Peter, Dorotheus, and Gorgonius. The relics of the last-named were afterwards translated to Rome; it is on this account that he has a place in the Roman calendar, where he has the honour of being in the cortège of the Mother of God.

Commemoration of St. Gorgonius Martyr

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

℣. Gloria et honore coronasti eum, Domine.
℟. Et constituisti eum super opera manuum tuarum.

Ant. This saint fought, even to death, for the law of his God, and feared not the words of the wicked; for he was founded upon a firm rock.

℣. Thou hast crowned him with glory and honour, O Lord.
℟. And hast set him over the works of thy hands.


Prayer

Sanctus tuus, Domine, Gorgonius sua nos intercessione lætificet: et pia faciat solemnitate gaudere. Per Dominum.

May thy holy Gorgonius rejoice us, O Lord, by his intercession, and cause us to be joyful on his pious festival. Through our Lord.


In honour of our sweet Lady’s birth, let us sing the beautiful responsories composed by Fulbert of Chartres and Robert the Pious. France first adopted them, and the whole of Europe soon followed her example.

Responsories

℟. Solem justitiæ Regem paritura supremum: * Stella Maria maris hodie processit ad ortum.
℣. Cernere divinum lumen gaudete fideles. Stella Maria maris hodie processit ad ortum.

℟. Stirps Jesse virgam produxit, virgaque florem: * Et super hunc florem requiescit Spiritus almus.
℣. Virgo Dei Genitrix virga est, flos Filius ejus. * Et super hunc florem requiescit Spiritus almus.

℟. Ad nutum Domini nostrum ditantis honorem: * Sicut spina rosam, genuit Judæa Mariam.
℣. Ut vitium virtus operiret, gratia culpam. * Sicut spina rosam, genuit Judæa Mariam.

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. * Sicut spina rosam, genuit Judæa Mariam.
℟. In order to bring forth the sun of justice, the sovereign King: * Mary, the star of the sea, to-day arose in the heavens.
℣. Rejoice, ye faithful, to behold the divine light. * Mary, the star of the sea, today arose in the henvens.

℟. The rod of Jesse produced a branch, and the branch a flower: * And upon the flower rests the Spirit of love.
℣. The Virgin Mother of God is the branch, the flower is her Son. * And upon the flower rests the Spirit of love.

℟. At the will of the Lord enriching us with honour: * Mary sprang from Judæa as the rose from the thorn.
℣. That vice might be overcome by virtue, and sin by grace. * Mary sprang from Judæa as the rose from the thorn.

Glory be to the Father, &c. * Mary sprang.

At length, O Mary, our earth possesses thee! Thy birth reveals to it the secret of its destiny, the secret of that love which called it from nothingness, that it might become the palace of the God who dwelt above the heavens. But what a mystery, that poor, weak humanity, inferior to the angels by nature, should be chosen to give to the angels their King and their Queen! Their King they will soon adore, a new-born Babe in thine arms; their Queen they reverence to-day, admiring thee in thy cradle as only angels can admire. In the beginning these morning stars, these noble spirits, contemplated the manifestations of almighty power, and praised the Most High; yet never did their eager gaze discover such a marvel as that which delights their eyes at this hour: God, more purely imaged under a corporeal veil, under the fragile form of an infant one day old, than in all the strength and all the beauty of their nine angelic choirs; God, so captivated by such weakness united, by His grace, to such love, that He made it the culminating point of His work by determining to manifest His Son therein!

Queen of angels, thou art our Queen also; accept us as thy liegemen. On this day, when the first movement of thy holy soul was towards God, and the first smile of thy lovely eyes was for thy happy parents, may holy Anne allow us to kneel and kiss thy little hand, already filled with the divine bounties of which thou art the predestined dispenser. And now, grow up, sweet little one! Let thy feet be strengthened to crush the serpent, and thy arms to carry the treasure of the world! Angels and men, the whole of nature, God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, all are awaiting the solemn moment, when Gabriel may fly down from heaven to hail thee full of grace, and bring thee the message of eternal love.


[1] Invitatory of the feast.
[2] Lessens of the 1st Nocturn.
[3] Psalm lxxiii. 12.
[4] Bern. In festo Pentecost. Sermon ii. 4.
[5] Oratio i, in Nativit. Deiparæ. i.
[6] In Natal. B. M. Homilia l.
[7] Sermon xlv, in Nativit. B. M. V.
[8] Trope of the dismissal in utroque Vespertine; Magnificat Ant. of 2nd Vespers.
[9] Liber Pontific. in Sergio I.
[10] ℟.℟. Solem justitiæ, Stirps Jesse virgam produxit, Ad nutum Domini.
[11] Mansi, xxiii, 612.
[12] Virg. Eclog. iv. Pollio.
[13] Liber pontif. in Seryio I.
[14] Gal. iv. 4.
[15] Jurta lxx.
[16] Habacuc iii. 2-6.
[17] Andr. Cret. Oratio in Annunt. Deiparæ.
[18] Joan. Damasc. in Natal. B. M. Homilia i.
[19] Euseb. Hist. eccl. viii, 1.
[20] Laetant. De mort. persecut. xv.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

‘And the Virgin’s name was Mary.[1] Let us speak a little about this name, which signifies star of the sea, and which so well befits the Virgin Mother. Rightly is she likened to a star: for as a star emits its ray without being dimmed so the Virgin brought forth her Son without receiving any injury; the ray takes nought from the brightness of the star, nor the Son from His Mother’s integrity. This is the noble star risen out of Jacob, whose ray illumines the whole world, whose splendour shines in the heavens, penetrates the abyss, and, traversing the whole earth, gives warmth rather to souls than to bodies, cherishing virtues, withering vices. Mary, I say, is that bright and incomparable star, whom we need to see raised above this vast sea, shining by her merits, and giving us light by her example.

Oh! whosoever thou art that seest thyself, amid the tides of this world, tossed about by storms and tempests rather than walking on the land, turn not thine eyes away from the shining of this star if thou wouldst not be overwhelmed by the hurricane. If squalls of temptations arise, or thou fall upon the rocks of tribulation, look to the star, call upon Mary. If thou art tossed by the waves of pride or ambition, detraction or envy, look to the star, call upon Mary. If anger or avarice or the desires of the flesh dash against the ship of thy soul, turn thine eyes towards Mary. If, troubled by the enormity of thy crimes, ashamed of thy guilty conscience, terrified by dread of the judgment, thou beginnest to sink into the gulf of sadness or the abyss of despair, think of Mary. In dangers, in anguish, in doubt, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let her be ever on thy lips, ever in thy heart; and the better to obtain the help of her prayers, imitate the example of her life. Following her, thou strayest not; invoking her, thou despairest not; thinking of her, thou wanderest not; upheld by her, thou fallest not; shielded by her, thou fearest not; guided by her, thou growest not weary; favoured by her, thou reachest the goal. And thus dost thou experience in thyself how good is that saying: And the Virgin’s name was Mary.’[2]

Thus speaks the devout St. Bernard, in the name of the Church. But his pious explanation does not exhaust the meanings of this blessed name of Mary. St. Peter Chrysologus adds in this same night Office: ‘Mary in Hebrew signifies lady or sovereign: and truly the authority of her Son, who is the Lord of the world, constituted her Queen, both in fact and in name, from her very birth.’[3]

Our Lady: such is the title which befits her in every way, as that of Our Lord beseems her Son; it is the doctrinal basis of that worship of hyperdulia which belongs to her alone. She is below her Son, whom she adores as we do; but above all God’s servants, both angels and men, inasmuch as she is His Mother. At the name of Jesus every knee is bent; at the name of Mary every head is bowed. And although the former is the only name whereby we may be saved; yet, as the Son can never be separated from His Mother, heaven unites their two names in its hymns of praise, earth in its confidence, hell in its fear and hatred.

It was therefore in the order of divine Providence that devotion to the most holy name of Mary should spread simultaneously with the cultus of the adorable name of Jesus, of which St. Bernadin of Siena was the apostle in the fifteenth century. In 1513 the Church of Cuenca in Spain was the first to celebrate, with the approbation of the holy See, a special feast in honour of the name of Mary, while the Franciscan Order had not yet succeeded in obtaining a like privilege for the adorable name of Jesus. The reason of this is that the memory of that sacred name included in the feast of the Circumcision, seemed to the prudence of the Pontiffs to suffice. From the same motive we find the feast of the most holy name of Mary extended to the universal Church in the year 1683, and that of the most holy name of Jesus not until 1721.

Our Lady justifies her beautiful title by partaking in the warlike exploits of the King of kings her Son. The city of Vienna having been delivered by her, contrary to all hope, from the power of the Crescent, the venerable Innocent XI. made this feast the memorial of universal gratitude to the liberatrix of the west. But we shall speak more explicitly of this glorious deliverance on September 12, the day on which it occurred.

 

MASS

 

In the Introit let us, with the Church, greet the sweet infant whose name foretells her power; all the rich and the great ones, kings, pontiffs, seraphim, shall entreat her smile; but the virgins are to form her own blessed train, singing the canticle they alone can sing.

Introit

Vultum tuum deprecabuntur omnes divites plebis: adducentur Regi virgines post eam: proximæ ejus adducentur tibi in lætitia et exsultatione.

Ps. Eructavit cor meum verbum bonum: dico ego opera mea Regi. Gloria Patri. Vultum tuum.

All the rich among the people shall entreat thy countenance: after her shall virgins be brought to the King: her neighbours shall be brought to thee in gladness and rejoicing.

Ps. My heart hath uttered a good word: I speak my works to the King. Glory be to the Father, &c. All the rich.


The name of Mary, which is the joy of angels and the terror of demons, protects man against countless evils, and supports him on his way to heaven. May the Church’s prayer, in the Collect, obtain for us the grace to profit fully of so great a help.

Collect

Concede, quæsumus, omnipotens Deus: ut fideles tui, qui sub sanctissimæ Virginis Marne nomine et protectione lætantur, ejus pia intercessione, a cunctis malis liberentur in terris, et ad gaudia æterna pervenire mereantur in cœlis. Per Dominum.

Grant, we beseech thee, almighty God, that thy faithful, who rejoice under the name and protection of the most holy Virgin Mary, may, by her pious intercession, be delivered from all evils on earth, and deserve to arrive at eternal joys in heaven. Through our Lord.


A commemoration is then made of the occurring Sunday.


Epistle

Lectio libri Sapientiæ

Ecclus. xxiv.

Ego quasi vitis fructificavi suavitatem odoris: et flores mei, fructus honoris et honestatis. Ego mater pulchræ dilectionis, et timoris, et agnitionis, et sanctæ spei. In me gratia omnis viæ et veritatis, in me omnis spes vitæ et virtutis. Transite ad me, omnes qui concupiscitis me, et a generationibus meis implemini: Spiritus enim meus super mel dulcis, et hæreditas mea super mel et favum. Memoria mea in generationes sæculorum. Qui edunt me, adhuc esurient, et qui bibunt me, adhuc sitient. Qui audit me non confundetur: et qui operantur in me, non peccabunt. Qui elucidant me, vitam æternam habebunt.

Lesson from the Book of Wisdom.

Ecclus. xxiv. 

As the vine I have brought forth a pleasant odour, and my flowers are the fruit of honour and riches. I am the mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope. In me is all grace of the way, and of the truth, in me is all hope of life and of virtue. Come over to me, all ye that desire me, and be filled with my fruits; for my spirit is sweet above honey, and my inheritance above honey and the honeycomb. My memory is unto everlasting generations. They that eat me, shall yet hunger; and they that drink me, shall yet thirst. He that hearkeneth to me, shall not be confounded, and they that work by me shall not sin. They that explain me shall have life everlasting.


All the delight of heaven, all the hopes of earth, are centred on the cradle where Mary sleeps, while her heart is watching before God. Wisdom praises her own self; by the blessed daughter of Anne and Joachim, the loving preference shown by that divine Wisdom from the beginning of the world, is already justified; for ever more it will be her delight to be with the children of men. The chosen vine, the vine of the Peaceful One is before us, announcing, by its fragrant blossom, the divine grape, whose juice, pressed out in the wine-press of the cross, will give fruitfulness to every soul, and will inebriate earth and heaven.

The Church returns, in the Gradual, to Mary’s great privilege, her virginal maternity, which gave God to the world.

Gradual

Benedicta et venerabilis es, Virgo Maria: quæ sine tactu pudoris inventa es mater Salvatoris.

℣. Virgo Dei Genitrix, quem totus non capit orbis, in tua se clausit viscera, factus homo. Alleluia, alleluia.
℣. Post partum, Virgo, inviolata permansisti: Dei Genitrix, intercede pro nobis. Alleluia.

Thou art blessed and venerable, O Virgin Mary: who without prejudice to purity wert found the Mother of our Saviour.

℣. O Virgin Mother of God, he whom the whole world cannot contain, confined himself in thy womb when he was made man. Alleluia, alleluia.
℣. After child-birth thou didst remain a pure virgin: O Mother of God, intercede for us. Alleluia.


Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam.

Cap. i.

In illo tempore: Missus est angelus Gabriel a Deo in civitatem Galilææ, cui nomen Nazareth, ad Virginem desponsatam viro, cui nomen erat Joseph, de domo David: et nomen Virginis Maria. Et ingressus angelus ad eam dixit: Ave, gratia plena; Dominus tecum: benedicta tu in mulieribus. Quæ cum audisset, turbata est in sermone ejus: et cogitabat qualis esset ista salutatio. Et ait angelus ei: Ne timeas, Maria: invenisti enim gratiam apud Deum. Ecce concipies in utero, et paries filium: et vocabis nomen ejus Jesum. Hic erit magnus: et Filius Altissimi vocabitur. Et dabit illi Dominus Deus sedem David patris ejus: et regnabit in domo Jacob in æternum; et regni ejus non erit finis. Dixit autem Maria ad angelum: Quomodo fiet istud? quoniam virum non cognosco. Et respondens angelus, dixit ei: Spiritus sanctus superveniet in te; et virtus Altissimi obumbrabit tibi. Ideoque et quod nascetur ex te sanctum, vocabitur Filius Dei. Et ecce Elisabeth cognata tua: et ipsa concepit filium in senectute sua. Et hic mensis Sextus est illi, quæ vocatur sterilis: quia non erit impossibile apud Deum omne verbum. Dixit autem Maria: Ecce ancilla Domini: fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.

Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Luke.

Ch. i.

At that time: the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee called Nazareth, to a Virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David: and the Virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women. Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father: and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end. And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man? And the angel answering, said to her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God. And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren: because no word shall be impossible with God. And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy word.


This is the most solemn embassy ever recorded in the history of angels or of men; it shows us how Mary is what her name signifies, Mistress of the world. The highest interests of the human race, past, present, and to come, of the heavenly hierarchy, and of God Himself, are here at stake; and the transaction is carried on between the Most High and the Virgin of Nazareth alone, as having exclusive right, the One to propose, the other to accept, both to conclude. The angel is but a messenger; man, too, stands in waiting; Mary enters into a contract with the Creator, in the name of angels and of men, as in her own name; in the name of the entire world, which she represents, and over which she reigns supreme.

Hail, then, to our Queen on her birthday! all hail to Mary! May she herself, in the holy Sacrifice, present our offerings to God for her people.

Offertory

Ave, Maria, gratia plena: Dominus tecum: benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui.

Hail Mary, full of grace; the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.


Let us pray that the intercession of our Lady, and the divine mercy, may remove every obstacle to the efficacy of the Sacrifice which is prepared on the altar.

Secret

Tua, Domine, propitiatione, et beatæ Mariæ semper Virginis intercessione, ad perpetuam atque præsentem hæc oblatio nobis proficiat prosperitatem et pacem. Per Dominum.

Through thy mercy, O Lord, and by the intercession of blessed Mary ever Virgin, may this oblation procure for us present and perpetual prosperity and peace. Through &c.


Then the commemoration of the Sunday.


The Preface is the same as for the eighth of September, except that for the words ‘in Nativitate, on the Nativity’, are substituted ‘in Festivitate, on the festival’ of the blessed Mary.


Inebriated with the divine mysteries, let us congratulate the august vine, which just now in the Epistle promised us this rich wine.

Communion

Beata viscera Mariæ Virginis, quæ portaverunt æterni Patris Filium.

Blessed is the womb of the Virgin Mary, which bore the Son of the eternal Father.


The Postcommunion proclaims the universality of Mary’s patronage; may our Lord grant us always to experience it.

Postcommunion

Sumptis, Domine, salutis nostræ subsidiis: da quæsumus, beatæ Mariæ semper Virginis patrociniis nos ubique protegi, in cujus veneratione hæc tuæ obtulimus majestati. Per Dominum.

Having received, O Lord, these helps to our salvation: grant, we beseech thee, that we may be ever protected by the patronage of blessed Mary, ever Virgin, in whose honour we have made these offerings to thy majesty. Through &c.


The Postcommunion of the occurring Sunday is then added; and the Gospel of the said Sunday is read at the end of the Mass, instead of that of St. John.


 

VESPERS

 

The Vespers are those common to the feasts of our Lady throughout the year.

1. Ant. Dum esset Rex in accubitu suo, nardus mea dedit odorem suavitatis.

1. Ant. While the king was on his couch, my spikenard yielded a sweet odour.


Ps. Dixit Dominus, page 38.


2. Ant. Læva ejus sub capite meo, et dextera illius amplexabitur me.

2. Ant. His left hand is under my head, and his right shall embrace me.


Ps. Laudate pueri, page 41.


3. Ant. Nigra sum, sed formosa, filiæ Jerusalem: ideo dilexit me Rex, et introduxit me in cubiculum suum.

3. Ant. I am black but beautiful, O daughters of Jerusalem: therefore the king loved me, and brought me into his chamber.


Ps. Lætatus sum, page 152.


4. Ant. Jam hiems transiit: imber abiit, et recessit: surge amica mea, et veni.

4. Ant. Now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; arise, my love, and come.


Ps.Nisi Dominus, page 153.


5. Ant. Speciosa facta es et suavis in deliciis tuis, sancta Dei Genitrix.

5. Ant. Thou art beautiful and sweet in thy delights, O holy Mother of God.


Ps.Lauda Jerusalem, page 154.


The capitulum and hymn as on page 155.


℣. Dignare me laudare te, Virgo sacrata.
℟. Da mihi virtutem contra hostes tuos.

℣. Grant me to praise thee, O holy Virgin.
℟. Give me strength against thy enemies.


Antiphon of the Magnificat

Beatam me dicent omnes generationes, quia ancillam humilem respexit Deus.

All generations shall call me blessed, for God has looked on his humble handmaid.


The Prayer as on page 174.


Then is made a commemoration of the Sunday.


O Mary, we say to thee with thy faithful client, St. Anselm of Canterbury: ‘By the name of thy beloved Son, grant us ever to keep the memory of thine own sweetest name; may it be the delicious food of our souls; may it be with us in danger; may it be with us in anguish; may it be to us the beginning of all joy!’[4]


[1] St. Luke, i. 27.
[2] Lessons of the 2nd nocturn of the feast, ex Bernard. Homil. ii. super Missus est.
[3] Peter Chrys. Sermon cxlii, de Annuntiat. Homily of the 3rd Nocturn.
[4] Anselm. Oratio xlix, al. xlviii.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Let Us make man to Our image and likeness.[1] ‘And God made man; He modelled him,' says Tertullian, ‘to the image of God, i.e. of Christ. Wonderful deed, to fashion this slime of the earth! God seems to be absorbed in it; He makes it the work of His hand and of His heart; counsel, wisdom, providence, and above all love, trace the lines. As He forms each lineament of this clay, He has in mind Christ who is to become man. This slime of the earth, stamped with the image of the Christ to come, is not only God’s work, it is also His pledge.’[2]

These words were spoken concerning our first parent, Adam; but how much more truly do they apply to the Mother of the Man-God, during these days when He who is to be born of her watches over her growth! As God, He now places in her provisionally what He wills to take from her hereafter. For, as Man, He will receive from her, together with His sacred Body, everything that children naturally inherit from their parents: such dispositions and qualities as arise from the physical complexion; features, ways, habits acquired by imitation or by early education. Such is the ineffable condescension of Him who, knowing all things by infused science, condescends to pass like us through the apprenticeship of life. Jesus is to have no earthly father; He will therefore receive more from His Mother than could any other son. In return, no creature could be so like to Jesus in the order of grace, as she whom He thus deigns to resemble in the order of nature; and our heavenly Father loves every creature in proportion to the degree of that creature’s conformity to the image of His divine Son. How exceedingly, then, O Mary, art thou loved! Already in thy sweet features we discern the nobility of the King’s daughter, whose glory is from within, hidden beneath the golden fringes and variety of ornaments that deck her; for the manifold gifts of the holy Spirit enhance the grace and beauty that crown thee in thy very cradle. Together with Andrew of Crete, speaking on this day, we thus salute thee: 'Hail, mediatrix of the law of grace; seal of the ancient and of the new Alliance; luminous fulfilment of all prophecy; summary of revealed truth; living, immaculate book of God the Word, wherein, without writing or characters, the Word God its Author may be daily read! Hail, first-fruits of our regeneration; term of the divine promises and predictions; sanctuary promised by God to His own glory; liberatrix foretold to the nations!’[3]

The Greeks make to-day a special commemoration of our Lady’s holy parents. Already yesterday the Menæa repeated in a thousand ways the gratitude all creatures owe to them. We select the following passages from among many.

Mensis Septembris, die VIII

Exsultet cœlum, lætetur terra; quippe Dei cœlum, sponsa Dei, partu in terra edita est. Sterilis infantem Mariam ex repromissione lactat, gaudetque pro partu Joachim: Mihi, inquiens, virga nata est, ex qua germinavit flos Christus ex radice David.

Exaudisti, Domine, preces meas, Anna dicat, mihi hodie fructum eam præbens, quæ ex cunctis generationibus atque feminis præfinita est intemerata Mater tua.

Eva hodie damnatione absoluta est, Adam item absolutus ab antiqua maledictione, clamans in tua nativitate, immaculata: In te sumus a morte redempti.

Audio David tibi concinentem: Adducentur virgines post te, adducentur in templum Regis; ipseque, conserta cum eo voce, Regis filiam celebro canticis.

Steriles, animæ infecundæ, adeste festinanter; nam Anna multa nunc prole gaudet. Matres, choros ducite cum Matre Dei.

Res stupenda: fons vitæ de sterili nascitur. Gaude, Joachim: non enim tui similis inter patres, per quem data est nobis virgo Deum suscipiens, tabernaculum divinitatis, mons sanctus.

Exsultate, populi: lucis thalamus e ventre prodiit; porta orientalis, hodie genita, ingressum magni præstolatur sacerdotis, ad salutem animarum nostrarum.
Let heaven exult and earth rejoice, for God’s own heaven, his bride, is this day born on earth. According to promise, the barren mother suckles her infant Mary; Joachim rejoices in his daughter, saying: Mine is the branch whereon is to blossom Christ the flower, of the root of David.

Now may Anne say: Thou hast heard, O Lord, my prayer, giving me this day as fruit, the Virgin chosen among all women and of all generations to be thy spotless Mother.

Eve’s sentence is cancelled to-day; and Adam, released from the ancient curse, cries out at thy birth, O immaculate one: In thee we are redeemed from death.

I hear David singing to thee: Virgins shall be brought after thee, they shall be brought into the temple of the King. And I, uniting my voice with his, celebrate thee in my songs, O daughter of the King!

Come, hasten, all ye barren and fruitless souls; for Anne is now the joyful mother of many children. And ye mothers lead the choirs with the Mother of God.

O prodigy! the fount of life springs from one that was sterile. Rejoice, O Joachim, for among all fathers there is none like unto thee, by whom was given to us the Virgin Mother of God, the tabernacle of the Divinity, the holy mountain.

Exalt, O ye people: the nuptial chamber of the light has come forth from her mother’s womb; to-day is born the eastern gate which will soon give entrance to the great High-Priest, for the salvation of our souls.

[1] Gen. i. 26.
[2] Tertull. De resurrect. carnis vi.
[3] Andr. Cret. In Nativit. Deiparæ, Oratio iv.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

To-day the infant Mary smiles upon the lily offered her in her cradle by the representative of a great Order. The hermits of St. Augustine were being grouped and organized by the Vicar of Christ, when Nicholas was admitted into their family, of which he was soon to become the thaumaturgus. When he died, in 1305, the Roman Pontiffs were beginning their exile at Avignon; and his canonization, deferred for nearly a century and a half through the troubles of the period, marked the close of the lamentable dissensions which followed that exile.

Peace so long lost; peace, of which even the wisest despaired—such was the ardent prayer, the solemn adjuration of Eugenius IV, when, towards the close of his laborious pontificate, he committed the cause of the Church to the humble servant of God placed by him upon her altars. According to the testimony of Sixtus V, the obtaining of this peace was the greatest of Nicholas’s miracles; a miracle which moved the latter Pontiff to order the celebration of the saint’s feast as a double, at a time when days of that rank were much rarer on the calendar than now.

Let us read the legend, which is as simple as the saint’s life itself.

Nicolaus, Tolentinas, a diuturno illius acivitatis domicilio appellatus, in oppido sancti Angeli in Piceno est natus piis parentibus: qui liberorum desiderio Barium voti causa profecti, ibique a sancto Nicolao de futura prole confirmati, quem susceperunt filium de illius nomine appellarunt. Is ab infantia multarum virtutum, sed abstinentiæ in primis specimen dedit. Nam anno vix septimo, beatum ipsum Nicolaum imitatus, complures hebdomadædies jejunare cœpit, eamque postea consuetudinem retinuit, solo pane contentus.

Adulta ætate jam clericali militiæ adscriptus, et canonicus factus, cum quodam die concionatorem Ordinis Eremitarum sancti Augustini de mundi contemptu dicentem audisset, eo sermone inflammatus, statim eumdem Ordinem est ingressus. In quo tam exactam religiosæ vitæ rationem coluit, ut aspero vestitu, verberibus et ferrea catena corpus domans, atque a carne et omni fere obsonio abstinens, cantate, humilitate, patientia, ceterisque virtutibus aliis præluceret.

Orandi assiduum Studium, quamvis satanæ insidiis variæ vexatus, et flagellis interdum cæsus, non intermittebat. Demum sex ante obitum mensibus, singulis noctibus angelicum concentum audivit, cujus suavitate cum jam paradisi gaudia prægustaret, crebro illud apostoli repetebat: Cupio dissolvi, et esse cum Christo. Denique obitus sui diem fratribus prædixit, qui fuit quarto idus septembris. Miraculis multis etiam post mortem damit, quibus rite et ordine cognitis, ab Eugenio Papa quarto in sanctorum numerum est relatus.
Nicholas, called of Tolentino as he lived a long time in that city, was born at the town of St. Angelo in the Marches of Ancona. His pious parents, desirous of having children, went to Bari in fulfilment of a vow. There they were assured by St. Nicholas that they should have a son; whom they therefore called by that saint’s name. From his infancy he was admirable for his virtues, especially for his abstinence; for, when only seven years old he began, in imitation of St. Nicholas, to fast several days a week; which custom he afterwards kept up, contenting himself with bread and water.

While still young he was enrolled in the ranks of the clergy and made a canon; but one day, hearing a sermon on contempt of the world preached by one the hermits of Saint Augustine, he was so struck by it that he immediately joined that Order. As a religious he led a perfect life; subduing his body by rough garments, disciplines, and iron chains; abstaining from meat and almost every kind of nourishment; and showing a bright example to others by his charity, humility, patience, and other virtues.

Very great was his love of prayer, in which he never relaxed, although satan troubled him in various ways and at times scourged him severely. For six months before his death he heard every night the songs of the angels: a foretaste of heavenly delights which caused him frequently to repeat that saying of the apostle: I desire to be dissolved and to be with Christ. He foretold to his brethren the day of his death, which was the fourth of the Ides of September. Both before and after death he was famous for miracles; which having been duly proved, he was enrolled among the saints by Pope Eugenius IV.

Good and faithful servant, thou hast entered into the joy of thy Lord. He has broken thy bonds; and from heaven, where thou art now reigning, thou repeatest to us those words which determined the sanctity of thy life on earth: ‘Love not the world, nor the things that are in the world. For the world passeth away, and the concupiscence thereof.’[1] How much a man thus forgetful of earth can do for his fellow-men, is evinced by the gift thou didst receive of solacing all the miseries around thee, and succouring the souls in purgatory. The successor of St. Peter was not deceived, when, in ranking thee among the saints, he counted on thy power in heaven to bring back society from its long continued state of disturbance to the paths of peace. May that word of the beloved disciple which thou hast just echoed to us, sink into our souls as a seed of salvation, and there yield the fruits that it produced in thee: detachment from all temporal things and a longing for eternal realities; that humble simplicity of the soul’s eye which makes life a peaceful journey towards God; and lastly, that purity, which made thee the friend of angels and the favourite of Mary.


[1] St. John, ii. 15, 17.

 

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