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That being delivered from the hand of our enemies, we may serve him, without fear.
In holiness and justice before him, all our days.
And thou, child, the Precursor of our Emmanuel, shalt be called the Prophet of the Most High: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways.
To give to his people the knowledge of the salvation brought them by the Messias, unto the remission of their sins.
Through the bowels of the mercy of our God, in which the Orient, from on high, hath visited us.
To enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death; to direct our feet into the way of peace.
Ant. Glory be to God in the highest; and, on earth, peace to men of good will, alleluia, alleluia.
Ut sine timore de manu inimicorum nostrorum liberati : * serviamus illi.
In sanctitate et justitia coram ipso ; * omnibus diebus nostris.
Et tu puer, Propheta Altissimi vocaberis : * praeibis enim ante faciem Domini parare vias ejus.
Ad dandam scientiam salutis plebi ejus : * in remissionem peccatorum eorum.
Per viscera misericordiae Dei nostri: * in quibus visitavit nos, Oriens ex alto.
Illuminare his qui in tenebris et in umbra mortis sedent: * ad dirigendos pedes nostros in viam pacis.
Ant. Gloria in excelsis Deo, et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis, alleluia, alleluia.
Grant, we beseech thee, 0 Concede, quaesumus, om
Almighty God, that we who nipotens Deus, ut nos Uni
groan under the old captivity geniti tui nova per carnein
of sin, may be freed there- Nativitas liberet, quos sub
from by the new Birth of peccati jugo vetusta servitus
thine Only Begotten Son. tenet. Per eumdem. Through the same, &c.
THE SECOND MASS,
MASS OF THE AURORA.
The Office of Lauds is finished: the Canticles of joy are ended, wherewith the Church thanks the. Eternal Father for his having made to rise upon us the divine Sun of Justice. It is time to offer up the second Sacrifice, or, as it is called, the Mass of the Aurora. In the first, the Church celebrated the temporal Birth of the Word according to the flesh. In this, she is going to honour the second Birth of the same Son of God;—a Birth full of grace and mercy;—that which is accomplished in the heart of the faithful Christian.
See, then, how, at this very hour, Shepherds are told by the Angels to go to Bethlehem, and how they hasten thither. With great eagerness they enter the Stable, which is scarcely large enough to hold them. Obedient to the warning received from heaven, they are come to see the Saviour, who, they have been told, has been born unto them. They find all things just as the Angels had said. Who could tell the joy of their hearts, and the simplicity of their faith? They are not surprised to find, in the midst of poverty greater even than their own, Him whose Birth has made the very Angels exult. They find no difficulty in acknowledging the wonderful mystery ; they adore, they love, the Babe that lies there before them. They are at once Christians, and the Christian Church begins in them; the mystery of a God humbled for man, finds faith in these humble souls. Herod will plot the death of this Babe; the Synagogue will rage; the Scribes and Doctors will league together against the Lord and his Christ; they will put this Saviour of Israel to death;—but, the faith of the Shepherds will not be shaken, and will find imitators in the wise and powerful ones of this world, who will come, at last, and bow down their reason to the Crib and the Cross.'
What is it that has come over these poor Shepherds? Christ has been born in their hearts; he dwells in them by faith and love. They are our Fathers in the Church. They are our Models. Let us imitate them, and invite the Divine Infant to come into our souls, which we will so prepare for him, as that he may find nothing to prevent his entering. It is for our sakes, also, that the Angels speak; it is to us, also, that they tell the glad tidings; for, the Mystery, that has this Night been accomplished, is too grand to have the pastoral slopes of Bethlehem for its limits.—In order to honour the silent coming of the Saviour into the souls of men, the Priest is preparing to go to the altar, and a second time offer the spotless Lamb to the Father, who hath sent him.
As the Shepherds fixed their eyes on the Crib, so let ours be on the Altar, where we are soon to behold the same Jesus, hidden under appearances, that are humbler even than the swathing-bands. These rustic swains enter into the Cave, not yet knowing Him, whom they are going to see; but their hearts are quite ready for the revelation. Suddenly, they see the Infant; and as they gaze upon him in speechless wondering, Jesus looks at them from his Crib, and smiles upon them:—they are changed men, full of light, and the Sun of Justice has made Day in their souls. It is to be the same with us: the words of the Prince of the Apostles are to be verified in us: the Light, that shineth in a dark place, has been our one desire and attention—now the Day will dawn, and the Day-Star arise in our hearts.1
1II. St. Pet . i. 19.
This long longed-for Aurora has come! The divine Orient has risen upon us, to set now no more; for, we are firmly resolved to keep from the night of sin, which his grace has destroyed. His mercy has made us to be children of light and children of the day} There must be no more sleep of death for us. We must watch in ceaseless vigilance, remembering how the Shepherds were keeping their watch, when the Angel came to speak to them, and Heaven opened over their heads. All the Chants of this Mass of the Aurora speak to us of the brightness of the Sun of Justice; they must be sweet to us, as is to captives, long buried in the cold darkness of their dungeon, the ray of that morning, which is to set them free. See, Christians, how this God of Light shines upon us from his Crib! The face of his Mother is lit up with the immense brightness, on which she looks with all the fixedness of her contemplating love; and Joseph, too, has the shining vivid on his features, which makes them more beautiful and venerable than we have ever seen them. Passing by the ungrateful Bethlehem, which deserves to be left in darkness—this same divine Light breaks upon the whole world beyond the Cave, and gradually enkindles within millions of hearts, a burning love for this glorious Sun of Justice, who delivers man from the labyrinth of his errors and passions, showing him, and giving him, the sublime end for which he was created.
In the very midst of her celebration of this mystery of the Birth of Jesus, the Church offers us another object of admiration and joy:—it is one of her own children. Whilst solemnising the divine Mystery of to-day's Feast, she commemorates, in this the second Mass, one of those glorious heroines, who preserved the Light of Christ within their souls, in
spite of all the attacks made to rob them of it. Her name is Anastasia. This holy Widow of Rome suffered martyrdom under the persecution of Dioclesian, and had the privilege of being thus born to eternal life, on the Birth-Day of that Jesus, for whom she suffered death.
She had been married to a Pagan of the name of Publius; himself also a Roman; who, being irritated against her on account of her great charities to the Christians, treated her with every sort of cruelty. She endured all with admirable patience; and when this heavy trial was removed from her by the death of her husband, she devoted herself to visiting and solacing the holy Confessors, who had been cast into the prisons of Rome, for the Faith. Being, at length, apprehended as a Christian, she was tied to a stake and burnt to death. Her Church, in Rome, which is built on the site where formerly stood her house, is the Station for this Second Mass. The Sovereign Pontiffs used formerly to say it here, and the ancient custom was observed, in our own times, by Pope Leo 12th.
How admirable is this delicate considerateness of our holy Mother the Church! Wishing to associate one of her Saints with the glory of this present Solemnity, on which the Virginity of Mary receives its triumphant recompense—it is a holy Widow, that is chosen for this signal honour; that it might hereby be shown, how the Married State, though inferior in merit and holiness to the State of Virginity, is not excluded from the blessings, which the Birth of the Son of Mary merited for the world. There was a Virgin, St. Eugenia, that might so well have been selected; for, she suffered a glorious martyrdom, under Galerian, on this same feast, and in the same City, as did the wife of Publius: but no—the preference is given to Anastasia, the Widow. This choice of the Church—which is dictated by her hea