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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.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The Office of this Sunday is filled, from beginning to end, with the sentiments of hope and joy, with which the soul should be animated at the glad tidings of the speedy coming of Him who is her Saviour and Spouse. The interior coming, that which is effected in the soul, is the almost exclusive object of the Church’s prayers for this day: let us therefore open our hearts, let us prepare our lamps, and await in gladness that cry, which will be heard in the midnight: 'Glory be to God! Peace unto men!'

The Roman Church makes the Station to-day in the basilica of Holy-Cross-in-Jerusalem. It was in this venerable church that Constantine deposited a large piece of the true cross, together with the title which was fastened to it by Pilate’s order, and which proclaimed the kingly character of the Saviour of the world. These precious relics are still kept there; and, thus enriched with such a treasure, the basilica of Holy-Cross-in-Jerusalem is looked upon, in the Roman liturgy, as Jerusalem itself, as is evident from the allusions made in the several Masses of the Stations held in that basilica. In the language of the sacred Scriptures and of the Church, Jerusalem is the image of the faithful soul; and the Office and Mass of this Sunday have been drawn up on this idea, as the one of the day. We regret not to be able here to develop the sublime beauty of this figure; and must proceed at once to the passage, which the Church has selected from the prophet Isaias. There she tells her children how well founded are her hopes in the merciful and peaceful reign of the Messias. But first let us adore this divine Messias:

Regem venturum Dominum, venite, adoremus.

De Isaiæ Prophetæ.

Cap.
xi

Et egredietur virga de radice Jesse, et flos de radice ejus ascendet. Et requiescet super eum Spiritus Domini, Spiritus sapientiæ et intellectus, Spiritus consilii et fortitudinis, Spiritus scientiæ et pietatis: et replebit eum Spiritus timoris Domini. Non secundum visionem oculorum judicabit, neque secundum auditum aurium arguet: sed judicabit in justitia pauperes, et arguet in æquitate pro mansuetis terræ. Et percutiet terram virga oris sui, et spiritu labiorum suorum interficiet impium. Et erit justitia cingulum lumborum ejus, et fides cinctorium renum ejus. Habitabit lupus cum agno, et pardus cum hœdo accubabit: vitulus et leo et ovis simul morabuntur, et puer parvulus minabit eos. Vitulus et ursus pascentur: simul requiescent catuli eorum: et leo quasi bos comedet paleas. Et delectabitur infans ab ubere super foramine aspidis: et in caverna reguli, qui ablactatus fuerit, manum suam mittet. Non nocebunt, et non occident in universo monte sancto meo: quia repleta est terra scientia Domini, sicut aquæ maris operientes. In die illa radix Jesse, qui stat in signum populorum, ipsum Gentes deprecabuntur, et erit sopulchrum ejus gloriosum.
Come, let us adore the King our Lord, who is to come.

From the Prophet Isaias.

Ch. xi.

And there shall come forth a branch out of the rod of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of fortitude, the Spirit of knowledge and of godliness: and he shall be filled with the Spirit of the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge according to the sight of the eyes, nor reprove according to the hearing of the ears: but he shall judge the poor with justice, and shall reprove with equity for the meek of the earth. And he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. And justice shall be the girdle of his loins, and faith the girdle of his reins. The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid: the calf and the lion and the sheep shall abide together, and a little child shall lead them. The calf and the bear shall feed: their young ones shall rest together: and the lion shall eat straw like an ox. And the suckling child shall play on the hole of the asp: and the weaned child shall thrust his hand into the den of the basilisk. They shall not hurt, nor shall they kill in all my holy mountain: for the earth is filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the covering waters of the sea. In that day the root of Jesse, who standeth for an ensign of people, him the Gentiles shall beseech, and his sepulchre shall be glorious.


How much is contained in these magnificent words of the prophet! The branch; the flower that is to come from it; the Spirit which rests on this flower; the seven gifts of this Spirit; peace and confidence established on the earth; and, throughout the world, one brotherhood in the kingdom of the Messias! St. Jerome, whose words are read by the Church in the lessons of the second nocturn of this Sunday, says that the branch which cometh forth from the root of Jesse, is the blessed Virgin Mary, who had contact with no shrub or plant; and that the flower is the Lord Jesus, who says in the Canticle of canticles: 'I am the flower of the field, and the lily of the valley.’ In every age of the Christian Church, this wonderful branch and its divine flower have been objects of enthusiastic veneration. In the middle ages the tree of Jesse, with its prophetic branches, was carved on the cathedral porches, was painted on the windows, was embroidered on the hangings of the sanctuary, and the melodious voice of the priests sang its praises in the beautiful responsory composed by Fulbert of Chartres, and put to music by the devout king Robert.

R. Stirps Jesse virgam produxit, virgaque florem; * et super hunc florem requiescit Spiritus almus.

V. Virgo Dei Genitrix virga est, flos filius ejus. * Et super hunc florem requiescit Spiritus almus.

R. The root of Jesse gave out a branch, and the branch a flower; * and on the flower resteth the holy Spirit.

V. The Virgin Mother of God is the branch, her Son the flower. * And on the flower resteth the holy Spirit.


The devout St. Bernard, commenting upon this responsory in his second Advent homily, says; 'The Virgin’s Son is the flower, a flower white and ruddy, chosen out of thousands; a flower on whom the angels love to look; a flower whose fragrance restores the dead; a flower, as himself assures us, of the field, not of a garden: for the flowers of the field bloom without man’s care, no man has sown their seed, no man has cultivated them. Just so the Virgin’s womb, a meadow verdant in an endless spring, has brought forth a flower, whose beauty will never droop, whose freshness will never fade. O Virgin, branch sublime, to what a height art thou grown! Even up to Him that sitteth on the throne, even to the Lord of majesty. It was sure to be so, for thou castest deep down the roots of humility. O plant of heaven indeed! precious above all, holier than all. O tree of life indeed! alone worthy to bear the fruit of salvation.’

And of the holy Spirit and His gifts, what shall we say? They rest and are poured out on the Messias only to the end that they may flow from Him upon us; He needs them not; but we alone need wisdom and understanding, counsel and fortitude, knowledge and godliness, and fear of the Lord. Let us ask with instance for this divine Spirit, by whose operation Jesus was conceived and born in Mary’s womb, and let us beg of Him to form Jesus within our hearts. But let us not forget to rejoice at those other glorious things which are told us by the prophet, of the happiness, and peace, and delights, which are to be on the holy mountain. The world has been looking so many ages for peace; it is now coming. Sin had caused enmity and division everywhere; grace will bring unity. A little Child will be the pledge of an alliance between all nations. The prophets have foretold it, the sibyl has announced it, and in Rome itself, buried as it is in paganism, the prince of Latin poets has sung the celebrated poem, which, after all, is but the voice of the old tradition: 'The last age foretold by the Cumean Sibyl, is at hand; a new race is being sent down to earth from high heaven. The flock shall no more fear the fierce lions. The serpent shall be no more: the treacherous plant, which yielded poison, shall grow no more.’[1]

Come then, O Messias, and restore to the world its primitive peace; but remember, we beseech Thee, that it is in the heart of man that harmony has been broken more than elsewhere in Thy creation: cure this heart, enter into possession of this Jerusalem, which Thou lovest, though so unworthy: she has been too long captive in Babylon; lead her out of this strange land. Build up her temple again, and make the glory of this second temple to be greater than that of the first, by having Thee to dwell in it, not in figure, but in the reality of Thy adorable Person. The angel said to Mary: 'The Lord God shall give unto thy Son the throne of David His father; and He shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end.’ What can we do, O Jesus, but say with Thy beloved disciple, at the close of his prophecy: 'Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!’

The Mass

The holy sacrifice commences with a song of triumph, addressed to Jerusalem. This song expresses the joy which will fill the heart of man, when he shall hear the voice of his God. It extols the goodness of that divine Shepherd, who looks on each of our souls as a sheep most dear to Him, so dear, indeed, that He will feed it with His own flesh.

The Introit

While the priest is approaching the altar, there to offer up the holy sacrifice, the Church opens her chants by this beautiful one, which so well expresses her confidence as the beloved bride of Jesus. Let us repeat it together with her, and let the heart be in harmony with our voice, for the Saviour comes to each of us in proportion to the earnestness of our longing for Him.

Populus Sion, ecce Dominus veniet ad salvandas gentes: et auditam faciet Dominus gloriam vocis suæ in laetitia cordis vestri.

Ps. Qui regis Israel intende: qui deducis velut ovem, Joseph.

V. Gloria Patri.

People of Sion, behold the Lord will come to save the Gentiles: and the Lord will make the glory of his voice heard to the joy of your hearts.

Ps. Give ear, O thou that rulest Israel: thou that leadest Joseph like a sheen.

V. Glory be to the Father.


Collect

In the Collect, the priest lays stress on the great preparation we must make for the coming of our Saviour; we must have purity of heart.

Excita, Domine, corda nostra ad praeparandas Unigeniti tui vias: ut per ejus adventum, purificatis tibi mentibus servire mereamur. Qui tecum.

R.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 liveth, &c.

R.Amen.

The other Collects of the blessed Virgin, against the persecutors of the Church, and for the Pope, are the same as on the first Sunday in Advent, page 128.


Epistle

Lectio Epistolæ beati Pauli Apostoli ad Romanos.

Cap. xv.

Fratres, quæcumque scripta sunt, ad nostram doctrinam scripta sunt: ut per patientiam et consolationem Scripturarum, spem habeamus. Deus autem patientiæ et solatii det vobis idipsum sapere in alterutrum secundum Josum Christum: ut unanimes uno ore honorificetis Deum, et Patrem Domini nostri Jesu Christi. Propter quod suscipite invicem, sicut et Christus suscepit vos in honorem Dei. Dico enim Christum Jesum ministrum fuisse circumcisionis propter veritatem Dei, ad confirmandas promissiones patrum. Gentes autem super misericordia honoraro Deum, sicut scriptum est: Propterea confitebor tibi in Gentibus Domine, et nomini tuo cantabo. Et iterum dicit: Laetamini Gentes cum plebo ejus. Et iterum: Laudate omnes Gentes Dominum: et magnificate eum omnes populi. Et rursus Isaias ait: Erit radix Jesse; et qui exsurget regere Gentes, in eum Gentes sperabunt. Deus autem spei repleat vos omni gaudio, et pace in credendo: ut abundetis in spe, et virtute Spiritus sancti.
Lesson of the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Romans.

Ch. xv.

Brethren, what things soever were written, were written for our learning: that through patience and the comfort of the Scriptures, we might have hope. Now the God of patience and of comfort grant you to be of one mind one towards another, according to Jesus Christ: that with one mind and with one mouth you may glorify God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore receive one another as Christ also hath received you unto the honour of God. For I say that Christ Jesus was minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers. But that the Gentiles are to glorify God for his mercy, as it is written: Therefore will I confess to thee, O Lord, among the Gentiles, and will sing to thy name. And again he saith: Rejoice ye Gentiles with his people. And again: Praise the Lord all ye Gentiles, and magnify him all ye people. And again Isaias saith: There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise up to rule the Gentiles, in him the Gentiles shall hope. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing: that you may abound in hope, and in the power of the Holy Ghost.

Here, Christians, is your instruction; be patient, be firm in hope, and you shall delight in the God of peace who is coming to you. But take heed, you must have cordial charity one for the other; it is the mark of the children of God. The prophet tells us that the Messias will make even wolf and lamb dwell together; and now we have the apostle showing us how this same Christ brings Jews and Gentiles into the one same family. Glory to this sovereign King, the powerful offspring of the root of Jesse, who now bids us hope in Him! Listen to the Church, she again tells us that He is about to show Himself in Jerusalem.

Gradual

Ex Sion species decoris ejus; Deus manifeste veniet.

V. Congregate illi sanctos ejus, qui ordinaverunt testamentum ejus super sacrificia.

Alleluia, alleluia.

V. Lætatus sum in his quae dicta sunt mihi: in domum Domini ibimus. Alleluia.

He shall come in his comeliness and beauty from Sion: God will come visibly.

V. Gather to him his saints, who have set his covenant by sacrifice.

Alleluia, alleluia.

V. I rejoiced at what was told me: we are to go up to the house of the Lord. Alleluia.


Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Mattæum.

Cap. xi.

In illo tempore: Cum audisset Joannes in vinculis opera Christi, mittens duos de discipulis suis, ait illi: Tu es, qui venturus es, an ahum exspectamus? Et respondens Jesus ait illis: Euntes renuntiate Joanni quæ audistis, et vidistis. Cæci vident, claudi ambulant, leprosi mundantur, surdi audiunt, mortui resurgunt, pauperes evangelizantur: et beatus est, qui non fuerit scandalizatus in me. Illis autem abeuntibus, cœpit Jesus dicere ad turbas de Joanne: Quid existis in desertum videre? Arundinem vento agitatam? Sed quid existis videre? Hominem mollibus vestitum? Ecce qui mollibus vestiuntur, in domibus regum sunt. Sed quid existis videre? prophetam? Etiam dico vobis, et plus quam prophetam. Hic est enim de quo scriptum est: Ecce ego mitto angelum meum ante faciem tuam, qui præparabit viam tuam ante te.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.

Ch. xi.

At that time: When John had heard in prison the works of Christ, sending two of his disciples, he said to him: Art thou he that art to come, or look we for another? And Jesus making answer, said to them: Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen. The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor have the Gospel preached to them s and blessed is he that shall not be scandalized in me. And when they went their way, Jesus began to Bay to the multitude, concerning John: What went you out into the desert to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went you out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Behold they that are clothed in soft garments are in the houses of kings. But what went you out to see? A prophet? Yea, I tell you, and more than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written: Behold, I send my angel before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.

Thou art He that was to come, O Jesus! We look for no other. We were blind, Thou hast enlightened us; we were lame, Thou hast made us walk; the leprosy of sin disfigured us, Thou hast cleansed us; we were deaf to Thy words, Thou hast given us hearing; we were dead in sin, Thou hast given us life again; we were poor and had none to care for us, Thou hast come to us with every aid and consolation. These have been, and will again be, the blessings of Thy visit to our souls, O Jesus! A visit, silent but wonderful in its work; which flesh and blood cannot understand, but which faithful hearts feel is granted them. Come, my Saviour, come to me, Thy condescension, and familiarity with such poverty as mine, shall not scandalize me; Thy workings in the souls of men are proof enough that Thou art God. He alone, that created souls, can heal them.

After the symbol of faith has been chanted, when you see the priest is about to make the offering of the bread and wine, unite with the Church in asking to be filled with life by the divine Guest, who is so soon to be with her.

Offertory

During the offering of the bread and wine, the Church, with her look steadfastly fixed on Him who is to come, keeps to her sweet canticle:

Deus, tu convertens vivificabis nos, et plebs tua lætabitur in te: ostende nobis, Domine, misericordiam tuam, et salutare tuum da nobis.
Thou wilt turn, O God, to us, and bring us to life, and thy people shall rejoice in thee: show us, O Lord, thy mercy, and grant us thy salvation.

Secret

Placare, quæsumus Domine, humilitatis nostræ precibus et hostiis: et ubi nulla suppetunt suffragia meritorum, tuis nobis succurre praesidiis. Per Dominum.
Be appeased, O Lord, we beseech thee, by our humble prayers and sacrifices: and although we allege no deserts on our part, grant us thy protection. Through, &c.


The other Secrets of the blessed Virgin, against the persecutors of the Church, and for the Pope, are the same as on the first Sunday in Advent, page 132.


Communion

After the Communion of the priest and people, the choir sings these beautiful words of David in praise of the sweetness of the divine Fruit, whom our earthis going to bring forth, and who has just given Himself, by anticipation, to His faithful servants. This earth, which is ours, and which, as the prophet Isaias says, opens and buds forth the Saviour, is the blessed Virgin Mary made fruitful by the dew of heaven.

Jerusalem, surge, et sta in excelso: et vide jucunditatem, quæ veniet tibi a Deo tuo.
Arise, O Jerusalem, and stand on high; and behold the joy that will come to thee from thy God.

Postcommunion

In the following prayer the Church explains in what consists that high standing to which she has just invited Jerusalem: love of the things of heaven whence comes her Saviour, and contempt of earthly things which, when loved, separate man from God.

Repleti oibo spiritualis alimoniae, supplices te, Domine, deprecamur, ut hujus participatione mysterii, doceas nos terrena despicere, et amare cœlestia. Per Dominum.
Being filled, O Lord, with this spiritual food, we humbly beseech thee to teach us, by partaking of this mystery, to despise earthly things, and to love such as are heavenly. Through, &c.

The other Postcommunions of the blessed Virgin, against the persecutors of the Church, and for the Pope, are the same as on the first Sunday in Advent, page 134.


Vespers

1. Ant. Ecce in nubibus cœli Dominus veniet cum potestate magna, alleluia.

2. Ant. Urbs fortitudinis nostræ Sion, Salvator ponetur in ea murus et antemurale: aperite portas, quia nobiscum Deus, alleluia.

3. Ant. Ecce apparebit Dominus, et non mentietur: si moram fecerit, exspecta eum, quia veniet, et non tardabit, alleluia.

4. Ant. Montes et colles cantabunt coram Deo laudem, et omnia ligna silvarum plaudent manibus, quoniam veniet dominator Dominus in regnum aeternum, alleluia, alleluia.

5. Ant. Ecce Dominus noster cum virtute veniet, et illuminabit oculos servorum suorum, alleluia.
1. Ant. Behold the Lord will come in the clouds of heaven with great power, alleluia.

2. Ant. Sion is our strong city, the Saviour shall be its wall and bulwark: open the gates, for God is with us, alleluia.

3. Ant. Behold the Lord will appear, and will not deceive us: if he stay, expect him, for he will come, and will not delay, alleluia.

4. Ant. Mountains and hills shall sing forth praises before God, and all the trees of the forest shall clap their hands, because the Lord, the ruler, will come into his eternal kingdom, alleluia, alleluia.

5. Ant. Behold our Lord will come with power, and will enlighten the eyes of his servants, alleluia.


Chapter

Fratres, quæcumque scripta sunt, ad nostram doctrinam scripta sunt: ut per patientiam et consolationem Scripturarum spem habeamus.
Brethren, what things soever were written, were written for our learning: that through patience and the comfort of the Scriptures we might have hope.

The hymn, Creator alme siderum, the verse Rorate and the canticle Magnificat, are given on pages 107 and 109.

Antiphon of the Magnificat

Tu es qui venturus es, an alium exspectamus? Dicite Joanni quæ vidistis: Ad lumen redeunt cæci, mortui resurgunt, pauperes evangelizantur, alleluia.
Art thou he that art to come, or look we for another? Tell John what you have seen: the blind see, the dead rise again, the poor have the Gospel preached unto them, alleluia.

Collect

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.
R. 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 liveth and reigneth with thee for ever and ever.
R. Amen.

[1] Ultima Cumæi venit jam carminis ætas ....
Jam nova progenies cœlo demittitur alto ....
.... Nec magnos metuent armenta leones ....
Occidet et serpens, et fallax herba veneni
Occidet.... (Virgil. Elog. iv.)

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Regem venturum Dominum, venite, adoremus.

De Isaia Propheta.

Cap
. xiii.

Onus Babylonis, quod vidit Isaias filius Amos. Super montem caliginosum levate signum, exaltate vocem, levate manum, et ingrediantur portas duces. Ego mandavi sanctificatis meis, et vocavi fortes meos in ira mea, exsultantes in gloria mea. Vox multitudinis in montibus, quasi populorum frequentium: vox sonitus regum, gentium congregatarum. Dominus exercituum præcepit militiæ belli, venientibus de terra procul, a summitate cœli; Dominus, et vasa furoris ejus, ut disperdat omnem terram. Ululate, quia prope est dies Domini, quasi vastitas a Domino veniet. Propter hoc omnes manus dissolventur, et omne cor hominis contabescet, et conteretur. Torsiones et dolores tenebunt, quasi parturiens dolebunt: unusquisque ad proximum suum stupebit, facies combustæ vultus eorum. Ecco dies Domini veniet crudelis et indignationis plenus, et iræ, furorisque ad ponendam terram in solitudinem, et peccatores ejus conterendos de ea. Quoniam stellæ cœli, et splendor earum non expandent lumen suum: obtenebratus est sol in ortu suo, et luna non splendebit in lumine suo. Et visitabo super orbis mala, et contra impios iniquitatem eorum: et quiescere faciam superbiam infidelium, et arrogantiam fortium humiliabo.
Come, let us adore the King our Lord, who is to come.

From the Prophet Isaias.

Ch. xiii.

The burden of Babylon, which Isaias the son of Amos saw. Upon the dark mountain lift ye up a banner, exalt the voice, lift up the hand and let the rulers go into the gates. I have commanded my sanctified ones, and have called my strong ones in my wrath, them that rejoice in my glory. The noise of a multitude in the mountains, as it were of many people: the noise of the sound of kings, of nations gathered together. The Lord of hosts hath given charge to the troops of war, to them that come from a country afar off, from the end of heaven: the Lord and the instruments of his wrath, to destroy the whole land. Howl ye, for the day of the Lord is near, it shall come as a destruction from the Lord. Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every heart of man shall melt, and shall be broken. Gripings and pains shall take hold of them, they shall be in pain as a woman in labour: every one shall be amazed at his neighbour, their countenances shall be as faces burnt. Behold, the day of the Lord shall come, a cruel day, and full of indignation, and of wrath, and fury, to lay the land desolate, and to destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven, and their brightness shall not display their light: the sun shall be darkened in his rising, and the moon shall not shine with her light. And I will visit the evils of the world, and against the wicked for their iniquity: and I will make the pride of infidels to cease, and will bring down the arrogance of the mighty.

The Church puts before us again, in the Office of to-day, the terrible spectacle of the last coming of Jesus Christ. The sinful Babylon, of which Isaias speaks, is the world grown old in its crimes; the cruel day, full of indignation and wrath, is that on which the Messias will return to judge the world, with His sign glittering in the clouds. The words used by the prophet to describe the terror of the inhabitants of Babylon are so expressive, that it is difficult to meditate upon them seriously and not tremble. You, then, who, in this second week of preparation for the birth of our Saviour, are still wavering and undecided as to what you intend to do for the day of His coming, reflect upon the connection that there is between the two comings. If you receive your Saviour in the first, you need be in no fear for the second; but if you despise the first, the second will be to your destruction, nor will the cries of your despair save you. The Judge will come on a sudden, at midnight, at the very time when you persuade yourself that He is far off from you.

Say not that the end of the world is not yet come, and that the destinies of the human race are not filled up: it is not the world that is here in question, it is you individually. True the day of the Lord will be terrible, when this world shall be broken up as a vessel of clay, and the remnants of creation shall be a prey to devouring flames; but, long before that day of universal terror, your own day of judgement will come. The inexorable Judge will come to you, you will stand before His face, you will have none to defend you, and the sentence He will pass will be eternal; and though the nature of that sentence, whether for or against you, will not be known to the rest of the world until the last and general judgement, still is this His coming to you, at your own judgement, terrible above measure. Remember, therefore, that what will make the terror of the last day so great is, that then will be solemnly and publicly confirmed what was judged irrevocably, though secretly, between your own soul and her Judge; just as the favourable sentence, which the good receive at the happy moment of their death, will be repeated before the immense assembly of men and angels on the last day. Is it wise, then, Christians, to put off your conversion, on the plea of the day of the Lord not having to come for ages, when it might be this night that your soul were required of you?[1] The Lord is coming: lose no time; prepare to meet Him; a humble and contrite and converted heart is sure to find acceptance.

Canticle of the Last Judgment
(It is an interpolation of appropriate sentences into the Responsory Libera: it was occasionally so sung in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries)

R. Libera me, Domine, de morte æterna, in die illa tremenda;

* Quando cœli movendi sunt et terra;
* Dum veneris judicare sæculum per ignem.

V
. Timebunt Angeli et Archangeli: impii autem ubi parebunt?
* Quando cœli movendi sunt et terra.

V
. Quid ergo miserrimus, quid dicam, vel quid faciam, dum nil boni perferam ante tantum judicem?
* Dum veneris judicare sæculum per ignem.

V
. Vix justus salvabitur; et ego miser, ubi parebo?
* Quando cœli movendi sunt et terra.

V
. Lux immarcescibilis, eripe me de tenebris, ne cadam in obscura poenarum incendia;
* Dum veneris judicare sæculum per ignem.

V
. Plangent super se omnes tribus terrae;
* Quando cœli movendi sunt et terra.

V
. Vox de cœlis! O vos mortui qui jacetis in sepulchris, surgite et occurrite ad judicium Salvatoris;
* Dum veneris judicare sæculum per ignem.

V
. Lauda, anima mea, Dominum; laudabo Dominum in vita mea, et in came mea videbo Deum;
* Dum veneris judicare sæculum per ignem.

V
. Quando Deus filius Virginis Judicare sæculum venerit, Dicet justis ad dexteram positis; Accedite, dilecti filii, Vobis dare regnum disposui. O felix vox! felix promissio! Felix dator et felix datio!
* Quando cœli movendi sunt et terra.

V
. Post hæc dicet ad lævam positis:
Nescio vos, cultores criminis: Vos decepit gloria sæculi; Descendite ad ima barathri, Cum Zabulon et suis ministris. O proh dolor! quanta tristitia! Quantus luctus! quanta suspiria!
* Dum veneris judicare sæculum per ignem.

V
. Jam festinat Rex ad judicium, Dies instat horrenda nimium; Et quis erit nobis refugium, Nisi Mater Virgo, spes omnium, Quæ pro nobis exoret Filium? O Jesu Rex, exaudi poscimus
Preces nostras, et salvi erimus;
* Quando cœli movendi sunt et terra.

V.
Creator omnium rerum Deus qui me de limo terræ formasti, et mirabiliter proprio sanguine redemisti, corpusque meum, licet modo putrescat, de sepulchro facies in die judicii resuscitari; exaudi, exaudi me, ut animam meam in sinu Abrahæ patriarchæ tui jubeas collocari;
* Dum veneris judicaro saeculum per ignem.




R. Deliver me, O Lord, from eternal death, on that dread day;
* When heaven and earth are to be moved;
* When thou shalt come to judge the world by fire.

V
. The Angels and Archangels shall fear; but the impious, where shall they be?
* When heaven and earth are to be moved.

V
. What, therefore, shall I wretched sinner say? or what shall I do? who can take no good before so great a Judge,
* When thou shalt come to judge the world by fire.

V.
The just shall scarce be saved: and I a sinner, where shall I appear?
* When heaven and earth are to be moved.

V
. O Light eternal, deliver me from darkness, lest I fall into the dismal fire of torment;
* When thou shalt come to judge the world by fire.

V
. All the tribes of the earth shall mourn;
* When heaven and earth are to be moved.

V
. And then a voice from heaven: Arise ye dead that sleep in your graves, and come to the judgement of Jesus;
* When thou shalt come to judge the world by fire.

V
. Praise the Lord, O my soul! I will praise the Lord, while I live; and in the flesh, I shall see God;
* When thou shalt come to judge the world by fire.

V
. When God the Son of the Virgin, shall come to judge the world, he will say to the just on his right hand: Come, my beloved children, I have prepared a kingdom to be given unto you. O happy word! happy promise! Happy Giver! and happy gift!
* When heaven and earth are to be moved.

V
. After this, he will say to them that are on his left: I know you not, ye workers of iniquity: the glory of the world deceived you; go to that deep abyss with the devil and his ministers. O what grief! what sadness! what wailing! what weeping!
* When thou shalt come to judge the world by fire.

V
. Even now the King is preparing for his judgement; the day, terrible beyond all thought, is at hand; and who will be our refuge? The Virgin Mother, the hope of all May she pray to her Son for us! O Jesus, our King, hear, we beseech thee, our prayers, and we shall be saved.
* When heaven and earth are to bo moved.

V
. O God, the Creator of all things, who hast formed me from the slimo of the earth, and hast wonderfully redeemed me by thine own Blood, and on the day of judgement wilt make this my now corruptible body to rise again from the grave; hear, oh hear me, and mercifully lead my soul into the bosom of thy patriarch Abraham;
* When thou shalt come to judge the world by fire.


Prayer from the Ambrosian Liturgy
(In the third week of Advent)

Omnipotens Christe, Fili Dei, in die Nativitatis tuæ propitius ad salvandum in te populum veni: ut benignitate solita, ab omni dubietate, et metu temporis nos jubeas liberari. Qui vivis et regnas, &c.

Amen.

O Jesus, almighty Son of God, mercifully come and save thy people on the day of thy Nativity; and deign, with thy wonted compassion, to deliver us from all the anxieties and fears of this present time. Who livest and reignest for ever and ever.

Amen.


[1] St. Luke xii. 20.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Regem venturum Dominum, venite, adoremus.

De Isaia Propheta.

Cap
. xiv.

Prope est ut veniat tempus ejus, et dies ejus non elongabuntur. Miserebitur enim Dominus Jacob, et eliget adhuc de Israel, et requiescere eos faciet super humum suam: adjungetur advena ad eos, et adhærebit domui Jacob. Et tenebunt eos populi, et adducent eos in locum suum: et possidebit eos domus Israel super terram Domini in servos et ancillas: et erunt capientes eos qui se ceperant, et subjicient exactores suos. Et erit in die illa, cum requiem dederit tibi Deus a labore tuo et a concussione tua, et a servitute dura, qua ante servisti: sumes parabolam istam contra regem Babylonis, et dices: Quomodo cessavit exactor, quievit tributum? Contrivit Dominus baculum impiorum, virgam dominantium, cædentem populos in indignatione, plaga insanabili, subjicientem in furore Gentes, persequentem crudeliter. Quomodo cecidisti de cœlo, Lucifer, qui mane oriebaris? corruisti in terrain, qui vulnerabas gentes: qui dicebas in corde tuo: In cœlum conscendam;super astra Dei exaltabo solium meum, sedebo in monte testamenti, in lateribus aquilonis: ascendam super altitudinem nubium, similis ero Altissimo. Verumtamen ad infernum detraheris in profundum laci.
Come, let us adore the King our Lord, who is to come.

From the Prophet Isaias.

Ch. xiv.

Her time is near at hand, and her days shall not bo prolonged. For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose out of Israel, and will make them rest upon their own ground: and the stranger shall bo joined with them, and shall adhere to the house of Jacob. And the peoplo shall take them, and bring them into their place: and the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the Lord for servants and handmaids: and they shall make them captives that had taken them, and shall subdue their oppressors. And it shall come to pass in that day, that when God shall give thee rest from thy labour, and from thy vexation, and from the hard bondage, wherewith thou didst serve before, thou shalt take up this parable against the king of Babylon, and shalt say: How is the oppressor come to nothing? the tribute hath ceased? The Lord hath broken the staff of the wicked, the rod of the rulers, that struck the people in wrath with an incurable wound, that brought nations under in fury, that persecuted in a cruel manner. How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, who didst rise in the morning? how art thou fallen to the earth, that didst wound the nations? And thou saidst in thy heart: I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God, I will sit in the mountain of the covenant, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the height of the clouds, I will be like the Most High. But yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, into the depth of the pit.

Thy ruin, O Lucifer, is irreparable! Thou refusedst to humble thyself before God, and thou wast cast into hell. Thy pride then sought a compensation for this thy deep humiliation, and thou causedst the ruin of the human race, out of hatred for God and His creatures. Thou didst succeed in inspiring him, who was formed out of dust, with that same pride which had caused thine own destruction. By thee sin came into this world, and by sin death: the human race seemed now a victim which never could escape thy vengeance. Forced to give up thy hopes of a heavenly royalty, thou aimedst at reigning in hell and destroying the creatures of God as they came from His creating love. But again thou art foiled and conquered. Thy reign was in pride; pride alone could form thy court and give thee subjects; now, see how the sovereign Lord of all things uproots thy kingdom: He Himself comes to teach His creatures humility; and He teaches it, not by laws given with awful majesty, as once on Sinai, but by Himself meekly practising that heavenly humility, which alone can raise up them that had fallen by pride. Tremble, proud spirit, thy sceptre is to be broken!

In thy haughty wisdom, thou disdainest this humble and lowly Virgin of Nazareth, who holds within herself, in adoring silence, the mystery of thy ruin and our salvation. The Child whom she carries in her womb, and who is so soon to be born, has long since been the object of thy contempt. Know, then, that God does not disdain this unborn Child, for this Child is also God! And a single act of adoration and devotedness to His Father, which He is making in the womb of Mary, gives more glory to the Divinity than all thy pride could rob it of, even were thy pride to increase for eternity. Henceforth, men, taught by the lessons of a God the immense power of humility, will have recourse to it as their great remedy. Instead of exalting themselves, as thou didst, by a mad and guilty pride, they will humble themselves with love and pleasure: the lower they humble themselves, the higher will God raise them: the poorer they own themselves, the richer will He make them. It is the glorious Virgin that tells us this in her exquisite canticle. May she be ever blessed, Mother so gentle and sweet to her children, and so terrible to thee, Lucifer! that writhest beneath her as she crushes and conquers thee.

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

Regnantem sempiterna per sæcla susceptura

Concio, devote concrepa: Factori redde debita.

Quem jubilant agmina cœlica, ejus vultu exhilarata.

Quem exspectant omnia terrea, ejus vultu examinanda,

Districtum ad judicia, Clementem in potentia.

Tua nos salva, Christe, clementia propter quos passus es dira.

Ad poli astra subleva nitida: qui sorde tergis sæcula.

Influens salus vera, effuga pericula.

Omnia ut sint munda, tribue pacifica.

Ut hio tua salvi misericordia: læti regna post adeamus supera.

Qui regnas sæcula por infinita.

Amen.

Ready to receive him who reigneth for ever and ever,

Devoutly sing, O Christian people; pay thy homage to thy Creator.

The heavenly hosts, who enjoy the beauty of his countenance, are ever praising him in jubilation.

All earthly things, which are to be examined before his face, are in expectation of him.

Him so severe in judgement, So merciful in power.

Save us in thy mercy, O Christ, for whom thou didst suffer so cruel a passion.

Raise us up to the bright stars of heaven, O thou that dost take away the sins of the earth.

True Saviour, descending as dew upon us, drive all dangers from us.

Purify all that is about us, make all in peace;

That here protected by thy mercy, we may ascend, hereafter, into the kingdom of heaven in gladness.

Who livest and reignest for endless ages.

Amen.


Prayer from the Gallican Sacramentary
(Mass for Christmas Eve)

Misericors ao piissime Deus, cujus voluntate ac munere Dominus noster Jesus Christus ad hoc se humiliavit, ut totum genus exaltaret humanum, et ideo ad ima descenderet, ut humilia sublimaret: ac propterea Deus homo nascitur por Virginem, ut in homine perditam cœlestem reformaret imaginem: da ut plebs hæc tibi adhæreat, ut quam redemisti tuo munere, tibi semper devota placeat servitute.

O merciful and most loving God, by whose will and bounty our Lord Jesus Christ humbled himself that he might exalt the whole human race, and came down to what was lowest that ho might raise up the humble: who, being God, did become man, born of a Virgin, to the end that he might re-form in man the heavenly imago that had been corrupted; grant that this thy people may cling to thee, and that they, whom thou hast redeemed by thy bounty, may ever please thee by devoted service.


From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Regem venturum Dominum, venite, adoremus.

De Isaia Propheta.

Cap
. xvi.

Emitte Agnum Domine, dominatorem terræ, de petra deserti ad montem filiæ Sion. Et erit: sicut avis fugiens, et pulli de nido avolantes, sic erunt filiae Moab in transcensu Arnon. Ini consilium, coge concilium, pone quasi noctem umbram tuam in meridie: absconde fugientes, et vagos ne prodas. Habitabunt apud te profugi mei: Moab, esto latibulum eorum a facie vastatoris. Finitus est enim pulvis, consummatus est miser, defecit qui conculcabat terram. Et praeparabitur in misericordia solium, et sedebit super illud in veritate, in tabernaculo David, judicans et quaerens judicium, et velociter reddens quod justum est.
Come, let us adore the King our Lord, who is to come.

From the Prophet Isaias.

Ch. xvi.

Send forth, O Lord, the Lamb, the ruler of the earth, from Petra of the desert to the mount of the daughter of Sion. And it shall come to pass, that as a bird fleeing away, and as young ones flying out of the nest, so shall the daughters of Moab be in the passage of Arnon. Take counsel, gather a council, make thy shadow as the night in the midday: hide them that flee, and betray not them that wander about. My fugitives shall dwell with thee: O Moab, be thou a covert to them from the face of the destroyer. For the dust is at an end, the wretch is consumed, he hath failed that trod the earth under foot. And a throne shall be prepared in mercy, and one shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging and seeking judgement, and quickly rendering that which is just.

Send forth to us, O Lord, the Lamb: 'It is the Lamb,’ says Peter of Celles,' it is the Lamb we need, and not the Lion; the Lamb that knows no anger, and whose meekness is never ruffled; the Lamb that will give us His snow-white wool to warm our coldness, and cover our nakedness; the Lamb that will give us His flesh to eat, lest we faint with hunger on the way. Send Him full of wisdom, for in His divine prudence He will vanquish the spirit of pride; send full of strength, for it is written that the Lord is strong and mighty in battle; send Him full of meekness, for He is to come down as dew that falls on the fleece; send Him as a victim, for He is to be sold and immolated for our ransom; send Him the pardoner of sinners, for He is to come to call them, and not the just; send Him to receive power and divinity, for He is worthy to loose the seven seals of the sealed book, the unspeakable mystery of the Incarnation.’[1] Thou art King, then, O divine Lamb! Thou art even now, in thy Mother’s womb, the sovereign Ruler. This virginal womb is a throne of mercy whereon Thou art seated in humility, ready to avenge our rights and confound our cruel enemy. O most dear King! our eyes cannot yet behold Thee, but our hearts tell us Thou art near us. We know that it is for our sake that Thou hast put on this strange royalty. Suffer us to approach Thee, and offer Thee our homage and loyalty, even now that a cloud hides Thee from our sight. . A few days more, and Thou wilt be seated on another throne, Thy Mother’s arms, and then all the earth will see the salvation that is sent unto it.

Hymn taken from the Anthology of the Greeks

(December 20)

Spelunca, parare; Agna enim venit fœtum gerens Christum: recipe, præsepium, illum qui nos terrigenas verbo solvit ineffabili modo: pastores de nocte vigilantes, prodigiosum confitemini miraculum; magique e Perside aurum, thus et myrrham Regi afferte: quia visus est e Virgine matre Dominus, quem et ipsa prona servili modo, mater adoravit et ei quem in brachiis suis tenebat dixit: Quomodo in me inseminatus es: vel quomodo in me ingeneratus es, Salvator meus et Deus?

Audi cœlum, et intellige terra; ecce enim Filius Verbumque Dei Patris progreditur ad nascendum ex Virgine, inexperta virum, sine dolore illum pariente et virtute Spiritus sancti. Bethlehem parare: aperi januam, Eden, nam qui Est fit qui non erat, et plasturgus omnis creaturæ plasmatur ipse, afferens mundo magnam misericordiam.

Natura immense, Christe Rex, quomodo parva te recipiet spelunca? Quomodo præsepe te poterit continere, Jesu, ex Matre nesciente virum, advena factus in propria, ut hospites ipse salves?

Novum facta cœlum, Domina, e vulva tua, sicut e nebula Christum solem gloriae oriri facere festines in spelunca carnaliter, omnes terrae fines suis splendoribus fulgentissime irradiaturum, per incommensurabilem misericordiam.

Noscis nostrum dolorem et miseriam, misericors Christe, et nos non despicis; sed exinanis temctipsum, non adhuc egressus ex tua genitrice; tabernaculumque figens in matrice nuptinescia, quæ sine dolore te pariet in spelunca caro factum.

Montes et colles, valles et campi, populi et tribus, gentes ac omnis spiritus, alalagmum agite; lætitiæ divinæ venit plenitudo, omnium advenit redemptio, Verbum Dei tempora nesciens per misericordiam factum sub tempore.

Vitis divina incorruptam maturitate nigrescere faciens uvam, appropinquat: paritura venit lætitiæ vinum scaturiens et nos bibere faciens ipsi canentes: Deus noster, benedictus es!

Myrotheca divina, intus myrum ferens graditur, ut in spelunca Bethlehem effundat illud a quo mystico replentur odore canentes: Deus patrum, benedictus es!

Forceps quam olim vidit Isaias propheta, divinum carbonem Christum in utero geris omnem materiam peccati comburentem, fideliumque animas illuminantem.

Finem habuerunt prophetarum præconia; quem enim praenuntiarunt in temporis plenitudine venturum, adest, apparet casta ex Virgine corporatus; illum puris mentibus excipiamus.

Cave of Bethlehem, be ready, for here comes the Mother bearing Christ, her Lamb, in her womb; and thou, O crib, receive him who delivers us mortals by his word ineffably; ye shepherds, keeping your nightwatch, tell the wondrous miracle; ye Magi, from Persia, bring to the King gold, incense, and myrrh; for the Lord hath appeared, born of a Virgin Mother; before him she herself falls down, and though his Mother, yet adores him as his lowly handmaid, and then taking him into her arms, she says unto him: O my Saviour, my God, how is it that thou camest unto me, and wast produced in me?

Hear, O ye heavens, and thou, O earth, attend: the Son and Word of God the Father is to be born of a Virgin that knows not man, and travails not when giving him birth, for all is by the power of the Holy Ghost. Bethlehem, be ready! Eden, open thy gates! for he that Is is made what he was not, and he that formed all creatures receives himself a created form, bringing to the world plentiful mercy.

O thou that art immense by Nature, O Christ our Ring, how shall a little cave receive thee? How shall a crib contain thee, O Jesus, Son of a spotless Virgin, making thyself a stranger in thine own house, that thou mayst give salvation to them that harbour thee?

Thou art a new heaven, O Lady! Hasten to make arise from thy womb, as from a cloud, Christ, the Sun of glory; may he appear in the flesh, in the cave, shedding thence to the ends of the world his dazzling splendour by his immense mercy.

Thou knowest, O merciful Jesus, our pains and misery, and thou despisest us not; but emptiest thyself even before leaving thy Mother’s virginal womb, where thou hast set thy tabernacle; this thy Mother will not travail in giving thee birth in the cave, thee who art made flesh.

Mountains and hills, valleys and plains, peoples and tribes, nations and every spirit, sing the song of victory! the fullness of a divine joy is coming, and all are to be redeemed, for the Word of God, who is beyond all time, is now made in time.

Now is coming towards us the heavenly vine, on which has ripened the immortal fruit; she comes to produco for us the wine of Joy, of which she will give us to drink: we will then sing to him, Blessed art thou our God!

There is advancing the vessel bearing the divine perfume, and she will place it in the cave of Bethlehem, and we, filled with the mystic fragrance, will sing, Blessed art thou, O God of our fathers!

Thou, O Mary, art like that instrument which Isaias saw of old, holding in thy womb the Christ, who, like a burning coal, will consume all the dross of sin, and will enlighten the minds of the faithful.

The songs of the prophets are hushed; for he, whom they announced as having to come in the fullness of time, is present and appears to us, having assumed a body from the chaste Virgin; let us receive him with pure hearts.


Prayer from the Mozarabic Missal
(Second Sunday of Advent)

Jucundatur, Domine, et tripudiat terra; quia Verbum caro factum habitat in sacrae Virginis membra. In cujus adventu omnis de captivitate redimitur terra; quae detinebatur per transgressionem Adæ in obscurata gehenna. Nunc moveatur mare, et omnia quae in eo sunt; montes exsultent et omnia ligna silvarum; quia Deus homo dignatur, per uterum beatae Virginis Mariae, de cœlo in mundum venire. Per ipsius igitur adventum te deprecamur, omnipotens Deus, ut nostræ camis fragilitatem a vinoulis peccatorum absolvas, et praesenti familiae tuæ misericordia plenus occurras.

The earth is glad, O Lord, and leaps with joy, for that the Word made flesh dwells in the womb of the holy Virgin. At his coming, the whole earth is ransomed from captivity, after having been kept, by Adam’s sin, in a dark prison. Now let the sea be moved, and all things that are therein; let the mountains leap with joy, and all the trees of the forests; because God, having become man, has deigned to come, through the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, from heaven into this world. By this his coming, therefore, we beseech thee, O almighty God, that thou loose the weakness of our flesh from the bonds of sin, and come, in thy overflowing mercy, to the assistance of this thy family here present before thee.


[1] Third Sermon for Advent.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Regem venturum Dominum, venite, adoremus.

De Isaia Propheta.

Cap
. xix.

Onus Ægypti. Ecce Dominus ascendet super nubem levem: et ingredietur Ægyptum: et commovebuntur simulacra Ægypti a facie ejus, et cor Ægypti tabescet in medio ejus: et concurrere faciam Ægyptios adversus Ægyptios, et pugnabit vir contra fratrem suum, et vir contra amicum suum, civitas adversus civitatem, regnum adversus regnum.

Come, let us adore the King our Lord, who is to come.

From the Prophet Isaias.

Ch. xix.

The burden of Egypt. Behold the Lord will ascend upon a light cloud: and will enter into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst thereof: and I will set the Egyptians to fight against the Egyptians, and they shall fight brother against brother, and friend against friend, city against city, kingdom against kingdom.

The Egypt which the Lord is here represented as visiting, and whose idols and empire He will overthrow, is the city of satan, which is to be destroyed, and to give place to the city of God. But how peaceful is the divine Conqueror’s entrance into His conquest! it is on a cloud, a light cloud, that He comes, as on His triumphal chariot. How many mysteries in these few words! ‘There are three clouds,’ says Peter of Blois; 'the first the obscurity of the prophets; the second, the depth of the divine decrees; the third, the prodigy of a Virgin Mother.’[1] First, as to the obscurity of the prophets, it is essential to every prophecy that it be thus veiled, to the end that man’s free will may not be interfered with; but under this cloud the Lord comes at last, and when the day comes for the prophecy to be accomplished, all things are clear enough. Thus was it with the first coming; so will it be with the second. Then, as to the decrees of God; as they are ordinarily made manifest by second, that is by created, causes only, it almost always happens that the extreme simplicity of the means employed by the divine Wisdom takes men by surprise. Never was this so observable as in the grand event of the Incarnation. Men would naturally expect that, in restoring a fallen world, a power equal, at least, to that which first created it would be displayed; and all they are told about the portent is: ‘You will find the Child wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger’! O almighty power of God, how dazzling is Thy light through this cloud! how strong art Thou in this apparent weakness!

But there is the third cloud; it is the Virgin Mary; a light cloud, ‘for,’ says St. Jerome, ‘neither concupiscence, nor the burden of earthly marriage, weighs upon her a cloud, too, laden with a refreshing Dew, since it holds the Just One, who is to be rained down upon us, that our seething passions may be quenched, and the soil of our spiritual life made fertile. How sweet is the majesty of our divine King, when seen thus through this beautiful cloud! O incomparable Virgin! the whole Church of God recognizes thee in that mysterious cloud which the prophet Elias,[2] from the summit of Mount Carmel, saw rising up from the sea, little, at first, like a man’s foot, but sending at last such a plentiful rain that all Israel was refreshed by its abundance. Delay not, we pray thee; give us that heavenly and divine Dew which thou possessest within thee. Our sins have made the heavens as brass, and we are parched; thou alone of creatures art just and pure! Beseech our Lord, who has set up His throne of mercy in thee, to come speedily and destroy our enemies and bring us peace.

Hymn for Advent
(The Mozarabic breviary, first Sunday of Advent)

Cunctorum rex omnipotens,
Mundum salvare veniens,
Formam assumpsit corporis
Nostræ similitudinis.

Qui regnat cum Altissimo,
Virginis intrat uterum,
Nasciturus in corpore,
Mortis vincla disrumpere.

Gentes erant in tenebris:
Videbunt lumen fulgoris,
Cum Salvator advenerit
Redimere quos condidit.

Quem olim vatum praescia
Cecinerunt oracula,
Nunc veniet in gloria,
Nostra ut curet vulnera.

Lætemur nunc in Domino,
Simul in Dei Filio,
Parati eum suscipere
Adventus sui gloria.

Amen.
The almighty King of the universe,
coming to save the world,
assumed to himself a body
like unto ours.

He who reigns with the Most High,
enters the Virgin’s womb,
that he may be born in the flesh,
and break the bonds of death.

The nations have sat in darkness;
but they shall see the brightest light,
when the Saviout shall come
to redeem his creatures.

He of whom the futureseeing
oracles of the prophets anciently sang,
shall now come in glory
to cure our wounds.

Let us now be glad in the Lord,
and in the Son of God,
and be ready to receive him
in his glorious coming.

Amen.


Prayer from the Ambrosian Breviary
(Sixth Sunday of Advent, Preface)

Vere dignum et justum est, æquum et salutare: nos tibi, Domine Deus omnipotens, gratias agere: et cum tuæ invocatione virtutis, beatæ Mari» Virginis festa celebrare: de cujus ventre fructus effloruit, qui Panis angelici munere nos replevit. Quod Eva voravit in crimine, Maria restituit in salute. Distat opus serpentis et Virginis. Inde fusa sunt venena discriminis: hinc egressa mysteria Salvatoris. Inde se præbuit tentantis iniquitas: hinc Redemptoris est opitulata majestas. Inde partus occubuit; hinc Conditor resurrexit, a quo humana natura, non jam captiva, sed libera restituitur. Quod Adam perdidit in parente, Christo recepit auctore.
It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should give thanks to thee, O Lord God almighty: and that we should, whilst invoking thy power, celebrate the feasts of the blessed Virgin Mary; from whose womb grew tue Fruit, which has filled us with the Bread of angels. That Fruit which Eve took from us when she sinned, Mary has restored to us, and it has saved us. Not as the work of the serpent is the work of Mary. From the one, came the poison of our destruction; from the other, the mysteries of salvation. In the one, we see the malice of the tempter; in the other, the help of the divine Majesty. By the one, came death to the creature; by the other, the resurrection of the Creator, by whom human nature, now not captive but free, is restored; and what it lost by its parent Adam, it regained by its Maker Christ.


[1] Second Sermon of Advent.
[2] 3 Kings xviii. 42-44.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Regem venturum Dominum, venite, adoremus.

De Isaia Propheta.

Cap
. xxiv.

Ecce Dominus dissipabit terram, et nudabit eam; et affliget faciem ejus et disperget habitatores ejus. Et erit sicut populus, sic sacerdos; et sicut servus, sic dominus ejus; sicut ancilla, sic domina ejus; sicut emens, sic ille qui vendit; sicut fœnerator, sic is qui mutuum accipit; sicut qui repetit, sic qui debet. Dissipatione dissipabitur terra, et direptione prædabitur: Dominus enim locutus est verbum hoc. Luxit et defluxit terra, et infirmata est: defluxit orbis, infirmata est altitudo populi terræ. Et terra infecta est ab habitatoribus suis: quia transgressi sunt leges, mutaverunt jus, dissipaverunt fœdus sempiternum. Propter hoc maledictio vorabit terram, et peccabunt habitatores ejus, ideoque insanient cultores ejus; et relinquentur homines pauci. Luxit vindemia, infirmata est vitis, ingemuerunt omnes qui laetabantur corde. Cessavit gaudium tympanorum, quievit sonitas lætantium, conticuit dulcedo citharæ. Cum cantico non bibent vinum: amara erit potio bibentibus illam. Attrita est civitas vanitatis: clausa est omnis domus, nullo introeunte. Clamor erit super vino in plateis: deserta est omnis laetitia, translatum est gaudium terræ. Relicta est in urbe solitudo, et calamitas opprimet portas. Quia hæc erunt in medio terræ, in medio populorum; quomodo si paucae olivae quae remanserunt, excutiantur ex olea: et racemi, cum fuerit finita vindemia. Hi levabunt vocem suam, atque laudabunt; cum glorificatus fuerit Dominus, hinnient de mari. Propter hoc in doctrinis glorificate Dominum, in insulis maris nomen Domini Dei Israel. A finibus terræ laudes audivimus, gloriam justi.
Come, let us adore the King our Lord, who is to come.

From the Prophet Isaias.

Ch. xxiv.

Behold the Lord shall lay waste the earth, and shall strip it: and shall afflict the face thereof, and scatter abroad the inhabitants thereof. And it shall be as with the people, so with the priest; and as with the servant, so with his master; as with the handmaid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with him that calleth for his money, so with him that oweth. With desolation shall the earth be laid waste, and it shall be utterly spoiled: for the Lord hath spoken this word. The earth mourned and faded away, and is weakened: the world faded away, the height of the people of the earth is weakened. And the earth is infected by the inhabitants thereof: because they have transgressed the laws, they have changed the ordinance, they have broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore shall a curse devour the earth, and the inhabitants thereof shall sin; and therefore they that dwell therein shall be mad, and few men shall be left. The vintage hath mourned, the vine hath languished away, all the merry-hearted have sighed. The mirth of timbrels hath ceased, the noise of them that rejoice is ended, the melody of the harp is silent. They shall not drink wine with a song; the drink shall be bitter to them that drink it. The city of vanity is broken down, every house is shut up, no man cometh in. There shall be a crying for wine in the streets: all mirth is forsaken, the joy of the earth is gone away. Desolation is left in the city, and calamity shall oppress the gates. For it shall be thus in the midst of the earth, in the midst of the people, as if a few olives that remain should be shaken out of the olive tree: or grapes, when the vintage is ended. These shall lift up their voice, and shall give praise, when the Lord shall be glorified, they shall make a joyful noise from the sea. Therefore glorify ye the Lord in instruction: the name of the Lord God of Israel in the islands of the sea. From the ends of the earth we have heard praises, the glory of the just one.

Thus was the earth in desolation when the Messias came to deliver and save it. So diminished, so decayed, were truths among the children of men, that the human race was bordering on its ruin. The knowledge of the true God was becoming rarer as the world grew older; idolatry had made everything in creation an object of its adulterous worship; the practical result of a religion which was but gross materialism, was frightful immorality; man was for ever at war with man; and the only safeguards of what social order still existed in the world, were the execrable laws of slavery and extermination. Among the countless inhabitants of the globe, a mere handful could be found who were seeking God! they were as rare as the olives that remain on the tree after a careful plucking, or as grape-bunches after the vintage is ended. Of this happy few were, among the Jewish people, those true Israelites whom our Saviour chose for His disciples; and, among the Gentiles, the Magi that came from the east, asking for the new-born King; and later on, Cornelius the centurion, whom the angel of the Lord directed to St. Peter. But with what faith and joy did they acknowledge the incarnate God! and what their hymns of glad gratitude, when they found that they had been privileged, above others, to see with their own eyes the promised Saviour!

Now, all this will again happen when the time draws near of the second coming of the Messias. The earth will once more be filled with desolation, and mankind will be again a slave of its self-degradation. The ways of men will again grow corrupt; and, this time, the malice of their evil will be the greater, because they will have received Him who is the Light of the world, the Word of life. A profound sadness will sit heavy on all nations, and every effort for their well-being will seem paralyzed; they, and the earth they live on, will be conscious of decrepitude; and yet it will never once strike them that the world is drawing to an end. There will be great scandals; there shall fall stars from heaven, that is, many of those who had been masters in Israel shall apostatize, and their light shall be changed into darkness. There shall be days of temptation, and faith shall grow slack; so that when the Son of Man shall appear, faith shall scarce be found on the earth. Let it not be, O Lord, that we live to see those days of temptation; or, if it be Thy will that they overtake us, make our hearts firm in their allegiance to Thy holy Church, which will be the only beacon left to Thy faithful children in that fiorce storm. Grant, O Lord, that we may be of the number of those chosen olives, of those elect bunches of grapes, wherewith Thou wilt complete the rich harvest which Thou wilt garner for ever into Thy house. Preserve intact within us the deposit of faith which Thou hast entrusted to us; let our eye be fixed on that Orient of which the Church speaks to us, and where Thou art suddenly to appear in Thy majesty. When that day of Thine comes, and we behold Thy triumph, we will shout our glad delight, and then, like eagles which cluster round the body, we shall be taken up to meet Thee in the air, as Thy apostle speaks, and thus shall we for ever be with Thee.[1] Then we shall hear the praises and glory of the Just One, from the ends of this earth, which it is Thy good will to preserve until the decrees of Thy mercy and justice shall have been fully executed. O Jesus! we are the work of Thy hands; save us, and be merciful to us on that great day.

Hymn of Advent
(Mozarabic breviary, in the second week of Advent)

A Patre, Unigenite,
Ad nos venis per Virginem,
Baptismi rore consecrans,
Cunctos fide regenerans.


De cœlo celsus prodiens,
Excepit formam hominis,
Victor a morte rediens,
Gaudia vitae largiens.

Hoc te, Redemptor, quæsumus,
Illabere propitius,
Clarum que nostris cordibus
Lumen præbe deificum.

Deo Patri sit gloria
Ejusque soli Filio
Cum Spiritu Paraclito,
In sempiterna sæcula.

Amen.

Only-begotten Son of the Father,
thou comest to us by the Virgin,
consecrating us all by the dew of Baptism,
and by faith regenerating us.

The Most High coming from heaven
has taken on himself the form of man,
returning after conquering death,
and giving us the joys of a now life.

Wherefore, we beseech thee, O Redeemer,
descend upon us in thy mercy,
and give to our hearts
the brightness of the divine light.

To God the Father,
and to his only Son,
and to the holy Paraclete,
be glory for ever and ever.

Amen.


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

Animæ nostræ quæsumus, omnipotens Deus, hoc potiantur desiderio: ut a tuo Spiritu inflammentur, ut sicut lampades divino munere satiati, ante conspectum venientis Christi Filii tui velut clara lumina fulgeamus.
Grant, we beseech thee, O almighty God, that our souls be filled with a desire of being inflamed with thy Spirit; that being nourished with the divine gift, as lamps with their oil, we may shine as bright lights before the face of Christ thy Son, who is coming to us.

[1] 1 Thess. iv. 16.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Regem venturum Dominum, venite, adoremus.

De Isaia Propheta.

Cap
. xxv.

Domine, Deus meus es tu, exaltabo te, et confitebor nomini tuo: quoniam fecisti mirabilia, cogitationes antiquas fideles. Amen. Quia posuisti civitatem in tumulum, urbem fortem in ruinam, domum alienorum, ut non sit civitas, et in sempiternum non aedificetur. Super hoc laudabit te populus fortis, civitas gentium robustarum timebit, te. Quia factus es fortitudo pauperi, fortitudo egeno in tribulatione sua: spes a turbine, umbraculum ab æstu.... Et faciet Dominus exercituum omnibus populis in monte hoc convivium pinguium, convivium vindemiae, pinguium medullatorum, vindemiae defæcatæ. Et praecipitabit in monte isto faciem vinculi colligati super omnes populos, et telam quam orditus est super omnes nationes. Præcipitabit mortem in sempiternum: et auferet Dominus Deus lacrymam ab omni facie, et opprobrium populi sui auferet de universa torra: quia Dominus locutus est. Et dicet in die illa: Ecco Deus noster iste, exspectavimus eum, et salvabit nos: iste Dominus, sustinuimus eum, exsultabimus et lætabimur in salutari ejus.
Come, let us adore the King our Lord, who is to come.

From the Prophet Isaias.

Ch. xxv.

O Lord, thou art my God, I will exalt thee, and give glory to thy name: for thou hast done wonderful things, thy designs of old faithful. Amen. For thou hast reduced the city to a heap, the strong city to ruin, the house of strangers to be no city, and to be no more built up for ever. Therefore shall a strong people praise thee, the city of mighty nations shall fear thee. Because thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress: a refuge from the whirlwind, a shadow from the heat And the Lord of hosts shall make unto all people, in this mountain, a feast of fat things, a feast of wine, of fat things full of marrow, of wine purified from the lees. And he shall destroy in this mountain the face of the bond with which all people were tied, and the web that he began over all nations. He shall cast death down headlong for ever: and the Lord God shall wipe away tears from every face. and the reproach of his people he shall take away from off the whole earth: for the Lord hath spoken it. And they shall say in that day: Lo, this is our God, we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord, wo have patiently waited for him, we shall rejoice and be joyful in his salvation.

Yet a little while, and the conqueror of death will appear, and then, in the joy of our hearts, we will say: Lo! this is our God; wo have waited for Him, and He will save us; we have patiently waited for Him; this is He, and we will rejoice and be joyful in His salvation. Let us, therefore, prepare the way of the Lord that wo may receive Him worthily; and in this work of our preparation, let us have recourse to Mary. Saturday is the day which is sacred to her; she will the more readily grant the prayers said to her upon it. Let us consider her in her grand privilege of being full of grace, carrying in her womb Him whom we so long to possess. If we ask her by what means she rendered herself worthy of such an immense favour, she will tell us that in her was simply fulfilled the prophecy, which the Church so continually repeats during these days of Advent: ‘Every valley shall be filled up.’ The humble Mary was the valley blessed by the Lord: a valley beautiful and fertile, in which God sowed the divine wheat, our Saviour Jesus: for it is written in the psalm, that the valleys shall abound with corn.[1] O Mary! it is thy humility that drew down upon thee the admiration of thy Creator. If, from the high heaven where He dwells, He had perceived a virgin more humble in her love, He would have chosen her in preference et thee: but no, it is thou that didst win His predilection, O mystic valley, ever verdant and lovely in thy flowers of grace. We that, like high hills, are so proud and such sinners, what shall we do? We must look on this our God, who comes to us in infinite humility, and then humble ourselves out of love and gratitude. O blessed Mother! obtain this grace for us. Pray for us that henceforth we may submit ourselves to the will of our Lord as thou didst, when thou didst speak those admirable words: ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord: may it be done to me according to thy word!’

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

Missus Gabriel de cœlis,
Verbi bajulus fidelis,
Sacris disserit loquelis
Cum beata Virgine.

Verbum bonum et suave
Pandit intus in conclave,
Et ex Eva format Ave,
Evæ verso nomine.

Consequenter juxta pactum,
Adest Verbum caro factum;
Semper tamen est intactum
Puellare gremium.

Patrem pariens ignorat,
Et quam homo non deflorat,
Non torquetur nec laborat
Quando parit filium.

Signum audis novitatis;
Crede solum, et est satis;
Non est nostræ facultatis
Solvere corrigiam.

Grande signum et insigne
Est in rubo et in igne:
Ne appropiet indigne
Calciatus quisquam.

Virga sicca sine rore,
Novo ritu, novo more,
Fructum protulit cum flore;
Sicque Virgo peperit.

Benedictus talis fructus,
Fructus gaudii, non luctus;
Non erit Adam seductus,
Si de hoc gustaverit.

Jesus noster, Jesus bonus,
Piæ Matris pium onus,
Cujus est in cœlo thronus
Nascitur in stabulo.

Qui sic est pro nobis natus
Nostros deleat reatus;
Quia noster incolatus
Hic est in periculo.

Amen.

Gabriel, sent from heaven,
faithful bearer of the word,
holds sacred converse
with the holy Virgin.

In the inner chamber
he discloses the good and sweet word;
and inverting the name of Eve, Eva becomes Ave,
his salutation Hail!

The covenant made,
instantly there was present the Word made flesh;
and yet the pure Maid
a Virgin still for ever.

Parent like no other;
Mother, yet not losing the treasure;
giving birth to her child,
yet not in pain or travail.

Unheard-of prodigy! 'tis so indeed,
and all thou, my soul,
canst do is to believe it:
we have not power to loose the latchet.

It is the great, the wondrous portent
of the burning bush;
let him that would approach,
take off the sandals from his feet.

A dry branch, with not one drop of dew,
once yielded a flower and fruit;
it was a new law, a new way:
so was it when the Virgin brought forth her Son.

What a blessed Fruit!
a Fruit of joy, not of woe.
There will be no Adam deceived,
if men but eat of this.

He is our Jesus, the good Jesus,
lovely burden of a lovely Mother!
He who has a throne in heaven,
has a stable for his birth-place!

May he, that for our sake was thus born,
wipe away all our guilt;
for our sojourn
here is full of dangers.

Amen.


Prayer from the Mozarabic Breviary
(For the Friday of the third week of Advent)

Quis poterit, Deus Dei Filius, scrutari vias tuas? Vel quibus aditibus nasciturus ad Virginem veneris? Vel quibus semitis ad superna regressus es? Et ideo, quia tu solus cuncta considerans es, cujus nomen supra terræ terminos permanet; da nobis, illa de te semper considerare et dicere, quæ culpæ careant lege: ut, qui excelsus in fortitudine veniens humilia respicis, dignos facias nos muneribus tuis. Amen.
Who, O God, thou Son of God, who can search into thy ways? and tell how thou wast born of a Virgin, when thou camest from heaven, or by what paths thou didst return thither? And therefore since thou alone knowest all things, thou whose name is beyond the ends of the earth; grant us so to think and speak of thee as to be guiltless of error: that so thou, who, high in power, dost come down to lowly things and love them, mayst make us worthy of thy gifts. Amen.

[1] Ps. lxiv. 14.

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