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Ab æterno vas provisum, Vessel predestined from Vas insigne, vas excisum eternity, Vessel of singular Manu Sapientiæ.

beauty, Vessel formed by the

hand of the All-Wise One. Salve Verbi sacra Parens, Hail, holy Mother of the Flos de spinis, spina ca- Word! the Flower that grew rens,

midst thorns, thyself the thornFlos spineti gratia.

less Flower, that decked the

thorny Earth. Nos spinetum, nos pec- The thorny earth are we, cati

bleeding from the prickly Spina sumus cruentati, thorns of sin : and thou, Oh! Sed tu spinæ nescia.

thou art free from thorns. Porta clausa, fons horto- Thou art the Gate of the rum,

sanctuary closed for the Prince. Cella custos unguentorum,

Thou art the Fountain of the Cella pigmentaria.

gardens, the Casket of sweet

ointments and perfumes. Cinnamomi calamum, Thy fragrance is sweeter Myrrham, thus et balsa- than that of Cinnamon, or mum,

Myrrh, or Frankincense, or Superas fragrantia.

aromatic Balm. Salve, decus virginum, Hail, Virgin of Virgins ! Mediatrix hominum,

Mediatrix of men ! Mother of Salutis puerpera.

the Jesus who saved us. Myrtus temperantiæ, Myrtle of temperance, Rose Rosa patientiæ,

of patience, Spikenard most Nardus odorifera.

fragrant! Tu convallis humilis, Vale of humility ! Soil most Terra non arabilis,

fruitful, though untilled ! Quæ fructum parturiit.

Flos campi, convallium Flower of the field ! matchSingulare lilium :

less Lily of the valley, that Christus ex te prodiit. broughtest forth Chrisť!

Tu coelestis paradisus, Heavenly Paradise ! CedarLibanusque non incisus, tree untouched, yet breathing Vaporans dulcedinem. forth such sweetness !

Tu candoris et decoris, Purity and beauty, sweetTu dulcoris et odoris ness and fragrance, are all in Habes plenitudinem. thee above measure.

Tu thronus es Solomonis, Thou art the Throne of SoCui nullus par in thronis, lomon, the throne rich above Arte vel materia.

all others in form and sub

stance. Ebur candens, castitatis, The whiteness of the Ivory Aurum fulvum, charitatis prefigures thy Chastity; the Præsignant mysteria. glittering Gold, thy Charity.

men.

The palm thou holdest is Palmam præfers singulalike no other : thou hast no

rem, equal among creatures on earth Nec in terris habes parem, or in heaven.

Nec in cæli curia. Thou art the glory of the Laus humani generis, human race, and art privileged Virtutum præ cæteris with virtues above Angels and Habens privilegia.

As the sun is brighter than Sol luna lucidior, the moon, and the moon is Et luna sideribus : brighter than the stars; so is Sic Maria dignior Mary exalted above all crea- Creaturis omnibus. tures.

The sun's light, which no Lux eclipsim nesciens eclipse quenches, is Mary's Virginis est castitas; virginal purity: the sun's un- Ardor indeficiens, failing heat, is her undying Immortalis charitas. charity.

Hail, Mother of Mercy ! Salve, mater pietatis, Thou art the noble dwelling Et totius Trinitatis of the blessed Trinity; Nobile triclinium.

But, for the majesty of the Verbi tamen incarnati Incarnate Word, thou didst Speciale majestati prepare a special sanctuary. Præparans hospitium.

O Mary, Star of the Sea ! O Maria, stella maris, Peerless Queen, set above all Dignitate singularis, the heavenly choirs !

Super omnes ordinaris

Ordines coelestium. Seated on thy lofty throne, In supremo sita poli, commend us to thy Son ; nor Nos assigna tuæ Proli, suffer our enemies to defeat Ne terrores, sive doli us by strength or craft. Nos supplantent hostium.

In the battle we are fight- In procinctu constituti, ing, may we be safely shielded Te tuente, simus tuti; by thy protection. Our Pervicacis et versuti enemy's obstinacy and skill Tuæ cedat vis virtuti, must needs yield to thy power, Dolus, providentiæ. and his treachery to thy watch

0 Jesu ! Word of the Jesu, Verbum summi PaEternal Father ! save us the tris, devoted servants of thy Mo- Serva servos tuæ Matris, ther. We are guilty, absolve Solve reos, salva gratis,

Save us by thy grace, and Et nos tuæ claritatis make us like to thee in the Configura gloriæ. brightness of thy glory. Amen.

ful care.

Amen.

us.

JANUARY 2.

THE OCTAVE OF SAINT STEPHEN,

THE FIRST MARTYR.

YESTERDAY, we finished the Octave of the Birth of Jesus; to-day, we shall finish the Octave of St. Stephen; but this, without losing sight, one moment, of the Divine Babe, whose Court is formed by Stephen, John the Beloved Disciple, the Holy Innocents, and St. Thomas of Canterbury. In five days, we shall see the Magi prostrate before the Crib of the newborn King; they are already on the way, and the Star is advancing towards Bethlehem. Let us spend the interval in reconsidering how great is the glory of our Emmanuel, in his having lavished such extraordinary favours on these Saints, whom he has chosen to be near him at his first coming into the world. Let us begin with Stephen, for this is the last day of the Octave dedicated to him by the Church. We must take leave of him now till the month of August, when we shall again meet him on the Feast of The Finding of his Relics.

In a Sermon, which was for a long time thought to have been written by St. Augustine, we find it mentioned, that St. Stephen was in the flower of his youth, when he was called, by the Apostles, to receive the sacred character of Deaconship. Six others were ordained Deacons with him; and these Seven, whose office was to minister at the Altar here below, represented the Seven Angels, whom St. John saw standing near the Altar in heaven. Stephen was appointed as the head of the Seven, and St. Irenæus, who lived in the second century, calls him the ArchDeacon.

The characteristic virtue of a Deacon is fidelity. Hence, he is entrusted with the care of the treasures of the Church, treasures, which consist not merely in the alms destined for the poor, but in that which is the most precious thing in heaven and earth the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, of which the Deacon is the minister, in virtue of his Order. For this reason, the Apostle St. Paul, in his first Epistle to Timothy, bids the Deacons hold the Mystery of Faith in a pure conscience.1

It was, therefore, more than an appropriate co-incidence, that the First of all the Martyrs was a Deacon, for Martyrdom is the great proof of fidelity, and fidelity is the official virtue of the Deaconate. This same truth is still more strongly impressed upon us by the fact, that the three, who stand pre-eminent amongst the Martyrs of Christ, are vested in the holy Dalmatic--the three glorious Deacons : Stephen, the glory of Jerusalem ; Laurence, the pride of Rome ; and Vincent, of whom Spain so justly boasts. The present holy season gives us Stephen, who has been gladdening us with his festal presence ever since Christmas Day, and Vincent, whose Feast falls on January 22nd. Laurence will come to us, with his rich waving Palm, in the sunny month of August; and Stephen, in the same month, will visit us, a second time, in the Feast of the Finding of his Relics.

With the intention of paying respect to the Holy Order of Deaconship in the person of its first representative, it is a custom in a great many Churches, on the Feast of St. Stephen, that Deacons should fulfil every office, which is not beyond their Order. For example, the Chanter yields his staff of office to a Deacon; the Choristers, who assist the Chanter, are also Deacons, vested in Dalmatics; and the Epistle of the Mass is sung by a Deacon, because it is the passage from the Acts of the Apostles, which relates the history of the holy Martyr's death.

1 1. Tim. iii. 9.

The institution of St. Stephen's Feast, and its being fixed on the day immediately following that of our Lord's Birth, are so ancient, that it is impossible to assign their date. The Apostolic Constitutions, which were compiled, at the latest, towards the close of the 3rd century, mention this Feast as already established, and that, too, on the morrow of Christmas Day. St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Asterius of Amasea, both of them earlier than the miraculous discovery of the Holy Deacon's Relics, have left us Homilies for the Feast of St. Stephen, in which they lay stress on the circumstance of its having the honour to be kept the very day after the solemnity of Christmas. With regard to its Octave, the institution is less ancient, though the date cannot be defined. Amalarius, who wrote in the 9th century, speaks of this Octave as already established, and Notker's Martyrology, compiled in the 10th century, makes express mention of it.

But, how comes it, that the Feast of a mere Deacon has been thus honoured, whilst almost all those of the Apostles have no Octave? The rule followed by the Church, in her Liturgy, is to give more or less solemnity to the Feasts of the Saints, according to the importance of the services they rendered to mankind. Thus it is, that the honour she pays

to St. Jerome, for example, who was only a Priest, is more marked than that she gives to a great number of holy Popes. It is her gratitude, which guides her in assigning to the Saints their respective rank in her Calendar, and the devotion of the Faithful to the saintly benefactors, whom she now venerates as

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