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mystic emblems of our Saviour's love.
Jesus is the Leaf, that shades us ; the sweet Flower, that regales us; the AlmondNut, that feeds us; the Dew, that waters us with heavenly grace.
Why is it, that the Virgin's Delivery should be a stumbling-blocktotheJews? Have they forgotten the dry Branch of Aaron, how it bore the Almonds t
Let us once more contemplate the Almond-Nut; for, viewed in its true light, it is the mystic emblem of Him that is the Light.
It unites in itself three things, and all three it gives to man: unction, light, and food.
Jesus is the Almond-Nut. The rind is the cross and passion he endured in the Flesh: the shell is his Body—his Flesh and Bones.
The Divinity and the sweetness of Jesus, which are sheathed within the Flesh, are figured by the kernel.
Jesus is Light to the blind, and unction to the sick, and soothing to holy souls.
O how sweet a Sacrament! He changes his Flesh, that lies as hay in the manger, into the Wheat of the Elect.
Give us, O Jesus! whom thou now feedest with thyself under the Sacramental veils, to be satiated with the sight of thy holy Face in heaven.
0 Brightness of the Father,
Frons est Christus,
Cur quod Virgo peperit Est Judaeis scandalum, Cum virga produxerit Sicca sic amygdalum 1
Contemplemur adhuc nucem:
Nam prolata nux in lucem Lucis est mysterium.
Trinam gerens unionem, Tria confert, unctionem, Lumen et edulium.
Nux est Christus ; cortex nucis,
Circa carnem poena crucis, Testa, corpus osseum.
Carne tecta deltas, Et Christi suavitas
Signatur per nucleum.
Lux est caecis, et unguentum
Christus aegris, et f omentum Piis animalibus. 0 quam dulce sacramentum!
Fcenum carnis in frumentum
Convertit fidelibus. Quos sub umbra Sacramenti, Jesu, pascis in praesenti, Tuo vultu satia.
Splendor, Patri coaeterne,
Nos hinc transfer ad pa-
co-eternal with him! take us hence to the joys of thy Father's glory. Amen.
We borrow from the Syrian Church the following stanzas of one of its Hymns, written by her sublime Poet, St. Ephrem, the Deacon of Edessa.
Quis sciret quonam tuam, Domine, Genitricem nomine appellare deberet, nemo fuit: Virginemne diceret ] at ejus in oculis omnium prostabat natus: Nuptamne affirmaret 1 at ad ejus nuptias neminem pervenisse certum erat
Jam si Matrem tuam mente intelhgentiaque assequi nemo potest, quis te attingere se posse credat? Mater tua Maria sola est, si solam cogito, alioquin soror, si cum reliquis confundo feminis.
Facta tibi Mater est, et in communi sanctarum feminarum choro soror quoque et sponsa: video, ut omnibus illam decorasti modis, o matris tuae decus.
Sponsa tibi data est, antequam venires; venisti, teque concepit, et hoc supra naturam, sicut et illud, quod te peperit, et Virgo permansit.
Omnium nuptarum praerogativas habuit Maria: citra viri operam viscera
By what name, O Lord Jesus! shall we call Mary thy Mother? A Virgin 1 Yet, all eyes are on thee, her Son. Must we call her a Spouse? Yet, we know she was not such as men would call a Spouse.
And now if thy Mother exceed the mind and understanding of all men ;—who shall think himself able to reach Thee, O Jesus? Mary is thy Mother, if I think of her as she stands alone : if I think of her in what she has in common with other women, she is thy Sister.
Yea, she was made thy Mother; and she is, too, thy Sister and thy Spouse, in the company of other holy women. How truly art thou thy Mother's glory, who hast given her every kind of glory!
She was thy Spouse, before thou earnest into the world; and when thou didst come, she conceived thee in a supernatural way, and in the same did she give birth to thee, herself remaining a pure Virgin.
Mary had the prerogatives of other mothers, without their humiliations. She conceived thee, but was a Virgin; she fed thee at her breasts, but was a Virgin. It was thy bidding, O J esus! and at once, the purest Virgin was the perfect Mother.
She carries thee in her arms, and refreshed with the lovely sight of her Jesus, she feels no weight. She gives thee food, for thou didst will to hunger; she gives thee drink, for thou didst will to thirst. And when she willed to press thee to her heart, thy love did temper down the burning fire of thine infinite perfection, that she might fondle thee and live.
prole, lacte implevit libera; te jubente, statim fons lacteus erupit e terra sitiente.
Aspectu illo tuo magno recreata Mater te gestat, nec tamen ipso gravatur onere ; cibum ministrat esurire volenti, porrigit poculum tibi ipsi ultro scienti sitim. Si illi amplexari te licuit, tua istud praestitit benignitas, prunam ardentem, ne pectus ejus exureret, attemperans.
So far, the only ones we have seen standing round the Crib of our Jesus, have been Martyrs: Stephen, overwhelmed with the shower of stones; John, the Martyr in heart, who survived his fiery torture; the Holy Innocents, massacred by the sword; Thomas, murdered in his Cathedral;—these are the champions of Christ, who keep guard in the palace of Bethlehem. Yet, all Christians are not called to be Martyrs. Besides this countless battalion of the King's favourite soldiers, there are other troops of sainted heroes which form the heavenly army—and amongst these, there are the Confessors, who conquered the world, without shedding their blood in the combat. Though the place of honour in the service of the King, belongs to the Martyrs, yet did the Confessors fight manfully for the glory of his name and the spreading of his Kingdom. The palm is not in their hands, but they are crowned with the crown of justice, and Jesus, who gave it to them, has made it be part of his own glory that they should be near his throne.
The Church would therefore grace this glorious Christmas Octave with the name of one of her Children, who should represent, at Bethlehem, the whole class of her unmartyred Saints. She chose a Confessor—St. Sylvester: a Confessor who governed the Church of Rome, and, therefore, the universal Church; a Pontiff, whose reign was long and peaceful; a Servant of Jesus Christ adorned with every virtue, who was sent to edify and guide the world immediately after those fearful combats, that had lasted for three hundred years, and in which millions of Christians had gained victory by martyrdom, under the leadership of Thirty Popes—predecessors of St. Sylvester—and they, too, all Martyrs.
So that, Sylvester is messenger of the Peace, which Christ came to give to the world, and of which the Angels sang on Christmas Night. He is the friend of Constantine; he confirms the Council of Nicaea; he organises the discipline of the Church for the new era on which she is now entering—the era of Peace. His predecessors, in the See of Peter, imaged Jesus in his sufferings; Sylvester represented Jesus in his triumph. His appearance during this Octave reminds us, that the Divine Child who lies wrapt in swaddling-clothes, and. is the object of Herod's persecution, is, notwithstanding all these humiliations, the Prince of Peace, the Father of the world to come.1
Let us read the history of Sylvester's peaceful Pontificate, as related by the Church in her Breviary. The character of our work excludes purely critical discussions, and we, therefore, say nothing of the objections that have been raised against the Emperor Constantine's having received Baptism, in Rome, at the hands of St. Sylvester. It is sufficient for us to tell our readers, that the Roman tradition, regarding that event, has been adopted by the most learned men, such as Baronius, Schelstrate, Bianchini, Marangoni, Vignoli, &c.
Sylvester, a Roman by birth, Silvester Romanus, patre
and son of Rufinus, was Ruffino, a prima aetate ope
brought up, from childhood, ram dedit Cyrino presbyte
by the priest Cyrinus. He ro, cujus doctrinam et mores
1 Is. ix 6.