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Christ thy Son, our Lord ; Christum Filium tuum, who being, before all time, Dominum nostrum.
Qui born of thee, God the Father, ante tempus natus ex te, did, together with thee and Deo Patre, tecum pariter the Holy Ghost, create all et cum Spiritu Sancto seasons, and deigned himself condidit tempora, dignatus to be born in time, from the est nasci et ipse sub temwomb of the Virgin Mary. pore, utero virginis He, though the eternal One, Mariæ. Qui tamen established the fixed revolu- sit sempiternus, statutos tions of years, through which annorum discrevit recursus, this world runs its course, and per quos evolutus dedudivided the Year by regular ceretur hic mundus. Disand suitable changes of Sea- tinguens
certis sons, wherewith the Sun atque congruentibus vicisshould, in orderly variety, situdinibus temporum, quimark the round of the Year, bus sol certa cursus sui dias he ran the measured cicruit mensione anni orbem inof his course. For we, this confusa varietate distingueday, dedicate, by the gifts we ret. Illi etenim Deo vivo offer, the close of the past hodie et finem expleti anni, year, and the commencement et subsequentis initium of that which follows, unto oblatis muneribus dedicaHim, the living God, by whose mus ; per quem et decurmercy we have lived through sum annorum transegithe years gone bye, and are mus, et principium alteabout to commence the be- rius inchoamus. Hunc ginning of another. Since, igitur quia in annum therefore, a sacred devotion, ad supplicandum sancta wherein we all share, has this et communis fecit devoYear brought us together to tio convenire, tibi Deus invoke this thy Divine Son, Pater, simplices fundimus we pour out our humble pray- preces. Ut qui in nativiers unto thee, O God, the tate ejusdem Filii tui Father! that, whereas thou præsentis temporis currihast consecrated the present cula consecrasti, præbeas portion of the year by the nobis hunc annum habere Birth of this same thy Son- placabilem, et dies ejus in thou mayest vouchsafe to tua transigere servitute. make this year a happy one Terram quoque fructibus unto us, and to give us to reple, animas corporaque spend it in thy service. Fill, facitó morbis delictisque too, the earth with its fruits, carere.
Scandala remove, and deliver our souls and contere hostem, cohibe fabodies from sickness and mem, et omnes in commune
nocivorum casuum eventus sin. Take away scandal, dea nostris finibus procul feat our enemy, keep down exclude. Per Dominum famine, and drive far from our nostrum Jesum Christum. country all such events Amen.
would bring evil upon her. Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
THE CIRCUMCISION OF OUR LORD,
AND OCTAVE OF CHRISTMAS DAY.
OUR new-born King and Saviour is eight days old to-day; the Star, that guides the Magi, is advancing towards Bethlehem, and, five days hence, will be standing over the Stable where our Jesus is being nursed by his Mother. To-day, the Son of Man is to be circumcised; this first sacrifice of his innocent Flesh must honour the eighth day of his mortal life. To-day, also, a Name is to be given him—the Name will be Jesus, and it means Saviour. So that, Mysteries abound on this day: let us not pass one of them over, but honour them with all possible devotion and love.
But this Day is not exclusively devoted to the Circumcision of Jesus. The mystery of this Circumcision forms part of that other great mystery, the Incarnation and Infancy of our Saviour—a mystery on which the Church fixes her heart, not only during this Octave, but during the whole forty days of Christmas-Tide. Then, as regards our Lord's receiving the Name of Jesus, a special Feast, which we shall soon be keeping, is set apart in honour of it. There is another object, that shares the love and devotion of the Faithful, on this great Solemnity. This object is Mary, the Mother of God. The Church celebrates, to-day, the august prerogative of this divine Maternity, which was conferred on a mere creature, and which made her the co-operatrix with Jesus in the great work of man's salvation.
The holy Church of Rome used formerly to say two Masses on the first of January; one was for the Octave of Christmas Day, the other was in honour of Mary. She now unites the two intentions in one Sacrifice, in the same manner as, in the rest of this Day's Office, she unites together the acts of her adoration of the Son, and the expressions of her admiration for, and confidence in, the Mother.
The Greek Church does not wait for this Eighth Day, in order to pay her tribute of homage to Her, who has given us our Emmanuel. She consecrates to Mary the first Day after Christmas, that is, the 26th December, and calls it the Synaxis of the Mother of God, making the two Days one continued Feast. She is thus obliged to defer the Feast of St. Stephen to the 27th December.
But it is to-day, that we, the children of the Roman Church, must pour forth all the love of our hearts for the Virgin-Mother, and rejoice with her in the exceeding happiness she feels at having given birth to her and our Lord. During Advent, we contemplated her as pregnant with the world's salvation ; we proclaimed the glory of that Ark of the New Covenant, whose chaste womb was the earthly paradise, chosen by the King of Ages for his dwelling-place. Now, she has brought him forth, the Infant-God; she adores him, Him who is her Son. She has the right to call him, her Child; and He, God as he is, calls her in strictest truth, his Mother.
Let us not be surprised, therefore, at the enthusiasm and profound respect, wherewith the Church extols the Blessed Virgin, and her prerogatives. Let us, on the contrary, be convinced, that all the praise the Church can give her, and all the devotion she can ever bear towards her, are far below what is due to her as Mother of the Incarnate God. No mortal will ever be able to describe, or even comprehend, how great a glory accrues to her from this sublime
dignity. For, as the glory of Mary comes from her being the Mother of God, one would have first to comprehend God himself, in order to measure the greatness of her dignity. It is to God, that Mary gave our human nature; it is God, whom she had as her Child; it is God, who gloried in rendering himself, inasmuch as he is Man, subject to her: hence, the true value of such a dignity, possessed by a mere creature, can only be appreciated, in proportion to our knowledge of the sovereign perfections of the great God, who thus deigns to make himself dependent upon
that favoured creature. Let us, therefore, bow down in deepest adoration before the Majesty of our God; let us, therefore, acknowledge that we cannot respect, as it deserves, the extraordinary dignity of Her, whom he chose for his Mother.
The same sublime Mystery overpowers the mind from another point of view—what were the feelings of such a Mother towards such a Son? The Child she holds in her arms, and presses to her heart, is the Fruit of her virginal womb, and she loves him as her own; she loves him because she is his Mother, and a Mother loves her child as herself, nay, more than herself —but, when she thinks upon the infinite
: majesty of Him, who has thus given himself to her to be the object of her love and her fond caressesshe trembles in her humility, and her soul has to turn, in order to bear up against the overwhelming truth, to the other thought of the nine months she held this Babe in her womb, and of the filial smile he gave her when her eyes first met his. These two deep-rooted feelings—of a creature that adores, and of a Mother that loves—are in Mary's heart. The being Mother of God implies all this :—and may we not well say, that no pure creature could be exalted more than she? and that in order to comprehend her dignity, we should first have to comprehend God himself ? and that only God's infinite wisdom could