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Third Week of Advent

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Prope est jam Dominus; venite adoremus.
The Lord is now nigh: come, let us adore.

The lessons from the prophet Isaias are interrupted to-day also; and a homily on the Gospel of the Mass is read in their place. As this Gospel is repeated to-morrow, in the Mass of the fourth Sunday of Advent, we will, for the present, omit it, and be satisfied with mentioning the reason of the same Gospel being assigned to the two days.

The primitive custom, in the Roman Church, was to hold ordinations in the night between Saturday and Sunday, just as Baptism was administered to the catechumens in the night between Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday. The ceremony took place towards midnight, and Sunday morning was always far advanced before the termination; so that the Mass of ordination was considered as the Mass of Sunday itself. Later on, discipline relaxed, and these severe vigils were given up; the ordination Mass, like that of Holy Saturday, was anticipated; and, as the fourth Sunday of Advent and the second of Lent had not hitherto had a proper Gospel, since they had not had a proper Mass, it was settled, about the tenth or eleventh century, that the Gospel of the Mass of ordinations should be repeated in the special Mass of the two Sundays in question.

The Station is at St. Peter’s on account of the ordinations. This basilica was always one of the largest of the city of Rome, and was therefore the best suited for the great concourse of people.

Let us honour Mary upon this day of the week, which is consecrated to her; let us borrow a canticle from the oriental Church, ever profuse in its praise of the Mother of God.

Hymn Taken from the Anthology of the Greeks
(December 15)

Ut thronus purpuriformis Creatorem fers; ut animatus thalamus regem circumdas, Deo gratissima.

Virga virtutis germinasti Christum in quo stabilimur; te enim figurabat virga Aaron, olim germinans inculta; casta columba, semper Virgo.

Hymnificare modum superadmirabilem, et omnem sensum superantem extraordinariæ tuæ graviditatis nesciunt omnium hominum catervae; omnem enim mentem et cogitationem prætergreditur, ac intelligentias, omnium et verborum virtutem.

Miraculum inenarrabile conceptionis atque immemorandum gestationis tuæ prodigium videns Isaias, divina voce clamabat: Spiritus sanctus supervenit in te, Dei Mater! rubum to servans ut olim incombustum; et ideo cum angelo clamamus: Gaude, Dei tabernaculum.
As a royal throne, thou carriest the Creator; as a living couch, thou encirclest the King, O creature most dear to God:

Branch most vigorous, thou didst bud forth the Christ on whom we lean and are supported; for Aaron’s branch, which, of old, budded unplanted, was a type of thee, thou chaste dove, and ever a Virgin.

To sing the more than wonderful manner of thy extraordinary and incomprehensible maternity, is above the power of all the choirs of men: for no mind, no thought, no understanding, no words, can reach the mystery.

Isaias, seeing the unspeakable miracle, the ineffable miracle of thy maternity, spoke thus divinely: The holy Spirit hath come upon thee, O Mother of God! preserving thee, as heretofore he kept entire the burning bush: and, therefore, we cry out with the angel: Rejoice, O thou tabernacle of God!

Prayer from the Mozarabic Missal
(Fifth Sunday of Advent, Illatio)

Dignum et justum est nos tibi gratias agere, Domine sancte, Pater æterne, omnipotens Deus, per Jesum Christum Filium tuum Dominum nostrum. Ejus incarnatio salus facta est mundi, et passio exstitit redemptio hominis procreati. Ipse igitur nos, omnipotens Pater, quæsumus, perducat ad praemium, qui redemit de tenebris infernorum. Ipse carnem nostram a delictis emaculet, qui eam suscepit ex Virgine. Ipse nos læsos tuæ restituat majestati, qui nos tibi per sanguinem suum reconciliavit. Ipse nos secundi adventus examinatione justificet, qui in primo contulit donum gratiae suas. Ipse ad judicandum veniat mitis, qui olim apparuit humilis. Ipse in judicium ostendatur nobis mitissimus, qui dudum venit occultus.
It is meet and just that we give thee thanks, O holy Lord, eternal Father, almighty God, through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord. His Incarnation was the salvation of the world, and his Passion the redemption of his creature man. Therefore we beseech thee, O almighty Father, may he lead us to heaven, who purchased us from dark hell. May he cleanse our flesh from its sins, who took to himself that flesh from the Virgin. May he again bring us from our treason to fidelity, who reconciled us to thee by his Blood. May he make and find us just in the judgement of his second coming, who conferred upon us the gift of his grace in the first. May he come to judge us in meekness, who heretofore came in humility to dwell with us. May he show himself in gentlest meekness when he judges us, who heretofore hid himself in deepest humility when he redeemed us.

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Prope est jam Dominus; venite, adoremus.
The Lord is now nigh; come, let us adore.

The Church does not read anything from the prophet Isaias to-day; she merely gives, in the Office of Matins, a sentence of that chapter of St. Luke’s Gospel, which relates the mystery of our Lady’s Visitation: and to this she subjoins a fragment of St. Ambrose’s homily upon that passage. The considerations and affections with which this important event of our Lady’s life ought to inspire the faithful, will be given further on in the proper of the saints.

The Station for to-day is in the church of the Holy Apostles, which many suppose to have been first built by Constantine. The glorious bodies of the two holy apostles Philip and James the Less, lie buried under the altar, awaiting the second coming of Him who chose them as His co-operators in the work of the first, and who will give them, on the last day, to sit upon thrones near His own, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.[1]

That we may better conform to the intentions of our holy mother the Church, who offers to our contemplation the Visitation of the blessed Virgin, let us recite the following hymn, composed in honour of this mystery during the ages of faith.

A Prose in Honour of the Blessed Virgin
(Taken from the ancient Roman-French missals)

Ave, Verbi Dei parens,
Virginis humilitas.
Ave, omni nodo carons,
Humilis virginitas.

Gaude, quæ sic gravidaris
Nec gravaris Filio:
Gaude quae sic oneraris
Onere gratissimo.

Salve, Jesse stirpe orta
Virgula fructifera.
Salve, clausa templi porta,
Soli Deo pervia.

Plaude, vellus Gedeonis,
Rore madens Pneumatis.
Plaude, pellis Salomonis,
Pulchrior præ cæteris.

Vale, Jacob micans stella,
Circumlustrans maria.
Vale consignata cella,
Rubus in vi flammea.

Euge, sole quod amicta
Solem gignis stellula.
Euge, quod sis præelecta,
Scala cœli fulgida.

Pange, aurora consurgens
Luce novi sideris;
Pange, arca trina ferens
Charismata miseris.

Eia! magnificat tua
Jesum Christum anima;
Eia! tecum ut laudemus
Ora, dulcis Maria.

Amen.
Hail, Mother
of the divine Word!
Hail, most humble
and most spotless Virgin!

Rejoice, thou Mother
of a Son who supports thee!
Rejoice, thy burden is a burden
most sweet to bear!

Hail, branch of Jesse,
Fruit-bearing branch!
Hail gate of the temple,
closed to all but God!

Be glad, thou fleece of Gedeon,
full of the dew of the holy Spirit!
Be glad, thou tent of Solomon,
of all the first in beauty!

Hail, shining star of Jacob,
lighting up the sea!
Hail, thou sealed-up sanctuary,
thou burning bush!

What bliss is thine, that thou the humble star
shouldst be clad with the Sun, and then bring forth the Sun!
What bliss is thine, that thou shouldst be elected
the bright ladder reaching up to heaven!

Sing to thy God,
thou aurora rising in the light of the new Star!
Sing, thou ark of the covenant,
bearing unto us sinners thy three treasures.

Oh! let thy soul magnify Jesus!
and oh! sweet Mary,
pray that, with thee,
we too may magnify him.

Amen.

Prayer from the Gallican Sacramentary
(In Adventu Domini, Collect)

Purifica, Domine Deus, Pater omnipotens, pectorum arcana nostrorum, cunctasque propitius maculas ablue peccatorum: ao præsta, Domine, ut benedictione pietatis tuæ a nostris criminibus mundati, metuendum terribilemque adventum Domini nostri Jesu Christi exspectemus interriti.
O Lord God, Father almighty, purify the recesses of our heart, and mercifully wash away all the stains of our sins; and grant, O Lord, that, cleansed from our sins by thy merciful blessing, we may await in confidence the dread and terrible coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

[1] St. Matt. xix. 28.

 

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Prope est jam Dominus; venite, adoremus.

De Isaia Propheta.

Ch. xxxiii.

Domine, miserere nostri: te enim exspectavimus: esto brachium nostrum in mane, et salus nostra in tempore tribulationis. A voce angeli fugerunt populi, et ab exaltatione tua dispersæ sunt Gentes. Et congregabuntur spolia vestra sicut colligitur bruchus, velut cum fossæplenæ fuerint de eo. Magnifìcatus est Dominus, quoniam habitavit in excelso: implevit Sion judicio et justitia. Et erit fides in temporibus tuis: divitiæ salutis sapientia et scientia: timor Domini ipse est thesaurus ejus. Conterriti sunt in Sion peccatores: possedit tremor hypocritas. Quis poterit habitare de vobis cum igne devorante? quis habitabit ex vobis cum ardoribus sempiternis? Qui ambulat in justitiis, et loquitur veritatem, qui projicit avaritiam ex calumnia, et excutit manus suas ab omni' munere, qui obturat aures suas ne audiat sanguinem, et claudit oculos suos ne videat malum. Iste in excelsis habitabit, munimonta saxorum sublimitas ejus:panis ei datus est, aquæ cjus fideles sunt. Regem in decore suo videbunt oculi ejus: cernent terram de longe.
The Lord is now nigh; come, let us adore.

Prom the Prophet Isaias.

Cap. xxxiii.

O Lord, have mercy on us: for we have waited for thee: be thou our arm in the morning, and our salvation in the time of trouble. At the voice of the angel the people fled, and at the lifting up thyself the nations arc scattered. And your spoils shall be gathered together as the locusts are gathered, as when the ditches are full of them. The Lord is magnified, for he hath dwelt on high: he hath filled Sion with judgement and justice. And there shall be faith in thy times, riches of salvation, wisdom and knowledge: the fear of the Lord is his treasure. The sinners in Sion are afraid: trembling hath seized upon the hypocrites. Which of you can dwell with devouring fire? which of you shall dwell with everlasting burning? He that walketh in justices, and speaketh truth, that casteth away avarice by oppression, and shaketh his hands from all bribes, that stoppeth his ears lest he hear blood, and shutteth his eyes that he may see no evil. He shall dwell on high, the fortifications of rocks shall be his highness: bread is given him, his waters are sure. His eyes shall see the king in his beauty; they shall see the land far off.

Happy he whose eyes shall thus contemplate the new-born King in the sweet majesty of His love and His humility! He shall be so taken with this His beauty, that the earth, with all its magnificence, shall appear as nothing in his eyes. The only thing he will care to look upon, will be the Child laid in a manger, and wrapped in swaddling clothes. But, that we may have this happiness of closely contemplating the divine King who is coming to us, that we may merit to enter His court, we must do as the prophet bids us: we must walk in justice, and speak truth. Let us listen to the pious Rabanus Maurus, who expresses this, with much unction, in his first sermon on preparation for the feast of Christmas: ‘If at all times it behoves us to be adorned with the comeliness of good works, we should be so, with an especial care, on the day of our Saviour’s birth. Consider within yourselves, my brethren, what you would do, were a king, or prince, to invite you to come to celebrate his birthday. Your garments would be as new, as elegant, even as magnificent, as you could procure them, for you would think it an insult to him who invited you, were you to appear before him with anything upon you that was tom, or poor, or unclean. Show a like solicitude on the occasion of the coming feast: and let your souls, beautified with the several ornaments of virtue, go forth to their King. He loves the pearls of simplicity, and the flowers of chaste sobriety: wear them therefore. Let your consciences be composed in a holy calm, now that the solemn feast of Jesus’ Nativity is so close upon us. Assist at it lovely in your chastity, gorgeous in your charity, beauteous by your almsdeeds, brilliant with justice and humility, and, above all, radiant in the love of God. If the Lord Jesus shall see you thus when you keep His feast, believe me, He will do more than visit your souls; He will treat you with such familiarity, that He will choose them for His favourite abode, and there He will dwell for ever, as it is written: Behold! I will come, and I will dwell with them and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.’ Christians, you have no time to lose: quickly prepare yourselves for this great visit. Let sinners be converted and become just: let the just become more just; let the holy become more holy, for He that is coming is the Lord our God, and none else.

Prose for the Time of Advent
(Composed in the eleventh century, and taken from the ancient Roman-French missals)

Jubilemus omnes una, Deo nostro qui creavit omnia;
Per quem condita sunt sæcula;
Cœlum quod plurima luce coruscat, et diversa sidera;
Sol mundi schema, noctium decus luna, cunctaque splendentia;
Mare, solum, alta, plana, et profunda flumina;
Aeris ampla spatia: quæ discurrunt aves, venti atque pluvia.
Haec simul cuncta tibi soli Deo Patri militant.
Nunc et in ævum, sine fine per sæcula:
Laus eorum tua gloria:
Qui pro salute nostra Prolem unicam,
Pati in terra misisti sine culpa, sed ob nostra delicta.
Te, sancta Trinitas, precamur, ut corpora nostra et corda regas et protegas, et dones peccatorum veniam. Amen.
Let us sing together to our God, who created all things;
By whom all ages were made;
The firmament, which shines with much light, and the countless stars;
The sun, the ornament of the world; the moon, which is the night’s beauty; and all shining things;
The sea, the land, the hills, the plains, and the deep rivers;
The wide space of the air, through which float birds, and winds, and rain;
All these obey thee alone, O God, as their Maker and King.
Now and evermore, for endless ages:
Their praise is thy glory;
Who for our salvation didst send thine only-begotten Son,
In whom could be no sin, to suffer on earth for our sins.
We beseech thee, O holy Trinity, to govern and protect our souls and bodies, and grant us forgiveness of cur sins. Amen.

Prayer from the Ambrosian Missal
(Second Sunday of Advent, Præfatio)

Vere dignum et justum est, æquum et salutare, nos tibi semper et ubique gratias agere, Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, æterne Deus, per Christum Dominum nostrum: cujus Incarnatione salus facta est mundi, et Passione redemptio procurata est hominis procreati. Ipse nos, quæsumus, ad æternum perducat præmium, qui redemit nos de tenebris infernorum: justificetque in adventu secundo, qui nos redemit in primo: quatenus illius nos a malis omnibus defendat sublimitas, cujus nos ad vitam erexit humilitas.
It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should always and in all places, give thanks to thee, O holy Lord, almighty Father, eternal God, through Christ our Lord: by whose Incarnation has been wrought the salvation of the world, and by whose Passion has been purchased the redemption of his creature man. Grant, we beseech thee, that he, who redeemed us from the dark prison of hell, may lead us to the rewards which are eternal; and justify us in his second coming, who redeemed us in the first: that thus, he, whose humility exalted us unto life, may by his most high majesty shield us from all evil.

 

 

 

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Prope est jam Dominus; venite, adoremus.
The Lord is now nigh; come, let us adore.

To-day the Church begins the fast of Quatuor Tempora, or, as we call it, of Ember days: it includes also the Friday and Saturday of this same week. This observance is not peculiar to the Advent liturgy; it is one which has been fixed for each of the four seasons of the ecclesiastical year. We may consider it as one of those practices which the Church took from the Synagogue; for the prophet Zacharias speaks of the fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh, and tenth months.[1] Its introduction into the Christian Church would seem to have been made in the apostolic times; such, at least, is the opinion of St. Leo, of St. Isidore of Seville, of Rabanus Maurus, and of several other ancient Christian writers. It is remarkable, on the other hand, that the orientals do not observe this fast.

From the first ages the Quatuor Tempora were kept, in the Roman Church, at the same time of the year as at present. As to the expression, which is not unfrequently used in the early writers, of the three times and not the four, we must remember that in the spring, these days always come in the first week of Lent, a period already consecrated to the most rigorous fasting and abstinence, and that consequently they could add nothing to the penitential exercises of that portion of the year.

The intentions, which the Church has in the fast of the Ember days, are the same as those of the Synagogue; namely, to consecrate to God by penance the four seasons of the year. The Ember days of Advent are known, in ecclesiastical antiquity, as the fast of the tenth month; and St. Leo, in one of his sermons on this fast, of which the Church has inserted a passage in the second nocturn of the third Sunday of Advent, tells us that a special fast was fixed for this time of the year, because the fruits of the earth had then all been gathered in, and that it behoved Christians to testify their gratitude to God by a sacrifice of abstinence, thus rendering themselves more worthy to approach to God, the more they were detached from the love of created things. 'For fasting,’ adds the holy doctor, 'has ever been the nourishment of virtue. Abstinence is the source of chaste thoughts, of wise resolutions, and of salutary counsel. By voluntary mortifications, the flesh dies to its concupiscences, and the spirit is renewed in virtue. But since fasting alone is not sufficient whereby to secure the soul’s salvation, let us add to it works of mercy towards the poor. Let us make that which we retrench from indulgence, serve unto the exercise of virtue. Let the abstinence of him that fasts, become the meal of the poor man.’

Let us, the children of the Church, practise what is in our power of these admonitions; and since the actual discipline of Advent is so very mild, let us be so much the more fervent in fulfilling the precept of the fast of the Ember days. By these few exercises which are now required of us, let us keep up within ourselves the zeal of our forefathers for this holy season of Advent. We must never forget that although the interior preparation is what is absolutely essential for our profiting by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, yet this preparation could scarcely be real unless it manifested itself by the exterior practices of religion and penance.

The fast of the Ember days has another object besides that of consecrating the four seasons of the year to God by an act of penance: it has also in view the ordination of the ministers of the Church, which takes place on the Saturday, and of which notice was formerly given to the people during the Mass of the Wednesday. In the Roman Church, the ordination held in the month of December was, for a long time, the most solemn of all; and it would appear, from the ancient chronicles of the Popes, that, excepting very extraordinary cases, the tenth month was, for several ages, the only time for conferring Holy Orders in Rome. The faithful should unite with the Church in this her intention, and offer to God their fasting and abstinence for the purpose of obtaining worthy ministers of the word and of the Sacraments, and true pastors of the people.

The Church does not read anything, in the Matins of to-day, from the prophet Isaias: she merely reads a sentence from the chapter of St. Luke, which gives our Lady’s Annunciation, to which she subjoins a passage from St. Ambrose’s Homily on that Gospel. The fact of this Gospel having been chosen for the Office and Mass of to-day, has made the Wednesday of the third week of Advent a very marked day in the calendar. In several ancient Ordinaries, used by many of the larger churches, both cathedral and abbatial, we find it prescribed that feasts falling on this Wednesday should be transferred: that the ferial prayers should not be said kneeling on that day; that the Gospel Missus est, that is, of the Annunciation, should be sung at Matins by the celebrant vested in a white cope, with cross, lights, and incense, the great bell tolling meanwhile; that in abbeys, the abbot should preach a homily to the monks, as on solemn feasts. We are indebted to this custom for the four magnificent sermons of St. Bernard on our blessed Lady, which are entitled: Super Missus est.

As the Mass of the Ember days is seldom sung, excepting in churches where the canonical Office is said, as also that we might not add unnecessarily to this volume, we have thought it advisable to omit the Masses of Ember Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of Advent. The Station for the Wednesday is at St. Mary Major, on account of the Gospel of the Annunciation, which, as we have just seen, has caused this day to be looked upon as a real feast of the blessed Virgin.

Having to speak, later on, of this mystery, in the proper of saints, we will conclude this Wednesday with a prose of the middle ages, in honour of our blessed Lady’s receiving the angel’s salutation, and with a prayer taken from one of the ancient liturgies.

Prose in Honour of the Blessed Virgin
(Taken from the missal of Cluny of 1523.)

Angelus ad Virginem
Subintrans in conclavi,
Virginis formidinem
Demulcens, inquit ei:

Ave, Regina virginum,
Cœli terraeque Dominum
Concipies et paries,

Intacta,
Salutem hominum;
Tu porta cœli facta,
Medela criminum

Quomodo conciperom,
Quæ virum non cognovi?
Qualiter infringerem
Quæ firma mente vovi?

Spiritus sancti gratia
Perficiet haec omnia:
Ne timeas, sed gaudeas,

Secura
Quod castimonia
Manebit in te pura,
Dei potentia.

Ad hæc Virgo nobilis
Respondens inquit ei:
Servula sum humilis
Omnipotentis Dei.

Tibi cœlesti nuncio,
Tanti secreti conscio,
Consentiens, et cupiens

Videre
Factum quod audio,
Parata sum parere
Dei consilio.

Angelus disparuit,
Et statim puellaris
Uterus intumuit,
Vi partus virginalis.

Qui circumdatus utero,
Novem mensium numero,
Hinc exiit et iniit

Conflictum,
Affigens humero crucem,
Quæ dedit ictum
Hosti mortifero.

Eia! Mater Domini,
Quæ pacem reddidisti
Angelo et homini,
Quando Christum genuisti;

Tuum exora Filium
Ut se nobis propitium
Exhibeat, et deleat

Peccata,
Præstans auxilium
Vita frui beata,
Post hoc exsilium.

Amen.
The angel,
entering the Virgin’s chamber,
and gently bidding her not to fear,
says to her:

Hail, Queen of virgins!
thou shalt conceive in thy womb
the Lord of heaven and earth;

and still remaining a Virgin,
thou shalt bring forth the salvation of mankind,
O gate of heaven bringing to the world
the remedy of its iniquities!

How shall this be, replied the Virgin,
for I know not man?
How wouldst thou have me
break the vow which I have sworn to keep?

The grace of the Holy Ghost
shall accomplish all these things, said the angel.
Fear not, but rejoice.

I assure thee thy virginity
shall be left intact:
the power of God
shall maintain it.

To this the noble Virgin answering,
said to the angel:
I am the lowly handmaid
of the omnipotent God.

Consenting to thy word,
O heavenly messenger,
bearer of so great a secret,

and desiring to see fulfilled
what thou announcest,
I am ready to obey
the decree of God.

The angel left her,
and in that moment her virginal womb conceived
the Word made flesh
from hers.

This was his chosen enclosure
for nine months:
then he left it, and began

the great combat,
carrying the cross upon his shoulders,
wherewith he struck the enemy who brought death into the world.

O dear Mother of Jesus,
who didst bring peace
to angels and to men
by giving birth to Christ,

Pray for us to this thy Son,
that he be merciful to us,
and forgive us

our sins,
and give us his assistance,
whereby, after this exile,
we may possess the blessed joys of eternal life.

Amen.

Prayer from the Mozarabic Missal
(Second Sunday of Advent, Illatio)

Dignum et justum est; vere æquum et salutare est, Domini nostri Jesu Christi adventum in mirabilibus praedicare: quem inter homines nasciturum cœlestis nuntius nunciavit. Virgo terrena dum salutaretur audivit: Spiritus sanctus in utero, dum veniret creavit, ut Gabriele dicente, Maria credente, Dei Verbo Spiritu co-operante, sequeretur salutationem angelicam securitas, promissionem perficeret veritas; ut Altissimi obumbrante virtute, didicisset se esse fœcundam virginitas. Ecce concipies in utero, et paries filium, angelus prædicavit; et: Quomodo fiet istud, Maria respondit. Sed quia haec credendo, non dubitando respondit, implevit Spiritus sanctus quod angelus spopondit. Virgo ante conceptum, Virgo semper futura post partum, Deum suum prius mente, dehinc ventre concepit; salutem mundi prima suscepit Virgo plena gratia Dei, et ideo vera Mater Filii Dei.
It is meet and just, truly right and available to salvation that we should extol the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ as one of the highest of God’s wonderful works. A heavenly messenger announced that he would be born among men. A Virgin, dwelling on this earth, was saluted by the angel, and heard the great mystery. The Holy Ghost produced it in the Virgin’s womb, when he came to her. So that thus, Gabriel announcing, Mary believing, and the Spirit co-operating with the Word of God, confidence followed the angelical salutation, and the promise was fulfilled by the reality that the Virgin should find herself to be made a mother, by the power of the Most High overshadowing her. Behold, said the angel, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a Son. How shall this be? answered Mary. But because she said it from faith, not from doubt, the Holy Ghost accomplished what the angel promised. Virgin before the conception, and Virgin after the birth of her Son, she had received her God in her soul, before possessing him in her womb. Virgin full of the grace of God, she was the first to receive the salvation of the world, and therefore was chosen to be the true Mother of the Son of God.

 

 

 

 

[1] Zach. viii. 19.

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Prope est jam Dominus; venite, adoremus.

De Isaia Propheta.

Cap. xxx.

Exspectat Dominus ut misereatur vestri, et idea exaltabitur parcens vobis; quia Deus judicii Dominus, beati omnes qui exspectant eum. Populus enim Sion habitabit in Jerusalem: plorans nequaquam plorabis: miserans miserebitur tui: ad vocem clamoris tui statina ut audierit, respondebit tibi. Et dabit vobis Dominus panem arctum, et aquam brevem: et non faciet avolare a te ultra doctorem tuum, et erunt oculi tui videntes præceptorem tuum. Et dabitur pluvia semini tuo, ubicumque seminaveris in terra: et panis frugum terrae erit uberrimus et pinguis. Pascetur in possessione tua in die illo agnus spatiose, et tauri tui, et pulli asinorum, qui operantur terram, commixtum migma comedent sicut in area ventilatum est. Et erunt super omnem montem excelsum, et super omnem collem elevatum rivi currentium aquarum in die interfectionis multorum, cum ceciderint turres. Et erit lux lunæ sicut lux solis, et lux solis erit septempliciter sicut lux septem dierum, in die qua alligaverit Dominus vulnus populi sui, et percussuram plagæ ejus sanaverit. Ecce nomen Domini venit de longinquo, ardens furor ejus, et gravis ad portandum: labia ejus repleta sunt indignatione, et lingua ejus quasi ignis devorans. Spiritus ejus velut torrens inundans usque ad medium colli, ad perdendas Gentes in nihilum, et frenum erroris quod erat in maxillis populorum.
The Lord is now nigh; come, let us adore.

From the Prophet Isaias.

Ch. xxx.

The Lord waiteth that he may have mercy on you, and therefore shall he be exalted sparing you: because the Lord is the God of judgement, blessed are all they that wait for him. For the people of Sion shall dwell in Jerusalem: weeping thou shalt not weep: he will surely have pity on thee: at the voice of thy cry, as soon as he shall hear, he will answer thee. And the Lord will give you spare bread and short water: and will not cause thy teacher to flee away from thee any more, and thy eyes shall see thy teacher. And rain shall be given to thy seed, wheresoever thou shalt sow in the land: and the bread of the corn of the land shall be most plentiful and fat. The lamb in that day shall feed at large in thy possession, and thy oxen, and the ass-colts, that till the ground, shall eat mingled provender as it was winnowed in the floor. And there shall be upon every high mountain, and upon every elevated hill, rivers of running waters in the day of the slaughter of many, when the towers shall fall. And the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold as the light of seven days, in the day when the Lord shall bind up the wound of his people, and shall heal the stroke of their wound. Behold the name of the Lord cometh from afar, his wrath burneth, and is heavy to bear: his lips are filled with indignation, and his tongue as a devouring fire. His breath as a torrent overflowing even to the midst of the neck, to destroy the nations unto nothing, and the bridle of error that was in the jaws of the people.

And are we then to weep no more, O Jesus? Happy we! How could we be sad now that Thou hast heard our prayers, and our eyes shall behold Thee, our Master, and our Teacher? If Thou yet delayest some days longer, it is only that we may have more time to receive what Thou hast made it Thy glory to give—mercy and the pardon of our sins. Oh, the happiness of Thy kingdom! Oh, the richness of our lands, that is, of our souls, when Thy dew shall have fallen upon them! Oh, the sweetness of our Bread, which is to be Thyself, O living Bread come down from heaven! Oh, the brightness of the light which Thou wilt give us, even on the very day when Thou wilt have bound up our wounds! Blessed day, come quickly! And thou, dear night, when Mary is to give her divine Babe to us, when wilt thou come? So great is our hope in this Thy merciful coming, that we listen with less dread to the awful words of Thy prophet, who, with a rapidity swift as Thine own word, passes over the long ages between the two events, and speaks to us of the approach of the terrible day, when Thou wilt come suddenly in Thy burning wrath, with Thy lips filed with indignation, and Thy tongue as a devouring fire. Our present feeling is hope, for we are looking forward to that coming, in which Thou art the beautiful Prince of peace and love, and we cannot but hope. When that last day comes, have mercy on us! but on this day of Thine amiable visit, permit us to say to Thee the words of one of Thy servants: ‘Yes, dear Jesus, come; come to us! but in swathing-bands, not with Thy hand raised to punish us: in humility, not in Thy greatness: in the crib, not in the clouds of heaven: in the arms of Thy Mother, not on the throne of Thy Majesty: on the colt of the ass, not on the Cherubim: to us, and not against us: to save us, and not to judge: to visit us in Thy peace, not to condemn us in Thy anger. If Thou comest unto us thus, O Jesus! it is not from Thee, but to Thee, that we will flee.’ (The venerable Peter of Celles, First sermon of Advent.)

Hymn Taken from the Anthology of the Greeks
(December 20)

Bethlehem, præparare, omnibus aperitur Eden; lætare, Ephrata, quia arbor vitae in spelunca effloruit ex Virgine; ejus enim venter paradisus demonstratus est spiritualis, in quo est divina planta, de qua manducantes vivimus; neque enim amplius sicut Adam moriemur: nam Christus nascitur, lapsam principio relevans imaginem.

Ministraturus Christus libenter progreditur, plasmatis formam plastes accipit; qui locuples est divinitate, Adam indigenti novam reformationem atque nativitatem ut commiserans elargitur.

Inclinans cœlos et in Virgine habitans progreditur carnaliter, Bethlehem in spelunca pariendus, ut scriptum est, videndus que infantulus qui infantes in vulva vivificat; ipsi gaudentes nunc obviemus omnes corde veloci.

Dominus nascens ut hospes, sapienter in propria venit: recipiamus eum, ut hospites factos paradisi deliciarum iterum habitare faciat natus in spelunca.

Jam divinæ Verbi Incarnationis omnibus aperitur propylæum; cœli, gaudete; angeli, exsultate; lætetur terra cum hominibus, una cum pastoribus et magis in spiritu.

Fert sicut unguentum spirituale non vacuum Virgo alabastrum, et illud gestat in spelunca in spiritu ad evacuandum sapienter illud, ut bono odore repleat animas nostras.

Angelicæ accurrite Virtutes; qui in Bethlehem estis, præparate præsepium, Christus enim nascitur; Sapientia progreditur. Accipe salutationem, Ecclesia; in gaudium Dei Matris dicamus, populi: Benedictus qui venit, Deus noster.

Christus Deus noster manifeste gradiens veniet, et non tardabit; ex nuptinescia nympha videbitur; in spelunca autem requiescet; et tu, præsepe alogorum, quem cœlum non continet, accipe fasciis in te involvendum, qui uno verbo nostras alogias solvit.

Chorum age, Isaia, Verbum Dei demonstra, prophetiza puellæ Mariæ rubum incendiari et igne non consumi. Splendore Deitatis, Bethlehem, adomare; aperi januam, O Eden; atque iter capite magi, Salutem visuri in præsepio fasciatum; quem sidus designavit desuper speluncam, vitæ datorem Dominum salvantem genus nostrum.
Be thou ready, O Bethlehem, for now Eden is open unto all; rejoice, O Ephrata, for the tree of life has blossomed in the cave from the Virgin; for her womb has become a mystic paradise, wherein is the divine plant, of which if we eat we shall live, and not, like Adam, die; for Christ is born, that he may raise up his image which had fallen in the beginning.

Christ comes willingly to minister to us; the Creator puts on the creature’s form; he that is rich in the Godhead, mercifully bestows on the needy Adam a new creation and birth.

He has bowed down the heavens, and, taking up his abode in the Virgin, he comes in our flesh to be born in Bethlehem’s cave, as it is written; and he that gives life to children in the womb has himself become a child: let us all go forth to meet him with our hearts full of ardour and joy.

The all-wise Lord thus born, comes among his own to receive hospitality from his own creatures; let us receive him, that this divine Babe of the cave may make us the guests of the paradise of delights.

Now is the portal of the divine Incarnation opened to all: be glad, ye heavens i exult with joy, all ye angels! let the earth and its inhabitants rejoice in spirit with the shepherds and the magi.

The Virgin, as a precious vase of alabaster, bears the divine perfume into the cave, there wisely and ineffably to yield what she contains, that she may fill our souls with the delicious fragrance.

Ye angelic Powers: hasten thither. Ye who dwell in Bethlehem, prepare the crib, for Christ is coming to be born; Wisdom advances towards you. Receive our greetings, O thou Church of God! and let us, O ye people, thus sing in honour of the divine Mother’s joy: Blessed be our God, that cometh!

Christ our God shall come manifestly, and shall not delay; he shall appear born of a spotless Virgin; he shall be laid in a cave; and thou, the crib of senseless beasts, receive into thyself, wrapt in swathing-bands, him, whom the heavens cannot contain, and whose single word absolves our senseless sins.

Sing, O Isaias! show us the Word of God, predict the bush that is to be on fire, yet not consumed; the Virgin Mary. Put on thy splendour, the rays reflected from the Deity, O Bethlehem! open thy gates, O Eden! Set out on your journey, ye Magi, to see the Saviour laid in swaddling-clothes in a manger, Him whom your star, standing over the cave, pointed out to you the Lord and giver of life, the Saviour of our race.

Prayer from the Gallican Missal
(In Adventu Domini, Immolatio)

Vere dignum et justum est, nos tibi hic et ubique semper gratias agere, Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, æterne Deus, cui proprium est veniam delictis impendere, quam pœnaliter imminere. Qui fabricam tui operis per eumdem rursus lapidem es dignatus erigere, ne imago, quae ad similitudinem tui facta fuerat vivens, dissimilis haberetur ex morte. Munus venialis indulgentiae praestitisti: ut unde mortem peccato contraxerat, inde vitam pietas repararet immensa. Haec postquam prophetica sæpius vox praedixit; et Gabriel angelus Mariæ jam praesentia nuntiavit, mox puellæcredentis in utero, fidelis Verbi mansit aspirata conceptio; et illa proles nascendi sub lege latuit, quae cuncta suo nasci nutu concessit. Tumebatur Virginis sinus; et fœcunditate suorum viscerum corpus mirabatur intactum. Grande mundo spondebatur auxilium, fœminæ partus sine viro mysterium; quando nullius maculae nebula fuscata tenso nutriebat ventre præcordia, mox futura sui genitrix genitoris.
Truly is it meet and just that here and in allplaces we should give thee thanks, O holy Lord, almighty Father, eternal God, who lovest rather to pardon than to punish sin. Who didst mercifully use in the restoration of thy work the same stone wherewith thou hadst made it, lest the image made to thy likeness living, should, dying, become unlike thee. Thou didst bestow on man the gift of an indulgent pardon; that thence thy boundless mercy might restore life, whence man by his sin had wrought death. It is this that the voice of the prophets had often foretold; it is this that the angel Gabriel announced to Mary as then to be presently accomplished. The Virgin believed, and, in that same hour, there was conceived in her womb the long-sighed-for Word, ever faithful to his promises. There did her Child lie concealed until the law, which fixed the time of birth, had been observed, though it was he, whose sovereign will granted all things to be born. The Virgin was seen to be a Mother; it was the prodigy of there being in the same body an immense fruitfulness and an angelic purity. Great was the help augured to the world by this mystery of a Virgin Mother, whereby the Mother of her own Creator nourished him in her womb, she whose purity was undimmed by the least shadow of a stain.