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Quem pie laudant populi per orbem,
Hac die laetus meruit beatas Scandere sedes. Qui pius, prudens, humilis, pudicus, Sobriam duxit sine labe vitam,
Donee humanos animavit aurae Spiritus artus. Cujus ob praestans meritum, frequenter. Mgra, quae passim jacuere
membra, Viribus morbi domitis, saluti
Restituuntur. * Noster hinc ilk chorus obsequentem Concinit laudem, celebres
que palmas; Ut pus ejus precibus juvemur
Omne per aevum. Sit salus ilk, decus, atque virtus,
F super coek soko coruscans,
Totius mundi seriem gubernat,
Trinus et unus.
"ft. Amavit eum Dominus et ornavit eum.
B. Stolam gloriae induit eum.
throughout the world, devoutly celebrate, merited on this day to ascend in joy to the heavenly mansions.
As long as the present life kept him in this world, he was pious, prudent, humble, modest, sober, and irreproachable.
Such were his merits, that, oftentimes, they who were sick were restored to health, by his intercession, and the virulence of disease was conquered.
Therefore is it, that our choir sings willingly his praise and his palms; that so, by his prayers, we may be helped for all eternity.
To him, the Tri-une God, that shineth on his heavenly throne, and governs the universal world—be salvation, honour, and power!
The Lord loved him and adorned him.
B. And hath clothed him with a robe of glory.
Almighty God; that the vene- tens Deus, ut beati Silvestri,
rable Solemnity of blessed Confessoris tui atque Pon
Sylvester, thy Confessor and tificis, veneranda solemnitas
Bishop, may improve our et devotionem nobis augeat
devotion, and strengthen in et salutem. Per Dominum. us the hopes of salvation. Through, dec.
Commemoration of the Sunday.
Ant. The Child Jesus ad- Ant. Puer Jesus proficie
vanced in age and wisdom bat aetate et sapientia coram
with God and men. Deo et hominibus.
The Prayer, as in page 376.
Commemoration of Christmas Day.
Commemoration of St. Thomas of Canterbury.
On this the sixth day since the Birth of our Emmanuel, let us consider how the Divine Infant lies in the Crib of a Stable, and is warmed by the breath of the Ox and the Ass, as Isaias had foretold: The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib; but Israel hath not known me.1 Thus does the great God enter that world, which his own hands have created! The dwellings of men are refused him, for man has a hard heart for his God, and an indifference which is a real contempt. The only shelter he can find to be born in, is a Stable; and that necessitates his coming into the world in the company of poor dumb brutes.
1 Is. i. 3.
At all events, these animals are his own work. When he created the irrational world of living things, he subjected it, as the inferior part of creation, to Man; and Man was to ennoble it, by referring it to the Creator. When Adam sinned, this subjection, this harmony, was broken. The Apostle teaches us, that the brute creation is not insensible to the degradation thus forced upon it by sinful Man.1 It obeys him with reluctance; it not unfrequently rebels against and deservedly punishes him; and on the day of judgment, it will take the side of its Creator, and avenge itself of that wickedness, of which Man has made it the unwilling instrument.2
In the mystery of his Birth, the Son of God visits this part of his creation; men refused to receive him, and he accepts the hospitality of the dwelling of brutes. It is from their dwelling that he begins the divine career of the Three-and-Thirty years. The first human beings he invites into the company of his blessed Mother and his dear St. Joseph, the first he admits into the Stable to see and adore himself, are Shepherds, who were busy watching their flocks, and whose simple hearts have not been corrupted by the atmosphere of cities.
The Ox—which, as we learn from Ezechiel3 and St. John,4 is one of the symbolic creatures standing round God's throne—is the figure of the sacrifices of the Old Law. The blood of oxen has flowed in torrents upon the altar of the Temple: it was the imperfect and material offering prescribed to be made to God, until he should send the True Victim. The Infant Jesus, who lies in the Crib, is that Victim, and St. Paul tells us what he says to his Eternal Father: Sacrifices, and Oblations, and Holocausts for sin, thou wouldst not have, neither are they pleasing to thee; behold, I come P
1 Rom. viii. 19, 20. « Ezech. i. 10. • Heb. x. 8, 9.
The Prophet Zachary,1 foretelling the peaceful triumph of the Meek King, says that he will make his entry into Sion riding upon an Ass. We shall assist, further on in the year, at the accomplishment of this prophecy. Now that we are at Bethlehem, in our Christmas mystery, let us observe how the heavenly Father places his Divine Son between the instrument of his peaceful triumph, and the symbol of his Sacrifice on Calvary.
Ah! dear Jesus! Creator of heaven and earth— how strange is this thy entrance into thine own world! The whole universe should have given thee a welcome of love and adoration—and yet, what motionless indifference! Not one house to take thee in! Men buried in sleep! And when Mary had placed thee in the Crib, thy first sight was that of two poor animals, the slaves of him who proudly rejected thee! Yet, this sight did not displease thee —for, thou dost not despise the work of thy hands. What afflicts thy loving Heart, is the presence of sin in our souls, the sight of that enemy of thine, which has so often caused thee to suffer. Oh! hateful sin! we renounce it, and wish, dear Jesus, to acknowledge thee for our Lord and Master, as did the Ox and the Ass. We will unite in that hymn of praise, which creation is ever sending up to thee, by henceforth adding to it the homage of our adoration and gratitude; nay, we will lend speech to nature, and give it soul, and sanctify it, by referring all creatures to thy service.
The following Prose is the composition of Adam of Saint-Victor, and is one of the most mystical of the Sequences in the Missals of the Middle-Ages. It will serve us as a further tribute of praise to the Divine Infant.
1 Zach. ix. 9, quoted by St. Matth. xxi. 5.
Splendor Patris et figura,
Potestate, non natura,
Tandem laetus, Novum promat canticum;
Et captivus, Prodeat in publicum.
Vitae fructum Virgo gaudens edidit.
Nec sigillum, Propter ilium, Castitatis perdidit.
Si crystallus sit humecta, Atque soli sit objecta, Scintillat igniculum:
Nec crystallus rumpitur, Nec in partu solvitur Pudoris signaculum.
Super tali genitura, Stupet usus et natura, Deficitque ratio.
Res est ineffabilis:
Virga profert, et pudica
He that is the brightness of the Father, and his figure, taking to himself the likeness and nature of man,
Gave fruitfulness to the Virgin, who became Mother, not by nature, but by his divine power.
The old Adam is at length made glad, and may sing a new canticle;
And he that was a fugitive and captive, may now come before the world.
Eve brought forth sadness to mankind; Mary, the glad Virgin, brought forth the Fruit of Life.
Neither did she thereby lose the treasure of virginity.
Hold a dew-wet crystal up to the sun ; the spark glitters through,
Yet breaks not the crystal: so in the Birth of Jesus, it injured naught of the Mother's purity.
Law and Nature stood wondering at that divine Birth, and reason was confounded.
Yea, the Birth of Christ is an ineffable mystery—so full of love, and so humble!
Aaron's sapless Branch yields leaf and flower and almond: so does the chaste Virgin her Child, the Son of God.
Gedeon's Fleece bears the dew from heaven; the creature bears the creature's ransom—the Creator.
The Leaf and Flower, the Almond and the Dew, are