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If they will not believe their Prophets, let them believe the Sybils, who thus sang:
"Unhappy people, delay not, "believe, at least, the ancient "oracles! "Why wilt thou be "cast off, O wretched nation 1
"This is the Child, of whom "thy books tell thee: He is the "Son of a Virgin-Mother."
Si non suis vatibus, Credat vel gentilibus, Sibyllinis versibus Haec praedicta:
Infelix, propera, Crede vel vetera: Cur damnaberis, gens misera?
Quem docet littera Natum considera: Ipsum genuit puerpera.
The second Piece is a Sequence in honour of the most Holy Mother of God. It belongs to the 15th century. It is one of the many imitations of the Easter Sequence, Victimce Paschali, which are to he found in many of the Missals of the loth and 16th centuries.
Let the Christian people hymn their praises to the Virgin Mary.
Unhappy Eve was the cause of our ruin; but Mary brought forth a Son, who redeemed us sinners.
Death and life were thus strangely reconciled: there reigns, now, God, the Son of Mary.
Tell us, O Mary, Virgin most merciful and kind!
How thou, the creature of Him that was born of thee, didst become his Mother 1
The Angel is witness, that was sent to me from heaven.
He that is my hope was born of me his Mother: but the Jews will not believe.
Virgini Mariae laudes Intonent Christian!
Eva tristis abstulit;
Cum tu sis plasma
Credendum est magis soli^. - Faith must be had to Ga
Gabrieli Forti, briel, the Power of God, rather
Quam Judaeorum than to the perverse Jewish
Pravae cohorti. tribe.
Scimus Christum proces- We know that Christ was,
sisse in very truth, born of Mary:
Ex Maria were : do thou, her Son ! our King!
Tu nobis nate, have mercy on us.
December 26. SAINT STEPHEN, THE FIRST MARTYR.
St. Peter Damian thus begins his Sermon for this Feast:
"We are holding in our arms the Son of the "Virgin, and are honouring, with our caresses, this "our Infant God. The holy Virgin has led us to the "dear Crib. The most beautiful of the Daughters "of men has brought us to the most beautiful "among the Sons of men,1 and the Blessed among "women to Him that is Blessed above all. She "tell us * * that now the veils of prophecy are "drawn aside, and the counsel of God is accom"plished. * * Is there anything capable of dis"tracting us from this sweet Birth? On what else "shall we fix our eyes? * * Lo! whilst Jesus is "permitting us thus to caress him; whilst he is over"whelming us with the greatness of these mysteries, "and our hearts are riveted in admiration—there "comes before us Stephen, full of grace and forti"tude, doing great wonders and signs among the "people.2 Is it right, that we turn from our King, "to look on Stephen, his soldier? No—unless the "King himself bid us do so. This our King, who "is Son of the King, rises * * to assist at the "glorious combat of his servant. * * Let us go "with him, and contemplate this standard-bearer of "the Martyrs."
The Church gives us, in to-day's Office, this opening of a Sermon of St. Fulgentius for the Feast of St. Stephen: "Yesterday, we celebrated the temporal
1 Ps. xliv. 3. s Acts, vi. 8.
"Birth of our eternal King: to-day, we celebrate "the triumphant passion of his Soldier. Yesterday, "our King, having put on the garb of our flesh, came "from the sanctuary of his Mother's virginal womb, "and mercifully visited the earth : to-day, his Soldier, "quitting his earthly tabernacle, entered triumphantly "into heaven. Jesus, whilst still continuing to be "the eternal God, assumed to himself the lowly "raiment of flesh, and entered the battle-field of "this world: Stephen, laying aside the perishable "garment of the body, ascended to the palace of "heaven, there to reign for ever. Jesus descended "veiled in our flesh: Stephen ascended wreathed "with a martyr's laurels. Stephen ascended to "heaven amidst the shower of stones, because Jesus "had descended on earth midst the singing of "Angels. Yesterday, the holy Angels exultingly "sang, Glory be to God in the highest; to-day, they "joyously received Stephen into their company. * * "Yesterday, was Jesus wrapped, for our sakes, in "swaddling-clothes: to-day, was Stephen clothed "with the robe of immortal glory. Yesterday, a "narrow crib contained the Infant Jesus: to-day, "the immensity of the heavenly court received the "triumphant Stephen."
Thus does the sacred Liturgy blend the joy of our Lord's Nativity with the gladness she feels at the triumph of the first of her Martyrs. Nor will Stephen be the only one admitted to share the honours of this glorious Octave. After him, we shall have John, the Beloved Disciple; the Innocents of Bethlehem; Thomas, the Martyr of the Liberties of the Church; and Sylvester, the Pontiff of Peace. But, the place of honour amidst all who stand round the Crib of the new-born King, belongs to Stephen, the Proto-Martyr, who, as the Church sings of him, was "the first to pay back to the Saviour, the Death "suffered by the Saviour." It was just, that this honour should be shown to Martyrdom; for, Martyrdom is the Creature's testimony, and return to his Creator for all the favours bestowed on him: it is Man's testifying, even by shedding his blood, to the truths which God has revealed to the world.
In order to understand this, let us consider what is the plan of God, in the salvation he has given to man. The Son of God is sent to instruct mankind; he sows the seed of his divine word; and his works give testimony to his divinity. But, after his sacrifice on the cross, he again ascends to the right hand of his Father; so that his own testimony of himself has need of a second testimony, in order to its being received by them that have neither seen nor heard Jesus himself. Now, it is the Martyrs who are to provide this second testimony; and this they will do, not only by confessing Jesus with their lips, but by shedding their blood for him. The Church, then, is to be founded by the Word and the Blood of Jesus, the Son of God; but she will be upheld, she will continue throughout all ages, she will triumph over all obstacles, by the blood of her Martyrs, the members of Christ: this their blood will mingle with that of their Divine Head, and their sacrifice be united to his.
The Martyrs shall bear the closest resemblance to their Lord and King. They shall be, as he said, like lambs among wolves.1 The world shall be strong, and they shall be weak and defenceless: so much the grander will be the victory of the Martyrs, and the greater the glory of God who gives them to conquer. The Apostle tells us, that Christ crucified is the power and the wisdom of God ;2—the Martyrs, immolated, and yet conquerors of the world, will prove, and with a testimony which even the world itself will understand, that the Christ whom they