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mystic emblems of our Sa- Pietati Salvatoris viour's love.
Congruunt mysteria. Jesus is the Leaf, that Frons est Christus, shades us ; the sweet Flower, Protegendo; that regales us; the Almond- Flos, dulcore ; Nut, that feeds us ; the Dew, Nux, pascendo : that' waters us with heavenly Ros, coelesti gratia. grace.
Why is it, that the Virgin's Cur quod Virgo peperit Delivery should be a stum- Est Judæis scandalum, bling-block to the Jews! Have Cum virga produxerit they forgotten the dry Branch Sicca sic amygdalum? of Aaron, how it bore the Almonds
Let us once more contem- Contemplemur adhuc nuplate the Almond-Nut; for, viewed in its true light, it is Nam prolata nux in lucem the mystic emblem of Him Lucis est mysterium. that is the Light.
It unites in itself three Trinam gerens unionem, things, and all three it gives Tria confert, unctionem, to man: unction, light, and Lumen et edulium. food.
Jesus is the Almond-Nut. Nux est Christus ; cortex The rind is the cross and pas
nucis, sion he endured in the Flesh : Circa carnem pæna crucis, the shell is his Body-his Testa, corpus osseum. Flesh and Bones.
The Divinity and the sweet- Carne tecta deitas, ness of Jesus, which are Et Christi suavitas sheathed within the Flesh, are
Signatur per nucleum. figured by the kernel.
Jesus is Light to the blind, Lux est cæcis, et unguenand unction to the sick, and tum soothing to holy souls. Christus ægris, et fomentum
Piis animalibus. O how sweet a Sacrament ! O quam dulce sacramenHe changes his Flesh, that lies tum ! as hay in the manger, into the Fonum carnis in frumenWheat of the Elect.
Convertit fidelibus. Give us, O Jesus ! whom Quos sub umbra Sacrathou now feedest with thyself menti, under the Sacramental veils, Jesu, pascis in præsenti, to be satiated with the sight Tuo vultu satia. of thy holy Face in heaven.
O Brightness of the Father, Splendor, Patri coæterne,
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? at ad ejus nuptias neminem pervenisse certum erat.
Jam si Matrem tuam mente intelligentiaque 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 tuæ 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 prærogativas habuit Maria: citra viri operam viscera
By what name, O Lord Jesus! shall we call Mary thy Mother? A Virgin? 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 camest 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 prole, lacte implevit ubera ; fed thee at her breasts, but te jubente, statim fons
a Virgin. It was thy lacteus erupit e terra sibidding, O Jesus! and at tiente. once, the purest Virgin was the perfect Mother.
She carries thee in her arms, Aspectu illo tuo magno and refreshed with the lovely recreata Mater te gestat, sight of her Jesus, she feels no nec tamen ipso gravatur weight. She gives thee food, onere ; cibum ministrat esufor thou didst will to hunger; rire volenti, porrigit pocushe gives thee drink, for thou lum tibi ipsi ultro scienti didst will to thirst. And sitim. Si illi amplexari te when she willed to press thee licuit, tua istud præstitit to her heart, thy love did benignitas, prunam ardentemper down the burning fire tem, ne pectus ejus exureof thine infinite perfection, ret, attemperans. that she might fondle thee and live.
POPE AND CONFESSOR,
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 Nicæa ; 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 'of Rufinus, was Ruffino, a prima ætate opebrought up, from childhood, ram dedit Cyrino presbyteby the priest Cyrinus. He ro, cujus doctrinam et mores
1 Is. ix 6.