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The Liturgical Year

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

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.

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

We apply the name of Christmas to the forty days which begin with the Nativity of our Lord, December 25, and end with the Purification of the Blessed Virgin, February 2. It is a period which forms a distinct portion of the Liturgical Year, as distinct, by its own special spirit, from every other, as are Advent, Lent, Easter, or Pentecost. One same Mystery is celebrated and kept in view during the whole forty days. Neither the Feasts of the Saints, which so abound during this Season; nor the time of Septuagesima, with its mournful Purple, which often begins before Christmastide is over, seem able to distract our Holy Mother the Church from the immense joy of which she received the good tidings from the Angels[1] on that glorious Night for which the world had been longing four thousand years. The Faithful will remember that the Liturgy commemorates this long expectation by the four penitential weeks of Advent.
[1] St Luke ii 10.

(From Chapter 1: The History of Christmas)

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

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.

For more information on Lent, visit here.

After having proposed the forty-days’ fast of Jesus in the desert to the meditation of the faithful during the first four weeks of Lent, the holy Church gives the two weeks which still remain before Easter to the commemoration of the Passion. She would not have her children come to that great day of the immolation of the Lamb, without having prepared for it by compassionating with Him in the sufferings He endured in their stead.

(From Chapter 1: The History of Passiontide and Holy Week)

For more information on Passiontide and Holy Week, visit here.

WITH this volume we begin the season of Easter, wherein are accomplished the mysteries prepared for, and looked forward to, since Advent. Such are the liturgical riches of this portion of the Christian year, that we have found it necessary to devote three volumes to it.

The present volume is wholly taken up with Easter Week. A week is indeed a short period; but such a week as this, with the importance of the events it brings before us, and the grandeur of the mysteries it celebrates, is, at least, equivalent to any other section of our Liturgical Year. We have abridged our explanations as much as possible; and yet we have exceeded two-thirds of one of our ordinary volumes. Hence, it was out of the question to add the remaining weeks; the more so, as the saints’ feasts recommence on the Monday following the Easter Octave, and their insertion would have obliged us to have made our volume considerably more bulky than even that of Passiontide. We have, therefore, been satisfied with giving the Mass and Office of the Annunciation, already given in our volume for Lent, but which are needed for the Monday after Low Sunday, when Easter falls between March 22 and April 2, which is frequently the case.

For more information on Paschal Tide, visit here.

This volume opens to us the second part of the Liturgical Year, beginning the long period of the Time after Pentecost. It treats of the feasts of the most holy Trinity, of Corpus Christi, and of the sacred Heart of Jesus. These three feasts require to be explained apart. Their dates depend on that of Easter; and yet they are detached, if we consider their object, from the moveable cycle, whose aim is to bring before us, each year, the successive, and so to speak historic, memories of our Lord’s mysteries. After the sublime drama, which has, by gradually presenting to us the facts of our Redeemer’s history, shown us the divine economy of the redemption, these feasts immediately follow, and give us a deep and dogmatic teaching: a teaching which is a marvellous synthesis, taking in the whole body of Christian doctrine.

The Holy Ghost has come down upon the earth, in order to sanctify it. Faith being the one basis of all sanctification, and the source of love, the holy Spirit would make it the starting-point of His divine workings in the soul. To this end, He inspires the Church, which has sprung up into life under the influence of His impetuous breathing, to propose at once to the faithful that doctrinal summary, which is comprised in the three feasts immediately coming after Pentecost. The volumes following the present one will show us the holy Spirit continuing His work, and, on the solid foundations of the faith He established at the outset, building the entire superstructure of the Christian virtues.

This was the idea which the author of the Liturgical year was busy developing in the second part of his work, when death came upon him; and the pen that had begun this volume was put by obedience into the hands of one, who now comes before the faithful, asking their prayers for the arduous task he has undertaken, of continuing the not quite finished work of his beloved father and master. He begs of them to beseech our Lord, that He Himself will vouchsafe to bring to a successful termination an undertaking that was begun for His honour and glory, and that has already produced so much fruit in the souls of men.

Br. L.F. O.S.B.

Solesmes, May 10, 1879.

 

For more information on Time after Pentecost, visit here.

If, now that we have described the characteristic features of Advent which distinguish it from the rest of the year, we would penetrate into the profound mystery which occupies the mind of the Church during this season, we find that this mystery of the coming, or Advent, of Jesus is at once simple and threefold. It is simple, for it is the one same Son of God that is coming; it is threefold, because He comes at three different times and in three different ways.

'In the first coming,’ says St. Bernard, 'He comes in the flesh and in weakness; in the second, He comes in spirit and in power; in the third, He comes in glory and in majesty; and the second coming is the means whereby we pass from the first to the third.’[1]

This, then, is the mystery of Advent. Let us now listen to the explanation of this threefold visit of Christ, given to us by Peter of Blois, in his third Sermon de Adventu:

There are three comings of our Lord; the first in the flesh, the second in the soul, the third at the judgement. The first was at midnight, according to those words of the Gospel: At midnight there was a cry made, Lo the Bridegroom cometh! But this first coming is long since past, for Christ has been seen on the earth and has conversed among men. We are now in the second coming, provided only we are such as that He may thus come to us; for He has said that if we love Him, He will come unto us and will take up His abode with us. So that this second coming is full of uncertainty to us; for who, save the Spirit of God, knows them that are of God? They that are raised out of themselves by the desire of heavenly things, know indeed when He comes; but whence He cometh, or whither He goeth, they know not. As for the third coming, it is most certain that it will be, most uncertain when it will be; for nothing is more sure than death, and nothing less sure than the hour of death. When they shall say, peace and security, says the apostle, then shall sudden destruction come upon them, as the pains upon her that is with child, and they shall not escape. So that the first coming was humble and hidden, the second is mysterious and full of love, the third will be majestic and terrible. In His first coming, Christ was judged by men unjustly; in His second, He renders us just by His grace; in His third, He will judge all things with justice. In His first, a lamb; in His last, a lion; in the one between the two, the tenderest of friends.[2]

The holy Church, therefore, during Advent, awaits in tears and with ardour the arrival of her Jesus in His first coming. For this, she borrows the fervid expressions of the prophets, to which she joins her own supplications. These longings for the Messias expressed by the Church, are not a mere commemoration of the desires of the ancient Jewish people; they have a reality and efficacy of their own, an influence in the great act of God’s munificence, whereby He gave us His own Son. From all eternity, the prayers of the ancient Jewish people and the prayers of the Christian Church ascended together to the prescient hearing of God; and it was after receiving and granting them, that He sent, in the appointed time, that blessed Dew upon the earth, which made it bud forth the Saviour.

The Church aspires also to the second coming, the consequence of the first, which consists, as we have just seen, in the visit of the Bridegroom to the bride. This coming takes place, each year, at the feast of Christmas, when the new birth of the Son of God delivers the faithful from that yoke of bondage, under which the enemy would oppress them.[3] The Church, therefore, during Advent, prays that she may bo visited by Him who is her Head and her Spouse; visited in her hierarchy; visited in her members, of whom some are living, and some are dead, but may come to life again; visited, lastly, in those who are not in communion with her, and even in the very infidels, that so they may be converted to the true light, which shines even for them. The expressions of the liturgy which the Church makes use of to ask for this loving and invisible coming, are those which she employs when begging for the coming of Jesus in the flesh; for the two visits are for the same object. In vain would the Son of God have come, nineteen hundred years ago, to visit and save mankind, unless He came again for each one of us and at every moment of our lives, bringing to us and cherishing within us that supernatural life, of which He and His holy Spirit are the sole principle.

But this annual visit of the Spouse does not content the Church; she aspires after a third coming, which will complete all things by opening the gates of eternity. She has caught up the last words of her Spouse, 'Surely I am coming quickly';[4] and she cries out to Him, 'Ah! Lord Jesus! come!’[5] She is impatient to be loosed from her present temporal state; she longs for the number of the elect to be filled up, and to see appear, in the clouds of heaven, the sign of her Deliverer and her Spouse. Her desires, expressed by her Advent liturgy, go even as far as this; and here we have the explanation of these words of the beloved disciple in his prophecy: 'The nuptials of the Lamb are come, and His wife hath prepared herself.’[6]

But the day of this His last coming to her will be a day of terror. The Church frequently trembles at the very thought of that awful judgement, in which all mankind is to be tried. She calls it ‘a day of wrath, on which, as David and the Sibyl have foretold, the world will be reduced to ashes; a day of weeping and of fear.' Not that she fears for herself, since she knows that this day will for ever secure for her the crown, as being the bride of Jesus; but her maternal heart is troubled at the thought that, on the same day, so many of her children will be on the left hand of the Judge, and, having no share with the elect, will be bound hand and foot, and cast into the darkness, where there shall be everlasting weeping and gnashing of teeth. This is the reason why the Church, in the liturgy of Advent, so frequently speaks of the coming of Christ as a terrible coming, and selects from the Scriptures those passages which are most calculated to awaken a salutary fear in the mind of such of her children as may be sleeping the sleep of sin.

This, then, is the threefold mystery of Advent. The liturgical forms in which it is embodied, are of two kinds: the one consists of prayers, passages from the Bible, and similar formulæ, in all of which, words themselves are employed to convey the sentiments which we have been explaining; the other consists of external rites peculiar to this holy time, which, by speaking to the outward senses, complete the expressiveness of the chants and words.

First of all, there is the number of the days of Advent. Forty was the number originally adopted by the Church, and it is still maintained in the Ambrosian liturgy, and in the eastern Church. If, at a later period, the Church of Rome, and those which follow her liturgy, have changed the number of days, the same idea is still expressed in the four weeks which have been substituted for the forty days. The new birth of our Redeemer takes place after four weeks, as the first nativity happened after four thousand years, according to the Hebrew and Vulgate chronology.

As in Lent, so likewise during Advent, marriage is not solemnized, lest worldly joy should distract Christians from those serious thoughts wherewith the expected coming of the sovereign Judge ought to inspire them, or from that dearly cherished hope which the friends of the Bridegroom[7] have of being soon called to the eternal nuptial-feast.

The people are forcibly reminded of the sadness which fills the heart of the Church, by the sombre colour of the vestments. Excepting on the feasts of the saints, purple is the colour she uses; the deacon does not wear the dalmatic, nor the sub-deacon the tunic. Formerly it was the custom, in some places, to wear black vestments. This mourning of the Church shows how fully she unites herself with those true Israelites of old who, clothed in sackcloth and ashes, waited for the Messias, and bewailed Sion that she had not her beauty, and 'Juda, that the sceptre had been taken from him, till Ho should come who was to be sent, the expectation of nations.’[8] It also signifies the works of penance, whereby she prepares for the second coming, full as it is of sweetness and mystery, which is realized in the souls of men, in proportion as they appreciate the tender love of that divine Guest, who has said: 'My delights are to be with the children of men.’[9] It expresses, thirdly, the desolation of this bride who yearns after her Beloved, who is long a-coming. Like the turtle dove, she moans her loneliness, longing for the voice which will say to her: ‘Come from Libanus, my bride! come, thou shalt be crowned. Thou hast wounded my heart.’[10]

The Church also, during Advent, excepting on the feasts of saints, suppresses the angelic canticle, Gloria in excelsis Deo, et in terra pax hominibus bonæ voluntatis; for this glorious song was sung at Bethlehem over the crib of the divine Babe; the tongues of the angels are not loosened yet; the Virgin has not yet brought forth her divine Treasure; it is not yet time to sing, it is not even true to say, ‘Glory be to God in the highest, and peace on earth to men of good will.'

Again, at the end of Mass, the deacon does not dismiss the assembly of the faithful by the words: Ite missa est He substitutes the ordinary greeting: Benedicamus Domino! as though the Church feared to interrupt the prayers of the people, which could scarce be too long during these days of expectation.

In the night Office, the holy Church also suspends, on those same days, the hymn of jubilation, Te Deum laudamus.[11] It is in deep humility that she awaits the supreme blessing which is to come to her; and, in the interval, she presumes only to ask, and entreat, and hope. But let the glorious hour come, when in the midst of darkest night the Sun of justice will suddenly rise upon the world: then indeed she will resume her hymn of thanksgiving, and all over the face of the earth the silence of midnight will be broken by this shout of enthusiasm: 'We praise Thee, O God! we acknowledge Thee to be our Lord! Thou, O Christ, art the King of glory, the everlasting Son of the Father! Thou being to deliver man didst not disdain the Virgin’s womb!’

On the ferial days, the rubrics of Advent prescribe that certain prayers should be said kneeling, at the end of each canonical Hour, and that the choir should also kneel during a considerable portion of the Mass. In this respect, the usages of Advent are precisely the same as those of Lent.

But there is one feature which distinguishes Advent most markedly from Lent: the word of gladness, the joyful Alleluia, is not interrupted during Advent, except once or twice during the ferial Office. It is sung in the Masses of the four Sundays, and vividly contrasts with the sombre colour of the vestments. On one of these Sundays, the third, the prohibition of using the organ is removed, and we are gladdened by its grand notes, and rose-coloured vestments may be used instead of the purple. These vestiges of joy, thus blended with the holy mournfulness of the Church, tell us, in a most expressive way, that though she unites with the ancient people of God in praying for the coming of the Messias (thus paying the debt which the entire human race owes to the justice and mercy of God), she does not forget that the Emmanuel is already come to her, that He is in her, and that even before she has opened her lips to ask Him to save her, she has been already redeemed and predestined to an eternal union with Him. This is the reason why the Alleluia accompanies even her sighs, and why she seems to be at once joyous and sad. waiting for the coming of that holy night which will be brighter to her than the most sunny of days, and on which her joy will expel all her sorrow.

 


[1] Fifth sermon for Advent.
[2] De Adventu, Sermon III.
[3] Collect for Christmas day.
[4] Apoc. xxii. 20.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid. xix. 7.
[7] St. John iii. 29.
[8] Gen. xlix. 10.
[9] Prov. viii. 31.
[10] Cant. iv. 8, 9.
[11] The monastic rite retains it. [Tr.]

 

 

IF our holy mother the Church spends the time of Advent in this solemn preparation for the threefold coming of Jesus Christ; if, after the example of the prudent virgins, she keeps her lamp lit ready for the coming of the Bridegroom; we, being her members and her children, ought to enter into her spirit, and apply to ourselves this warning of our Saviour: ‘Let your loins be girt, and lamps burning in your hands, and ye yourselves be like unto men who wait for their Lord!’[1] The Church and we have, in reality, the same hopes. Each one of us is, on the part of God, an object of mercy and care, as is the Church herself. If she is the temple of God, it is because she is built of living stones; if she is the bride, it is because she consists of all the souls which are invited to eternal union with God. If it is written that the Saviour hath purchased the Church with His own Blood,[2] may not each one of us say of himself those words of St. Paul, ‘Christ hath loved me, and hath delivered Himself up for me’?[3] Our destiny being the same, then, as that of the Church, we should endeavour during Advent, to enter into the spirit of preparation, which is, as we have seen, that of the Church herself.

And firstly, it is our duty to join with the saints of the old Law in asking for the Messias, and thus pay the debt which the whole human race owes to the divine mercy. In order to fulfil this duty with fervour, let us go back in thought to those four thousand years, represented by the four weeks of Advent, and reflect on the darkness and crime which filled the world before our Saviour’s coming. Let our hearts be filled with lively gratitude towards Him who saved His creature man from death, and who came down from heaven that He might know our miseries by Himself experiencing them, yes, all of them excepting sin. Let us cry to Him with confidence from the depths of our misery; for, notwithstanding His having saved the work of His hands, He still wishes us to beseech Him to save us. Let therefore our desires and our confidence have their free utterance in the ardent supplications of the ancient prophets, which the Church puts on our lips during these days of expectation; let us give our closest attention to the sentiments which they express.

This first duty complied with, we must next turn our minds to the coming which our Saviour wishes to accomplish in our own hearts. It is, as we have seen, a coming full of sweetness and mystery, and a consequence of the first; for the good Shepherd comes not only to visit the flock in general, but He extends His solicitude to each one of the sheep, even to the hundredth which is lost. Now, in order to appreciate the whole of this ineffable mystery, we must remember that, since we can be pleasing to our heavenly Father only inasmuch as He sees within us His Son Jesus Christ, this amiable Saviour deigns to come into each one of us, and transform us, if we will but consent, into Himself, so that henceforth we may live, not we, but He in us. This is, in reality, the one grand aim of the Christian religion, to make man divine through Jesus Christ: it is the task which God has given to His Church to do, and she says to the faithful what St. Paul said to his Galatians: ‘My little children, of whom I am in labour again, until Christ be formed within you!’[4]

But as, on His entering into this world, our divine Saviour first showed Himself under the form of a weak Babe, before attaining the fulness of the age of manhood, and this to the end that nothing might be wanting to His sacrifice, so does He intend to do in us; there is to be a progress in His growth within us. Now, it is at the feast of Christmas that He delights to be born in our souls, and that He pours out over the whole Church a grace of being born, to which, however, not all are faithful.

For this glorious solemnity, as often as it comes round, finds three classes of men. The first, and the smallest number, are those who live, in all its plenitude, the life of Jesus who is within them, and aspire incessantly after the increase of this life. The second class of souls is more numerous; they are living, it is true, because Jesus is in them; but they are sick and weakly, because they care not to grow in this divine life; their charity has become cold![5] The rest of men make up the third division, and are they that have no part of this life in them, and are dead; for Christ has said: 'I am the Life.’[6] Now, during the season of Advent, our Lord knocks at the door of all men’s hearts, at one time so forcibly that they must needs notice Him; at another, so softly that it requires attention to know that Jesus is asking admission. He comes to ask them if they have room for Him, for He wishes to be born in their house. The house indeed is His, for he built it and preserves it; yet He complains that His own refused to receive Him;[7] at least the greater number did. 'But as many as received Him, He gave them power to be made the sons of God, born not of blood, nor of the flesh, but of God.’[8] He will be born, then, with more beauty and lustre and might than you have hitherto seen in Him, O ye faithful ones, who hold Him within you as your only treasure, and who have long lived no other life than His, shaping your thoughts and works on the model of His. You will feel the necessity of words to suit and express your love; such words as He delights to hear you speak to Him. You will find them in the holy liturgy.

You, who have had Him within you without knowing Him, and have possessed Him without relishing the sweetness of His presence, open your hearts to welcome Him, this time, with more care and love. He repeats His visit of this year with an untiring tenderness; He has forgotten your past slights; He would ‘that all things be new.’[9] Make room for the divine Infant, for He desires to grow within your soul. The time of His coming is close at hand: let your heart, then, be on the watch; and lest you should slumber when He arrives, watch and pray, yea, sing. The words of the liturgy are intended also for your use: they speak of darkness, which only God can enlighten; of wounds, which only His mercy can heal; of a faintness, which can be braced only by His divine energy.

And you, Christians, for whom the good tidings are as things that are not, because you are dead in sin, lo! He who is very life is coming among you. Yes, whether this death of sin has held you as its slave for long years, or has but freshly inflicted on you the wound which made you its victim, Jesus, your Life, is coming: 'why, then, will you die? He desireth not the death of the sinner, but rather that he be converted and live.’[10] The grand feast of His birth will be a day of mercy for the whole world; at least, for all who will give Him admission into their hearts: they will rise to life again in Him, their past life will be destroyed, and where sin abounded, there grace will more abound.[11]

But, if the tenderness and the attractiveness of this mysterious coming make no impression on you, because your heart is too weighed down to be able to rise to confidence, and because, having so long drunk sin like water, you know not what it is to long with love for the caresses of a Father whom you have slighted—then turn your thoughts to that other coming, which is full of terror, and is to follow the silent one of grace that is now offered. Think within yourselves, how this earth of ours will tremble at the approach of the dread Judge; how the heavens will flee from before His face, and fold up as a book;[12] how man will wince under His angry look; how the creature will wither away with fear, as the twoedged sword, which comes from the mouth of his Creator,[13] pierces him; and how sinners will cry out, ‘Ye mountains, fall on us! ye rocks, cover us!’[14] Those unhappy souls who would not know the time of their visitation,[15] shall then vainly wish to hide themselves from the face of Jesus. They shut their hearts against this Man-God, who, in His excessive love for them, wept over them: therefore, on the day of judgement they will descend alive into those everlasting fires, whose flame devoureth the earth with her increase, and burneth the foundations of the mountains.[16] The worm that never dieth,[17] the useless eternal repentance, will gnaw them for ever.

Let those, then, who are not touched by the tidings of the coming of the heavenly Physician and the good Shepherd who giveth His life for His sheep, meditate during Advent on the awful yet certain truth, that so many render the redemption unavailable to themselves by refusing to co-operate in their own salvation. They may treat the Child who is to be born[18] with disdain; but He is also the mighty God, and do they think they can withstand Him on that day, when He is to come, not to save, as now, but to judge? Would that they knew more of this divine Judge, before whom the verysaints tremble! Let these, also, use the liturgy of this season, and they will there learn how much He is to be feared by sinners.

We would not imply by this that only sinners need to fear; no, every Christian ought to fear. Fear, when there is no nobler sentiment with it, makes man a slave; when it accompanies love, it is a feeling which fills the heart of a child who has offended his father, yet seeks for pardon; when, at length, love casteth out fear,[19] even then this holy fear will sometimes come, and, like a flash of lightning, pervade the deepest recesses of the soul. It does the soul good. She wakes up afresh to a keener sense of her own misery and of the unmerited mercy of her Redeemer. Let no one, therefore, think that he may safely pass his Advent without taking any share in the holy fear which animates the Church. She, though so beloved by God, prays to Him to give her this fear; and in her Office of Sext, she thus cries out to Him: 'Pierce my flesh with Thy fear.’ It is, however, to those who are beginning a good life, that this part of the Advent liturgy will be peculiarly serviceable.

It is evident, from what we have said, that Advent is a season specially devoted to the exercises of what is called the purgative life, which is implied in that expression of St. John, so continually repeated by the Church during this holy time: Prepare ye the way of the Lord! Let all, therefore, strive earnestly to make straight the path by which Jesus will enter into their souls. Let the just, agreeably to the teaching of the apostle, forget the things that are behind,[20] and labour to acquire fresh merit. Let sinners begin at once and break the chains which now enslave them. Let them give up those bad habits which they have contracted. Let them weaken the flesh, and enter upon the hard work of subjecting it to the spirit. Let them, above all things, pray with the Church. And when our Lord comes, they may hope that He will not pass them by, but that He will enter and dwell within them; for He spoke of all when He said these words: 'Behold I stand at the gate and knock: if any man shall hear My voice and open to Me the door, I will come in unto him.’[21]

 


 

[1] St. Luke xii. 35, 36.
[2] Acts xv. 28.
[3] Gal. ii. 20.
[4] Gal. iv. 19.
[5] Apoc. ii. 4.
[6] St. John xiv. 6.
[7] Ibidi. 11.
[8] Ibid. 12, 13.
[9] Apoc. xxi. 5.
[10] Ezechiel xviii. 31, 32.
[11] Rom. v. 20.
[12] Apoc vi. 14.
[13] Ibid. i. 16.
[14] St. Luke xxiii. 30.
[15] Ibid. xix. 44.
[16] Deut. xxxii. 22.
[17] St. Mark ix. 43.
[18] Is. ix. 6.
[19] 1 St. John iv. 18.
[20] Phil. iii. 13.
[21] Apoc. iii. 20.

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

DURING Advent, the Christian, on awaking in the morning, will unite himself with the Church, who, in her Office of Matins, says to us these solemn words, which choirs of religious, men and women, throughout the universe, have been chanting during the deep silence of the night:

Regem venturum Dominum, venite, adoremus.
Come, let us adore the King our Lord, who is to come!

He will profoundly adore this great King, whose coming is so near at hand: and with this idea deeply impressed upon his mind, he will perform the first acts of religion, both interior and exterior, wherewith he begins the day. The time for morning prayer being come, he may use the following method, which is formed upon the very prayers of the Church:

 

Morning Prayers

 

First, praise and adoration of the Most Holy Trinity:

℣. Benedicamus Patrem et Filium, cum Sancto Spiritu.

℟. Laudemus et superexaltemus eum in sæcula.

℣. Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto.

℟. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc et semper, et in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
℣. Let us bless the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

℟. Let us praise him and extol him above all, for ever.

℣. 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 praise to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ:

℣. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.

℟. Quia per Crucem tuam redemisti mundum.
℣. We adore thee, O Christ, and we bless thee.

℟. Because by thy Cross thou hast redeemed the world.

Thirdly, invocation of the Holy Ghost:

Veni, Sancte Spiritus, reple tuorum corda fidelium, et tui amoris in eis ignem accende.
Come, O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful, and enkindle within them the fire of thy love.

After these fundamental acts of religion, you will recite the Lord’s Prayer, asking of God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to grant that His holy name may be glorified on earth by sending His Son, who will found the kingdom of God; and that He will vouchsafe to give us this Saviour who is our Bread and who will obtain for us, by the mediation so long looked for, the forgiveness of our sins; finally, that He will deliver us from sin, which is the sovereign evil.

The Lord’s Prayer

Pater noster, qui es in cœlis, sanctificetur nomen tuum: adveniat regnum tuum: fiat voluntas tua sicut in cœlo, et in terra. Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie: et dimitte nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris: et ne nos inducas in tentationem: sed libera nos a malo. Amen.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed he thy name: thy kingdom come: thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give as this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us: and lead us not into temptation: but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Then address the angelical salutation to Mary, who is, in these days which precede the Nativity, so truly full of grace, since she has in her chaste womb Him who is the author of all grace. The Lord, the fruit of her womb, is with her; and we may already give her the sublime and unshared title of Mother of God.

The Angelical Salutation

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

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostræ. Amen.
Hail Mary, full of grace; the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

After this, recite the symbol of faith; and as you pronounce the words, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, dwell on them with special attention, adoring the Saviour, who is as yet concealed in Mary’s womb.

Creed

Credo in Deum Patrem omnipotentem creatorem cœli et terræ. Et in Jesum Christum Filium ejus unicum, Dominum nostrum: qui conceptus est de Spiritu Sancto, natus ex Maria Virgine, passus sub Pontio Pilato, crucifixus, mortuus, et sepultus: descendit ad inferos, tertia die resurrexit a mortuis: ascendit ad cœlos, sedet ad dexteram Dei Patris omnipotentis: inde venturus est judicare vivos et mortuos.

Credo in Spiritum Sanctum, sanctam Ecclesiam Catholicam, Sanctorum communionem, remissionem peccatorum, carnis resurrectionem, vitam æternam. Amen.
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, his only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell, the third day he arose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost: the Holy Catholic Church; the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

After having thus made the profession of your faith, excite within yourself sentiments of penance, by the remembrance of the sins you have committed; of gratitude to the Lamb of God, who is coming in order to save us; and of fear of the last day. For this end, say with the Church the following hymn taken from the Office of Lauds for Advent.

Antiphons For Christmas

En clara vox redarguit,
Obscura quæque personans;
Procul fugentur somnia:
Ab alto Jesus promicat.

Mens jam resurgat torpida.
Non amplius jacens humi:
Sidus refulget jam novum,
Ut tollat omne noxium.

En Agnus ad nos mittitur
Laxare gratis debitum:
Omnes simul, cum lacrymis,
Precemur indulgentiam.

Ut cum secundo fulserit
Metuque mundum cinxerit,
Non pro reatu puniat,
Sed nos pius tunc protegat.

Virtus, honor, laus, gloria,
Deo Patri cum Filio,
Sancto simul Paraclito,
In sæculorum sæcula.

Amen.

 

The solemn voice of the Precursor is heard,
explaining the obscurity of the ancient figures;
let our slumbers cease;
Jesus is rising on our horizon.

Let the sluggish soul now rise,
and stay no more upon this earth;
a new star is shining
which will take all sin away.

Lo! the Lamb is sent to forgive us
freely our debt:
let us unite in tears and prayers,
that we may obtain pardon.

That when he comes the second time,
filling the world with fear,
he may not have to punish us for our sins,
but may protect us in mercy.

Power, honour, praise, and glory,
be to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the holy Paraclete,
for ever and ever.

Amen.

 


Here make a humble confession of your sins, reciting the general formula made use of by the Church.

The Confession of Sins

Confiteor Deo Omnipotenti, beatæ Mariæ semper Virgini, beato Michaeli Archangelo, beato Joanni Baptistæ, sanctis Apostolis Petro et Paulo, et omnibus sanctis, quia peccavi nimis cogitatione, verbo, et opere: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Ideo precor beatam Mariam semper Virginem, beatum Michaelem Archangelum, beatum Joannem Baptistam, sanctos Apostolos Petrum et Paulum, et omnes sanctos, orare pro me ad Dominum Deum nostrum.

Misereatur nostri omnipotens Deus, et dimissis peccatis nostris, perducat nos ad vitam æternam. Amen.

Indulgentiam, absolutionem, et remissionem peccatorum nostrorum tribuat nobis omnipotens et misericors Dominus. Amen.
I confess to Almighty God, to blessed Mary ever Virgin, to blessed Michael the Archangel, to blessed John Baptist, to the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and to all the saints, that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed: through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. Therefore I beseech the blessed Mary ever Virgin, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and all the saints, to pray to our Lord God for me.

May Almighty God have mercy on us, and our sins being forgiven, bring us to life everlasting. Amen.

May the almighty and merciful Lord grant us pardon, absolution, and remission of our sins. Amen.

This is the proper place for making your meditation, as no doubt you practise this holy exercise. During Advent, its principal object ought to be the removing from ourselves those hindrances, which would oppose Jesus’ coming and reigning within us. The love of sensual pleasures, avarice, and pride, that triple concupiscence which St. John so strongly condemns in his first Epistle, must be withstood, else our preparation for Christmas is useless. And as the chief thing in every prayer or meditation is to turn our thoughts to Jesus Christ, we must, during Advent, contemplate Him in the womb of Mary, where He remains hidden, giving us, by this His state of abasement, a most telling lesson of devotedness to His Father’s glory, of obedience to the divine decrees, and of humility; but, at the same time, He gives us a most powerful proof of the greatness of His love of us. This thought will naturally suggest to us a variety of motives and resolutions for breaking those ties which keep us from a virtuous life. But should they not produce sufficient impression on us, we must then consider Jesus as our Judge, in the dread magnificence of His majesty, and all the severity of His inevitable vengeance.

The next part of your morning prayer must be to ask of God, by the following prayers, grace to avoid every kind of sin during the day you are just beginning. Say, then, with the Church, whose prayers must always be preferred to all others:

℣. Domine, exaudi orationem meam.

℟. Et clamor meus ad te veniat.

Oremus

Domine, Deus omnipotens, qui ad principium hujus diei nos pervenire fecisti, tua nos hodie salva virtute, ut in hac die ad nullum declinemus peccatum, sed semper ad tuam justitiam faciendam nostra procedant eloquia, dirigantur cogitationes et opera. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
℣. O Lord, hear my prayer.

℟. And let my cry come unto thee.

Let us pray

Almighty Lord and God, who hast brought us to the beginning of this day, let thy powerful grace so conduct us through it, that we may not fall into any sin, but that all our thoughts, words, and actions may be regulated according to the rules of thy heavenly justice, and tend to the observance of thy holy law. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Then beg the divine assistance for the actions of the day, that you may do them well; and say thrice:

℣. Deus, in adjutorium meum intende.

℟. Domine, ad adjuvandum me festina.

℣. Deus, in adjutorium meum intende.

℟. Domine, ad adjuvandum me festina.

℣. Deus, in adjutorium meum intende.

℟. Domine, ad adjuvandum me festina.

Oremus

Dirigere et sanctificare, regere et gubernare dignare, Domine Deus, Rex cœli et terræ, hodie corda et corpora nostra, sensus, sermones et actus nostros in lege tua, et in operibus mandatorum tuorum, ut hic et in æternum, te auxiliante, salvi et liberi esse mere amur, Salvator mundi. Qui vivis et regnas in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
℣. Incline unto my aid, O God.

℟. O Lord, make haste to help me.

℣. Incline unto my aid, O God.

℟. O Lord, make haste to help me.

℣. Incline unto my aid, O God.

℟. O Lord, make haste to help me.

Let us pray

Lord God, and King of heaven and earth, vouchsafe this day to rule and sanctify, to direct and govern our souls and bodies, our senses, words, and actions in conformity to thy law, and strict obedience to thy commands; that by the help of thy grace, O Saviour of the world! we may be fenced and freed from all evils. Who livest and reignest for ever and ever. Amen.

After this, uniting yourself with the Church, which, both in the Divine Office, and during the holy Sacrifice, prays for the coming of Jesus Christ, say:

℣. Veni ad liberandum nos, Domino Deus virtutum.
℟. Ostende faciem tuam, et salvi erimus.

℣. Ostende nobis, Domine, misericordiam tuam.
℟. Et salutare tuum da nobis.

℣. Super te, Jerusalem, orietur Dominus.
℟. Et gloria ejus in te videbitur.


(First week):



Oremus.

Excita, quæsumus, Domine, potentiam tuam et veni; ut ab imminentibus peccatorum nostrorum periculis, te mereamur protegente eripi, te liberante salvari. Qui vivis et regnas, Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum.

℟. Amen.


(Second week):

Excita, Domine, corda nostra ad præparandas Unigeniti tui vias: ut per ejus adventum, purificatis tibi mentibus servire mereamur. Qui tecum vivit et regnat in sæcula sæculorum.

℟. Amen.


(Third week):

Aurem tuam, quæsumus, Domine, precibus nostris accommoda: et mentis nostræ tenebras gratia tuæ visitationis illustra. Qui vivis et regnas Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum.

℟. Amen.


(Fourth week):

Excita, quæsumus, Domino, potentiam tuam et veni, et magna nobis virtute succurre: ut, per auxilium gratiæ tuæ, quod nostra peccata præpodiunt indulgentia tuæ propitiationis acceleret. Qui vivis et regnas Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum.

℟. Amen.

℣. O Lord God of hosts, come and deliver us.
℟. Show thy face, and we shall be saved.

℣. Show us, O Lord, thy mercy.
℟. And grant us the Saviour, whom we expect from thee.

℣. The Lord shall rise upon thee, O Jerusalem.
℟. And his glory shall be seen upon thee.





Let us pray.

Exert, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy power and come; that by thy protection we may be freed from the imminent dangers of our sins, and be saved by thy mercy; who livest and reignest God, world without end.

℟. Amen.




Stir up, O Lord, our hearts to prepare the ways of thy only-begotten Son: that by his coming we may be enabled to serve thee with pure minds; who livest and reignest God, world without end.

℟. Amen.



Bend thine ear, O Lord, we beseech thee, to our prayers, and enlighten the darkness of our minds by the grace of thy visitation; who livest and reignest God, world without end.

℟. Amen.




Exert, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy power and come; and succour us by thy great might; that by the assistance of thy grace, thy indulgent mercy may hasten what is delayed by our sins; who livest and reignest God, world without end.

℟. Amen.


It would be well to add the special prayer which the Church says, during Advent, in honour of the blessed Mother of God.

Oremus.

Deus, qui de beatæ Mariæ Virginis utero, Verbum tuum, angelo nuntiante, carnem suscipere voluisti; præsta supplicibus tuis, ut qui vere eam Genitricem Dei credimus, ejus apud tointercessionibus adjuvemur. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum.

℟. Amen.
Let us Pray.

O God, who wast pleased that thy Word, when the angel delivered his message, should take flesh in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary; give ear to our humble petitions, and grant that we, who believe her to bo truly the Mother of God, may bo helped by her prayers. Through the same Christ our Lord.

℟. Amen.

During the day, you may use the instructions and prayers which you will find in this volume for each day of Advent, both for the proper of the time, and the proper of the saints. In the evening, you may use the following prayers.

 

NIGHT PRAYERS

 

After having made the sign of the cross, adore the divine Majesty, who has so mercifully preserved you during this day, and so plentifully bestowed upon you, every hour, His grace and protection. Begin by reciting the hymn which the Church sings at Vespers during Advent.

Hymn

Creator alme siderum,
Æterna lux credentium,
Jesu, Redemptor omnium,
Intende votis supplicum.

Qui dæmonis ne fraudibus
Periret orbis, impetu
Amoris actus, languidi
Mundi medela factus es.

Commune qui mundi nefas
Ut expiares, ad crucem,
E Virginis sacrario
Intacta prodis victima.

Cujus potestas gloriæ
Nomenque quum primum sonat,
Et cœlites et inferi
Tremente curvantur genu.

Te deprecamur, ultimæ
Magnum diei judicem,
Armis supernæ gratiæ
Defendo nos ab hostibus.

Virtus, honor, laus, gloria,
Deo Patri cum Filio,
Sancto simul Paraclito,
In sæculorum sæcula.

Amen.
O Jesus, thou kind Creator of the heavens,
eternal light of believers,
and Redeemer of all mankind,
hear the prayers of thy suppliants.

Lest the world should perish by the fraud of the devil,
thou, impelled by the vehemence of thy love for us,
didst thyself become
the remedy of all our weakness.

To expiate the sin of the whole world,
thou didst come from the sanctuary
of the Virgin’s womb,
a victim destined to the cross.

How glorious is thy power,
when, at the very sound of thy name,
heaven and hell
bend the trembling knee!

We beseech thee,
dread Judge of the last day,
defend us from our enemies
by the armour of thy heavenly grace.

Power, honour, praise, and glory,
be to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the holy Paraclete,
for ever and ever.

Amen.

 


After this hymn, say the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Apostles’ Creed, as in the morning.

Then make the examination of conscience, going over in your mind all the faults you may have committed during the day; think how unworthy sin makes us of the merciful visit of our Saviour, and make a firm resolution to avoid sin for the future, to do penance for it, and to avoid the occasions which might lead you into it.

The examination of conscience concluded, recite the Confiteor (or ‘I confess’) with heartfelt contrition, and then give expression to your sorrow by the following act, which we have taken from the Venerable Cardinal Bellarmine’s Catechism:

Act of Contrition

O my God, I am exceedingly grieved for having offended thee, and with my whole heart I repent for the sins I have committed: I hate and abhor them above every other evil, not only because, by so sinning, I have lost heaven and deserve Hell, but still more because I have offended thee, O infinite Goodness, who art worthy to be loved above all things. I most firmly resolve, by the assistance of thy grace, never more to offend thee for the time to come, and to avoid those occasions which might lead me into sin.

You may then add the Acts of Faith, Hope, and Charity, to the recitation of which Pope Benedict XIV has granted an indulgence of seven years and seven quarantines for each time.

Act of Faith

O my God, I firmly believe whatsoever the holy Catholic Apostolic Roman Church requires me to believe: I believe it, because thou hast revealed it to her, thou who art the very Truth.

Act of Hope

O my God, knowing thy almighty power, and thy infinite goodness and mercy, I hope in thee that, by the merits of the Passion and Death of our Saviour Jesus Christ, thou wilt grant me eternal life, which thou hast promised to all such as shall do the works of a good Christian; and these I resolve to do, with the help of thy grace.

Act of Charity

O my God, I love thee with my whole heart and above all things, because thou art the sovereign Good: I would rather lose all things than offend thee. For thy love also, I love and desire to love my neighbour as myself.

Then say to our Blessed Lady, in honour of the ineffable dignity of her Maternity, the following Anthem:

Alma Redemptoris mater, quæ pervia cœli
Porta manes, et stella maris, succurre cadenti
Surgere qui curat populo: tu quæ genuisti,
Natura mirante, tuum sanctum Genitorem,
Virgo prius ac posterius, Gabrielis ab ore
Sumens illud Ave, peccatorum miserere.

℣. Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariæ.
℟. Et concepit de Spiritu Sancto.

Oremus.

Gratiam tuam, quæsumus, Domine, mentibus nostris infunde, ut qui, angelo nunti ante, Christi Filii tui Incarnationem cognovimus, per Passionem ejus et crucem ad Rosurrectionis gloriam perducamur. Per eumdom Christum Dominum nostrum

℟. Amen.
Sweet Mother of our Redeemer, gate whereby we enter
heaven, and Star of the sea! help us, we fall;
yet do we long to rise. Nature looked upon thee with admiration,
when thou didst give birth to thy divine Creator,
thyself remaining, before and after it, a pure Virgin.
Gabriel spoke his Hail to thee; we sinners crave thy pity.

℣. The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
℟. And she conceived of the Holy Ghost.

Let us pray.

Pour forth, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy grace into our hearts; that we to whom the Incarnation of Christ thy Son was made known by the message of an angel, may by his Passion and cross be brought to the glory of his Resurrection. Through the same Christ our Lord.

℟. Amen.

You would do well to add the litany of our Lady. An indulgence of three hundred days, for each time it is recited, has been granted by the Church.

The Litany of the Blessed Virgin

Kyrie, eleison.
Christe, eleison.
Kyrie, eleison.
Christe, audi nos.
Christe, exaudi nos.
Pater de cœlis, Deus, miserere nobis.
Fili, Redemptor mundi, Deus, miserere nobis
Spiritus Sancte, Deus, miserere nobis.
Sancta Trinitas, unus Deus, miserere nobis.
Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis.
Sancta Dei Genitrix, ora, etc.
Sancta Virgo virginum,
Mater Christi,
Mater divinæ gratiæ,
Mater purissima,
Mater castissima,
Mater inviolata,
Mater intemerata,
Mater amabilis,
Mater admirabilis,
Mater boni consilii,
Mater Creatoris,
Mater Salvatoris,
Virgo prudentissima,
Virgo veneranda,
Virgo prædicanda,
Virgo potens,
Virgo demens,
Virgo fidelis,
Speculum justitiæ.
Sedes sapientiæ,
Causa nostræ lætitiæ,
Vas spirituale,
Vas honorabile,
Vas insigne devotionis,
Rosa mystica,
Turris Davidica,
Turris eburnea,
Domus aurea,
Fœderis arca,
Janua cœli,
Stella matutina,
Salus infirmorum,
Refugium peccatorum,
Consolatrix afflictorum,
Auxilium Christianorum,
Regina Angelorum,
Regina Patriarcharum,
Regina Prophetarum,
Regina Apostolorum,
Regina Martyrum,
Regina Confessorum,
Regina Virginum,
Regina Sanctorum omnium,
Regina sine labe originali concepta,
Regina Sacratissimi Rosarii,
Regina pacis,
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, parce nobis, Domine.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, exaudi nos, Domine.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Christe, audi nos.
Christe, exaudi nos.

℣. Ora pro nobis, sancta Dei Genitrix.
℟. Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.

Oremus

Concede nos famulos tuos, quæsumus, Domine Deus, perpetua mentis et corporis sanitate gaudere: et gloriosa beatæ Mariæ semper Virginis intercessione, a præsenti liberari tristitia, et æterna perfrui lætitia. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mother of God, pray, etc.
Holy Virgin of virgins,
Mother of Christ,
Mother of divine grace,
Mother most pure,
Mother most chaste,
Mother inviolate,
Mother undefiled,
Mother most amiable,
Mother most admirable,
Mother of good counsel,
Mother of our Creator,
Mother of our Redeemer,
Virgin most prudent,
Virgin most venerable,
Virgin most renowned,
Virgin most powerful,
Virgin most merciful,
Virgin most faithful,
Mirror of justice,
Seat of wisdom,
Cause of our joy,
Spiritual vessel,
Vessel of honour,
Singular vessel of devotion,
Mystical Rose,
Tower of David,
Tower of ivory.
House of gold,
Ark of the covenant,
Gate of heaven,
Morning Star,
Health of the weak,
Refuge of sinners,
Comforter of the afflicted,
Help of Christians,
Queen of Angels,
Queen of Patriarchs,
Queen of Prophets,
Queen of Apostles,
Queen of Martyrs,
Queen of Confessors,
Queen of Virgins,
Queen of all Saints,
Queen conceived without original sin,
Queen of the Most Holy Rosary,
Queen of peace.
O Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
O Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord.
O Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

℣. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
℟. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray

Grant, O Lord, we beseech thee, that we thy servants may enjoy constant health of body and mind, and by the glorious intercession of Blessed Mary, ever a Virgin, be delivered from all present affliction, and come to that joy which is eternal. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Here invoke the Holy Angels, whose protection is, indeed, always so much needed by us, but never so much as during the hours of night. Say with the Church:

Sancti Angeli, custodes nostri, defendite nos in prælio, ut non pereamus in tremendo judicio.
℣. Angelis suis Deus mandavit de te.
℟. Ut custodiant te in omnibus viis tuis.

Oremus.

Deus, qui ineffabili provi· dentia sanctos Angelos tuos ad nostram custodiam mittere dignaris: largire supplicibus tuis, et eorum semper protectione defendi, et æterna societate gaudere. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Holy Angels, our loving Guardians, defend us in the hour of battle, that we may not be lost at the dreadful judgement.
℣. God hath given his Angels charge of thee.
℟. That they may guard thee in all thy ways.

Let us Pray.

O God, who in thy wonderful providence hast been pleased to appoint thy holy Angels for our guardians; mercifully hear our prayers, and grant we may rest secure under their protection, and enjoy their fellowship in heaven for ever. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Then beg the assistance of the Saints by the following Antiphon and prayer of the Church:

Ant. Ecce Dominus veniet, et omnes sancti ejus cum eo: et erit in die illa lux magna, alleluia.
℣. Ecce apparebit Dominus super nubem candidam.
℟. Et cum eo sanctorum millia.

Oremus.

Conscientias nostras, quæsumus, Domine, visitando purifica: ut veniens Jesus Christus Filius tuus Dominus noster, cum omnibus sanctis suis, paratam sibi in nobis inveniat mansionem. Qui tecum vivit, etc.

℟. Amen.
Ant. Behold, the Lord will come, and with him all his saints; and on that day there shall be a groat light, alleluia.
℣. Behold, the Lord shall appear upon a white cloud.
℟. And with him thousands of saints.

Let us Pray.

Visit, we beseech thee, O Lord, and purify our hearts by thy grace: that when our Lord Jesus Christ thy Son shall come, together with all his saints, he may find us ready to give him a place within us: who liveth and reigneth with thee for ever and ever.

℟. Amen.

And here you may add a special mention of the Saints to whom you bear a particular devotion, either as your patrons or otherwise; as also of those whose feast is kept in the Church that day, or at least who have been commemorated in the Divine Office.

This done, remember the necessities of the Church Suffering, and beg of God that he will give to the souls in Purgatory a place of refreshment, light, and peace. For this intention recite the usual prayers.

Psalm 129

De profundis clamavi ad te, Domine: Domine, exaudi vocem meam.
Fiant aures tuæ intendentes: in vocem deprecationis meæ.
Si iniquitates observaveris, Domine: Domine, quis sustinebit?
Quia apud te propitiatio est: et propter legem tuam sustinui te, Domine.
Sustinuit anima mea in verbo ejus: speravit anima mea in Domino.
A custodia matutina usque ad noctem: speret Israel in Domino.
Quia apud Dominum misericordia: et copiosa apud eum redemptio.
Et ipse redimet Israel; ex omnibus iniquitatibus ejus.
Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine.
Et lux perpetua luceat eis.
℣. A porta inferi.
℟. Erue, Domine, animas eorum.
℣. Requiescant in pace.
℟. Amen.
℣. Domine, exaudi orationem meam.
℟. Et clamor meus ad te veniat.

Oremus.

Fidelium Deus omnium Conditor et Redemptor, animabus famulorum famularumque tuarum remissionem cunctorum tribue peccatorum: ut indulgentiam, quam semper optaverunt, piis supplicationibus consequantur. Qui vivis et regnas in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
From the depths I have cried to thee, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice.
Let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication.
If thou wilt observe iniquities, O Lord, Lord, who shall endure it?
For with thee there is merciful forgiveness; and by reason of thy law I have waited for thee, O Lord.
My soul hath relied on his word; my soul hath hoped in the Lord.
From the morning watch even until night, let Israel hope in the Lord.
Because with the Lord there is mercy, and with him plentiful redemption.
And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
Eternal rest give to them, O Lord.
And let perpetual light shine upon them.
℣. From the gate of hell.
℟. Deliver their souls, O Lord.
℣. May they rest in peace.
℟. Amen.
℣. O Lord, hear my prayer.
℟. And let my cry come unto thee.

Let us Pray.

O God, the Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful, give to the souls of thy servants departed the remission of all their sins: that through the help of pious supplications, they may obtain the pardon they have always desired. Who livest and reignest for ever and ever. Amen.

Here make a special memento of such of the Faithful departed as have a particular claim upon your charity; after which, ask of God to give you his assistance, whereby you may pass the night free from danger. Say then, still keeping to the words of the Church:

Ant. Salva nos, Domine, vigilantes, custodi nos dormientes: ut vigilemus cum Christo, et requiescamus in pace.

℣. Dignare, Domine, nocte ista.
℟. Sine peccato nos custodire.

℣. Miserere nostri, Domine.
℟. Miserere nostri.

℣. Fiat misericordia tua, Domine, super nos.
℟. Quemadmodum speravimus in te.

℣. Domine, exaudi orationem meam.
℟. Et clamor meus ad te veniat.

Oremus.

Visita, quæsumus, Domine, habitationem istam, et omnes insidias inimici ab ea longe repelle: Angeli tui sancti habitent in ea, qui nos in pace custodiant, et benedictio tua sit super nos semper. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum, Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
Ant. Save us, O Lord, whilst awake, and watch us as we sleep; that we may watch with Christ, and rest in peace.

℣. Vouchsafe, O Lord, this night,
℟. To keep us without sin.

℣. Have mercy on us, O Lord.
℟. Have mercy on us.

℣. Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us.
℟. As we have hoped in thee.

℣. O Lord, hear my prayer.
℟. And let my cry come unto thee.

Let us Pray.

Visit, we beseech thee, O Lord, this house and family, and drive from it all snares of the enemy: let thy holy Angels dwell herein, who may keep us in peace, and may thy blessing be always upon us. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

And that you may end the day in the same sentiments with which you began it, repeat your prayer for the coming of the Saviour:

℣. Rorate,  cœli desuper, et nubes pluant Justum.
℟. Aperiatur terra et germinet Salvatorem.
℣. Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the Just One.
℟. Let the earth be opened, and bud forth the Saviour.

To which add one of the four prayers for Advent, taking the one which belongs to the week (as above, p. 48), and then retire to rest in the expectation of Him who is to come in the midnight.


 

[1] St Luke i 19, 51.

 

 

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

There is no exercise which is more pleasing to God, or more meritorious, or which has greater influence in infusing solid piety into the soul, than the assisting at the holy sacrifice of the Mass. If this be true at all the various seasons of the Christian year, it is so, in a very special manner, during the holy time of Advent. The faithful, therefore, should make every effort in order to enjoy this precious blessing, even on those days when they are not obliged to it by the precept of the Church.

With what gratitude ought they to assist at that divine sacrifice, for which the world had been longing for four thousand years! God has granted them to be born after the fulfilment of that stupendous and merciful oblation, and would not put them in the generations of men who died before they could partake of its reality and its riches! This notwithstanding, they must earnestly unite with the Church in praying for the coming of the Redeemer, so to pay their share of that great debt which God has put upon all, whether living before or after the fulfilment of the mystery of the Incarnation. Let them think of this in assisting at the holy sacrifice.

Let them also remember that this great sacrifice, which perpetuates on this earth even to the end of time, though in an unbloody manner, the real oblation of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, has this for its express aim: to prepare the souls of the faithful for the mysterious coming of God, who redeemed our souls only that He might take possession of them. It not only prepares, it even effects this glorious advent.

Let them, in the third place, lovingly profit by the presence of, and intimacy with, Jesus, to which this hidden yet saving mystery admits them; that so, when He comes in that other way, whereby He will judge the world in terrible majesty, He may recognize them as His friends, and even then, when mercy shall give place to justice, again save them.

We shall now endeavour to embody these sentiments in our explanation of the mysteries of the holy Mass, and initiate the faithful into these divine secrets; not, indeed, by indiscreetly presuming to translate the sacred formulæ, but by suggesting such acts, as will enable those who hear Mass to enter into the ceremonies and sentiments of the Church and of the priest.

The faithful, in assisting at Mass during Advent, should first know whether it is going to be said according to the Advent rite, or in honour of the blessed Virgin, or of a saint, or, finally, for the dead. The colour of the vestments worn by the priest will tell them all this. Purple is used, if the Mass be of Advent; white or red, if of our Lady or the saints; and black, if for the dead. If the priest be vested in purple, the faithful must excite within themselves the spirit of penance which the Church would signify by this colour. They should do the same, no matter what may be the colour of the vestments; for in every Mass during Advent, with the exception of Masses for the dead, the priest is obliged, even on the greatest feasts, to make a commemoration of Advent three separate times, and thus to make use of the same expressions of repentance and sorrow as he would in a Mass proper to the time of Advent.

On the Sundays, if the Mass at which they assist be the parochial, or, as it is often called, the public Mass, two solemn rites precede it, which are full of instruction and blessing: the Asperges, or sprinkling of the holy water, and the procession.

During the Asperges, let them ask for that purity of heart, which is necessary for having a share in the twofold coming of Jesus Christ; and in receiving the holy water, the sprinkling of which prepares us for assisting worthily at the great sacrifice, wherein is poured forth, not a figurative water, but the very Blood of the Lamb, they should think of that baptism of water, by means of which St. John the Baptist prepared the Jews for that other Baptism, which the power and mercy of the Redeemer were afterwards to give to mankind.

Antiphon of the Asperges

Asperges me, Domine, hyssopo, et mundabor; lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor.
Ps. Miserere mei, Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
℣. Gloria Patri, etc.
Ant. Asperges me, etc.
℣. Ostende nobis, Domine, misericordiam tuam.
℟. Et salutare tuum da nobis.
℣. Domine, exaudi orationem meam.
℟. Et clamor meus ad te veniat.
℣. Dominus vobiscum.
℟. Et cum spiritu tuo.

Oremus

Exaudi nos, Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, æterne Deus: et mittere digneris sanctum Angelum tuum de cœlis, qui custodiat, foveat, protegat, visitet atque defendat omnes habitantes in hoc habitaculo. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.
℟. Amen.
Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, O Lord, and I shall be cleansed; thou shalt wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow.
Ps. Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy great mercy.
℣. Glory, etc.
Ant. Sprinkle me, etc.
℣. Show us, O Lord, thy mercy.
℟. And grant us the Saviour, whom we expect from thee.
℣. O Lord, hear my prayer.
℟. And let my cry come unto thee.
℣. The Lord be with you.
℟. And with thy spirit.

Let us Pray

Graciously hear us, O holy Lord, Father Almighty, eternal God: and vouchsafe to send thy holy Angel from heaven, who may keep, cherish, protect, visit and defend all who are assembled in this place. Through Christ our Lord.
℟. Amen.

The procession, which immediately precedes the Mass, should remind us how we ought to be standing with lamps burning in our hands, ready to go out and meet our Lord, who is coming.[1] The Church is ever advancing towards her Spouse in an unbroken procession, and our souls should be ever hastening towards their sovereign Good, never resting until they have found Him.

But see, Christians, the sacrifice begins! The priest is at the foot of the altar; God is attentive, the angels are in adoration, the whole Church is united with the priest, whose priesthood and action are those of the great High Priest, Jesus Christ. Let us make the sign of the cross with him.

The Ordinary of the Mass

In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.
℣. Introibo ad altare Dei.
℟. Ad Deum qui lætificat juventutem meam.
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 affiigit 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 lætificat 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.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto.
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc et semper, et in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
℣. Introibo ad altare Dei.
℟. Ad Deum qui lætificat juventutem meam.
℣. Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini.
℟. Qui fecit cœlum et terram.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
I unite myself, O my God, with thy Church, who comes to seek consolation in Jesus Christ thy Son, who is the true Altar.
Like her, I beseech thee to defend me against the malice of the enemies of my salvation.
It is in thee that I have put my hope; yet do I feel sad and troubled at being in the midst of the snares which are set for me.
Send me, then, him who is light and truth; it is he who will open to us the way to thy holy mount, to thy heavenly tabernacle.
He is the Mediator, and the living Altar; I will draw nigh to him, and be filled with joy.
When he shall have come, I will sing in my gladness, Be not sad, O my soul! why wouldst thou be troubled?
Hope in his coming; he who is thy Saviour and thy God will soon be with thee.
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.
I am to go to the altar of God, and feel the presence of him who consoles me!
This my hope comes not from any merits of my own, but from the all-powerful help of my Creator.

This announcement of the coming of our Lord, excites in the soul of the priest a lively sentiment of compunction. He cannot go farther in the holy sacrifice without confessing, and publicly, that he is a sinner, and deserves not the grace he is about to receive. Listen, with respect, to this confession of

God’s minister, and earnestly ask our Lord to show mercy to him; for the priest is your father; he is answerable for your salvation, for which he every day risks his own. When he has finished, unite with the servers, or the sacred ministers, in this prayer:

Misereatur tui omnipotens Deus, et dimissis peccatis tuis, perducat te ad vitam æternam.
May Almighty God have mercy on thee, and forgiving thy sins, bring thee to everlasting life.

The Priest having answered Amen, make your confession, saying with a contrite spirit:

Confiteor Deo omnipotenti, beatæ Mariæ semper Virgini, beato Michaeli Archangelo, beato Joanni Baptistæ. sanctis Apostolis Petro et Paulo, omnibus Sanctis, et tibi, Pater: quia peccavi nimis cogitatione, verbo, et opere: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Ideo precor beatam Mariam semper Virginem, beatum Michaelem Archangelum, beatum Joannem Baptistam, sanctos Apostolos Petrum et Paulum, omnes Sanctos, et te, Pater, orare pro me ad Dominum Deum nostrum.
I confess to Almighty God, to blessed Mary ever Virgin, to blessed Michael the Archangel, to blessed John Baptist, to the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, to all the saints, and to thee, Father, that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. Therefore I beseech the blessed Mary ever Virgin, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and all the saints, and thee, Father, to pray to our Lord God for me.

Receive with gratitude the paternal wish of the Priest, who says to you:

Misereatur vestri omnipotens Deus, et dimissis peccatis vestris, perducat vos ad vitam æternam.
℟. Amen.
Indulgentiam, absolutionem, et remissionem peccatorum nostrorum tribuat nobis omnipotens et misericors Dominus.
℟. Amen.
May Almighty God be merciful to you, and forgiving your sins, bring you to everlasting life.
℟. Amen.
May the almighty and merciful Lord grant us pardon, absolution, and remission of our sins.
℟. Amen.

 

Invoke the divine assistance, that you may approach to Jesus Christ.

℣. Deus, tu conversus vivificabis nos.
℟. Et plebs tua lætabitur in te.
℣. Ostende nobis, Domine, misericordiam tuam.
℟. Et Salutare tuam da nobis.
℣. Domine, exaudi orationem meam.
℟. Et clamor meus ad te veniat.
℣. O God, it needs but one look of thine to give us life.
℟. And thy people shall rejoice in thee.
℣. Show us, O Lord, thy mercy.
℟. And give us the Saviour whom thou hast prepared for us.
℣. O Lord, hear my prayer.
℟. And let my cry come unto thee.


The Priest here leaves you to ascend to the altar; but first he salutes you:

℣. Dominus vobiscum.
℣. The Lord be with you.

 

Answer him with reverence:

℟. Et cum spiritu tuo.
℣. Oremus.
℟. And with thy spirit.
℣. Let us pray.


He ascends the steps, and comes to the Holy of Holies. Ask, both for him and yourself, deliverance from sin:

Aufer a nobis, quæsumus, Domine, iniquitates nostras; ut ad Sancta sanctorum puris mereamur mentibus introire. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Take from our hearts, O Lord, all those sins which make us unworthy of thy visit; we ask this of thee by thy divine Son, our Lord.

When the Priest kisses the altar, out of reverence for the relics of the Martyrs which are there, say:

Oramus te, Domine, per merita sanctorum tuorum quorum reliquiae hic sunt, et omnium Sanctorum: ut indulgere digneris omnia peccata mea. Amen.
Generous soldiers of Jesus Christ, who have mingled your own blood with his, intercede for us that our sins may be forgiven: that so we may, like you, approach unto God.

If it be a High Mass at which you are assisting, the Priest incenses the Altar in a most solemn manner; and this white cloud, which you see ascending from every part of the Altar, signifies the prayer of the Church, who addresses herself to Jesus Christ; which this Divine Mediator then causes to ascend, united with his own, to the throne of the majesty of his Father.

The Priest then says the Introit. It is a solemn opening anthem, in which the Church, at the very commencement of the Holy Sacrifice, gives expression to the sentiments which fill her heart.

It is followed by nine exclamations, which are even more earnest, for they ask for mercy. In addressing them to God, the Church unites herself with the nine choirs of Angels, who are standing round the altar of Heaven, one and the same as this before which you are kneeling.

To the Father who has sent us his Son:

Kyrie eleison.
Kyrie eleison.
Kyrie eleison.
Lord, have mercy on us!
Lord, have mercy on us!
Lord, have mercy on us!

To the Son who has come down to us:

Christe eleison.
Christe eleison.
Christe eleison.
Christ, have mercy on us!
Christ, have mercy on us!
Christ, have mercy on us!

To the Holy Ghost, whose operation has accomplished the mystery:

Kyrie eleison.
Kyrie eleison.
Kyrie eleison.
Lord, have mercy on us!
Lord, have mercy on us!
Lord, have mercy on us!

If it be a feast, the priest says the angelic hymn, which the Church has made her own ever since the birth of our Saviour: if the Mass be proper to Advent, the Church forbids the joyous canticle until the new birth of her Spouse again comes to gladden her.

The Angelic Hymn

Gloria in excelsis Deo, Et in terra pax homibus bonæ voluntatis.
Laudamus te: benedicimus te: adoramus te: glorificamus te: gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam.
Domine Deus, Rex cœlestis, Deus Pater omnipotens.
Domine, Fili unigenite, Jesu Christe.
Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filius Patris.
Qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Qui tollis peccata mundi, suscipe deprecationem nostram.
Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris, miserere nobis.
Quoniam tu solus sanctus, tu solus Dominus, tu solus Altissimus, Jesu Christe, cum Sancto Spiritu, in gloria Dei Patris. Amen.
Glory be to God on high, and on earth peace to men of good will.
We praise thee: we bless thee: we adore thee: we glorify thee: we give thee thanks for thy great glory.
O Lord God, Heavenly King, God the Father Almighty.
O Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son.
O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father.
Who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Who takest away the sins of the world, receive our humble prayer.
Who sittest at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.
For thou alone art holy, thou alone art Lord, thou alone, O Jesus Christ, together with the Holy Ghost, art most high in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

The Priest turns towards the people, and again salutes them, to make sure, as it were, of their pious attention to the sublime act, for which all this is but the preparation. The words of this greeting are especially beautiful during the season of Christmas: The Lord be with you! Isaias had foretold that it would indeed be verified, and the Angel confirms the prophecy to St Joseph, when he thus says to him: He shall be called Emmanuel, that is, God with us.[2]

Then follows the Collect or Prayer, in which the Church formally expresses to the divine Majesty the special intentions she has in the Mass which is being celebrated. You may unite in this prayer by reciting with the Priest the Collects, which you will find in their proper places: but on no account omit to join with the server of the Mass in answering Amen.

Then follows the Epistle, which is generally a portion of one or other of the Epistles of the Apostles, or a passage from some Book of the Old Testament. Whilst it is being read, thank him who, not satisfied with having at sundry times spoken to us by the Prophets, has deigned in these days to speak to us by his Son.[3]

The Gradual is an intermediate formula of Prayer between the Epistle and Gospel. It again brings to our attention the sentiments which were expressed in the Introit. Read it with devotion, so as to penetrate more and more the spirit of the Christmas Mystery.

The Alleluia is like a thrill of joy, which seizes the soul of the Church, and makes her exult, as she reflects that she already possesses the Spouse, of whom she is in expectation; but this is only for a moment: she resumes her attitude of a suppliant, asking Him to come, for she feels that she needs His new coming.

Until the happy hour when He will come in person, He comes to us by His words, which are spirit and life. The Gospel is about to be read aloud in the assembly of the faithful: ‘the poor are to have the Gospel preached unto them.’ If it be a High Mass, the deacon prepares to fulfil his noble office, that of announcing the good tidings of salvation. He prays God to cleanse his heart and lips. Then kneeling, he asks the priest’s blessing; and having received it, he at once goes to the place where he is to sing the Gospel.

As a preparation for hearing it worthily, you may thus pray, together with the priest and deacon:

Munda cor meum ac labia mea, omnipotens Deus, qui Jabia Isaiæ Prophetæ calculo mundasti ignito: ita me tua grata miseratione dignare mundare, ut sanctum Evangelium tuum digne valeam nuntiare. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Dominus sit in corde meo et in labiis meis: ut digne et competenter annuntiem Evangelium suum: In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Saucti. Amen.
Alas! these ears of mine are but too often defiled with the world’s vain words; cleanse them, O Lord, that so I may hear the words of eternal life, and treasure them in my heart. Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Grant to thy ministers thy grace, that they may faithfully explain thy law; that so all, both pastors and flock, may be united to thee for ever. Amen.

You will stand during the Gospel, as though you were waiting the orders of your Lord; and at the commencement, make the sign of the Cross on your forehead, lips and breast; and then listen to every word of the Priest or Deacon. Let your heart be ready and obedient. Whilst my beloved was speaking, says the Spouse in the Canticle, my soul melted within me.[4] If you have not such love as this, have at least the humble submission of Samuel, and say: Speak, Lord! thy servant heareth.[5]

After the Gospel, if the Priest say the Symbol of Faith, the Credo, you will say it with him. Faith is that gift of God without which we cannot please him. It is Faith that makes us see the Light which shineth in darkness, and which the darkness of unbelief did not comprehend. It is Faith that shows us him we are to love. It is Faith, too, that makes us become little children again; for such we must be, if we would have access to the Crib of him whom Clement of Alexandria so beautifully calls the King of Infants. Let us, then, say with the Catholic Church, our Mother:

The Nicene Creed

Credo in unum Deum, Patrem omnipotentem, factorem cœli et terræ, visibilium omnium et invisibilium.
Et in unum Dominum Jesum Christum, Filium Dei unigenitum. Et ex Patre natum ante omnia sæcula, Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine, Deum verum de Deo vero. Genitum non factum, consubstantialem Patri, per quem omnia facta sunt. Qui propter nos homines, et propter nostram salutem, descendit de cœlis. Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria Virgine; et homo factus est. Crucifixus etiam pro nobis sub Pontio Pilato, passus et sepultus est. Et resurrexit tertia die secundum Scripturas. Et ascendit in cœlum; seder ad dexteram Patris. Et iterum venturus est cum gloria judicare vivos et mortuos; cujus regno non erit finis.
Et in Spiritum Sanctum, Dominum et vivificantem, qui ex Patre Filioque procedit. Qui cum Patre et Filio simul adoratur et conglorificatur; qui locutus est per Prophetas. Et unam sanctam Catholicam et Apostolicam Ecclesiam. Confiteor unum Baptisma in remissionem peccatorum. Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum, et vitam venturi sæculi. Amen.
I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God. And born of the Father before all ages; God of God, light of light; true God of true God. Begotten, not made; consubstantial with the Father, by whom all things were made. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven. And became incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary; AND WAS MADE MAN. He was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, suffered and was buried. And the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures. And ascended into heaven, sitteth at the right hand of the Father. And he is to come again with glory to judge the living and the dead; of whose kingdom there shall be no end.
And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son. Who together with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified; who spoke by the Prophets. And one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. I confess one Baptism for the remission of sins. And I expect the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The Priest and the people should, by this time, have their hearts ready: it is time to prepare the offering itself. And here we come to the second part of the Holy Mass, which is called the Oblation, and which immediately follows that which was called the Mass of Catechumens, on account of its being formerly the only part at which the candidates for Baptism had a right to be present.

See then, dear Christians! bread and wine are about to be offered to God, as being the noblest of inanimate creatures, since they are made for the nourishment of man; and even that is only a poor material image of what they are destined to become in our Christian Sacrifice. Their substance will soon give place to God himself, and of themselves nothing will remain but the appearance. Happy creatures, thus to yield up their own being that God may take its place! We too are to undergo a like transformation, when, as the Apostle expresses it, that which to us is mortal shall put on immortality.[6] Until that happy change shall be realized, let us offer ourselves to God as often as we see the bread and wine presented to him in the Holy Sacrifice; and let us glorify him who, by assuming our human nature, has made us partakers of the divine nature.[7]

The Priest again turns to the people with the usual salutation, as though he would warn them to redouble their attention. Let us read the Offertory with him, and when he offers the Host to God, let us unite with him in saying:


Suscipe, sancte Pater, omnipotens æterne Deus, hanc immaculatam hostiam, quam ego indignus famulus tuus offero tibi Deo meo vivo et vero, pro innumerabilibus peccatis et offensionibus et negligentiis meis, et pro omnibus circumstantibus, sed et pro omnibus fidelibus christianis vivis atque defunetis; ut mihi et illis proficiat ad salutem in vitam æternam. Amen.
All that we have, O Lord, comes from thee, and belongs to thee; it is just, therefore, that we return it unto thee. But, how wonderful art thou in the inventions of thy immense love! This Bread which we are offering to thee is to give place in a few moments to the sacred Body of Jesus. We beseech thee, receive, together with this oblation, our hearts which long to live by thee, and to cease to live their own life of self.

When the Priest puts the wine into the chalice, and then mingles with it a drop of water, let your thoughts turn to the divine mystery of the Incarnation, which is manifested to the world by the Birth of our Emmanuel, and say:

Deus qui humanæ substantiæ dignitatem mirabiliter condidisti, et mirabilius reformasti: da nobis per hujus aquæ et vini mysterium, ejus divinitatis esse consortes, qui humanitatis nostræ fieri dignatus est particeps, Jesus Christus Filius tuus Dominus noster: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
O Lord Jesus, who art the true Vine, and whose Blood, like a generous wine, has been poured forth under the pressure of the Cross! thou hast deigned to unite thy divine nature to our weak humanity, which is signified by this drop of water. O come and make us partakers of thy divinity, by showing thyself to us in thy sweet and wondrous visit.

The Priest then offers the mixture of wine and water, beseeching God graciously to accept this oblation, which is so soon to be changed into the reality of which it is now but a figure. Meanwhile, say in union with the Priest:


Offerimus tibi, Domine, calicem salutaris, tuam deprecantes clementiam: ut in conspectu divinæ Majestatis tuæ, pro nostra et totius mundi salute, cum odore suavitatis ascendat. Amen.
Graciously accept these gifts, O sovereign Creator of all things. Let them be fitted for the divine transformation,which will make them, from being mere offerings of created things, the instrument of the world's salvation.

                                    
After having thus held up the sacred gifts towards heaven, the Priest bows down: let us also humble ourselves, and say:

In spiritu humilitatis, et in animo contrito suscipiamur a te, Domine: et sic fiat sacrificium nostrum in conspectu tuo hodie, ut placeat tibi, Domine Deus.
Though daring, as we do, to approach thy altar, O Lord, we cannot forget that we are sinners. Have mercy on us, and delay not to send us thy Son, who is our saving Host.

Let us next invoke the Holy Ghost, whose operation is about to produce on the altar the presence of the Son of God, as it did in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the divine mystery of the Incarnation:

Veni, Sanctificator, omnipotens æterne Deus, et benedic hoc sacrificium tuo sancto nomini præparatum.
Come, O Divine Spirit, make fruitful the offering which is upon the altar, and produce in our hearts him whom they desire.

If it be a High Mass, the Priest, before proceeding any further with the Sacrifice, takes the thurible a second time. He first incenses the bread and wine which have been just offered, and then the altar itself; hereby inviting the faithful to make their prayer, which is signified by the incense, more and more fervent, the nearer the solemn moment approaches. St John tells us that the incense which burns on the Altar in heaven is made of the Prayers of the Saints. During Christmastide, therefore, we may look on the fragrant cloud which covers our Altar here on earth as an emblem of the prayers said by the Shepherds round the Crib, and of the adorations paid by the Magi to the Infant-God. Let us imitate them; for this same Jesus is soon to be on our Altar.

But the thought of his own unworthiness becomes more intense than ever in the heart of the Priest. The public confession which he made at the foot of the altar is not enough; he would now, at the altar itself, express to the people, in the language of a solemn rite, how far he knows himself to be from that spotless sanctity wherewith he should approach to God. He washes his hands. Our hands signify our works; and the Priest, though by his priesthood he bear the office of Jesus Christ, is by his works but man. Seeing your Father thus humble himself, do you also make an act of humility, and say with him these verses of

PSALM 25

 

Lavabo inter innocentes manus meas: et circumdabo altare tuum, Domine.
Ut audiam vocem laudis: et enarrem universa mirabilia tua.
Domine, dilexi decorem domus tuæ, et locum habitationis gloriæ tuæ.
Ne perdas cum impiis, Deus, animam meam, et cum viris sanguinum vitam meam.
In quorum manibus iniquitates sunt: dextera eorum repleta est muneribus.
Ego autem in innocentia mea ingressus sum: redime me, et miserere mei.
Pes meus stetit in directo: in ecclesiis benedicam te, Domine.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto.
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
I, too, would wash my hands, O Lord, and become like unto those who are innocent, that so I may be worthy to come near thy altar, and hear thy sacred Canticles, and then go and proclaim to the world the wonders of thy goodness. I love the beauty of thy House, which thou art about to make the dwellingplace of thy glory. Leave me not, O God, in the midst of them that are enemies both to thee and me. Thy mercy having separated me from them, I entered on the path of innocence, and was restored to thy grace; but have pity on my weakness still; redeem me yet more, thou who hast so mercifully brought me back to the right path. In the midst of these thy faithful people, I give thee thanks. 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.

The Priest, taking encouragement from the act of humility he has just made, returns to the middle of the altar, and bows down full of respectful awe, begging of God to receive graciously the Sacrifice which is about to be offered to him, and expresses the intentions for which it is offered. Let us do the same.

Suscipe, sancta Trinitas, hanc oblationem, quam tibi ofterimus ob memoriam Passionis, Resurrectionis et Ascensionis Jesu Christi Domini nostri: et in honore beatæ Mariæ semper Virginis, et beati Joannis Baptistæ, et sanctorum Apostolorum Petri et Pauli, et istorum, et omnium Sanctorum: ut illis proficiat ad honorem, nobis autem ad salutem: et illi pro nobis intercedere dignentur in cœlis, quorum memoriam agimus in terris. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
O Holy Trinity, graciously accept the Sacrifice we have begun. We offer it in remembrance of the Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. Permit thy Church to join with this intention that of honouring the ever glorious Virgin Mary, the Blessed Baptist John, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, the Martyrs whose relics lie here under our altar awaiting their resurrection, and the Saints whose memory we this day celebrate. Increase the glory they are enjoying, and receive the prayers they address to thee for us.

The Priest again turns to the people; it is for the last time before the sacred Mysteries are accomplished. He feels anxious to excite the fervour of the people. Neither does the thought of his own unworthiness leave him; and before entering the cloud with the Lord, he seeks support in the prayers of his brethren who are present. He says to them:

Orate, fratres: ut meum ac vestrum sacrificium acceptable fiat apud Deum Patrem omnipotentem.
Brethren, pray that my Sacrifice, which is yours also, may be acceptable to God, our Almighty Father.

With this request he turns again to the altar, and you will see his face no more until our Lord himself shall have come down from heaven upon that same altar. Assure the Priest that he has your prayers, and say to him:

Suscipiat Dominus sacrificium de manibus tuis, ad laudem et gloriam nominis sui, ad utilitatem quoque nostram, totiusque Ecclesiæ suæ sanctæ.
May our Lord accept this Sacrifice at thy hands, to the praise and glory of his name, for our benefit and that of his holy Church throughout the world.

Here the Priest recites the prayers called the Secrets, in which he presents the petition of the whole Church for God's acceptance of the Sacrifice, and then immediately begins to fulfil that great duty of religion, Thanksgiving. So far he has adored God, and has sued for mercy; he has still to give thanks for the blessings bestowed on us by the bounty of our heavenly Father, and expressly for that chiefest of all his gifts, the Messias. We are on the point of receiving a new visit of this Son of God; the Priest, in the name of the Church, is about to give expression to the gratitude of all mankind. In order to excite the faithful to that intensity of gratitude which is due to God for all his gifts, he interrupts his own and their silent prayer by terminating it aloud, saying:

Per omnia sæcula sæculorum!
For ever and ever

In the same feeling, answer your Amen! Then he continues:

℣. Dominus vobiscum.
℟. Et cum spiritu tuo.
℣. The Lord be with you.
℟. And with thy spirit.

℣. Sursum corda!
℣. Lift up your hearts!

Let your response be sincere:

℟. Habemus ad Dominum.
℟. We have them fixed on God.

And when he adds:

℣. Gratias agamus Domino Deo nostro.
℣. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God,

Answer him with all the earnestness of your soul:

℟. Dignum et justum est.
℟. It is meet and just.

Then the Priest:

The Preface
(For the Sundays)

Vere dignum et justum cst, æquum et salutare, nos tibi semper et ubique gratias agere, Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, æterne Deus. Qui cum unigenito Filio tuo et Spiritu sancto unus es Deus, unus es Dominus: non in unius singularitate Personæ, sed in unius Trinitate substantiæ. Quod enim de tua gloria, revelante te, credimus, hoc do Filio tuo, hoc de Spiritu sancto, sine differentia discretionis sentimus. Ut in confessione veræ, sempiternæquo Deitatis, et in Personis proprietas, et in essentia unitas, et in majestate adoretur æqualitas. Quam laudant Angeli atque Archangeli, Cherubim quoque ac Seraphim; qui non cessant clamare quotidie, una voce dicentes, Sanctus, &c.

 

It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, that wo should always and in all places give thanks to thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, eternal God, who together with thy only-begotten Son and the Holy Ghost art one God and one Lord: not in the singularity of one Person, but in the Trinity of one substance. For what we believe of thy glory, as thou hast revealed, the same we believe of thy Son and of the Holy Ghost, without any difference or distinction. So that in the confession of the true and eternal Deity, we adore a distinction in the Persons, an unity in the essence, and an equality in the Majesty. Whom the Angels and Archangels, the Cherubim also and Seraphim praise, and cease not daily to cry out with one voice, saying, Holy, &c.

The Preface
(For the Week-days)

Vere dignum et justum est, æquum et salutare, nos tibi semper et ubique gratias agere: Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, æterne Deus, per Christum Dominum nostrum; per quem majestatem tuam laudant Angeli, adorant Dominationes, tremunt Potestates, Cœli, cœlorumquc Virtutes, ac beata Seraphim, socia exultatione concelebrant. Cum quibus et nostras voces, ut admitti jubeas deprecamur, supplici confessione 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: through Christ our Lord; by whom the Angels praise thy majesty, the Dominations adore it, the Powers tremble before it; the Heavens and the heavenly Virtues, and the blessed Seraphim, with common jubilee, glorify it. Together with whom, we beseech thee that we may be admitted to join our humble voices, saying:

Here unite with the Priest, who on his part unites himself with the blessed Spirits, in giving thanks to God for the unspeakable gift. Bow down and say:

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus sabaoth!
Pleni sunt cœli et terra gloria tua.
Hosanna in excelsis!
Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.
Hosanna in excelsis!
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts!
Heaven and earth are full of thy glory.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed be the Saviour whom we were expecting, and who is coming to us in the name of the Lord who sends him.
Hosanna be to him in the highest!

After these words commences the Canon, that mysterious prayer, in the midst of which heaven bows down to earth, and God descends unto us. The voice of the Priest is no longer heard; yea, even at the altar all is silence. It was thus, says the Book of Wisdom, in the quiet of silence, and while the night was in the midst of her course, that the Almighty Word came down from his royal throne.[8] Let us await him in a like silence, and respectfully fix our eyes on what the Priest does in the holy place.

THE CANON OF THE MASS

In this mysterious colloquy with the great God of heaven and earth, the first prayer of the sacrificing Priest is for the Catholic Church, his and our Mother.

Te igitur, clementissime Pater, per Jesum Christum Filium tuum Dominum nostrum supplices rogamus ac petimus, uti accepta habeas et benedicas hæc dona, hæc munera, hæc sancta sacrificia illibata, in primis quæ tibi offerimus pro Ecclesia tua sancta Catholica: quam pacificare, custodire, adunare et regere digneris toto orbe terrarum, una cum famulo tuo Papa nostro N. et Antistite nostro N., et omnibus orthodoxis, atque catholicæ et apostolicæ fidei cultoribus.
O God, who manifestest thyself unto us by means of the mysteries which thou hast entrusted to thy holy Church, our Mother; we beseech thee, by the merits of this sacrifice, that thou wouldst remove all those hindrances which oppose her during her pilgrimage in this world. Give her peace and unity. Do thou thyself guide our Holy Father the Pope, thy Vicar on earth. Direct thou our Bishop, who is our sacred link of unity; and watch over all the orthodox children of the Catholic Apostolic Roman Church.

Here pray, together with the Priest, for those whose interests should be dearest to you.

Memento, Domine, famulorum famularumque tuarum N. et N., et omnium circumstantium, quorum tibi fides cognita est, et nota devotio: pro quibus tibi offerimus, vel qui tibi offerunt hoc sacrificium laudis, pro se, suisque omnibus, pro redemptione animarum suarum, pro spe salutis et incolumitatis suæ; tibique reddunt vota sua æterno Deo, vivo et vero.
Permit me, O God, to intercede with thee in more earnest prayer for those for whom thou knowest that I have a special obligation to pray: * * * Apply to them the fruits of this divine Sacrifice, which is offered unto thee in the name of all mankind. Visit them by thy grace, pardon them their sins, grant them the blessings of this present life and of that which is eternal.

Here let us commemorate the Saints: they are that portion of the Body of Jesus Christ which is called the Church Triumphant.

Communicantes, et memoriam venerantes, in primis gloriosæ semper Virginis Mariæ, Genitricis Dei et Domini nostri Jesu Christi: sed et beatorum Apostolorum ac Martyrum tuorum, Petri et Pauli, Andreæ, Jacobi, Joannis, Thomæ, Jacobi, Philippi, Bartholomæi, Matthæi, Simonis et Thaddæi: Lini, Cleti, Clementis, Xysti, Cornelii, Cypriani, Laurentii, Chrysogoni, Joannis et Pauli, Cosmæ et Damiani, et omnium sanctorum tuorum, quorum meritis precibusquec oncedas, ut in omnibus protectionis tuæ muniamur auxilio. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
But the offering of this Sacrifice, O my God, does not unite us with those only of our brethren who are still in this transient life of trial: it brings us closer to those also, who are already in possession of heaven. Therefore it is that we wish to honour by it the memory of the glorious and ever Virgin Mary, of whom Jesus is born to us; of the Apostles, Confessors, Virgins, and of all the Saints; that so they may assist us, by their powerful intercession, to become worthy to see Jesus in Bethlehem, and to contemplate thee, as they now do, in the mansion of thy glory.

The Priest, who, up to this time, had been praying with his hands extended, now joins them, and holds them over the bread and wine, as the High Priest of the Old Law did over the figurative victim: he thus expresses his intention of bringing these gifts more closely under the notice of the Divine Majesty, and of marking them as the material offering whereby we profess our dependence, and which is, in a few instants, to yield its place to the living Host, upon whom all our iniquities are to be laid.

Hanc igitur oblationem servitutis nostræ, sed et cunctæ familiæ tuæ, quæsumus Domine, ut placatus accipias: diesque nostros in tua pace disponas, atque ab æterna damnatione nos eripi, et in electorum tuorum jubeas grege numerari. Per Christum Dominuin nostrum. Amen.

Quam oblationem tu Deus in omnibus, quæsumus, benedictam, adscriptam, ratam, rationabilem, acceptabilemque facere digneris; ut nobis Corpus et Sanguis fiat dilectissimi Filii tui Domini nostri Jesu Christi.
Vouchsafe, O God, to accept this offering which this thy assembled family presents to thee as the homage of its most happy servitude. In return, give us peace, save us from thy wrath and number us among thy elect, through him who is coming to us, thy Son our Saviour.

Yea, Lord, this is the moment when this bread is to become his sacred Body, which is our food; and this wine is to be changed into his Blood, which is our drink. Ah! delay no longer, but send to us this divine Son our Saviour!

And here the Priest ceases to act as man; he now becomes more than a mere minister of the Church. His word becomes that of Jesus Christ, with all its power and efficacy. Prostrate yourself in profound adoration; for Emmanuel, God with us, is coming down from heaven.

Qui pridie quam pateretur, accepit panem in sanctas ac venerabiles manus suas: et elevatis oculis in cœlum, ad te Deum Patrem suum omnipotentem, tibi gratias agens, benedixit, fregit, deditque discipulis suis, dicens: Accipite, et manducate ex hoc omnes. Hoc est Enim Corpus meum.
What, O God of heaven and earth, my Jesus, the long expected Messias, what else can I do at this solemn moment but adore thee in silence as my sovereign Master, and open my whole heart to thee, as to its dearest King! Come then, Lord Jesus, come!

The divine Lamb is now upon our altar. Glory and love be to Him for ever! But He has come that He may be immolated; for which reason the priest, who is the minister of the will of the Most High, immediately pronounces over the chalice those sacred words which will produce the great mystical immolation by the separation of the Victim’s Body and Blood. The substances of the bread and wine have ceased to exist: the species alone are left, veiling, as it were, the Body and Blood, lest fear should keep us from a mystery, which God gives us in order to give us confidence. Let us associate ourselves to the angels, who tremblingly look upon this deepest wonder.

Simili modo postquam cœnatum est, accipiens et hunc præclarum Calicem in sanctas ac venerabiles manus suas: item tibi gratias agens, benedixit, deditque discipulis suis, dicens: Accipite et bibite ex eo omnes. HIC EST ENIM CALIX SANGUINIS MEI, NOVI ET ÆTERNI TESTAMENTI: MYSTERIUM FIDEI: QUI PRO VOBIS ET PRO MULTIS EFFUNDETUR IN REMISSIONEM PECCATORUM. Hæc quotiescumque feceritis, in mei memoriam facietis.
O Precious Blood! thou price of my salvation! I adore thee! Wash away my sins, and make me whiter than snow. Lamb ever slain, yet ever living, thou comest to take away the sins of the world! Come also and reign in me by thy power and by thy love.

The Priest is now face to face with God. He again raises his hands towards heaven, and tells our heavenly Father that the oblation now on the altar is no longer an earthly offering, but the Body and Blood, the whole Person, of his divine Son.

Unde et memores, Domine, nos servi tui, sed et plebs tua sancta, ejusdem Christi Filii tui Domini nostri tam beatæ Passionis, nec non et ab inferid Resurrectionis, sed et in cœlos gloriosæ Ascension's: offerimus præclaræ majestati tuæ de tuis donis ac datis Hostiam puram, Hostiam sanctam, Hostiam immaculatam: Panem sanctum vitæ æternæ, et Calicem salutis perpetuæ.

Supra quæ propitio ac sereno vultu respicere digneris: et accepta habere, sicuti accepta habere dignatus es munera pueri tui justi Abel, et sacrificium Patriarchænostri Abrahæ, et quod tibi obtulit summus Sacerdos tuus Melchisedech, sanctum sacrificium, immaculatam hostiam.
Father of infinite holiness, the Host so long expected is here before thee! Behold this thy eternal Son, who suffered a bitter passion, rose again with glory from the grave, and ascended triumphantly into heaven. He is thy Son; but he is also our Host—Host pure and spotless—our Meat and Drink of everlasting life.

Heretofore thou didst accept the sacrifice of the innocent lambs offered to thee by Abel; and the sacrifice which Abraham made thee of his son Isaac, who, though immolated, yet lived; and lastly, the sacrifice, which Melchisedech presented to thee, of bread and wine. Receive our Sacrifice, which is above all those others. It is the Lamb, of whom all others could be but figures: it is the undying Victim: it is the Body of thy Son, who is the Bread of Life, and his Blood, which, whilst a Drink of immortality for us, is a tribute adequate to thy glory.

The Priest bows down to the altar, and kisses it as the throne of love on which is seated the Saviour of men. Do you look at it with love, as the Crib, whereon is laid, veiled in the eucharistic elements, that Jesus who has said: I am the Bread of life.

Supplices te rogamus, omnipotens Deus: jube hæc perferri per manus sancti Angeli tui in sublime Altare tuum, in conspectu divinæ Majestatis tuæ: ut quotquot ex hac altaris participatione, sacrosanctum Filii tui Corpus et Sanguinem sumpserimus, omni benedictione cœlesti et gratia repleamur. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
But, O God of infinite power, these sacred gifts are not only on this altar here below; they are also on that sublime Altar in heaven, which is before the throne of thy divine Majesty. These two altars are but one and the same, on which is accomplished the great mystery of thy glory and our salvation. Vouchsafe to make us partakers of the Body and Blood of the august Victim, from whom flow every grace and blessing.

Nor is the moment less favourable for making supplication for the Church Suffering. Let us, therefore, ask the divine Liberator, who has come down amongst us, that he mercifully visit, by a ray of his consoling light, the dark abode of Purgatory, and permit his Blood to flow, as a stream of mercy's dew, from this our altar, and refresh the panting captives there. Let us pray expressly for those amongst them who have a claim on our suffrages.

Memento etiam, Domine, famulorum famularumque tuarum N. et N., qui nos præcesserunt cum signo fidei, et dormiunt in somno pacis. Ipsis, Domine, et omnibus in Christo quiescentibus, locum refrigerii, lucis et pacis, ut indulgeas, deprecamur. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Dear Jesus! let the happiness of this thy visit extend to every portion of thy Church. Thy face gladdens the elect in the holy City; even our mortal eyes can see beneath the veil of our delighted faith: ah! hide not thyself from those brethren of ours, who are imprisoned in the place of expiation. Be thou refreshment to them in their flames, light in their darkness, and peace in their agonies of torment.

This duty of charity fulfilled, let us pray for ourselves, sinners, alas! who profit so little by the visit which our Saviour pays us. Let us, together with the Priest, strike our breast, saying:

Nobis quoque peccatoribus famulis tuis, de multitudine miserationum tuarum sperantibus, partem aliquam et societatem donare digneris cum tuis sanctis Apostolis et Martyribus: cum Joanne, Stephano, Mathia, Barnaba, Ignatio, Alexandro, Marcellino, Petro, Felicitate, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucia, Agnete, Cæcilia, Anastasia, et omnibus Sanctis tuis; intra quorum nos consortium, non æstimator meriti, sed veniæ, quæsumus, largitor admitte. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Per quem hæc omnia, Domine, semper bona creas, sanctificas, vivificas, benedicis, et præstas nobis: per ipsum, et cum ipso et in ipso, est tibi Deo Patri omnipotenti, in unitate Spiritus Sancti, omnis honor et gloria.
Alas! we are poor sinners, O God of all sanctity! yet do we hope that thy infinite mercy will grant us to share in thy kingdom, not, indeed, by reason of our works, which deserve little else than punishment, but because of the merits of this Sacrifice, which we are offering to thee. Remember, too, the merits of thy holy Apostles, of thy holy Martyrs, of thy holy Virgins, and of all thy Saints. Grant us, by their intercession, grace in this world, and glory eternal in the next: which we ask of thee, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son. It is by him thou bestowest upon us thy blessings of life and sanctification; and by him also, with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, may honour and glory be to thee!

Whilst saying these last few words, the Priest has taken up the sacred Host, which was on the altar; he has held it over the Chalice, thus re-uniting the Body and Blood of the divine Victim, in order to show that he is now immortal. Then raising up both Chalice and Host, he offers to God the most noble and perfect homage which the divine Majesty could receive.

This solemn and mysterious rite ends the Canon. The silence of the Mysteries is broken. The Priest concludes his long prayers by saying aloud, and so giving the faithful the opportunity of expressing their desire that his supplications be granted:

Per omnia sæcula sæculorum.
For ever and ever.

Answer him with faith, and in a sentiment of union with your holy Mother the Church:

Amen.
Amen! I believe the mystery which has just been accomplished. I unite myself to the offering which has been made, and to the petitions of the Church.

It is time to recite the prayer which our Saviour himself has taught us. Let it ascend up to heaven together with the sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. How could it be otherwise than heard, when he himself who made it for us is in our very hands now whilst we say it? As this prayer belongs in common to all God’s children, the Priest recites it aloud, and begins by inviting us all to join in it.

Oremus

Præceptis salutaribus moniti, et divina institutione formati, audemus dicere:
Let us Pray

Having been taught by a saving precept, and following the form given us by a divine instruction, we thus presume to speak:

The Lord's Prayer

Pater noster, qui es in cœlis: Sanctificetur nomen tuum: Adveniat regnum tuum: Fiat voluntas tua, sicut in cœlo, et in terra. Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie: Et dimitte nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris. Et ne nos inducas in tentationem.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily Bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation.

Let us answer with deep feeling of our misery:

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

The Priest falls once more into the silence of the holy Mysteries. His first word is an affectionate Amen to your last petition—deliver us from evil—on which he forms his own next prayer: and could he pray for anything more needed? Evil surrounds us everywhere, and the Lamb on our altar has been sent to expiate it and deliver us from it.

Libera nos, quæsumus Domine, ab omnibus malis, præteritis, præsentibus et futuris: et intercedente beata et gloriosa semper Virgine Dei Genitrice Maria, cum beatis Apostolis tuis Petro et Paulo, atque Andrea, et omnibus Sanctis, da propitius pacem in diebus nostris: ut ope misericordiæ tuæ adjuti, et a peccato simus semper liberi, et ab omni perturbatione securi. Per eumdem Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus.
How many, O Lord, are the evils which beset us! Evils past, which are the wounds left on the soul by our sins, and strengthen her wicked propensities. Evils present, that is, the sins now at this very time upon our soul; the weakness of this poor soul; and the temptations which molest her. There are also future evils, that is, the chastisement which our sins deserve from the hand of thy justice. In presence of this Host of our Salvation, we beseech thee, O Lord, to deliver us from all these evils, and to accept in our favour the intercession of Mary the Mother of Jesus, of thy holy Apostles Peter and Paul and Andrew. Liberate us, break our chains, give us peace: through Jesus Christ, thy Son, who with thee liveth and reigneth God.

The Priest is anxious to announce the Peace which he has asked and obtained; he therefore finishes his prayer aloud, saying:

Per omnia sæcula sæculorum.

℟. Amen.
World without end.

℟. Amen.

Then he says:

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum.
May the Peace of our Lord be ever with you.

To this paternal wish reply:

℟. Et cum spiritu tuo.
℟. And with thy spirit.

The Mystery is drawing to a close: God is about to be united with man, and man with God, by means of Communion. But first, an imposing and sublime rite takes place at the altar. So far the Priest has announced the Death of Jesus; it is time to proclaim his Resurrection. To this end, he reverently breaks the sacred Host, and having divided it into three parts, he puts one into the Chalice, thus reuniting the Body and Blood of the immortal Victim. Do you adore, and say:

Hæc commixtio et consecratio Corporis et Sanguinis Domini nostri Jesu Christi, fiat accipientibus nobis in vitam æternam. Amen.
Glory be to thee, O Saviour of the world, who didst, in thy Passion, permit thy precious Blood to be separated from thy sacred Body, afterwards uniting them again together by thy divine power.

Offer now your prayer to the ever-living Lamb, whom St John saw on the Altar of Heaven standing as though slain: say to this your Lord and King:

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, give us Peace.

Peace is the grand object of our Saviour's coming into the world: he is the Prince of Peace. The divine Sacrament of the Eucharist ought therefore to be the Mystery of Peace, and the bond of Catholic Unity; for, as the Apostle says, all we who partake of one Bread, are all one Bread and one Body.[9] It is on this account that the Priest, now that he is on the point of receiving, in Communion, the Sacred Host, prays that fraternal Peace may be preserved in the Church, and more especially in this portion of it which is assembled round the altar. Pray with him and for the same blessing:

Domine Jesu Christe, qui dixisti Apostolis tuis: Pacem relinquo vobis, pacem meam do vobis: ne respicias peccata mea, sed fidem Ecclesiæ tuæ: eamque secundum voluntatem tuam pacificare et coadunare digneris. Qui vivis et regnas Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
Lord Jesus Christ, who saidst to thy Apostles, “my peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you”: regard not my sins, but the faith of thy Church, and grant her that peace and unity which is according to thy will. Who livest and reignest God for ever and ever. Amen.

If it be a High Mass, the Priest here gives the kiss of peace to the Deacon, who gives it to the Sub-Deacon, and he to the Choir. During this ceremony, you should excite within yourself feelings of Christian charity, and pardon your enemies, if you have any. Then continue to pray with the Priest:

Domine Jesu Christe, Fili Dei vivi, qui ex voluntate Patris, cooperante Spiritu Sancto, per mortem tuam mundum vivificasti: libera me per hoc sacrosanctum Corpus et Sanguinem tuum, ab omnibus iniquitatibus meis, et universis malis, et fac me tuis semper inhærere mandatis, et a te nunquam separari permittas. Qui cum eodem Deo Patre et Spiritu Sancto vivis et regnas Deus in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, who, according to the will of thy Father, through the co-operation of the Holy Ghost, hast by thy death given life to the world; deliver me by this thy most sacred Body and Blood from all my iniquities, and from all evils; and make me always adhere to thy commandments, and never suffer me to be separated from thee, who with the same God the Father and the Holy Ghost, livest and reignest God for ever and ever. Amen.

If you are going to Communion at this Mass, say the following Prayer; otherwise, prepare yourself to make a Spiritual Communion:

Perceptio Corporis tui, Domine Jesu Christe, quod ego indignus sumere præsumo, non mihi proveniat in judicium et condemnationem: sed pro tua pietate prosit mihi ad tutamentum mentis et corporis, et ad medelam percipiendam. Qui vivis et regnas cum Deo Patre in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
Let not the participation of thy Body, O Lord Jesus Christ, which I, though unworthy, presume to receive, turn to my judgement and condemnation; but through thy mercy may it be a safeguard and remedy both to my soul and body. Who with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, livest and reignest God for ever and ever. Amen.

When the Priest takes the Host into his hands, in order to his receiving it in Communion, say:

Panem cœlestem accipiam, et nomen Domini invocabo.
Come, my dear Jesus, come!

When he strikes his breast, confessing his unworthiness, say thrice with him these words, and in the same disposition as the Centurion of the Gospel, who first used them:

Domine, non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum: sed tantum dic verbo, et sanabitur anima mea.
Lord, I am not worthy thou shouldst enter under my roof; say it only with one word of thine, and my soul will be healed.

Whilst the Priest receives the sacred Host, if you also are to communicate, adore profoundly your God, who is ready to take up his abode within you, and again say to him with the spouse: Come, Lord Jesus, come!

But should you not be going to receive sacramentally, make a Spiritual Communion. Adore Jesus Christ who thus visits your soul by his grace, and say to him:

Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam meam in vitam æternam. Amen.
I give thee, O Jesus, this heart of mine, that thou mayest dwell in it, and do with me what thou wilt.

Then the Priest takes the Chalice, in thanksgiving, and says:

Quid retribuam Domino pro omnibus, quæ retribuit mihi? Calicem salutaris accipiam, et nomen Domini invocabo. Laudans invocabo Dominum, et ab inimicis meis salvus ero.
What return shall I make to the Lord for all he hath given to me? I will take the Chalice of salvation, and will call upon the name of the Lord. Praising I will call upon the Lord, and I shall be saved from mine enemies.

But if you are to make a Sacramental Communion, you should, at this moment of the Priest’s receiving the precious Blood, again adore the God who is coming to you, and keep to your canticle: Come, Lord Jesus, come!

If, on the contrary, you are going to communicate only spiritually, again adore your divine Master, and say to him:

Sanguis Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam meam in vitam æternam. Amen.
I unite myself to thee, my beloved Jesus! do thou unite thyself to me! and never let us be separated.

It is here that you must approach to the altar, if you are going to Communion. The dispositions suitable for holy Communion during this season of Advent are given in the next chapter, p. 94.

The Communion being finished, whilst the Priest is purifying the Chalice the first time, say:

Quod ore sumpsimus, Domine, pura mente capiamus: et de munere temporali fiat nobis remedium sempiternum.
Thou hast visited me, O God, in these days of my pilgrimage; give me grace to treasure up the fruits of this visit for my future eternity.

Whilst the Priest is purifying the Chalice the second time, say:

Corpus tuum, Domine, quod sumpsi, et Sanguis quem potavi, adhæreat visceribus meis: et præsta ut in me non remaneat scelerum macula, quem pura et sancta refecerunt Sacramenta. Qui vivis et regnas in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
Be thou for ever blessed, O my Saviour, for having admitted me to the sacred mystery of thy Body and Blood. May my heart and senses preserve, by thy grace, the purity which thou hast imparted to them: and I be thus rendered less unworthy of thy divine visit.

The priest, having read the antiphon called the Communion, which is the first part of his thanksgiving for the favour just received from God, whereby He has renewed His divine presence among us, turns to the people with the usual salutation; after which, he recites the prayers, called the Postcommunion, which are the completion of the thanksgiving. You will join him here also, thanking God for the unspeakable gift He has just lavished on you, and asking, with most earnest entreaty, for the coming of the Messias, who will accomplish those august mysteries, the renewal of which in the holy Mass is the chief support of the Christian life.

These prayers having been recited, the priest again turns to the people, and, full of joy for the immense favour he and they have been receiving, he says:

℣. Dominus vobiscum.
℣. The Lord be with you.

Answer him:

℟. Et cum spiritu tuo.
℟. And with thy spirit.

Then, if it be a Mass of a feast, the deacon (or the priest himself, if it be not a High Mass) says these words:

℣. Ite, Missa est.

℟. Deo gratias.
℣. Go, the Mass is finished.

℟. Thanks be to God.

But if it be a Mass proper to Advent, he does not dismiss the faithful, because, in this holy season, it behoves us to increase our prayers; he therefore says:

℣. Benedicamus Domino

℟. Deo gratias.
℣. Let us bless the Lord.

℟. Thanks be to God.

 

The Priest makes a last Prayer, before giving you his blessing: pray with him:

Placeat tibi, sancta Trinitas, obsequium servitutis meæ, quod oculis tuæ majestatis indignus obtuli, tibi sit acceptabile, mihique, et omnibus, pro quibus illud obtuli, sit, te miserante, propitiabile. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Eternal thanks be to thee, O adorable Trinity, for the mercy thou hast showed to me in permitting me to assist at this divine Sacrifice. Pardon me the negligence and coldness wherewith I have received so great a favour, and deign to confirm the blessing which thy Minister is about to give me in thy Name.

The Priest raises his hand, and thus blesses you:

℣. Benedicat vos omnipotens Deus, Pater, et Filius, et Spiritus Sanctus.

℟. Amen.
℣. May the Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, bless you!

℟. Amen.

He then concludes the Mass, by reading the first fourteen verses of the Gospel according to St John, which tell us of the eternity of the Word, and of the mercy which led him to take upon himself our flesh, and to dwell among us. Pray that you may be of the number of those who, now that he has come unto his own, receive him, and are made the sons of God.

℣. Dominus vobiscum.

℟. Et cum spiritu tuo.

Initium sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem.
Cap. i.

In principio erat Verbum, et Verbum erat apud Deum, et Deus erat Verbum. Hoc erat in principio apud Deum. Omnia per ipsum facta sunt; et sine ipso factum est nihil quod factum est. In ipso vita erat, et vita erat lux hominum: et lux in tenebris lucet, et tenebræ eam non comprehenderunt. Fuit homo missus a Deo, cui nomen erat Joannes. Hic venit in testimonium, ut testimonium perhiberet de lumine, ut omnes crederent per ilium. Non erat ille lux, sed ut testimonium perhiberet de lumine. Erat lux vera, quæ illuminat omnem hominem venientem in hunc mundum. In mundo erat, et mundus per ipsum factus est, et mundus eum non cognovit. In propria venit, et sui eum non receperunt. Quotquot autem receperunt eum, dedit eis potestatem filios Dei fieri, his, qui credunt in nomine ejus: qui non ex sanguinibus, neque ex voluntate carnis, neque ex voluntate viri, sed ex Deo nati sunt. Et Verbum caro factum est, et habitavit in nobis: et vidimus gloriam ejus, gloriam quasi Unigeniti a Patre, plenum gratiæ et veritatis.

℟. Deo gratias.
℣. The Lord be with you.

℟. And with thy spirit.

The beginning of the Holy Gospel according to John.
Ch. i.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was made nothing that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men; and the light shineth in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to give testimony of the light, that all men might believe through him. He was not the light, but was to give testimony of the light. That was the true light which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them he gave power to he made the sons of God; to them that believe in his name, who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us; and we saw his glory, as it were the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

℟. Thanks be to God.

 

 

[1] St. Luke xii. 35.
[2] St Matt, i 23.
[3] Heb. i 1, 2.
[4] Cant. v 6.
[5] 1 Kings iii 10.
[6] 1 Cor. xv 53.
[7] 2 St Pet. i 4.
[8] Wisd. xviii 14, 15.
[9] 1 Cor. x 17.

 

 

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

It is true that everything in Advent is so arranged as to be a preparation for the coming of the Saviour at the feast of Christmas, and that the spirit of the faithful should be one of earnest expectation of this same Saviour; and yet, such is the happy lot of the children of the new Law, that they can, if they wish it, really, and at once, receive this God whom the Church is expecting; and thus, this familiar visit of Jesus will become itself one of the preparations for His great and solemn visit. Let those, then, who are living the life of grace, and to whom the glorious day of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ will bring an increase of spiritual life, not omit to prepare, by Communion, for the reception they intend to give to the heavenly Spouse on the sacred night of His coming. These Communions will be interviews with their divine Lord, giving them confidence, and love, and all those interior dispositions wherewith they would welcome Him who comes to load them with fresh grace, for this Jesus is full of grace and truth.

They will understand this better by reflecting on the sentiments which the august Mother of Jesus had in her blessed soul during the time which preceded the divine birth. This birth is to be an event of more importance, both to the salvation of mankind and to Mary’s own glory, than even that of the first accomplishment of the Incarnation; for the Word was made Flesh in order that He might be born. The immense happiness of holding in her arms her Son and her God, would make the sacred hour of Jesus’ birth dearer and happier to Mary, than even that in which she was overshadowed by the Holy Ghost, and received from Him the divine fruit of her womb. During those nine months, when she knew that her Jesus was so undividedly hers, what must have been the happiness which filled her heart! It was a bliss which was a worthy preparation for that more blissful night of Bethlehem.

Christians! your Communions during Advent are to prepare you for your Christmas joy, by giving you something of the delight which Mary felt before the birth of Jesus. When you are in the house of God, preparing by recollection and prayer for receiving your Saviour in holy Communion, you may perhaps be assisted in your preparation by the sentiments and affections which we have ventured to offer you in the following acts.

BEFORE COMMUNION

Act of Faith

Thou art about to descend into my breast, O eternal God! and yet there is nothing to betoken the approach of thy sovereign Majesty! As on the sacred night of thy birth, thy entrance into Bethlehem was in humility and in silence; so also now, there is nothing to tell men that thou art about to visit me. A Little Child, veiled under the appearance of an humble host, is coming to me, and in a few moments I shall hold within me him who created all things, the Judge of the living and the dead! Oh! how I love to bow down my reason before this wonderful Mystery! How I love, too, to contemplate these incomprehensible abasements of my God, to which he has humbled himself in order that he might exalt me! No, Reason could never have taught me all this! How could Reason tell me what the infinite love of God for his creatures can do, when she cannot even make me see my own nothingness and sinfulness, into which, thou, dear Jesus, art now coming? O Infant God! I believe in thy love, and thy love is omnipotent. I come to thee with a simple Faith, as the Shepherds went to Bethlehem when the Angel spoke these words to them: There is horn unto you in the City of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord: and this shall be a sign unto you: you shall find the Infant wrapped in swaddling-clothes, and laid in a crib:[4] they went without delay, and found thee, and believed. I would do in like manner, O my Saviour! The sacramental veils which cover thee are to me what thy infancy, thy swathing-bands, thy crib were to them: and I believe thee to be here really present. Accept this homage of my firm Faith, and receive me as one of those humble Shepherds, whose simple-heartedness merited for them the first place at the feast of Bethlehem.

Act of Humility

But, sweet Saviour! these Shepherds of Bethlehem had another offering besides the simplicity of their Faith, which made them pleasing to thee: it was the humility of their hearts. Thou lovest the humble, O my God! and therefore thou didst prefer these humble men to all the rest of mankind, giving them the grand honour of being the first Worshippers at thy Crib. The humility of Mary drew thee from heaven into her chaste womb; and the humility of these fortunate herdsmen made thee call them to be the first to form, with Mary, Joseph and the Angels, thy court in this humble Stable, which thy adorable presence has converted into a very paradise. In this thou givest an important lesson to me, who am to be favoured as they were, nay, who am about to receive thee within myself. Spare me not, my beloved Jesus; bring down the haughtiness of my spirit; destroy the conceited ambitions of my heart; cast me down at the foot of thy Crib, and suffer me not to rise again until I have become one of those little Children whom thou so lovest, that thou thyself wouldst be one; so the better to come down even so low as to me. It is as a weak Babe that thou comest to me, O infinite God! What can I do, but be confounded, and sink into my deep nothingness, I who have never known the humility and simplicity of a child! In thy divine humility thou wouldst not be born in any other place than a Stable and a Crib; my heart, then, will satisfy thee, dear Jesus! and Bethlehem itself, compared with me, had not a poverty so worthy of that Majesty which loves to descend to what is lowest, and of that Light which glories in shining where the darkness is thickest.

Act of Contrition

And yet, O God of holiness! the Stable and the Crib, though most unworthy of thy Majesty, had nothing in them which could give thee displeasure. No place, no object in thy whole creation, could be worthy to serve thee as throne or palace; but since thou wouldst have a birth-place on this earth, the happy spot on which thy choice would fall would become, however contemptible in itself, a sanctuary worthy of thee, because thy greatness and divinity would consecrate and enrich it. There is but one place unworthy of thee, which thou couldst never choose: the heart of a sinner. Oh! that is the Stable, that is the Crib which would indeed dishonour thee. Ah! my dear Jesus! there are certain consequences, there are certain wounds scarce yet closed, left in me by past sins, which force me to remember that I was once a dwelling wherein thou couldst not enter, until thy merciful grace had removed from me the abominations of my sins. Miserable state! how I now grieve over it and detest it! Now that I see thee become, for my sake, the humble and lovely babe of Bethlehem, how hateful those sins of mine, which needed such a remedy! and how immense that love of thine, which could deign to give it me! There surely can be no more sin, dearest Lord! Give me thy grace to destroy it within me, and root it up to its last fibre. I do not forget those words of thine: Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God,[5] this is the moment for me to come near thy Crib, and do far more than see thee; cleanse, then, my heart, and let neither sin nor attachment to sin ever enter there again.

Act of Love

Such is the prayer of my contrite heart: wilt thou, my Infant God, reject it? The Church, my mother, has led me to Bethlehem; there I see thee in thy Crib leaning forward towards me, and looking on me with sweetness, and bidding me rejoice, for that thou hast pardoned me, O God of infinite mercy! and forgotten my sins. A contrite heart which sues for mercy is not all thou askest of me, nor all that I wish to offer thee: accept, then, my love. Is not this mystery of thy divine Childhood a mystery of Love? Thou comest to me because thou lovest me; but thou comest to me as a little Infant, because thou wishest me to love thee in return, and have confidence in thee. I do indeed desire to love thee, sweet Saviour! but where shall I find a love worthy of being a return for thine, which is so generous, so immense, and what I can least understand, so tender? for it is the love of an Infant God, who treats me, a sinner, as a much-loved Brother. Yet I must say it, my sweetest Jesus! for thy Crib and thy Swathing-bands, the magnificent trophies of thy unmatched love, encourage me to say it: I love thee! I come to thee that I may love thee better. I no longer wish to flee from thee: thou desirest to be united to me by love, nor will I cease to sigh after thee, until I have received thee into my heart, and am made one with thee, according to thy word: He that eateth my Flesh abideth in me, and I in him.[6] O my Jesus! inflame my heart and make it like that of the Shepherds, when they came near to the Stable where thou wast born; like that of the Magi, when the Star stood over Bethlehem, the House of Bread, and showed them that their journeying was at an end; like that of the venerable Simeon, when he saw the Christ of the Lord in Mary's arms, and all the promises fulfilled which he had received from the Holy Ghost. I offer thee the love of these and all thy Saints, of thy Holy Angels, and of thy Blessed Mother herself: let it supply the poverty of my own love, and deign, I beseech thee, to enrich me, by this thy visit, with the gold of divine charity.

Act of Desire

I love thee, O Divine Babe! therefore do I desire thee, and beseech thee to come to me. I must needs desire thee, for thou art, as thy Scripture tells me, The Desire of the everlasting hills.[7] And art thou not Light and Life? Oh! come then, Divine Sun of Justice, enlighten my darkness, and give life to my soul, which faints without thee. The nations of the earth awaited thee as their Deliverer. The Church, thy Spouse, languished with longings for thy visit. Abraham and all the Patriarchs desired to see thy day. Joseph, the Spouse of Mary, is filled with joy at the approach of that blissful hour when his eyes shall see the Son of the Eternal God. The Shepherds are impatient to behold thee: let us go over to Bethlehem, they say, and let us see this Word which is come to pass, which the Lord hath showed to us. The Magi no sooner see the Star, than they set out to seek thee, the Star of Jacob.[8] The aged Simeon is filled with the Holy Ghost, and hastens to the Temple to see the Saviour whom the Lord hath prepared. Anna, the Prophetess, is impelled by a holy enthusiasm, though weighed down with years, to come and see him who is the Consolation of Israel. All creation is excited: the very Angels leave heaven to come to see thee in thy Crib and thy Swaddling-clothes, and seeing thee to adore. Shall I alone be indifferent? Let it not be, my dearest Lord! but rather let my heart long for thee, if not with a like ardour, at least with all its affection. I beseech thee therefore, come into my soul! I offer thee all the prayers and inflamed desires of all thy Saints; and with theirs my own, poor and weak as they are. Yea, come to me; enter into my house; let my heart meet thee; nay, let it be united with thee.


O Mary! Virgin-Mother of the Messias! help me by thy prayers to love him as thou didst, that is, with my whole strength: and lead me to Bethlehem, of which thou art Queen. Ye holy Angels! suffer me to stand, in your glorious choir near the Crib of our God; fit me by your heavenly influence to share in your adorations, and under the shadow of your sacred wings to hide the tatters of my spiritual poverty. All ye Saints of God! by the delights ye found in the mystery of Bethlehem, help me and be near me, now that the great God, who filled you with light and love, is about to come into the poor dark dwelling of my heart! Amen.

In order to make your preparation complete, follow, with a lively faith and attention, all the mysteries of the Mass at which you are to receive Communion; using, for this purpose, the method we have given in the preceding chapter. After your Communion, you may sometimes make your thanksgiving by reciting the prayers we here give.

AFTER COMMUNION

Act of Adoration

Thou hast, then, come down even unto me, O my Sovereign Lord! and art reposing in my heart, as in a Crib, which thou hast vouchsafed to choose for thyself, O Infant God! My heart is now become like a new Bethlehem, O Bread of Angels! I most devoutly adore thee, thee the great God thus humbling thyself to such an abyss of lowliness. To the hymn of the Angels, Glory be to God in the highest, I must needs add, Glory be to thee, my God, in this depth of my misery and weakness, whither thou hast so mercifully come! Oh! who will teach me, my sweetest Infant Guest! who will teach me how to give thee a worthy welcome of homage? Mary, thy most pure and Blessed Mother, having given thee birth, and placed thee in the Crib, prostrated herself before thee as thy humble handmaid, and adored thee. Never had this guilty earth witnessed a homage so sublime as this: and thou didst deign to accept it, as the noblest thou hadst ever received. Permit me to imitate this thy beloved Mother, and adore thee as she did, O thou my Sovereign Lord! I humbly beseech thee to accept her homage to supply for the unworthiness of mine; for she is my Mother, and thou hast willed that ail her riches and merits should belong to her children. I offer thee, likewise, the adorations of that Just Man, the chaste Spouse of Mary, the admirable Joseph, who had been admitted into the divine secret of Nazareth, and is now made a witness of the touching mystery of Bethlehem. Oh! that I might share in the devoted respect and love of this glorious Saint, so grand because so simple, and so favoured above all mortals in that he was chosen to protect thy Infancy! I also adore thee in company with the Angels, the Shepherds and the Magi; with Simeon and Anna, and all the Church of heaven and earth, which contemplates in glad amazement the sublime miracle of this abasement of thy divine Majesty.

Act of Thanksgiving

But it is not enough, O Divine Babe! that I adore thee; I must thank thee. What an honour is this thou has conferred upon me! What happiness this thou hast brought me! I, a sinner, am become by thy sweet condescension a living Bethlehem, possessing in itself Thee, the Bread of Life. Thy sovereign Majesty has come down even to me, and has chosen my heart for thy throne, or rather for thy Crib. The holy Angels adore thee and praise thee; but thou art granting to me an intimacy which these Blessed Spirits have not—thou art reposing on my heart. The Shepherds are admitted into the Stable to look at thee; they gaze upon thee with simple and loving admiration; but thou dost not permit them to caress thee. The Magi offer thee their royal gifts; but, as the prophecy said of them,[9] they kiss but the ground whereon thy Crib is placed. Happy, then, the aged Simeon, who is permitted to take thee into his arms; but oh! how happier I! who have received into myself, and now hold within me, thee, my Jesus, the Bread of Life! Blessed be thou for ever, O my God! for that thou hast treated with such incomprehensible familiarity this the poorest of all thy servants! I thank thee, and glorify thee, as did the Shepherds, who went so eagerly to Bethlehem, and returned glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen; and with such glowing words did they praise thee, that all that heard, wondered at those things that were told them by the Shepherds.[10] So too will I open my lips, and borrowing the words of a Son of Bethlehem, David thy ancestor, I will say: All ye that fear God, come and hear, and I will tell you what great things he hath done to my soul.[11]

Act of Love

Yea, in very truth thou hast loved me, O my divine Guest! for thou hast laden me with the gifts of thy love. How shall I not return thee love for love, and love thee with all this heart of mine, wherein thou dwellest? Be thou loved, then, my infinitely lovable Jesus of Bethlehem! It was to win our love that thou didst lay aside all thy greatness, and, as thy Apostle expresses it,[12] empty thyself of all thy majesty, assuming the form of a servant, nay, of a weak Babe. Verily, to approach thee now with fear and trembling seems out of season, and such loveliness as this should not be approached, but with confident tenderest love. O thou that art to be my dread Judge! thou art now here, resting on my heart; thou art, thou wishest to be, in my power; and according to thine own saying, thou art mine, and I am thine. Jesus! most lovable Jesus! remain with me for ever. Here take up thy abode; here grow before God and men; here reign as my Lord and King and God. To supply for the deficiency of my own love, I offer thee the love wherewith Mary, thy most holy Mother, pressed thee to her sacred Heart, during these the first days of thy life on earth; the love wherewith Joseph, the chaste Spouse of Mary, and thy foster-father, so diligently procured thee all thou didst need; the love wherewith the Shepherds of Bethlehem gazed on thee, the Saviour that was born for them, and knew thee by this sign, that thou wast an Infant—lying—swathed—in a manger;[13] the love wherewith the adoring Magi opened their treasures before thee, and forgot all the fatigues of a long journey, entranced with the sight of thee; the love wherewith the venerable Simeon took thee up in his arms, and felt that he must needs die, now that he had seen Jesus; the love, in fine, of the Holy Angels, who, as thy Apostle tells us,[14] adored thee when born in Bethlehem, and found their heaven in looking on that immortal beauty, made visible, in thy Infant Face, even to the eyes of sinful men. Accept, O my divine Treasure! my sweetest Jesus, accept my love, as thou didst all these, and abide in me for ever.

Act of Oblation

But it is not enough that I love thee, O Divine Infant: thou commandest me to give myself to thee. I was far off, and yet thou camest to me, that thou mightest make me thine own possession; and that I might never more leave thee, thou hast taken up thy dwelling within my heart, making it thy Bethlehem, O Bread of Life! Thou wishest that I should become a little child, after thine example; that I should leave, here at thy Crib, all my pride and disobedience; that my worldly wisdom should yield, at the sight of thy Crib, to the spirit of Faith; that the false light which has hitherto been my guide, should be dispelled by the brightness which comes from the mystery of thy Divine Body swathed in the bands of infancy. O Jesus! thou King of Infants, as one of the Fathers has called thee, I give myself to thee, that thou mayest teach me to become a little child. Accept the promise I make thee, of perfect docility to all thy teachings; grant that it may be constant and always prompted by love. I detest everything in my past life which has been, either in thought or affection, contrary to thy spirit. Henceforth I will be all thine, for thou hast drawn me, by these sacred Mysteries, into holy nearness to thyself. I will imitate the Magi, who, having adored thee, went back another way into their country. May this holy infancy which I have begun after thine example be to me the beginning of a new life, with nothing of my old one in it. Simeon having received thee into his arms, wished to live no more for this earth; and shall I be satisfied with it, I who possess thee here within me? No—henceforth, my life is to be the service of thee, that so I may deserve to be united with thee for ever in heaven.


Mary, Mother of my Jesus! pray for me, that this gracious visit of thy divine Son may produce in me abundant fruits of virtue. Ye Holy Angels of God! who adore him now dwelling within me, be solicitous for the holiness and purity of my soul and body. All ye saints of God! pray for me, that I may ever be faithful to him whom ye loved on earth, and now love eternally in heaven. Amen

 

 


 

[1] Ps. xviii 6.
[2] Wisd. xi 27.
[3] Ps. xxxiii 6.
[4] St Luke ii 11, 12.
[5] St Matt. v 8.
[6] St John vi 57.
[7] Gen. xlix 26.
[8] Num. xxiv 17.
[9] Ps. lxxi.
[10] St Luke ii 16, 18, 20.
[11] Ps. lxv 16.
[12] Phil, ii 7.
[13] St Luke ii 11, 12.
[14] Heb. i 6.

 

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The limits which necessity requires us to put to this volume will not admit of our inserting any of the day Office beyond Vespers and Compline; moreover, the faithful rarely assist at any other of the Canonical Hours, during this part of the liturgical year.

The Office of Vespers, or Evensong, consists firstly of five psalms with their antiphons. The antiphons of each Sunday are given farther on, in the Proper of the Time.

The Church commences with the supplication, which she makes to God at the beginning of all her Hours:

℣. 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.

Ant. Dixit Dominus.
℣. 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.

Ant. The Lord said.

The first psalm is a prophecy of the glory of the Messias. Let us, during this season, the more earnestly proclaim the greatness of the Incarnate Word the more we see Him humbled, out of love for us, during these days which precede His divine birth.

psalm 109

 

Dixit Dominus Domino meo: * Sede a dextris meis.
Donec ponam inimicos tuos: * scabellum pedum tuorum.
Virgam virtutis tuæ emittet Dominus ex Sion: * dominare in medio inimicorum tuorum.
Tecum principium in die virtutis tuæ in splendoribus sanctorum: * ex utero ante luciferum genui te.
Juravit Dominus, et non poenitebit eum: * Tu es Sacerdos in æternum secundum ordinem Melchisedech.
Dominus a dextris tuis: * confregit in die iræ suæ reges.
Judicabit in nationibus, implebit ruinas: * conquassabit capita in terra multorum.
De torrente in via bibet: * propterea exaltabit caput.

Ant. Dixit Dominus Domino meo, sede a dextris meis.
Ant. Magna opera Domini.
The Lord said to my Lord, his Son: Sit thou at my right hand, and reign with me.
Until, on the day of thy last coming, I make thy enemies thy footstool.
O Christ! the Lord thy Father will send forth the sceptre of thy power out of Sion: from thence rule thou in the midst of thy enemies.
With thee is the principality in the day of thy strength, in the brightness of the saints: For the Father hath said to thee: From the womb before the day-star I begot thee.
The Lord hath sworn, and he will not repent: he hath said, speaking of thee, the God-Man: Thou art a Priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech.
Therefore, O Father, the Lord thy Son is at thy right hand: he hath broken kings in the day of his wrath.
He shall also judge among nations: in that terrible coming he shall fill the ruins of the world: he shall crush the heads in the land of many.
He cometh now in humility; he shall drink in the way of the* torrent of sufferings: therefore shall he lift up the head.

Ant. The Lord said to my Lord, sit thou at my right hand.
Ant. Great are the works of the Lord.

The following Psalm commemorates the mercies of God to his people—the promised Covenant—the Redemption—his fidelity to his promises:

psalm 110

 

Confitebor tibi, Domine, in toto corde meo: * in concilio justorum et congregatione.
Magna opera Domini: * exquisita in omnes voluntates ejus.
Confessio et magnificentia opus ejus: * et justitia ejus manet in sæculum sæculi.
Memoriam fecit mirabilium suorum, misericors et miserator Dominus: * escam dedit timentibus se.
Memor erit in sæculum testamenti sui: * virtutem operum suorum annuntiabit populo suo.
Ut det illis haereditatem Gentium: * opera manuum ejus veritas et judicium.
Fidelia omnia mandata ejus, confirmata in sæculum sæculi: * facta in veritate et æquitate.
Redemptionem misit populo suo: * mandavit in æternum testamentum suum.
Sanctum et terribile nomen ejus: * initium sapientiæ timor Domini.
Intellectus bonus omnibus facientibus eum: * laudatio ejus manet in sæculum sæculi.

Ant. Magna opera Domini: exquisita in omnes voluntates ejus.
Ant. Qui timet Dominum.
I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart: in the council of the just, and in the congregation.
Great are the works of the Lord: sought out according to all his wills.
His work is praise and magnificence: and his justice continueth for ever and ever.
He hath made a remembrance of his wonderful works, being a merciful and gracious Lord: and being the bread of life, he hath given food to them that fear him.
He will be mindful for ever of his covenant with men: he is come and will show forth to his people the power of his works.
That he may give them, Ais Church, the inheritance of the Gentiles: the works of his hand are truth and judgement.
All his commandments are faithful, confirmed for ever and ever: made in truth and equity.
He hath sent Redemption to his people; he hath thereby commanded his covenant for ever.
Holy and terrible is his name: the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
A good understanding to all that do it: his praise continueth for ever and ever.

Ant. Great are the works of the Lord: sought out according to all his wills.
Ant. He that feareth the Lord.

The third psalm sings the happiness of the just man, and his hopes on the day of our Lord’s second coming. It also tells us what will be the confusion of the sinner on that terrible day.

psalm 111

 

Beatus vir qui timet Dominum: * in mandatis ejus volet nimis.
Potens in terra erit semen ejus: * generatio rectorum benedicetur.
Gloria et divitiæ in domo ejus: * et justitia ejus manet in sæculum sæculi.
Exortum est in tenebris lumen rectis: * misericors, et miserator, et justus.
Jucundus homo qui miseretur et commodat, disponet sermones suos in judicio: * quia in æternum non commovebitur.
In memoria æterna erit justus: * ab auditione mala non timebit.
Paratum cor ejus sperare in Domino, confirmatum est cor ejus: * non commovebitur donec despiciat inimicos suos.
Dispersit, dedit pauperibus, justitia ejus manet in sæculum sæculi: * cornu ejus exaltabitur in gloria.
Peccator videbit et irascetur, dentibus suis fremet et tabescet: * desiderium peccatorum peribit.

Ant. Qui timet Dominum, in mandatis ejus cupit nimis.
Ant. Sit nomen Domini.
Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord: he shall delight exceedingly in his commandments.
His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the righteous shall be blessed.
Glory and wealth shall be in his house: and his justice remaineth for ever and ever.
To the righteous a light is risen up in darkness: he is merciful, and compassionate, and just: he is born and dwells amongst us.
Acceptable is the man that showeth mercy and lendeth; he shall order his words with judgement: because he shall not be moved for ever.
The just shall be in everlasting remembrance: he shall not fear the evil hearing.
His heart is ready to hope in the Lord; his heart is strengthened: he shall not be moved until he look over his enemies.
He hath distributed, he hath given to the poor; his justice remaineth for ever and ever: his horn shall be exalted in glory.
The wicked shall see, and shall be angry; he shall gnash with his teeth, and pine away: the desire of the wicked shall perish.

Ant. He that feareth the Lord delighteth exceedingly in his commandments.
Ant. May the name of the Lord.

The fourth psalm is a canticle of praise to the Lord, who, from His high heaven, has taken pity on the fallen human race, and raised it up again by the Incarnation.

psalm 112

 

Laudate, pueri, Dominum: * laudate nomen Domini.
Sit nomen Domini bene* dictum: * ex hoc nunc et usque in sæculum.
A solis ortu usque ad occasum: * laudabile nomen Domini.
Excelsus super omnes Gentes Dominus: * et super cœlos gloria ejus.
Quis sicut Dominus Deus noster qui in altis habitat: * et humilia respicit in cœlo et in terra?
Suscitans a terra inopem: * et de stercore erigens pauperem.
Ut collocet eum cum principibus: * cum principibus populi sui.
Qui habitare facit sterilem in domo: * matrem filiorum lætantem.

Ant. Sit nornen Domini benedictum in sæcula.
Ant. Deus autem noster.
Praise the Lord, ye children: praise ye the name of the Lord.
Blessed be the name of the Lord: from henceforth now and for ever.
From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, the name of the Lord is worthy of praise.
The Lord is high above all nations: and his glory above the heavens.
Who is as the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high: and looketh down on the low things in heaven and in earth, nay, who cometh down amidst us?
Raising up the needy from the earth: and lifting up the poor out of the dunghill.
That he may place him with princes: with the princes of his people.
Who maketh a barren woman to dwell in a house, the joyful mother of children.

Ant. May the name of the Lord be for ever blessed.
Ant. But our God.

The fifth psalm recalls the memory of the prodigies done under the ancient Covenant; this will naturally awaken within us the hope of seeing those things, which happened to the people of Israel in figure, realized at the coming of the Messias.

psalm 113

 

In exitu Israel de Ægypto: * domus Jacob de populo barbaro.
Facta est Judæa sanctificatio ejus: * Israel potestas ejus.
Mare vidit, et fugit: * Jordanis conversus est retrorsum.
Montes exsultaverunt ut arietes: * et colles sicut agni ovium.
Quid est tibi, mare, quod fugisti: * et tu, Jordanis, quia conversus es retrorsum?
Montes exsultastis sicut arietes: * et colles sicut agni ovium?
A facie Domini mota est terra: a facie Dei Jacob.
Qui convertit petram in stagna aquarum: * et rupem in fontes aquarum.
Non nobis, Domine, non nobis: * sed nomini tuo da gloriam.
Super misericordia tua, et veritate tua: * nequando dicant Gentes: Ubi est Deus eorum?
Deus autem noster in cœlo: * omnia quæcumque voluit, fecit.
Simulacra Gentium argentum et aurum: * opera manuum hominum.
Os habent, et non loquentur: * oculos habent, et non videbunt.
Aures habent, et non audient: * nares habent, et non odorabunt.
Manus habent, et non palpabunt, pedes habent, et non ambulabunt: * non clamabunt in gutture suo.
Similes illis fiant qui faciunt ea: * et omnes qui confidunt in eis.
Domus Israel speravit in Domino: * adjutor eorum et protector eorum est.
Domus Aaron speravit in Domino: * adjutor eorum et protector eorum est.
Qui timent Dominum, speraverunt in Domino: * adjutor eorum et protector eorum est.
Dominus memor fuit nostri: * et benedixit nobis.
Benedixit domui Israel: * benedixit domui Aaron.
Benedixit omnibus qui timent Dominum: * pusillis cum majoribus.
Adjiciat Dominus super vos: * super vos, et super filios vestros.
Benedicti vos a Domino: * qui fecit cœlum et terrain.
Cœlum cœli Domino: * terram autem dedit filiis hominum.
Non mortui laudabunt te, Domine: * neque omnes qui descendunt in infernum.
Sed nos qui vivimus, benedicimus Domino: * ex hoc nunc et usque in sæculum.

Ant. Deus autem noster in cœlo: omnia quæcumque voluit, fecit.
When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a barbarous people.
Judea was made his sanctuary, Israel his dominion.
The sea saw and fled; Jordan was turned back.
The mountains skipped like rams: and the hills like the lambs of the flock.
What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou didst flee: and thou, O Jordan, that thou wast turned back?
Ye mountains that ye skipped like rams: and ye hills like lambs of the flock?
At the presence of the Lord the earth was moved, at the presence of the God of Jacob.
Who turned the rock into pools of water, and the stony hills into fountains of waters.
Not to us, O Lord, not to us: but to thy name give glory.
For thy mercy and for thy truth's sake: lest the Gentiles should say: Where is their God?
But our God is in heaven: he hath done all things whatsoever he would.
The idols of the Gentiles are silver and gold: the works of the hands of men.
They have mouths, and speak not: they have eyes, and see not.
They have ears, and hear not: they have noses, and smell not.
They have hands, and feel not: they have feet, and walk not: neither shall they cry out through their throat.
Let them that make them become like unto them: and all such as trust in them.
The house of Israel hath hoped in the Lord: he is their helper and their protector.
The house of Aaron hath hoped in the Lord: he is their helper and their protector.
They that feared the Lord have hoped in the Lord: he is their helper and their protector.
The Lord hath been mindful of us, and hath blessed us.
He hath blessed the house of Israel: he hath blessed the house of Aaron.
He hath blessed all that fear the Lord, both little and great.
May the Lord add blessings upon you: upon you, and upon your children.
Blessed be you of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
The heaven of heaven is the Lord’s: but the earth he has given to the children of men.
The dead shall not praise thee, O Lord, nor any of them that go down to hell.
But we that live bless the Lord: from this time now and for ever.

Ant. But our God is in heaven: he hath done all things whatsoever he would.

After these five psalms, a short lesson from the holy Scriptures is sung. It is called the Capitulum, or Little Chapter, because it is always very short. It will be found in its proper place for each Sunday. Then follows the hymn:

Then follows the Hymn. We give the one of the Sunday's Office. It was composed by St Gregory the Great, and celebrates Creation. It praises the Light, which God drew out of nothing, on this the first day, and which is the beautiful image of our Divine Infant, the Light of the world, the Orient that has visited them who sat in the shadow of death.

Hymn

Creator alme siderum,
Æterna lux credentium,
Jesu, Redemptor omnium,
Intende votis supplicum.

Qui dæmonis ne fraudibus
Periret orbis, impetu
Amoris actus, languidi
Mundi medela factus es.

Commune qui mundi nefas
Ut expiares, ad crucem,
E Virginis sacrario
Intacta prodis victima.

Cujus potestas gloriæ
Nomen que quum primum sonat,
Et cœlites et inferi
Tremente curvantur genu.

Te deprecamur, ultimae
Magnum diei judicem,
Armis supernæ gratiae
Defende nos ab hostibus.

Virtus, honor, laus, gloria,
Deo Patri, cum Filio,
Sancto simul Paraclito,
In sæculorum saecula.

Amen.

V
. Rorate, cœli, desuper, et nubes pluant Justum.
R. Aperiatur terra et germinet Salvatorem.
O Jesus, thou kind Creator of the heavens,
eternal Light of believers,
and Redeemer of all mankind,
hear the prayers of thy suppliants.

Lest the world should perish
by the fraud of the devil,
thou, impelled by the vehemence of thy love for us,
didst thyself become the remedy of all our weakness.

To expiate the sin of the whole world,
thou didst come from the sanctuary
of the Virgin’s womb,
a victim destined to the cross.

How glorious is thy power,
when, at the very sound of thy name,
heaven and hell bend
the trembling knee!

Wo beseech thee,
dread Judge of the last day,
defend us from our enemies
by the armour of thy heavenly grace.

Power, honour, praise, and glory,
be to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the holy Paraclete,
for ever and ever.

Amen.

V
. Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the Just One.
R. Let the earth be opened, and bud forth a Saviour.

 

Here is sung the Magnificat antiphon which is given in the proper of each Sunday. After this the Church always sings at Vespers the canticle in which our blessed Lady, all full of the God whom she had within her womb, gave utterance, in the presence of St. Elizabeth, to the transports of her joy and gratitude. This canticle harmonizes most sweetly with the spirit of Advent, for it is during this very time that Mary is almost incessantly before our minds, as the beautiful Mother that bears her precious and divine Fruit. Let us therefore unite with her, in celebrating the matchless honour bestowed on her by God; the merits of that profound humility which rendered her worthy of such an honour; the overthrow of the proud spirits who are driven from heaven; and the exaltation of human nature, of itself so poor and miserable, to that high place from which angels fell.

Our Lady's Canticle
(St Luke i)

Magnificat: * anima mea Dominum:
Et exsultavit spiritus meus: * in Deo salutari meo.
Quia respexit humilitatem ancillæ suæ: * ecce enim ex hoc Beatam me dicent omnes generationes.
Quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est: * et sanctum nomen ejus.
Et misericordia ejus a progenie in progenies: * timentibus eum.
Fecit potentiam in brachio suo: * dispersit superbos mente cordis sui.
Deposuit potentes de sede: * et exaltavit humiles.
Esurientes implevit bonis: * et divites dimisit inanes.
Suscepit Israel puerum suum: * recordatus misericordiæ suæ.
Sicut locutus est ad patres nostros: * Abraham et semini ejus in sæcula.
My soul doth magnify the Lord;
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid: for behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
Because he that is mighty hath done great things to me: and holy is his name.
And his mercy is from generation unto generation, to them that fear him.
He hath showed might in his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat: and hath exalted the humble.
He hath filled the hungry with good things: and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He hath received Israel his servant, being mindful of his mercy.
As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed for ever.

The Magnificat Antiphon is then repeated. The Prayer, or Collect, will be found in the Proper of each Sunday and Feast.

The Vespers end with the following Versicles:

℣. Benedicamus Domino.
. Deo gratias.

℣. Fidelium animæ per misericordiam Dei requiescant in pace.
. Amen.
℣. Let us bless the Lord.
. Thanks be to God.

℣. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
℟. Amen.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

THIS Office, which concludes the day, commences by a warning of the dangers of the night: then immediately follows the public Confession of our sins, as a powerful means of propitiating the divine justice, and obtaining God's help, now that we are going to spend so many hours in the unconscious and therefore dangerous state of sleep, which is also such an image of death.

The Lector, addressing the Priest, says to him:

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

The Priest answers:

Noctem quietam et finem perfectum concedat nobis Dominus omnipotens.

℟. Amen.
May the Almighty Lord grant us a quiet night and a perfect end.

℟. Amen.

The Lector then reads these words from the first Epistle of St Peter:

Fratres: Sobrii estote, et vigilate: quia adversarius vester diabolus, tamquam leo rugiens circuit quærens quem devoret: cui resistite fortes in fide. Tu autem, Domine, miserere nobis.
Brethren, be sober and watch: for your adversary the devil goes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour: resist him, being strong in faith. But thou, O Lord, have mercy on us.

The Choir answers:

, Deo gratias.
. Thanks be to God.

Then the Priest:

. Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini.
℣. Our help is in the name of the Lord.

The Choir:

. Qui fecit cœlum et terrain.
. Who hath made heaven and earth.

Then the Lord’s Prayer is recited in secret; after which the Priest says the Confiteor; and when he has finished, the Choir says:

Misereatur tui omnipotens Deus, et dimissis peccatis tuis, perducat te ad vitam æternam.
May Almighty God be merciful to thee, and forgiving thy sins, bring thee to everlasting life.

The Priest having answered Amen, the Choir repeats the Confiteor, thus:

Confiteor Deo Omnipotenti, beatæ Mariæ semper Virgini, beato Michaeli Archangelo, beato Joanni Baptistæ, sanct.s Apostolis Petro et Paulo, omnibus sanctis, et tibi Pater: quia peccavi nimis cogitatione, verbo et opere: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Ideo precor beatam Mariam semper Virginem, beatum Michaelem Archangelum, beatum Joannem Baptistam, sanctos Apostolos Petrum et Paulum, omnes sanctos, et te, Pater, orare pro me ad Dominum Deum nostrum.
I confess to Almighty God, to Blessed Mary ever Virgin, to blessed Michael the Archangel, to blessed John Baptist, to the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, to all the saints, and to thee, Father, that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. Therefore I beseech the Blessed Mary ever Virgin, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and all the saints, and thee, Father, to pray to our Lord God for me.

The Priest then says:

Misereatur vestri omnipotens Deus, et dimissis peccatis vestris, perducat vos ad vitam æternam.

. Amen.
May Almighty God be merciful to you, and, forgiving your sins, bring you to everlasting life.

. Amen.

Indulgentiam, absolutionem, ct remissionem peccatorum nostrorum, tribuat nobis omnipotens et misericors Dominus.

℟. Amen.
May the Almighty and merciful Lord grant us pardon, absolution, and remission of our sins.

℟. Amen.

 

℣. Converte nos, Deus, Salutaris noster.
. Et averte iram tuam a nobis.

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

Gloria Patri, etc.

Ant. Miserere.
℣. Convert us, O God our Saviour.
℟. And turn away thy anger from us.

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

Glory, etc.

Ant. Have mercy.

The first psalm expresses the confidence with which the just man sleeps in peace; but the wicked know not what calm rest is. It also speaks of the eternal Word, the Light of the Father, who is coming to dispel our darkness.

PSALM 4

Cum invocarem exaudivit me Deus justitiæ meæ: * in tribulatione dilatasti mihi.
Miserere mei: * et exaudi orationem meam.
Filii hominum, usquequo gravi corde? * ut quid diligitis vanitatem, et quæritis mendacium?
Et scitote quoniam mirificavit Dominus sanctum suum: * Dominus exaudiet me, cum clamavero ad eum.
Irascimini, et nolite peccare: * quæ 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 lætitiam 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.
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 you be dull of heart? why do you 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 you say in your hearts, be sorry for them upon 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.

The second psalm gives the motives of the just man’s confidence, even during the dangers of the night. Then we have God Himself speaking, and promising to show us our Saviour.

PSALM 90

Qui habitat in adjutorio Altissimi: * in protectione Dei cœli commorabitur.
Dicet Domino: Susceptor meus es tu, et refugium meum, * Deus meus, sperabo in eum.
Quoniam ipse liberavit me de laqueo venantium: * et a verbo aspero.
Scapulis suis obumbrabit tibi: * et sub pennis ejus sperabis.
Scuto circumdabit te ventas ejus: * non timebis a timore nocturno.
A sagitta volante in die, a negotio perambulante in tenebris: * ab incursu, et dæmonio meridiano.
Cadent a latere tuo mille, et decem millia a dextris tuis: * ad te autem non appropinquabit.
Verumtamen oculis tuis considerabis: * et retributionem peccatorum videbis.
Quoniam tu es, Domine, spes mea: * Altissimum posuisti refugium tuum.
Non accedet ad te malum: * et flagellum non appropinquabit tabernaculo tuo.
Quoniam Angelis suis mandavit de te: * ut custodiant te in omnibus viis tuis.
In manibus portabunt te: * ne forte offendas ad lapidem pedem tuum.
Super aspidem et basiliscum ambulabis: * et conculcabis leonem et draconem.
Quoniam in me speravit, liberabo eum: * protegam eum, quoniam cognovit nomen meum.
Clamabit ad me, et ego exaudiam eum: * cum ipso sum in tribulatione, eripiam eum et glorificabo eum.
Longitudine dierum replebo eum: * et ostendam illi Salutare meum.
He that dwelleth in the aid of the Most High, shall abide under the protection of the God of heaven.
He shall say to the Lord: Thou art my protector and my refuge: my God, in him will I trust.
For he hath delivered me from the snare of the hunters: and from the sharp word.
He will overshadow thee with his shoulders: and under his wings thou shalt trust.
His truth shall compass thee with a shield: thou shalt not be afraid of the terror of the night.
Of the arrow that flieth in the day: of the business that walketh about in the dark: of invasion, or of the noonday devil.
A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand: but it shall not come nigh thee.
But thou shalt consider with thy eyes: and shalt see the reward of the wicked.
Because thou hast said: Thou, O Lord, art my hope: Thou hast made the Most High thy refuge.
There shall no evil come to thee, nor shall the scourge come near thy dwelling.
For he hath given his Angels charge over thee: to keep thee in all thy ways.
In their hands they shall bear thee up: lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
Thou shalt walk upon the asp and basilisk: and thou shalt trample under foot the lion and the dragon.
God will say of thee: Because he hoped in me, I will deliver him: I will protect him, because he hath known my name.
He will cry to me, and I will hear him: I am with him in tribulation, I will deliver him, and I will glorify him.
I will fill him with length of days: and I will show him my salvation.

The third psalm invites the servants of God to persevere with fervour, in the prayers they offer during the night. The faithful should say this psalm in a spirit of gratitude to God, for raising up in the Church adorers of His holy name, whose grand vocation is to lift up their hands, day and night, for the safety of Israel. On such prayers depend the happiness and the destinies of the world.

PSALM 133

Ecce nunc benedicite Dominum: * omnes servi Domini.
Qui statis in domo Domini: * in atriis domus Dei nostri.
In noctibus extollite manus vestras in sancta: * et benedicite Dominum.
Benedicat te Dominus ex Sion: * qui fecit coelum et terram.

Ant. Miserere mei, Domine, et exaudi orationem meam.
Behold now bless ye the Lord, all ye servants of the Lord.
Who stand in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God.
In the nights lift up your hands to the holy places, and bless ye the Lord.
Say to Israel: May the Lord out of Sion bless thee, he that made heaven and earth.

Ant. Have mercy on me, O Lord, and hear my prayer.

Hymn[1]

Te lucis ante terminum,
Rerum Creator, poscimus,
Ut pro tua dementia
Sis præsul et custodia.

Procul recedant somnia,
Et noctium phantasmata;
Hostemque nostrum comprime,
Ne polluantur corpora.

Præsta, Pater piissime,
Patrique compar Unice,
Cum Spiritu Paraclito
Regnans per omne sæculum.

Amen.
Before the closing of the light,
we beseech thee, Creator of all things!
that, in thy clemency,
thou be our protector and our guard.

May the dreams and phantoms of night
depart far from us;
and do thou repress our enemy,
lest our bodies be profaned.

Most merciful Father!
and thou, his Only-Begotten Son, co-equal with him!
reigning for ever with the Holy Paraclete!
grant this our prayer.

Amen.

(This last Stanza is varied for Christmas Day, etc., and for the Epiphany. See p. 106.)


Capitulum and Responsory[1]
(Jeremias xiv)

Tu autem in nobis es, Domine, et nomen sanctum tuum invocatum est super nos; ne derelinquas nos, Domine Deus noster.
℣. Deo gratias.

℟. In manus tuas, Domine: * Commendo spiritum meum. In manus.
℣. Redemisti nos, Domine Deus veritatis. * Commendo.
Gloria. In manus tuas.

℣. Custodi nos, Domine, ut pupillam oculi.
. Sub umbra alarum tuarum protege nos.
But thou art in us, O Lord, and thy holy name has been invoked upon us: forsake us not, O Lord our God.
℣. Thanks be to God.

. Into thy hands, O Lord: * I commend my spirit. Into thy hands.
℣. Thou hast redeemed us, O Lord God of truth. * I commend.
Glory. Into thy hands.

℣. Preserve us, O Lord, as the apple of thine eye.
. Protect us under the shadow of thy wings.

The canticle of the venerable Simeon—who, while holding the divine Infant in his arms, proclaimed Him to be the light of the Gentiles, and then slept the sleep of the just—admirably expresses the rest which a good Christian, whose heart is united to God, enjoys in Jesus; for, as the apostle says, whether we wake or sleep, we live together with Him who died for us.[2]

Canticle Of Simeon
(St Luke ii)

Nunc dimittis servum tuum. Domine: * secundum verbum tuum in pace.
Quia viderunt oculi mei: * Salutare tuum.
Quod parasti: * ante faciem omnium populorum.
Lumen ad revelationem Gentium: * et gloriam plebis tuæ Israel.
Gloria Patri et Filio, etc.
Ant. Salva nos, Domine, vigilantes: custodi nos dormientes, ut vigilemus cum Christo, et requiescamus in pace.
Now dost thou dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace.
Because my eyes have seen thy salvation.
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples.
A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. Glory.
Ant. Save us, O Lord, whilst awake, and watch us as we sleep; that we may watch with Christ, and rest in peace.

Prayers

 

Kyrie eleison. Christe eleison. Kyrie eleison.
Pater noster.

℣. Et ne nos inducas in tentationem.
℟. Sed libera nos a malo.
℣. Credo in Deum, &c.
℣. Carnis resurrectionem.
℟. Vitam æternam. Amen.
℣. Benedictus es, Domine Deus patrum nostrorum.
℟. Et laudabilis et gloriosus 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.
℣. Benedicat et custodiat nos omnipotens et misericors Dominus. R. Amen.
℣. Dignare, Domine, nocte ista.
℟. Sine peccato nos custodire.
℣. Miserere nostri, Domino.
℟. Miserere nostri.
℣. Fiat misericordia tua, Domine, super nos.
℟. Quemadmodum speravimus in te.
℣. Domine, exaudi orationem meam.
℟. Et clamor meus ad te veniat.
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.
Our Father.
℣. And lead us not into temptation.
℟. But deliver us from evil.
℣. I believe in God, &c.
℣. The resurrection of the body.
℟. And life everlasting. Amen.
℣. Blessed art thou, O Lord God of our fathers.
℟. And praiseworthy and glorious for ever.
℣. Let us bless the Father, and the Son, with the Holy Ghost.
℟. Let us praise and magnify him for ever.
℣. Thou art blessed, O Lord, in the firmament of heaven.
℟. And praiseworthy, and glorious, and magnified for ever.
℣. May the almighty and merciful Lord bless us and keep us. R. Amen.
℣. Vouchsafe, O Lord, this night.
℟. To keep us without sin.
℣. Have mercy on us, O Lord.
℟. Have mercy on us.
℣. Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us.
℟. As we have hoped in thee.
℣. O Lord, hear my prayer.
℟. And let my cry come unto thee.

After these prayers (which are omitted if the Office be of a double rite), the priest says:

℣. Dominus vobiscum.
. Et cum spiritu tuo.

Oremus

Visita, quæsumus Domine, habitationem istam, et omnes insidias inimici ab ea longe repelle: Angeli tui sancti habitent in ea, qui nos in pace custodiant: et benedictio tua sit super nos semper. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
℣. The Lord be with you.
. And with thy spirit.

Let us Pray

Visit, we beseech thee, O Lord, this house and family, and drive from it all snares of the enemy: let thy holy. Angels dwell herein, who may keep us in peace, and may thy blessing be always upon us. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

. Dominus vobiscum.
℟. Et cum spiritu tuo.

℣. Benedicamus Domino.
℟. Deo gratias.

Benedicat et custodiat nos omnipotens et misericors Dominus, Pater et Filius et Spiritus Sanctus.
. Amen.
℣. The Lord be with you.
. And with thy spirit.

℣. Let us bless the Lord.
℟. Thanks be to God.

May the almighty and merciful Lord, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, bless and preserve us.
℟. Amen.

Anthem to the Blessed Virgin

 

Alma Redemptoris mater, quæ pervia cœli
Porta manes, et stella maris, succurre cadenti,
Surgere qui curat populo.
Tu quæ genuisti,
Natura mirante, tuum sanctum Genitorem,
Virgo prius ac posterius,
Gabrielis ab ore
Sumens illud Ave, peccatorum miserere.

℣. Post partum, Virgo, inviolata permansisti.
℟. Dei Genitrix, intercede pro nobis.

Oremus

Gratiam tuam quaesumus, Domine, mentibus nostris infunde, ut qui, angelo nuntiante, Christi Filii tui Incarnationem cognovimus, per Passionem ejus et crucem ad Resurrectionis gloriam perducamur. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum
℟. Amen.

℣. Divinum auxilium maneat super nobiscum.
℟. Amen.[3]
Sweet Mother of our Redeemer,
Gate whereby we enter heaven, and Star of the sea, help us, we fall;
yet do we long to rise.
Nature looked upon thee with admiration,
when thou didst give birth to thy divine Creator,
thyself remaining, before and after it, a pure Virgin.
Gabriel spoke his Hail to thee;
we sinners crave thy pity.

℣. After child-birth thou didst remain most, pure, O Virgin.
℟. O Mother of God! make intercession for us.

Let us Pray

Pour forth, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy grace into our hearts; that we to whom the Incarnation of Christ thy Son was made known by the message of an angel, may by his Passion and cross be brought to the glory of his Resurrection. Through the same Christ our Lord.
. Amen.

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

 

 

 

 


Then in secret, Pater, Ave and Credo.


 

 

[1] According to the Monastic Rite, as follows: Te lucis ante terminum, Rerum Creator, poscimus, Ut solita dementia Sis præsul ad custodiam. Procul recedant somnia, Et noctium phantasmata; Hostemque nostrum comprime, Ne polluantur corpora. Præsta Pater omnipotens, Per Jesum Christum Dominum, Qui tecum in perpetuum Regnat cum Sancto Spiritu.
[2] 1 Thess. v 10.
[3] In the Monastic Rite this Response is as follows: ℟. Et cum fratribus nostris absentibus. Amen. ℟. And with our absent Brethren. Amen.

 

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