EPIPHANY NOVENA – FOURTH DAY

adoration-of-the-magi-by-quentin-matsys

           EPIPHANY NOVENA

                  December 31 

                           Day 4

O holy Magi, who, when deserted by the star in the city of Jerusalem, sought humbly, and without human respect, from the rulers of the Church, the place where you might discover the object of your journey; obtain for us grace to have recourse, in faith and humility, in all our doubts and perplexities to the counsel of our superiors, who hold the place of God on earth.

                         Glory be

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.

                           Prayer

I salute Thee, O divine Heart, with the three Magi who offered their homage to Thee. Regard me, I beseech Thee, with the same love and kindness with which Thou didst receive them, that I may offer with my heart, gold, frankincense and myrrh; that is to say, my intellect, my memory and my will, in complete subjection to Thee, in faith, hope, charity, in thought, word and deed. Accept my offering, accept my heart, and grant that I may live and die thanking Thee for the invaluable favor of being called to the true faith. Hence, I beg of Thee, by the joy which filled Thy heart, when Thou didst see the first of the Gentiles at Thy feet, to hear my prayer and grant the request I make in this Novena. Amen.

EPIPHANY NOVENA – THIRD DAY

adoration-of-the-magi-unknown-master-flemish

          EPIPHANY NOVENA

                  December 30  

                         Day 3

O holy Magi! who regarded neither the severity of the season, nor the inconveniences of the journey that you might find the newborn Messiah; obtain for us the grace not to allow ourselves to be discouraged by any of the difficulties which may meet us on the way of salvation.

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.

                        PRAYER

I salute Thee, O divine Heart, with the three Magi who offered their homage to Thee. Regard me, I beseech Thee, with the same love and kindness with which Thou didst receive them, that I may offer with my heart, gold, frankincense and myrrh; that is to say, my intellect, my memory and my will, in complete subjection to Thee, in faith, hope, charity, in thought, word and deed. Accept my offering, accept my heart, and grant that I may live and die thanking Thee for the invaluable favor of being called to the true faith. Hence, I beg of Thee, by the joy which filled Thy heart, when Thou didst see the first of the Gentiles at Thy feet, to hear my prayer and grant the request I make in this Novena. Amen.

EPIPHANY NOVENA – SECOND DAY

the-adoration-of-the-magi-by-luis-tristan-1620

           EPIPHANY NOVENA

                  December 29 

                           Day 2

 

O holy Magi, who at the first appearance of the wondrous star left your native country to go and seek the newborn king of the Jews, obtain for us the grace of corresponding with alacrity to every divine inspiration.

                        Glory be

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.

                         Prayer

I salute Thee, O divine Heart, with the three Magi who offered their homage to Thee. Regard me, I beseech Thee, with the same love and kindness with which Thou didst receive them, that I may offer with my heart, gold, frankincense and myrrh; that is to say, my intellect, my memory and my will, in complete subjection to Thee, in faith, hope, charity, in thought, word and deed. Accept my offering, accept my heart, and grant that I may live and die thanking Thee for the invaluable favor of being called to the true faith. Hence, I beg of Thee, by the joy which filled Thy heart, when Thou didst see the first of the Gentiles at Thy feet, to hear my prayer and grant the request I make in this Novena. Amen.

            

THOMAS BECKET – BISHOP AND MARTYR

st-thomas-becket-dec-29 

                      ST. THOMAS BECKET

                     BISHOP AND MARTYR

                         The Liturgical Year 

                      Dom Guéranger, O.S.B.

Another Martyr comes in today, to take his place round the Crib of our Jesus. He does not belong to the first ages of the Church: his name is not written in the Books of the New Testament, like those of Stephen, John, and the Innocents of Bethlehem. Yet does he stand most prominent in the ranks of that Martyr-Host, which has been receiving fresh recruits in every age, and is one of those visible abiding proofs of the vitality of the Church, and of the undecaying energy infused into her by her divine Founder. This glorious Martyr did not shed his blood for the faith; he was not dragged before the tribunals of Pagans or Heretics, there to confess the Truths revealed by Christ and taught by the Church.

He was slain by Christian hands; it was a Catholic King that condemned him to death; it was by the majority of his own Brethren, and they his countrymen, that he was abandoned and blamed. How, then, could he be a Martyr? How did he gain a Palm like Stephen’s? He was the Martyr for the Liberty of the Church. Every Christian is obliged to lay down his life rather than deny any of the Articles of our holy Faith: it was the debt we contracted with Jesus Christ, when he adopted us, in Baptism, as his Brethren. All are not called to the honor of martyrdom, that is, all are not required to bear that testimony to the Truth, which consists in shedding one’s blood for it: but all must so love their Faith, as to be ready to die rather than deny it, under pain of incurring the eternal death, from which the grace of our Redeemer has already delivered us. The same obligation lies still more heavily on the Pastors of the Church. It is the pledge of the truth of their teachings. Hence, we find, in almost every page of the History of the Church, the glorious names of saintly Bishops, who laid down their lives for the Faith they had delivered to their people. It was the last and dearest pledge they could give of their devotedness to the Vineyard entrusted to them, and in which they had spent years of care and toil. The blood of their Martyrdom was more than a fertilizing element it was a guarantee, the highest that man can give, that the seed they had sown in the hearts of men was, in very truth, the revealed Word of God. But beyond the debt, which every Christian has, of shedding his blood rather than deny his Faith, that is, of allowing no threats or dangers to make him disown the sacred ties which unite him to the Church and, through her, to Jesus Christ beyond this, Pastors have another debt to pay, which is that of defending the Liberty of the Church. To Kings, and Rulers, and, in general, to all Diplomatists and Politicians, there are few expressions so unwelcome as this of the Liberty of the Church; with them, it means a sort of conspiracy.

The world talks of it as being an unfortunate scandal, originating in priestly ambition. Timid temporizing Catholics regret that it can elicit anyone’s zeal, and will endeavor to persuade us, that we have no need to fear anything, so long as our Faith is not attacked. Notwithstanding all this, the Church has put upon her altars and associated with St. Stephen, St. John, and the Holy Innocents, this our Archbishop, who was slain in his Cathedral of Canterbury, in the 12th century, because he resisted a King’s infringements on the extrinsic Rights of the Church. She sanctions the noble maxim of St. Anselm, one of St. Thomas’ predecessors in the See of Canterbury: Nothing does God love so much in this world, as the Liberty of his Church; and the Apostolic See declares by the mouth of Pius the 8th, in the 19th century, the very same doctrine she would have taught by St. Gregory the 7th, in the 11th century: The Church, the spotless Spouse of Jesus Christ the immaculate Lamb, is, by God’s appointment, Free, and subject to no earthly power. But in what does this sacred Liberty consist? It consists in the Church’s absolute independence of every secular power in the ministry of the Word of God, which she is bound to preach in season and out of season, as St. Paul says, to all mankind, without distinction of nation, or race, or age, or sex in the administration of the Sacraments, to which she must invite all men, without exception, in order to the world’s salvation in the practice, free from all human control, of the Counsels, as well as of the Precepts, of the Gospel in the unobstructed intercommunication of the several degrees of her sacred hierarchy in the publication and application of her decrees and ordinances in matters of discipline in the maintenance and development of the Institutions she has founded in the holding and governing her temporal patrimony  and lastly, in the defense of those privileges, which have been adjudged to her by the civil authority itself, in order that her ministry of peace and charity might be unembarrassed and respected. Such is the Liberty of the Church.

It is the bulwark of the Sanctuary. Every breach there, imperils the Hierarchy, and even the very Faith. A Bishop may not flee, as the hireling, nor hold his peace, like those dumb dogs, of which the Prophet Isaias speaks, and which are not able to bark. He is the Watchman of Israel: he is a traitor if he first lets the enemy enter the citadel, and then, but only then, gives the alarm and risks his person and his life. The obligation of laying down his life for his flock, begins to be in force at the enemy’s first attack upon the very outposts of the City, which is only safe when they are strongly guarded. The consequences of the Pastor’s resistance may be of the most serious nature; in which event, we must remember a truth, which has been admirably expressed by Bossuet, in his magnificent Panegyric on St. Thomas of Canterbury, which we regret not being able to give from beginning to end. It is an established law, he says, that every success the Church acquires costs her the life of some of her children, and that in order to secure her rights, she must shed her own blood. Her Divine Spouse redeemed her by the Blood he shed for her; and he wishes that she should purchase, on the same terms, the graces he bestows upon her. It was by the blood of the Martyrs that she extended her conquests far beyond the limits of the Roman Empire. It was her blood that procured her, both the peace she enjoyed under the Christian, and the victory she gained over the Pagan, Emperors. So that, as she had to shed her blood for the propagation of her teaching, she had also to bleed for the making her authority accepted. The Discipline, therefore, as well as the Faith, of the Church, was to have its Martyrs. Hence it was, that St. Thomas, and the rest of the Martyrs for Ecclesiastical Liberty, never once stopped to consider how it was possible, with such weak means as were at their disposal, to oppose the invaders of the rights of the Church. One great element of Martyrdom, is simplicity united with courage; and this explains how there have been Martyrs amongst the lowest classes of the Faithful, and that young girls, and even children, can show their rich Palm-branch. God has put into the heart of a Christian a capability of humble and inflexible resistance, which makes every opposition give way. What, then, must that fidelity be, which the Holy Ghost has put into the souls of Bishops, whom he has constituted the Spouses of his Church, and the defenders of his beloved Jerusalem?

St. Thomas, says Bossuet,  yields not to injustice, under the pretext  that it is armed with the sword, and that it is a  King who commits it; on the contrary, seeing that  its source is high up, he feels his obligation of resisting it to be the greater, just as men throw the embankments higher, when the torrent swells. But, the Pastor may lose his life in the contest! Yes, it may be so he may possibly have this glorious privilege. Our Lord came into this world to fight against it and conquer it but he shed his blood in the contest, he died on a Cross. So likewise were the Martyrs put to death. Can the Church, then, that was founded by the Precious Blood of her Divine Master, and was established by the blood of the Martyrs  can she ever do without the saving laver of blood, which reanimates her with vigour, and vests her with the rich crimson of her royalty? St. Thomas under stood this: and when we remember how he laboured to mortify his flesh by a life of penance, and how every sort of privation and adversity had taught him to crucify to this world every affection of his heart, we cannot be surprised at his possessing, within his soul, the qualities which fit a man for martyrdom calmness of courage, and a patience proof against every trial. In other words, he had received from God the Spirit of Fortitude, and he faithfully corresponded to it.

In the language of the Church,” continues Bossuet, Fortitude has not the meaning it has in the language of the world. Fortitude, as the world understands it, is the undertaking great things; according to the Church, it goes not beyond the suffering every sort of trial, and there it stops. Listen to the words of St. Paul: Ye have not yet resisted unto blood; as though he would say:  You have not yet gone the whole length of your duty, because you have not resisted your enemies unto blood. He does not say, you have not attacked your enemies and shed their blood but, your resistance to your enemies has not yet cost you your blood. These are the high principles of St. Thomas; but see how he makes use of them. He arms himself with this sword of the Apostle’s teaching, not to make a parade of courage, and gain a name for heroism, but simply because the Church is threatened, and he must hold over her the shield of his resistance. The strength of the holy Archbishop lies not, in any way, either in the interference of sympathizers, or in a plotably conducted. He has but to publish the sufferings he has so patiently ” borne, and odium will fall upon his persecutor:  certain secret springs need only to be touched by such a man as this, and the people would be roused to indignation against the King! But the Saint scorns both plans. All he has on his side is the prayer of the poor, and the sighs of the widow and the orphan: these, as St. Ambrose would say, these are the Bishop’s defenders, these his guard, these his army!

He is powerful, because he has a soul that knows not either how to fear or how to murmur. He can, in all truth, say to Henry, King of England, what Tertullian said, in the name of the whole Church, to a magistrate of the Roman  Empire, who was a cruel persecutor of the Church: We neither frighten thee, nor fear thee. We Christians are neither dangerous men, nor cowards; not dangerous, because we cannot cabal, and not cowards, because we fear not the sword. Our Panegyrist proceeds to describe the victory won for the Church by her intrepid Martyr of Canterbury. We can scarcely be surprised when we are told, that during the very year in which he preached this eloquent Sermon, Bossuet was raised to the episcopal dignity. We need offer no apology for giving the following fine passage. Christians! Give me your attention. If there ever were a Martyrdom, which bore the resemblance to a Sacrifice, it was the one I have to describe to you. First of all, there is the preparation: the Bishop is in the Church with his Ministers, and all are robed in the sacred Vestments. And the Victim? The Victim is near at hand the Bishop is the Victim chosen by God, and he is ready.  So that all is prepared for the sacrifice, and they that are to strike the blow enter the Church. The holy man walks before them, as Jesus did before his enemies. He forbids his Clergy to make the slightest resistance, and all he asks of his enemies is, that they injure none of them that are present:  it is the close imitation of his Divine Master, who said to them that apprehended him: If it be I whom ye seek, suffer these to go their way. And when all this had been done, and the moment for the sacrifice was come, St. Thomas begins the ceremony.

st-thomas-of-canterbury

He is both Victim and Priest he bows down his head, and offers the prayer. Listen to the solemn prayer, and the mystical words, of the sacrifice: And I am ready to die for God, and for the claims of justice, and for the Liberty of the Church, if only she may gain peace and, Liberty by this shedding of my blood. He prostrates himself before God: and as in the Holy Sacrifice there is the invocation of the Saints our Intercessors, Thomas omits not so important a ceremony; he beseeches the Holy Martyrs and the Blessed Mary ever a Virgin to deliver the Church from oppression. He can pray for nothing but the Church; his heart beats but for the Church; his lips can speak nothing but the Church; and, when the blow has been struck, his cold and lifeless tongue seems still to be saying: The Church!

Thus did our glorious Martyr, the type of a Bishop of the Church, consummate his sacrifice, thus did he gain his victory; and his victory will produce the total abolition of the sinful laws, which would have made the Church the creature of the State, and an object of contempt to the people. The tomb of the Saint will become an Altar; and at the foot of that Altar, there will one day kneel a penitent King, humbly praying for pardon and blessing. What has wrought this change? Has the death of Thomas of Canterbury stirred up the people to revolt? Has his Martyrdom found its avengers? No. It is the blood of one, who died for Christ, producing its fruit. The world is hard to teach, else it would have long since learnt this truth, that a Christian people can never see with indifference a Pastor put to death for fidelity to his charge; and that a Government, that dares to make a Martyr, will pay dearly for the crime. Modern diplomacy has learnt the secret; experience has given it the instinctive craft of waging war against the Liberty of the Church with less violence and more intrigue the intrigue of enslaving her by political administration. It was this crafty diplomacy which forged the chains, wherewith so many Churches are now shackled, and which, be they ever so gilded, are insupportable. There is but one way to unlink such fetters – to break them. He that breaks them, will be great in the Church of heaven and earth, for he must be a Martyr: he will not have to fight with the sword, or be a political agitator, but simply, to resist the plotters against the Liberty of the Spouse of Christ, and suffer patiently whatever may be said or done against him.

Let us give ear once more to the sublime Panegyrist of our St. Thomas: he is alluding to this patient resistance, which made the Archbishop triumph over tyranny. My Brethren, see what manner of men the Church finds rising up to defend her in her weakness, and how truly she may say with the Apostle: When I am weak, then am I powerful. It is this blessed weakness, which provides her with invincible power, and which enlists in her cause the bravest soldiers and the mightiest conquerors this world has ever seen, the Martyrs. He that infringes on the authority of the Church, let him dread that precious blood of the Martyrs, which consecrates and protects it. Now, all this Fortitude, and the whole of this Victory, come from the Crib of the Infant Jesus: therefore it is, that we find St. Thomas standing near it, in company with the Protomartyr Stephen. Any example of humility, and of what the world calls poverty and weakness, which had been less eloquent than this of the mystery of God made a Little Child, would have been insufficient to teach man what real Power is. Up to that time, man had no other idea of power than that which the sword can give, or of greatness than that which comes of riches, or of joy than such as triumph brings: but when God came into this world, and showed himself weak, and poor, and persecuted — everything was changed. Men were found who loved the lowly Crib of Jesus, with all its humiliations, better than the whole world besides: and from this mystery of the weakness of an Infant God they imbibed a greatness of soul, which even the world could not help admiring. It is most just, therefore, that the two laurel- wreaths of St. Thomas and St. Stephen should intertwine round the Crib of the Babe of Bethlehem, for they are the two trophies of his two dear Martyrs.

As regards St. Thomas, divine Providence marked out most clearly the place he was to occupy in the Cycle of the Christian Year, by permitting his martyrdom to happen on the day following the Feast of the Holy Innocents so that, the Church could have no hesitation in assigning the 29th of December as the day for celebrating the memory of the saintly Archbishop of Canterbury. As long as the world lasts, this day will be a Feast of dearest interest to the whole Church of God; and the name of Thomas of Canterbury will be, to the day of judgment, terrible to the enemies of the Liberty of the Church, and music breathing hope and consolation to hearts that love that Liberty, which Jesus bought at the price of his Precious Blood.

 

EPIPHANY NOVENA – FIRST DAY

Adoration of the Magi by Fra Angelico, 1423-24

                EPIPHANY NOVENA                 

          (December 28 -January 5)

O holy Magi! You were living in continual expectation of the rising of the Star of Jacob, which would announce the birth of the true Sun of justice; obtain for us an increase of faith and charity, and the grace to live in continual hope of beholding one day the light of heavenly glory and eternal joy.

                    Glory be

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.

                    Prayer

I salute Thee, O divine Heart, with the three Magi who offered their homage to Thee. Regard me, I beseech Thee, with the same love and kindness with which Thou didst receive them, that I may offer with my heart, gold, frankincense and myrrh; that is to say, my intellect, my memory and my will, in complete subjection to Thee, in faith, hope, charity, in thought, word and deed. Accept my offering, accept my heart, and grant that I may live and die thanking Thee for the invaluable favor of being called to the true faith. Hence, I beg of Thee, by the joy which filled Thy heart, when Thou didst see the first of the Gentiles at Thy feet, to hear my prayer and grant the request I make in this Novena. Amen.

THE HOLY CHILDHOOD OF OUR DIVINE REDEEMER

divine-infant-jesus-asleep

    THE HOLY CHILDHOOD OF OUR LORD

                            JESUS CHRIST

   MYSTERIES OF THE HOLY CHILDHOOD

V. Incline unto my aid, O God.

R. O Lord, make haste to help me.

V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.

R. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

THE MYSTERIES

Our Father

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 those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Jesus, sweetest child, who, coming down from the bosom of the Father for our salvation, didst not disdain the womb of the Virgin, where, conceived by the Holy Ghost, thou, the Word incarnate, didst take upon thee the form of a servant: have mercy on us. 

R. Have mercy on us, Child Jesus, have mercy on us.

Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst 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 death. Amen.

 Jesus, sweetest child, who, in thy virgin mother’s womb, didst visit St. Elizabeth, and fill thy Precursor, John the Baptist, with the Holy Ghost, sanctifying him from his mother’s womb: have mercy on us.

R. Have mercy on us, Child Jesus, have mercy on us.

Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst 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 death. Amen.

 Jesus, sweetest child, who, for nine months hidden in’ thy mother’s womb, and awaited with eager expectation by the Virgin Mary and by St. Joseph, wast by them offered to God the Father for the salvation of the world: have mercy on us.

R. Have mercy on us, Child Jesus, have mercy on us.

Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst 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 death. Amen.

Jesus, sweetest child, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary, wrapped in swaddling- clothes, laid in the manger, heralded by angels, visited by shepherds: have mercy on us.

R. Have mercy on us, Child Jesus, have mercy on us.

Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst 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 death. Amen.

O Jesus, born of virgin bright, Infinite glory be to thee; Praise to the Father infinite, And Holy Ghost eternally.

V. Christ is at hand.

R. Come, let us adore him.

Our Father

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 those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

 Jesus, sweetest child, wounded in the circumcision on the eighth day, called by the glorious name of Jesus, and, by thy name and by thy blood, foreshown as the Saviour of the world: have mercy on us.

R. Have mercy on us, Child Jesus, have mercy on us.

Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst 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 death. Amen.

 Jesus, sweetest child, made known to the three Magi by a star, adored on Mary’s bosom, honored with the mystical gifts of gold, frank incense, and myrrh: have mercy on us.

R. Have mercy on us, Child Jesus, have mercy on us.

Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst 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 death. Amen.

Jesus, sweetest child, presented in the temple by thy virgin mother: Jesus, whom Simeon took into his arms and embraced, and Anna the prophetess made known to Israel: have mercy on us.

R. Have mercy on us, Child Jesus, have mercy on us.

Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst 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 death. Amen.

Jesus, sweetest child, whom Herod sought to slay, whom 8. Joseph carried with Mary into Egypt, who wast saved by flight from a cruel death, and glorified by the praises of the holy Innocents: have mercy on us.

R. Have mercy on us, Child Jesus, have mercy on us.

Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst 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 death. Amen.

O Jesus, born of virgin bright, Infinite glory be to thee; Praise to the Father infinite, And Holy Ghost eternally.

V. Christ is at hand.

R. Come, let us adore him.

Our Father

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 those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

 Jesus, sweetest child, who, with Mary most holy, and the patriarch St. Joseph, didst dwell in Egypt until the death of Herod: have mercy on us.

R. Have mercy on us, Child Jesus, have mercy on us.

Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst 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 death. Amen.

Jesus, sweetest child, who didst return with thy parents from Egypt into the land of Israel, who didst suffer many toils by the way, and enter the city of Nazareth: have mercy on us.

R. Have mercy on us, Child Jesus, have mercy on us.

Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst 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 death. Amen.

Jesus, sweetest child, who didst live most holily in the blessed house of Nazareth, subject to thy parents, spending thy parents, spending thy life in poverty and toil, and growing in wisdom, in age, and in grace: have mercy on us.

R. Have mercy on us, Child Jesus, have mercy on us.

Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst 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 death. Amen.

Jesus, sweetest child, brought to Jerusalem when twelve years old, sought by thy parents with much sorrow, and, after three days, found, to their great joy, among the doctors: have mercy on us.

R. Have mercy on us, Child Jesus, have mercy on us.

Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst 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 death. Amen.

O Jesus, born of virgin bright, Infinite glory be to thee; Praise to the Father infinite, And Holy Ghost eternally.

V. Christ is at hand.

R. Come, let us adore him.

Our Father

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 those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

In order that Christians might meditate more frequently on the Incarnation, Birth, and all the other mysteries relating to the holy Childhood of our Divine Saviour Jesus Christ, and might render Him meet and worthy thanks, as well as imitate, those virtues which He in His Childhood has taught us by His example, Pope Pius VII., of holy memory, by a decree of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, dated Nov. 23, 1819, granted— I. The Plenary Indulgence, on the 25th of every month, to all those who being penitent, having Confessed and Communicated, should be present at any church or public oratory in which is used the following pious exercise, revised and approved by the S. Congr. of Rites, in honour of the Child Jesus, to venerate thereby the twelve mysteries of His Holy Childhood; provided also they pray according to the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff (the Church).

II. Indulgence of 300 days, once a day, to those who, in private, with a contrite heart, devoutly use this pious exercise.

 

CHRISTMAS NOVENA – NINTH DAY

nativity-by-master-francke

Novena in Preparation for Nativity of our Lord

                     Ninth Day        

“And Joseph also went up . . . to be enrolled with Mary his espoused wife, who was with child.” – St. Luke 2:4

God had decreed that His Son should be born not in the house of Joseph, but in a cavern and stable of beasts, in the poorest and most painful way that a child can be born; and therefore He caused Caesar to publish an edict, by which people were commanded to go and enroll themselves, every one in his own city from whence he drew his origin. When Joseph heard this order, he was much agitated as to whether he should take with him or leave behind the Virgin Mother, as she was now so near childbirth. My spouse and my lady, said he to her, on the one hand I do not wish to leave you alone; on the other, if I take you with me, I am much afflicted at the thought of all that you will have to suffer during this long journey, and in such severe weather. My poverty will not permit me to conduct you with that comfort which you require. But Mary answers him, and tries to give him courage with these words: My Joseph, do not fear. I will go with you; the Lord will assist us. She knew, both by divine inspiration, and also because she was well versed in the prophecy of Micheas, that the Divine Infant was to be born in Bethlehem. She therefore takes the swaddling-clothes, and the other miserable garments already prepared, and departs with Joseph. “And Joseph also went up . . . to be enrolled with Mary.” Let us now consider all the devout and holy discourses which these two holy spouses must have held together during this journey concerning the mercy, goodness, and love of the Divine Word, who was shortly to be born, and to appear on the earth for the salvation of men. Let us also consider the praises, the benedictions, the thanksgivings, the acts of humility and love, which these two illustrious pilgrims uttered by the way. This holy Virgin, so soon to become a mother, certainly suffered much in so long a journey, made in the midst of winter, and over rough roads; but she suffered with peace and with love. She offered to God all these her trials, uniting them to those of Jesus, whom she carried in her womb. Oh, let us unite ourselves also, and let us accompany Mary and Joseph in the journey of our life; and, with them, let us accompany the King of Heaven, who is born in a cave, and makes His first appearance in the world as an infant, but as the poorest and most forsaken infant that ever was born amongst men. And let us beseech Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, that, through the merits of the pains which they suffered in this journey, they would accompany us in the journey that we are making to eternity. Oh, blessed shall we be if, in life and in death, we keep company with, and are always accompanied by, these three great personages!

        AFFECTIONS AND PRAYERS

My beloved Redeemer, I know that in this journey Thou wast accompanied by hosts of angels from heaven; but on this earth who was there that bore Thee company? Thou hadst but Joseph and Mary who carried Thee with her. Refuse not, O my Jesus, that I also accompany Thee. Miserable ungrateful sinner that I have been, I now see the injuries I have done Thee; Thou didst come down from heaven to make Thyself my companion on earth, and I by my frequent offences have ungratefully abandoned Thee! When I remember, O my Saviour, that for the sake of my own cursed inclinations I have often separated myself from Thee and renounced Thy friendship, I could wish to die of sorrow. But Thou didst come into the world to forgive me; therefore forgive me now, I beseech Thee, for I repent with all my soul of having so often turned my back upon Thee and forsaken Thee. I purpose and hope, through Thy grace, never more to leave or separate myself from Thee, O my only love: My soul has become enamored of Thee, O my amiable Infant God. I love Thee, my sweet Saviour; and since Thou hast come upon earth to save me and to dispense to me Thy graces, I ask this one only grace of Thee, permit me not to be ever again separated from Thee. Unite me, bind me to Thyself, enchain me with the sweet cords of Thy holy love. O my Redeemer and my God, who will then have the heart to leave Thee, and to live without Thee, deprived of Thy grace? Most holy Mary, I come to accompany thee in this journey; and thou, O my Mother, cease not to accompany me in the journey that I am making to eternity. Do thou assist me always, but especially when I shall find myself at the end of my life, and near that moment on which will depend either my remaining always with thee to love Jesus in paradise, or my being forever separated from thee and hating Jesus in hell. My Queen, save me by thy intercession; and may my salvation be to love thee and Jesus forever, in time and in eternity. Thou art my hope; I hope Everything from thee.

VIGIL OF THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD

in-vigilia-nativitatis-domini-adoration-of-the-christ-child

                      December 24

                 CHRISTMAS EVE

 (Today is a day of Fast and Abstinence.)

              The Liturgical Year

          Dom Gueranger, O.S.B.

At length, says St. Peter Damian, in his Sermon for this holy Eve, at length we have got from the stormy sea into the tranquil port; hitherto it was the promise, now it is the prize; hitherto labour, now rest; hitherto despair, now hope; hitherto the way, now our home. The heralds of the divine promise came to us; but they gave us nothing but rich promises. Hence, our Psalmist himself grew wearied, and slept, and, with a seeming reproachful tone, thus sings his lamentation to God: But thou hast, rejected and despised us; thou hast deferred the coming of thy Christ. At another time he assumes a tone of demand, and thus prays: O thou that sittest upon the Cherubim, show thyself! Seated on thy high throne, with myriads of adoring Angels around thee, look down upon the children of men, who are victims of that sin, which was committed indeed by Adam, but permitted by thy justice. Remember what my substance is; thou didst make it to the likeness of thine own; for though every living man is vanity, yet inasmuch as he is made to thy Image, he is not a passing vanity. Bend thy heavens and come down, and turn the eyes of thy mercy upon us thy miserable suppliants, and forget us not unto the end!

Isaias, also, in the vehemence of his desire, thus spoke: For Sion’s sake I will not hold my peace, and for the sake of Jerusalem I will not rest, till her Just One come forth as brightness. Oh! that thou wouldst rend the heavens, and wouldst come down! So, too, all the Prophets, tired of the long delay of the Coming, have prayed to thee, now with supplication, now with lamentation, and now with cries of impatience. We have listened to these their prayers; we have made use of them as our own, and now, nothing can give us joy or gladness, till our Saviour come to us, and, kissing us with the kiss of his lips, say to us, I have heard and granted your prayers.

But, what is this that has been said to us: Sanctify yourselves, O ye children of Israel, and be ready; for on the morrow, the Lord will come down? We are, then, but one half day and night from the grand visit, the admirable Birth of the Infant-God! Hurry on your course, ye fleeting hours, that we may the sooner see the Son of God in his crib, and pay our homage to this world-saving Birth. You, Brethren, are the Children of Israel, that are sanctified, and cleansed from every defilement of soul and body, ready, by your earnest devotion, for tomorrow’s mysteries. Such, indeed, you are, if I may judge from the manner in which you have spent these sacred days of preparation for the Coming of your Saviour.

But if, notwithstanding all your care, some drops of the stream of this life’s frailties are still on your hearts, wipe them away and cover them with the snow-white robe of Confession. This I can promise you from the mercy of the divine Infant: he that shall confess his sins and be sorry for them, shall have born within him the Light of the World; the darkness that deceived him, shall be dispelled; and he shall enjoy the brightness of the true Light. For how can mercy be denied to the miserable this night, in which the merciful and compassionate Lord is so mercifully born? Therefore, drive away from you all haughty looks, and idle words, and unjust works; let your loins be girt, and your feet walk in the right paths; and then come, and accuse the Lord, if this night he rend not the heavens, and come down to you, and throw all your sins into the depths of the sea.

holy sacrifice of the mass after pentecost

          CHRISTMAS VIGIL

           MASS PROPERS

  Simple     Violet Vestments

            Vigil 1st Class

INTROITUS – Exodus 16: 6, 7

Hodie sciétis, quia véniet Dóminus, et salvábit nos: et mane vidébitis glóriam ejus. Ps. 23.1 Dómini est terra et plenitúdo ejus: orbis terrárum, et univérsi qui hábitant in eo. V. Glória Patri.

INTROIT

This day you shall know that the Lord will come, and save us: and in the morning you shall see His glory. Ps. 23:1 The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof: the world and all they that dwell therein. V. Glory be to the Father.

COLLECT

Deus, qui nos redemptiónis nostræ ánnua exspectatióne lætíficas: præsta; ut Unigénitum tuum, quem Redemptórem læti suscípimus, veniéntem quoque júdicem secúri videámus, Dóminum nostrum Jesum Christum Fílium tuum: Qui tecum.

O God, who makest us glad with the yearly expectation of our redemption, grant that we who now joyfully receive Thine only-begotten Son as our Redeemer, may also without fear behold  Him coming as our Judge, the same our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son: Who with Thee.

EPISTLE – Romans 1:1- 6

Paulus, servus Jesu Christi, vocátus Apóstolus, segregátus in Evangélium Dei, quod ante promíserat per Prophétas suos in Scriptúris sanctis de Fílio suo, qui factus est ei ex sémine David secúndum carnem: qui prædestinátus est Fílius Dei in virtúte secúndum spíritum sanctificatiónis ex resurrectióne mortuórum Jesu Christi Dómini nostri: per quem accépimus grátiam, et apostolátum ad obediéndum fídei in ómnibus géntibus pro nómine ejus, in quibus estis et vos vocáti Jesu Christi Dómini nostri.

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an Apostle, separated unto the Gospel of God, which He had promised before by His prophets in the holy Scriptures concerning His Son, who was made to Him of the seed of David according to the flesh: who was predestinated the Son of God in power according to the spirit of sanctification by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead: by whom we have received grace, and apostleship for obedience to the faith in all nations for His name, among whom are you also called of Jesus Christ our Lord.

GRADUAL – Exodus 16: 6, 7

Hodie sciétis, quia véniet Dóminus, et salvábit nos: et mane vidébitis glóriam ejus. V. Qui regis Israël, inténde: qui dedúcis, velut ovem, Joseph: qui sedes super Chérubim, appáre coram Ephraim, Bénjamin, et Manásse.

This day you shall know that the Lord will come and save us: and in the morning you shall see His glory. V. Give ear, O Thou that rulest Israel: Thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep, Thou that sittest upon the Cherubim, shine forth before Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasses.

Alleluia is omitted.

[The Alleluia is only said when the Vigil falls on a Sunday.]

DREAM OF ST JOSEPH

GOSPEL – Matthew 1:18-21

Cum esset desponsáta mater Jesu María Joseph, ántequam convenírent, invénta est in útero habens de Spíritu Sancto. Joseph autem vir ejus, cum esset justus et nollet eam tradúcere, vóluit occúlte dimíttere eam. Hæc autem eo cogitánte, ecce Angelus Dómini appáruit in somnis ei, dicens: Joseph, fili David, noli timére accípere Maríam cónjugem tuam: quod enim in ea natum est, de Spíritu Sancto est. Páriet autem fílium, et vocábis nomen ejus Jesum: ipse enim salvum fáciet pópulum suum a peccátis eórum.

Then Mary the Mother of Jesus was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Whereupon Joseph her husband, being a just man and not willing publicly to expose her, was minded to put her away privately. But while he thought on these things behold the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in his sleep, saying: Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins.

OFFERTORY Psalm 23: 7

Tollite portas, príncipes, vestras: ET elevámini, portæ æternáles, et introíbit Rex Glóriæ.

Lift up your gates, O ye princes: and: be ye lifted up, O eternal gates, and the King of glory shall enter in.

SECRET

Da nobis, quǽsumus, omnípotens Deus: ut, sicut adoránda Fílii tui natalítia prævenímus, sic ejus múnera capiámus sempitérna gaudéntes: Qui tecum vivit.

Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that even as we anticipate the adorable birthday of Thy Son, so too may we joyfully receive His eternal gifts: Who with Thee.

COMMON PREFACE

Vere dignum et justum est, ǽquum et salutáre, nos tibi semper, et ubíque grátias ágere: Dómine sancte, Pater omnípotens, ætérne Deus: per Christum Dóminum nostrum. Per quem majestátem tuam laudant Angeli, adorant Dominatiónes, tremunt Potestátes. Cæli, cælorúmque Virtútes, ac beáta Séraphim socía exsultatióne concélebrant. Cum quibus et nostras voces, ut admítti jubéas, deprécamur, súpplici confessióne dicéntes:

It is truly meet and just, right and availing unto salvation, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God, through Christ our Lord. Through whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, the dominations worship it, the powers stand in awe. The heavens, and the heavenly hosts, and the blessed Seraphim join together in celebrating their joy. With whom we pray Thee join our voices also, while we say in lowly praise:

adoration-of-the-holy-trinity

SANCTUS

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus Dóminus Deus Sábaoth. Pleni sunt cæli et terra glória tua. Hosánna in excélsis. Benedíctus qui venit in nómine Dómini. Hosánna in excélsis.

COMMUNION – Isaiah 40: 5

Revelabitur gloria Dómini: et vidébit omnis caro salutáre Dei nostri.

The glory of the Lord shall be revealed: and all flesh shall see the salvation of our God.

POSTCOMMUNION

Da nobis, quǽsumus, Dómine, unigéniti Fílii tui recensíta nativitáte respiráre; cujus cælésti mystério páscimur et potámur. Per eúmdem Dóminum.

Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that the celebration of the birth of Thine only- begotten Son may give us fresh life; whose heavenly mystery is our food and drink. Through the same our Lord.

 

 

CHRISTMAS NOVENA – EIGHTH DAY

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Novena in preparation for Our Lord’s Nativity                                    EIGHTH DAY

For the grace of God our Saviour hath appeared to all men; Instructing us, that, denying ungodliness and worldly desires, we should live soberly, and justly, and godly in this world. Looking for the blessed hope and coming of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. – Titus 2:11,12,13

Consider that by the grace that is said here to have appeared is meant the tender love of Jesus Christ towards men, a love that we have not merited, which therefore is called “grace.” This love was, however, always the same in God, but did not always appear. It was at first promised in many prophecies, and foreshadowed by many figures; but at the birth of the Redeemer this Divine love indeed appeared, and manifested itself by the Eternal Word showing Himself to man as an infant, lying on straw, crying and shivering with cold; beginning thus to make satisfaction for us for the penalties we have deserved, and so making known to us the affection which He bore us, by giving up. His life for us: “In this we have known the charity of God, because He hath laid down His life for us.” Therefore the love of our God appeared to all, “omnibus hominibus. But why is it, then, that all men have not known it, and that even at this day so many are ignorant of it? This is the reason: “The light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light.” They have not known Him, and they do not know Him, because they do not wish to know him, loving rather the darkness of sin than the light of grace.

But let us endeavour not to be of the number of these unhappy souls. If in past times we have shut our eyes to the light, thinking little of the love of Jesus Christ, let us try, during the days that may remain to us in this life, to have ever before our eyes the sufferings and death of our Redeemer, in order to love Him who hath loved us so much: “Looking for the blessed hope and coming of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” Thus may we justly expect, according to the divine promises, that paradise which Jesus Christ has acquired for us by His blood. At His first coming Jesus appeared as an infant, poor and humble, and showed Himself on earth born in a stable, covered with miserable rags, and lying on straw; but at His second coming He will come on a throne of majesty: “We shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and majesty.” Blessed then will he be who shall have loved Him, and miserable those who have not loved Him.

             AFFECTIONS AND PRAYERS

O my holy Infant now I see Thee lying on straw, poor, afflicted, and forsaken; but I know that one day Thou wilt come to judge me, seated on a throne of splendor, and attended by the angels. Forgive me, I implore Thee, before Thou dost judge me. Then Thou wilt have to conduct Thyself as a just judge; but now Thou art my Redeemer, and the Father of mercy. I have been one of those ungrateful ones who have not known Thee, because I did not choose to know Thee; and therefore, instead of being inclined to love Thee by the consideration of the love Thou hast borne me, I have only thought of satisfying my own desires, despising Thy grace and Thy love. But into Thy sacred hands I commend my soul, which I have lost; do Thou save it: “Into Thy hands I commend my spirit; Thou hast redeemed me, O Lord, the God of truth.” In Thee do I place all my hopes, knowing that, to ransom me from hell, Thou hast given Thy blood and Thy life: “Thou hast redeemed me, O Lord, the God of truth.” Thou didst not condemn me to death when I was living in sin, but hast waited for me with infinite patience, in order that, having come to myself, I might repent of having offended Thee, and might begin to love Thee, and that thus Thou mightest be able to forgive and save me. Yes, my Jesus, I will please Thee. I repent, above every other evil, of all the offenses I have committed against Thee; I repent, and love Thee above all things. Do Thou save me in Thy mercy, and let it be my salvation to love Thee always in this life and in eternity. My dearest Mother Mary, recommend me to thy Son. Do thou represent to Him that I am thy servant, and that I have placed all my hope in thee. He hears thee, and refuses thee nothing.

FRIDAY OF THE FOURTH WEEK OF ADVENT

Madonna and Child, CIMA da Conegliano

                           FRIDAY

  OF THE FOURTH WEEK OF ADVENT

                 The Liturgical Year

            Abbot Dom Guéranger

             The Lord is now nigh;

               Come, let us adore.

         From the Prophet Isaias.

                     Chapter 66

Hear the word of the Lord, you that tremble at his word. Your brethren that hate you, and cast you out for my name’s sake, have said: Let the Lord be glorified, and we shall see in your joy: but they shall be confounded. A voice of the people from the city, a voice from the temple, the voice of the Lord that rendereth recompense to his enemies. Before she was in labour, she brought forth: before her time came to be delivered, she brought forth a man-child. Who hath ever heard such a thing? And who hath seen the like of this? Shall the earth bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be brought forth at once, because Sion hath been in labour, and hath brought forth her children? Shall not I that make others to bring forth children, myself bring forth, saith the Lord? Shall I, that give generation to others, be barren, saith the Lord thy God? Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all you that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all you that mourn for her. That you may suck, and be filled with the breasts of her consolations: that you may milk out, and flow with delights, from the abundance of her glory. For thus saith the Lord: Behold I will bring upon her as it were a river of peace, and as an overflowing torrent the glory of the Gentiles, which you shall suck; you shall be carried at the breasts, and upon the knees they shall caress you. As one whom the mother caresseth, so will I comfort you, and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem. You shall see and your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall flourish like an herb, and the hand of the Lord shall be known to his servants, and he shall be angry with his enemies. For behold the Lord will come with fire, and his chariots are like a whirlwind, to render his wrath in indignation, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For the Lord shall judge by fire, and by his sword unto all flesh, and the slain of the Lord shall be many. They that were sanctified, thought themselves clean in the gardens behind the gate within, they that did eat swine’s flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse: they shall be consumed together, saith the Lord. But I know their works, and their thoughts: I come that I may gather them together with all nations and tongues: and they shall come and shall see my glory. And I will set a sign among them, and I will send of them that shall be saved, to the Gentiles into the sea, into Africa, and Lydia them that draw the bow: into Italy, and Greece, to the islands afar off, to them that have not heard of me, and have not seen my glory. And they shall declare my glory to the Gentiles: And they shall bring all your brethren out of all nations for a gift to the Lord, upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and on mules, and in coaches, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the Lord, as if the children of Israel should bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord.  And I will take of them to be priests, and Levites, saith the Lord. For as the new heavens, and the new earth, which I will make to stand before me, saith the Lord: so shall your seed stand, and your name. And there shall be month after month, and sabbath after sabbath: and all flesh shall come to adore before my face, saith the Lord. And they shall go out, and see the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me: their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched: and they shall be a loathsome sight to all flesh.

Thy presence, O Jesus, will give fruitfulness to her that was barren, and the despised Sion shall suddenly bring forth a people which the world is too small to hold. But all the glory of this fruitfulness belongs to thee, O divine Word! The Psalmist had foretold it, when speaking to Jerusalem, as to a Queen, he said to her: Instead of thy fathers, sons are born to thee; thou shalt make them princes over all the earth: they shall remember thy name throughout all generations; therefore shall people praise thee for ever and ever, yea for ever and ever. But, for this end it was necessary that God himself should come down in person. He alone could make a Virgin Mother; he alone could raise up children to Abraham out of the very stones. Yet one little while, as he says by one of his Prophets, and I will move heaven and earth, and I will move all nations. And by another: From the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles; and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to my name a clean oblation. There will soon be, then, but one Sacrifice; for the Lamb, who is to be offered in that Sacrifice, will be born in a few hours hence; and since Sacrifice is the bond of union among men, when there shall be but one Sacrifice, there will be but one People.

     Come then quickly, O Church of God, that art to unite us all into one; come and be born into our world. And since for us thy children thou art already born, may the Lamb, thy Spouse, pour out upon thee the river of peace announced by the Prophet; may he open out upon thee the glory of the Gentiles, as an overflowing torrent; may the nations cluster round thee as their common Mother, and be filled with the abundance of thy glory, with the breasts of thy consolations; and thou carry them on thy heart and caress them in thy tender love. O Jesus! it is thou that hast inspired our Mother with this wonderful love; it is thou that consolest us, and enlightenest us, by her. Come to her and visit her; come, and, by the New Birth thou art about to take among us, renew her life within her. Give her, during this year also, firmness of Faith, the Grace of the Sacraments, the efficacy of Prayer, the Gift of Miracles, the Succession of her Hierarchy, power of

Government, Fortitude against the Princes of the world, love of the Cross, victory over Satan, and the crown of Martyrdom. During this new year, make her, as ever, thy beautiful Spouse; make her faithful to thy love, and more than ever successful in the great work thou hast put upon her; for each year brings us nearer to the day when thou wilt come for the last time, not in the swathing bands of infancy, but on a cloud, with great majesty, to render thy rebuke with flames of fire, and destroy those that have despised or have not loved thy Church, which thou wilt then raise up and admit into thy eternal Kingdom.

       HYMN OF THE BIRTH OF CHRIST

(Taken from the Poet Prudentius. VIII. kal. Januarias.)

Come forth, sweet Babe! Child of Chastity, Child of a Virgin Mother! Come, O thou our Mediator, Man and God.

Though thou didst come, in time, from the mouth of the Most High Father, and becamest incarnate at the Angel’s word; yet hadst thou, O eternal Wisdom, dwelt for ever in the bosom of thy Father.

This eternal Wisdom manifested itself when it made heaven, light, and the other creatures; by the power of the Word were all these made, for the Word is God. But having thus created the world, and fixed the laws of the universe, this creator and maker still left not his Father’s bosom.

Until at length thousands of years rolled on, and then he deigned to visit the world grown old in sin.

For man, blinded with passion, paid adoration to empty vanities, and believed that brass, or stiff blocks of stone and wood, were God. Abandoned to idolatry, they became the slaves of the treacherous enemy, and plunged their enslaved souls into dark abyss.

But the Son of God compassionated this destruction of his fallen creatures; for it was the ruin of his Father’s image.

He took to himself a mortal body, that by the resurrection of that body he might break the chain of death, and raise up man to his Father.

Thou forebodest his sufferings, O noble Virgin! and yet to give birth to this thy Son is an honour which adds fresh lustre to thy spotless purity.

O that Virgin Mother, what joy for the world does she not contain within her! a new age, a golden light, will come by her!

Madonna St John the Baptist - PERUGINO, Pietro

PRAYER FROM THE GALLICAN SACRAMENTARY

             (In Adventu Domini, Contestatio.)

It is truly meet and just that we should here and in all  places ever give thee thanks, O almighty God, through Christ our Lord, of whom John, the faithful friend, was the precursor in birth, the precursor in preaching in the wilderness, the precursor in baptism, preparing thus the way to the Judge and Redeemer. He called sinners to repentance; and purchasing a people for the Saviour, he baptized in the Jordan them that confessed their sins. He conferred not the full grace which regenerates man, but taught him to look for the Coming of the most merciful Saviour. He remitted not the sins of them that came unto him, but he promised the future remission of sins to believers; that thus they, who went down into the waters of penance, might hope for a merciful cure and forgiveness from Him, who, they were told, was to come full of the gift of Truth and Grace, our Lord Jesus Christ.