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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, 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
i 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 Pontiff is still legible in its bold letters : XYSTUS 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,"
“EOTókos,” are the respective Latin and Greek
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.
FIRST VESPERS. 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 first 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 Intermercium! 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 Donec ponam inimicos coming, I make thy enemies tuos : scabellum pedum thy footstool.
tuorum. Christ ! the Lord, thy Virgam virtutis tuæ emitFather, will send forth the tet Dominus ex Sion : * dosceptre of thy power out of minare in medio inimicorum Sion : from thence rule thou in tuorum. the midst of thy enemies.
With thee is the principa- Tecum principium in die lity in the
the day of thy virtutis tuæ, in splendoribus strength, in the brightness of sanctorum : ex utero ante the Saints, for the Father hath luciferum genui te. said to thee:
From the womb,before the day-star, I begot thee.
The Lord hath sworn, and Juravit Dominus, et non he will not repent : he hath pænitebit eum : said, speaking of thee, the God- sacerdos in æternum secunMan: Thou art a Priest for dum ordinem Melchisedech. ever, according to the order of Melchisedech.
Therefore, O Father! the Dominus a dextris tuis :* Lord, thy Son, is at thy right confregit in die iræ suæ hand': he hath broken kings, reges. in the day of his wrath.
He shall, also, judge Judicabit in nationibus, among nations; he shall fill implebit ruinas, conquasthe ruins of the world: he sabit capita in terra multoshall crush the heads in the rum. land of many.
He cometh now in humility; De terrente in via bibet : he shall drink, in the way, of * propterea exaltabit caput. the torrent of sufferings: therefore, shall he lift up the head.
ANT. O admirable Inter- Ant. O admirabile comchange! The Creator of man- mercium! Creator generis kind, assuming a living Body, humani animatum corpus deigned to be born of a Virgin, sumens, de Virgine nasci and, becoming Man without dignatus est : et procedens man's aid, bestowed on us his homo sine semine, largitus Divinity.
est nobis suam deitatem. ANT. When thou wast born ANT. Quando natus es ineffably of the Virgin, the ineffabiliter ex Virgine, Scriptures were fulfilled. As tunc impletæ sunt Scriptudew upon Gedeon's Fleece, ræ; sicut pluvia in vellus thou camest down to save man- descendisti, ut salvum facekind. O Lord our God! we res genus humanum: te praise thee.
laudamus, Deus noster.
Laudate pueri Dominum : Praise the Lord, ye children: * laudate nomen Domini. praise ye the name of the
Lord. Sit nomen Domini bene- Blessed be the name of the dictum : ex hoc nunc et Lord : from henceforth, now, usque in sæculum.
and for ever. Å solis ortu usque ad oc- From the rising of the sun, casum : laudabile nomen unto the going down of the Domini.
same, the name of the Lord is
worthy of praise. Excelsus super omnes gen
The Lord is high, above all tes Dominus : * et super nations; and his glory above coelos gloria ejus.
the heavens. Quis sicut Dominus Deus Who is as the Lord our God, noster qui in altis habitat: * who dwelleth on high : and et humilia respicit in coelo looketh down the low et in terra ?
things in heaven and in earth? Nay, not content with this, he
deigns to come down among Suscitans a terra inopem: Raising up, from his divine * et de stercore erigens pau- Crib, the needy, and lifting perem.
poor out of the dung
hill. Ut collocet eum cum prin- That he may place him with cipibus : * cum principibus princes : with the princes of populi sui.
his people. Qui habitare facit steri- Who maketh barren lem in domo : * matrem fi- woman to dwell in a house, liorum lætantem.
the joyful mother of child
ren. ANT. Quando natus es Ant. When thou wast born ineffabiliter ex Virgine, tunc ineffably of the Virgin, the impletæ sunt Scripturæ; Scriptures were fulfilled. As sicut pluvia in vellus des- dew upon Gedeon's Fleece, cendisti, ut salvum faceres thou camest down to savemangenus humanum : te lauda- kind. O Lord our God ! we mus, Deus noster.
praise thee. ANT. Rubum, quem vide- Ant. In the bush seen by rat Moyses incombustum, Moses as burning yet unconconservatam agnovimus sumed, we recognise the pretuam laudabilem virginita- servation of thy glorious tem: Dei Genitrix, inter- Virginity. O Mother of God cede pro nobis.
intercede for us.