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concede non factum, per quod facta sunt omnia. Non enim per seipsum fieri potuit, per quod facta sunt omnia. Crede ergo evangelistæ.
thee, that this very one is He whom we mean by the Son of God. But, if thou do not say there is a Word that made the Word, then grant, that He, by whom all things were made, was Himself not made, since He, by whom all things were made, could not make Himself. Therefore, believe the Evangelist.
Our three Night Vigils are over: we have sung our songs of praise; we have listened to our Mother the Church telling us of the Prophecies of the beautiful Coming and meanwhile, the Night has advanced, and now the long-expected, the ever-sacred hour of Midnight has come, and we are to see the Divine Infant Jesus, lying in his Crib and smiling upon his Mother. Jubilee is the duty of this sweetest moment: let our hearts beat with delight! Jesus, our Salvation, is coming down from heaven, and for our sakes. What a joy it is, that our dear Church gives us a Canticle, which is a worthy reception of this our God! Come, then, Christians, let us make the holy place echo with our grand Te Deum!
And govern them, and exalt them for ever.
Every day, we magnify thee.
Concede, quæsumus, omnipotens Deus, ut nos Unigeniti tui nova per carnem nativitas liberet, quos sub peccati jugo vetusta servitus tenet. Per eumdem.
And we praise thy Name for ever and ever.
Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin.
Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.
Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, as we have put our trust in thee.
Our Hymn of Thanksgiving sung, the Church concludes the Office of Matins by the following Prayer, in which she embodies all her desires on this Feast of the New Birth of the Only Begotten Son of God.
In thee, O Lord, have I put my trust let me not be confounded for ever.
LET US PRAY.
Grant, we beseech thee, O Almighty God, that we who groan under the old captivity of sin, may be freed therefrom by the new Birth of thine Only Begotten Son. Through the same Jesus Christ, &c.
It is now time to offer the Great Sacrifice, and to call down our Emmanel from heaven: He alone can fully pay the debt of gratitude, which mankind owes to the Eternal Father. He will intercede for us on the Altar, as he did in his Crib. We will approach him with love, and he will give himself to us.
But such is the greatness of to-day's Mystery, that the Church is not satisfied with only once offering up the Holy Sacrifice. The long-expected and precious Gift, deserves an unusual welcome. God the Father has given his Son to us; and it is by the operation of the Holy Ghost that the grand Portent is produced:-let there be, then, to the ever Blessed Three, the homage of a triple Sacrifice!
Besides: this Jesus, who is born to-night, is born thrice. He is born of the Blessed Virgin, in the stable of Bethlehem; he is born by grace, in the hearts of the Shepherds, who are the first fruits of the Christian Church; and he is born eternally from the Bosom of the Father, in the brightness of the Saints:-to this triple Birth, therefore, let there be the homage of a triple Sacrifice!
The first Mass honours the Birth according to the Flesh, which, like the other two, is an effusion of the Divine Light. The hour is come: the_people_that walked in darkness, have seen a great Light; Light is risen to them that dwelt in the region of the shadow of death.1 Outside the holy place, where we are now assembled, there is dark Night:-material Night, caused by the absence of the sun; spiritual Night, by reason of the sins of men, who either sleep in the forgetfulness of God, or wake to the commission of crime. At Bethlehem, round the Stable, and in the City, all is deep darkness; and the inhabitants, who would not find room for the Divine Babe, are sleeping heavily:-will they waken when the Angels begin to sing?
Midnight comes. The Holy Virgin has been longing for this happy moment. Her heart is suddenly overwhelmed with a delight, which is new even to Her. She falls into an ecstasy of love. As her Child will, one day, in his almighty power, rise
1 Is. ix. 2.
through the unmoved barrier of his Sepulchre; so now, as a sun-beam gleaming through purest crystal, he is born, and lies on the ground before her. With arms outstretched to embrace her, and smiling upon her-this is her first sight of her Son, who is Son also of the Eternal Father! She adores-takes him into her arms-presses him to her heart-swathes his infant limbs and lays him down in the manger. Her faithful Joseph unites his adoration with hers; and so, too, do the Angels of heaven, for, the Royal Psalmist had sung this prophecy of their adoring him on his entrance into the world.1 Heaven opens over this spot of earth, which men call a Stable; and from it there mount to the Throne of the Eternal Father, the first prayer, the first tear, the first sob, of this his Son, our Jesus, who thus begins to prepare the world's salvation.
The eyes of the faithful are now riveted on the Sanctuary, where the same Jesus is to be their Holy Sacrifice. The procession of the sacred Ministers has entered the Holy of Holies, and the Priest comes with them to the foot of the Altar. The Choir is singing its opening-canticle, the Introit; where we have our God himself speaking to his Son, and saying: This Day, have I begotten thee. Let the Nations rage, if they will, and be impatient of the yoke of this Babe of Bethlehem; he shall subdue them, and reign over them, for he is the Son of God.