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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.