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"who is born unto us, will not refuse to enter it, and "take his rest within it."1
To this Eternal Word, made Flesh for our salvation, let us offer up this Hymn of our great eccle-" siastical Poet, Prudentius.
Born from the bosom of the Father before the world began, his name is Alpha and Omega. He is the beginning and end of all things present, past, and future.
He commanded and they were created, he spoke and they were maae: earth, heaven, and sea—the triple kingdom— and all things that are in them, under the sun and moon.
He clothes himself with a frail Body, and with members subject to death; lest the human race, the offspring of Adam, should perish together with their first Parent, whom a terrible sentence had condemned to the depth of hell.
O that happy Birth, when a Virgin-Mother, having conceived of the Holy Ghost, brought forth the Child that was our salvation; and the Babe, the Redeemer of the world, showed unto us his divine Face!
Let high heaven sing, and sing all ye Angels! Let every living creature sing to the praise of God! Let every tongue proclaim it, and every
Corde natus ex parentis Ante mundi exordium A et 0 cognominatus: Ipse fons et clausula Omnium quae sunt, fuerunt, Quaeque post futura sunt.
Ipse jussit, et creata, Dixit ipse, et facta sunt; Terra, coelum, fossa ponti, Trina rerum machina, Quaeque in his vigent sub alto
Solis et lunae globo.
Corporis formam caduci, Membra morti obnoxia Induit, ne gens periret Primoplasti ex germine, Merserat quem lex prof undo Noxialis Tartaro.
O beatus ortus ille, Virgo cum puerpera Edidit nostram salutem, Foeta Sancto Spiritu, Et puer Redemptor orbis Os sacratum protulit.
Psallat altitudo cceli, Psallite, omnes Angeli, Quidquid est virtutis us
quam, Psallat in laudem Dei:
1 Fourth Sermon On our Lord's Nativity.
Nulla linguarum silescat,
Ecce quem vates vetustis
Te senes et te juventus, Parvulorum te chorus, Turba matrum, virginumque,
Fluminum lapsus, et undae
voice join in the hymn of praise.
Behold the Promised Messias, of whom sang the Seers in the ancient times, and whom the Prophets foretold in their truthful oracles! Praise be to him from every creature.
May the aged, and the young, and children, mothers, and virgins, and innocent maidens, sing to thee, O Jesus! and with concordant voice chastely hymn thy praise!
May the flowing river and the sea-shore wave, rain and heat, snow and frost, forest and zephyr, day and night, for ever and for ever give thee praise.
Let us now honour and invoke the ever Blessed and most Merciful Mother of our God, and use the words of this beautiful Hymn of the ancient RomanFrench Missals:
There, he is feeding the holy Angels with joy :—here, he is in hunger and thirst, from his cradle.
There, he holds all things in subjection:—here, he is in subjection to a Mother. There, he commands:—here, he obeys his Handmaid.
There, he is seated on the throne of highest majesty :— here, he is lying swathed and weeping in a manger.
Think on this, O man! and to thy memory recall these stupendous works of God's mercy.
And though thy sins be great, yet canst thou not despair, for the proofs thou seest here of Jesus' love speak but of pardon.
Thou wouldst have pardon 1 fly to the Mother for protection, for she holds on her lap the Infinite Fountain of Mercy.
Often bend thy knee before her, and, with hopeful love, salute her thus : Hail ! full of grace I
As thou, of old, didst feed thy Jesus, and stay his infant tears; so now, dear Mother, appease him angered by our sins.
Hear, O Jesus ! thy sweet Mother's prayers, and, with an eye of pity, look upon us sinners! Correct and change us, and make us worthy to be citizens of heaven. ]
Ibi sanctos reficit
Ibi regit omnia,
Ibi summi culminis
O homo! considera,
Non desperes veniam, Si multum deliqueris, Ubi tot insignia Charitatis videris.
Sub Matris refugio Fuge, causa veniae: Nam tenet in gremio Fontem indulgentiae.
Hanc salutes saepius Cum spei fiducia, Dicens, flexis genibus: Ave plena gratia.
Quondam flentis lacrymas Sedabas uberibus: Nunc iratum mitigas Pro nostris excessibus.
Jesu, lapsos respice, Piae Matris precibus; Emendatos office Dignos coeli civibus.
The feast of the beloved Disciple is followed by that of the Holy Innocents. The Crib of Jesus—where we have already met and venerated the Prince of Martyrs and the Eagle of Patmos—has to-day standing round it a lovely choir of little Children, clad in snow-white robes, and holding green branches in their hands. The Divine Babe smiles upon them— he is their King; and these Innocents are smiling upon the Church of God. Courage and Fidelity first led us to the Crib; Innocence now comes, and bids us tarry there.
Herod intended to include the Son of God amongst the murdered Babes of Bethlehem. The Daughters of Rachel wept over their little ones, and the land streamed with blood; but, the Tyrant's policy can do no more:—it cannot reach Jesus, and its whole plot ends in recruiting an immense army of Martyrs for heaven. These Children were not capable of knowing what an honour it was for them, to be made victims for the sake of the Saviour of the world; but, the very first instant after their immolation, and all was revealed to them: they had gone through this world without knowing it, and now that they know it, they possess an infinitely better. God showed here the riches of his mercy—he asks of them but a momentary suffering, and that over, they wake up in Abraham's Bosom: no further trial awaits them, they are in spotless innocence, and the glory due to a soldier who died to save the life of his Prince, belongs eternally to them.
They died for Jesus' sake—therefore, their death was a real Martyrdom, and the Church calls them by the beautiful name of The Flowers of the Martyrs, because of their tender age and their innocence. Justly, then, does the ecclesiastical Cycle bring them before us to-day, immediately after the two valiant Champions of Christ, Stephen and John. The connection of these three Feasts is thus admirably explained by St. Bernard: "In St. Stephen, we have "both the act and the desire of Martyrdom; in St. "John, we have but the desire; in the Holy Inno"cents, we have but the act. * * Will any one "doubt whether a crown was given to these Inno"cents? * » If you ask me what merit could "they have, that God should crown them? let me "ask you, what was the fault, for which Herod slew "them? What! is the mercy of Jesus less than the "cruelty of Herod? and whilst Herod could put "these Babes to death, who had done him no injury, "Jesus may not crown them for dying for Him?
"Stephen, therefore, is a Martyr, by a Martyrdom "of which men can judge, for he gave this evident "proof of his sufferings being felt and accepted, that, "at the very moment of his death, his solicitude, "both for his own soul and for those of his persecutors "increased; the pangs of his bodily passion were less "intense than the affection of his soul's compassion, "which made him weep more for their sins than for "his own wounds. John was a Martyr, by a Mar"tyrdom which only Angels could see, for the "proofs of his sacrifice being spiritual, only spiri"tual creatures could ken them. But, the Inno"cents were Martyrs to none other eye save thine, 0 "God! Man could find no merit; Angel could find "no merit: the extraordinary prerogative of thy "grace is the more boldly brought out. From the