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morrow, with the Church. We have already seen, how the God of Hosts has honoured this power of the Emmanuel, by leading powerful Nations to acknowledge Him, who lay in the Crib of Bethlehem, as the Lord to whom they owed their adoring fealty. The same recognition of that Babe as the Mighty God is made by the ceremony we allude to. The Sovereign Pontiff, the Vicar of our Emmanuel, blesses, in his name, a Sword and Helmet, which are to be sent to some Catholic warrior, who has deserved well of the Christian world. In a letter addressed to Queen Mary of England and to Philip, her husband, Cardinal Pole gives an explanation of this solemn rite. The sword is sent to some Prince, whom the Vicar of Christ wishes to honour in the name of Jesus, who is King: for, the Angel said to Mary: The Lord will give unto him the Throne of David, his father.1 It is from Him alone that comes the power of the sword ;2 for, God said to Cyrus: I have girded thee (with the sword ;3) and the Psalmist thus speaks to the Christ of God: Gird thy Sword upon thy thigh, O thou most Mighty .N And because the Sword should not be drawn, save in the cause of justice, it is for that reason that a Sword is blessed on this Night, in the midst of which rises, born unto us, the divine Sun of Justice. On the Helmet, which is both the ornament and protection of the head, there is worked, in pearls, the Dove, which is the emblem of the Holy Ghost; and this, to teach him who wears it, that it is not from passion or ambition that he must use his sword, but solely under the guidance of the divine Spirit, and from a motive of spreading the Kingdom of Christ.
How beautiful is this union of energy and meekness under the one symbol and ceremony! This power of blending and harmonising the varied beauty
1 St. Luke, i. 32. s Rom. xiii. 3, 4. 3 Is. xly. 1, 5. 4 Pb. xliv. 4.
of distinct . classes of truth, is not to be found save in that Christian Rome, which is our Mother, and where God has established the centre of Light and Love. The ceremony, we have been describing, is still observed. What a grand list it would be, had we the names of all those glorious Christian Warriors, who were thus created Knights of the Church, at this solemn hour, when we celebrate the Birth of Him, who came to vanquish our enemy!—We are going to adore this Babe in his Crib; let us think of our Mother's teaching, and pay homage to him as our Prince and King, and beseech him to humble the enemies of his Church, and vanquish those who are leagued against both our perfection and our salvation.
And now, to the third of the sanctuaries, wherein is to be effected, this Night, the mystery of the Birth of Jesus. This third Sanctuary is near us; it is in us;—it is our own heart. Our heart is the Bethlehem that Jesus desires to visit, and in which he would be born, there to live and grow unto a perfect man, as St. Paul expresses it.1 Why, after all, was he born in the stable of the city of David, but that he might make sure of our heart, which he loved with an everlasting love, and so ardently, that he came down from heaven to dwell in it? Mary's virginal womb held him but for nine months; he wishes us to keep him for ever in our dwelling!
O heart of man, thou living Bethlehem, hold thyself in readiness, and keep a glad feast! Already, thou hast prepared thyself for this union with thy Jesus by the confession of thy misdeeds, by the contrition of thy sins, and by the satisfaction thou hast made for them. Now, therefore, be all attention— he is coming in the Mid-Night. Let him find everything ready, ready as were the Stable, the Crib, and
the Swaddling-clothes. True, thou hast nothing to offer him like what Mary and Joseph had—she, a Mother's caresses; and he, the most solicitous and tender care;—but thou hast an adoration and a love like those of the poor Shepherds, and these thou must offer. Like the Bethlehem yonder in the far east, thou art living in the midst of heresy, of infidelity, and of men who ignore the divine mystery of divine love:—secret then, but hearty, must be thy prayers, like those which are ascending this night to heaven from the few faithful ones, who are assembled in the Holy Cave with the Sons of St. Francis; for, in that unfortunate Palestine, which has been a slave to the most degrading errors for this last thousand years, there are still a few who know and love God. On this glad Mid-Night, let thy soul become like that splendid Basilica of Rome, which possesses the two treasures, the Holy Crib and the venerable Portrait of the Virgin-Mother. Let thy affections and thoughts be pure as the white marble of its pillars; thy charity, bright as the gold which glitters on its ceiling; thy deeds, shining as the countless tapers which light up its beauty, and turn this night into the glare of a summer noon. Thou must learn, too, 0 soldier of Christ! to use a Christian's weapons; thou must fight thy way to the Crib of thy Jesus; thou must fight for thy position there, and maintain it by the unbroken loyalty of thy love; thou must fight for the happy consummation of thy victory,—union eternal with him. Treasure up these holy sentiments, and let them console and sanctify thee, during these moments which precede the coming of our Emmanuel into thee. O living Bethlehem! there is a word which heaven gave thee for these moments; take it up, and let it be thy ceaseless prayer;—Come, Lord Jesus I come.1
1 Apoo. xxii. 20.
. It is time for us to depart, and go into the House of God. The Bells are not being rung for us, it is true—still, their melody wakens up Bethlehem in our hearts. How strange this joyous pealing at this midnight hour! But, is not everything strange in this mysterious night of the Birth of God? fie is going to show himself to us—but it is to be in a Crib, and as a little Child. When he came on Sinai, it was surrounded with thick clouds of smoke, and amidst thunder and lightning: now, there is nothing but humility, stillness, and loveliness beyond measure. The Moon, emblem of the brightness reflected from Jesus upon Mary, is shedding its soft light on our path. The stars are twinkling in the firmament, and make us think of the Star, which is so soon to rise and guide the Magi to our Saviour's Crib.
And, whilst thus thinking over all these strange mysteries, we have reached the porch of the Church. The Sanctuary sends its light down even to the threshold of the holy place. Beautiful sight, indeed! —What wonder, that King Clovis, as he entered the Church of Rheims, on his first Christmas Night, stood dazzled with the blaze of light, and, trembling with emotion, said to St. Remigius, who had just baptised him: "Father !—is this the Kingdom thou didst promise me ?"—" No, my Son," replied the Bishop— "it is but the way that will lead thee to it."
After the Pater, Ave, and Credo, have been said secretly, the Church commences the Office by her usual prayer:
Domine, labia mea ft. OLord! thou wilt open
aperies. my lips.
Et os ineum annuntia- B. And my mouth shall debit laudem tuam. clare thy praise.
t. Deus, in adjutorium ft. Incline unto mine aid, O
meum intende. God.
1$. Domine, ad adjuvan- O Lord, make haste to
dum me festina. help me.
ft. Gloria Patri et Filio, f. Glory be to the Father,
et Spiritui Sancto; and to the Son, and to the
Sicut erat in principio, et 1$. As it was in the begin
nunc et semper, et in saecu- ning, is now, and ever shall be,
la saeculorum. Amen. Alle- world without end. Amen.
Then comes, with its glad burden—Christ is born, unto us—the Invitatory, whereby the Church invites her children, every morning, to come and adore the Lord. To-night, the invitation is made by the Angels, who call us to the Crib of our Redeemer: they speak to us in the words of the Church and the Royal Prophet.
Christus natus est nobis,* Christ is born unto us, * venite, adoremus. come let us adore.
Venite, exsultemus Domi- Come, let us praise the Lord no, jubrlemus Deo Salutari with joy, let us joyfully sing