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plan such a work, and only his infinite power accomplish it?

A Mother of God!—It is the mystery, whose fulfilment the world, without knowing it, was awaiting for four thousand years. It is the work, which, in God's eyes, was incomparably greater than that of the creation of a million new worlds, for such a creation would cost him nothing; he has but to speak, and all whatsoever he wills is made. But, that a creature should become Mother of God, he has had, not only to suspend the laws of nature by making a Virgin Mother, but also to put himself in a state of dependence upon the happy creature he chose for his Mother. He had to give her rights over himself, and contract the obligation of certain duties towards her. He had to make Her his Mother, and Himself her Son.

It follows from all this, that the blessings of the Incarnation, for which we are indebted to the love wherewith the Divine Word loved us, may and ought to be referred, though in an inferior degree, to Mary herself. If she be the Mother of God, it is because she consented to it, for God vouchsafed, not only to ask her consent, but, moreover, to make the coming of his Son into this world depend upon her giving it. As this his Son, the Eternal Word, spoke his Fiat over chaos, and the answer to his word was creation; so did Mary use the same word Fiat :—let it be done unto me,1 she said. God heard her word, and, immediately, the Son of God descended into her virginal womb. After God, then, it is to Mary, his ever Blessed Mother, that we are indebted for our Emmanuel.

The divine plan for the world's salvation included there being a Mother of God: and as heresy sought to deny the mystery of the Incarnation, it equally sought

1 St. Luke, i. 38.

to deny the glorious prerogative of Mary. Nestorius asserted, that Jesus was only man; Mary, consequently was not Mother of God, but merely Mother of a Man, called Jesus. This impious doctrine roused the indignation of the Catholic world. The East and West united in proclaiming, that Jesus was God and Man, in unity of Person; and that Mary, being his Mother, was, in strict truth, " Mother of God."1 This victory over Nestorianism was won at the Council of Ephesus. It was hailed by the Christians of those times with an enthusiasm of faith, which not only proved the tender love they had for the Mother of Jesus, but was sure to result in the setting up"of some solemn trophy, that would perpetuate the memory of the victory. It was then that began, in both the Greek and Latin Churches, the pious custom of uniting, during Christmas, the veneration due to the Mother with the supreme worship given to the Son. The day assigned for the united commemoration varied in the several countries, but the sentiment of religion, which suggested the Feast, was one and the same throughout the entire Church.

The holy Pope Xystus 3rd ordered an immense Mosaic to be worked into the Chancel-Arch of the Church of St. Mary Major, in Rome, as a monument to the holy Mother of God. The Mosaic still exists, bearing testimony as to what was the faith held in the Fifth Century. It represents the various Scriptural types of our Lady, and the inscription of the holy

Episcopus Plebi Dei, (Xystus Bishop to the People of God:) for the Saint had dedicated to the Faithful this his offering to Mary, the Mother of God.

Special Chants were also composed at Rome for the celebration of the great mystery of the Word made Man through Mary. Sublime Responsories

1 "Deipara," "0tor6icos," are the respective Latin and Greek terms.


and Antiphons, accompanied by appropriate music, were written to serve the Church and her children as the expression of their faith, and they are the ones we now use. The Greek Church makes use of some of these very Antiphons for the Christmas Solemnity; so that, with regard to the mystery of the Incarnation, there is not only unity of faith, there is also oneness of devotional sentiment.


The First Vespers of the Circumcision are made peculiarly solemn by the chanting of the five venerable Antiphons, to which we have just alluded. The Psalms are those which are sung at the Vespers of the Feasts of our Lady.

The just of these Psalms celebrates the Kingly character, the Priesthood, and the sovereign Judgeship of our Emmanuel, and implies, consequently, the wonderful dignity of Her who gave him Birth. The second contains the praise of God, who exalts the humble, and gives the joys of maternity where nature has refused them; it announces, with an air of triumph, the glories and the maternity of Mary, Mother of God, and Mother of men. The last three Psalms chant the praises of Jerusalem, the City of God—the symbol of Mary, who is The City of God.

Ant. O admirabile com- Ant. O admirable Inter

mercium! Creator generis change! The Creator of

humani animatum corpus mankind, assuming a living

sumens, de Virgine nasci Body, deigned to be born of a

dignatus est; et procedens Virgin; and, becoming Man

homo sine semine, largitus without man's aid, bestowed

est nobis suam deitatem. on us his Divinity.

Psalm 109.

Dixit Dominus Domino The Lord said to my Lord, meo : * Sede a dextris meis. his Son: Sit thou at my right

hand, and reign with me.

Until, on the day of thy last coming, I make thy enemies thy footstool .

O Christ! the Lord, thy Father, will send forth the sceptre of thy power out of Sion : from thence rule thou in the midst of thy enemies.

With thee is the principallity in the day of thy strength, in the brightness of the Saints, for the Father hath said to thee: From the womb,bef ore the day-star, I begot thee.

The Lord hath sworn, and he will not repent: he hath said, speaking of theeAhe GodMan: Thou art a Priest for ever, according to the order of Melchisedech.

Therefore, O Father! the Lord, thy Son, is at thy right hand : he hath broken kings, in the day of his wrath.

He shall, also, judge among nations; he shall fill the ruins of the world: he shall crush the heads in the land of many.

He cometh now in humility; he shall drink, in the way, of the torrent of sufferings: therefore, shall he lift up the head.

Ant. O admirable Interchange! The Creator of mankind, assuming a living Body, deigned to be born of a Virgin, and, becoming Man without man's aid, bestowed on us his Divinity. •

Ant. When thou wast born ineffably of the Virgin, the Scriptures were fulfilled. As dew upon Gedeon's Fleece, thou earnest down to save mankind. O Lord our God! we praise thee.

Donee ponam inimicos tuos : * scabellum pedum tuorum.

Virgam virtutis tuae emittet Dominus ex Sion : * doininare in medio inimicornm tuorum.

Tecum principium in die virtutis tuas, in splendoribus sanctorum : * ex utero ante luciferum genui te.

Juravit Dominus, et non pcenitebit eum: * Tu es sacerdos in aeternum secundum ordinem Melchisedech.

Dominus a dextris tuis :* confregit in die irae suae reges.

Judicabit in nationibus, implebit ruinas, * conquassabit capita in terra multorum.

De terrente in via bibet: * propterea exaltabit caput.

Ant. O admirabile commercium! Creator generis humani animatum corpus sumens, de Virgine nasci dignatus est: et procedens homo sine semine, largitus est nobis suam deitatem.

Ant. Quando natus es ineffabiliter ex Virgine, tunc impletae sunt Scripture ; sicut pluvia in vellus descendisti, ut salvum faceres genus humanum: te laudamus, Deus noster.

LaudatepueriDominum: * laudate nomen Domini .

Sit nomen Domini benedictum : * ex hoc nunc et usque in saeculum.

A solis ortu usque ad occasum: * laudabile nomen Domini .

Excelsus super omnesgentes Do minus: * et super codes gloria ejus.

Quis sicut Dominus Deus noster qui in altis habitat: * et humilia respicit in coelo et in terra?

Suscitans a terra inopem: * et de stercore erigens pauperem.

Ut collocet eum cum principibus : * cum principibus populi sui.

Qui habitare facit sterilem in domo: * matrem filiorum laetantem.

Ant. Quando natus es ineffabiliter ex Virgine, tunc impletae sunt Scripturae; sicut pluvia in vellus descendisti, ut salvum faceres genus humanum: te laudamus, Deus noster.

Ant. Rubum, quem viderat Moyses incombustum, conservatam agnovimus tuam laudabilem virginitatem: Dei Genitrix, intercede pro nobis.

tt 112.

Praise the Lord, ye children:

£raise ye the name of the lord.

Blessed be the name of the Lord: from henceforth, now, and for ever.

From the rising of the sun, unto the going down of the same, the name of the Lord is worthy of praise.

The Lord is high, above all nations; and his glory above the heavens.

Who is as the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high: and looketh down on the low things in heaven and in earth? Nay, not content with this, he deigns to come down among us.

Raising up, from his divine Crib, the needy, and lifting up the poor out of the dunghill.

That he may place him with princes : with the princes of his people.

Who maketh a barren woman to dwell in a house, the joyful mother of children.

Ant. When thou wast born ineffably of the Virgin, the Scriptures were fulfilled. As dew upon Gedeon's Fleece, thou earnest down to save mankind. O Lord oilr God! we praise thee.

Ant. In the bush seen by Moses as burning yet unconsumed, we recognise the preservation of thy glorious Virginity. 0 Mother of God intercede for us.

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