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The Liturgical Year

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year:

Finally, the ‘Liturgical Year,’ the plan of which we have been explaining, will bring continually before us the sublimest poetry that the human mind has conceived. Not only will it enable us to understand the divine songs of David and the prophets, on which mainly the liturgy has formed her own; but the cycle will elicit from the Church, according as the different seasons and feasts come round, canticles and hymns the finest, the sublimest, and the worthiest of the subject. We shall hear the several countries, united as they are in one common faith, pouring forth their admiration and love in accents, wherein are blended the most perfect harmony of thought and sentiment with the most marked diversity of genius and expression....but the productions of liturgical genius, no matter of what age in the Church, are profusely admitted; from Sedulius and Prudentius, down to Adam of Saint Victor and his contemporaries, for the Latin Church; and from Saint Ephrem, down to the latest Catholic Byzantine hymnologists, for the Greek Church. A rich vein of poetry will be found as well in the prayers which have been composed in simple prose, as in those which are presented to us in the garb of measure and rhythm. Poetry, being the only language adequate to the sublime thought which is to be expressed, is to be found everywhere in the liturgy, as it is in the inspired writings; and a complete collection of the formulæ of public prayer would be, at the same time, the richest selection of Christian poetry, of that poetry which sings on earth the mysteries of heaven and prepares us for the canticles of eternity.

Under this heading of Proper of the Time, we here comprise the movable Office of the Sundays and Ferias of Advent. Though anxious to give to the faithful the flowers of the Advent liturgy, yet were we to bring forward even those which might be considered as the choicest, four volumes would have barely sufficed. The fear of making our work too expensive to the faithful, persuaded us to limit it within much narrower bounds, and out of the abundant treasures before us, to give what we thought could be least dispensed with.

The plan we have adopted is this: We give the whole of the Mass and Vespers for the four Sundays of Advent. On the ferial days, we give one, at least, of the lessons from Isaias, which are read in the Office of Matins; adding to this a hymn or sequence, or some other poetic liturgical composition. All these have been taken from the gravest sources, for example, from the Roman and Mozarabic breviaries, from the Greek anthology and menæa, from the missals of the middle ages, &c. After this hymn or sequence, we have given a prayer from the Ambrosian, Gallican, or Mozarabic missal. So that the faithful will find in our collection an unprecedented abundance of liturgical formulæ, each of which carries authority with it, as being taken from ancient and approved sources.

We have not thought it desirable to give a commentary to each of the liturgical formulæ inserted in our work. It seemed to us that they would be rendered sufficiently intelligible by the general explanation which runs through our work, in which explanation we have endeavoured to excite the devotion of the reader, give unity to the several parts, and afford solid instruction. We shall thus avoid all those repetitions and commonplace remarks, which do little more than fatigue the reader.

We have inserted the Great Antiphons and the Office of Christmas Eve in the proper of the saints, because both of these have fixed days in the calendar, and to put them in the proper of the time, as they stand in the breviary and missal, would have required us to introduce into a book, destined for the laity, rubrics somewhat complicated, which would, perhaps, not have been understood.

This third section of the liturgical year is much shorter than the two preceding ones; and yet it is one of real interest. The season of Septuagesima has only three weeks of the Proper of the Time, and the feasts of the saints are far less frequent than at other periods of the year. The volume we now offer to the faithful may be called one of transition, inasmuch as it includes the period between two important seasons—viz., Christmas and Lent. We have endeavoured to teach them how to spend these three weeks; and our instructions, we trust, will show them that, even in this the least interesting portion of the ecclesiastical year, there is much to be learned. They will find the Church persevering in carrying out the one sublime idea which pervades the whole of her liturgy; and, consequently, they must derive solid profit from imbibing the spirit peculiar to this season.

Were we, therefore, to keep aloof from the Church during Septuagesima, we should not have a complete idea of her year, of which these three weeks form an essential part. The three preliminary chapters of this volume will convince them of the truth of our observation; and we feel confident that, when they have once understood the ceremonies, and formulas, and instructions, offered them by the Church during this short season, they will value it as it deserves.

For more information on the season of Septuagesima, visit here.

We begin, with this volume, the holy season of Lent; but such is the richness of its liturgy, that we have found it impossible to take our readers beyond the Saturday of the fourth week. Passion-week and Holy Week, which complete the forty days of yearly penance, require to be treated at such length, that we could not have introduced them into this volume without making it inconveniently large.

The present volume is a very full one, although it only comprises the first four weeks of the season of Lent. We have called it ‘Lent’; and yet the two weeks of the next volume are also comprised in Lent; nay, they are its most important and sacred part. But, in giving the name of Lent to this first section, we have followed the liturgy itself, which applies this word to the first four weeks only; giving to the two that remain the names of Passion-week and Holy Week. Our next volume will, therefore, be called ‘Passiontide and Holy Week.’

We fervently hope that our readers, who have entered into the spirit of the Church during Septuagesima, will do the same in the season which now begins; for this end they should attentively study the Lessons from the Scripture, selected by the Church for each day. To these Epistles and Gospels we have added our humble comments. Such is the richness of the teaching contained in these venerable lenten instructions, that we might have written a volume for each week; and yet we have been obliged to content ourselves with a few short words of explanation. There are so few persons, nowadays, who have a knowledge of the sacred Scriptures, that frequently what was most familiar to our Catholic forefathers is unfamiliar or even unknown to the present generation. May God deign to bless our feeble efforts, and give to our people that spirit of understanding of holy things which supports faith, and makes practice fervent!

This feast, which is now kept not only throughout the whole of Spain but in many other parts of the Catholic world, owes its origin to the bishops of the tenth Council of Toledo, in 656. These prelates thought that there was an incongruity in the ancient practice of celebrating the feast of the Annunciation on the twenty-fifth of March, inasmuch as this joyful solemnity frequently occurs at the time when the Church is intent upon the Passion of our Lord, so that it is sometimes obliged to be transferred into Easter time, with which it is out of harmony for another reason; they therefore decreed that, henceforth, in the Church of Spain there should be kept, eight days before Christmas, a solemn feast with an octave, in honour of the Annunciation, and as a preparation for the great solemnity of our Lord’s Nativity. In course of time, however, the Church of Spain saw the necessity of returning to the practice of the Church of Rome, and of those of the whole world, which solemnize the twenty-fifth of March as the day of our Lady’s Annunciation and the Incarnation of the Son of God. But such had been, for ages, the devotion of the people for the feast of the eighteenth of December, that it was considered requisite to maintain some vestige of it. They discontinued, therefore, to celebrate the Annunciation on this day; but the faithful were requested to consider, with devotion, what must have been the sentiments of the holy Mother of God during the days immediately preceding her giving Him birth. A new feast was instituted, under the name of 'the Expectation of the blessed Virgin’s delivery.’

This feast, which sometimes goes under the name of Our Lady of O, or the feast of O, on account of the great antiphons which are sung during these days, and, in a special manner, of that which begins O Virgo virginum (which is still used in the Vespers of the Expectation, together with the O Adonai, the antiphon of the Advent Office), is kept with great devotion in Spain. A High Mass is sung at a very early hour each morning during the octave, at which all who are with child, whether rich or poor, consider it a duty to assist, that they may thus honour our Lady’s Maternity, and beg her blessing upon themselves. It is not to be wondered at that the holy See has approved of this pious practice being introduced into almost every other country. We find that the Church of Milan, long before Rome conceded this feast to the various dioceses of Christendom, celebrated the Office of our Lady’s Annunciation on the sixth and last Sunday of Advent, and called the whole week following the Hebdomada de Exceptato (for thus the popular expression had corrupted the word Expectato). But these details belong strictly to the archaeology of liturgy, and enter not into the plan of our present work; let us, then, return to the feast of our Lady’s Expectation, which the Church has established and sanctioned as a new means of exciting the attention of the faithful during these last days of Advent.

Most just indeed it is, O holy Mother of God, that we should unite in that ardent desire thou hadst to see Him, who had been concealed for nine months in thy chaste womb; to know the features of this Son of the heavenly Father, who is also thine; to come to that blissful hour of His birth, which will give glory to God in the highest, and, on earth, peace to men of good-will. Yes, dear Mother, the time is fast approaching, though not fast enough to satisfy thy desires and ours. Make us redouble our attention to the great mystery; complete our preparation by thy powerful prayers for us, that when the solemn hour has come, our Jesus may find no obstacle to His entrance into our hearts.

The Great Antiphon to Our Lady

O Virgo virginum, quomodo fiet istud? quia nec primam similem visa es, nec habere sequentem. Filiae Jerusalem, quid me admiramini? Divinum est mysterium hoc quod cernitis.
O Virgin of virgins! how shall this be? for never was there one like thee, nor will there ever be. Ye daughters of Jerusalem, why look ye wondering at me? What ye behold, is a divine mystery.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

O radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem gentes deprecabuntur: veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.
O Root of Jesse, who standest as the ensign of the people; before whom kings shall not open their lips; to whom the nations shall pray: come and deliver us; tarry now no more.

At length, O Son of Jesse! Thou art approaching the city of Thy ancestors. The Ark of the Lord has risen, and journeys, with the God that is in her, to the place of her rest. ‘How beautiful are thy steps, O thou daughter of the Prince,’[1] now that thou art bringing to the cities of Juda their salvation! The angels escort thee, thy faithful Joseph lavishes his love upon thee, heaven delights in thee, and our earth thrills with joy to bear thus upon itself its Creator and its Queen. Go forward, O Mother of God and Mother of men! Speed thee, thou propitiatory that holdest within thee the divine Manna which gives us life! Our hearts are with thee, and count thy steps. Like thy royal ancestor David, ‘we will not enter into the dwelling of our house, nor go up into the bed whereon we lie, nor give sleep to our eyes, nor rest to our temples, until we have found a place in our hearts for the Lord whom thou bearest, a tabernacle for this God of Jacob.’[2] Come, then, O Root of Jesse! thus hidden in this Ark of purity; Thou wilt soon appear before Thy people as the standard round which all that would conquer must rally. Then their enemies, the kings of the world, will be silenced, and the nations will offer Thee their prayers. Hasten Thy coming, dear Jesus! come and conquer all our enemies, and deliver us.

A Responsory of Advent
(Ambrosian breviary, sixth Sunday of Advent)

R. Beatus uterus Mariæ Virginis qui portavit invisibilem: quem septem throni capere non possunt in eo habitare dignatus est: * Et portabat levem in sinu suo.

V. Dedit illi Dominus sedem David patris sui, et regnabit in domo Jacob in aeternum, cujus regni non erit finis: * Et portabat levem in sinu suo.
R. Blessed is the womb of the Virgin Mary, which bore the invisible God: there did he deign to dwell, whom seven thrones cannot hold: * And she bore him as a light weight in her womb.

V. The Lord hath given him the throne of David his father, and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end: * And she bore him as a light weight in her womb.

[1] Cant. vii. 1.
[2] Ps. cxxxi. 3-5.

O Clavis David et sceptrum domus Israel, qui aperis, et nemo claudit; claudis, et nemo aperit; veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.
O Key of David, and sceptre of the house of Israel! who openest, and no man shutteth: who shuttest, and no man openeth; come, and lead the captive from prison, sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death.

O Jesus, Son of David! heir to his throne and his power! Thou art now passing over, in Thy way to Bethlehem, the land that once was the kingdom of Thy ancestor, but now is tributary to the Gentiles. Scarce an inch of this ground which has not witnessed the miracles of the justice and mercy of Jehovah, Thy Father, to the people of the old Covenant, which is so soon to end. Before long, when Thou hast come from beneath the virginal cloud which now hides Thee, Thou wilt pass along this same road doing good,[1] healing all manner of sickness and every infirmity,[2] and yet having not where to lay Thy head.[3] Now, at least, Thy Mother’s womb affords Thee the sweetest rest, and Thou receivest from her the profoundest adoration and the tenderest love. But, dear Jesus, it is Thine own blessed will that Thou leave this loved abode. Thou hast, O eternal Light, to shine in the midst of this world’s darkness, this prison where the captive, whom Thou hast come to deliver, sits in the shadow of death.Open his prison-gates by Thy all-powerful key. And who is this captive, but the human race, the slave of error and vice? Who is this captive, but the heart of man, which is thrall to the very passions it blushes to obey? Oh! come and set at liberty the world Thou hast enriched by Thy grace, and the creatures whom Thou hast made to be Thine own brethren.

Antiphon to the Angel Gabriel

O Gabriel! nuntius cœlorum, qui januis clausis ad me intrasti, et Verbum nunciasti: Concipies et paries: Emmanuel vocabitur.
O Gabriel! the messenger of heaven, who camest unto me through the closed doors, and didst announce the Word unto me: Thou shalt conceive and bear a Son, and he shall be called Emmanuel.

[1] Acts x. 38.
[2] St. Matt. iv. 23.
[3] St. Luke ix. 58.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The Church announces to us, to-day, in her Office of Lauds, these solemn words:

Nolite timere: quinta enim die veniet ad vos Dominus noster.
Fear not: for on the fifth day, our Lord will come unto you.

This is the last feast the Church keeps before the great one of the Nativity of her Lord and Spouse. She interrupts the greater ferias in order to pay her tribute of honour to Thomas, the apostle of Christ, whose glorious martyrdom has consecrated this twenty-first day of December, and has procured for the Christian people a powerful patron, who will introduce them to the divine Babe of Bethlehem. To none of the apostles could this day have been so fittingly assigned as to St. Thomas. It was St. Thomas whom we needed; St. Thomas, whose festal patronage would aid us to believe and hope in that God whom we see not, and who comes to us in silence and humility in order to try our faith. St. Thomas was once guilty of doubting, when he ought to have believed, and learnt the necessity of faith only by the sad experience of incredulity: he comes then most appropriately to defend us, by the power of his example and prayers, against the temptations which proud human reason might excite within us. Let us pray to him with confidence. In that heaven of light and vision, where his repentance and love have placed him, he will intercede for us, and gain for us that docility of mind and heart, which will enable us to see and recognize Him, who is the Expected of nations, and who, though the King of the world, will give no other signs of His majesty, than the swaddling-clothes and tears of a Babe. But let us first read the acts of our holy apostle. The Church has deemed it prudent to give us them in an exceedingly abridged form, which contains only the most reliable facts, gathered from authentic sources; and thus she excludes all those details, which have no historic authority.

Thomas apostolus, qui et Didymus, Galilaeus, post acceptum Spiritum sanctum, in multas provincias profectus est ad prædicandum Christi Evangelium. Parthis, Medis, Persis, Hircanis, et Bactris christianæ fidei et vitæ praecepta tradidit. Postremo ad Indos se conferens, eos in Christiana religione erudivit. Qui ad extremum, vitæ doctrinæque sanctitate, et miraculorum magnitudine, quum cæteris omnibus sui admirationem, et Jesu Christi amorem commovisset, illius gentis regem, idolorum cultorem, magis ad iram accendit: cujus sententia condemnatus, telisque confossus, Calaminæ apostolatus honorem martyrii corona decoravit.
Thomas the apostle, who was also named Didymus, was a Galilean. After he had received the Holy Ghost, he travelled through many provinces, preaching the Gospel of Christ. He taught the principles of Christian faith and practice to the Parthians, Medes, Persians, Hircanians, and Bactrians. He finally went to the Indies, and instructed the inhabitants of those countries in the Christian religion. Up to the last, he gained for himself the esteem of all men by the holiness of his life and teaching, and by the wonderful miracles he wrought. He stirred up, also, in their hearts, the love of Jesus Christ. The king of those parts, a worshipper of idols, was, on the contrary, only the more irritated by all these things. He condemned the saint to be pierced to death by javelins: which punishment was inflicted at Calamina, and gave Thomas the highest honour of his apostolate, the crown of martyrdom.

The Great Antiphon of St. Thomas

O Thoma Didyme! qui Christum meruisti cernere; te precibus rogamus altisonis, succurre nobis miseris; ne damnemur cum impiis, in adventu Judicis.
O Thomas Didymus! who didst merit to see Christ; we beseech thee, by most earnest supplication, help us miserable sinners, lest we be condemned with the ungodly, at the coming of the Judge.

Prayer

Da nobis, quæsumus, Domine, beati apostoli tui Thomæ solemnitatibus gloriari: ut ejus semper et patrociniis sublevemur, et fidem congrua devotione sectemur. Per Dominum, &c. Amen.
Grant, O Lord, we beseech thee, that we may rejoice on the solemnity of thy blessed apostle, Thomas; to the end that we may always have the assistance of his prayers, and zealously profess the faith he taught. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The following prayer is from the Matins of the Gothic, or Mozarabic, breviary:

Domine Jesu Christe, qui posuisti in capite martyris tui Thomæ apostoli coronam de lapide pretioso, in fundamento fundatam; ut non confundatur,quia in te credidit; coronetur, quia pro te animam posuit: sit ergo intercessionibus ejus in nobis famulis tuis fides vera, qua te etiam coram persecutoribus promptissima devotione confiteamur: quatenus interveniente tanto martyre, coram te et angelis tuis minime confundamur. Amen.
O Lord Jesus Christ, who hast placed on the head of thy martyr, Thomas the apostle, a crown made of that precious stone, that is founded in the foundation; that so he might not be confounded, because he believed in thee; nor be uncrowned, because he laid down his life for thee; may there be, by his intercession, in us thy servants, that true faith, whereby we may confess thee with most ready hearts before persecutors: that thus, by the same great martyr’s intercession, we may not be confounded before thee and thy angels. Amen.

The Greek Church celebrates, with her usual solemnity, the feast of St. Thomas; but she keeps it on the sixth of October. We extract the following stanzas from her hymns.

Hymn of St. Thomas
(Taken from the Menæa of the Greeks)

Domini palpato latere, bonorum assecutus es summitatem; nam velut spongia hinc hausisti latices, fontem bonorum, æternamque potasti vitam, mentibus expellens ignorantiam, divinaque Dei cognitionis dogmata scaturire faciens.

Tua incredulitate et tua fide stabilisti tentatos, nunciare incipiens omni creaturae Deum ac Dominum, carne pro nobis in terris indutum, crucem mortemque subeuntem, clavis perforatum, cujus lancea latus apertum, ex quo vitam haurimus.

Indorum omnem terram fulgere fecisti, sacratissime, ac Deum videns apostole! Quum enim illuminasses filios luminis et diei, horum, in Spiritu, sapiens, idolica evertisti templa, et sublimasti eos in charitate Dei ad laudem et gloriam Ecclesiæ, beate intercessor pro animabus nostris.

Divina videns, Christi Sapientiæ spiritualis demonstratus es crater mysticus, O Thoma apostole, in quem fidelium animæ laetantur, et Spiritus sagena populos eruisti ex abysso ignorantiæ: unde ex Sion sicut fluvius devenisti charitatis, tua divina scaturire faciens dogmata in omnem creaturam. Christi Passionis imitatus, latere pro ipso perforatus, induisti immortalitatem: illum deprecare misereri animabus nostris.
When thy hand touched Jesus’ side, thou didst find the perfection of good things; for, as a mystic sponge, thou didst thence imbibe the water of life, the fount of all that is good, and didst drink in everlasting life; whereby thou didst cleanse men’s minds from ignorance, giving them to drink of the divine dogmas of the knowledge of God.

Thou didst, by thine own incredulity and thy after-faith, confirm such as were tempted; for thou didst proclaim to all men, how he, that is thy Lord and thy God, became incarnate on this earth for us, was nailed to the cross and suffered death, and had his side opened with a spear, whence we draw life.

Thou didst make all the Indies shine with much light, O most holy apostle, thou contemplator of the Divinity! For after thou hadst enlightened these people, and made them to be children of the light and day, thou, by the Spirit of God, didst wisely overthrow the temples of their idols, and didst elevate the people to the love of God, making them an honour and a glory to the Church, O thou that helpest us by thy intercession!

By the vision thou hadst of divine things, thou becamest, O apostle Thomas! the mystic cup of the Wisdom of Christ, which gives joy to the souls of the faithful. Thou wert the spiritual net, drawing men from the sea of ignorance. Hence is it, that thou camest from Sion as a stream of charity, watering the world with the divine dogmas. Thou didst imitate the Passion of Jesus, thou wert pierced in thy side, thou hast put on immortality. Pray to God, that he have mercy on our souls.

O glorious apostle, Thomas! who didst lead to Christ so many unbelieving nations, hear now the prayers of the faithful, who beseech thee to lead them to that same Jesus, who, in five days, will have shown Himself to His Church. That we may merit to appear in His divine presence, we need, before all other graces, the light which leads to Him. That light is faith; then, pray that we may have faith. Heretofore, our Saviour had compassion on thy weakness, and deigned to remove from thee the doubt of Hishaving risen from the grave; pray to Him for us, that He will mercifully come to our assistance, and make Himself felt by our heart. We ask not, O holy apostle! to see Him with the eyes of our body, but with those of our faith; for He said to thee, when He showed Himself to thee: ‘Blessed are they who have not seen, and have believed!’ Of this happy number we desire to be. We beseech thee, therefore, pray that we may obtain the faith of the heart and will, that so, when we behold the divine Infant wrapped in swaddling-clothes and laid in a manger, we may cry out: ‘My Lord! and my God!’ Pray, O holy apostle, for the nations thou didst evangelize, but which have fallen back again into the shades of death. May the day soon come, when the Sun of justice will once more shine upon them. Bless the efforts of those apostolic men, who have devoted their labours and their very lives to the work of the missions; pray that the days of darkness may be shortened, and that the countries, which were watered by thy blood, may at length see that kingdom of God established amongst them, which thou didst preach to them, and for which we also are in waiting.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

O Oriens, splendor lucis æternæ, et sol justitiæ; veni et illumina sedentesin tenebris, et umbra mortis.
O Orient! splendour of eternal light, and Sun of justice! come and enlighten them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death.

O Jesus, divine Sun! Thou art coming to snatch us from eternal night: blessed for ever be Thy infinite goodness! But Thou puttest our faith to the test, before showing Thyself in all Thy brightness. Thou hidest Thy rays, until the time decreed by Thy heavenly Father comes, in which all Thy beauty will break upon the world. Thou art traversing Judea; Thou art near Jerusalem; the journey of Mary and Joseph is nigh its term. Crowds of men pass or meet Thee on the road, each one hurrying to his native town, there to be enrolled, as the edict commands. Not one of all these suspects that Thou, O divine Orient! art so near him. They see Thy Mother Mary, and they see nothing in her above the rest of women; or if they are impressed by the majesty and incomparable modesty of this august Queen, it is but a vague feeling of surprise at there being such dignity in one so poor as she is; and they soon forget her again. If the Mother is thus an object of indifference to them, it is not to be expected that they will give even so much as a thought to her Child, that is net yet born. And yet this Child is Thyself, O Sun of justice! Oh! increase our faith, but increase, too, our love. If these men loved Thee, O Redeemer of mankind, Thou wouldst give them the grace to feel Thy presence. Their eyes, indeed, would not yet see Thee, but their hearts, at least, would burn within them, they would long for Thy coming, and would hasten it by their prayers and sighs. Dearest Jesus! who thus traversest the world Thou hast created, and who forcest not the homage of Thy creatures, we wish to keep near Thee during the rest of this Thy journey: we kiss the footsteps of her that carries Thee in her womb; we will not leave Thee, until we arrive together with Thee at Bethlehem, that house of bread, where, at last, our eyes will see Thee, O splendour of eternal light, our Lord and our God!

Prayer for the Time of Advent
(The Mozarabic breviary, Monday of the fifth week. Oratio)

Immane satis facinus video coram tuis, Deus Pater, oculis a reprobis perpetratum: qui, dum Filium tuum, prædicatum in Lege, contemnunt, in incredulitatis suæ voragine remanserunt; dum hi quibus non erat de eo nuntiatum, viderunt eum, et qui non audierunt, intelligentia contemplati sunt. Amove ergo, quæsumus, quidquid resistit tibi in opere, ut credulo pectore sic in nobis virgulta donorum praepolleant, ut radix humilitatis nunquam arescat. Amen.
O God, our Father! what horrid crime is this I see committed in thy presence by the reprobate Jews! They spurn thy Son, that was foretold in the Law, and remain in the gulf of their incredulity; whereas, they to whom he was not announced, have seen him; and they who heard not, contemplated him in their spirit. Remove, therefore, we beseech thee, from us all that resists thee in our conduct, that so, with a believing heart, we may in such manner bring forth the branches of thy gifts bestowed on us, as that the root of humility may never dry up within us. Amen.

O Rex gentium, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum; veni, et salva hominem quem de limo formasti.
O King of nations, and their desired One, and the comer stone that makest both one; come and save man whom thou fonnedst out of slime.

O King of nations! Thou art approaching still nigher to Bethlehem, where Thou art to be born, The journey is almost over, and Thy august Mother, consoled and strengthened by the dear weight she bears, holds an unceasing converse with Thee on the way. She adores Thy divine Majesty; she gives thanks to Thy mercy; she rejoices that she has been chosen for the sublime ministry of being Mother to God. She longs for that happy moment when her eyes shall look upon Thee, and yet she fears it. For, how will she be able to render Thee those services which are due to Thy infinite greatness, she that thinks herself the last of creatures? How will she dare to raise Thee up in her arms, and press Thee to her heart, and feed Thee at her breasts? When she reflects that the hour is now near at hand, in which, being born of her, Thou wilt require all her care and tenderness, her heart sinks within her; for, what human heart could bear the intense vehemence of these two affections—the love of such a Mother for her Babe, and the love of such a creature for her God? But Thou supportest her, O Thou the Desired of nations! for Thou, too, longest for that happy birth, which is to give to the earth its Saviour, and to men that corner-stone, which will unite them all into one family. Dearest King! be Thou blessed for all these wonders of Thy power and goodness! Comespeedily, we beseech Thee, come and save us, for we are dear to Thee, as creatures that have been formed by Thy divine hands. Yea, come, for Thy creation has grown degenerate; it is lost; death has taken possession of it: take Thou it again into Thy almighty hands, and give it a new creation; save it; for Thou hast not ceased to take pleasure in and love Thine own work.

The Great Antiphon in Honour of Christ

O Rex pacifice, tu ante sæcula nate, per auream egredere portam, redemptos tuos visita, et eos illuc revoca, unde ruerunt per culpam.
O King of peace! that wast bora before all ages, come by the golden gate; visit them whom thou hast redeemed, and lead them back to the place whence they fell by sin.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

THE Church sings this antiphon in to-day’s Lauds:

Ant. Ecce completa sunt omnia quæ dicta sunt per angelum, de Virgine Maria.
Ant. Lo! all things are accomplished that were said by the angel, of the Virgin Mary.

O Emmanuel, Rex et Legifer noster, exspectatio gentium, et salvator earum; veni ad salvandum nos, Domine Deus noster.
O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Expectation and Saviour of the nations! come and save us, O Lord our God!

O Emmanuel! King of peace! Thou enterest today the city of Thy predilection, the city in which Thou hast placed Thy temple—Jerusalem. A few years hence the same city will give Thee Thy cross and Thy sepulchre: nay, the day will come on which Thou wilt set up Thy judgement-seat within sight of her walls. But to-day Thou enterest the city of David and Solomon unnoticed and unknown. It lies on Thy road to Bethlehem. Thy blessed Mother and Joseph her spouse would not lose the opportunity of visiting the temple, there to offer to the Lord their prayers and adoration. They enter; and then, for the first time, is accomplished the prophecy of Aggeus, that great shall be the glory of this last house more than of the first;[1] for this second temple has now standing within it an ark of the Covenant more precious than was that which Moses built; and within this ark, which is Mary, is contained the God whose presence makes her the holiest of sanctuaries. The Lawgiver Himself is in this blessed ark, and not merely, as in that of old, the tablet of stone on which the Law was graven. The visit paid, our living ark descends the steps of the temple, and sets out once more for Bethlehem, where other prophecies are to be fulfilled. We adore Thee, O Emmanuel! in this Thy journey, and we reverence the fidelity wherewith Thou fulfillest all that the prophets have written of Thee; for Thou wouldst give to Thy people the certainty of Thy being the Messias, by showing them that all the marks, whereby He was to be known, are to be found in Thee. And now, the hour is near; all is ready for Thy birth; come then, and save us; come, that Thou mayst not only be called our Emmanuel, but our Jesus, that is, He that saves us.

The Great Antiphon to Jerusalem

O Hierusalem! civitas Dei summi, leva in circuitu oculos tuos; et vide Dominum tuum, quia jam veniet solvere te a vinculis.
O Jerusalem! city of the great God: lift up thine eyes round about, and see thy Lord, for he is coming to loose thee from thy chains.

[1] Agg. ii. 10.

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