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thou didst render was against thine own interests. O Pastor! who, after the example of Jesus the Good Shepherd, didst shed thy blood for the deliverance of thy flock ! we venerate thee, because the enemies of the Church insulted thee; we love thee, because they hated thee; and we humbly ask thee to pardon them that have been ashamed of thee, and have wished that thy Martyrdom had never been written in the History of the Church, because they could not understand it!
How great is thy glory, O faithful Pontiff! in being chosen, together with Stephen, John, and the Innocents, to attend on the Infant Jesus in the stable of Bethlehem! Thou didst enter on the battle-field at the eleventh hour; and far from being, on that account, deprived of the reward granted to the earliest of thy brother-combatants, thou art great even amongst the Martyrs. How dear must thou not be to the Divine Babe, whose Birth-Day we are keeping, and who came into the world that he might be the King of Martyrs! What will he refuse to his grand Martyr of Canterbury? Then, pray for us, and gain us admission into Bethlehem. Our ambition is to love the Church, as thou didst—that dear Church, for love of which, Jesus has come down upon the earth—that sweet Church our Mother, who is now unfolding to us such heavenly consolations, by the celebration of the great Mysteries of Christmas, with which thy name is now inseparably associated. Get us, by thy prayers, the grace of Fortitude, that so we may courageously go through any suffering, and make any sacrifice, rather than dishonour our proud title of Catholic.
Speak for us to the Infant Jesus—to Him that is to bear the Cross upon his shoulders, as the insignia of his government1—and tell him that we are resolved,
by the assistance of his grace, never to be ashamed of his cause, or its defenders; that, full of filial simple love for the Holy Church, which he has given us to be our Mother, we will ever put her interests above all others; for, she alone has the words of eternal life, she alone has the power and the authority to lead men to that better world, which is our last end, and passes not away, as do the things of this world; for, everything in this world is but vanity, illusion, and, more frequently than not, obstacles to the only real happiness of mankind.
But, in order that this Holy Church of God may fulfil her mission, and avoid the snares, which are being laid for her along the whole road of her earthly pilgrimage—she has need, above all things else, of Pastors like thee, O Holy Martyr of Christ! Pray, therefore, the Lord of the vineyard, that he send her labourers, who will not only plant, and water what they plant, but will also defend her from those enemies that are at all times seeking to enter in and lay waste, and whose character is marked by the sacred Scripture, where she calls them, the wild hoar1 and the fox? May the voice of thy blood cry out more suppliantly than ever to God, for, in these days of anarchy, the Church of Christ is treated in many lands as the creature and slave of the State.
Pray for thine own dear England, which, three hundred years ago, made shipwreck of the faith through the apostacy of so many Prelates, who submitted to those usurpations, which thou didst resist even unto blood. Now that the Faith is reviving in her midst, stretch out thy helping hand to her, and thus avenge the outrages offered to thy venerable name, by thy country, when she—the once fair Island of Saints—was sinking into the abyss of heresy. Pray also for the Church of France, for she
1 Ps. lxxix. 14. * Cant. ii. 15.
harboured thee in thy exile, and, in times past, was fervent in her devotion to thee. Obtain for her Bishops the spirit that animated thee; arm them with episcopal courage, and, like thee, they will save the Liberty of the Church. Wheresoever, and in what way soever, this sacred Liberty is trampled on or threatened, do thou be its deliverer and guardian, and, by thy prayers and thine example, win victory for the Spouse of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Our new-born King is five days old to-day! Let us contemplate him seated on his Throne. The Holy Scriptures tell us,1 that our God sitteth upon the Cherubim, in heaven: and that, under the old and Figurative Law, he chose for his throne, on earth, the Ark of the Covenant.2 Blessed be his name, for thus revealing to us the mystery of his Throne! But, beyond this, the Psalmist told us of another place where God rested. Adore, said he, the footstool of his feet? The adoration here commanded to be paid, not to God himself, but to the resting-place of his Divine Majesty, seems to contrast with so many other passages of the Sacred Volume, wherein God commands us to adore only himself. But, as the Holy Fathers observe, the mystery is now explained. The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Word, the Son of God, has assumed our human nature; he has united it, in unity of Person, to his Divine Nature; and he commands us to adore this his Humanity, this Body and Soul which are like our own, this Throne of his Majesty, in a word, this ineffably holy Footstool of his Feet
But this Humanity itself has its Throne. The Blessed Mother, Mary, raises the Divine Infant from
1 Is. xxxvii. 16, and frequently elsewhere.
2 JExod. xxv. 22. 3 Pa. xcviii. 5.
the Crib; she presses him to her heart; she places him on her knees—it is our God, the Emmanuel, throned, but with such love and majesty! on the Ark of the New Covenant. How far is the glory of Mary above that of the other living Throne formed to the Eternal Word by the trembling wings of Cherubim! And the Ark of Moses, made of corruptible wood, covered with plates of gold, holding within it the Manna and the Rod of Aaron and the very Tables of the Law—is it not a figure that pales in the presence of the holiness and the dignity of the Mother of God?
How adorable art thou on this Throne, O Jesus! and how amiable and easy of approach! Those tiny hands stretched out to sinners, and the smile of Mary, the Living Throne—both bid us go near. Oh! the happiness of being subjects of a King, so great and yet so endearing! Mary is the Seat of Wisdom, because thou, O Wisdom of the Father! art reposing on her. Reign there for ever, sweet Jesus! be thou our King, and Lord, and rule us in thy comeliness, and beauty, and meekness I1 We are thy subjects, and we offer thee our adoring loyalty and love; and to Mary, the Queen thou hast given us, we promise the homage of our best devotion!
We will celebrate the Birth of our Divine King to-day, in the words used by the Greek Church in her Office of Christmas Day.
Nato Domino Jesu ex All things were made light,
sacra Virgine, lucida facta when Jesus our Lord was born
sunt omnia; pastoribus of the Holy Virgin; for, the
enim de nocte vigilantibus, Shepherds watched at night,
Magis adorantibus, Angelis the Magi adored, the Angels
hymnificantibus, Herodes sang hymns, Herod was trou
turbabatur, quia Deus in bled, because God, the Saviour
carne apparuit Salvator ani- of our souls, had appeared. marum nostrarum.
1 Pa. xliv. 5.
Thy Kingdom, O Christ our God! is a Kingdom of all ages, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations. The Light hath shone, He that was made flesh by the Holy Ghost, and was made Man of the ever Blessed Virgin Mary. Thy coming, O Jesus, Light of Light, Brightness of the Father, hath gladdened every creature. Every spirit hath given praise to thee the image of the Father's glory; who art, and who wast before all ages, and hast shone forth from the Virgin; 0 God! have mercy on us.
What shall we offer unto thee, O Jesus! for that thou, for our sakes, hast been seen on earth as Man t For, every creature is subject to thee, and rendereth thee thanks: the Angels give thee their hymns; the heavens the Star, the Magi their gifts, the Shepherds their admiration, the earth a Cave, solitude a Crib, and we, we give thee thy Virgin Mother. 0 God, that wast before all ages! have mercy on us.
Duringthe reign of Augustus on this earth, the various other kingdoms ceased; and when thou, O Jesus, wast made Man from thy Virginal Mother, thine own dear Lamb, the idolatrous religion of many gods was sapped. As the cities of the world were confederated under one Kingdom; so were all nations brought to the obedience of faith in one God. People were enrolled by the decree of Caesar; and we,
Regnum tuum, Christe
Deus, regnum omnium Me- culorum, et dominatio tua in omni generatione et generationem. Qui caro factus est ex Spiritu Sancto et homo factus ex Maria semper virgine, lumen illuxit. Tuus adventus, Christe Deus, lumen de lumine, Patris splendor, omnem creaturam exhilaravit. Omnis spiritus laudavit characterem gloriae Patris; qui es et ante f uisti, et illuxisti ex virgine, Deus, miserere nobis.
Quid tibi offeremus, Christe, quia visas es super terram sicut homo pro nobis ] Quaelibet enim creaturarum tibi submissarum ad te profert gratiarum actionem: Angeli hymnum, coeli stellam, magi dona, pastores admirationem, terra speluncam, solitudo praesepium, nos vero matrem virgmem: qui es ante saecula, Deus, miserere nobis.
Regnante Augusto super terram, hominum cessata est polyarchia, et te homine facto ex agna, idolorum debilitata est polytheia: sub uno mundano civitates factae sunt regno, et in unam dominationem divinitatis gentes f crediderunt. Inscripti sunt populi decreto Caesaris, inscripti sumus fideles sub divinitatis nomine, te homine facto, Deus noster. Magna tua mise