The First Week after Pentecost

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Christum regem adoremus dominantem gentibus, qui se manducantibus dat spiritus pinguedinem.
Let us adore Christ, the King, who ruleth the nations, who giveth fatness of spirit to them that eat him.

Man has been cast forth from Eden, and has gone into the dreary land of his exile. He has nothing left him of the tree of life, but the recollection that it was once his. It remains in the happy land where it was first planted; how could it go after the sinner man, now that he is banished into the vale of tears? No! it remains in paradise; far from the abode of suffering, and out of mortals' sight, it continues in all its loveliness, bearing testimony to the primitive intentions of God, which were peace, innocence, and love. The day will come when we shall see it again, for it is to be one of the charms of the new earth, into which our Lord will lead His chosen people on the day of the great Pasch, and of the restoration of all things.[1] Happy day! after which, as the apostle tells us, every creature longeth, bowed down as it now is, and made subject, by reason of a fault which was not its own, to the inconstancy of ceaseless change. Man, who, against the creature’s will, subjected it to the servitude of corruption, keeps up within it the hope that, the time of deliverance being come, it, too, will partake, in its own way, of the glorious liberty of the children of God.[2] The glory of the new paradise will be greater than that of the one of old; for, it is not under the veil of symbols, or in a passing way, that the deifying union is to be fulfilled, but divine Wisdom will give Himself, and for ever, and without veil, to man, in an eternal embrace.

And yet this union, whose permanent enjoyment is to make the eternal bliss of heaven, is to be contracted even now, and on this very earth of ours; for it is the economy of the divine plan, that, in all things, the future life should have its roots in the present one, and should be but the revelation, in the light of glory, of the ineffable realities formed here by grace. What, then, after the fall, will be the conditions of the alliance, from which eternal Wisdom has not been turned by the sin committed by His creature man?

Oh the depth of the riches of this Wisdom ef God![3] His love is strong as death,[4] and, even after man’s disloyalty, will be infinitely admirable in its delicate ways of gaining its object. There is to be nothing unbecoming in the alliance He is bent on! He will admit no compromise with the depravity which has befallen our now sinful race! His mercy is infinite; and, through that, He has pardoned the offence, the moment the offender expressed his sorrow; but the pardon is not one which was to mean no compensation, no expiation on man’s side; that would have ill-suited the dignity of such a Spouse as He. And since sinful man cannot offer an adequate expiation, He, Wisdom, undertakes to pay the culprit’s whole debt, and give him back the holiness he has forfeited; this done, He will take our human nature, and espouse her to Himself as His much-loved bride. ‘I will espouse thee unto Me, in justice and judgment,’ says this God to man, by His prophet Osee.[5]

And He adds: ‘I will espouse thee unto Me in faith.’[6] For, just as the entrance of divine Wisdom into this world, which He conies to save from pride by humility, is to be without exterior parade or glory, so, likewise, the divine union is to be accomplished in the mystery of the sacred Species of the nuptial banquet, and these Species will offer nought to view but the appearance of bread and wine, such as one could find on any table. But faith will see through that veil; and the unspeakable dignity conferred on the children of men by this heavenly food, will reflect its brightness on the whole creation.

The whole world of creatures, each in its own way, was in expectation of this marvellous manifestation, which was to be made upon the sons of God,[7] by the union to be contracted between Wisdom and man. The prophet thus speaks of this universal expectation: ‘And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the Lord, I will hear the heavens; and they shall hear the earth; and the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and these shall hear Jezrahel.’[8] Jezrahel means the seed or race of God. God will give to man, through corn and wine, the substance to be offered in the mysteries; and, through oil, the priesthood, which is to transform them into the marriage-dowry, in the very action of the Sacrifice. It is to be by the Sacrifice, and by Blood, that this alliance of justice and love is to be contracted.

We read in Scripture that Moses was one day traversing the desert; he had on him a legal transgression; the angel of the Lord met him, and was about to slay him, when Sephora, the wife of this future leader of Israel, averted the divine vengeance by the rough and speedy circumcision of her son, Eliezer: then marking with his blood the feet of the guilty one, she said to him: ‘A spouse of blood art thou to me.’[9] Thus, and with far greater truth, could divine Wisdom say to the human race; for He is not to save, He is not to be united with man, except by the Blood of this Son of Man, who is one in person with that same Wisdom.

Nay, far from lessening, this very sight of man’s misery has increased the ardour of His love. Later on this Man-God will say: ‘I have a baptism, wherewith I am to be baptized: and how am I straitened until it be accomplished!’[10] It was the same from the very first: no sooner has expiation been shown as the royal way, whereby humanity is to be restored to Him, and again made worthy of Him, by the shedding of divine Blood—Wisdom has ever had that thought before Him. He is impatient for the great immolation of Calvary; and until its time comes, He will suggest to His people rites and sacrifices figurative of that one Sacrifice, and of the banquet of the adorable Victim, the marriage-feast.

His garden, the place of His delight, is no longer paradise; it is this parched earth of ours, where man has now, more than ever, need of being loved of God. Ye Cherubim, whom God has stationed to guard the tree of life,’tis well that sinful man be kept from approaching it. But the flaming sword ye hold in your hands, will not prevent divine Wisdom from leaving paradise, and joining our human race here in its banishment. He was not only the tree, but He is, likewise, the river of life. Speaking of Himself, He says, in the Book of Ecclesiasticus: ‘Like a brook out of a river of a mighty water, as though I were but a mere channel of a river, I came out of paradise. I said: “I will water My garden of plants, and I will water abundantly the fruits of My meadow.” And behold! My brook became a great river, and My river became like a sea; for I make doctrine to shine forth unto all, as the morning light, and I will declare it afar off, yea, even to the most distant ages. I will penetrate to all the lower parts of the earth, and will visit all that sleep, and will enlighten all that hope in the Lord.’[11]

This living light, which from early morning enlightens the whole earth with divine Wisdom, is the varied teaching of prophecies and figures, which were given by God through the course of ages, and, from the very moment of man’s creation, put the shadow of the Messias upon the whole universe. By means of this manifold teaching, Wisdom conveyeth Himself, through nations, into holy souls;[12] rouses man up, when discouragement makes him slumber;[13] cherishes his hopes, and bids him hope, by looking at the future. Those bloody sacrifices, which were prescribed immediately after man’s departure from Eden, as the ritual expression of his early worship of God, will be offered up by all after generations; and even when idolatry shall have led mankind into the abyss of every crime, those sacrifices will raise up their voice, and keep up the prophecy which they are intended to proclaim—the prophecy of a Victim, who will be one of infinite worth. The stream of primitive traditions will, as it flows through time and space, become impregnated with foreign elements, and transmit many a worthless or even dangerous material; still, it is through the rite of sacrifice, observed by the whole world, that the desire and expectation of Christ will be maintained among all nations.[14] Satan, that old serpent thief, may succeed in inducing men to build altars to himself, and on those altars offer him sacrifice, which is due to God alone; but he cannot stifle the voice of truth which accompanies every sacrifice, the voice which teaches that an innocent and pure victim may be substituted in place of guilty man, and work his expiation. This will arouse the notion of the promised Mediator in many a soul bewildered by the orgies of this satanic worship; and here, again, the very sight of the serpent was made to be the cure of them he had stung, and became the sign and ensign of the son of Jesse.[15] O root of Jesse! root of the Wisdom of the Most High! who is there that can understand the depth of Thy counsels, or penetrate the devices of Thy immense love?[16] Verily, Thou art more beautiful than any light of day; for that light yields when night comes on; whereas Thou, O Wisdom, art overcome by no evil, be it as black as sin![17]

All those ancient sacrifices were powerless to produce grace; their very multiplicity proved their inability to do so;[18] but what they could and did effect was the keeping alive in mankind the remembrance of the fall, and the expectation of a Redeemer; they were, likewise, the basis of those supernatural acts, which are requisite for man’s justification and salvation. But, besides their representing the redemptive element, which the fall of man has introduced into the plan of God, these bloody sacrifices express, also, the union of God with His creature, which was the primary and chief object of creation. That union was to be effected in the banquet prepared by Wisdom, the eucharistie banquet, wherein He, Wisdom, the Son of God, was to be received by man, and thus united with him. This sublime mystery was also expressed by those figurative sacrifices, wherein the people partook of the viotims offered: for, in the Eucharist, the Victim is the Man-God, offered to God, and eaten of by man; the Deity is appeased by the Blood of the divine Lamb, and mankind is restored, because nourished by His Flesh, which thus feeds him to a new and divine life. Such was the general law observed by all nations, when offering sacrifice: the portion intended for God was consumed by fire, and thus transmitted to heaven; but another portion of the same victim was taken and eaten by the people: and all this signified that there was communion between heaven and earth, and that the receivers were all made one, because they all partook of the same sacred food. How admirably are thus grouped together all the mysteries of God’s goodness towards His creature man! And what a prophecy this was! It was unceasing, for it was proclaimed each time a sacrifice was offered up, and there were thousands every day. It was thus that the divine Lamb, whom they foretold, was slain from the very beginning of the world;[19] His Blood, in all these early ages, was applied, through hope and faith, to the souls of men, and cleansed them from their sins; and the mysterious ritual, with its inspired code of prescriptions, was keeping man on the alert, and preparing him for the banquet of the nuptials of the Lamb.[20] Then, let Wisdom extol His own triumph! It is He who caused that in the heavens there should rise a light which never fails, and covers the whole earth as with a cloud; He alone has compassed the circuit of heaven, has penetrated into the bottom of the deep, has traversed the waves of the sea, and has stood in all the earth, and in every people, as the King of all, holding the chief rule, and vanquishing, strongly and sweetly, the hearts of all, both high and low.[21]

Meanwhile, the time of banishment is running on; the long period of expectation is more than half over. The nearer the realization of the promised alliance comes, the more ardent are the longings of chosen souls. As to our Jesus Himself, He seems to desire a preparation of a more telling kind than any of these others that have preceded. He will turn His attention to the very spot where He is to dwell on this earth. And where is that? His Father, the Creator of all things, whose every word is fulfilled by His Son, has a chosen people; and among these He would have His Son be nationalized, if we may reverently use such a word. He said to Him: ‘Let thy dwelling be in Jacob, and thine inheritance in Israel!’[22] In obedience to this His Father’s will, He establishes Himself in Sion, He takes His rest in the holy city, and fixes His power in Jerusalem.[23] Jerusalem! It is the city of peace, and is to be the scene of such stupendous mysteries! It is here that Isaac, the child of promise, had come carrying on his shoulders the wood for his self-sacrifice; here his father was about to slay him, when a ram was mysteriously substituted; and the mount of the one true Sacrifice was thus selected. It is here, also, that there then lived a king-priest, who bore the likeness of the Son of God;[24] it was Melchisedech; and when Abraham, the father of believers, came to him, this Melchisedech offered what was to be the sacrifice of the alliance to come, a sacrifice of bread and wine; and thereby showed to Abraham, who saw into the future, the day of Christ, his Son.[25]

It is at the very period, when the world at large has fallen into idolatry, and offered to false gods the homage of its sacrifices, that divine Wisdom leads into this chosen dwelling-place the people of whom He is to be born as Man; it is the fulfilment of the command: Let thy dwelling be in Jacob! let thine inheritance be in Israel! In this one people Wisdom will maintain His Father’s claims, and keep alive and pure the light of the expectation of nations. He delivers it, at the cost of countless prodigies, from the Egyptian bondage.[26] The feast of the Paschal Lamb—slain the same day on which, at a future time, is to be celebrated the Supper of the Lord, and the immolation of the true Lamb—is the signal of deliverance, and of a triumphant march, through the waters of a sea, to the mount of the alliance: the chosen people becomes the bride of God,[27] the priestly kingdom, and the holy nation.[28] Figure, in all things, of God’s true people traversing the desert of this world, Israel drinks of the waters which come from the rock, and the Rock is Christ;[29] a bread rained down daily from heaven, strengthens him amidst the fatigues of journey and battle; and this bread of angels, as the Scripture terms it, took any taste the eater wished it to have.[30] God Himself dwells with Israel under his tents. He has had a tabernacle made for him, on the plan of one shown by God on the mount; and in front of this tabernacle there is an altar, on which a chosen family, consecrated by oil of unction, may alone offer, under the direction of a high-priest, the manifold legal sacrifices, each of which points to some excellency or other of the one great Sacrifice of the future. From this altar, on which burns a fire that is never quenched, there goes up to heaven without interruption the smoke of the flesh and blood of the victims slain. They are a supplication for the coming of that saving Host, which is to put an end to these hecatombs. There are also offerings of flour and wine, the necessary accompaniment of holocausts and peace-offerings; these prefigure the august Memorial which is to keep up and perfect the divine Sacrifice of the cross, by an unbloody application of it. There is, in these early days, a sacrifice which goes under the name of a memorial; it is an offering by itself, consisting of fine flour, and unleavened loaves and wafers.[31] Then, there are the proposition loaves; they are kept within the veil, as the most holy of the sacrifices, as being a perpetual memorial of sacrifice and covenant;[32] and what a mysterious, yet unmistakable, figure is all this of the future eucharistic Presence, kept up in the Church under the sacred Species, even when the celebration of the mysteries is over!

As there is but one altar in Jacob, which, by its oneness, points towards Him who, at a future time, is to be both victim and altar; so there is but one place, the tabernacle and its surroundings, and later on the temple and the holy city, where it is lawful to celebrate those sacred banquets of communion, which, according to universal custom, close the sacrifice in which they are offered. The last time that Moses had his people assembled around him, in the plains of the Jordan, he thus spoke to them: ‘Beware lest thou offer thy holocaust in every place that thou shalt see. In the place which the Lord your God shall choose, that His name may be therein, thither shall ye bring your holocausts, and victims, and tithes, and the firstfruits of your hands. There shall ye feast before the Lord your God, ye and your sons and your daughters, your men-servants and maid-servants, and the levite that dwelleth in your cities; and thou shalt rejoice, and be refreshed, before the Lord thy God, in all things, whereunto thou shalt put thy hand.’[33]

The material prosperity promised to the Jewish people, as a reward of his faithfully observing the numerous figurative prescriptions of the law of Sinaï, was itself but a figure of the spiritual blessings which were to transform the soul, and prepare it for the coming of divine Wisdom in the flesh. But Israel is slow to raise himself above material things. He easily falls a prey to all the scandals he witnesses among the Gentiles. Severe punishments teach him that he is not safe, except in keeping the law given to him. He keeps the letter of the ritual precepts with scrupulous exactitude, but sees nothing of their chief meaning, which is the Redeemer to come, and the spiritual dispositions which those outward observances were intended to prompt. God is continually warning him by the prophets, and seeking to reclaim him to the spirit of His divine institutions. Thus, in the psalms, He remonstrates with him, but with such paternal affection that one can scarcely suspect a complaint, though there is a most bitter one: 'Hear, O My people! and I will speak: O Israel! and I will testify unto thee. I am God, thy God. I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices; and thy burnt-offerings are always in My sight. I will not take calves out of thy house, nor he-goats out of thy flocks; for all the beasts of the wood are Mine, the cattle on the hills, and the oxen. I know all the fowls of the air, and with Me is the beauty of the field. If I should be hungry, I would not tell thee; for the world is Mine, and the fullness thereof. Shall I eat the flesh of bullocks? or shall I drink the blood of goats? Offer unto God the sacrifice of praise, and pay thy vows unto the Most High! . . . The sacrifice of praise shall glorify Me; and there is the way by which I will show him the salvation of God,' that is, my Christ, who is the Saviour signified by all these sacrifices![34] Later on, however, to this people, stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears,[35] which has gone deeper and deeper into outward formalism, and knows no other virtue or perfection, God speaks in strong language, expressing His disgust for sacrifices, which they have robbed of the only worth they possessed in His eight, that is, their prophetic sense. ‘To what purpose do ye offer Me the multitude of your victims?’ says He by the prophet Isaias, ‘I am full; I desire not holocausts of rams, and fat of fatlings, and blood of calves, and lambs, and buck-goats. When ye came to appear before Me, who required these things at your hands, that ye should walk, (defiling) My courts? Offer sacrifice no more in vain: your incense is an abomination unto Me!’[36] But these warnings are not heeded; pride increases in the carnal Jew, in proportion to his narrow heart and views. He dreams of a Messias who is to be an earthly conqueror. As to the true Messias, whose divine characteristics are foretold by the victims offered in sacrifice, this Jew will deny Him, for he finds Jesus too closely resembling these poor victims, by His sufferings and meekness.

Then comes the last of the prophets, Malachias. He turns to the Gentiles: they have been less favoured than Israel, but they have kept up the expectation of a Saviour, and, when He comes, they will lovingly receive Him. Malachias announces the final abrogation of a worship which had been so perverted, and the substitution of a divine memorial, which shall be the same in all places, and shall make all people one, by their ail partaking of the great Sacrifice to come: I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord of hosts, to the priests of Israel; I will not receive a gift of your hand; for, from the rising of the sun, even to the going down, My name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered unto My name a clean oblation.[37]

The fullness of time has come; then, bless God, O ye Gentiles! Make the voice of His praise to be heard![38] Too long, life has been to you but the empty dream of night. You hungered after the fruit of life; you thirsted for living water. But, like the hungry man who dreams of a sumptuous repast, yet never satisfies the hunger which gnaws him; like the thirsty man who dreams that he drinks, yet, on waking, is tormented with the same burning thirst, and finds his soul still empty; so was the multitude of your erring people.[39] Yet, now, behold! The standard of Jesse appears on the mountain, and rallies you around it. Ye Gentiles, that once were strangers, feed now to your hearts content, in the deserts turned into fruitfulness![40] The water from the rock flows plentifully through your once parched lands. The glory of Libanus, the beauty of Carmel and Saron, adorn your hills, and refresh your lonely plains; your wilderness shall rejoice, and flourish like the lily.[41] Rain shall be given to your seed; and the bread of the corn of your land shall be delicious.[42] ’Tis just it should be so; for, shall the labourer plough all day long? Shall he be ever opening and harrowing his ground? No; the time comes when, having made smooth the surface of his field, he sows and scatters his seeds, and puts wheat in the rows he has marked. Such is the providence shown to the Gentiles by the Lord God of hosts; and thereby He evinces both the sureness of His divine counsels, and the magnificence of His justice.[43]

Eternal Wisdom had not given up the mysterious designs of His love. He kept close to the fallen human race, even when He severely chastised it. He owed it to Himself to put guilty man to the test, so to make him feel, before raising him up, how deep had been his fall. It was on this account that He permitted him to be overtaken by night, and fear, and anguish; He Himself sends him sufferings, in order that, having thus brought him to sound the frightful depth of his misery, He might trust Himself to the safe welcome and keeping of His creature’s humility. This done, He would raise him up by repentance, and strengthen him with hope, and, joyously meeting him, disclose to him again His divine charms, and enrich him with the treasures which are in the keeping of His love.[44]

This is Saturday; let us turn to Mary, who was made for us Gentiles the seat of Wisdom. In her chaste womb was wrought the mystery of mercy, which had been the expectation of all the long ages past. Her most pure blood provided the substance of that spotless Body wherewith the most beautiful of the sons of men contracted the indissoluble alliance of our nature with eternal Wisdom. Mary’s soul is enraptured at seeing the ineffable mystery of these divine nuptials effected in her chaste womb. She is that enclosed garden, where, more delightedly than in the early days of the universe, Wisdom enjoys light and love; the flowery couch of the Canticle,[45] perfumed, by the holy Spirit, with the sweetest fragrance; the glorious tabernacle, incomparably more holy than that of Moses. It is within her, under the immaculate veil of her flesh, that, by the unspeakable embrace of the two natures in the unity of God’s only-begotten Son, the Holy Ghost pours forth the unction, which makes Him Spouse, and, at the same time, Priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech.

Let man, then, be of good courage; the Bread of heaven, the Bread of the covenant, has at last come down upon our earth; and although nine months must pass before the great night comes, when He is to be made visible to us all in Bethlehem, yet, even now, the High Priest is at His work in this His holy temple. ‘Sacrifice and oblation Thou wouldest not,’ He says to His eternal Father; ‘but a Body Thou hast fitted unto Me. Holocausts for sin did not please Thee. Then said I: “Behold I come;” in head of the book it is written of Me, that I should do Thy will, O God!’[46]

We will close, to-day, our selections from the Office of the Blessed Juliana, by the following hymn; it is assigned to Compline in the ancient books of the Church of St. Martin-au-Mont.

Hymn for Compline

Christus noster vere cibus,
Christus noster vere potus,
Caro Christi vere cibus,
Sanguis Christi vere potus.

Vera caro quam sumimus,
Quam assumpsit de Virgine:
Verus sanguis quem bibimus,
Quem effudit pro homine.

Vere tali convivio,
Verbum caro comeditur;
Per quod viget religio,
Per quod coelum ingredimur.

Panis iste dulcedinis
Totus plenus, et gratiæe,
Alvo gestatus Virginis,
Rex est aeternae gloriae.

Hujus panis angelici
Saginemur pinguedine;
Ut tam pii viatici
Delectemur dulcedine.

O coeleste convivium!
O redemptorum gloria!
O requies humilium!
Æterna confer gaudia.

Praesta Pater per Filium,
Praesta per almum Spiritum;
Quibus hoc das edulium,
Prosperum serves exitum.

Christ is truly our meat,
Christ is truly our drink;
the Flesh of Christ is truly our meat,
the Blood of Christ is truly our drink.

The true Flesh which he took
from the Virgin, is what we eat;
the true Blood, which he shed for man,
is what we drink.

In this banquet, the Word made Flesh
is truly eaten; it is on him
that our worship rests,
and by him that we enter heaven.

This Bread, which is all full
of sweetness and grace,
is the King of eternal glory,
that was carried in the Virgin’s womb.

Let us feed on the richness of Angels’ Bread;
that we may find delight
in the sweetness of a viaticum
so full of mercy.

O thou heavenly banquet!
O glory of the redeemed!
O repose of the humble!
grant us eternal joys.

Grant, O Father, through thy Son,
grant, through the Spirit of love,
that we, to whom thou givest such nourishment as this,
may be brought by tbee to a prosperous end.


We will continue our selections from the magnificent Preface given in the liturgy of the eighth book of the. Apostolic Constitutions.

Constitutio Jacobi

Neque hoc solum: verum etiam et posteris ejus, a te in multitudinem innumerabilem effusis, eos qui tibi adhæserunt glorificasti, eos vero qui a te defecerunt punivisti; admisso quidem Abelis sacrificio ut innocentis, fratricidi autem Caini munere ut detestandi fastidito.

Tu enim es opifex hominum, vitae largitor, indigentiae expletor; legum dator, easque servantium remunerator, transgredientium vindex. Qui diluvium mundo propter impie viventium multitudinem intulisti, et eo ex diluvio in arca eripuisti cum octo animabus justum Noam, finem quidem eorum qui praeterierant, originem vero successurorum. Qui horrendum ignem adversus Sodomitanam pentapolim concitasti, ac sanctum Lotum ex incendio eruisti.
Tu es qui Abrahamum liberasti avita impietate, et mundi haeredem constituisti, ipsique Christum tuum apparere fecisti. Qui Melchisedecum pontificem divini cultus designasti. Qui Isaacum effecisti filium promissionis. Qui Jacobum ad Ægyptum introduxisti.

Tu, Domine, Hebræos ab Ægyptiis oppressos, ob promissa patribus eorum facta, non neglexisti. Cumque homines legem naturalem corrupissent, et creaturam modo fortuitam arbitrarentur, modo plusquam oportet honorarent; non sivisti errore duci; quin potius edito sancto famulo tuo Moyse, per eum legem scriptam in adjutorium naturalis tribuisti; et creaturas ostendisti opus tuum esse, errorem vero de multitudine deorum exterminasti.

Aaron et posteros ejus honore sacerdotali decorasti. Hebræos, cum peccarent, castigasti; cum reverterentur, suscepisti. Ægyptios decem plagis ultus es; mari diviso trajecisti Israelitas; insecutos Ægyptios delevisti submersione. Ligno amaram aquam dulcescere fecisti; ex petra dura aquam profudisti; e coelo mannam depluisti; praebuisti ex aere escam, ortygometram: constituisti nocte columnam ignis ad illustrationem, et die columnam nubis ad umbraculum in æstu. Per Jesum ducem a te declaratum septem gentes evertisti, Jordanem dirupisti, fluvios Ethan siccasti, muros prostravisti absque machinis.

Pro omnibus, tibi gloria, Domine omnipotens.

Te adorant innumerabiles copiæ angelorum, archangelorum, thronorum, dominationum, principatuum, potestatum, virtutum, et cherubini, item seraphini senis alis, binis quidem velantes pedes suos, binis vero capita, et duabus aliis volantes, ac dicentes una cum mille millibus archangelorum et denis millibus denum millium angelorum, indesinenter ac sine vocis intermissione clamantibus:

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus Dominus Sabaoth: pleni sunt cœli et terra gloria ejus: Benedictus in sæcula.

And not this only; but, when thou hadst increased the posterity of man to an innumerable multitude, thou glorifiedst them that kept faithful to thee, but punishedst them that fell off; accepting the sacrifice of Abel, because he was innocent, rejecting the gifts of the fratricide Cain, because he was abominable.

For thou art the maker of mankind, the giver of life, the supplier of indigence; the giver of laws, and the rewarder of such as keep them, the avenger of them that transgress. ’Twas thou didst bring a deluge upon the world, because of the multitude of the ungodly; from which deluge thou by the ark deliveredst the just Noe, with eight souls, Noe who was the end of the foregoing generations, but the source of them that were to follow. ’Twas thou that kindledst a fearful fire against the five cities of Sodom, and snatchedst holy Lot from the burning.
’Twas thou deliveredst Abraham from the impiety of his forefathers, and madest him the heir of the world, and showedst him thy Christ. ’Twas thou appointedst Melchisedech to be high-priest of thy divine worship; thou that madest Isaac the son of the promise; thou that broughtest Jacob into Egypt.

Thou, Lord, didst not abandon the Hebrews, when they were oppressed by the Egyptians, on account of the promises made to their fathers. And when men had corrupted the natural law, and had, at one time, looked on creation as the effect of chance, and, at another, had honoured it more than it deserved, thou permittedst them not to be led astray by error, yea, thou raisedst up thy holy servant Moses, giving, through him, the written law, as an aid to the natural; thou showedst that creatures are thy work, and tookest away the error of plurality of gods.

’Twas thou didst adorn Aaron and his posterity with the priestly honour; that punishedst the Hebrews when they sinned, receiving them when they repented; that inflictedst the ten plagues on the Egyptians; that carriedst the Israelites across the divided sea; that drownedst the Egyptians, who pursued them. ’Twas thou madest the bitter water become sweet, by the wood; that broughtest water out of the hard rock; that rainedst manna from heaven: that grantedst quails to come from the air, as food; that appointedst a pillar of fire by night to give light, and a pillar of a cloud by day to overshadow them from heat. By Josue, proclaimed by thee as leader, thou didst overthrow the seven nations; thou dividedst the Jordan, driedst up the rivers of Ethan, and overturnedst the walls without instruments.

Glory be to thee, O almighty Lord, for all these things!

Thee do adore the innumerable hosts of angels, archangels, thrones, dominations, principalities, powers, virtues, and cherubim; the seraphim, also, with their six wings, with two covering their feet, with two their heads, and with two flying, and saying with thousand thousands of archangels, and ten thousand times ten thousand angels incessantly, and with uninterrupted voices, crying out:

Holy, Holy, Holy, the Lord of hosts: heaven and earth are full of his glory: be he blessed for ever!


[1] Apoc. xxii. 2.
[2] Rom. viii. 19-22.
[3] Rom. xi. 33.
[4] Cant. viii. 6.
[5] Osee ii. 19.
[6] Ibid20.
[7] Rom. viii. 19.
[8] Osee ii. 21-22.
[9] Exod. iv. 24-26.
[10] St. Luke xii. 50.
[11] Ecclus. xxiv. 41-45.
[12] Wisd. vii. 27.
[13] Ps. cxviii. 28.
[14] Gen. xlix. 10; Agg. ii. 8.  
[15] Num. xxi. 6-9; Is. xi. 10.
[16] Ecclus. i. 6.
[17] Wisd. vii. 29, 30.
[18] Heb. x. 1-4.
[19] Apoc. xiii. 8.
[20] Apoc. xix. 7-9.
[21] Ecclus. xxiv. 6-11.
[22] Ecclus. xxiv12, 13.
[23] Ibid. 15.
[24] Heb. vii. 3.
[25] St. John viii. 56.
[26] Wisd. x. 15.
[27] Exeh. xvi; Osee ii, etc.
[28] Exod. xix. 6.
[29] 1 Cor. x. 4, 11.
[30] Wisd. xvi. 20-29.
[31] Levit. ii. 2, 9.
[32] Ibid, xxiv. 7-9.
[33] Deut. xii. 7, 11-13.
[34] Ps. xlix. 7-14, 23.
[35] Acts vii. 51.
[36] Is. i. 11-13.
[37] Malach. i. 10, 11.
[38] Ps. lxv. 8.
[39] Is. xxix. 7, 8.
[40] Ibid. v. 17.
[41] Is. xxxv. 1, 2, 7.
[42] Ibid. xxx. 23.
[43] Ibid, xxviii. 24-29
[44] Ecclus. iv. 18-21.
[45] Cant. i. 15.
[46] Heb. x. 5-7.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Christum regem adoremus dominantem gentibus, qui se manducantibusdat spiritus pinguedinem.
Let us adore Christ, the King, who ruleth the nations; who giveth fatness of spirit to them that eat him.

God has satisfied the intense desires of man’s heart. The house of the marriage-feast, built by divine Wisdom on the top of mountains, has had flowing unto it all the nations of earth.[1] Yesterday, the whole Catholic world was animated with sentiments of love towards the adorable Sacrament; and the people said to each other, in a holy transport of gratitude: ‘Come! let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob.’ Yesterday, the Bud of the Lord was seen by us all in magnificence and glory;[2] this divine Bud, this rich ear of corn that has sprung up from our earth, was carried in triumph, and excited the enthusiasm of the faithful, making them rejoice before It, as they that rejoice in the harvest.[3] It was a heavenly harvest, that had been the expectation of nations. It was the precious ear of corn, despised indeed by Israel, but gleaned by Ruth, the stranger, in the field of the true Booz, in Bethlehem.

It is for this day of the great meeting of nations, foretold by Isaias, that the Lord had kept reserved on the mountain the feast on a victim such as had never been seen before, a feast of wine, the richest and purest.[4] The poor have eaten at this banquet, and they have given fervent praise to their God; the rich have eaten, and have fallen down in adoration; and all the ends of the earth, prostrate in His sacred Presence, have recognized that He who thus gave them to feast was Christ their King.[5] 'This,' they said, ‘is our God, we have waited for Him;[6] we have patiently waited for Him; He was the desire of our soul; we desired Him in the night, and, in the morning early, our first thoughts were upon Him; He is the Lord, and His remembrance could not be effaced, even through the long ages of expectation.[7] Thou, O Lord, art my God, I will exalt Thee, and give glory to Thy name, for Thou hast done wonderful things; Thy designs of old, faithful; faithfully hast Thou fulfilled Thy eternal decrees.’[8]

These expressions of love on the part of the human race were but a feeble echo to the infinite love which God vouchsafed to have for His creature man. The divine Spirit, who has achieved the wonderful union between the children of Adam and eternal Wisdom, shows us, everywhere in the Scriptures, that this Wisdom was impatient of delay, that He was taking each obstacle as it came, and removing it, and was preparing, in countless ways, for the marriage-feast so much longed for.

We will devote these first two days of the octave to considering the leading features in the history of this eucharistic preparation; we shall be well repaid by the additional light which these truths will reflect upon the dogma itself. We are going to review the loving ways whereby eternal Wisdom sought, for so many long ages, to bring about His own union with ourselves. As a matter of course, we clothe these truths in Scripture language, for the Scriptures are our guide in this research; it is they that tell us the workings of the divine intentions in our regard. How, then, do the Scriptures speak of these, before the mystery of the Incarnation was actually accomplished?

The second Person of the adorable Trinity is there brought before us under the name of Wisdom: until the time of His union with man being accomplished in the most perfect degree possible, that is, in our Lord Jesus Christ, this is the name under which He passes in the Scriptures, a name which gives Him the appearance of a Bride. But once the mystery of perfect union is achieved, another name is given Him, the name of Spouse, or Bridegroom. His other name of Wisdom seems almost forgotten; and yet, in the ages of lively faith, it was not so; the people of those days were too full of the Scriptures to forget it. Thus we find the first Christian emperor dedicating, to this ruler and centre of his every thought, the trophy of his victory over paganism, and that of the triumph of the martyrs. ‘All burning with love for the Wisdom of God,' says Eusebius,[9] Constantine consecrated the ancient Byzantium, which he called by his own name, to the God of the martyrs;[10] and dedicated to eternal Wisdom the grandest structure of this new Rome, Saint Sophia, which for many ages was the finest Christian church in the world. Like our forefathers in the faith, let us, too, honour divine Wisdom, and gratefully think upon the love which urged Him, from all eternity, to unite Himself to man!

It is this love that explains the mysterious joy, which, as the Scripture tells us, He had at the beginning of time, when this world of ours was being gradually developed in all the beauty of its fresh creation; for sin had not then come in, to break the harmony of this work of the Most High. At each additional manifestation of creative power, Wisdom takes delight, and by His delight, adds a new charm to this the future scene of the divine marvels, planned as those have been by His love. This Wisdom is delighted at the omnipotence which produces creation; He plays every day, as the creation goes on; He plays in this world, for each progress in its formation brings man nearer, man whose palace it is, and His delights are to be with the children of men.[11]

Incomprehensible love! It precedes, though it foresees sin; and though foreseeing it, loves not the less! It has its divine delights to be with us, and we have attractions for it, in spite of all the bitterness caused by the sight of our future black ingratitude! The fall of man will, as one of its terrific consequences, modify much and cruelly the earthly existence which Wisdom is to have upon our earth. But in order that we may the more easily understand, and more fully appreciate, how immense must that love be, which could be proof against such obstacles, let us turn our thoughts, to-day, to the course that these loving intentions would have taken, had man persevered in the state of innocence. Although the sacred Scriptures were written for the benefit of fallen man, and are ever telling us of the mystery of the restoration of the sinful world, yet do they make frequent allusions to God’s original intention; and with these to guide us, it is not difficult to mark out the leading features of the primitive plan.

Wisdom, speaking of Himself, says: ‘The Lord possessed me, ir the beginning of His ways.’[12] Is He not the first of all creatures?[13] Not, of course, as to that divine form of which the apostle speaks, and by which Wisdom is equal to God,[14] but in that human existence, which He has selected, in preference to all other possible natures, for the one whereby to unite Himself with finite being. That selection was one of an unlimited and most gratuitous love; it made the type and law of entire creation to be One who would so closely resemble us human beings. What an honour! We are told in holy Writ that the most high and almighty Creator created wisdom before all things, and created her in the Holy Ghost; and that, taking her as His type, and number, and measure, He poured her out upon all His works, and upon all flesh.[15] When the fullness of the appointed time came, divine Wisdom Himself was to come, giving to all creation, of which He was the head and centre, its purpose and meaning. He was to blend and unite with the infinite homage, which resulted from His own divine personality, the homage of every existing creature, and thus give perfection to the external glory of the Father by His own eternal and infinite adoration. Then was to appear the dignity of that human nature, chosen by divine Wisdom, from the beginning, to be His created form, and the instrument of that homage to the Father, which is perfect and divine, because of the personal union of this created nature with the Nature of God the Son. Eternal Wisdom will thus be one with the Son of the purest of virgins; the nuptial-song will be taken up by all creatures, both in earth and heaven; and through this Son of Man, who will then be called the Spouse, Wisdom will continue, to the end of time, in the soul of every individual that does not refuse the honour, the ineffable mystery of His divine marriage with our nature.

He wishes, then, to unite Himself with each one of us. But what means will He adopt for this deifying union? Of all the Sacraments, which our Lord might have instituted after His Incarnation, in the supposition of man’s not forfeiting his state of innocence, there is not one, says Suarez, which has so many probabilities on its side, as the Eucharist; there is not one which, in itself, is so desirable, and so independent of sin; for the notion of expiation, which, in our present state, lingers about It, as the memorial of Jesus’ Passion, may be prescinded from It without affecting the essence of the Sacrament—that essence being the real Presence of our Lord, and the close union whereby He unites us to Himself.[16] It is the same with the Eucharist as a Sacrifice: the primary notion of sacrifice, as we shall see further on, does not absolutely include the idea of sin. So that, when Christ, as the head of the human family, comes into this world, to offer up a Sacrifice in the name of us all, that Sacrifice will be one which is worthy of His Father and of Himself. Spouse as He is, and by virtue of the divine unction Priest too, it is by the Eucharist as a Sacrifice that He will act in this twofold character; for by that Sacrifice He brings the human race into union with Himself by the embrace of the sacred Mysteries; and, when He has divinized it by union with Himself, making it one body of which He is the Head, He offers it to His eternal Father.

But for the coming of the Spouse there must be a numerous retinue, to do Him honour and tell His praises, when the day arrives for His entrance into the banquet-hall; and from now till the time when earth, being peopled enough, shall have ready for her King-Priest a court that is worthy of Him, so many ages are to intervene! What will Wisdom be doing in the interval? We have already seen how in the early days of creation He played before His Father, and was all transported with delight. But when the work was done, the Creator withdrew into the repose and rest of the seventh day. Seated on His Father’s right hand, in the splendours of the Saints, will Wisdom wait inactive for that day to come, when He, who has begotten Him before the day-star and has betrothed Him to human nature, shall send Him down to this earth, there to consummate the alliance, for which He has been eternally longing? The sacred Scriptures give a very different description of Him, during the time preceding His actual coming. They tell us that Wisdom is so active, though so gentle, that He is more active than all active things, and was everywhere, and put Himself in every place, and in the Prophets, so that He was easily found by them that wished to find Him; He even anticipated their research, and was more ready to show Himself, than they could possibly be to find Him. If any soul was intent, like some early riser, to find Him, He soon met such a seeker; nay, Himself went about seeking for such as were worthy of Him, and when He met them in the ways, here or there in this wide world, this beautiful Wisdom would show Himself to them with all cheerfulness. Thus do the Scriptures describe Wisdom as engaged during the ages preceding His Incarnation. He does not, as yet, quit the throne of glory on which He sitteth, lighting up all heaven with His beauty, but He is preparing the day of His marriage, by impressing it on man’s mind and notice in every possible way; He meets him at every turn to speak of it, to tell him of how He, Wisdom, loves him; He selects certain symbols of the wondrous mysteries He intends to achieve when the time comes. Let us take one of these symbols for our lesson to-day, that we may not lose a particle of what Jesus has ever done to make Himself known. But before we go further, let us listen to the Scripture character drawn of this beautiful Wisdom: He is the brightness of eternal light, and the unspotted mirror of God’s majesty, and the image of His goodness; holy, one, manifold, subtle, eloquent, active, undefiled, sure, sweet, loving that which is good, quick, which nothing hindereth, beneficent, gentle, kind, steadfast, assured, secure, having all power, overseeing all things, and containing all spirits, intelligible, pure, subtile![17] And now to a choice symbol chosen by Jesus, whereby He spoke of Himself, before He came to the nuptials.

The Lord God, says Scripture, had planted a paradise of pleasure from the beginning, wherein He intended to place man, whom He was not to create till the sixth day. In the midst of this paradise there grew a tree of singular beauty, to which God had attached a great mystery; its name was the tree of life. A river, with four streams, watered this garden of delights;[18] it was shown later on to Saint john as a river of water of life, dear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.[19]The tree and the river bear no allusion to future sin; they had been put in paradise, the abode of innocence, before man himself; they are portions of the primitive plan of God; and therefore, in themselves, signify only what has reference to the state of innocence. Now, an ancient writer, published under the name of St. Ambrose, says: ‘The tree of life in the midst of paradise, is Christ in the midst of His Church.’[20] ‘So then,’ says St. Augustine, ‘Christ was the tree of life; neither would God have man to live in paradise, without presenting to him mysteries of things spiritual under corporal forms. In the other trees, therefore, he had food; but in that one (of life), he had a sacred symbol (sacramentum). And what is it that was symbolized, but Wisdom, of which it is said, She is a tree of life to them that lay hold on her?[21] For it is right to give to Christ the name of a thing which had been made in order to signify Him.’[22] St. Hilary, too, bears testimony to this same traditional interpretation. After quoting the same text from Proverbs, he says: ‘Wisdom, which is Christ, is called the tree of life; because, as we are taught by the authority of the Prophets, on account of its being a symbol (sacramentum) of His future Incarnation and Passion, our Lord compared Himself to a tree, when He said: A tree is known by its fruit. . . . This tree, then, is living; yea, not living only, but rational also, for it gives its fruit when it wills, and, as the Psalm says, in its own time. And what is that time? That of which the apostle speaks, when he says that God might make known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He had purposed in him, in the dispensation of the fullness of times: the dispensation of the fruit, then, is reserved for the fullness of times.’[23] But what is to be the fruit of this tree—the leaves of which fall not off,[24] and are for the healing of the nations[25]—but divine Wisdom, in His own very self and substance? In His divine form He is the food of the angels too; but He is to be that of man in His two Natures, that thus, by His Flesh, reaching man’s soul, He may fill that soul with His Divinity, as it was beautifully expressed in the Office composed by Blessed Juliana.[26]

Thus, therefore, divine Wisdom had preceded man in paradise: Adam was not yet there, but Wisdom was; for His love made Him hasten thither, and take up His abode there, ready to receive man on his arrival, in that tree of life, which He, together with the Most High, had planted in the garden of delights. Speaking of this tree, the bride of the Canticle said: ‘As the apple-tree among the barren trees of the woods, so is my Beloved among the sons of men; I sat down under His shadow whom I desired, and His fruit was sweet to my palate.’[27] This sweet fruit of the tree of life was a figure of the Eucharist.

But how is this? we were yesterday invited by Wisdom to eat bread in His house, and not fruit in His garden. What means this change of language? It is because man has brought about an immense change of purpose: in his pride, he has eaten of a fruit which was not good, a forbidden fruit, the eating of which has ruined him; he has been driven from the garden of delights; Cherubim and a flaming sword have been placed, to keep the way of the tree of life. Instead of fruits of paradise, the food of man is, henceforth, to be bread, which costs toil and sweat, bread, which means grinding under a millstone, and burning with fire. Such is the sentence passed on man by a justly angered God.[28] But alas! this most just condemnation is to go far beyond the guilty one; it will strike man, but it will strike divine Wisdom, too, who has given Himself to man to be his food and companion. In the immensity of His love, Wisdom will not abandon this fallen nature of man; He will, that He may save it, take upon Himself all the consequences of the fall, and, like fallen man, will become passible and mortal. The marriage-feast is not to be in Eden, as was first intended. Poor Eden! she had been so exquisitely prepared for that feast; she had her fragrant fields of loveliest emerald, and her fruit which was so fair to behold, and so pleasant to eat of,[29] and so immortalizing with a youth that was to last for ever! To reach man, now that he is fallen, eternal Wisdom must make His way through the briars and thickets of His new abode. The marriage-feast will be kept in a house, which it has cost Him infinite pains to build to Himself, as a cover against the miseries of the land of exile. And as to the food served for the banquet, it is not to be the fruit spontaneously yielded by the tree of life; it is to be the divine Wheat, ground by suffering, and baked on the altar of the cross.

All history culminates in the sacrifice of our Lord, and all creation converges to it, as to its centre. The reason of this is, that, in the creation and government of the world, God seeks His own glory, as the last end for which He does all His works. Now, the Sacrifice offered by the Incarnate Word alone gives to God the infinite glory due to His sovereign majesty. The Christians of the first ages of the Church thoroughly understood all this. It is the idea which inspired the fine Preface of the liturgy given under the name of St. James, in the eighth book of the Apostolic Constitutions. We wish we could give our readers the whole of this liturgy: we intend, however, to quote, during the days of this octave, some of the most striking passages.

Constitutio Jacobi.

Vere dignum et justum est ante omnia laudare te verum Deum, ex quo omnis paternitas in cœlo et in terra nominatur, solum ingenitum, omnis boni largitorem. Tu enim es primus natura, et lex existendi, ac omnem numerum superans.

Qui omnia ex nihilo in rerum naturam protulisti per unigenitum Filium tuum: ipsum vero ante omnia sæcula genuisti absque intermedio Verbum Deum, Sapientiam viventem, primogenitum omnis creaturæ, Angelum magni consilii tui, pontificem tuum, regem autem et Dominum omnis naturae quæ intelligi ac sentiri potest. Tu namque, Deus aeterne, cuncta per ipsum condidisti, et per ipsum cuncta dignaris convenienti providentia; per quem enim largitus es ut essent, per eumdem etiam ut bene essent dedisti.

Deus et Pater unigeniti Filii tui, per eum ante omnia fecisti cherubinos et seraphinos, exercitus, virtutes et potestates, principatus et thronos, archangelos et angelos.

Atque post haec omnia, per eum fabricasti hunc qui apparet mundum, cunctaque quæ in eo sunt. Nam tu es qui coelum ut pellem extendisti, et terram supra nihilum collocasti sola voluntate; qui noctem ac diem fabricatus es; qui in cœlo solem posuisti ad dominium diei, et lunam ad dominium noctis, atque chorum stellarum in cœlo delineasti in laudem magnificentiæ tuæ; qui mare magnum a terra separasti, et illud quidem animalibus parvis ac magnis refersisti, hanc autem cicuribus ac indomitis replevisti, herbis coronasti, floribus decorasti, seminibus ditasti.

Neque solum per Christum condidisti mundum, sed et in ipso mundi civem hominem efficisti, ac eum mundi mundum, seu ornatus ornatum constituisti. Dixisti enim Sapientiae tuæ: 'Faciamus hominem ad imaginem nostram, et ad similitudinem; et dominentur piscibus maris et volatilibus cœli.' Ideoque fecisti eum ex anima immortali et corpore dissipabili; et dedisti ei, in anima quidem rationalem dijudicationem, justi ac injusti discretionem; in corpore autem donasti quinquertium sensuum atque motum progressivum.

Tu namque, Deus omnipotens, per Christum in Edene ad orientem plantasti paradisum, omni genere esculentarum plantarum ornatum, et in eum tanquam in opiparam domum induxisti hominem; quem, cum efficeres, lege naturali ac insita donasti, quo intus ac ex se haberet cognitionis Dei semina. Introducens autem eum in paradisum deliciarum, potestatem quidem omnium ad participandum concessisti, unius vero solius gustatum in spem meliorum rerum interdixisti, ut si mandatum custodiret, illius servati mercedem ferret immortalitatem.

Cum autem mandatum neglexit, et, fraude serpentis mulierisque consilio, gustavit prohibitum fructum; ex paradiso quidem juste illum expulisti, bonitate vero tua funditus pereuntem non despexisti; sed qui ei subjeceras creaturam, dedisti ut suis sudoribus ac laboribus sibi pararet victum, te omnia producente, augente ac maturante: atque eum brevi somno affectum, per jusjurandum ad regenerationem vocasti; decreto mortis soluto, vitam ex resurrectione promisisti.
It is truly right and just, that, before all things, we should give praise to thee, who art true God, from whom all paternity in heaven and earth is named, who art the only unbegotten, the giver of every good thing. For thou art first by nature, and the law of existence, and surpassing all number.

Thou it is that broughtest all things, out of nothing, into the nature of things, by thine only-begotten Son: but him thou begottest before all ages, without an instrument, God the Word, living Wisdom, the first-born of every creature, the Angel of thy great counsel, thy Priest, the King, also, and Lord of every nature that can be understood or felt. For thou, eternal Godi createdst all things by him, and by him thou vouchsafest a suitable providence to all things; for, by whom thou gavest things to be, by the same thou gavest them well-being.

O God and Father of thy only-begotten Son! by him thou madest, before all things, the cherubim and seraphim, the hosts, the virtues and powers, the principalities and thrones, the archangels and angels.
And, after all these, thou madest by him this visible world and all that is in it. For thou art he that stretchedst out the heavens as a tent, and settedst the earth upon nothing, by thine only will; that madest night and day; that, in the heavens, placedst the sun to rule the day, and the moon to rule the night, and inscribedst a choir of stars in heaven unto the praise of thy magnificence; thou dividedst the great sea from the land, replenishing the one with animals little and great, and filling the other with creatures, both tame and wild, crowning it with herbs, beautifying it with flowers, enriching it with seeds.

Neither only createdst thou the world by Christ, but in him, also, thou madest man citizen of the world, appointing him the world of the world, or the ornament of the ornament. For thou said8t unto thy Wisdom: ‘Let us make man to our image and likeness; and let them have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air.’ Wherefore, also, thou madest him of an immortal soul and a body liable to dissolution; and thou gavest him, in his soul, rational judgment, and discernment between right and wrong; and in his body, five senses, and progressive motion.

For thou, O almighty God, plantedst by Christ, in Eden, at the east, a paradise, adorned with every sort of plant fit for food, and into it, as into a wellprovisioned house, thou didst lead man, to whom, when thou createdst him, thou gavest a natural and innate law, to the end that he might have within and of himself the seeds of the knowledge of God. And when introducing him into the paradise of delights, thou grantedst him leave to partake of all things save one, whereof, to give him the hope of better things, thou forbadest him to taste, that, if he kept that commandment, he might receive immortality, as the recompense of his observance.

But when he neglected the commandment, and, by the serpent’s guile, and the woman’s counsel, tasted the forbidden fruit, thou drovest him from paradise, justly indeed, yet, in thy goodness, thou despisedst him not, though utterly ruined; but, having previously subjected creation unto him, thou grantedst him to procure food by his own sweat and labour, though it was thou by whom all things are produced, increase, and ripen. And when he had slept the short sleep (of death), thou, by an oath, calledst him to a new birth; and, loosing the decree of death, thou promisedst him life, after the resurrection.

We will close this day with the several hymns, composed under the direction of Blessed Juliana; they were used for each of the Little Hours of the Office, which preceded that of St. Thomas. It was a custom of the Church of Liège to vary the hymns, at these Hours, according to the different seasons and feasts.

At Prime

Summe Deus clementiæ,
Qui ob salutem mentium
Coelestis alimouiæ
Nobis præstas remedium;

Mores, vitam et opera
Rege momentis omnibus,
Et beatis accelera
Vitam dare cum civibus.
Great God of mercy!
who, for the salvation of souls, 
grantest us the remedy of a food
that comes from heaven.

Direct thou our manners, and life,
and works; and give us speedily
to spend our life
with the blessed citizens of heaven.

At Tierce

Sacro tecta velamine
Pietatis mysteria
Mentes pascunt dulcedine,
Qua satiant coelestia.

Sit ergo cum coelestibus,
Nobis commune gaudium,
Illis quod sese præstitit,
Nobis quod se non abstulit.
Shrouded with a sacred veil,
the mystery of love
feeds our souls with a sweetness,
which contents even them that are in heaven.

With the blessed in heaven, then,
let us have one same joy,
for, to them he gave himself,
and us he did not leave.

At Sext

Splendor superni luminis,
Laudisque Sacrificium,
Cœnam tui da numinis 
Tuæ carnis post prandium.

Saturatus opprobriis
Ad hoc cruci configeris,
Et irrisus ludibriis
Crudeli morte plecteris.
O brightness of supernal light,
O Sacrifice of praise!
grant us the banquet of thy Divinity,
after this of thy Flesh.

It was for this, that, filled with reproach,
thou wast nailed to the cross,
and derided with scoffs,
wast made to suffer a cruel death.

At None

Æterna cœli gloria,
Lux beata credentium,
Redemptionis hostia,
Tuarum pastus ovium;

Hujus cultu memoriæ
Diræ mortis supplicio
Nos de lacu miseriae
Educ, qui clamas: Sitio.

Præsta, Pater, per Filium,
Præsta, per almum Spiritum:
Quibus hoc das edulium
Prosperum serves exitum.

O thou, that art the eternal glory of heaven,
the blessed light of believers,
the victim of redemption,
and the pasture of thy sheep!

By our worship of this memorial
of thy cruel death,
lead us from the abyss of misery,
O thou that criest: I thirst.

Grant, O Father, through thy Son,
grant through the Spirit of love,
that we, to whom thou givest such nourishment as this,
may be brought by thee to a prosperous end.


[1] Is. ii. 2.
[2] Ibid. iv. 2.
[3] Ibid. ix. 3.
[4] Ibid. xxv. 6.
[5] Ps. xxi. 27-30.
[6] Is. xxv. 9.
[7] Is. xxvi. 8, 9.
[8] Ibid. xxv. 1.
[9] De Vita Constant. lib. iii. cap. 48.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Prov. viii 30, 31.
[12] Ibid. viii. 22.
[13] Ecclus. i. 4.
[14] Philipp, ii 6.
[15] Ecclus. i. 4. 8-10.
[16] De Sacr. Disp. iii. sect. 3.
[17] Wisd. vii. 22-26; vi. 13-17; ix. 4, 10.
[18] Gen. ii. 8-10.
[19] Apoc. xxii. 1.
[20] Append. Ambros, In Apocalyps. c. ii. v. 7.
[21] Prov. iii. 18.
[22] De Genes. ad Litt. lib. 8.
[23] Tract in psalm. 1, 9, 10.
[24] Ps. i. 3.
[25] Apoc. xxii. 2.
[26] Page 146.
[27] Cant. ii. 3.
[28] Gen. iii. 19.
[29] Gen. ii. 9.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Including descriptions of:

Christum regem adoremus dominantem gentibus, qui se manducantibus dat spiritus pinguedinem.
Let us adore Christ, the King, who ruleth the nations; who giveth fatness of spirit to them that eat him.

A great solemnity has this day risen upon our earth: a feast both to God and to men: for it is the feast of Christ the Mediator, who is present in the sacred Host, that God may be given to man, and man to God. Divine union—such is the dignity to which man is permitted to aspire; and to this aspiration God has responded, even here below, by an invention which is all of heaven. It is to-day that man celebrates this marvel of God’s goodness.

And yet, against both the feast and its divine object, there has been made the old-fashioned objection: ‘How can these things be done?’[1] It really does seem as though reason has a right to find fault with what looks like a senseless pretension of man’s heart.

Every living being thirsts after happiness; and yet, and because of that, it aspires only after the good of which it is capable; for it is the necessary condition of happiness that, in order to its existence, there must be the full contentment of the creature’s desire. Hence, in that great act of creation which the Scripture so sublimely calls His playing in the world,[2] when, with His almighty power He prepared the heavens, and enclosed the depths, and balanced the foundations of the earth,[3] we are told that divine Wisdom secured the harmony of the universe by giving to each creature, according to its degree in the scale of being, an end adequate to its powers. He thus measured the wants, the instinct, the appetite (that is, the desire) of each creature, according to its respective nature; so that it would never have cravings which its faculties were insufficient to satisfy. In obedience, then, to this law, was not man, too, obliged to confine, within the limits of his finite nature, his desires for the good and the beautiful, that is, his searching after God, which is a necessity with every intelligent and free being? Otherwise, would not certain beings have to place their happiness in objects which must ever be out of the reach of their natural faculties?

Great as the anomaly would appear, yet does it exist: true psychology, that is, the true science of the human mind, bears testimony to this desire for the infinite. Like every living creature around him, man thirsts for happiness; and yet, he is the only creature on earth that feels within itself longings for what is immensely beyond its capacity. Whilst docile to the lord placed over them by the Creator, the irrational creatures are quite satisfied with what they find in this world; they render to man their several services, and their own desires are all fully gratified by what is within their reach. It is not so with man; he can find nothing in this his earthly dwelling, which can satiate his irresistible longings for something which this earth cannot give, and which time cannot produce; for that something is the infinite. God Himself, when revealing Himself to man through the works He has created, that is, when showing Himself to man in a way which his natural powers can take in; when giving man to know Him as the First Cause, as the Last End of all creatures, as unlimited perfection, as infinite beauty, as sovereign goodness, as the object which can content both our understanding and our will—no, not even God Himself, thus known and thus enjoyed, could satisfy man. This being, made out of nothing, wishes to possess the Infinite in his own substance; he longs after the sight of the face, he ambitions to enjoy the life, of his Lord and God. The earth seems to him but a trackless desert, where he can find no water to quench his thirst. From early dawn of each wearisome day, his soul is at once on the watch, pining for that God who alone can quell his desires; yea, his very flesh too, has its thrilling expectations for that beautiful Infinite One.[4] Let us listen to the psalmist, who speaks for us all: ‘As the hart panteth after the fountains of water, so my soul panteth after Thee, O God! My soul hath thirsted after the strong, living God: when shall I come and appear before the face of God? My tears have been my bread, day and night, whilst it is said to me daily: Where is thy God? These things I remembered, and poured out my soul in me: for I shall go over into the place of the wonderful tabernacle, even to the house of God. With the voice of joy and praise, the noise of one that is feasting. Why art thou sad, O my soul? and why dost thou trouble me? Hope in God, for O will still give praise unto Him: the salvation of my countenance and my God.’[5]

If reason is to be the judge of such sentiments as these, they are but wild enthusiasm and silly pretensions. Why talk of the sight of God, of the life of God, of a banquet wherein God Himself is to be the repast? Surely these are things far too sublime for man, or for any other created nature to reach. Between the wisher and the object longed for, there is an abyss—the abyss of disproportion, which exists between nothingness and being. Creation, all powerful as it is, does not, in itself, imply the filling up of that abyss. If the disproportion could ever cease to be an obstacle to the union aspired to, it would be by God Himself going that whole length, and then imparting something of His own divine energies to the creature that had once been nothing. But what is there in man, to induce the Infinite Being, whose magnificence is above the heavens, to stoop so low as that? This is the language of reason.

But on the other hand, who was it that made the heart of man so great and so ambitious that no creature can fill it? how comes it that, whilst the heavens show forth the glory of God and the firmament declareth how full of wisdom and power is every work of His hands,[6] in man alone there is no proportion, no order? Could it be that the great Creator has ordered all things, excepting man alone, with measure, and number, and weight?[7] That one creature, who is the master-piece of the whole creation; that creature, for whom all the rest was intended, as for its king; is he to be the only one that is a failure, and to live as a perpetual proclaimer that his Maker could not, or would not, be wise, when He made man? Far from us be such a blasphemy! ‘God is love,’ says St. John;[8] and love is the knot which mere human philosophy can never loose, and therefore it must ever leave unsolved the problem of man's desire for the Infinite.

God is charity; God is love. The wonder in all this question, is not our loving and longing for God, but that He should have first loved us.[9] God is love; and love must have union; and union makes the united like one another. Oh! the riches of the divine Nature, wherein are infinite Power, and Wisdom, and Love! These three constitute, by their divine relations, that blessed Trinity, which has been the light and joy of our souls ever since that bright Sunday’s feast which we kept in its honour. Oh! the depth of the divine counsels, wherein that which is willed by boundless Love, finds, in infinite Wisdom, how to fulfil in work, what will be to the glory of Omnipotence!

Glory be to Thee, O holy Spirit! Thy reign over the Church has but just begun this year of grace, and Thou art giving us light whereby to understand the divine decrees. The day of Thy Pentecost brought us a new Law, a Law where all is brightness; and it was given to us in place of that old one of shadows and types. The ‘pedagogue’, who schooled the infant world for the knowledge of truth, has been dismissed; light has shone upon us through the preaching of the apostles; and the children of light, set free, knowing God, and known by Him, are daily leaving behind them the weak and needy elements of early childhood.[10] Scarcely, O divine Spirit! was completed the triumphant octave, wherein the Church celebrated Thy coming, and her own birth which that coming brought about, when all eager for the fulfilment of Thy mission of bringing to the bride’s mind the things taught her by her Spouse,[11] Thou showedst her the divine and radiant mystery of the Trinity; that not only her faith might acknowledge, but her adoration and her praise might also worship it, and she and her children find their happiness in its contemplation and love. But that first of the great mysteries of our faith, the unsearchable dogma of the Trinity, does not represent the whole richness of Christian revelation: Thou, O blessed Spirit, bastenest to complete our instruction, and widen the horizon of our faith.

The knowledge Thou hast given us of the essence and the life of the Godhead, was to be followed and completed by that of His external works, and the relations which God has vouchsafed to establish between Himself and us. In this very week when we begin, under Thy direction, to contemplate the precious gifts left us by Jesus when He ascended on high;[12] on this first Thursday, which reminds us of that holiest of all Thursdays, our Lord’s Supper, Thou, O divine Spirit, bringest before our delighted vision the admirable Sacrament, which is the compendium of the works of God, one in Essence and three in Persons; the adorable Eucharist, which is the divine memorial[13] of the wonderful things achieved by the united operation of Omnipotence, Wisdom, and Love. The most holy Eucharist contains within itself the whole plan of God, with reference to this world; it shows how all the previous ages have been gradually developing the divine intentions, which were formed by infinite love, and, by that same love, carried out to the end,[14] yea, to the furthest extremity here below, that is, to Itself; for the Eucharist is the crowning of all the antecedent acts done by God in favour of His creatures; the Eucharist implies them all; it explains all.

Man’s aspirations for union with God—aspirations which are above his own nature, and yet so interwoven with it as to form one inseparable life—oan have but one possible cause, and it is God Himself, God who is the author of that being called man. None but God has formed the immense capaciousness of man’s heart; and none but God is willing or able to fill it. Every act of the divine will, whether outside Nimself or within, is pure love, and is referred to that Person of the blessed Trinity who is the Third; and who, by the mode of His Procession, is substantial and infinite love. Just as the almighty Father sees all things, before they exist in themselves, in His only Word, who is the term of the divine intelligence: so, likewise, that those same things may exist in themselves, the same almighty Father wishes them, in the Holy Ghost, who is to the divine will what the Word is to the infinite intelligence. The Spirit of love, who is the final term to the fecundity of Persons in the divine Essence, is, in God, the first beginning of the exterior works produced by God. In their execution, those exterior works are common to the Three Persons, but they are attributed to the Holy Ghost, inasmuch as He, being the Spirit of love, solicits the Godhead to act outside Itself. He is the Love who, with its divine weight and influence of love, sways the blessed Trinity to the external act of creation; infinite Being leans, as it were, towards the deep abyss of nothingness, and out of that abyss creates. The holy Spirit opened the divine counsel, and said: ‘Let us make man to Our image and likeness!' Then God created man to His own image; He created him to the image of God,[15] taking His own Word as the model to which He worked; for that Word is the sovereign archetype, according to which is formed the more or less perfect essence of each created being. Like Him, then, to whose image he was made, man was endowed with understanding and free-will. As such, he would govern the whole inferior creation, and make it serve the purpose of its Creator, that is, he would turn it into a homage of praise and glory to its God; and though that homage would be finite, yet would it be the best of which it was capable. This is what is called the natural order; it is an immense world of perfect harmonies; and, had it ever existed without any further perfection than its own natural one, it would have been a masterpiece of God’s goodness; and yet, it would have been far from realizing the designs of the Spirit of love.

With all the spontaneity of a will which was free not to act, and was as infinite as any other of the divine perfections, the holy Spirit wills that man should, after this present life, be a partaker of the very life of God, by the face-to-face vision of the divine Essence; nay, the present life of the children of Adam here, on this earth, is to put on by anticipation the dignity of that higher life; and this so literally, that the future one in heaven is to be but the direct sequel, the consequent outgrowth, of the one led here below. And how is man, so poor a creature in himself, to maintain so high a standing? How is he to satisfy the cravings thus created within his heart? Fear not: the Holy Ghost has a work of His own, and He does it simultaneously with the act of creation; for the three Persons infuse into their creature, man, the image of Their own divine attributes; and upon his finite and limited powers graft, so to say, the powers of the divine nature. This destiny for an end which is above created nature—these energies superadded to man’s natural powers, transforming, yet not destroying, them, and enabling the possessor to attain the end unto which God calls him—is called the supernatural order, in contradistinction to that lower one, which would have been the order of nature, had not God, in His infinite goodness, thus elevated man above his own mere state as man from the very beginning of his existence. Man will retain all those elements of the natural order which are essential to his human nature, and, with those essential elements, the functions proper to each: hut there is a principle, that, in every series, that should give the specific character to the aggregate which was the end proposed by the ruling mind. Now, the last end of man was never other in the mind of his Creator than a supernatural one; and consequently the natural order, properly so called, never existed independently of the supernatural.

There has been a proud school of philosophy, called ‘free and independent,’ which professed to admit no truths except natural ones, and to practise no other virtues than such as were merely human: but such theories cannot hold. The disciples of godless and secular education, by the errors and crimes into which their unaided nature periodically leads them, demonstrate, almost as forcibly as the eminent sanctity of souls which have been faithful to grace, that mere nature, or mere natural goodness, never was, and never can be, a permanent and normal state for man to live in. And even granting that he could so live, yet man has no right to reduce himself to a less exalted position, than the one intended for him by his Maker. ‘By assigning us a supernatural vocation, God testified the love He bore us; but, at the same time, He acted as Lord, and evinced His authority over us. The favour He bestowed upon us has created a corresponding duty. Men have a saying, and a true one: He that hath nobility, hath obligations; and the principle holds with regard to the supernatural nobility, which it has pleased God to confer upon us.’[16]

It is a nobility which surpasses every other; it makes man not only an image of God, but like unto Him![17] Between God, the Infinite, the eternal, and man, who but a while back was nothing and ever must be a creature, friendship and love are henceforth to be possible: such is the purpose of the capabilities and powers, and the life, bestowed on the human creature by the Spirit of love. So then, those longings for his God, those thrillings of his very flesh, of which we were just now reading the inspired description by the psalmist,[18] are not the outpourings of foolish enthusiasm! That thirsting after God, the strong, the living God; that hungering for the feast of divine union; these are not empty ravings.[19] Made partaker of the divine nature,[20] as St. Peter so strongly words the mystery, is it to be wondered at if man be conscious of it, and let himself be drawn, by the uncreated flame, into the very central Fire it came from to him? The holy Spirit, too, is present in His creature, and is witness of what Himself has produced there; He joins His own testimonies to that of our own conscience, and tells our spirit that we are truly what we feel ourselves to be, the sons of God.[21] It is the same holy Spirit, secreting Himself in the innermost centre of our being, that He may foster and complete His work of love, who, at one time, opens to our soul's eye, by some sudden flash of light, the future glory that awaits us, and then inspires us with a sentiment of anticipated triumph;[22] and then, at another time, breathes into us those unspeakable moanings,[23] those songs of exile, whose voice is choked with the hot tears of love, for that our union with our God seems so long deferred. There are, too certain delicious hymns, which, coming from the very depths of souls wounded with divine love, make their way up to the throne of God; and the music is so sweet to Him, that it almost looks as though it had been victorious, and had won the union! Such music of such souls does really win, if not the eternal union—for that could not be during this life of pilgrimage, and trials, and tears—still wonderful unions here below, which human language has not the power to describe.

In this mysterious song between the divine Spirit and man’s soul, we are told by the apostle that He, who searcheth hearts, knoweth what the Spirit desireth, because He asketh for the saints according to God.[24] What a desire must that be, which the holy Spirit desireth! It is as powerful as the God who desires it. It is a desire, new indeed, inasmuch as it is in the heart of man, but eternal, inasmuch as it is the desire of the holy Spirit, whose Procession is before all ages. In response to this desire of the Spirit, the great God, from the infinite depths of His eternity, resolved to manifest Himself in time, and unite Himself, to man while yet a wayfarer. He resolved thus to manifest and unite Himself, not in His own Person, but in His Son, who is the brightness of His own glory, and the true figure of His own substance.[25] God so loved the world,[26] as to give it His own Word, that divine Wisdom, who, from the bosom of His Father, had devoted Himself to our human nature. That bosom of the Father was imaged by what the Scripture calls ‘Abraham’s bosom,’ where, under the ancient covenant, were assembled all the souls of the just, as in the place where they were to rest till the way into the Holy of holies should be opened for the elect.[27] Now, it was from this bosom of His eternal Father, which the psalmist calls the bride-chamber,[28] that the Bridegroom came forth at the appointed time, leaving His heavenly abode, and coming down into this poor earth, to seek His bride; that when He had made her His own, He might lead her back with Himself into His kingdom, where He would celebrate the eternal nuptials. This is the triumphant procession of the Bridegroom in all His beauty;[29] a procession, whereof the prophet Micheas, when speaking of His passing through Bethlehem, says that His going forth is from the days of eternity.[30] Yes, truly, from the days of eternity; for as we are taught by the sublime principles of Catholic theology, the connexion between the eternal procession of the divine Persons and the temporal mission, is so intimate, that one same eternity unites the two together in God: eternally the Trinity has beheld the ineffable birth of the only-begotten Son in the bosom of the Father; eternally, with the same look, it has beheld Him coming, as Spouse, from that same Father’s bosom.

If we now come to compare the eternal decrees of God one with the other, it is not difficult to recognize which of them holds the chief place, and, as such, comes first in the divine intention of creation. God the Father has made all things with a view to this union of human nature with His Son: union so close, that, for one individual member of that nature, it was to go so far as a personal identification with the Only-Begotten of the Father. So universal, too, was the union to be, that all the members were to partake of it, in a greater or less degree; not one single individual of the race was to be excluded, except through his own fault, from the divine nuptials with eternal Wisdom, which was made visible in a Man, the most beautiful above all the children of men.[31] For, as the apostle says, God, who heretofore commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath Himself shined in our hearts, giving them the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in, and by, the face of Christ Jesus.[32] So that the mystery of the marriage-feast is, in all truth, the mystery of the world; and the kingdom of heaven is well likened to a King, who made a marriage for His Son.[33]

But where is the meeting between the King’s Son and His betrothed to take place? Where is this mysterious union to be completed? Who is there to tell us what is the dowry of the bride, the pledge of the alliance? Is it known who is the Master who provides the nuptial banquet, and what sort of food will be served to the guests? The answer to these questions is given this very day, throughout the earth; it is given with loud triumphant joy. There can be no mistake; it is evident from the sublime message, which heaven and earth re-echo, that He who has come is the divine Word. He is adorable Wisdom, and has come forth from His royal abode to utter His voice in our very streets, and cry out at the head of multitudes, and speak His words in the entrance of city-gates;[34] He stands on the top of the highest places by the way, in the midst of the paths, and makes Himself heard by the sons of men.[35] He bids His servants go to the tower and the city walls, with this His message: ‘Come! eat my Bread, and drink the Wine which I have mingled for you; for Wisdom hath built herself a house, supported on seven pillars; there she hath slain her victims, mingled her wine, and set forth her table;[36] all things are ready; come to the marriage!'[37]

O Wisdom, that camest forth from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end, disposing all things with strength and sweetness![38] we besought Thee, in the season of Advent, to come unto Bethlehem, ‘the house of bread’; Thou wast the long-expected of our hearts. The day of the glorious Epiphany showed us the mystery of the nuptials, and manifested to us the Bridegroom; the bride was made ready in the waters of the Jordan; we commemorated the Magi, who, with their gifts, hastened to the royal nuptials, where the guests were regaled with a miraculous wine.[39] But the water, which, to make up for the deficiency of a bad tree, was changed into wine, was a prophetic figure of future mysteries. The Vine, the true Vine, of which we are the branches,[40] has yielded its sweet-smelling flowers, and its fruits of honour and riches.[41] Wheat hath abounded in our valleys, and they shall sing a hymn of praise;[42] for this strength of the earth shall cover the mountain-tops, and its fruit shall go up beyond Libanus.[43]

O Wisdom, Thou noble queen, whose divine perfections enamour, from early childhood, hearts that are taken with true beauty![44] the day of the true marriage-feast has come. Thou art a mother full of honour, and a young bride in Thy charms, and Thou comest to nourish us with the bread of life, and give us to drink of a cup of salvation.[45] Thy fruit is better than gold; and Thy blossoms than choicest silver.[46] They that eat Thee, shall still hunger after Thee; and they that drink Thee, shall again thirst for Thee;[47]for Thy conversation hath no bitterness, nor Thy company any tediousness, but joy and gladness,[48] and riches, and glory, and virtues.[49]

During the days of this great solemnity, when Thou art seated in a pillar of a cloud, and placest Thy throne in the holy assembly, we would fain take each mystery of Thy divine banquet, and ponder over its marvels, and then publish them, yea, go to choir with Thee, O beautiful Wisdom, and sing Thy praise in the presence of Thy angels, who will be there adoring the sacred Host![50] Do Thou vouchsafe to open our lips, and fill us with Thy holy Spirit, O divine Wisdom! that so our praise may be worthy of its theme; and, as Thou hast promised in Thy Scriptures, may it abound, may it be full to overflowing, in the mouths of Thy faithful worshippers![51]


The night Office for this festival has a special interest of its own: it is the memory of that holy night when, as the Church expresses it, faith shows us our Lord presiding, for the last time, at the figurative Pasch, and following up the feast of the typical lamb with the banquet of His own Body. For the reasons specified yesterday, we give the entire Office of to-day.

In order to induce the faithful to prefer the prayers of the liturgy to all others, we would remind them that the sovereign Pontiffs have solemnly opened the treasures of the Church in favour of such as, being contrite, and having confessed their sins, shall assist at any of the Canonical Hours, either on the day of the feast, or during its octave. Pope Martin V, by his constitution Ineffabile Sacramentum, which allows this feast and octave to be celebrated with the ringing of bells and solemnity even in places which are under an interdict, confirmed and added to the indulgences granted by Urban IV, in the Bull Transiturus. Finally, Pope Eugenius IV, mentioning the acts of these two Pontiffs,[52] doubled the indulgences granted by them. These indulgences are as follows: two hundred days are granted for fasting on the eve, or for any other good work substituted for the fast, at the discretion of the confessor; on the day of the feast, four hundred days for assisting at first Vespers, Matins, Mass, or second Vespers; two hundred days for holy Communion, over and above those granted for assisting at Mass; a hundred and sixty days for each of the Hours of Prime, Tierce, Sext, None, and Compline; two hundred days for the Procession, on the day of the feast itself, or during the octave: two hundred days, likewise, for assisting at Vespers, Matins, or Mass, during the octave, and eighty days for each of the other Hours.

After the Pater, Ave, and Credo, have been said silently, the Church commences her Office by her usual Matins supplication:

℣. Domine, labia mea aperies.
℟. Et os meum annuntiabit laudem tuam.

℣. Deus, in adjutorium meum intende.
℟. Domine, ad adjuvandum me festina.

℣. Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui sancto.
℟. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc et semper, et in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
℣. O Lord! thou wilt open my lips.
℟. And my mouth shall declare thy praise.

℣. Incline unto mine aid, O God!
℟. O Lord! make haste to help me.

℣. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost:
℟. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Then follows, with its glad refrain, Christum Regem, the Invitatory psalm, whereby the Church invites her children, every night, to come and adore the Lord. On this feast, she as bride, addressing herself to us as the faithful subjects and courtiers of the King of glory, invites us to pay our homage to Him, whose goodness towards us is all the more telling, because of His infinite majesty.


Christum regem adoremus dominantem gentibus: * Qui se manducantibus dat spiritus pinguedinem.
Let us adore Christ, the King, who ruleth the nations: who giveth fatness of spirit to them that eat him.

Psalm 94

Venite, exsultemus Domino, jubilemus Deo salutari nostro: præoccupemus faciem ejus in confessione, et in psalmis jubilemus ei.

Christum regem adoremus dominantem gentibus: * Qui se manducantibus dat spiritus pinguedinem.

Quoniam Deus magnus Dominus, et Rex magnus super omnes deos: quoniam non repellet Dominus plebem suam, quia in manu ejus sunt omnes fines terræ, et altitudines montium ipse conspicit.

Qui se manducantibus dat spiritus pinguedinem.

Quoniam ipsius est mare, et ipse fecit illud, et aridam fundaverunt manus ejus: venite adoremus, et procidamus ante Deum: ploremus coram Domino, qui fecit nos, quia ipse est Dominus Deus noster: nos autem populus ejus, et oves pascuæ ejus.

Christum regem adoremus dominantem gentibus: * Qui se manducantibus dat spiritus pinguedinem.

Hodie si vocem ejus audieritis, nolite obdurare corda vestra, sicut in exacerbatione secundum diem tentationis in deserto: ubi tentaverunt me patres vestri, probaverunt, et viderunt opera mea.

Qui se manducantibus dat spiritus pinguedinem.

Quadraginta annis proximus fui generationi huic, et dixi: Semper hi errant corde: ipsi vero non cognoverunt vias meas, quibus juravi in ira mea, si introibunt in requiem meam.

Christum regem adoremus dominantem gentibus: * Qui se manducantibus dat spiritus pinguedinem.

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui sancto: Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.

Qui se manducantibus dat spiritus pinguedinem.

Christum regem adoremus dominantem gentibus: * Qui se manducantibus dat spiritus pinguedinem.
Come, let us praise the Lord with joy: let us joyfully sing to God our Saviour; let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise to him with psalms.

Let us adore Christ, the King, who ruleth the nations: who giveth fatness of spirit to them that eat him.

For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods; he will not reject his people; for in his hand are all the ends of the earth, and the heights of the mountains are his.

Who giveth fatness of spirit to them that eat him.

For the sea is his, and he made it, and his hands formed the dry land: come, let us adore, and fall down, and weep before the Lord that made us; for he is the Lord our God; and we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Let us adore Christ, the King, who ruleth the nations: who giveth fatness of spirit to them that eat him.

To-day if ye shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation according to the day of temptation in the wilderness: where your fathers tempted me; they proved me, and saw my works.

Who giveth fatness of spirit to them that eat him.

Forty years was I nigh unto this generation and I said: These always err in heart: and these men have not known my ways: so, I swore in my wrath, that they shall not enter into my rest.

Let us adore Christ, the King, who ruleth the nations: who giveth fatness of spirit to them that eat him.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost: as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Who giveth fatness of spirit to them that eat him.

Let us adore Christ, the King, who ruleth the nations: who giveth fatness of spirit to them that eat him.

After the Invitatory, in which we have commemorated the transfer of Christ’s kingdom to the Gentiles, the Church intones the triumphant hymn, which, in its noble verses, recounts the last Supper, and celebrates the wonderful favours bestowed upon men on that glorious night.


Sacris solemniis juncta sint gaudia,
Et ex præcordiis sonent præconia:
Recedant vetera, nova sint omnia,
Corda, voces, et opera.

Noctis recolitur cœna novissima,
Qua Christus creditur agnum et azyma
Dedisse fratribus, juxta legitima
Priscis indulta patribus.

Post agnum typicum, expletis epulis,
Corpus Dominicum datum discipulis,
Sic totum omnibus, quod totum singulis,
Ejus fatemur manibus.

Dedit fragilibus Corporis ferculum,
Dedit et tristibus Sanguinis poculum,
Dicens: Accipite quod trado vasculum,
Omnes ex eo bibite.

Sic sacrificium istud instituit,
Cujus officium committi voluit
Solis presbyteris, quibus sic congruit
Ut sumant, et dent ceteris.

Panis angelicus fit panis hominum;
Dat panis cœlicus figuris terminum:
O res mirabilis! manducat Dominum
Pauper, servus, et humilis.

Te, trina Deitas, unaque, poscimus,
Sic nos tu visita, sicut te colimus:
Per tuas semitas duc nos quo tendimus,
Ad lucem quam inhabitas.

Let our joys blend with this sacred solemnity:
and let our praises resound from our inmost heart;
let old things give way;
let all be new, both hearts, and words, and works!

We are celebrating that night’s last Supper, when, as faith tells,
Christ gave to his brethren
the Lamb and unleavened bread,
as the law given to the ancient fathers prescribed.

After giving them the figurative lamb, and when the repast was over,
we confess with faith that our Lord,
with his own hands, gave his Body to his disciples:
and so gave It, that the whole was given to all, and the whole to each.

They were frail,
and he gave them his Body as food:
they were sad, and he gave them his Blood for their drink;
saying: Take the Cup I deliver unto you! Do ye all drink thereof!

Thus did he institute this Sacrifice,
whose ministry he willed should be entrusted to priests alone;
who were so to partake of it themselves,
as to give it to others.

The Bread of angels becomes the Bread of men;
the Bread of heaven puts an end to the types;
O wonderful thing! he that is poor,
and a servant, and lowly, eateth the Lord!

We beseech thee, O triune Deity,
do thou so visit us, as we worship thee;
lead us by thy ways to the term we aim at,
to the light wherein thou dwellest.


These preludes made, we begin the solemn Office of the night, which is divided into three vigils or nocturns.

The First Nocturn

Christ is the just Man by excellence; He is the tree, which brings forth its fruit in due season, the fruit, that is, of salvation,which the Lord gave us to taste at the time of His death The first psalm offers us this beautiful symbolism, which the fathers have so often dwelt upon in their writings.

Ant. Fructum salutiferum gustandum dedit Dominus, mortis suæ tempore.
Ant. The Lord gave us to taste of the fruit of salvation, at the time of his death.

Psalm 1

Beatus vir, qui non abiit in consilio impiorum, et in via peccatorum non stetit, et in cathedra pestilentiæ non sedit:
Sed in lege Domini voluntas ejus, et in lege ejus meditabitur die ac nocte.
Et erit tanquam lignum quod plantatum est secus decursus aquarum, quod fructum suum dabit in tempore suo.
Et folium ejus non defluet: et omnia quaecumque faciet prosperabuntur.
Non sic impii, non sic: sed tanquam pulvis quem projicit ventus a facie terrae.
Ideo non resurgent impii in judicio: neque peccatores in concilio justorum.
Quoniam novit Dominus viam justorum: et iter impiorum peribit.

Ant. Fructnm salutiferum gustandum dedit Dominus, mortis suæ tempore.
Blessed is the man who hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the chair of pestilence.
But his will is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he shall meditate day and night.
And he shall be like a tree, which is planted near the running waters, which shall bring forth its fruit in due season.
And his leaf shall not fall off: and all whatsoever he shall do shall prosper.
Not so the wicked, not so: but like the dust which the wind driveth from the face of the earth.
Therefore the wicked shall not rise again in judgment: nor sinners in the council of the just.
For the Lord knoweth the way of the just: and the way of the wicked shall perish.

Ant. The Lord gave us to taste of the fruit of salvation, at the time of his death.

The second psalm of this nocturn tells ns of the peace and abundance enjoyed by the man who puts his confidence in the God of justice. Corn, wine, and oil are the riches of God’s house: it is mainly by these three elements, that the Church confers a daily increase of holiness on them that have become her children by the water of Baptism. What, indeed, has she, to be compared with the beautiful corn of the elect, and wine that produceth virgins?[53]

Ant. A fructu frumenti et vini multiplicati fideles in pace Christi requiescunt.
Ant. The faithful, multiplied by the fruit of corn and wine, rest in the peace of Christ.

Psalm 4


Cum invocarem exaudivit me Deus justitiae meæ: in tribulatione dilatasti mihi.
Miserere mei: et exaudi orationem meam.
Filii hominum, usquequo gravi corde? ut quid diligitis vanitatem, et quaeritis mendacium?
Et scitote quoniam mirificavit Dominus sanctum suum: Dominus exaudiet me, cum clamavero ad eum.
Irascimini, et nolite peccare: quae dicitis in cordibus vestris, in cubilibus vestris compungimini.
Sacrificate sacrificium justitiæ, et sperate in Domino: multi dicunt: Quis ostendit nobis bona?
Signatum est super nos lumen vultus tui, Domine: dedisti laetitiam in corde meo.
A fructu frumenti, vini et olei sui: multiplicati sunt.
In pace in idipsum: dormiam et requiescam.
Quoniam tu, Domine, singulariter in spe: constituisti me.

Ant. A fructu frumenti et vini multiplicati fideles in pace Christi requiescunt.
When I called upon him, the God of my justice heard me: when I was in distress, thou hast enlarged me.
Have mercy on me: and hear my prayer.
O ye sons of men, how long will ye be dull of heart? why do ye love vanity, and seek after lying?
Know ye also that the Lord hath made his holy one wonderful: the Lord will hear me, when I shall cry unto him.
Be ye angry, and sin not: the things ye say in your hearts, be sorry for them on your beds.
Offer up the sacrifice of justice, and trust in the Lord: many say, Who showeth us good things?
The light of thy countenance, O Lord, is signed upon us: thou hast given gladness in my heart.
By the fruit of their corn, their wine, and oil, they are multiplied.
In peace, in the self-same, I will sleep and I will rest.
For thou, O Lord, singularly hast settled me in hope.

Ant. The faithful, multiplied by the fruit of corn and wine, rest in the peace of Christ.

We have already seen how the holy Eucharist was the bond of union between the faithful, and the centre of Catholic communion. What the Sacrifice of the new Testament is for us Christians, from a social point of view, that same were the mosaic sacrifices, heretofore, for the Jews, although in a manner wholly external and figurative. The following antiphon tells us the reason of the Church’s selecting Psalm xv for the third one of this noctum: it is, that she might remind us of her own superiority, in this respect, over the rejected Synagogue. The Lord Himself is the glorious portion of her inheritance and the cup of her joy.

Ant. Communione calicis quo Deus ipse sumitur, non vitulorumsanguine, congregavit nos Dominus.
Ant. The Lord hath brought us together, by the communion of the cup, wherein God himself is received; not by the blood of calves.

Psalm 15


Conserva me, Domine, quoniam speravi in te: dixi Domino, Deus meus es tu, quoniam bonorum meorum non eges.
Sanctis, qui sunt in terra ejus: mirificavit omnes voluntates meas in eis.
Multiplicatæ sunt infirmitates eorum: postea acceleraverunt.
Non congregabo conventicula eorum de sanguinibus: nec memor ero nominum eorum per labia mea.
Dominus pars hæreditatis meæ, et calicis mei: tu es qui restitues hæreditatem meam mihi.
Funes ceciderunt mihi in præclaris: etenim hæreditas mea præclara est mihi.
Benedicam Dominum, qui tribuit mihi intellectum: insuper et usque ad noctem increpuerunt me renes mei.
Providebam Dominum in conspectu meo semper: quoniam a dextris est mihi, ne commovear.
Propter hoc lætatum est cor meum, et exsultavit lingua mea: insuper et caro mea requiescet in spe.
Quoniam non derelinques animam meam in inferno: nec dabis Sanctum tuum videre corruptionem.
Notas mihi fecisti vias vite, adimplebis me lætitia cum vultu tuo: delectationes in dextera tua usque in finem.

Ant. Communione calicis quo Deus ipse sumitur, non vitulorum sanguine, congregavit nos Dominus.
Preserve me, O Lord, for I have put my trust in thee: I have said to the Lord, thou art my God, for thou hast no need of my goods.
To the saints, who are in his land, he hath made wonderful all my desires in them.
Their infirmities were multiplied: afterwards they made haste.
I will not gather together their meetings for blood-offerings, nor will I be mindful of their names by my lips.
The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: it is thou that wilt restore mine inheritance to me.
The lines have fallen unto me in goodly places: for mine inheritance is goodly unto me.
I will bless the Lord, who hath given me understanding: moreover, my reins also have corrected me even till night.
I set the Lord always in my sight: for he is at my right hand, that I be not moved.
Therefore my heart hath been glad, and my tongue hath rejoiced: moreover, my flesh also shall rest in hope.
Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell: nor wilt thou give thy Holy One to see corruption.
Thou hast made known to me the ways of life, thou shalt fill me with joy with thy countenance: at thy right hand are delights even to the end.

Ant. The Lord hath brought us together, by the communion of the cup, wherein God himself is received; not by the blood of calves.

℣. Panem cœli dedit eis, alleluia.
℟. Panem angelorum manducavit homo, alleluia.
℣. He hath given them the Bread of heaven, alleluia.
℟. Man hath eaten the Bread of angels, alleluia.

The priest begins the Lord’s Prayer:

Pater noster.
Our Father.

The rest is said in silence, as far as the last two petitions. The priest says aloud:

℣. Et ne nos inducas in ten tationem.
℣. And lead us not into temptation.

The choir answers:

℟. Sed libera nos a malo.
℟. But deliver us from evil.

Then the priest:

Exaudi, Domine Jesu Christe, preces servorum tuorum, et miserere nobis, qui cum Patre et Spiritu sancto vivis et regnas in sæcula sæculorum.
Graciously hear, O Lord Jesus Christ, the prayers of thy servants, and have mercy upon us: who, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, livest and reignest for ever and ever.

The choir answers: Amen.

Then one of the choir rising, turns towards the priest, and bowing down, says:

Jube, domne, benedicere.
Pray, Father, give thy blessing.

Then the priest:

Benedictione perpetua benedicat nos Pater æternus.

℟. Amen.
May the eternal Father bless us with an everlasting blessing.

℟. Amen.

The first nocturn lessons are taken from one of St. Paul’s epistles. After chiding the faithful of Corinth for having allowed abuses to creep into their religious meetings, the apostle recounts the institution of the blessed Eucharist. He tells them the dispositions they should bring with them to the holy Table, and speaks of the grievous crime committed by him who approaches unworthily.

Our readers will observe how admirably the responsories are composed of passages from both old and new Testament Books; they are thus brought side by side, the more clearly to show the harmony between the the Law, the Prophets, and the Gospel, on the mystery of the Eucharist. The Office of the blessed Sacrament is thus enriched with the chief prophecies and figures which had foretold the adorable Presence and had kept the just men of the former Covenant in expectation of the promise, which is now our reality.

First Lesson

De Epistola prima Beati Pauli apostoli ad Corinthios.

Cap. xi.

Convenientibus vobis in unum, jam non est Dominicam cœnam manducare. Unusquisque enim suam cœnam presumit ad manducandum. Et alius quidem esurit, alius autem ebrius est. Numquid domos non habetis ad manducandum et bibendum? aut Ecclesiam Dei contemnitis, et confunditis eos, qui non habent? Quid dicam vobis? Laudo vos? In hoc non laudo.
From the first Epistle of Saint Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians.

Ch. xi.

When ye come together into one place, it is not now to eat the Lord’s Supper, (your meetings are not worthy of the mystery ye celebrate). For every one taketh before his own supper to eat. And one, indeed, is hungry, and another is drunk. What! have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the Church of God, and put them to shame that have not? What shall I say unto you? Do I praise you? In this I praise you not.

℟. Immolabit hœdum multitudo filiorum Israel ad vesperam Paschae. * Et edent carnes, et azymos panes.
℣. Pascha nostrum immolatus est Christus: itaque epulemur in azymis sinceritatis et veritatis. * Et edent.
℟. The multitude of the children of Israel shall sacrifice a kid, at the evening of the Pasch. * And they shall eat flesh, and unleavened cakes.
℣. Christ our Pasch is sacrificed: therefore let us feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. * And they shall eat.

Benedictio. Unigenitus Dei Filius nos benedicere et adjuvare dignetur.

℟. Amen.
Blessing. May the only-begotten Son of God vouch-safe to bless and help us.

℟. Amen.

Second Lesson

Ego enim accepi a Domino, quod et tradidi vobis, quoniam Dominus Jesus, in qua nocte tradebatur, accepit panem, et gratias agens fregit, et dixit: Accipite et manducate: hoc est corpus meum, quod pro vobis tradetur: hoc facite in meam commemorationem. Similiter et calicem, postquam cœnavit, dicens: Hic calix novum testamentum est in meo sanguine. Hoc facite, quotiescumque bibetis, in meam commemorationem. Quotiescumque enim manducabitis panem hunc, et calicem bibetis, mortem Domini annuntiabitis donec veniat.
For I have received of the Lord, that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread, and giving thanks broke, and said: Take ye and eat: this is my Body, which shall be delivered for you: this do for the commemoration of me. In like manner, also, the chalice, after he had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in my Blood; this do ye, as often as ye shall drink, for the commemoration of me. For, as often as ye shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, ye shall show the death of the Lord until he come.

℟. Comedetis carnes, et saturabimini panibus: * Iste est panis, quem dedit vobis Dominus ad vescendum.
℣. Non Moyses dedit vobis panem de coelo, sed Pater meus dat vobis panem de coelo verum. * Iste est.
℟. Ye shall eat flesh, and shall have your fill of bread: *This is the Bread, which the Lord hath given you, that ye might eat it.
℣. Moses gave you not bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true Bread from heaven. * This is.

Benedictio. Spiritus sancti gratia illuminet sensus et corda nostra.

℟. Amen.
Blessing. May the grace of the Holy Ghost enlighten our senses and our hearts.

℟. Amen.

Third Lesson

Itaque quicumque manducaverit panem hunc, vel biberit calicem Domini indigne, reus erit corporis et sanguinis Domini. Probet autem seipsum homo: et sic de pane illo edat, et de calice bibat. Qui enim manducat et bibit indigne, judicium sibi manducat et bibit, non dijudicans corpus Domini. Ideo inter vos multi infirmi et imbecilles, et dormiunt multi. Quod si nosmetipsos judicaremus, non utique judicaremur. Dum judicamur autem, a Domino corripimur, ut non cum hoc mundo damnemur.
Therefore, whoever shall eat of this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the Body of the Lord. Therefore are there many infirm and weak among you, and many sleep. But if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But whilst we are judged, we are chastised by the Lord, that we be not condemned with this world.

℟. Respexit Elias ad caput suum subcinericium panem, qui surgens comedit et bibit: * Et ambulavit in fortitudine cibi illius usque ad montem Dei.
℣. Si quis manducaverit ex hoc pane, vivet in æternum. * Et ambulavit. Gloria. * Et ambulavit.
℟. Elias beheld at his head a hearth-cake; who, rising, eat, and drank: * And he walked in the strength of that food, unto the mount of God.
℣. If any man shall eat of this Bread, he shall live for ever. * And he walked. Glory. * And he walked.

The Second Nocturn


The fourth psalm of our Matins speaks of the allpowerful efficacy of the Christian Sacrifice. The Lord’s protection and help in the battles of this life; joy, exaltation, abundance: all are assured to the man who will but have recourse to it. For the Victim is Christ, with which no other can compare for perfection; it is a whole-burnt offering, whose sweet odour ascends, from our earthly altar, to heaven’s sanctuary, and thence brings down the salvation of the right hand of the Most High. It is to Christ Himself that the psalmist here makes his prayer for victory.

Ant. Memor sit Dominus sacrificii nostri, et holocaustum nostrum pingue fiat.
Ant. May the Lord be mindful of our sacrifice, and our whole-burnt offering be made fat.

Psalm 19

Exaudiat te Dominus in die tribuiationis: protegat te nomen Dei Jacob.
Mittat tibi auxilium de sancto: et de Sion tueatur te.
Memor sit omnis sacrificii tui: et holocaustum tuum pingue fiat.
Tribuat tibi secundum cor tuum: et omne consilium tuum confirmet.
Laetabimur in salutari tuo: et in nomine Dei nostri magnificabimur.
Impleat Dominus omnes petitiones tuas: nunc cognovi quoniam salvum fecit Dominus Christum suum.
Exaudiet illum de coelo sancto suo: in potentatibus salus dexterae ejus.
Hi in curribus, et hi in equis: nos autem in nomine Domini Dei nostri invocabimus.
Ipsi obligati sunt, et ceciderunt: nos autem surreximus et erecti sumus.
Domine salvum fac regem, et exaudi nos in die qua invocaverimus te.

Ant. Memor sit Dominus sacrificii nostri, et holocaustum nostrum pingue fìat.
May the Lord hear thee in the day of tribulation: may the name of the God of Jacob protect thee.
May he send thee help from the sanctuary: and defend thee out of Sion.
May he be mindful of all thy sacrifices: and may thy wholeburnt offering be made fat.
May he give thee according to thine own heart: and confirm all thy counsels.
We will rejoice in thy salvation: and in the name of our God we shall be exalted.
May the Lord fulfil all thy petitions: now have I known, that the Lord hath saved his anointed.
He will hear him from his holy heaven: the salvation of his right hand is in powers.
Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will call upon the name of the Lord our God.
They are bound, and have fallen: but we are risen, and are set upright.
Lord! save the king: and hear us in the day that we shall call upon thee.

Ant. May the Lord be mindful of our sacrifice, and our whole-burnt offering be made fat.

The soul that follows her Lord wants for nothing. Happy sheep! its Shepherd’s crook leads it to such rich pastures, to such refreshing water springs! Let us join the saintly servant of God, and sing the praises of the Chalice which inebriateth, and of the Table prepared for him against all enemies; when he leaves that Table, he goes forth like a lion breathing fire: he has been made an object of terror to the devil.[54]

Ant. Paratur nobis mensa Domini adversus omnes qui tribulant nos.
Ant. The Lord’s Table is prepared before us, against all them that afflict us.

Psalm 22


Dominus regit me, et nihil mihi deerit: in loco pascuæ ibi me collocavit.
Super aquam refectionis educavit me: animam meam convertit.
Deduxit me super semitas justitiae: propter nomen suum.
Nam etsi ambulavero in medio umbrae mortis, non timebo mala: quoniam tu mecum es.
Virga tua, et baculus tuus: ipsa me consolata sunt.
Parasti in conspectu meo mensam, adversus eos qui tribulant me.
Impinguasti in oleo caput meum: et calix meus inebrians quam præclarus est!
Et misericordia tua subsequetur me, omnibus diebus vitae meæ.
Et ut inhabitem in domo Domini, in longitudinem dierum.

Ant. Paratur nobis mensa Domini adversus omnes qui tribulant nos.
The Lord ruleth me, and I shall want nothing: he hath set me in a place of pasture.
He hath brought me up on the water of refreshment: he hath converted my soul.
He hath led me on the paths of justice, for his own name’s sake.
For though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evils: for thou art with me.
Thy rod and thy staff, they have comforted me.
Thou hast prepared a table before me, against them that afflict me.
Thou hast anointed my head with oil: and my chalice, which inebriateth me, how goodly is it!
And thy mercy will follow me, all the days of my life.
And that I may dwell in the house of the Lord, unto length of days.

Ant. The Lord’s Table is prepared before us, against all them that afflict us.

The sixth psalm of these Matins was inspired into David’s soul, when he was obliged to keep far off from the tabernacle and the holy ark, because of Saul’s angry persecution, which necessitated his hiding in the mountains near the Jordan. It is the beautiful canticle already cited by us, as so strongly expressing man’s thirst, even in this mortal life, after his God. The mere recollection of the feasting, which awaits him in the wonderful tabernacle in the home of God, comforts him amidst his troubles, and rouses his hope. Let us get the spirit of this celestial poetry into us; it will kindle within us the flame of love.

Ant. In voce exsultationis resonent epulantes in mensa Domini.
Ant. Let them that feast at the Table of the Lord, make the voice of joy resound.

Psalm 41

Quemadmodum desiderat cervus ad fontes aquarum: ita desiderat anima mea ad te, Deus.
Sitivit anima mea ad Deum fortem vivum: quando veniam et apparebo ante faciem Dei?
Fuerunt mihi lacrymæ meæ panes die ac nocte: dum dicitur mihi quotidie: Ubi est Deus tuus?

Hæc recordatus sum, et effudi in me animam meam: quoniam transibo in locum tabernaculi admirabilis, usque ad domum Dei:
In voce exsultationis, et confessionis: sonus epulantis.
Quare tristis es, anima mea: et quare conturbas me?
Spera in Deo, quoniam adhuc confitebor illi: salutare vultus mei, et Deus meus.
Ad meipsum anima mea conturbata est: propterea memor ero tui de terra Jordanis, et Hermoniim a monte modico.
Abyssus abyssum invocat, in voce cataractarum tuarum.
Omnia excelsa tua, et fluctus tui super me transierunt.
In die mandavit Dominus misericordiam suam, et nocte canticum ejus.
Apud me oratio Deo vitæ meæ, dicam Deo: Susceptor meus es.
Quare oblitus es mei? et quare contristatus incedo, dum affligit me inimicus?
Dum confringuntur ossa mea; exprobraverunt mihi qui tribulant me inimici mei.
Dum dicunt mihi per singulos dies: Ubi est Deus tuus? Quare tristis es, anima mea? et quare conturbas me?
Spera in Deo, quoniam adhuc confitebor illi: salutare vultus mei, et Deus meus.

Ant. In voce exsultationis resonent epulantes in mensa Domini.

As the hart panteth after the fountains of water: so my soul panteth after thee, O God.
My soul hath thirsted after the strong living God: when shall I come and appear before the face of God?
My tears have been my bread day and night: whilst it is said to me daily: Where is thy God?

These things I remembered, and poured out my soul in me: for I shall go over into the place of the wonderful tabernacle, even to the house of God:
With the voice of joy, and praise: the noise of one feasting.
Why art thou sad, O my soul? and why dost thou trouble me?
Hope in God, for I will still give praise to him: the salvation of my countenance, and my God.
My soul is troubled within myself: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan and Hermoniim from the little hill.
Deep calleth on deep, at the noise of thy flood-gates.
All thy heights and thy billows have passed over me.
In the day-time, the Lord hath commanded his mercy: and a canticle to him, in the night.
With me is prayer to the God of my life, I will say to God: Thou art my support.
Why hast thou forgotten me? and why go I mourning whilst mine enemy afflicteth me?
Whilst my bones are broken, mine enemies, who trouble me, have reproached me.
Whilst they say unto me, day by day: Where is thy God? Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why dost thou disquiet me?
Hope thou in God, for I will still give praise unto him: the salvation of my countenance, and my God.

Ant. Let them that feast at the Table of the Lord, make the voice of joy resound.

℣. Cibavit eos ex adipe frumenti, alleluia.
℟. Et de petra, melle saturavit eos, alleluia.
℣. He hath fed them with the fat of wheat, alleluia.
℟. And filled them with honey out of the rock, alleluia.

Pater noster.
Our Father.

After the Pater noster, which is said as prescribed above in the first nocturn, the priest says:

Ipsius pietas et misericordia nos adjuvet, qui cum Patre et Spiritu sancto vivit et regnat in sæcula sæculorum.

℟. Amen.
May his goodness and mercy help us, who, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth for ever and ever.

℟. Amen.

The angelic Doctor provides us with the second nocturn lessons: his own words are going to be read to us, words which will aid our faith to enter into the science of the divine Sacrament, ‘as far as it can be understood by man whilst on the way, and humanly be defined.’ These were the words of our Lord, when approving the doctrine ‘of Thomas, on the Sacrament of the Body.’[55] Three cities, Paris, Naples, and Orvieto, had the honour of being, each in its turn, the scene of these manifestations of Christ to His faithful servant, the angelic Doctor. There is still venerated in the church of St. Dominio at Orvieto, the crucifix by which our Lord spoke, when giving His divine approval to the Office we are actually celebrating. Let us, then, listen with veneration to the following passage, which the Church has selected from one of the saint’s treatises. As to its scholastic phraseology, let us remember that, although in itself it is not learning, yet it was the war-dress wherewith our forefathers of the thirteenth century deemed it necessary to accoutre theology, when she had to come to close argument with dry logicians.

Benedictio. Deus Pater omnipotens sit nobis propitius et clemens.

℟. Amen.
Blessing. May God the Father almighty be propitious and merciful unto us.

℟. Amen.

Fourth Lesson

Sermo Sancti Thomæ Aquinatis.

Immensa divinæ largitatis beneficia, exhibita populo Christiano, inæstimabilem ei conferunt dignitatem. Neque enim est, aut fuit aliquando tam grandis natio, quæ habeat deos appropinquantes sibi, sicut adest nobis Deus noster. Unigenitus siquidem Dei Filius, suae divinitatis volens nos esse participes, naturam nostram assumpsit, ut homines deos faceret, factus homo. Et hoc insuper quod de nostro assumpsit, totum nobis contulit ad salutem. Corpus namque suum pro nostra reconciliatione in ara crucis hostiam obtulit Deo Patri: sanguinem suum fudit in pretium simul et lavacrum: ut redempti a miserabili servitute, a peccatis omnibus mundaremur. Ut autem tanti beneficii jugis in nobis maneret memoria, corpus suum in cibum, et sanguinem suum in potum, sub specie panis et vini sumendum, fidelibus dereliquit.
Sermon of Saint Thomas of Aquin.

The immeasurable blessings of divine bounty, which have been shown to the Christian people, confer an inestimable dignity upon it. For neither is there, nor ever was there, any nation so great, that hath gods so nigh them, as our God is present with us. For the onlybegotten Son of God, wishing that we should be partakers of his divinity, assumed our nature, and was made Man, that he might make men gods. And, moreover, he conferred upon us, unto salvation, the whole of that which he assumed of ours. For he offered to God his Father, for our reconciliation, his own Body, as a victim, on the altar of the cross: he shed his Blood, that it might be our ransom and our laver to cleanse us: that being redeemed from a miserable slavery, we might be cleansed from all sins. But that the remembrance of so great a benefit might abide in us, he left to the faithful, under the species of bread and wine, his Body for food, and his Blood for drink.

℟. Cœnantibus illis, accepit Jesus panem, et benedixit, ac fregit, deditque discipulis suis, et ait: * Accipite et comedite: Hoc est corpus meum.
℣. Dixerunt viri tabernaculi mei: Quis det de carnibus ejus, ut saturemur? * Accipite.
℟. Whilst they were at supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake, and gave to his disciples, and saith: * Take ye, and eat: This is my Body.
℣. The men of my tabernacle said: Who can give us of his Flesh, that we may be filled? * Take ye.

Benedictio. Christus perpetuæ det nobis gaudia vitæ.

℟. Amen.
Blessing. May Christ grant unto us the joys of eternal life.

℟. Amen.

Fifth Lesson

O pretiosum et admirandum convivium, salutiferum, et omni suavitate repletum! Quid enim hoc convivio pretiosius esse potest? in quo non carnes vitulorum et hircorum, ut olim in lege, sed nobis Christus sumendus proponitur verus Deus. Quid hoc Sacramento mirabilius? in ipso namque panis et vinum in Christi Corpus et Sanguinem substantialiter convertuntur, ideoque Christus Deus, et homo perfectus sub modici panis et vini specie continetur. Manducatur itaque a fidelibus, sed minime laceratur: quinimo, diviso Sacramento, sub qualibet divisionis particula integer perseverat. Accidentia autem sine subjecto in eodem subsistunt ut fides locum habeat, dum visibile invisibiliter sumitur aliena specie occultatum: et sensus a deceptione reddantur immunes, qui de accidentibus judicant sibi notis.
O precious and wonderful banquet! health-giving, and replete with every sweetness! For what can possibly be more precious than this banquet? wherein, not the flesh of calves and goats, as heretofore in the Law, but Christ, very God, is put before us, that we may take him. What more wonderful than this sacrament? for, in it, bread and wine are substantially changed into the Body and Blood of Christ: and, therefore, Christ, perfect God and Man, is contained under the species of a little bread and wine. He is, therefore, eaten by the faithful, but not lacerated: nay, when the Sacrament is divided, he remains whole, under each particle of the division. But the accidents subsist in the same, without a subject, in order that there may be room for faith, inasmuch as the visible is invisibly taken, being hid under a species not its own; and the senses are kept free from deception, for they judge of accidents, (which are the only things)known by them.

℟. Accepit Jesus calicem, postquam cœnavit, dicens: Hic calix novum testamentum est in meo sanguine: * Hoc facite in meam commemorationem.
℣. Memoria memor ero, et tabescet in me anima mea. * Hoc facite.
℟. Jesus took the cup, after he had supped, saying: This Chalice is the new testament in my Blood: * Do ye this for the commemoration of me.
℣. Remembering, I will remember, and my soul shall languish within me. * Do ye this.

Benedictio. Ignem sui amoris accendat Deus in cordibus nostris.

℟. Amen.
Blessing. May God enkindle within our hearts the fire of his love.

℟. Amen.

Sixth Lesson

Nullum etiam sacramentum est isto salubrius, quo purgantur peccata, virtutes augentur, et mens omnium spiritualium charismatum abundantia impinguatur. Offertur in Ecclesia pro vivis et mortuis: ut omnibus prosit, quod est pro salute omnium institutum. Suavitatem denique hujus Sacramenti nullus exprimere sufficit, per quod spiritualis dulcedo in suo fonte gustatur: et recolitur memoria illius, quam in sua passione Christus monstravit, excellentissimæ charitatis. Unde ut arctius hujus charitatis immensitas fidelium cordibus infigeretur, in ultima cœna, quando Pascha cum discipulis celebrato, transiturus erat de hoc mundo ad Patrem, hoc Sacramentum instituit, tanquam passionis suæ memoriale perenne, figurarum veterum impletivum, miraculorum ab ipso factorum maximum, et de sua contristatis absentia solatium singulare reliquit.
Again, there is no sacrament more health-giving than this, in which sins are wiped away, virtues are increased, and the mind is made rich with the abundance of all spiritual gifts. It is offered, in the Church, for the living and the dead; that what was instituted for the salvation of all, may profit all. Finally, no one can adequately express the sweetness of this Sacrament, by which spiritual sweetness is tasted in its very source: and remembrance is solemnly made of that most perfect charity evinced by Christ in his Passion. Wherefore, in order that the immensity of this charity might the more deeply be impressed on the hearts of the faithful, it was at the last Supper, when, having celebrated the Pasch with his disciples, he was about to pass out of this world unto his Father, that he instituted this Sacrament, and left it as the perpetual memorial of his Passion, the fulfilment of the ancient figures, the greatest of the miracles done by him, and the special consolation to them that were to be sad because of his absence.

℟. Ego sum panis vitæ: patres vestri manducaverunt manna in deserto, et mortui sunt; * Hic est panis de coelo descendens: ut si quis ex ipso manducet, non moriatur.
℣. Ego sum panis vivus, qui de coelo descendi: si quis manducaverit ex hoc pane, vivet in æternum. * Hic est. Gloria. * Hic est.
℟. I am the Bread of life: your fathers did eat manna in the desert, and are dead: * This is the Bread coming down from heaven; that if any man eat thereof, he may not die.
℣. I am the living Bread, that came down from heaven; if any man shall eat of this Bread, he shall live for ever. * This is the Bread. Glory. * This is the Bread.



The seventh psalm of these Matins is a sequel to the one immediately preceding it in the psalter. The two are inspired by the same trying circumstances; there is the same idea running through both; and several of the expressions are identical. We have the cry of the poor soul when, being harassed by her enemy, she is longing for her God; she has the wish and the confidence of at last seeing the holy mount, and that altar of God, where God gives Himself in the Person of the Incarnate Word, of Christ, who comes for the purpose of restoring their youth to His happy adorers and guests.

Ant. Introibo ad altare Dei: sumam Christum qui renovat juventutem meam.
Ant. I will go in to the altar of God: I will take the Christ, who reneweth my youth.

Psalm 42

Judica me, Deus, et discerne causam meam de gente non sancta: ab homine iniquo et doloso erue me.
Quia tu es, Deus, fortitudo mea: quare me repulisti, et quare tristis incedo, dum affligit me inimicus?
Emitte lucem tuam, et veritatem tuam: ipsa me deduxerunt, et adduxerunt in montem sanctum tuum, et in tabernacula tua.
Et introibo ad altare Dei: ad Deum, qui laetificat juventutem meam.
Confitebor tibi in cithara Deus, Deus meus: quare tristis es, anima mea, et quare conturbas me?
Spera in Deo, quoniam adhuc confitebor illi: salutare vultus mei, et Deus meus.

Ant. Introibo ad altare Dei: sumam Christum qui renovat juventutem meam.
Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy: deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man.
For thou art, God, my strength: why hast thou cast me off? and why go I sorrowful, whilst the enemy afflicteth me?
Send forth thy light, and thy truth: they have conducted me, and brought me unto thy holy hill, and into thy tabernacles.
And I will go in to the altar of God: to God, who giveth joy to my youth.
To thee, O God, my God, I will give praise upon the harp: why art thou sad, O my soul? and why dost thou disquiet me?
Hope in God, for I will still give praise unto him: the salvation of my countenance, and my God.

Ant. I will go in to the altar of God: I will take the Christ, who reneweth my youth.


The eighth psalm celebrates, with enthusiasm, the sovereign goodness of the God of Jacob. He had, by numberless prodigies, worked the deliverance of His people. Open thy mouth, He said, and I will fill it; and He this day keeps His word, notwithstanding the frequent sad frowardness of His unworthy children. He feeds them with the fat of wheat; He fills them with honey out of the rock; that is to say, He gives them to taste the ineffable sweetness of Christ, who is the wheat of the elect and the rock of the desert.[56]

Ant. Cibavit nos Dominus ex adipe frumenti: et de petra, melle saturavit nos.
Ant. The Lord hath fed us with the fat of wheat; and hath filled us with honey out of the rock.

Psalm 80

Exsultate Deo adjutori nostro: jubilate Deo Jacob.
Sumite psalmum, et date tympanum, psalterium jucundum cum cithara.
Buccinate in Neomenia tuba, in insigni die solemnitatis vestræ.
Quia præceptum in Israel est: et judicium Deo Jacob.
Testimonium in Joseph posuit illud, cum exiret de terra Ægypti: linguam quam non noverat, audivit.
Divertit ab oneribus dorsum ejus: manus ejus in cophino servierunt.
In tribulatione invocasti me, et liberavi te: exaudivi tein abscondito tempestatis: probavi te apud aquam contradictionis.
Audi, populus meus, et contestabor te: Israel, si audieris me, non erit in te deus recens, neque adorabis deum alienum.
Ego enim sum Dominus Deus tuus, qui eduxi te de terra Ægypti: dilata os tuum, et implebo illud.
Et non audivit populus meus vocem meam: et Israel non intendit mihi.
Et dimisi eos secundum desideria cordis eorum, ibunt in adinventionibus suis.
Si populus meus audisset me: Israel si in viis meis ambulasset:
Pro nihilo forsitan inimicos eorum humiliassem; et super tribulantes eos misissem manum meam.
Inimici Domini mentiti sunt ei: et erit tempus eorum in sæcula.
Et cibavit eos ex adipe frumenti: et de petra, meile saturavit eos.

Ant. Cibavit nos Dominus ex adipe frumenti; et de petra, melle saturavit nos.
Rejoice unto God, our helper: sing aloud to the God of Jacob.
Take a psalm, and bring hither the timbrel: the pleasant psaltery with the harp.
Blow up the trumpet on the new moon, on the noted day of your solemnity.
For it is a commandment in Israel, and a judgment to the God of Jacob.
He ordained it for a testimony in Joseph, when he came out of the land of Egypt, he heard a tongue which he knew not.
He removed his back from the burdens, his hands had served in baskets.
Thou calledst upon me in affliction, and I delivered thee: I heard thee in the secret place of tempest: I proved thee at the waters of contradiction.
Hear, O my people, and I will testify to thee: O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto me, there shall be no new god in thee: neither shalt thou adore a strange god.
For I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.
But my people heard not my voice: and Israel hearkened not to me.
So I let them go according to the desires of their heart: they shall walk in their own inventions.
If my people had heard me: if Israel had walked in my ways:
I should soon have humbled their enemies: and laid my hand on them that troubled them.
The enemies of the Lord have lied to him: and their time shall be for ever.
And he fed them with the fat of wheat: and filled them with honey out of the rock.

Ant. The Lord hath fed us with the fat of wheat: and hath filled us with honey out of the rock.

Christ is that living God, who makes my heart and my flesh rejoice. Let us take this next psalm, and sing the praises of the altars of the Lord of hosts, our King and our God. Those altars are a house for the sparrow, and a nest for the turtle-dove. Happy they who dwell in those lovely tabernacles!

Ant. Ex altari tuo, Domine, Christum sumimus, in quem cor et caro nostra exsultant.
Ant. We receive Christ from thine altar, O Lord; in whom our heart and flesh rejoice.

Psalm 83

Quam dilecta tabernacula tua, Domine virtutum! concupiscit et deficit anima mea in atria Domini.
Cor meum et caro mea exsultaverunt in Deum vivum.
Etenim passer invenit sibi domum: et turtur nidum sibi, ubi ponat pullos suos.
Altaria tua, Domine virtutum: Rex meus, et Deus meus.
Beati, qui habitant in domo tua, Domine: in saecula sæculorum laudabunt te.
Beatus vir, cujus est auxilium abs te: ascensiones in corde suo disposuit, in valle lacrymarum, in loco quem posuit.
Etenim benedictionem dabit legislator, ibunt de virtute in virtutem: videbitur Deus deorum in Sion.
Domine, Deus virtutum, exaudi orationem meam: auribus percipe, Deus Jacob.
Protector noster aspice, Deus: et respice in faciem Christi tui.
Quia melior est dies una in atriis tuis, super millia.
Elegi abjectus esse in domo Dei mei: magis quam habitare in tabernaculis peccatorum.
Quia misericordiam et veritatem diligit Deus: gratiam et gloriam dabit Dominus.
Non privabit bonis eos, qui ambulant in innocentia: Domine virtutum, beatus homo qui sperat in te.

Ant. Ex altari tuo, Domine, Christum sumimus, in quem cor et caro nostra exsultant.
How lovely are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! my soul longeth and fainteth for the courts of the Lord.
My heart and my flesh have rejoiced in the living God.
For the sparrow hath found herself a house, and the turtle a nest for herself, where she may lay her young ones.
Thy altars, O Lord of hosts, my King, and my God!
Blessed are they that dwell in thy house, O Lord! they shall praise thee for ever and ever.
Blessed is the man whose help is from thee: in his heart he hath disposed to ascend by steps, in the vale of tears, in the place which he hath set.
For the lawgiver shall give a blessing, they shall go from virtue to virtue: the God of gods shall be seen in Sion.
O Lord God of hosts! hear my prayer: give ear, O God of Jacob.
Behold, O God! our protector: and look on the face of thy Christ.
For better is one day in thy courts, above thousands.
I have chosen to be an abject in the house of my God, rather than to dwell in the tabernacles of sinners.
For God loveth mercy and truth: the Lord will give grace and glory.
He will not deprive of good things them that walk in innocence: O Lord of hosts! blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.

Ant. We receive Christ from thine altar, O Lord; in whom our heart and flesh rejoice.

℣. Educas panem de terra, alleluia.
℟. Et vinum lætificet cor hominis, alleluia.
℣. Bring forth bread out of the earth, alleluia.
℟. And may wine cheer the heart of man, alleluia.

Pater noster.
Our Father.

After the Pater noster, which is said as in the first two nocturns, the priest says:

A vinculis peccatorum nostrorum absolvat nos omnipotens et misericors Dominus.

℟. Amen.
May the almighty and merciful Lord deliver us from the chains of our sins.

℟. Amen.

Here is read the first sentence of the Gospel of the Mass of this feast; and the interpretation of it, as given by St. Augustine, is immediately added. The holy Doctor dwells particularly on the unity which our Lord intended to produce among His followers by the august Sacrament. He shows the necessity of the interior dispositions required for receiving this Sacrament with fruit; and lays special stress on this one effect: that it is to make man live for Christ, just as He lives for His Father.

Benedictio. Evangelica lectio sit nobis salus et protectio.

℟. Amen.
Blessing. May the reading of the Gospel bring us salvation and protection.

℟. Amen.

Seventh Lesson

Lectio sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem.

Cap. vi.

In illo tempore, dixit Jesus turbis Judæorum: Caro mea, vere est cibus: et sanguis meus, vere est potus. Et reliqua.

Homilia sancti Augustini Episcopi.

Cum cibo et potu id appetant homines, ut neque esuriant, neque sitiant, hoc veraciter non præstat, nisi iste cibus et potus, qui eos, a quibus sumitur, immortales et incorruptibiles facit: id est, societas ipsa sanctorum: ubi pax erit, et unitas plena atque perfecta. Propterea quippe, sicut etiam ante nos hoc intellexerunt homines Dei, Dominus noster Jesus Christus Corpus et Sanguinem suum in eis rebus commendavit, quae ad unum aliquid rediguntur ex multis. Namque aliud in unum ex multis granis conficitur: aliud in unum ex multis acinis confluit. Denique jam exponit quomodo id fiat, quod loquitur: et quid sit manducare Corpus ejus, et Sanguinem bibere.
Lesson from the holy Gospel according to John.

Ch. vi.

At that time, Jesus said to the multitude of the Jews: My flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. And the rest.

Homily of Saint Augustine, Bishop.

Seeing that men desire this, by the food and drink they take, that they may suffer neither hunger nor thirst, this result is not gained by any other than this food and drink, which makes those who take it immortal and incorruptible; that is, the very fellowship of the saints, where there is peace, and full and perfect unity. For—as also men of God, who preceded us, understood this subject—it was for that purpose that our Lord Jesus Christ commended his Body and Blood in such things as are brought, from being many, into one. For the first of these is made into one, out of several grains; and the second flows into one, out of several berries. He now, at last, explains how that is effected which he is speaking: and what it is to eat his Body, and drink his Blood.


℟. Qui manducat meam carnem et bibit meum sanguinem, * In me manet, et ego in eo.
℣. Non est alia natio tam grandis, quae habeat deos appropinquantes sibi, sicut Deus noster adest nobis. * In me.
℟. He that eateth my fiesh, and drinketh my blood, * Abideth in me, and I in him.
℣. There is no other nation so great, that hath its gods so nigh unto it, as our God is present with us. * Abideth.

Benedictio. Divinum auxilium maneat semper nobiscum.

℟. Amen.
Blessing. May the divine assistance remain always with us.

℟. Amen.

Eighth Lesson

Qui manducat carnem meam, et bibit meum sanguinem, in me manet, et ego in illo. Hoc est ergo manducare illam escam, et illum bibere potum, in Christo manere, et illum manentem in se habere. Ac per hoc, qui non manet in Christo, et in quo non manet Christus, procul dubio nec manducat spiritaliter carnem ejus, nec bibit ejus sanguinem, licet carnaliter et visibiliter premat dentibus sacramentum Corporis et Sanguinis Christi: sed magis tantæ rei sacramentum ad judicium sibi manducat et bibit, quia immundus præsumpsit ad Christi accedere sacramenta, quæ aliquis non digne sumit, nisi qui mundus est: de quibus dicitur: Beati mundo corde, quoniam ipsi Deum videbunt.


He that eateth my Flesh, and drinketh my Blood, abideth in me, and I in him. This, then, it is to eat that meat, and drink that drink: to abide in Christ, and have Him abiding in one’s self. And therefore, he that abideth not in Christ, and in whom Christ doth not abide, certainly does not spiritually either eat his Flesh, or drink his Blood, although he may, carnally and visibly, press the sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood with his teeth: but rather, he eateth and drinketh the sacrament of so great a thing to his own judgment, seeing that he, unclean as he is, hath presumed to approach Christ’s sacraments, which no one worthily receives unless he be clean: of whom it is said: Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.

℟. Misit me vivens Pater, et ego vivo propter Patrem: * Et qui manducat me vivet propter me.
℣. Cibavit illum Dominus pane vitæ et intellectus. * Et qui manducat. Gloria. * Et qui manducat.
℟. The living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: * And he that eateth me, shall live by me.
℣. The Lord hath fed him with the bread of life and understanding. * And he. Glory. * And he.

Benedictio. Ad societatem civium supernorum perducat nos Rex angelorum.

℟. Amen.
Blessing. May the King of angels lead us to the fellowship of heavenly citizens.

℟. Amen.

Ninth Lesson

Sicut, inquit, misit me vivens Pater, et ego vivo propter Patrem: et qui manducat me, et ipse vivet propter me. Ac si diceret: Ut ego vivam propter Patrem, id est, ad illum tamquam ad majorem referam vitam meam, exinanitio mea fecit, in qua me misit. Ut autem quisquam vivat propter me, participatio facit, qua manducat me. Ego itaque humiliatus vivo propter Patrem: ille erectus vivit propter me. Si autem ita dictum est, vivo propter Patrem, quia ipse de illo, non ille de ipso est: sine detrimento æqualitatis dictum est. Nec tamen dicendo, et qui manducat me, et ipse vivet propter me: eamdem suam et nostram æqualitatem significavit, sed gratiam mediatoris ostendit.
As, says he, the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so, he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. It is as though he should say: * That I should live by the Father (that is, should refer my life to him as to one greater), it was done by that emptying of myself, in which he sent me. But that any one live by me, it is done by that participation whereby he eateth me. I, therefore, being brought low, live by the Father; man, being raised up, liveth by me.’ But if the words, I live by the Father, are taken in this sense, that the Son is of the Father, not the Father of the Son, they must be so taken without lessening the equality (between Father and Son). And yet, we are not to take those words, So he that eateth me, the same shall live by me, as meaning equality between Christ and ourselves: (they do not mean that) but they show the grace (bestowed by him in his office) of Mediator.

Hymn of Thanksgiving

Te Deum laudamus: te Dominum confitemur.
Te æternum Patrem; omnis terra veneratur.
Tibi omnes Angeli; tibi cœli et universae Potestatates.
Tibi Cherubim et Seraphim: incessabili voce proclamant:
Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth!
Pleni sunt cœli et terra majestatis gloriae tuæ.
Te gloriosus Apostolorum chorus.
Te Prophetarum laudabilis numerus,
Te Martyrum candidatus laudat exercitus.
Te per orbem terrarum sancta confitetur ecclesia:
Patrem immensæ majestatis;
Venerandum tuum verum, et unicum Filium;
Sanctum quoque Paraclitum Spiritum.
Tu Rex gloriæ, Christe.
Tu Patris sempiternus es Filius,
Tu ad liberandum suscepturus hominem, non horruisti Virginis uterum.
Tu devicto mortis aculeo: aperuisti credentibus regna coelorum.
Tu ad dexteram Dei sedes in gloria Patris.
Judex crederis esse venturus.
We praise thee, O God! we acknowledge thee to be our Lord.
Thee, the Father everlasting, all the earth doth worship.
To thee the Angels, to thee the heavens, and all the Powers,
To thee the Cherubim and Seraphim, cry out without ceasing:
Holy! Lord God of Sabaoth!
Full are the heavens and the earth of the majesty of thy glory.
Thee the glorious choir of the Apostles,
Thee the laudable company of the Prophets,
Thee the white-robed army of Martyrs doth praise.
Thee the holy Church, throughout the world, doth acknowledge:
The Father of incomprehensible majesty,
Thy adorable, true, and only Son,
And the Holy Ghost, the Paraclete.
Thou, O Christ, art the King of glory.
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
Thou, being to take upon thee to deliver man, didst not disdain the Virgin’s womb.
Thou, having overcome the sting of death, hast opened to believers the kingdom of heaven.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God, in the glory of the Father.
Thee we believe to be the Judge to come.

All kneel at the following verse:

Te ergo quæsumus, tuis famulis subveni, quos pretioso sanguine redemisti.
Æterna fac cum sanctis tuis in gloria numerari.
Salvum fac populum tuum, Domine, et benedic hæreditati tuæ.
Et rege eos, et extolle illos usque in »ternum.
Per singulos dies, benedicimus te.
Et laudamus nomen tuum in sæculum, et in saeculum sæculi.
Dignare, Domine, die isto sine peccato nos custodire.
Miserere nostri, Domine; miserere nostri.
Fiat misericordia tua, Domine, super nos, quemadmodum speravimus in te.
In te, Domine, speravi; non confundar in æternum.
We beseech thee, therefore, to help thy servants, whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious Blood.
Make them to be numbered with thy saints in eternal glory.
O Lord, save thy people, and bless thine inheritance.
And govern them, and exalt them for ever.
Every day we magnify thee.
And we praise thy name for ever and ever.
Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us, this day, without sin.
Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.
Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, as we have put our trust in thee.
In thee, O Lord, have I put my trust: let me not be confounded for ever.

The three vigils of the night are over. The Church has kept watch for her Spouse; and, to beguile the hours, which seemed to go so slowly on, she has been singing the praises of her Beloved, and beseeching Him, with most ardent prayers, to come quickly. Blessed mother Church! For, blessed are they whom, when the Lord returneth from the nuptials, He shall find watching, ready to open to Him at His first knocking. He will gird Himself, as Jesus says in the Gospel, and will make them sit down to meat; and, passing, will minister unto them; and, if He shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants![57] These divisions, called nocturns, which are so long a portion of the Divine Office, yet are independent of the seven Canonical Hours of the day, have been interpreted as signifying those long ages, when the human race, sitting as it was in darkness, and a prey to the anger of God, was asking for the Mediator, who was to justify the world by His Blood,[58] and to bring back the light, by restoring that peace with heaven which had been broken by original sin. Equally with the prayers of the Patriarchs and the desires of the Prophets, the supplications of the Church and of all the just were being heard in anticipation, and were hastening the time when the Messias was to come, and to offer the great Sacrifice, whereby sin was to have an end, the justice of God be made manifest, and the covenant with many be confirmed.[59]

But the Church still awaits her Spouse every day. It is true, He came but once to die; hut He comes down every day from heaven, in order to enrich His bride, in the act of the daily Sacrifice; wherein a ceaseless application is made of the merits of the Sacrifice of the cross, which was offered up once for all, and for all future ages. This daily visit of her Jesus is the one hour to which the Church directs all she does; it divides her days into two parts, one of desire, the other of thanksgiving. She gives expression, seven times in each day, to the feelings of her heart; and to this her sacrifice of praise, which is the joyful outcome of the eucharistic Sacrifice, she invites her children. It is from the royal prophet that she learnt to do this,[60] as also to set singers before the altar, making sweet melody by their voices.[61]

For, as soon as David had brought the Ark into Jerusalem, with all the solemnity recorded in Scripture , and had completed the sacrifices,he appointed a choir of levites to miuister before it, and to glorify and praise the Lord God of Israel, in the name of all the people. Later on, when, full of days, he crowned on Sion that son of his, who was to have the happiness, denied to himself, of building the temple of Jehovah, he put into Solomon’s hands the plans of the great building, which was to substitute stability for the tent-like structure of the days of desert life. David himself drew up the permanent arrangement which was to regulate divine worship as required by the new order of things. To the four-and-twenty priestly families, who were appointed to take their turns, week by week (or, in our own way of expressing it, to be hebdomadarians) in the offering of the sacrifices, there were added, as a natural complement, four thousand singers or psalmists, who were likewise divided into four-and-twenty sets; they were to keep up an unbroken ministry of prophecy or praise, under the direction of Asaph, Heman, and Idithun, and receive lessons from two hundred and eighty-eight, who, as being skilled in the science of sacred chant, and in giving praise with harp, psaltery, and cymbal, taught the song of the Lord to their brethren.[62] Praise, or choral chanting, was prophecy in those days, just as now, in the new Testament, it is confession, that is, celebration; they sang in hope, as we sing in faith; but the object of all these chants, both theirs and ours, was and is the same, that is, Christ our Lord; and hence, so many of the sacred formulas of Israel have become those of our mother the Church.

David was the perfect type of Christ. As such, he would not merely provide the people with the words of their chants by giving them his inspired psalms, but he takes his place among the very levites, clad, like them, with a robe of fine linen, and directing their songs, on that great day of the carrying of the Ark into the holy city.[63] 'O most excellent precentor!’ says the devout and learned abbot Rupert: ‘he leads the sacred choirs, and dances before the Ark of the Lord’s covenant. O king! O prince of sacred rites! what means this excessive enthusiasm in one so noble as thou? Observe, how he, who is not of the priestly race, commands the priests, and gives his orders to the levites, that they be sanctified; he appoints the chanters; he selects who are to sing mysteries, and who the song of victory for the octave; he arranges them that are to blow the trumpets, them that are to strike the horns, and them that are to sound harps or cymbals, or psalteries, or organs. In all these things, he foresaw his Son, Christ our Lord; he ventured upon an office, which he knew was to belong to this his Son; for the Ark of the Covenant was a figure of the human Nature to be assumed by Him, since it contained the manna of the Word, and the tables of the Testament, and the rod of priestly and kingly power. It is for this reason that our David, after He had destroyed the kingdom of death, as the other David had destroyed that of Saul, carries the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem, and sets it in the heavenly tabernacle, which He had Himself prepared. The Church, seeing this, excites herself, like the former people, to sing with her David. The whole multitude, therefore, of the sons of Jacob sing harmoniously; and David himself plays the harp in the house of the Lord; for, whatsoever Israel sings, she learns it from David, her master, her precentor, who, with the finger of God, strikes the harps of our hearts. It is David that rouses the souls of men, so that they give forth sounds of bodily harmony, at one time low, at another high, or grandly; and under the dictate of one same faith, the immense body of the Church, spread as she is throughout all nations, sings everywhere a chant which is varied, yet one, and she sings it to her Head, who is Christ, and it sounds sweetly in His ear.’[64]

But the dawn of our feast is breaking. Turning towards the east, the Church knows, through the twilight, that her Spouse is preparing to visit her. She is all joy at this hour, when the king of day is about to shine on our earth; she has her solemn Office of Lauds, full of gladness and praise, as its name indicates; and in this Office she invites earth, and sea, and firmament, to sing canticles which are worthy of our Jesus, who is the true Sun, for He is rising upon us, and, as the psalmist tells us, is Himself rejoicing, as a giant,[65] to come to the altar of Sacrifice.




℣. Deus, in adjutorium meum intende.
℟. Domine ad adjuvandum me festina.

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui sancto;
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculorum. Amen. Alleluia.
℣. Incline unto my aid, O God.
℟. O Lord, make haste to help me.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost:
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Alleluia.

The first psalm of Lauds shows us, in all His power and infinite greatness, the Lord, the King of nations, hidden in me sacred Host. By the ever-living Sacrifice, He establishes, He strengthens, the world, notwithstanding all there is to move and disturb it. The voice of the deep sea is wonderful; but far more so, in the high heaven, is the voice of the divine Victim. Infinite Wisdom bears testimony to it on this day, for it is Wisdom that hath built the house, and set forth the table, for the great Sacrifice. Let us lead lives worthy, by their holiness, of this house, whose priceless treasure is proclaimed this day by Wisdom.

Ant. Sapientia ædificavit sibi domum, miscuit vinum, et posuit mensam, alleluia.
Ant. Wisdom hath built himself a house, mingled his wine, and set forth his table, alleluia.

Psalm 92

Dominus regnavit, decorem indutus est: indutus est Dominus fortitudinem et præcinxit se.
Etenim firmavit orbem terræ: qui non commovebitur.
Parata sedes tua ex tunc: a saeculo tu es.
Elevaverunt flumina, Domine: elevaverunt flumina vocem suam.
Elevaverunt flumina fluctus suos: a vocibus aquarum multarum.
Mirabiles elationes maris: mirabilis in altis Dominus.
Testimonia tua credibilia facta sunt nimis: domum tuam decet sanctitudo, Domine, in longitudinem dierum.

Ant. Sapientia ædificavit sibi domum, miscuit vinum et posuit mensam, alleluia.
The Lord hath reigned, he is clothed with beauty: the Lord is clothed with strength, and hath girded himself.
For, by his Sacrifice, he hath established the world, which shall not be moved.
Thy throne, O divine Wisdom! is prepared from old: thou art from everlasting.
The floods have lifted up, O Lord! the floods have lifted up their voice.
The floods have lifted up their waves, with the noise of many waters.
Wonderful are the surges of the sea: wonderful is the Lord on high.
Thy testimonies, O Wisdom! are become exceedingly credible: holiness becometh thy house, O Lord, unto length of days.

Ant. Wisdom hath built himself a house, mingled his wine, and set forth his table, alleluia.

The following psalm invites all the inhabitants of earth to enter into the house of divine Wisdom, there to celebrate, in a becoming manner, the sweet presence of Him,whose delight it is to be thus dwelling among the children of men; and yet, this very Wisdom is the Lord of glory the God who made us; we are His people,and the sheep of His exquisite pasture; let us proclaim His love with gladness and gratitude.

Ant. Angelorum esca nutrivisti populum tuum, et panem de cœlo præstitisti eis, alleluia.
Ant. Thou hast nourished thy people with the Bread of angels; and hast granted them Bread from heaven, alleluia.

Psalm 99

Jubilate Deo omnis terra, servite Domino in lætitia.
Introite in conspectu ejus; in exsultatione.
Scitote quoniam Dominus ipse est Deus; ipse fecit nos, et non ipsi nos.
Populus ejus, et oves pascuae ejus, introite portas ejus in confessione: atria ejus in hymnis, confitemini illi.
Laudate nomen ejus, quoniam suavis est Dominus; in aeternum misericordia ejus; et usque in generationem et generationem veritas ejus.

Ant. Angelorum esca nutrivisti populum tuum, et panem de coelo præstitisti eis, alleluia.
Sing joyfully unto God, all the earth! serve ye the Lord with gladness.
Come in before his Presence, with exceeding great joy.
Know ye, that the Lord is God: he made us, and not we ourselves.
We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture; go ye into his gates, with praise: into his courts, with hymns, and give glory unto him.
Praise ye his name, for the Lord is sweet; his mercy endureth for ever: and his truth to generation and generation.

Ant. Thou hast nourished thy people with the Bread of angels; and hast granted them Bread from heaven, alleluia.

Jubilate Deo omnis terra, servite Domino in lætitia.
Introite in conspectu ejus; in exsultatione.
Scitote quoniam Dominus ipse est Deus; ipse fecit nos, et non ipsi nos.
Populus ejus, et oves pascuae ejus, introite portas ejus in confessione: atria ejus in hymnis, confitemini illi.
Laudate nomen ejus, quoniam suavis est Dominus; in aeternum misericordia ejus; et usque in generationem et generationem veritas ejus.

Ant. Angelorum esca nutrivisti populum tuum, et panem de coelo præstitisti eis, alleluia.
Sing joyfully unto God, all the earth! serve ye the Lord with gladness.
Come in before his Presence, with exceeding great joy.
Know ye, that the Lord is God: he made us, and not we ourselves.
We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture; go ye into his gates, with praise: into his courts, with hymns, and give glory unto him.
Praise ye his name, for the Lord is sweet; his mercy endureth for ever: and his truth to generation and generation.

Ant. Thou hast nourished thy people with the Bread of angels; and hast granted them Bread from heaven, alleluia.

The two following psalms, which the Church joins together, are the prayer of the faithful soul at break of day. She has been awakened by the thirst for her God; she longs for the Bread of life, which is to fill her with marrow and fatness, that is, with the very substance of Christ, with what makes even kings delighted. She is overwhelmed with joy at the thought that to-day the object of her love is to receive a public triumph, which will, for at least a few hours, turn this earthdesert, trackless, and dry as it is—into a temple, where He will receive such solemn homage! All over the world, men are going to unite in one common feeling of adoration, joy, and praise: nations will gratefully honour the divine Fruit, which this our earth hath yielded.

Ant. Pinguis est panis Christi, et praebebit delicias regibus, alleluia.
Ant. The bread of Christ is fat, and it shall yield dainties to kings, alleluia.

Psalm 62

Deus, Deus meus: ad te de luce vigilo.
Sitivit in te anima mea: quam multipliciter tibi caro mea.
In terra deserta, et invia, et inaquosa: sic in sancto apparui tibi, ut viderem virtutem tuam et gloriam tuam.
Quoniam melior est misericordia tua super vitas: labia mea laudabunt te.
Sic benedicam te in vita mea: et in nomine tuo levabo manus meas.
Sicut adipe et pinguedine repleatur anima mea: et labiis exsultationis laudabit os meum.
Si memor fui tui super stratum meum, in matutinis meditabor in te: quia fuisti adjutor meus.
Et in velamento alarum tuarum exsultabo, adhæsit anima mea post te:me suscepit dextera tua.
Ipsi vero in vanum quæsierunt animam meam, introibunt in inferiora terræ: tradentur in manus gladii: partes vulpium erunt.
Rex vero lætabitur in Deo, laudabuntur omnes qui jurant in eo: quia obstructum est os loquentium iniqua.
O God, my God, to thee do I watch at break of day.
For thee my soul hath thirsted, for thee my flesh oh! how many ways.
In a desert land, and where there is no way, and no water: so, in the sanctuary, have I come before thee, to see thy power and thy glory.
For thy mercy is better than lives: thee my lips shall praise.
Thus will I bless thee all my life long: and in thy name I will lift up my hands.
Let my soul be filled, as with marrow and fatness, with thee, O Bread of life! and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips.
If I have remembered thee upon my bed, I will meditate upon thee in the morning: because thou hast been my helper.
And I will rejoice under the covert of thy wings; my soul hath stuck close to thee: thy right hand hath received me.
But they have sought my soul in vain; they shall go into the lower parts of the earth: they shall be delivered into the bands of the sword, they shall be the portion of foxes.
The just man, thus delivered, shall, as a king, rejoice in God; all they shall be praised who swear in Him: because the mouth is stopped of them that speak wicked things.

Psalm 66

Deus misereatur nostri, et benedicat nobis: illuminet vultum suum super nos, et misereatur nostri.
Ut cognoscamus in terra viam tuam: in omnibus gentibus salutare tuum.
Confiteantur tibi populi, Deus: confiteantur tibi populi omnes.
Lætentur et exsultent gentes: quoniam judicas populos in æquitate, et gentes in terra dirigis.
Confiteantur tibi populi, Deus, confiteantur tibi populi omnes: terra dedit fructum suum.
Benedicat nos Deus, Deus noster, benedicat nos Deus: et metuant eum omnes fines terræ.

Ant. Pinguis est panis Christi, et praebebit delicias regibus, alleluia.
May God have mercy on us, and bless us: may he cause the light of his countenance to shine upon us, and may he have mercy on us.
That we may know thy way upon earth, O Emmanuel! thy salvation in all nations.
Let people confess unto thee, O God! let all people give praise unto thee.
Let the nations be glad and rejoice: for thou judgest the people with justice, and directest the nations upon earth.
Let the people, O God, confess unto thee: let all the people give praise unto thee: the earth hath yielded her Fruit.
May God, our God, bless us, may God bless us: and all the ends of the earth fear him.

Ant. The Bread of Christ is fat, and it shall yield dainties to kings, alleluia.

The canticle in which the three children in the fiery furnace of Babylon bade all God’s creatures to bless His name, comes to-day lending a voice to all nature, and inviting the whole of God’s works to praise their Maker. How just it is that heaven and earth should unite in paying homage to Him, who, by the great Sacrifice, which is daily renewed by the offering made of it by the priests of the Church, has re-established all things, that are in heaven and on earth![66]

Ant. Sacerdotes sancti incensum et panes offerunt Deo. alleluia.
Ant. Holy priests offer incense and Bread unto God, alleluia.

Canticle of the Three Children
(Dan. iii.)

Benedicite omnia opera Domini Domino: laudate et superexaltate eum in sæcula.
Benedicite angeli Domini Domino: benedicite cœli Domino.
Benedicite aquae omnes quæ super cœlos sunt, Domino: benedicite omnes virtutes Domini Domino.
Benedicite sol et luna Domino: benedicite stellæ cœli Domino.
Benedicite omnis imber et ros Domino: benedicite omnes spiritus Dei Domino.
Benedicite ignis et aestus Domino: benedicite frigus et aestus Domino.
Benedicite rores et pruina Domino: benedicite gelu et frigus Domino.
Benedicite glacies et nives Domino: benedicite noctes et dies Domino.
Benedicite lux et tenebræ Domino: benedicite fulgura et nubes Domino.
Benedicat terra Dominum: laudet et superexaltet eum in sæcula.
Benedicite montes et colles Domino: benedicite universa germinantia in terra Domino.
Benedicite fontes Domino: benedicite maria et flumina Domino.
Benedicite cete et omnia quæ moventur in aquis Domino: benedicite omnes volucres cœli Domino.
Benedicite omnes bestiæ, et pecora Domino: benedicite filii hominum Domino.
Benedicat Israel Dominum: laudet et superexaltet eum in sæcula.
Benedicite sacerdotes Domini Domino: benedicite servi Domini Domino.
Benedicite spiritus et animæ justorum Domino: benedicite sancti et humiles corde Domino.
Benedicite Anania, Azaria, Misael Domino: laudate et superexaltate eum in sæcula.
Benedicamus Patrem et Filium cum sancto Spiritu: laudemus, et superexaltemus eum in sæcula.
Benedictus es, Domine, in firmamento cœli: et laudabilis et gloriosus, et superexaltatus in sæcula.

Ant. Sacerdotes sancti incensum et panes offerunt Deo, alleluia.
All ye works of the Lord, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye angels of the Lord, bless the Lord: O ye heavens, bless the Lord.
O all ye waters, that are above the heavens, bless the Lord: O all ye powers of the Lord, bless the Lord.
O ye sun and moon, bless the Lord: O ye stars of heaven, bless the Lord.
O every shower and dew, bless ye the Lord: O all ye spirits of God, bless the Lord.
O ye fire and heat, bless the Lord: O ye cold and heat, bless the Lord.
O ye dews and hoar frosts, bless the Lord: O ye frost and cold, bless the Lord.
O ye ice and snow, bless the Lord: O ye nights and days, bless the Lord.
O ye light and darkness, bless the Lord: O ye lightnings and clouds, bless the Lord.
Oh! let the earth bless the Lord: let it praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye mountains and hills, bless the Lord: O all ye things that spring up in the earth, bless the Lord.
O ye fountains bless the Lord: O ye seas and rivers, bless the Lord.
O ye whales, and all that move in the waters, bless the Lord: O all ye fowls of the air, bless the Lord.
O all ye beasts and cattle, bless the Lord: O ye sons of men, bless the Lord.
Oh! let Israel bless the Lord: let them praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye priests of the Lord, bless the Lord: O ye servants of the Lord, bless the Lord.
O ye spirits and souls of the just, bless the Lord: O ye holy and humble of heart, bless the Lord.
O Ananias, Azarias, Misael, bless ye the Lord, praise and exalt him above all for ever.
Let us bless the Father, and the Son, with the Holy Ghost; let us praise and exalt him above all for ever.
Blessed art thou, O Lord, in the firmament of heaven: and worthy of praise, and glorious, and exalted above all, for ever.

Ant. Holy priests offer incense and bread unto God, alleluia.


The last three psalms of Lauds, which the Church unites under one antiphon, are also the last of the psalter. They sing the praise of the Lord, and urge all creatures to bless His holy name. The first of the three has a great resemblance with the canticle of the three children; the second invites the saints to sing to the Lord who has glorified them, and, by the sacred Host, has given them to partake of His own happiness and power; the third calls on everything that can breathe forth music, to come, this day, and honour the God who is present with us by the Eucharist, and to give Him their sweetest melodies.

Ant. Vincenti dabo manna absconditum et nomen novum, alleluia.
Ant. To him that conquereth, I will give hidden manna, and a new name, alleluia.

Psalm 148

Laudate Dominum de cœlis: laudate eum in excelsis.
Laudate eum omnes angeli ejus: laudate eum, omnes virtutes ejus.
Laudate eum, sol et luna: laudate eum omnes stellæ et lumen.
Laudate eum, cœli coelorum: et aquæ omnes quæ super coelos sunt, laudent nomen Domini.
Quia ipse dixit, et facta sunt: ipse mandavit, et creata sunt.
Statuit ea in æternum, et in sæculum sæculi: præceptum posuit, et non præteribit.
Laudate Dominum de terra: dracones et omnes abyssi.
Ignis, grando, nix, glacies, spiritus procellarum: quae faciunt verbum ejus.
Montes et omnes colles: ligna fructifera, et omnes cedri.
Bestiae et universa pecora: serpentes et volucres pennatae.
Reges terrae et omnes populi: principes, et omnes judices terrae.
Juvenes, et virgines, senes cum junioribus, laudent nomen Domini: quia exaltatem est nomen ejus solius.
Confessio ejus super coelum et terram: et exaltavit cornu populi sui.
Hymnus omnibus sanctis ejus: filiis Israel, populo appropinquanti sibi.
Praise ye the Lord from the heavens: praise ye him in the high places.
Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts.
Praise ye him, O sun and moon: praise ye him, all ye stars and light.
Praise him, ye heaven of heavens: and let all the waters, that are above the heavens, praise the name of the Lord.
For he spoke, and they were made: he commanded, and they were created.
He hath established them for ever, and for ages of ages: he hath made a decree, and it shall not pass away.
Praise the Lord from the earth, ye dragons and all ye deeps.
Fire, hail, snow, ice, stormy winds, which fulfil his word.
Mountains and all hills: fruitful trees, and all cedars.
Beasts and all cattle; serpents and feathered fowls.
Kings of the earth, and all people; princes, and all judges of the earth.
Young men and maidens: let the old with the younger, praise the name of the Lord: for his name alone is exalted.
His praise is above heaven and earth: and he hath exalted the horn (the power) of his people.
A hymn to all his saints: to the children of Israel a people approaching unto him.

Psalm 149

Cantate Domino canticum novum: laus ejus in Ecclesia sanctorum.
Lætetur Israel in eo, qui fecit eum: et filii Sion exsultent in rege suo.
Laudent nomen ejus in choro: in tympano et psalterio psallant ei.
Quia beneplacitum est Domino in populo suo: et exaltabit mansuetos in salutem.
Exsultabunt sancti in gloria: lætabuntur in cubilibus suis.
Exaltationes Dei in gutture eorum: et gladii ancipites in manibus eorum.
Ad faciendam vindictam in nationibus: increpationes in populis.
Ad alligandos reges eorum in compedibus: et nobiles eorum in manicis ferreis.
Ut faciant in eis judicium conscriptum: gloria hæc est omnibus sanctis ejus.
Sing ye to the Lord a new canticle: let his praise be in the Church of the saints.
Let the new Israel rejoice in him that made him: and let the children of Sion be joyful in their King.
Let them praise his name in choir: let them sing to him with the timbrel and the psaltery.
For the Lord is well pleased with his people: and the meek he will exalt unto salvation.
The saints shall rejoice in glory: they shall be joyful in their beds.
The high praises of God shall be in their mouth: and two-edged swords in their hands.
To execute vengeance upon the nation: chastisements among the people;
To bind their kings with fetters: and their nobles with manacles of iron;
To execute upon them the judgment that is written: this glory is to all his saints.

Psalm 150

Laudate Dominum in sanctis ejus: laudate eum in firmamento virtutis ejus.
Laudate eum in virtutibus ejus: laudate eum secundum multitudinem magnitudinis ejus.
Laudate eum in sono tubae: laudate eum in psalterio et cithara.
Laudate eum in tympano et choro: laudate eum in chordis et organo.
Laudate eum in cymbalis bene sonantibus, laudate eum in cymbalis jubilationis: omnis spiritus laudet Dominum.

Ant. Vincenti dabo manna absconditum, et nomen novum, alleluia.
Praise ye the Lord in his holy places: praise ye him, in the firmament of his power.
Praise ye him for his mighty acts: praise ye him according to the multitude of his greatness.
Praise him with sound of trumpet: praise him with psaltery and harp.
Praise him with timbrel and choir: praise him with strings and organ.
Praise him on high sounding cymbals, praise him on cymbals of joy: let every spirit praise the Lord.

Ant. To him that conquereth, I will give hidden manna, and a new name, alleluia.


The following capitulum is taken from the first Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians. We have already had it, with what precedes and follows it, in the first nocturn lessons.

(1 Cor. xi.)

Fratres, ego enim accepi a Domino quod et tradidi vobis, quoniam Dominus Jesus in qua nocte tradebatur, accepit panem, et gratias agens, fregit, et dixit: Accipite, et manducate; hoc est Corpus meum, quod pro vobis tradetur: hoc facite in meam commemorationem.
Brethren, for I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread, and giving thanks, broke, and said: Take ye and eat: this is my Body, which shall be delivered for you: this do for the commemoration of me.

The hymn is celebrated for its fourth strophe, which, in its graceful brevity, resumes the mystery of our Jesus, who is our companion, food, ransom, and recompense. Let us sing it with gratitude, confidence , and love.


Verbum supernum prodiens,
Nec Patris linquens dexteram,
Ad opus suum exiens,
Venit ad vitæ vesperam.

In mortem a discipulo
Suis tradendus aemulis,
Prius in vitae ferculo
Se tradidit discipulis.

Quibus sub bina specie
Carnem dedit et sanguinem:
Ut duplicis substantiae
Totum cibaret hominem.

Se nascens dedit socium,
Convescens in edulium,
Se moriens in pretium,
Se regnans dat in praemium.

O salutaris Hostia,
Quae cœli pandis ostium:
Bella premunt hostilia,
Da robur, fer auxilium.

Uni, trinoque Domino
Sit sempiterna gloria:
Qui vitam sine termino
Nobis donet in patria.

The divine Word coming forth,
yet leaving not his Father’s right hand,
went forth to do his work;
and reached the evening of his life.

When about to be given over,
by a disciple, to his enemies,
he first gave himself to his disciples,
in the food of life.

He gave them his Flesh and his Blood
under the twofold species,
that he might thus feed man,
who is of a twofold nature.

He was born, and became our companion;
he eat with us, and became our food;
he died, and became our ransom;
he reigns, and is our reward.

O saving Host,
that openest heaven’s gate!
we are pressed by wars and foes;
Oh give us strength and aid!

May everlasting glory
be to the Triune God!
and may he give to us life without end,
in our country above!


℣. Posuit fines tuos pacem, alleluia.

℟. Et adipe frumenti satiat te, alleluia.
℣. He hath placed peace in thy borders, alleluia.

℟. And filleth thee with the fat of corn, alleluia.

The canticle of Zachary is now sung: it is the Church’s daily welcome of the rising Sun. It celebrates the coming of Jesus to His creatures; the fulfilment of the promises made by God; and the apparition of the divine Orient in the midst of our darkness.

Ant. Ego sum panis vivus, qui de cœlo descendi: si quis manducaverit ex hoc pane, vivet in æternum, alleluia.
Ant. I am the living Bread, that am come down from heaven: if any man shall eat of this Bread, he shall live for ever, alleluia.

Canticle of Zachary
(St.Luke i.)

Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel: quia visitavit, et fecit redemptionem plebis suæ.
Et erexit cornu salutis nobis: in domo David pueri sui.
Sicut locutus est per os sanctorum: qui a sæculo sunt prophetarum ejus.
Salutem ex inimicis nostris: et de manu omnium qui oderunt nos.
Ad faciendam misericordiam cum patribus nostris: et memorari testamenti sui sancti.
Jusjurandum quod juravit ad Abraham patrem nostrum: daturum se nobis.
Ut sine timore de manu inimicorum nostrorum liberati: serviamus illi.
In sanctitate et justitia coram ipso: omnibus diebus nostris.
Et tu, puer, propheta Altissimi vocaberis: præibis enim ante faciem Domini parare vias ejus.
Ad dandam scientiam salutis plebi ejus: in remissionem peccatorum eorum.
Per viscera misericordiæ Dei nostri: in quibus visitavit nos Oriens ex alto.
Illuminare his, qui in tenebris et in umbra mortis sedent: ad dirigendos pedes nostros in viam pacis.

Ant. Ego sum panis vivus, qui de coelo descendi; si quis manducaverit ex hoc pane, vivet in æternum, alleluia.
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel: because he hath visited, and wrought the redemption of his people.
And hath raised up an horn of salvation to us, in the house of David his servant.
As he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets who are from the beginning.
Salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us.
To perform mercy to our fathers, and to remember his holy testament.
The oath which he swore to Abraham, our father; that he would grant to us.
That being delivered from the hand of our enemies, we may serve him without fear.
In holiness and justice before him, all our days.
And thou, child, Precursor of the Emmanuely shalt be called the prophet of the Most High: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways.
To give unto his people the knowledge of salvation, unto the remission of their sins.
Through the bowels of the mercy of our God, in which the Orient from on high hath visited us;
To enlighten them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death; to direct our feet into the way of peace.

Ant. I am the living Bread, that am come down from heaven; if any man shall eat of this Bread, he shall live for ever, alleluia.


Deus, qui nobis sub Sacramento mirabili passionis tuæ memoriam reliquisti: tribue, quaesumus, ita nos Corporis et Sanguinis tui sacra mysteria venerari, ut redemptionis tuæ fructum in nobis jugiter sentiamus. Qui vivis et regnas. Amen.
O God, who, under the wonderful Sacrament, hast left us a memorial of thy Passion: grant us, we beseech thee, so to reverence the sacred mysteries of thy Body and Blood, that, in our souls, we may always feel the fruit of thy Redemption. Who livest, &c.

The sun has risen in his splendour, while the sweet chants of the sanctuary have been greeting the coming of the divine Orient. The appointed ministers of the sacred psalmody have been giving, in the name of the whole world, the solemn tribute of Lauds to God the Creator and Redeemer; and now that the king of day is up, we behold a very busy scene outside the precincts of the holy place: the children of men are all intent on a work, in which neither the desire of lucre, nor the thirst after pleasure, have any share. Tidings of salvation have been heard; the voice of rejoicing is in the tabernacles of the just:[67] ‘God is preparing to visit his creatures; Emmanuel, who is present in the sacred Host, is about to go forth from His sanctuary; He is coming into your cities and your fields, to hold His court in your green forests;[68] the Lord God hath shone upon you, He hath appointed this solemn day; prepare His throne with shady boughs, and cover the way to the horn of the altar with flowers!’[69]

This announcement has excited a holy enthusiasm in the souls of men. For several previous days, many a faithful heart has had something of the feelings which animated David, when he vowed his vow to the God of Jacob: ‘I will not enter into the tabernacle of my house, I will not go up into the bed wherein I lie, I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or rest to my temples, until I find out a place for the Lord, and a tabernacle for the God of Jacob.'[70] O beautiful reposoirs! resting-places where are to stand the feet of the King of peace![71] short-lived but exquisite designs! the produce of that sacred poetry which comes from the supernatural love of the Christian! We see them to-day, everywhere, save alas! where cold heresy has come to keep man from being too earnest in his worship of his Saviour! On every Catholic heart, even on those who, at all other times, seem to be out of the influence of grace, the mystery of faith makes its power tell; and many a wife, and daughter, and sister, who have seen the other feasts of the year of grace pass by and produce no effect on those dear to them who are out of the Church, on this bright summer morning have beheld them all busy in preparing decorations for the triumphant procession of Emmanuel (whom they have so long negleoted to receive), and spending themselves in getting the best of everything they can give, or procure, for the God who is so soon to pass by that way, and, passing, to give these dear ones the blessing of a conversion! It is the wakening up of the faith of their Baptism; it is the grace of the Sacrament of love working at a distance; a grace of a reminder of other and happier days, of first Communion perhaps; and when Jesus passes through the crowd, He will look at them, and they shall remember, and shall be converted to the Lord.[72]

It is such a morning! Heaven is all gladness; earth is doing its best to be perfect; the mighty sea will look, here and there, on some procession of the holy Sacrament, and, seeing, will praise its Lord with the voice of its wonderful surges.[73] The fields and all things that are in them, flowers, trees, branches, fragrance, all are rejoicing before the face of the Lord, because He cometh, not, indeed, to judge this world with justice,[74] but to visit us with exceeding great love!

It is very hard to be indifferent whilst everything around us is so excited at the near approach of our God. Let us, if we can take no other share in preparing for the procession, be full of love for that most dear King who is coming, not only to receive our homage, which is so justly His due, but moreover to load us with blessings.

All is now ready for the triumph of our Emmanuel. While the church bells are convoking the faithful to come to the great Sacrifice, for that now all things are ready,[75] we offer our readers a page which will interest them: it is the last ever written for this Liturgical Year, from which they have been deriving so much instruction during all the past months. Our much-loved father is drawing a plan of the feast; and we give it, almost exactly as we found it amongst his notes.

‘The grand feast has, at length, dawned upon us; and everything is speaking of the triumph of faith and love. During the feast of the Ascension, when commenting those words of our Lord: It is expedient to you that I go,[76] we were saying that the withdrawal of the visible presence of the Man-God from the eyes of men on earth, would bring among them, by the vivid operation of the Holy Ghost, a plenitude of light and a warmth of love which they had not had for Jesus, during His mortal career among them; the only creature that had rendered to Him, in her single self, the whole of those duties which the Church afterwards paid Him, was Mary, who was all illumined with faith.

‘In his exquisite hymn, Adoro te devote, St. Thomas of Aquin says: ‘On the cross the Divinity alone was hid; but here the Humanity, too, is hid’; and yet, on no day of the year is the Church more triumphant, or more demonstrative, than she is upon this feast. Heaven is all radiant; our earth has clad herself with her best, that she may do homage to Him, who has said: ‘I am the Flower of the fields, and the Lily of the valleys.'[77] Holy Church is not satisfied with having prepared a throne whereon, during the whole of this octave, the sacred Host is to receive the adorations of the faithful; she has decreed, that these days of solemn and loving exposition be preceded by the pageant of a triumph. Not satisfied, to-day, with elevating the Bread of life, immediately after the words of Consecration: she will carry It beyond the precincts of her churches, amidst clouds of incense, and on paths strewn with flowers; and her children, on bended knee, will adore, under heaven’s vaulted canopy, Him who is their King and their God.

‘Those joys, which each separate solemnity of the year brought us, seem to come back upon us, all of them at once, to-day. The royal prophet had foretold this, when he said: ‘He, (the Lord) hath made a remembrance (a memorial) of His wonderful works: He hath given Food to them that fear Him.’[78] Holy Church is filled with enthusiasm, holding in her arms that divine Spouse, who said: ‘Lo! I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.'[79] Nothing could be more formal; and the promise has been faithfully kept. It is true, we beheld Him ascending from Mount Olivet; He went up into heaven, and there He sitteth at His Father’s right hand: but ever since the memorable day of Pentecost, when the holy Spirit took possession of the Church, the sacred mystery of the Supper has been celebrated, in virtue of those words spoken by Jesus: Do this in remembrance of Me; and from that day forward, the human race has never been deprived of the presence of its Head and its Redeemer.

‘No wonder, therefore, that holy mother Church, possessing, as she does, the Word, the Son of God, is suddenly filled with wisdom. The sacramental Species, it is true, are there shrouding the mystery; but they are only existing for the purpose of leading into the invisible....’

These are the last words written for this work by our venerated Abbot: they are followed by the indication of several passages from the works of Saint Augustine, bearing on the union between the Word and man, between divine Wisdom and our humanity, in the sacred mysteries. Our beloved father was just on the point of developing these outlines of the ineffable mystery of the marriage-feast in the eucharistic banquet, when death came upon him, and deprived us of his teaching, which we had all been so long and so impatiently expecting. The continuators of his Liturgical Year, have made these his words their guide during the whole octave of this feast. Our readers will pardon us, his children, for thus respecting the wishes of such a teacher. No doubt, the theme he left them to finish, and the plan on which he intended to treat it, are very sublime; but they hesitated not to take both up, the more so as their own weakness would be less felt now, after the nine previous volumes, and the foregoing pages of this, have prepared the faithful soul for solid and choice instruction on the mysteries of our holy faith. There has been a progressive formation of the Christian, commencing with the subdued light of Advent, and leading up to the brilliant radiance of Pentecost; and all this must necessarily fit him for the sublime truths which we are still to put before him, and which, of course, we ourselves are but taking from the Scriptures and the fathers. Such was the plan proposed, such was the hope entertained, by the author of this work, when he wrote the following lines in the Christmas volume:

In the mystery of Christmas and its forty days, the light is given to us, so to speak, softened down; our weakness required that it should be so. It is, indeed the divine Word, the Wisdom of the Father, that we are invited to know and imitate; but this Word, this Wisdom, is shown us under the appearance of a Child. . . . Now, every soul that has been admitted to Bethlehem, that is to say, into the house of bread, and has been united with Him who is the Light of the world, no longer walks in darkness. . . . The light has shone upon us, and we are resolved to keep up the light, nay, to cherish its growth within us, in proportion as the liturgical year unfolds its successive seasons of mysteries and graces. God grant that we may reflect in our souls the Church's progressive development of this divine light; and be led, by its brightness, to that union, which crowns both the year of the Church, and the faithful soul which has spent the year under the Church’s guidance.[80]

And now, after these few words of necessary digression, we resume the explanation of the liturgy for this feast.




The procession, which immediately precedes Mass on other feasts, is to-day deferred till after the offering of the great Sacrifice. In this procession, Jesus is to preside in Person: we must, therefore, wait until the sacred Action (so our fathers call the Mass) has bowed down to us the heavens where He resides.[81] He will soon be shrouded beneath the mysterious cloud. He is coming, that He may nourish His elect with the fat of wheat, of that Wheat which has fallen on our earth,[82] and is to be multiplied by being mystically immolated on the countless altars of this earth. He is coming, to-day, that He may receive a triumph at the hand of His people, and hear the songs we shall so joyously sing to the God of Jacob. These are the ideas expressed by the Introit, wherewith the Church opens her chants during the holy Sacrifice; it is taken from Psalm lxxx, which is so sublime, and is one of those already recited in the Matins of this feast.


Cibavit eos ex adipe frumenti, alleluia: et de petra, melle saturavit eos, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Ps. Exsultate Deo adjutori nostro: jubilate Deo Jacob. ℣. Gloria Patri. Cibavit eos.
He fed them with the fat of wheat, alleluia: and filled them with honey out of the rock, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Ps. Rejoice unto God, our helper: sing joyfully unto the God of Jacob. ℣. Glory, &c. He fed them.

In the Collect, the Church reminds us of the intention our Lord had in instituting, on the eve of His Passion, the Sacrament of His love: it was to be a perpetual memorial of the Passion, which He was then going to suffer. Our mother prays that, being thus imbued with the spirit which leads her to pay honour to the Body and Blood of Christ, we may obtain the blessings which were purchased for us by His Sacrifice.


Deus qui nobis sub Sacramento mirabili passionis tuæ memoriam reliquisti: tribue, quæsumus; ita nos Corporis et sanguinis tui sacra mysteria venerari, ut redemptionis tuæ fructum in nobis jugiter sentiamus. Qui vivis.
O God, who, under the wonderful Sacrament, hast left us a memorial of thy Passion: grant us, we beseech thee, so to reverence the sacred mysteries of thy Body and Blood, that, in our souls, we may always feel the fruit of thy Redemption. Who livest, &c.


Lectio Epistolæ Beati Pauli Apostoli ad Corinthios.

I. Cap. xi.

Fratres, ego enim accepi a Domino quod et tradidi vobis, quoniam Dominus Jesus, in qua nocte tradebatur, accepit panem, et gratias agens fregit et dixit: Accipite et manducate: hoc est corpus meum, quod pro vobis tradetur: hoc facite in meam commemorationem. Similiter et calicem, postquam cœnavit, dicens: Hic calix novum testamentum est in meo sanguine: hoc facite quotiescumque bibetis, in meam commemorationem. Quotiescumque enim manducabitis panem hunc, et calicem bibetis: mortem Domini annuntiabitis donec veniat. Itaque quicumque manducaverit panem hunc, vel biberit calicem Domini indigne: reus erit corporis et sanguinis Domini. Probet autem seipsum homo: et sic de pane illo edat, et de calice bibat. Qui enim manducat et bibit indigne, judicium sibi manducat et bibit: non dijudicans corpus Domini.
Lesson of the Epistle of Saint Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians.

I. Ch. xi.

Brethren, for I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread, and giving thanks, broke, and said: Take ye and eat: this is my body which shall be delivered for you: this do for the commemoration of me. In like manner, also, the chalice, after he had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in myblood: this do ye, as often as ye shall drink, for the commemoration of me. For as often as ye shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, ye shall show the death of the Lord, until he come. Therefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. But, let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment unto himself, not discerning the body of the Lord.

The holy Eucharist, both as Sacrifice and Sacrament, is the very centre of the Christian religion; and therefore our Lord would have a fourfold testimony to be given, in the inspired writings, to its institution. Besides the accounts given by Saints Matthew, Mark, and Luke, we have also that of St. Paul, which has just been read to us, and which he received from the lips of Jesus Himself, who vouchsafed to appear to him, after his conversion, and instruct him.

St. Paul lays particular stress on the power, given by our Lord to His disciples, of renewing the act which He Himself had just been doing. He tells us, what the evangelists had not explicitly mentioned, that as often as a priest consecrates the Body and Blood of Christ, he shows (he announces) the death of the Lord: by that expression he tells us that the Sacrifice of the cross, and that of our altars, is one and the same. It is, likewise, by the immolation of our Redeemer on the cross, that the Flesh of this Lamb of God is truly meat, and His Blood truly drink, as we shall he told in a few moments, by the Gospel. Let not the Christian, therefore, forget it, even on this day of festive triumph. The Church insists on the same truth in her Collect of this feast: it is the teaching which she keeps repeating, in this formula, throughout the entire octave; and her object in this is to impress vividly on the minds of her children this last and earnest injunction of Jesus: ‘As often as ye shall drink of this cup of the new Testament, do it for the commemoration of Me!’ The selection she makes of this passage of St. Paul for the Epistle, should impress the Christian with this truth: that the divine Flesh which feeds his soul was prepared on Calvary; and that, although the Lamb of God is now living and impassible, He became our food, our nourishment, by the cruel death which he endured. The sinner, who has made his peace with God, will partake of this sacred Body with deep compunction, reproaching himself for having shed its Blood by his sins: the just man will approach the holy Table with humility, remembering how he, also, has had but too great a share in causing the innocent Lamb to suffer; and that, if he be at present in the state of grace, he owes it to the Blood of the Victim whose Flesh is about to be given to him for his nourishment.

But let us dread, and dread above all things, the sacrilegious daring, spoken against in such strong language by our apostle, which, by a monstrous contradiction, would attempt to put again to death Him who is the Author of life; and this attempt to be made in the very banquet, which was procured for us men by the precious Blood of this Saviour! Let a man prove himself, says the apostle; and so let him eat of that breads and drink of the chalice. This proving one’s self is sacramental confession, which must be made by him who feels himself guilty of a grievous sin, which has never before been confessed. How sorry soever he may be for it, were he even reconciled to God by an act of perfect contrition, the injunction of the apostle, interpreted by the custom of the Church and the decision of her Councils,[83] forbids his approaching the holy Table until he has submitted his sin to the power of the keys.

The Gradual and Alleluia-verse are a further instance of the parallelism between the two Testaments, which we have already noticed in the composition of the Matins responsories. The psalmist extols the bounty of God, to whom every living creature looks for its food; and Jesus offers Himself to us, as we have it in St. John’s Gospel, as our truest nourishment.


Oculi omnium in te sperant, Domine: et tu das illis escam in tempore opportuno.

℣. Aperis tu manum tuam, et imples omne animal benedictione. Alleluia, alleluia.

℣. Caro mea vere est cibus, et sanguis meus vere est potus; qui manducat meam carnem, et bibit meum sanguinem, in me manet, et ego in eo.
The eyes of all hope in thee, O Lord: and thou givest them food in due season.

℣. Thou openest thy hand, and finest with thy blessing every living creature. Alleluia, alleluia.

℣. My flesh is truly meat, and my blood is truly drink; he that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him.

Then follows the Sequence, that well-known composition of the Angelic Doctor. The Church, the true Sion, expresses her enthusiasm, and love, for the living and life-giving Bread, in words which, at first sight, would seem too precise and scholastic to be adapted to a poetic form or sentiment. The Eucharistic mystery is here developed with that concision and solemnity for which St. Thomas had such a wonderful talent. The words are accompanied by a chant which is worthy of them; and the two together excite in the Christian soul the sentiments of unearthly joy, which are so peculiar to this feast of the Sacrament of love.


Lauda Sion Salvatorem,
Lauda ducem et pastorem
In hymnis et canticis.

Quantum potes, tantum aude:
Quia major omni laude,
Nec laudare sufficis.

Laudis thema specialis,
Panis vivus et vitalis
Hodie proponitur.

Quem in sacræ mensa cœnæ,
Turbæ fratrum duodenæ
Datum non ambigitur.

Sit laus plena sit sonora,
Sit jucunda, sit decora
Mentis jubilatio;

Dies enim solemnis agitur,
In qua mensæ prima recolitur
Hujus institutio.

In hac mensa novi Regis,
Novum Pascha novæ legis
Phase vetus terminat.

Vetustatem novitas,
Umbram fugat veritas,
Noctem lux eliminat.

Quod in cœna Christus gessit,
Faciendum hoc expressit
In sui memoriam.

Docti sacris institutis,
Panem, vinum in salutis
Consecramus hostiam.

Dogma datur Christianis,
Quod in carnem transit panis,
Et vinum in sanguinem.

Quod non capis, quod non vides,
Animosa firmat fides,
Præter rerum ordinem.

Sub diversis speciebus,
Signis tantum et non rebus,
Latent res eximiae.

Caro cibus, sanguis potus;
Manet tamen Christus totus
Sub utraque specie.

A sumente non concisus,
Non confractus, non divisus,
Integer accipitur.

Sumit unus, sumunt mille;
Quantum isti, tantum ille:
Nec sumptus consumitur.

Sumunt boni, sumunt mali:
Sorte tamen inaequali,
Vitae vel interitus.

Mors est malis, vita bonis:
Vide paris sumptionis
Quam sit dispar exitus.

Fracto demum Sacramento,
Ne vacilles, sed memento,
Tantum esse sub fragmento,
Quantum toto tegitur.

Nulla rei fit scissura,
Signi tantum fit fractura:
Qua nec status, nec statura
Signati minuitur.

Ecce panis angelorum,
Factus cibus viatorum:
Vere panis filiorum,
Non mittendus canibus.

In figuris præsignatur,
Cum Isaac immolatur:
Agnus Paschæ deputatur,
Datur manna patribus.

Bone Pastor, panis vere,
Jesu nostri miserere:
Tu nos pasce, nos tuere:
Tu nos bona fac videre
In terra viventium.

Tu qui cuncta scis et vales,
Qui nos pascis hic mortales:
Tuos ibi commensales,
Cohæredes et sodales,
Fac sanctorum civium.

Amen. Alleluia.
Praise thy Saviour, O Sion!
praise thy guide and shepherd,
in hymns and canticles.

As much as thou hast power, so also dare;
for he is above all praise,
nor canst thou praise him enough.

This day there is given to us
a special theme of praise
—the living and life-giving Bread,

Which, as our faith assures us,
was given to the twelve brethren,
as they sat at the table of the holy Supper.

Let our praise be full, let it be sweet:
let our soul’s jubilee be joyous,
let it be beautiful;

For we are celebrating that great day,
whereon is commemorated
the first institution of this Table.

In this Table of the new King,
the new Pasch of the new Law
puts an end to the old Passover.

Newness puts the old to flight,
and so does truth the shadow;
the light drives night away.

What Christ did at that Supper,
that he said was to be done
in remembrance of him.

Taught by his sacred institutions,
we consecrate the bread and wine
into the Victim of salvation.

This is the dogma given to Christians
—that bread passes into Flesh,
and wine into Blood.

What thou understandest not, what thou seest not,
that let a generous faith confirm thee
in beyond nature’s course.

Under the different species,
which are signs not things,
there hidden lie things of infinite worth.

The Flesh is food, the Blood is drink;
yet Christ is whole
under each species.

He is not cut by the receiver,
nor broken, nor divided:
he is taken whole.

He is received by one, he is received by a thousand;
the one receives as much as all;
nor is he consumed, who is received.

The good receive, the bad receive,
but with the difference
of life or death.

’Tis death to the bad, ’tis life to the good:
lo! how unlike is the effect
of the one like receiving.

And when the Sacrament is broken,
waver not! but remember,
that there is as much under each fragment,
as is hid under the whole.

Of the substance that is there, there is no division;
it is but the sign that is broken;
and he who is the signified, is not thereby diminished,
either as to state or stature.

Lo! the Bread of angels
is made the food of pilgrims;
verily it is the Bread of the children,
not to be cast to dogs.

It is foreshown in figures:
when Isaac is slain,
when the Paschal Lamb is prescribed,
when Manna is given to our fathers.

O good Shepherd! true Bread!
Jesus! have mercy upon us:
feed us, defend us:
give us to see good things
in the land of the living.

O thou, who knowest and canst do all things,
who feedest us mortals here below,
make us to be thy companions
in the banquet yonder above,
and thy joint-heirs, and fellow-citizens with the saints!

Amen. Alleluia.


Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem.

Cap. vi.

In illo tempore: Dixit Jesus turbis Judaeorum: Caro mea vere est cibus: et sanguis meus vere est potus. Qui manducat meam carnem et bibit meum sanguinem, in me manet, et ego in in illo. Sicut misit me vivens Pater, et ego vivo propter patrem: et qui manducat me, et ipse vivet propter me. Hic est panis qui de coelo descendit. Non sicut manducaverunt patres vestri manna, et mortui sunt. Qui manducat hunc panem, vivet in æternum.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to John.

Ch. vi.

At that time: Jesus said to the multitude of the Jews: My flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so, he that eateth me, the same, also, shall live by me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna and are dead. He that eateth this bread, shall live for ever.

The beloved disciple could not remain silent on the mystery of love. But, at the time when he wrote his Gospel, the institution of the Eucharist had been sufficiently recorded by the three evangelists who had preceded him, as also by the apostle of the Gentiles, Instead, therefore, of repeating what these had written, he completed it, by relating the solemn promise made by Jesus, on the banks of Lake Tiberias, a year before the last Supper.

He was surrounded by the thousands, who were in admiration at His having miraculously multiplied the loaves and fishes: Jesus takes the opportunity of telling them that He Himself is the true bread come down from heaven, which, unlike the manna given to their fathers by Moses, could preserve man from death. Life is the best of all gifts, as death is the worst of evils. Life exists in God as in its source;[84] He alone can give it to whom He pleases, and restore it to him who has lost it. Man, who was created in grace, lost his life, when he sinned, and incurred death. But God so loved the world as to send it, lost as it was, His Son,[85] with the mission of restoring man to life. True God of true God, Light of Light, the only-begotten Son is, likewise, true Life of true Life, by nature: and, as the Father enlightens them that are in darkness, by this Son who is His Light, so likewise. He gives life to them that are dead, and He gives it to them in this same Son who is His living Image.[86] The Word of God, then, came amongst men, that they might have life, and abundant life.[87] And whereas it is the property of food to increase and maintain life, therefore did He become our Food, our living and life-giving Food, which has come down from heaven; partaking of the life eternal which He has in His Father’s bosom, the Flesh of the Word communicates this same life to them that eat It. That, as St. Cyril of Alexandria observes, which of its own nature is corruptible, cannot be brought to life in any other way, than by its corporal union with the Body of Him who is life by nature: now, just as two pieces of wax melted together by the fire make but one, so are we and Christ made one by our partaking of His Body and Blood. This life, therefore, which resides in the Flesh of the Word, made ours within us, shall be no more overcome by death; on the day appointed, this life will throw off the chains of the old enemy, and will triumph over corruption in these our bodies, making them immortal.[88] Hence it is that the Church, with her delicate feelings as bride and mother, selects from this same passage of St. John her Gospel for the daily Mass of the dead; thus drying up the tears of the living who are mourning over their departed friends, and consoling them by bringing them into the presence of the holy Host, which is the source of true life, and the centre of all our hopes.

Thus not only was the soul to be renewed by her contact with the Word, but even the body, earthly and material as it is, was to share, in its way, in what our Saviour called the Spirit that quickeneth.[89] ‘They,’ St. Gregory of Nyssa has so beautifully said, ‘who have been led, by an enemy’s craft, to take poison, neutralize, by some other potion, the power which would cause death; and as was the deadly, so likewise the curative must be taken into the very bowels of the sufferer; that so the efficacy of that which brings relief may permeate through the whole body. Thus we, having tasted that which ruined our nature, require something which will restore and put right that which was disordered; that, when this salutary medioine shall be within us, it may, as an antidote, drive out the mischief of the poison, which had previously been taken into the body. And what is this (salutary medioine)? No other than that Body, which had both been shown to be stronger than death, and was the beginning of our life. For, says the apostle, as a little leaven makes the whole paste to be like itself, so likewise that Body, which God had willed should be put to death, when it is within ours, transmutes and transfers it wholly into Itself. . . . Now, the only way whereby a substance may be thus received into the body, is by its being taken as food and drink.’[90]

The Offertory is taken from the words of Leviticus (xxi. 6.) wherein God commands the priests of the ancient covenant to be holy because of their having to offer holocausts and loaves of proposition to Him, as figures of something future. As much as the priesthood of the new Testament is superior to this ministry of the figurative Law, so much should the hands of Aaron be surpassed in holiness by those that have to offer to God the Father the true Bread of heaven, which is the sacrifice of infinite fragrance.


Sacerdotes Domini incensum et panes offerunt Deo: et ideo sancti erunt Deo suo, et non polluent nomen ejus, alleluia.
The priests of the Lord offer unto God the burnt-offering and loaves: and therefore shall they be holy to their God, and shall not defile his name, alleluia.

In the Secret, the priest prays that there may be in the Church that unity and peace, which are the special grace of the holy Sacrament, as the fathers teach us. The very bread and wine, which are offered, express this: the bread is made up out of many grains, and the wine out of many berries.

The Preface, both for the feast and the octave, is that of Christmas: we are thus reminded of the close connexion which exists between the two mysteries of the birth of Christ and the Eucharist. It was in Bethlehem, the house of bread, that Jesus, the Bread of life, came down from heaven, through the Virgin, His ever blessed Mother.


Ecclesiæ tuae, quæsumus Domine, unitatis et pacis propitius dona concede: quae sub oblatis muneribus mystice designantur. Per Dominum.
Mercifully grant thy Church, O Lord, we beseech thee, the gifts of unity and peace, which are mystically represented in these offerings. Through, &c.


Vere dignum et justum est, æquum et salutare, nos tibi semper et ubique gratias agere: Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, æterne Deus: quia per incarnati Verbi mysterium, nova mentis nostræ oculis lux tuæ claritatis infulsit: ut dum visibiliter Deum cognoscimus, per hunc in invisibilium amorem rapiamur: et ideo cum Angelis et Archangelis, cum Thronis et Dominationibus, cumque omni militia coelestis exercitus hymnum gloriæ tuæcanimus, sine fine dicentes.
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; for that, by the mystery of the Incarnate Word, a new ray of thy glory has appeared to the eyes of our soul: so that while we behold God visibly, we may be carried by him to the love of things invisible: and therefore with the Angels and Archangels, with the Thrones and Dominations, and with all the heavenly host, we sing a hymn to thy glory, saying unceasingly.

Faithful to her Lord’s injunction, which she brought before us in the Epistle, the Church reminds her children, in the Communion-anthem, that they announce the death of Christ, when they receive His Body; and that consequently they should tremble at the very thought of an unworthy Communion.


Quotiescumque manducabitis panem hunc, et calicem bibetis, mortem Domini annuntiabitis, donec veniat: itaque quicumque manducaverit panem, vel biberit calicem Domini indigne, reus erit corporis et sanguinis Domini, alleluia.
As often as ye shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, ye shall show the death of the Lord, until he come: whosoever, therefore, shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord, alleluia.

The Church concludes the mysteries by praying for that eternal and unveiled union with the divine Word, of which she has a pledge and figure in partaking, here below, of the real substance of His Body and Blood, under the veil of faith.


Fac nos, quæsumus Domine, divinitatis tuæ sempiterna fruitione repleri: quam pretiosi Corporis et Sanguinis tui temporalis perceptio præfigurat. Qui vivis.
Grant us, O Lord, we beseech thee, the everlasting possession of thyself: as a pledge of which, we have received thy Body and Blood. Who livest, &c.


The Procession


Who is this who comes up, embalming the desert of the world with her clouds of incense and myrrh, and perfumes unnumbered? The bride has awakened of her own accord, to-day. Full of desire to please Him, and very lovely, the Church is standing before the golden litter whereon is throned her Spouse in His glory. Near Him are drawn up the valiant ones of Israel: the priests and levites of the Lord who are strong even with God. Go forth, ye daughters of Sion! fix your gaze on the true Solomon, so beautiful in the diadem wherewith His mother crowned Him on the day of His espousals, the day of the joy of His heart![91] The diadem is the Flesh received by the divine Word, from the Virgin Mother, when He took our human nature for His bride.[92] By this most perfect of bodies, by this sacred Flesh, the ineffable mystery of the marriage between man and eternal Wisdom is every day continued in the Eucharistic banquet. For our true Solomon, then, each day is the day of the joy of His heart, the day of nuptial rejoicing. Could anything be more just than that, once in the year, holy Church should give full freedom to the transports of her love for her divine Spouse, who resides with her in the Sacrament of love, although in a hidden manner? It is on this account that, in to-day’s Mass, the priest has consecrated two Hosts; and that after having received one of these in Communion, he has placed the other in the glittering Ostensorium, which is to be carried in his trembling hands, beneath a canopy, while hymns of triumphant joy are being sung, and the faithful, in prostrate adoration, are being blessed by Jesus, who thus comes amongst them.

This solemn homage to the sacred Host is, as we have already said, a later institution than the feast itself of Corpus Christi. Pope Urban IV. does not speak of it in his Bull of the Institution, in 1264. Twenty-two years later, Durandus of Mende wrote hisRational of Divine Offices, in which he several times mentions the processions which were then in use; but he has not a word upon that of Corpus Christi. On the other hand, Martin V. and Eugenius IV., in their Constitutions, which we have already quoted (May 26, 1429, May 26, 1433), plainly show that it was then in use, for they grant Indulgences to those who are present at it. Donatus Bossius of Milan tells us, in his Chronicle, that on Thursday, May 24, 1404, ‘the Body of Christ was, for the first time, solemnly carried through the streets of Padua; and this practice has since become the custom.’ Some writers have concluded from these words that the procession of Corpus Christi was not in use before that date, and that it first originated at Padua; but the words of Bossius scarcely justify such an inference, and the words he uses may be understood of a local custom.

Indeed, we find mention made of this procession, in a manuscript of the Church of Chartres in 1330; in an Act of the Chapter of Tournai in 1325; in a Council of Paris in 1323; and in one held at Sens in 1320. These two Councils grant indulgences to those who observe abstinence and fasting on the vigil of Corpus Christi, and they add these words: ‘As to the solemn procession made on the Thursday’s feast, when the holy Sacrament is carried, seeing that it appears to have been introduced in these our times by a sort of inspiration, we prescribe nothing at present, and leave all concerning it to the devotion of the clergy and people.'[93] It seems, then, that the initiative to the institution of to-day’s procession was given by the devotion of the faithful; and that this admirable completion of our feast began in France, and thence was adopted in all the Churches of the west.

There is ground for supposing that at first the sacred Host was carried in these processions veiled over, or enclosed in a sort of rich shrine. Even so far back as the eleventh century, it had been the custom, in some places, to carry It in this way during the processions of Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday morning. We have elsewhere spoken of these devotional practices, which, however, were not so much for the direct purpose of honouring the blessed Sacrament, as for that of bringing more forward the mystery of those solemnities.[94] Be this as it may, the use of ostensoria, or monstrances, as they are termed in a Council held in 1452 at Cologne, soon followed the institution of the new procession. They were made, at first, in shape like little towers. In a manuscript Missal, dated 1374, the letter D, the initial of the Collect for Corpus Christi, gives us a miniature illumination representing a bishop, accompanied by two acolytes, who is carrying a Host in a golden tower with four openings. But Catholic piety soon sought to compensate the Sun of justice for thus hiding Himself and His glory in the mystery of love. The sacred Host was now exposed to the gaze of the faithful, enclosed in a crystal sphere, surrounded by rays of gold, or of other precious material. Not to mention other, and more ancient records, we find a very marked instance of the rapidity wherewith this use of the monstrance was adopted: it occurs in a Gradual of the period of Louis XII. (1498-1515); the initial letter of the Introit for Corpus Christi has within it a sun or sphere, like those in present use; it is being carried on the shoulders of two figures vested in copes, who are followed by the King, and by several Cardinals and Prelates.[95]

And yet the Protestant heresy, which was then beginning, gave the name of novelty, superstition, and idolatry, to these natural developments of Catholic worship, prompted, as they were, by faith and love. The Council of Trent pronounced anathema upon these calumnies; and, in a Chapter apart,[96] showed how rightly the Church had acted in countenancing these practices. The words of the Council are as follows: ‘The holy Council declares that there has been most piously and religiously introduced into God’s Church the practice, that each year, on a certain special feast, the august and venerable Sacrament should be honoured with singular veneration and solemnity, and that It should be reverently and with every honour carried in processions through the public roads and places. For it is most just that certain holidays should be appointed, whereon all Christians should, with special and unusual demonstrations, evince their gratitude and mindfulness towards their common Lord and Redeemer, for this so unspeakable and truly divine favour, in which is represented His victory and triumph over death. And it was also necessary, that thus invincible truth should triumph over lying and heresy; that her enemies, seeing all that splendour, and being in the midst of such great joy of the whole Church, should either grow wearied and acknowledge their being beaten and broken, or, being ashamed and confounded, should be converted.’

But to us Catholics, faithful adorers of the Sacrament of love, ‘Oh! the joy of the immense glory the Church is sending up to God this hour! verily as if the world was all unfallen still. We think, and, as we think, the thoughts are like so many successive tide-waves filling our whole souls with the fulness of delight, of all the thousands of Masses which are being said or sung the whole world over, and all rising with one note of blissful acclamation, from grateful creatures, to the majesty of our merciful Creator. How many glorious processions, with the sun upon their banners, are now wending their way round the squares of mighty cities, through the flower-strewn streets of Christian villages, through the antique cloisters of the glorious cathedral, or through the grounds of the devout seminary, where the various colours of the faces, and the different languages of the people are only so many fresh tokens of the unity of that faith, which they are all exultingly professing in the single voice of the magnificent ritual of Rome! Upon how many altars of various architecture, amid sweet flowers and starry lights, amid clouds of humble incense, and the tumult of thrilling song, before thousands of prostrate worshippers, is the blessed Sacrament raised for exposition, or taken down for benediction! And how many blessed acts of faith and love, of triumph and of reparation, do not each of these things surely represent! The world over, the summer air is filled with the voice of song. The gardens are shorn of their fairest blossoms, to be flung beneath the feet of the Sacramental God. The steeples are reeling with the clang of bells; the cannon are booming in the gorges of the Andes and the Appenines; the ships of the harbours are painting the bays of the sea with their show of gaudy flags; the pomp of royal or republican armies salutes the King of kings. The Pope on his throne, and the sohool-girl in her village, cloistered nuns, and sequestered hermits, bishops and dignitaries and preachers, emperors and kings and princes, all are engrossed to-day with the blessed Sacrament. Cities are illuminated; the dwellings of men are alive with exultation. Joy so abounds that men rejoice they know not why, and their joy overflows on sad hearts, and on the poor, and the imprisoned, and the wandering, and the orphaned, and the home-sick exiles. All the millions of souls that belong to the royal family and spiritual lineage of St. Peter are to-day engaged more or less with the blessed Sacrament: so that the whole Church militant is thrilling with glad emotion, like the tremulous rocking of the mighty sea. Sin seems forgotten; tears even are of rapture rather than of penance. It is like the soul’s first day in heaven; or as if earth itself were passing into heaven, as it well might do, for sheer joy of the blessed Sacrament.’[97]

During the procession, the hymns of to-day’s Office are sung, also the Lauda Sion, the Te Deum, and, if time permit, the Benedictus, Magnificat, or other liturgical pieces in keeping with the spirit of the feast, such as the hymns for the Ascension, as specified in the ritual. On the return to the church, the function concludes, as at other Benedictions, with the Tantum ergo, the vesicle and Collect of the blessed Sacrament. But after the blessing has been given, the deacon does not put the sacred Host into the tabernacle, but on the throne prepared for It, around which, for eight days, the faithful will be keeping a devout and adoring watch.




In the Office of Vespers or Evensong, the Church chants, and in presence of the adorable Sacrament exposed on the throne, the wonders of this great day.

The first psalm is on the glories of Christ, our High Priest: The Lord hath sworn: He is a Priest for ever, according to the order of Melchisedech, Like that king of justice and peace, Christ selected bread and wine, as the materials of His Sacrifice: but under these appearances, was hidden the oblation worthy both of the eternal Priest who offered it, and of the Father, who begot Him before the day-star.

Ant. Sacerdos in aeternum Christus Dominus secundum ordinemMelchisedech, panem et vinum obtulit.
Ant. Christ the Lord, being a Priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech, offered bread and wine.

Ps. Dixit Dominus, page 72.

The bread and wine of the Sacrifice pointed to a banquet: this banquet is commemorated in the following psalm, which speaks of a great memorial, made by our God, of all the wonders He has done for us creatures. This memorial is Christ’s giving Himself, as food, to all them that fear Him. May His praise endure, then, for ever!

Ant. Miserator Dominus escam dedit timentibus se, in memoriam suorum mirabilium.
Ant. The merciful Lord hath given food unto them that fear him, as amemorial of his wonderful works.

Ps. Confitebor tibi, page 73.

The Eucharist, which is the compendium of all God’s favours, is, at the same time, the most perfect act of thanksgiving, and the only adequate one, which we can offer to His divine Majesty. If, then, having come to the close of this day, and filled with emotion at the sight of the wonders of God’s goodness towards us, we cry out with the psalmist: What shall I render unto the Lord for all the things that He hath rendered to me? let us answer, with the same prophet in the words of this third psalm: I will take the chalice of salvation; I will sacrifice the sacrifice of praise.

Ant. Calicem salutaris accipiam et sacrificabo hostiam laudis.
Ant. I will take the chalice of salvation, and will sacrifice the Host of praise.

Psalm 115

Credidi, propter quod locutus sum: ego autem humiliatus sum nimis.
Ego dixi in excessu meo: Omnis homo mendax.
Quid retribuam Domino: pro omnibus quæ retribuit mihi?
Calicem salutaris accipiam: et nomen Domini invocabo.
Vota mea Domino reddam coram omni populo ejus: pretiosa in conspectu Domini mors sanctorum ejus.
O Domine, quia ego servus tuus, ego servus tuus, et filius anciliæ tuæ.
Dirupisti vincula mea: tibi sacrificabo hostiam laudis, et nomen Domini invocabo.
Vota mea Domino reddam in conspectu omnis populi ejus: in atriis domus Domini, in medio tui Jerusalem.

Ant. Calicem salutaris accipiam, et sacrificabo hostiam laudis.
I have believed, therefore have I spoken: but I have been humbled exceedingly.
I said in my excess: Every man is a liar.
What shall I render unto the Lord, for all the things that he hath rendered to me?
I will take the chalice of salvation: and I will call upon the name of the Lord.
I will pay my vows to the Lord before all his people: precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.
O Lord, for I am thy servant: I am thy servant, and the son of thy handmaid.
Thou hast broken my bonds: I will sacrifice unto thee the sacrifice of praise, and I will call upon the name of the Lord.
I will pay my vows to the Lord in the sight of all his people: in the courts of the house of the Lord, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem.

Ant. I will take the chalice of salvation, and will sacrifice the Host of praise.

The following psalm proclaims, with holy enthusiasm, the loveliness of the sight offered this day by our earth. Happiness and holiness seemed, this morning, to have taken possession of the world. The oil of gladness flowed from Christ, the Head, upon all His members. The Church thrills with gladness at seeing, round about the holy Table, her children, like so many young olive plants, ready to bring forth fruits of grace and sanctification. May it be so! May this day be a new era for Sion, in abundance of all good things, and in the strengthening of peace in the holy city!

Ant. Sicut novellæ olivarum, Ecclesiæ filii sint in circuitu mensae Domini.
Ant. May the children of the Church be around the Table of the Lord, as young olive plants.

Psalm 127

Beati omnes qui timent Dominum, qui ambulant in viis ejus.
Labores manuum tuarum quia manducabis: beatus es, et bene tibi erit.
Uxor tua sicut vitis abundans, in lateribus domus tuæ.
Filii tui sicut novellae olivarum, in circuitu mensæ tuæ.
Ecce sic benedicetur homo qui timet Dominum.
Benedicat tibi Dominus ex Sion: et videas bona Jerusalem omnibus diebus vitæ tuæ.
Et videas filios filiorum tuorum, pacem super Israel.

Ant. Sicut novellæ olivarum, Ecclesiæ filii sint in circuitu mensae Domini.
Blessed are all they that fear the Lord: that walk in his ways.
For thou shalt eat the labours of thy hands: blessed art thou, and it shall be well with thee.
Thy wife as a fruitful vine, on the sides of thy house.
Thy children as olive plants, round about thy table.
Behold! thus shall the man be blessed, that feareth the Lord.
May the Lord bless thee out of Sion: and mayst thou see the good things of Jerusalem, all the days of thy life.
And mayest thou see thy children’s children, peace upon Israel.

Ant. May the children of the Church be around the Table of the Lord, as young olive plants.

‘Glory be to God, and peace unto men!’ Thus sang the angels when the Bread of heaven came to Bethlehem. We have already seen, and we will return during the days of this octave to see, that these are the two grand results of the Eucharist. In this fifth psalm of Vespers, the Church invites us to sing the praises of that peace which, by the grace of her Jesus, reigns in her borders, strengthens the bolts of her gates, and fills with blessing her children that are within her. But it is the divine nourishment, it is the wheat of heaven’s own making, that produces this admirable peace, by uniting all the members to Christ in the unity of one body.

Ant. Qui pacem ponit fines Ecclesiae, frumenti adipe satiat nos Dominus.
Ant. The Lord, who putteth peace in the borders of the Church, filleth us with the fat of wheat.

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 terrae: velociter currit sermo ejus.
Qui dat nivem sicut lanam: nebulam sicut cinere spargit.
Mittit crystallum suam sicut buccellas: ante faciem frigoris ejus quis sustinebit?
Emittet verbum suum, et liquefaciet ea: flabit spiritus ejus, et fluent aquæ.
Qui annuntiat verbum suum Jacob: justitias, et judicia sua Israel.
Non fecit taliter omni nationi: et judicia sua non manifestavit eis.

Ant. Qui pacem ponit fines Ecclesiae, frumenti adipe satiat nos Dominus.
Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem! praise thy God, O Sion!
Because he hath strengthened 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, that is Jesus, the Bread of life,
Who sendeth forth his speech 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 out his word, and shall melt them: his wind, his holy Spirit, shall blow, and the waters shall run.
Who declareth his word unto Jacob: his justices and his judgments unto Israel.
He hath not done in like manner to every nation: and his judgments he hath not made manifest to them.

Ant. The Lord, who putteth peace in the borders of the Church, filleth us with the fat of wheat.

The capitulum gives us once more the words of the apostle of the Gentiles. It is a joy to hear him thus bearing his testimony to the institution of the Sacrament of love, and repeating to us the parting request of Jesus: Do this in commemoration of Me!

(1 Cor. xi.)

Fratres, ego enim accepi a Domino quod et tradidi vobis, quoniam Dominus Jesus in qua nocte tradebatur, accepit panem, et gratias agens, fregit, et dixit: Accipite, et manducate; hoc est Corpus meum, quod pro vobis tradetur: hoc facite in meam commemorationem.
Brethren, for I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread, and giving thanks, broke, and said: Take ye and eat: this is my Body, which shall be delivered for you: this do for the commemoration of me.

The hymn, which then follows, gives us the whole doctrine of the Eucharist in a sublime and concise wording. It is the one chosen by the Church for singing the praise of the adorable Sacrament: and its last two strophes are prescribed for the rite of Benediction, throughout the year.

Hymn *

Pange, lingua, gloriosi
Corporis mysterium,
Sanguinisque pretiosi,
Quem in mundi pretium,
Fructus ventris generosi,
Rex effudit gentium.

Nobis datus, nobis natus
Ex intacta Virgine,
Et in mundo conversatus,
Sparso verbi semine,
Sui moras incolatus
Miro clausit ordine.

In supremæ nocte cænæ
Recumbens cum fratribus,
Observata lege plene
Cibis in legalibus,
Cibum turbæ duodenæ
Se dat suis manibus.

Verbum caro, panem verum
Verbo carnem efficit:
Fitque sanguis Christi merum:
Et si sensus deficit,
Ad firmandum cor sincerum
Sola fides sufficit.

Tantum ergo Sacramentum
Veneremur cernui!
Et antiquum documentum
Novo cedat ritui:
Præstet fides supplementum
Sensuum defectui.

Genitori, Genitoque
Laus et jubilatio,
Salus, honor, virtus quoque
Sit et benedictio:
Procedenti ab utroque
Compar sit laudatio.


℣. Panem de cœlo præstitisti eis, alleluia.
℟. Omne delectamentum in se habentem, alleluia.
Sing, O my tongue,
the mystery of the glorious Body,
and of the precious Blood
which was shed as the world's ransom,
by him who is the fruit of Mary’s generous womb,
the King of nations.

Given unto us, and born for us
from the purest of Virgins,
he lived in this our world,
casting the seed of the word;
and closed the days of his sojourn here
by a way full of marvel.

On the night of the last Supper,
he sat at table with his brethren;
and having fully observed the Law
as to its legal repast,
he gave himself, with his own hands,
as food to the assembled twelve.

The Word made Flesh, makes, by a word,
that true bread should become Flesh,
and wine the Blood of Christ;
and though our sense may fail,
faith of itself is enough
to assure an upright heart.

Then let us, prostrate, adore
so great a Sacrament:
and let the ancient law
give place to the new rite:
let faith supply
the senses’ deficiency.

To the Father and the Son
be praise and jubilation,
salvation, honour, power,
and benediction:
to him that proceeded
from Both, be equal praise!


℣. Thou hast given them bread from heaven, alleluia.
℟. Having in it all that is delicious, alleluia.

The antiphon which accompanies the canticle of our Lady, is a fervent exclamation of admiration for the sacred, banquet of divine union, and for the living memorial of Jesus' sufferings: it is here that man’s soul is filled with grace, and his very body receives the pledge of future glory. The phrase is not completed: the Church seems unable to finish these last words of her love of all that she has received by the Eucharist; but the gift is too great for human words!

Antiphon of the Magnificat

O sacrum convivium, in quo Christus sumitur: recolitur memoria passionis ejus: mens impletur gratia: et futuræ gloriæ nobis pignus datur, alleluia.
O sacred banquet, wherein Christ is received; the memorial of his Passion is celebrated; the mind is filled with grace; and a pledge of future glory is given unto us, alleluia.


Deus, qui nobis sub Sacramento mirabili passionis tuæ memoriam reliquisti: tribue, quaesumus, ita nos Corporis et Sanguinis tui sacra mysteria venerari, ut redemptionis tuæ fructum in nobis jugiter sentiamus. Qui vivis et regnas. Amen.
O God, who, under the wonderful Sacrament, hast left us a memorial of thy Passion: grant us, we beseech thee, so to reverence the sacred mysteries of thy Body and Blood, that, in our souls, we may always feel the fruit of thy Redemption. Who livest, &c.

At the close of this great feast, which is consecrated by the Latin Church to the honour of the sacred Host, we will listen to the Greek Church, which in the following passages expresses the same faith regarding the blessed Sacrament. These quotations are used during and after the Communion, in the Liturgy, or Mass, called St. John Chrysostom’s.’

Before Communion

Credo, Domine, et confiteor quod tu es Christus Filius Dei viventis, qui venisti in mundum ad salvandos peccatores, quorum primus ego sum.

Cœnæ tuæ mysticæ hodie communicantem me suscipe. Non enim inimicis tuis mysterium dicam, nec osculum tibi dabo velut Judas, sed ut latro tibi confiteor: memento mei, Domine, in regno tuo.

Domine, non sum dignus ut sub sordidum tectum animæ meæ ingrediaris: sed quemadmodum dignatus es in spelunca et præsepio brutorum recumbere, et in domo Simonis leprosi, etiam similem mei meretricem ad te accedentem suscepisti: ipse quoque dignare in præsepe animæ meæ rationis expertis et in coinquinatum meum corpus mortuum et et leprosum ingredi: et sicut non abhorruisti os sordidum meretricis illibatos pedes tuos osculantis, ita, Domine Deus meus, ne a me etiam peccatore abhorrueris. Sed tanquam bonus et clemens, dignare me participem effici sanctissimi tui Corporis et Sanguinis.

Deus meus, condona, relaxa, remitte mihi delicta mea quaecumque sciens, vel per ignorantiam, vel verbo vel opere patravi. Indulge mihi cuncta ut bonus et clemens; intercessionibus intemeratæ tuas et semper virginis Matris, incondemnatum me custodi, ut sumam pretiosum et immaculatum corpus tuum ad medelam animas et corporis. Quoniam tuum est regnum, et virtus, et gloria: Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus sancti: nunc et semper, et in sascula sæculorum. Amen.

I believe, O Lord, and confess, that thou art Christ, Son of the living God, who camest into this world to save sinners, of whom I am the first.

Receive me, communicating, this day, in thy mystic Supper. For I will not speak of thy mystery to thine enemies, nor, like Judas, give thee a kiss, but, like the thief, confess to thee: Remember me, O Lord, in thy kingdom!

Lord, I am not worthy that thou enter under the filthy roof of my soul: but, as thou deignedst to repose in the cave and manger of brute beasts; and in the house of Simon the leper, receive a sinner like myself, when she approached thee: deign, also, to enter into the crib of my senseless soul, and into my defiled, dead, and leprous body. And, as thou disdainedst not the unclean mouth of the sinner, who kissed thy most pure feet; so, O my Lord God, disdain not me, a sinner. But, good and merciful as thou art, vouchsafe to make me a partaker of thy most holy Body and Blood.

O my God! forgive, pardon, remit me whatsoever sins I have, either knowingly, or through ignorance, committed either by word or deed. Pardon me them all, for that thou art good and merciful; by the intercessions of thy most pure and ever virgin Mother, keep me from condemnation, that I may receive thy precious and immaculate Body unto the cure of soul and body. For thine is the kingdom, and power, and glory, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, now and always, and for ever and ever. Amen.

After Communion

Gratias agimus tibi, benigne Domine, benefactor animarum nostrarum, quod etiam presenti die dignos fecisti nos coelestium tuorum et immortalium mysteriorum. Viam nostram dirige, confirma nos in timore tuo, custodi vitam nostram, fac securos gressus nostros: precibus et intercessione gloriosæDeipare, et semper virginis Mariæ, et omnium sanctorum.
We give thee thanks, O kind Lord, thou benefactor of our souls, for that on this present day, also, thou hast made us worthy of thy heavenly and immortal mysteries. Direct thou our ways, strengthen us in thy fear, guard our life, make safe our steps; by the prayers and intercession of the glorious Mother of God, and ever virgin Mary, and of all the saints.

Gratias agimus tibi, benigne Domine, benefactor animarum nostrarum, quod etiam presenti die dignos fecisti nos coelestium tuorum et immortalium mysteriorum. Viam nostram dirige, confirma nos in timore tuo, custodi vitam nostram, fac securos gressus nostros: precibus et intercessione gloriosæ Deipare, et semper virginis Mariæ, et omnium sanctorum.

Diac. Recti participes effecti divinorum, sanctorum, illibatorum, immortalium, supercœlestium, et vivificorum mysteriorum, digne gratias agamus Domino.

Chor. Domine, miserere.

Diac. Suscipe, salva, miserere, et conserva nos, Deus, tua gratia.

Chor. Domine, miserere.

Diac. Diem omnem perfectum, sanctum, pacificum, et a peccato immanem postulantes, nos ipsos, et invicem, et omnem vitam nostram Christo Deo commendemus.

Chor. Tibi, Domine.

Sacerdos, exclamando. Quoniam tu es sanctificatio nostra, et tibi gloriam referimus, Patri, et Filio, et sancto Spiritui, nunc et semper, et in sæcula sæculorum.

Chor. Amen.
We give thee thanks, O kind Lord, thou benefactor of our souls, for that on this present day, also, thou hast made us worthy of thy heavenly and immortal mysteries. Direct thou our ways, strengthen us in thy fear, guard our life, make safe our steps; by the prayers and intercession of the glorious Mother of God, and ever virgin Mary, and of all the saints.

The deacon: Let us, who, being just, have been made partakers of the divine, holy, spotless, immortal, supercelestial and life-giving mysteries, worthily give thanks unto the Lord.

The choir: O Lord, have mercy.

The deacon: Receive, save, have mercy upon, and preserve us, O God, by thy grace.

The choir: O Lord, have mercy.

The deacon: Let us pray that every day of ours may be perfect, holy, peaceful, and free from sin, and let us commend ourselves, and one another, and our whole life, unto Christ our God.

The choir: Unto thee, O Lord!

The priest, lifting up his voice: For thou art our sanctification, and to thee we give glory, Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost, now and always, and for all ages.

The choir: Amen.

[1] St. John iii. 9; vi. 53.
[2] Prov. viii. 30, 31.
[3] Prov. viii. 27, 29.
[4] Ps. lxii.
[5] Ibid. xli.
[6] Ps. xviii.
[7] 2 Wisd. xi. 21.
[8] 1. St John iv. 8.
[9] Ibid. 10.
[10] Gal. iii. 5, 24, 26; iv. 9.
[11] St. John xiv. 26.
[12] Ps. lxvii. 19.
[13] Ibid, cx. 4.
[14] St. John xiii. 1.
[15] Gen. i. 26, 27.
[16] Mgr. Pie, Bishop of Poitiers. First synodal instruction on the chief errors of our times, viii.
[17] Gen. i. 26.
[18] Ps. lxii.
[19] Ibid. xli.
[20] 2 St. Pet i. 4.
[21] Rom.viii. 16.
[22] Eph. i. 17, 18; Rom. v. 2.
[23] Rom. viii. 26.
[24] Rom. viii. 27.
[25] Heb. i. 3.
[26] St. John iii. 16.
[27] Heb. ix. 8.
[28] Ps. xviii. 6.
[29] Ps. xliv. 5.
[30] Mich. v. 2.
[31] Ps. xliv. 3.
[32] 2 Cor. iv. 6.
[33] St. Matt. xxii. 1-14.
[34] Prov. i. 20, 21.
[35] Ibid. viii. 1-4.
[36] Ibid. ix. 1-5.
[37] St. Matt. xxii. 4.
[38] Prima ex Ant. maj. Adventus.
[39] Ant. Epiph. ad Benedictus.
[40] St. John xv. 5.
[41] Ecclus. xxiv. 23.
[42] Ps. lxiv. 14.
[43] Ibid. lxxi. 16.
[44] Wisd. viii. 2.
[45] Ecclus. xv. 2, 3.
[46] Prov. viii. 19.
[47] Ecclus. xxiv. 29.
[48] Wisd. viii. 16.
[49] Prov. viii. 18.
[50] Ecclus. xxiv. 1-7.
[51] Ibid. xv. 5-10.
[52] Const. Excellentissimum.
[53] Zach. ix. 17.
[54] St. John Chrysos. In Joan.
[55] Act. SS. ad dum 7 Martii; cap. ix. 53.
[56] Zach. ix. 17; 1 Cor. x. 4.
[57] St. Luke xii. 36-38.
[58] Rom. v. 9.
[59] Dan. ix. 24, 27.
[60] Ps. cxviii. 164.
[61] Ecclus. xlvii 11.
[62] 1 Paralip. xvi. xxiii. xxv. xxviii.
[63] Ibid. xv.
[64] Rupert. De div. Off. lib. 1. cap. 17.
[65] Ps. xviii. 6.
[66] Eph. i. 10.
* In the monastic breviary, it is preceded by this brief response : brev.—Panem cœli dedit eis, * Alleluia, alleluia, ℣. Panem angelorum manducavit homo, * Alleluia. Gloria Patri. Panem cœli.
[67] Ps. cxvii.
[68] Ibid. cxxxi.
[69] Ibid. cxvii.
[70] Ps. cxxxi. 3-5.
[71] Ibid. 7.
[72] Ps. xxi. 28.
[73] Ibid. xcii. 4.
[74] Ibid. xcv. 11-13.
[75] St. Matt. xxii.
[76] St. John xvi 7.
[77] Cant. ii. 1.
[78] Ps. cx. 4, 5.
[79] St. Matt. xxviii. 20.
[80] The volume for Christmas, chap. iii
[81] Ps. xvii. 10.
[82] St. John xii. 24, 25.
[83] Conc. Trid. Sess. xiv. cap. iv.
[84] Ps. xxxv. 10.
[85] St. John iii. 16.
[86] St. Cyril of Alex. In Joan. lib. iv. cap. 3.
[87] St. John x. 10.
[88] St. Cyril of Alex. In Joan. lib. x. cap. 2.
[89] St. John vi. 64.
[90] St. Gregory of Nyssa. Orat, Catech., cap. 37.
[91] Cant. iii. 5-11.
[92] St. Greg. Mag. in Cant.
[93] Labbe.
[94] Passiontide and Holy Week; Paschal Time, vol. i.
[95] Thiers. De l’exposit. du S. Sacr., liv. ii. ch. 2.
[96] Sess. xiii. cap. v. and Can. vi.
[97] Father Faber : The Blessed Sacrament.
* In the monastic breviary, it is preceded by this responsory : ℟. breve.—Cibavit illos ex adipe frumenti. * Alleluia, alleluia. Cibavit. ℣. Et de petra, melle saturavit eos. * Alleluia. Gloria. Cibavit.


From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Including descriptions of:

We have not, as yet, reached the feast of the divine Memorial; not until the morrow, shall we have it in all its splendour. But this evening, at first Vespers, the Church will begin her acclamations to the eternal Priest; and, although the sovereign Pontiffs have not ordained that a vigil, properly so called, shall precede the feast of Corpus Christi, yet have they granted indulgences[1] to a voluntary fast practised on this its eve. Let us now resume the history of the Church’s worship of the great mystery.

We have already seen how the unity of the Church is based upon the Eucharist. Our Lord Jesus Christ, in that Sacrament, is the corner-stone, upon which rises, in the harmony of its several parts, the temple of living stones, built to the glory of God.[2]Jesus is the High Priest, ordained for men, Himself being Man,[3] that He may present to God the homage of His brethren, by offering, to His and their Father, a Sacrifice in the name of all. And although this homage of regenerate mankind—this Sacrifice which is the highest expression of that homage—owes its whole worth to the infinite dignity of Him who is the Head of the Church, yet the Sacrifice is completed only by the union of the members with the Head. The Head must have the body. The Church is, as the apostle tells us, the fullness, the completion, of Him who is filled in all;[4] the Church perfects the Sacrifice, as being herself an integral portion of the Victim who is offered upon the altar. What is true of the Church, is true, likewise, of each one of us, who are members of Christ; and we are really His members, provided we be united, in the great Action of the Sacrifice, by that intimate union which makes one body of many members.

Herein consists the social influence of the Eucharist. The human family had been broken up by sin; it regains its lost unity by the Blood of the Lamb; and the original intention, which God had in creating the world, is fulfilled. After all other beings, the creature man came forth out of nothing. He was to give a voice of praise to the whole of creation; for his own twofold nature, material and spiritual, made him the compendium of all other creatures. When he was restored by redemption, he regained his position in the glorious choir of beings. The Eucharist, the thanksgiving, the praise by excellence, is the sweet produce of the human race. The Eucharist, that grand hymn of divine Wisdom sung to the King of ages, ascends from this earth of ours, blending two harmonies into one: the ineffable harmony of the eternal Canticle, that is, the Word in the Father’s bosom, and the harmony of the new canticle, which is repeated by the choir of creatures to the glory of their Creator.

The ages of faith lived on this grand truth; they thoroughly understood the priceless worth of the gift bestowed by the Man-God upon His Church. Appreciating the honour thence accruing to our earth, they felt themselves bound to respond to it, in the name of all creatures, by giving to the celebration of the sacred mystery everything that ritual could impart of grandeur and solemnity. The liturgy, for the Christians of those times, was exactly what is implied by the word: it was the public function, the social act by excellence; and, as such, it claimed every sort of external pomp; and the presence of the whole people round the altar was looked upon as a matter of course. As to the lawfulness of what are called private Masses, it would be easy to prove, by most authentic facts of history, that what the Catholic Church teaches regarding them, was her teaching from the very commencement; and yet, practically, and as a general rule, the richness of ceremonial, the enthusiasm of sacred chant, the magnificence of sacred rites, were, for a long period, regarded as inseparable from the offering up of the holy Sacrifice.

The solemnity of divine service, as celebrated in any Catholic cathedral on the grandest feast of the year, is but a feeble image of the magnificent forms of the ancient liturgies, such as we described them yesterday. The Church herself, whose desires for what is most perfect never vary, ever evinces a marked predilection for the remnants she has been able to keep up of her ancient forms of worship; but, as far as the generality of her people is concerned, there can be no doubt of the existence of a growing feeling of indifference for the external pomp wherewith the holy Sacrifice is so deservedly accompanied; whatever demonstrations of Christian piety still exist, are directed elsewhere. The cultus of the divine Presence in the Eucharist, as developed in these our own times, is certainly a blow to the heresy which denies that Presence; it is, too, a joy to every Catholic who loves God; but care must be taken lest a movement which is so profitable to individual souls and so redounding to the glory of the holy Sacrament, should be turned, by the craft of the enemy, against the Eucharist itself. Now, this might easily be the case, if, in consequence of such devotion being illregulated, the very primary object of the eucharistic dogma, which is Sacrifice, were permitted to lose its place either in the appreciation, or in the practical religion, of the faithful.

In the admirable connexion existing throughout the whole body of Christian revelation, there can be no such thing as one dogma becoming a danger to another. Every new truth, or every truth presented under a new aspect, is a progress in the Church, and an acquisition for her children. But the progress is only then a true one, when, in its application, the new truth, or its new aspect, is not treated with such prominence as to throw a more important truth into the shade. Surely no family would ever count that gain of new property to be a boon, which would jeopardise or lessen the rich patrimony which past ages had secured. The principle is a self-evident one; and must be borne in mind, when studying the different phases of the history of any human society, and especially when the history of the Church is in question. Although the holy Spirit, who is ever urging the Church to what is highest, is incessantly adorning her for the eternal nuptials and decking her brow with a gradual increase of light, yet is it but too often the case, that the human element of which she partakes through her members makes its weight tell upon the bride of Christ. When that happens, she redoubles her maternal solicitude for these her children; they are too delicate to live on the summits, and bear the bracing atmosphere to which their forefathers were accustomed. She herself continues her aspirations after what is most perfect, and approaches gradually nearer to heaven; but for the sake of her weakly children, she quits the mountain paths she loved to tread in better times, for those paths kept her closer to her divine Spouse; she comes lower down, she is content to lose something of her external charms, she stoops, that she may the better reach the children she has to save. This her condescension is admirable; but it certainly gives no right to the children, who live in these less healthy times, to think themselves better than their forefathers. Is a sick man better than the one who is in health, because the food, which is indispensable for keeping up the little strength he has, is given to him under new forms, and such as will suit his debilitated frame?

Because, in these our days, a certain increase of devotion towards the divine Host, who dwells in our tabernacles, has been observed in some souls, and the external demonstration of this devotion is under a new form, it has been asserted, that ‘no age ever equalled our own in the cultus of the most holy Sacrament!’ And because of this holy enthusiasm, the nineteenth century, which with its restless activity has opened out so many new methods of devotion, has been called by a certain writer ‘the great age of the Eucharist!' Would to God these assertions were correct! For it is quite true, and history is rich in bearing testimony to the fact, ‘that an age is more or less glorious, according to its devotion towards the adorable Eucharist.’ But it is no less true that, if the different centuries be compared with each other for devotion towards the Sacrament of love, which, at all times, ib the very life of the Church, there can be no doubt that that ought to be counted as the golden age, in which our Lord's intentions in instituting the divine mystery were the best understood and carried out, and not that wherein individual devotion was busiest.

Now, leaving aside, for the present, all principles connected with dogma, which will find their place more appropriately a few days later, we have history to bear witness to this fact, that, so long as the western nations kept up their faith and fervour, the Church, who is the faithful and sure interpreter of her Jesus' intentions, maintained the discipline observed in the worship practised towards the Eucharist during the early ages. After her twofold victory over the pagan persecutions and the obstinate dogmatism of the emperors of Byzantium, the Church, the noble depositary of the new Testament, was in possession of a freedom greater than she has had at any other period; her children, too, made it their perfection to follow her every wish. Thus free to act as she knew was best, and sure to be obeyed, she kept to the way of eucharistic worship which her martyrs had followed, and her doctors had so enthusiastically developed in their writings: that is, she took the energies of the new children she had received by the conversion of barbarian nations, and centred them in the Sacrifice, that is, in the holy fatigues of solemn Mass, and the Canonical Hours, which are but a natural irradiation of the Sacrifice.

Nothing in those times was more Catholic, nothing less individual and private, than the eucharistic worship thus based on the social character which pertains to the Sacrifice. It was the uppermost idea even in such of the faithful as, through sickness or other personal reasons, were obliged to communicate of the universal Victim separately from the rest of the people. It was the one leading thought which made them turn their hearts and their adorations towards the gilded dove, or the ivory tower, in which were preserved, under the mysterious integrity of the Sacrament, the precious remnants of the Sacrifice.

Faith in the real presence, a faith quite as animated and deep as any that can be witnessed in our own times, was the soul of the whole liturgy; it was the basis of the entire system of the Church’s rites and ceremonies, all of which are unmeaning if you take away the Catholic dogma of the Eucharist. This dogma was admitted by all the children of the Church as a principle beyond discussion; it was their dearest treasure; it was both foundation-stone and roofing of the house built amongst men by eternal Wisdom. To a superficial observer it might seem as though the faithful of those early ages were less intent upon it than we now are: but is it not always the case, that the rock which supports the edifice, and the timber which roofs it, call for less solicitude when the building is under no risk, either from the indifference of its inmates, or from the attacks of enemies outside?

The Church herself cannot grow decrepit; but it is a law in history, that, even within her fold, and in spite of the vitality she imparts to nations, no society ever maintains itself long at its highest pitch of perfection. Men are like stars in this, that their apogee marks the period of their decline; they seem to mount on high only that they may speedily descend: and, after the fullest vigour of age, we gradually approach the impotency of the old man. So it was to be with Christendom itself, with that grand confederation which had been established, by the Church, in the strong unity of unfeigned charity, and of faith unalloyed by error. The Crusades were, for a second time, rousing the world to holy enterprise; the preaching of St. Bernard was stirring mankind to zeal for the cause of God. The impulse was so immense, that it seemed as though the event marked the culminating point of Christ’s reign upon earth, and secured perpetuity to the power of the Church. And yet, that was the very period when old signs of decay returned, and with fresh intensity. The heroic Pontiff, St. Gregory VII., had stemmed the evil for a considerable time; but, at the period we speak of, a relapse set in, and advanced with its work of ravage, till it brought about the great revolt of the fifteenth century, and the general apostasy of nations.

The celebrated prophetess of the middle ages, Saint Hildegard, was then scanning, with her eagle eye, the miseries of her own day, and the still more sombre threatenings of the future. She that was used to write the messages of God to Pontiffs and kings, penned these words in a letter to Werner and his brother priests of Kircheim, who had written to Hildegard, and solicited her reply: ‘It was while lying for a long time on a bed of sickness, in the year of the Lord’s Incarnation one thousand one hundred and seventy, that I saw, wakeful both in body and mind, a most beautiful image, having a woman’s appearance: she was all perfect in her suavity, and most dear in the charms of her beauty, which was such, as that the human mind could in no wise comprehend it. Her stature was so great, that it reached from earth even up to heaven. Her face, too, beamed with exceeding brightness, and her eye was fixed on heaven. She was clad in a spotless garment, made of white silk. The mantle which covered her, was adorned with most precious stones, of emerald, sapphire, and likewise of beads and pearls. The shoes on her feet were of onyx. But her face was covered with dust, and her garment was rent on the right side, and her mantle had lost its elegant beauty, and her shoes were dimmed. And she with a loud and plaintive voice, cried out towards the high heavens: “Hearken, O heaven, that my face is defiled! And wail, O earth, that my garment is rent! And thou, O abyss, tremble, because my shoes are dimmed! Foxes have holes, and birds of the air nests;[5] but I have not helper or comforter, nor staff whereon to lean, and whereby to have support. . . . They that should have adorned me in every way, have, in all these things, abandoned me. For it is they that besmear my face, by dragging the Body and Blood of my Spouse into the great uncleanness of the impurity of their living, and the great filth of their fornications and adulteries; and by buying and selling holy things, defiling them, as a child would be defiled were he put down in mire before swine. . . The wounds of Christ my Spouse are contaminated. . . . Princes and a headlong people will rush upon you, O priests! They will cast you forth, and put you to flight, and will take your riches away from you. . . They will say: Let us cast out from the Church these adulterers, and extortioners, and men that are full of all wickedness! And in doing this they will have it that they do a service unto God, because they say that it is by you that the Church is defiled. . . By God’s permission, many nations will begin to rage against you in their judgments, and many people will devise vain things concerning you, for they will count as nought your priestly office and your consecration. Kings of the earth will assist these in your overthrow, and they will thirst after the earthly things (you possess); and the princes in whose dominions you live, shall make a convention in this one plan, that they may drive you out of their territories, because you, by your most wicked deeds, have driven away the innocent Lamb from your midst.” And I heard a voice from heaven, saying: “This image is the Church!”’[6]

What a fearful description of the evils brought upon the Church in the twelfth century! What a prophecy of its far off results! These miseries were in keeping with the way in which the august mystery of the altar was treated. It has always been so. The disorders of the sanctuary necessarily brought about relaxation in the people. They grew wearied of receiving the heavenly food from hands that were, but too often, unworthy ones. The guests at the banquet of divine Wisdom became rare, so rare indeed that, in the year 1215 a General Council, the fourth of Lateran, passed the well-known law which obligee, under the severest penalties, the faithful of both sexes to receive Communion at least once in the year. The evil became so great, that the legislation of Councils and the genius of Innocent III, the last of the great Popes of the middle ages, would not have sufficed to arrest it, had not God given to His Church the two Saints, Dominio and Francis; they reclaimed the priesthood, and, for a time, brought back the people to the practice of Christian piety. But the ancient forms of the liturgy had perished during the interval of the crisis.

The oblation in common, which supposed that all communicated in the divine Victim, had given place to private foundations, and to honoraries or stipendium; in themselves, they were quite lawful, but they had been so considerably increased by the introduction of the mendicant Orders, that a change in the liturgy was the consequence. Private Masses, for special intentions, were multiplied, in order to satisfy obligations which had been contracted with individual donors; and, by a necessary consequence, the imposing rite of concelebration, maintained in Rome till the thirteenth century, entirely disappeared in the western Church. The Sacrifice of the Mass was no longer brought before the faithful with the majestic ceremonial which, in former times, had secured to it a preponderance over the whole religion and life of the Christian people. The holy Eucharist soon began to be given out of the time of Mass, and for reasons which were not always serious ones. More than one scholastic theologian encouraged the practice, if not with true learning, at least with sharp definitions and categorical divisions; so that Communion became, in the minds of some men, quite a distinct section in the institution of the Eucharist. This was the forerunner of what we so often find practised in our own times: Communions made isolatedly and furtively on principle, that is, in accordance with an ideal of spirituality, which has a dread of a crowd, and a repugnance to the excitement of the Church’s ceremonies!

The notion, then, of the Sacrifice, which includes the chief motive of the Presence of the Incarnate Word in the Eucharist, was no longer brought before the people with the emphatic pre-eminence of former ages. As a counter result of this, the truth of this Presence of our God under the eucharistic Species gained an ascendancy over the soul in a more exclusive, and therefore in a more impressive and direct, way. It was at this period that, out of a spirit of holy fear and from a feeling of respect—a feeling which can never be too great—several ancient usages began to be discontinued. Usages which had been established in order to express more fully the application of the Sacrifice, were now suppressed as exposing the sacred Species to involuntary irreverence. It is thus that the custom of giving the chalice to the laity, and communion to infants, fell into disuse.

An immense ritual change, then, was brought about. The Church accepted it, although she was aware of its being, in more than one point, a degeneracy as compared with former ages. The time had come, when the grand social forms of the liturgy, requiring as they did the strong union of Christian nations for their basis, would be but unrealities. The jealous mistrust of States against the Church—that is, against the power which was the sole bond of mutual union between the several nations—was ever on the increase, and only waited for an occasion to break out into open hostility. Diplomacy became a system of rupture between one country and another, whereas the Church had been the framer and maintainer of their union.

If the evil from within was thus great, still greater were the dangers to which the faithful were exposed by the onslaughts of heresy. And yet, it is precisely in such a time as this, that the superhuman prudence of the Church is most manifested. In defence of the faith, which is the essential element of her existence here below, she formed a rampart out of the very ruins caused by the liturgical revolution she had been compelled to accept; she sanctioned with her authority what was worthy of sanction, and thereby controlled the movement. She took advantage of the increase of devotion to the real Presence, which the movement had excited; she gave a fresh direction to her liturgy, by substituting a ceaseless expression of the dogma, for the less precise, though not less complete and far grander, forms of the earlier period. It was a reply to heresy, all the stronger because of its being more direct. We have already seen how, in consequence of the covert attacks of false doctrine, there was an evident reason felt in the thirteenth century for instituting a special feast in honour of the Eucharist, as the mystery of faith. That reason became sheer necessity at the approach, foreseen by God alone, of the bold triumph of the sacramentarian heresy. It was necessary to forestall the attack; and, by so doing, to render the coming assault less hurtful to the Christian world, and less injurious to our Lord present in the Sacrament of His love. The means for efficaciously realizing these two ends was the development of exterior devotion to the real Presence. The Church would thus proclaim her unshaken faith in the dogma, and the adorable Sacrament would receive, by the renewed fervour of faithful souls, a compensation for the indifference and insults of others.

Established throughout the world by the authority of the Roman Pontiffs, the feast of Corpus Christi was, therefore, both in itself and in its developments, as we were observing yesterday, the commencement of a new phase in the Catholic worship of the holy Eucharist. Once the feast was instituted, there followed processions, benediction, Forty-Hours, expositions, watchings in adoration; each of which was an additional affirmation of the Church’s belief in the real Presence; the piety of her children was re-enkindled; and the tribute of homage, which is so justly His due, was offered to our Lord under the sacramental Species.

O holy Church, our mother, thou bride of the Son of God, those times are past when thou couldst produce on this earth a likeness to the heavenly eruealem. Free to follow the inspirations of thy heart as bride, thou didst surround the great Sacrifice with the gorgeous ceremonial, which gave our ancestors an insight into the grandeurs of the mystery they saw thus celebrated. That royal magnificence of ritual would be too much for such times as these we live in. The nations of the earth have allowed themselves to be misled: for the glory they once enjoyed, when thou gavest them unity with each other through the unity of the sacred mysteries, is now exchanged for the dishonour and misery of alliance with the old enemy. Whilst thou, with nothing to fear, and strong in the consciousness of thy rights and thy influence for good, wast beautifying, in peace, the garden of thy Spouse; whilst thou wast rejoicing in the sweet fragrance of that garden, and in the fruits of the mystic vine: a strange noise was heard, the noise of ‘the chariots of Aminadab’, driven by the hands of thine own children turned traitors.[7] It would have been but a just punishment, hadst thou then left this ungrateful earth, and gone to thy divine Spouse in heaven above. But, O loving 'Sulamitess', with all this increase of the evils of thine exile, thou gavest ear to the cries of them who willed to be ever thy faithful children; and thou remainedst for us, dear mother, that we might receive thy teachings, and thence derive light and life.

We know it: instead of the peaceful grandeurs which thou, beautiful queen, didst once display when thy sovereignty was undisputed; instead of choirs of exultation and triumph resounding in thy courts, we are to see thee, henceforth, as a warrior, and thy hymns are to be the songs of the camp; but how beautiful are thy steps[8] in the armour of thy pilgrimage, O thou daughter of the King! Thou art terrible as an army set in array; but thou art, too, all sweet and comely, when, laying aside the robe of gold and all the richly varied clothing which decked thee standing at the right hand of the King’s throne, thou girdest thyself, like Him, with the sword, and piercest the hearts of His enemies with the arrows of thy truth and zeal.[9]

Turning our thoughts, for a moment, to the Greek Church, how different is the spectacle! She is motionless and sterile as a branch severed from the trunk. She retains, like so many withered leaves, the ancient forms of her liturgy, which has indeed an imposing unity, but it is the unity of schism. The very heresy, which here, in our own country, celebrates its unmeaning Supper in the cathedrals built by our forefathers, is it more out of place than the lifeless schism of the east, so scrupulously keeping up the ancient forms which are its condemnation, and making a parade of vestments which sit so awkwardly on rebels? What life can the members of such a Church derive from these dead forms of worship?

She alone is mother who knows how to meet the wants of her children, for her affection tells her not to give to delicate ones the food that suits the strong. She alone is the bride of the Lamb, who has the instinctive talent of making, in each period of time, the most of the treasure of her Spouse, the priceless Pearl He has committed to her care; and to this end she hesitates not to modify, if need be, her dearest practices, her most cherished schemes for good; yea, and changes the delights and grandeurs of her queenly supremacy for the hard work of battling with the enemy of her Lord.

We recognize thee, O bride of Christ, by this mark, that thou now lispest with us who are weak, thou who heretofore, didst sing so divinely with the strong; and that thou, who so long enjoyedst the peace and company of thy Spouse, art as ready and as powerful to meet and vanquish His enemies, now that they are filling His world. Thus struggling, thus labouring, and yet misunderstood and blamed by an ever-increasing number of ungrateful children, thou wilt not abandon them; thou remainest, that thou mayst carry to the last of the elect the sacred Host which is to unite him with the great Sacrifice. Affectionate and generous mother! we will follow thee in thy militant career; through the laborious passes of the steep road which leads thee to thy eternal rest; we will follow thee because thou bearest with thee the treasure of the world. The bolder the attacks of heresy, and the more insulting the neglect or blasphemies of ungrateful children, the louder shall be the profession of our faith, the humbler our adorations, the warmer and truer the demonstrations of our love towards the sacred Host.




We have, at last, reached the great feast which, since Monday, has kept our minds attentive. Our earth is preparing to acknowledge, by the homage of a solemn triumph, the presence of Christ, its Priest and King, in the sacred Host. Everywhere are the faithful busy preparing the triumph which is to be given to it to-morrow. These preparations are inspired by faith and love; and whilst they are progressing, the Church is ushering in the great feast by the celebration of first Vespers. Tuning her harp to the sublime antiphons of the angelic Doctor, St. Thomas, she proclaims, in a chant which is worthy of the words, that her Jesus is the eternal Priest according to the order of Melchisedech, and that the divine banquet He has prepared brings the children of the Church around the table of the Lord, like so many young olive plants.

The limits we have been obliged to observe in this work, would require us to exclude all those portions of the Office for the present feast, at which the faithful generally do not assist. But as this Office, which was composed by St. Thomas of Aquin, is one of exceptional beauty, we have resolved to give it in its entirety. The magnificence of these hymns, and psalms, and antiphons, and responsories—all of which are teeming with genuine Catholic spirit—will furnish the faithful with the best materials for contemplation, whereby to enlighten their minds and inflame their hearts during the whole octave. On each of the days of this week, they will be eager to adore that beautiful King of glory, who is going to hold His court in the midst of His people, with no other veil between Himself and them than the light cloud of the sacramental Species. During these happy hours, which love is ingenious enough to steal from one’s ordinary occupations, let the faithful prefer to take, wherewith to give utterance to their sentiments, the formulas which the Church herself uses when singing to her Spouse in the sacred banquet of His love. Not only will they there find the poetry, doctrine, and gracefulness of diction, which the bride ever has at her command when she addresses her beloved Jesus, but they will soon learn by experience that, like the divine food itself, those approved and sanctified formulas suit every soul; for these formulas of the Church adapt themselves to the several dispositions and degrees of spiritual advancement, and thus become, to each one of her children, the fittest and warmest expression of every want and desire.

The first Vespers of the feast of Corpus Christi are exactly the same as the second, with the single exception of the Magnificatantiphon. By this antiphon, O quam suavis, the Church declares to us, her children, how great is the sweetness of our Lord, and that it is manifested to us by the sweetness of the eucharistic Bread; but she also tells us who they are that taste this sweetness, and derive from it the fruits of salvation: they are the souls that are led to the divine banquet by the spiritual hunger of an humble and ardent desire. With such sentiments, let us, with the immaculate Mary, magnify the Lord, who exalteth the humble and putteth down the mighty, the proud. It is to the humblest of the daughters of Adam that we are indebted for the Bread of heaven: it was formed, in her chaste womb, by the Holy Ghost, as we shall explain further on; but let us, thus early, rejoice in the thought that the feast of Corpus Christi leads us to Mary, and bids us give her the tribute of our gratitude.

Antiphon of the Magnificat

O quam suavis est, Domine, Spiritus tuus! qui ut dulcedinem tuam in filios demonstrares, pane suavissimo de cœlo præstito esurientes reples bonis, fastidiosos divites dimittens inanes.
O how sweet, O Lord, is thy Spirit; for that thou mightest show the sweetness thou bearest for thy children, thou, with a Bread most sweet given from heaven, fillest the hungry with good things, sending away empty the haughty rich.


Deus qui nobis sub Sacramento mirabili Passionis tuæ memoriam reliquisti, tribue, quæsumus, ita nos Corporis et Sanguinis tui sacra mysteria venerari, ut redemptionis tuæ fructum in nobis jugiter sentiamus. Qui vivis.
O God, who under the wonderful Sacrament, hast left us a memorial of thy Passion: grant us, we beseech thee, so to reverence the sacred mysteries of thy Body and Blood, that, in our souls, we may always feel the fruit of thy Redemption. Who livest &c.

The octave of Corpus Christi has the same privileges as that of the Epiphany. It admits of no feasts, except those of first class; and even on these a commemoration must be made of the octave at Mass, Lauds, and Vespers. Feasts of double and semidouble rite are merely commemorated. Our solemnity also tells upon all the hymns of the several feasts which may be kept during this octave; for, if the metre admit it, they conclude with the following doxology, which is the one used at Compline and the Little Hours of to-morrow’s Office:[10]

Jesu tibi sit gloria, Qui natus es de Virgine, Cum Patre et almo Spiritu, In sempiterna sæcula.

Glory be to thee, O Jesus, who wast born of the Virgin! and to the Father, and to the holy Spirit, for everlasting ages.


This continually repeated mention of virginal fecundity, during the feast in honour of the Eucharist, is an affectionate homage paid to the Virgin-Mother. The Church is mindful that the ‘first blasphemy against the dogma of the Sacrament of the altar, consisted in denying that the eucharistic Body of Christ was the one born of Mary.’[11] Seeing, too, that the later heretics, who denied the real Presence, have constantly insulted the Mother of Jesus who resides in the holy Sacrament, the Church united them together in one and the same formula of confession and praise, when standing before the sacred Host. Those early and brave witnesses of the faith, Saints Ignatius and Irenæus, did the like; for, as St. Augustine says: 'Christ took flesh from Mary’s flesh; and it is that very flesh that He gave us to eat for our salvation; and we adore it as the foot-stool of His feet.’[12]

At this evening hour, when holy Church is proclaiming the adorable Sacrament, let us be imbued with these same sentiments, and offer our love to the sacred Host, which, in a few hours, is to be receiving our joyous adorations. We may, for this purpose, make use of the following formula, which has been such a favourite in so many of our Churches, ever since the fourteenth century. It used formerly to be sung, in Germany and France, during the Elevation, as an appropriate termination to the trisagion;for, as we find in the best manuscripts, this piece concluded with the same words as the Sanctus, namely, in excelsis. Liturgical compositions of this kind went under the name of tropes, and were much loved by the faithful of the middle ages; it is from them that our proses or sequences are derived.

Ave, verum corpus natum de Maria Virgine,
Vere passum, immolatum in cruce pro homine,
Cujus latus perforatum fluxit aqua et sanguine:
Esto nobis prægustatum mortis in examine.
O Jesu dulcis!
O Jesu pie!
O Jesu, Fili Mariæ!
Hail! true Body, born of the Virgin Mary;
Which truly suffered, and was immolated on the cross, for man.
Whose side was pierced, and streamed with Water and Blood.
Be thou our foretaste (of heaven) when we are struggling with death!
O sweet Jesus!
O good Jesus!
O Jesus, Son of Mary!

[1] Two hundred days, for the fast, or for any other good work substituted for the same, at the discretion of the confessor.
[2] Eph. ii. 21.
[3] Heb. v. 1.
[4] Eph. i. 22, 23.
[5] St. Matt. viii. 20.
[6] Ep. lii.
[7] Cant. vi. 11, 12.
[8] Ibid. vii. 1, 2.
[9] Ps. xliv. 6.
[10] In the monastic rite, it is as follows:
Gloria tibi Domine,
Qui natus es de Virgine,
Cum Patre et sancto Spiritu,
In sempiterna sæcula. Amen.
[11] Mgr. PieBishop of Poitiers. Homily given at Issoudun, Sept. 8, 1869.
[12] Enarrat. in Psalm, xcviii. 9.


From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The history of the blessed Eucharist is one with that of the Church herself: the liturgical usages, which have varied in the celebration of the most august of all the Sacraments, have followed the great social phases of the Christian world. This was a necessity; for the Eucharist is the vital centre, here below, whither everything in the Church converges; it is the inner bond which unites together that society of which Christ is the Head, the society whereby He is to reign over the nations, which are to be His inheritance.[1] Union with Peter, the Vicar of Christ, must always be the indispensable condition, the external mark, of the union of the members with the invisible Head; but supported, in an ineffable manner, on the rock which bears the Church, the divine mystery wherein Christ gives Himself to each one of His servants must ever be the essential mystery of union; and, as such, the centre, and the bond, of the great Catholic communion. Let us, to-day, get a clear notion of this fundamental truth, on which was based the very formation of the Church, at her commencement; and let us consider the influence it exercised on the forms of eucharistic worship during the first twelve centuries. To-morrow, we will continue the subject, by examining how subsequent loss of fervour, and heresy, and social degeneracy, induced the Church to gradually modify these forms, which, after all, are but accidental: they were admirably adapted to the favoured times they had served, but would scarcely suit the changed circumstances and requirements of later generations of the Church's children.

It was on the eve of His Passion that our Lord instituted the great Memorial, which was to perpetuate; in all places, the one Sacrifice, whereby are perfected for ever they that are sanctified.[2] The cross was 'the altar of the world,’ as St. Leo calls it;[3]and on that cross, says the same holy Doctor, was made, a few hours after the last Supper, 'the oblation of the whole human nature; for the whole human race was united with this last act of infinite adoration and reparation, offered by its Head, to the supreme Majesty of God.’[4] The Church, issuing with the Blood and water from the side of her Saviour, was then but in her infancy; and the mystery of divine union—which Jesus had come upon the earth to produce, by Himself uniting to the Father, in the Holy Ghost, the members of His mystical body—was to have its immediate realization in those members only by its successive application to each. This was the object of the sublime institution of the Eucharist at the last Supper. It was a new Testament, which gave to the future Church the possession of the mystery, whereby each generation would be linked on to its predecessors by the unity of the one Sacrifice, and would find in that same unity the mutual bond of its members.

Immediately after instituting this new Passover, Jesus said to His disciples: ‘A new commandment I give unto you: that ye love one another, as I have loved you: and, by this shall all men know that ye are My disciples.’[5] This was Jesus’ first injunction to His disciples after giving Himself to them in the Eucharist; this love of, and union with, each other, was to be the mark of the Covenant, which He then, through His apostles, contracted with all those who were to believe in Him through the word of their preaching.[6] His very first prayer, after that first giving of His Body and Blood under the eucharistic species, is for that same union of His faithful one with another; a union admirable as is the mystery which produces and maintains it; a union so intimate, that its model is the union existing between Jesus and His eternal Father: May they all be one, as Thou, Father, in Me, and I in Thee; that they may be made perfect in one.[7]

Under the direction of the holy Spirit, the Church understood, from the very first, the intentions of her divine Master. The three thousand, who were converted on the day of Pentecost, are described, in the Acts, as persevering in the doctrine of the apostles, in the communication of the breaking of bread, and in prayers.[8] And so great is the power of union derived from their all partaking of the heavenly Bread, that they were remarked by the Jews as a class of men forming a society distinct from every other, which won the esteem of all that beheld them, and drew others daily to join them.[9]

A few years later the Church, led on by the same holy Spirit, passed beyond the narrow limits of Judea, and carried her treasures to the Gentiles. It was a world of corruption, where all was discord between man and man, and where the only remedy for the outrages of individual egotism was the tyranny of a Cæsar. Into such a world the Christians came, and showed it, from east to west, the marvel of a new people, which, by the sole influence of its virtues, recruited its members from every class of society, and from every dime, and was stronger and more united than any nation that had ever appeared on earth. The pagans were in admiration at this strange and inexplicable novelty; without knowing what they were doing, without troubling themselves with any further inquiry, they bore testimony to the perfection wherewith these Christians fulfilled the dying wishes of their Founder; they thus spoke of them: ‘See how they love one another!’

It was, indeed, a mystery; but the faithful, the initiated, understood it; for it had been thus explained to them by the apostle: ‘We, being many, are one bread, one body, all that partake of one Bread.’[10]

This text is admirably commented by St. Augustine in a sermon he preached to the neophytes, a few hours after their Baptism: ‘I remember,’ he says, 'the promise I made, of explaining to you, who have been baptized, the mystery of the Lord’s Table, which you now see, and of which you were made partakers in the night just past. . . That Bread which you see on the altar, that Bread which has been sanctified by the word of God, is the Body of Christ: that chalice, or, rather, what that chalice contains, which has been sanctified by the word of God, is the Blood of Christ. By these did Christ our Lord will to give us His Body and His Blood, which He shed for us, unto the remission of our sins. If you have properly received them, you are what you have received, for the apostle says: “We, being many, are one bread, one body.” It is thus that he expounded the Sacrament of the Table of the Lord: We, being many, are one bread, one body. We are, by this Bread, instructed how we are to love unity. Was this Bread made out of one grain P Were there not many grains of wheat P But, before they came to be bread, they were separated one from the other; they became joined by means of water, and by a certain bruising: for, unless the wheat be ground, and be moistened with water, it could never take the form we call bread. It was the same with you, until you were, so to say, ground by the humiliation of fasting, and by the sacrament of exorcism. Baptism and water came to you; you were moistened, that so you might come to the state of bread. But, even so, there is no bread without fire. What, then, does fire signify P It is the chrism; for the oil which makes our fire is the Sacrament of the Holy Ghost. . . The Holy Ghost, therefore, comes; after water, comes fire; and you are made Bread, which is the Body of Christ. . . Christ willed that we should be His Sacrifice—the Sacrifice of God. . . Great, very great are these mysteries! . . Do you so receive them, as to take care that you have unity in your hearts.[11] Be one, by loving one another, by holding one faith, one hope, and undivided charity. When the heretics receive this Bread, they receive testimony against themselves; for they are seeking to make division, whereas this Bread is the sign of unity.’[12] The Scripture, speaking of the first Christians, says that they had but one heart and one soul;[13] and it is the unity which is signified by the wine in the holy mysteries. ‘For,’ continues St. Augustine, ‘the wine was once in so many bunches of grapes; but now it is all one, one in the sweetness of the chalice; for it has gone through the crushing of the wine-press. So you, after those fastings, and labours, and humility, and contrition, have come, in the name of Christ, to the chalice of the Lord; and you are there on that table, and there in that chalice. You are there together with us, for we have eaten together, and drunk together, and that because we live together.[14]Thus did Christ our Lord (by the wine made one out of many grapes) signify us, and He wished us to be one with Him, and, by His Table, consecrated the mystery of our peace and unity.’[15] These admirable expressions of St. Augustine are but the substance of the doctrine regarding the holy Eucharist, held by the Church in the fourth century. They give us the very essence of that doctrine, in all its fulness and in all the clearness of its literal truth; no other could have been given to neophytes, who, up to that time, had been kept in complete ignorance of the august mysteries, of which they were henceforth to partake. Of the discipline of that secrecy we shall have to speak a little further on. The doctrine of the Eucharist here laid down by the great bishop of Hippo, is identical with that given by all the fathers. In Gaul, St. Hilary of Poitiers,[16] and Saint Cesarius of Arles;[17]in Italy, Saint Gaudentius of Brescia:[18] at Antioch and Constantinople, St. John Chrysostom;[19] at Alexandria, St. Cyril:[20]all had the same way of putting this dogma of faith before their people. Christ is not divided: the Head and the members, the Word and His Church are inseparably one in the unity of the mystery instituted for the very purpose of producing that unity. And this unanimous teaching of the fathers, who lived in the golden age of Christian eloquence, was reproduced by Paschasius Radbert, in the ninth century,[21] by Rupert in the twelfth,[22] and by William of Auvergne in the beginning of the thirteenth.[23]

It would be too long to give the names, and still more to quote passages, in testimony of how all the Churches, for the first twelve centuries, looked upon the holy Eucharist in this same way, that is, as instituted for the purpose of union. If we follow this traditional teaching back to the apostolic source whence it originated, we shall find St. Cyprian, in the age of persecution, speaking to his people upon the union between the divine Head and His members, which is the necessary result of the holy Sacrament; he shows this, not only by the nature of bread and wine, the essential elements for the consecration of the mysteries, but likewise by the mingling of water with the wine in the eucharistic cup: the water, he says, signifies the faithful people; the wine denotes the Blood of Christ; their union in the chalice—union necessary for the integrity of the Sacrifice, union the most complete and inseparable—expresses the indissoluble alliance between Christ and His Church, which consummates the Sacrament.[24] The same St. Cyprian shows that the unity of the Church by the Chair of Peter, which is the subject of one of his finest treatises, is divinely established on the sacred mysteries; he speaks enthusiastically of the multitude of believers, the 'Christian unanimity’ being held together, in the hoods of a firm and indivisible charity, by the Sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ.[25] Christ in His Sacrament, and Christ in His Vicar, is, in reality, but the one same Rock that bears the building which is erected upon it; the one sole Head, visible in His representative, His Vicar, and invisible in His own substance in the Sacrament.

This sentiment of union, as the result of the Eucharist, was rooted in the soul of the early Church; her very mission was to bring about the union of all the children of God, that were dispersed throughout the world;[26] and when the violence of her enemies obliged her to provide her children with some secret sign, whereby they might recognize each other, and not be recognized by pagans or persecutors or blasphemers, she gave them the mysterious icthus, the fish, which was the sacred symbol of the Eucharist. The letters which form the Greek word for fish (icthus) are the initials of a formula in the same language, which gives this sentence: Jesus Christ, Son of GodSaviour. The fish is shown to us in the Book of Tobias[27] as a figure of Christ, who is the food of the wayfarer, casts out the devil by His virtues, and gives light to the world grown old in iniquity. Again: it is not without a prophetic and mysterious purpose, that the fish is mentioned in Genesis, as being blessed by the Creator, at the commencement of the world, just as man himself was.[28] It is found with the bread miraculously multiplied in the Gospel, when our Lord prefigures the marvels of the Eucharist. It is brought again to our notice, after the Resurrection; it is found lying on hot coals, and is offered by Jesus, together with bread, as a repast to seven of His disciples, on the banks of lake Tiberias.[29] Now, what is this fish, this bread? The fathers answer: Christ is the Bread of that mysterious repast; He is the Fish taken from the living water, and is roasted on the altar of the cross by the fire of His love, and feeds the disciples on His own substance, and offers Himself to the entire world as the true icthus.[30] No wonder, then, that we find this sacred symbol on almost everything that the Christians of the first three centuries possessed; on precious stones, rings, lamps, inscriptions, paintings, there was the fish, in some shape or other. It was the watchword, the tessera of the Christians, in those days of persecution. An inscription of the second century, discovered in modern times at Autun, thus speaks of the Christians: ‘This divine race of the heavenly icthus, this noble-hearted race, receive from the Saviour of the saints the nourishment which is sweet as honey, and drink long draughts of the divine fount, holding icthus in their hands.’[31] A holy bishop of Asia Minor of that same early period, by name Aberoius of Hierapolis, who was divinely led into various lands, everywhere recognizes the disciples of Christ by the holy fish, which makes all, however separated by distance, to be one. ‘I have,’ says he, shortly before the close of his life of travel, ‘I have seen Rome: I have beheld the queen city, in her robes and sandals of gold; I have made acquaintance with the people decked with bright rings. I have visited the country of Syria, and all her cities. Passing the Euphrates, I have seen Nisibis; and all people in the east were in union with me, for we all formed but one body; everywhere, faith presented to all, and gave as nourishment to all, the glorious and holy icthUs, which came from the only fount, and was taken by the most pure Virgin.’[32]

This, then, was the bond of that mighty union between Christians, which was such a puzzle to the pagan world; and the more the real cause of that unity was kept concealed from its eyes, so much the more violent was the fury wherewith it attacked the Church. Our Lord had said: ‘Give not that which is holy to dogs; neither cast ye your pearls before swine.’[33] These words contained, in principle, the discipline of secrecy, which was observed in the Church till the conversion of the western world was completed. The holiness of the Sacraments, the sublimity of the Christian doctrines, necessitated an extreme reserve on the part of the faithful, living amongst people whose moral degradation and brutal corruption were such as our Saviour had foretold. But it was most of all imperative to hide from the stare and sacrilege of pagans the most holy Eucharist, that ‘great pearl of the sacred Body of the Lamb,’ as Venantius Fortunatus calls it.[34] Hence the Christian assemblies, when they met for divine worship, were divided into two classes, the initiated and the uninitiated, i.e. the faithful and the catechumens. The distinction began with the apostolic age, and was kept up till the eighth century. A few weeks before the solemn administration of Baptism, there took place, as we have elsewhere explained,[35] the giving, or as it was termed, the tradition,, of the Symbol, to the future members of the Church; but the eucharistic mystery, the arcanum by excellence, was, even then, kept back from the fortunate candidates for holy Baptism. This explains the varied precautional expressions, the reticence, the studied obscurity of phraseology, used by the fathers in their discourses to their flock, and this for years after the times of Constantine and Theodosius. The catechumens were admitted while the holy Scriptures were being read, or while the Psalms were being chanted; but as soon as the bishop had given his discourse on the portion which had been read, either of the Gospel or other passages of the sacred Volume, these catechumens were dismissed by the deacon; and this missa, or missio, gave its name to that first portion of the liturgy; it was called the Mass of the catechumens; just as the second part, from the oblation to the final dismissal, was called the Mass of the faithful.

And yet, though holy mother Church kept so jealous an eye on her treasure as not to let it be fully known except to her true children, made such by Baptism, with what delight did she, at the feasts of Easter and Pentecost, reveal to her new-born children, as soon as they came from the font, the ineffable secret hitherto kept in her heart as bride, the full mystery of the icthus! Having incorporated them into Christ by the saving waters, enrolled them in His army, and marked them with the sign of His soldiers by the anointing conferred by the bishop, with what maternal fondness did she lead them, from the baptistery first, and then from the chrismarium, to the hallowed precinct of the mysteries instituted by the Word Incarnate! There Jesus, their Head, was awaiting His new members, that He might draw all the more closely the bonds which already knit them to His mystic body, and unite them to Himself in the infinite homage of that one great Sacrifice, which He Himself was offering to the eternal Father.

This wondrous unity of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, which included in one oblation both Head and members; this unity of Sacrifice, which kept alive and strengthened the union of each Christian community and of the whole Church, was admirably expressed by the magnificent forms of the primitive liturgy. After the catechumens had been dismissed and the unworthy expelled, all the faithful, without exception, from the emperor and his court down to the poorest cottager whether man or woman, advanced towards the altar, each one offering bis share of bread and wine for the sacred mysteries. Themselves a kingly priesthood, as St. Peter calls them,[36] a living victim figured by the gifts they brought, they assisted, standing, at the immolation of the divine Victim, whose members they truly were; then united in the kiss of peace, the external sign of their union of heart, they received in their hands, and still standing, the sacred Body, their spiritual nourishment; the deacons offered them the chalice, and they drank of the precious Blood. Even babes in their mothers’ arms were eager for the divine drink, and received some drops, at least, into their innocent mouths. The sick, who could not leave their rooms, and prisoners, were not deprived of being united with their brethren in the sacred banquet; they received the precious Gifts at the hands of ministers, who were sent to them for the purpose by the bishop. The anchorets in their deserts, Christians living in the country, and all such as could not be present at the next assembly, took the Body of our Lord with them, that thus they might not, because of distance, be deprived of uniting in the coming celebration of the mysteries of salvation. Those were ages when unity was continually being attacked by persecution, schism, and heresy, all three at once; and the Church, to counteract the danger, had no hesitation in facilitating, by every lawful means, the use and application of the venerable Sacrament, which is the sign of unity, and the innermost centre, and the strongest tie, of the Christian community.

It was from the same principle of unity, that, although there were generally several churches or centres in each city for the assemblies of the faithful, and a greater or less number of clergy, yet all the faithful and clergy came together for the collect orsynaxis, into some one place, fixed upon by the bishop. ‘Where the bishop shall show himself,' says St. Ignatius of Antioch, ‘there let the multitude be; just as, where Christ Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful, either to baptize, or to celebrate the agape (the Eucharist) without the bishop.[37] Do all of you assemble, for prayer, in the one same place; let there be unity of common prayer, unity of mind, unity of hope. . . Do all of you come together, as though you were one man, into the temple of God, as to one altar, as to one Christ Jesus, the great high-priest of the unborn God.[38] Let us enjoy the one Eucharist; for one is the Flesh of our Lord Jesus, and one His Blood which was shed for us; one also is the Bread which was broken to us all, and one the Cup which was distributed to all; one altar to the whole Church, and one bishop surrounded by the presbyterium and the deacons.’[39]

The presbyterium was the college of priests of each city; they kept near the bishop, were his council, and celebrated the sacred functions together with him. It would seem that, at the beginning, they were twelve in number, the more closely to represent the apostles; but in the great cities that number was soon doubled. We find that, towards the close of the first century, there were, in Rome, five and twenty priests, who were respectively set over twenty-five titles, that is, churches, of the metropolis. The pontiff took first one, and then another, of these titles, for the celebration of the mysteries. The twentyfour priests of the other titles united with the pontiff in the solemnity of one and the same Sacrifice, and concelebrated at one and the same altar. In their respective places, the seven deacons, and all the inferior clerics, each according to his rank, co-operated in the thrice holy mysteries. We have already seen the active part taken in the same by the faithful people.

It was the very time when the eagle of Patmos, St. John the Evangelist, was being favoured with his inspiration and vision of the gorgeous ritual of heaven. He beheld the Lamb that was slain, yet standing in the midst of the four and twenty Elders who were seated on thrones encircling the throne of God, which is also the throne of the eternal High Priest. Clad in white garments, and wearing golden crowns, these four and twenty Elders held harps in their hands, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. Then came the seven spirits, who were before the throne of God, like so many burning lamps; and then, thousands of thousands of angels, who were round about the throne, singing praise to the Sacrifice and triumph of the Lamb; and then, every creature, which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, all cried out, giving benediction, and honour, and glory, and power, to Him that liveth for ever and ever.[40] This admirable vision represented the fullness and unity of the Sacrifice, which was offered once, but to last for ever, end was offered by Him who is the Head of all created beings. The Church on earth, the exiled bride of Jesus, did her best, when offering that same Sacrifice, to repeat the sublime ritual of heaven. And as in heaven the divine Lamb, the eternal High Priest, drew after Him the celestial hierarchy, so likewise on earth all the Churches came round the officiating pontiff, and united with him in the holy Sacrifice, each one according to the sacred Order he held.

It was impossible for the universal Church, subject as she is to the conditions of place and time, to meet here below at one altar; but the unity of the Sacrifice, which was everywhere offered, was, like the unity of the Church herself, expressed by the mutual transmission, between the various bishops, of the sacred Species that had been consecrated by them; and these, each one put into the chalice from which he received the precious Blood. St. Irenæus,[41] who lived in the second century, tells us that the supreme hierarch, the Pontiff of Rome, used to send these sacred gifts, not only to Churches in the west, but even into Asia, as emblems of the unity existing between the Churches there, and the Church, the mistress and mother of all others. So, too, when the number of the faithful became so great as to induce the Church to allow individual priests to celebrate the holy mysteries privately, the priests of the town where a bishop resided never thought of exercising this isolated function, until they had received from the bishop a fragment of the Bread he had consecrated, and which they mingled with their own Sacrifice. It was the fermentum, the sacred leaven of Catholic communion.

As an appropriate conclusion to the above subject, we append the following beautiful liturgical formula taken from the Apostolic Constitutions,[42] a writing admitted by critics to have been completed in the third century.

Thanksgiving for the Mysteries

Gratias agimus tibi, Pater noster, pro vita quam manifestasti nobis per Jesum Filium tuum; per quem tum omnia creasti, tum universis provides; quem et misisti, ut ad salutem nostram homo fieret; quem etiam permisisti pati et mori; quem et resuscitans glorificare voluisti, et sedere fecisti ad dexteram tuam; per quem et promisisti nobis resurrectionem mortuorum.

Tu, Domine omnipotens, Deus æterne: quemadmodum hoc erat dispersum, et quum fuit congregatum, factum est unus panis, ita congrega Ecclesiam tuam a finibus terræ in regnum tuum.

Adhuc gratias agimus, Pater noster, pro pretioso sanguine Jesu Christi effuso nostra causa: et pro pretioso corpore: cujus et hæc antitypa celebramus, quum ipse nobis constituent mortem illius annuntiare: per ipsum enim tibi gloria in sæcula.

We give thanks unto thee, O Father, for the life thou hast manifested unto us by thy Son Jesus; by whom thou hast both created all things, and providest for all; whom thou also sendedst, that, for our salvation, he might be made Man; whom thou also permittedest to suffer and to die; whom also, raising him up again, thou willedst to glorify, and madest him to sit at thy right hand; by whom also thou didst promise us the resurrection of the dead.

O almighty Lord, eternal God! as this (element), which was once disunited, being united hath become one Bread, so do thou assemble together thy Church from the ends of the earth into thy kingdom.

We also give thanks to thee, our Father, for the precious Blood of Jesus Christ, which was shed for our sake; and for his precious Body; of which we are now celebrating the antitypes (the mysteries); for he himself did appoint that we should announce his death; for, by him, is glory (given) to thee for ever.


[1] Ps. ii. 8.
[2] Heb. x. 14.
[3] Serm, viii. de Pass.
[4] Ibid. iv. ds Pass.
[5] St. John xiii. 34, 35.
[6] Ibid. xvii. 20.
[7] Ibid. 21-23.
[8] Acts ii. 42.
[9] Acts ii. 47.
[10] 1 Cor. x. 17.
[11] Serm, ccxxvii. In die Paschæ. Ad Infantes, de Sacramentis.
[12] Serm. ccxxix. Fer. ii. Paschæ, de Sacramentis fidelium.
[13] Acts iy. 32.
[14] Serm. ccxxix.
[15] Ibid. cclxxii. In die Pentecost. Ad Infantes, de Sacramentis.
[16] Lib. viii. de Trinit.
[17] Hom. vii.
[18] Serm. ii. ad Neoph.
[19] In cp. i, ad Cor. Hom xxiv.
[20] Lib. x. in Johan.
[21] De corp. et sang. Domini., cap. x.
[22] De div. Off., lib. ii., c. 2.
[23] De Sacrament. Euchar. cap iv.
[24] Ep. lxiii.
[25] Ep. lxxvi.
[26] St. John xi. 52.
[27] Tob. vi.
[28] Gen. i. 22, 28.
[29] St. John xxi. 9.
[30] St. Paulin. Ep. xiii; St. Aug. Confess, xiii. 23: St. Ambr. Hymn. Pasch; Proep. African. De promission.
[31] Inscript. Augustod. Spicileg. Solesm. i.
[32] TitulAbercii. Spicileg Solesm. iii.
[33] St. Matt. vii. 6.
[34] Vernant. Fortun. lib. ii. carm. 25.
[35] Volume for Lent; Wednesday of the fourth week.
[36] 1 St. Pet. ii. 9.
[37] Ad Smyrn. viii.
[38] Ad Magnes. vii.
[39] Ad Philadelph. iv.
[40] Apoc. iv, v.
[41] Ap. Euseb. Hist. Eccles. lib. v. cap. 14.
[42] Lib. vii. cap. 25.