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O pia lactantum pro
Christo certamina! Parvorum trucidantur millia: Membris ex teneris manant lactis flumina. Cives angelici veniunt obviam, Mira victoria, Vitae captat merita Turba candidissima. Te, Christe, petimus, mente devotissima, Nostra quivenisti reformare saecula, Innocentum gloria Perfrui nos concedas per a3 tenia. Amen.
O holy infant-combats fought for Christ.
The Babes lay slain in thousands, and from their tender limbs there flows a stream of sinless blood.
The citizens of heaven come forth to meet the snow-white troop, that takes the crown of Life, won by a singular victory.
We most devoutly beseech thee, O Jesus! who earnest to reform the world,
That thou grant us to enjoy, for everlasting ages, the glory of the Innocents.
And we, too, Blessed Babes! we celebrate your triumph, and we congratulate you in your having been chosen as the companions of Jesus when in his Crib. What a glad waking was yours, from the darkness of unconscious infancy to the divine light of life eternal! How dear to you the sword that thus transformed you! What gratitude had you not for the God, who thus chose you, out of millions of other children, to do honour to the birth of his Son, by this sacrifice of your blood and lives! Too young to fight the battle, yet did you win the crown. The Martyr's Palm waved in those tiny hands, which had not strength to pluck it. God would give proof of his munificence—he would teach us that he is Master of his gifts. And, was it not fitting, that the birth of the Son of this great King should be commemorated by largess such as this? Sweet Infant Martyrs! we give praise to our God for his having thus favoured you, and, with the whole Church, we rejoice in the privileges you have received.
Flowers of the Martyrs! we confide in your intercession, and beseech you, by the reward so gratuitously conferred on you, to be mindful of us your Brethren, who are struggling amidst the dangers of this sinful world. We, too, desire to receive those same Palms and Crowns, which you have won, but with such innocence and simplicity, that the Church says you played with them:1 whereas we have to fight hard and long for them, and are so often on the point of losing them for ever! The God that has glorified you, is our last end as truly as he is yours; in Him alone can our hearts find their rest; pray for us, that we may possess him for all eternity.
Pray for us, that we may obtain child-like simplicity of heart, whence comes that unreserved confidence in God, which leads man to the perfect accomplishment of his holy will. May we bear the cross with patience, when he sends it, and desire nothing but his holy will. You gazed upon the murderers who broke your gentle sleep, and you found nothing to make you fear; the bright sword they held over your cradle, had but the look of a toy you asked to play with; death stared you in the face, and you smiled on him. May we imitate you, and be meek and graceful in the trials that come to us; making them our martyrdom by the quiet endurance of our courage, and the conformity of our will with that of our Sovereign Lord and Master, who only gives the cross that he may give the crown. May we never object to or hate the instruments he uses wherewith to try us; may no harshness nor injustice nor pain ever quench the fire of our charity, nor any event ever deprive us of that peace, without which our souls live not to God.
And, lastly, 0 ye Innocent Lambs, slain for Jesus,
1 * * * Simplices
and following him whithersoever he goeth, because ye are pure—pray for us to the Lamb of God, that he permit us to come to him in Bethlehem, and, like you, fix our dwelling there, for it is the abode of love and innocence. Speak for us to Mary, a Mother more compassionate than Rachel; tell her that we are her Children, and your Brethren. She that compassionated your momentary sufferings, will pity us and help us in our long years of temptation, pain, and sorrow.
Three days have passed since the Birth of Jesus— let us visit him in the Stable, and humbly adore our Emmanuel. Let us think on the Mercy, which led him to become a Little Child in order to bring us near to himself: let us be filled with astonishment at seeing our God thus close to his creatures. "He," says the holy Abbot Guerric,1 "He that, in heaven, "surpasses the sublime intellects of the Angels, is "here on earth palpable to the dull sense of men. "For, whereas God could not speak to us as spiritual "beings—for we are carnal—his Word was made "Flesh, that all flesh might not only hear, but might "even see Him, whom the mouth of the Lord had "spoken.2 And whereas the world knew not the Wis"dom of God in his wisdom, that same wisdom, by "an ineffable condescension, made himself Foolish"ness.3 • * I give thee praise, 0 Father, Lord of "heaven and earth, for that thou hast hid this Wis"dom from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed "it to little ones.4 * » The haughtiness of the proud "is exceedingly adverse to the humility of this Little "One; and that which is high to men, is an abomi
1 Sermon the Fifth On the wonderful providence of God in the Nativity of Christ.
2 Is. xL 5. » I. Cor. L 25. « St. Matth. xl 25.
"nation before God.1 * * This Little One finds "sympathy with none save with them that are little "in heart, and he takes up his abode with none save "with them that are humble and peaceful. As, "therefore, these Little Children sing, glorying in "Him: A Little Child is born, unto us ;2 so does "He say of them: Behold Me and my Children, "whom the Lord hath given unto me !3 Thus it "was that the glory of Martyrdom began with In"nocent Babes; for the Father would give to his "Son, the Infant Jesus, Companions of his own "tender age; and hereby the Holy Ghost taught us, "that of such is the Kingdom of heaven."4
In honour of this Childhood of the Great King, let us recite the following admirable Hymn, composed by one of the most learned men of the primitive Church, Clement of Alexandria.
Curb of the young untamed Fraenum pullorum indoones — Wing that protectest cilium, chickens which keep nigh their Penna volucrum non erranmother—sure Rudder of in- tium, fant age—Shepherd of the Verus clavus infantium, King's lambs !—call together Pastor agnorum regalium, thy simple children, and bid Tuos simplices them praise with holy hearts, Pueros congrega, and sweetly sing with pure Ad sancte laudandum, lips, Jesus, the King of In- Sincere canendum, fants. Ore innoxio,
Christum puerorum ducem.
King of Saints—Incarnate Rex sanctorum, Word—that rulest all things— Verbum, qui domas omnia, Dispenser of the Most High, Patris altissimi the Father—support of them Sapientiae rector, that toil—j oy eternal —Saviour Laborum sustentaculum, of mankind—Jesus! Mvo gaudens,
Sis dux, ovium
Deum laudantium, Christe
Shepherd— Husbandman— Rudder—Curb — Wing celestial of the most holy flock— Fisher of the elect, drawing the chaste fish, by the bait of the sweet Bread of Life, from the boisterous sea of sin.
O Shepherd of the spiritual flock, be thou our Guide! Guide us, O Holy One,0 King of spotless Children ! The way to heaven, is to follow the footsteps of Christ.
O Eternal Word—Infinite duration — Light Eternal — Fount of mercy—Author of virtue—the Holy Life of them that praise God — Christ Jesus!
We thy little ones, whose infant mouths have drunk the milk of heaven, drawn from the sweet breasts of thy wisdom, grace's virgin-spring: filled with the dewy spirit of thy divine breast, we sing to Christ, the King, our simple praises, and our truthful hymns.
Let us together sing the holy recompense of the doctrine of Life! Let us together sing to the Almighty Babe! 0 choir of peace—O children of Christ—O wisdom-loving people—let us together praise the God of Peace!