The Liturgical Year
Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B.
THE NATIVITY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY.
Let us celebrate the Nativity of the Virgin Mary; let us adore her Son, Christ our Lord. (Invitatory of the Feast) Such is the invitation addressed to us to-day by the Church. Let us hearken to her call; let us enter into her overflowing joy. The Bridegroom is at hand, for his throne is now set up on earth; yet a little while, and he will appear in the diadem of our human nature, wherewith his Mother is to crown him on the day of the joy of his heart, and of ours. To-day, as on the glorious Assumption, the sacred Canticle is heard; (Lessons of the 1st Nocturn) but this time it belongs more to earth than to heaven.
Truly a better Paradise than the first is given us at this hour. Eden, fear no more that man will endeavour to enter thee; thy Cherubim may leave the gates and return to heaven. What are thy beautiful fruits to us, since we cannot touch them without dying? Death is now for those who will not eat of the fruit so soon to appear amid the flowers of the virgin earth to which our God has led us.
Hail, new world, far surpassing in magnificence the first creation! Hail blessed haven, where we find a calm after so many storms! Aurora dawns; the rainbow glitters in the heavens; the dove comes forth; the ark rests upon the earth, offering new destinies to the world. The haven, the aurora, the rainbow, the dove, the ark of salvation, the Paradise of the heavenly Adam, the creation whereof the former was but a shadow: all this art thou, sweet infant, in whom already dwell all grace, all truth, all life.
Thou art the little cloud, which the father of prophets in the suppliant anguish of his soul awaited; and thou bringest refreshment to the parched earth. Under the weakness of thy fragile form, appears the Mother of fair love and. of holy hope. Thou art that other light cloud of exquisite fragrance, which our desert sends up to heaven. In the incomparable humility of thy soul, which knows not itself, the Angels, standing like armed warriors around thy cradle, recognise their Queen.
O Tower of the true David; citadel withstanding the first shock of Satan’s attack, and breaking all his power; true Sion, founded on the holy mountains, the highest summits of virtue; temple and palace, feebly foreshadowed by those of Solomon ; house built by Eternal Wisdom for herself: the faultless lines of thy fair architecture were planned from all eternity. Together with Emmanuel, who predestined thee for his home of delights, thou art thyself, O blessed child, the crowning point of creation, the divine ideal fully realised on earth.
Let us, then, understand the Church, when, even on this day, she proclaims thy divine maternity, and unites in her chants of praise the birth of Emmanuel and thine own. He who, being Son of God by essence, willed to be also Son of man, had, before all other designs, decreed that he would have a Mother. Such, consequently, was the primordial, absolute character of that title of mother, that, in the eternal decree, it was one with the very being of the chosen creature, the motive and cause of her existence, as well as the source of all her perfections natural and supernatural. We too, then, must recognise thee as Mother, even from thy very cradle, and must celebrate thy birthday by adoring thy Son our Lord.
Inasmuch as it embraces all the brethren of the Man-God, thy blessed maternity sheds its rays upon all time, both before and after this happy day. God is our king before ages: he hath wrought salvation in the midst of the earth. (Psalm 73:12) “The midst of the earth,” says the Abbot of Clairvaux, “admirably represents Mary. Mary is the centre of the universe, the ark of God, the cause of creation, the business of ages. Towards her turn the inhabitants of heaven and the dwellers in the place of expiation, the men that have gone before us, and we that are now living, those that are to follow us, our children’s children and their descendants. Those in heaven look to her to have their ranks filled up; those in purgatory look for their deliverance; the men of the first ages, that they may be found faithful prophets; those that come after, that they may obtain eternal happiness. Mother of God, Queen of heaven, Sovereign of the world, all generations shall call thee blessed, for thou hast brought forth life and glory for all. In thee the Angels ever find their joy, the just find grace, sinners pardon; in thee, and by thee, and from thee, the merciful hand of the Almighty has reformed the first creation.” (‘Bern, in festo Pentecost. Sermo ii. 4)
Andrew of Crete calls this day a solemnity of entrance, a feast of beginning, whose end is the union of the Word with our flesh; a virginal feast, full of joy and confidence for all. (Oratio i, in Nativit. Deiparae, 1) “All ye nations,vcome hither,” cries St. John Damascene; “come every race and every tongue, every age and every dignity, let us joyfully celebrate the birthday of the world’s gladness.” (In Natal. B. M. Homilia 1) “It is the beginning of salvation, the origin of every feast,” says St. Peter Damian; “for behold! the Mother of the Bridegroom is born. With good reason does the whole world rejoice to-day; and the Church, beside herself, bids her choirs sing wedding songs.” (Sermo xlv, in Nativit. B. M. V.)
Not only do the Doctors of East and West use similar language in praise of Mary’s birth, but moreover the Latin and Greek Churches sing, each in its own tongue, the same beautiful formula, to close the office of the Feast: “Thy birth, O Virgin Mother of God, brought joy to the whole world: for out of thee arose the Sun of Justice, Christ our God: who, taking off the curse, hath bestowed blessing; and, defeating death, hath given us life everlasting.” (Trope of the dismissal in utroque Vespertino; Magnificat Ant. of 2nd Vespers)
This union of Rome and Byzantium in the celebration of to-day’s festival, dates back as far as the seventh century at least; (Liber Pontine, in Sergio I) beyond that we cannot speak with anything like certitude, nor is it known when the feast was first instituted. It is supposed to have originated at Angers, towards the year 430, by an apparition of our Lady to the holy bishop Maurillus in the fields of Marillais; and hence the name of Notre Dame Angevine often given to the feast. In the eleventh century Chartres, the city of Mary, claims for its own Fulbert, together with Robert the Pious, a principal share in the spreading of the glorious solemnity throughout France. It is well known how intimate the bishop was with the king; and how the latter himself set to music the three admirable Responsories composed by Fulbert, wherein he celebrates the rising of the mysterious star that was to give birth to the Sun; the branch springing from the rod of Jesse, and producing the divine Flower whereon the Holy Spirit was to rest; and the merciful power which caused Mary to blossom in Judsea like the rose on the thorn. (Solem justitiae, Stirps Jesse virgam produxit, Ad nutum Domini)
In the year 1245, in the third Session of the first Council of Lyons, (the same session which deposed Frederick II. from the empire), Innocent IV. established for the whole Church, not the feast, which was already kept everywhere, but the Octave of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. (Mansi, xxiii, 612) It was the accomplishment of a vow made by him and the other Cardinals during the Church’s widowhood, which, through the intrigues of the crafty emperor, lasted nineteen months after the death of Celestine IV, and which was brought to a close by the election of Sinibaldo Fieschi under the name of Innocent.
In 1377, the great Pope Gregory XI, who broke the chains of captivity in Avignon, wished to add a Vigil to the solemnity of our Lady’s birthday. But, whether he merely expressed a desire to this effect, as did his successor Urban VI with regard to a fast on the eve of the Visitation, or whether for some other reason, the intentions of the holy Pope were carried out for only a very short time during the years of trouble that followed his death.
Together with the Church, let us ask, as the fruit of this sweet feast, for that peace which seems to flee ever farther and farther from our unhappy times. Our Lady was born during the second of the three periods of universal peace wherewith the reign of Augustus was blest, the last of which ushered in the Prince of peace himself.
The temple of Janus is closed ; in the eternal City a mysterious fountain of oil has sprung up from the spot where the first sanctuary of the Mother of God is one day to be built; signs and portents are multiplied; the whole world is in expectation; the poet has sung: ‘,’Behold the last age, foretold by the Sybil, is at hand; behold the great series of new worlds is beginning; behold the Virgin !” (Virg. Eclog. iv. Pollio)
In Judea, the sceptre has been taken away from Juda; but the usurper of his power, Herod the Idumaean, is hastening to complete the splendid restoration, which will enable the second Temple worthily to receive within its walls the Ark of the New Covenant.
It is the sabbatical month, the first of the civil year, the seventh of the sacred cycle ; the month of Tisri which begins the repose of each seventh year, and in which is announced the holy year of Jubilee ; the most joyous of months, with its solemn Neomenia celebrated with trumpets and singing, its feast of Tabernacles, and the commemoration of the completion of Solomon’s Temple.
In the heavens, the sun in his passage through the Zodiac, has just left the sign of Leo to enter that of Virgo. On earth, two obscure descendants of David, Joachim and Anne, are thanking God for having, blessed their long barren union.
The Psalms, Capitulum and Hymn, are the same as on the other Feasts of our Lady. The Antiphons and Versicle celebrate the birth of the noblest of Eve’s daughters, which brings honour to our race, gives to God a Mother, and to us an advocate whose prayers are never rejected.
1. Ant. Nativitas gloriosae Virginis Mariae ex semine Abrahae, ortae de tribu Juda, clara ex stirpe David.
1. Ant. This is the Nativity of the glorious Virgin Mary, of the seed of Abraham, born of the tribe of Juda, of the noble race of David.
2. Ant. Nativitas est hodie sanctae Mariae Virginis, cujus vita inclyta cunctas illustrat ecclesias.
2. Ant. Today is the birthday of the holy Virgin Mary, whose glorious life is the light of all the Churches.
3. Ant. Regali ex proge nie Maria exorta refulget: cujus precibus nos adjuvari mente et spiritu devotissime poscimus.
3. Ant. Mary, born of a royal race, is illustrious: the aid of her prayers we most devoutly crave with heart and mind.
4. Ant. Corde et animo Christo canamus gloriam in hac sacra solemnitate praecelsae Genitricis Dei Mariae.
4. Ant. With heart and mind let us sing glory to Christ, on this sacred solemnity of Mary, the most high Mother of God.
5. Ant. Cum jucunditate Nativitatem beatae Mariae celebremus, ut ipsa pro nobis intercedat ad Dominum Jesum Christum.
5. Ant. Let us celebrate with joy the birth of blessed Mary; that she may intercede for us with our Lord Jesus Christ.
Antiphon Of The Magnificat
|Gloriosae Virginis Mariae ortum dignissimum recolamus, quae et Genitricis dignitatem obtinuit, et virginalem pudicitiam non amisit.||Let us celebrate the most honourable birth of the glorious Virgin Mary, who obtained the dignity of a mother without prejudice to her virginal purity.|
An illustrious Martyr watches with the Angels over the cradle of the Mother of God. On earth, he was an officer of the guards in the court of an emperor: in heaven he holds the same title under the Queen of the universe. Nicomedia was the scene of Adrian’s combat; but his body was taken thence first to Byzantium, and afterwards to the eternal City. Having on this day received the precious relics, Borne knew how to unite with her homage to Mary the honour due to the heroic soldier. In the seventh century, (Liber pontif. in Sergio I.) St. Adrian’s Church was appointed as the starting-place for the solemn Litany or procession, which went from the Forum to St. Mary Major, on this feast of the Nativity, and afterwards on those of the Annunciation and Assumption.
The Acts of St. Adrian’s martyrdom are now recognised as incontestable. The part played therein by his young wife Natalia, lends them a charm of heroic sweetness. Unknown to her pagan husband, she had been a Christian from infancy. When she heard that Adrian had been converted by witnessing the constancy of the confessors, and in the fervour of his generosity had asked to share their captivity, she hastened to him in a transport of joy, and, kissing his chains, cried out: “Blessed art thou, my lord Adrian.” During the days which followed, such admirable scenes took place between the two spouses, as the greatest geniuses of antiquity never invented in their fictions. Though she was left free by the gaolers, Natalia would not quit her husband’s side, now that he was far more glorious in her eyes than he had ever been in fighting under Caesar’s standard. Sitting at his feet in the prison, or accompanying him to the pretorium, she had no thought but to keep up the neophyte, under the pressure of the tortures, to the height of his vocation to martyrdom; bidding him have no solicitude about earthly things. Upon herself, about to be left alone though scarcely more than a child, she made no reflection; except that, on the eve of the sacrifice, she let fall these words : “Remember thy co-operatrix in martyrdom; pray that I may die with thee, that other women may learn how to behave towards their husbands, on seeing thy love for me.” At length the hour had come. Maintaining, in the simplicity of her pure heart, a fidelity whose heroism did not destroy its exquisite tenderness, she herself placed upon the anvil, whereon they were to be crushed, the feet of him she loved alone in this world. And as after this awful torture the martyr was still breathing, he stretched out his hand to Natalia, that she might offer it to the executioner to be cut off. Then he died; and remembering the prayer of his faithful companion, he soon called her after him to heaven.
Our Emmanuel, on the night of his birth gave a share in his honours to the holy widow Anastasia; so now, with sweet motherly thoughtfulness, the Virgin of virgins inspired the Church to associate with the joys of this happy birthday, the glorification of the heroic spouse of St. Natalia.
The Church intones the beautiful song of Prudentius to the Mother of God; for, like the Most High, she looks upon Mary as already Mother, since such she has been by predestination from all eternity. Our Lady answers the Church’s greeting, by the song of the Bride, the Psalm of the Epithalamium, which no one else could ever sing as she can even from this her first day.
INTROIT – Sedulius; Ps 44:2.
|Salve, sancta Parens, eníxa puérpera Regem: qui coelum terrámque regit in saecula sæculórum. Eructávit cor meum verbum bonum: dico ego ópera mea Regi. Glória Patri, et Fílio, et Spirítui Sancto. Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculórum. Amen. Salve, sancta Parens, eníxa puérpera Regem: qui coelum terrámque regit in saecula sæculórum.||Hail, holy Mother, who brought forth the King Who rules heaven and earth forever and ever. My heart overflows with a goodly theme; as I sing my ode to the King. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Hail, holy Mother, who brought forth the King Who rules heaven and earth forever and ever.|
The Liturgy here leaves the historical order of events, to follow that of the annual Cycle, which began with the weeks of Advent. Thus, in the Collect we pray that the mystery of to-day may develop in us the work of sanctification and peace begun at Bethlehem.
Fámulis tuis, quaesumus, Dómine, coeléstis grátiæ munus impertíre: ut, quibus beátæ Vírginis partus éxstitit salútis exórdium; Nativitátis eius votíva sollémnitas pacis tríbuat increméntum. Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, Filium tuum: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.
|Let us pray.
Bestow upon Your servants, we beseech You, O Lord, the gift of heavenly grace, that, as the child-bearing of the Blessed Virgin stood for the beginning of our salvation, so may the solemn feast of her Nativity bring about an increase of peace.
Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
EPISTLE – Prov 8:22-35
|Léctio libri Sapiéntiæ.Dóminus possédit me in inítio viárum suárum, ántequam quidquam fáceret a princípio. Ab ætérno ordináta sum, et ex antíquis, ántequam terra fíeret. Nondum erant abýssi, et ego iam concépta eram: necdum fontes aquárum erúperant: necdum montes gravi mole constíterant: ante colles ego parturiébar: adhuc terram nonfécerat et flúmina et cárdines orbis terræ. Quando præparábat coelos, áderam: quando certa lege et gyro vallábat abýssos: quando aethera firmábat sursum et librábat fontes aquárum: quando circúmdabat mari términum suum et legem ponébat aquis, ne transírent fines suos: quando appendébat fundaménta terræ. Cum eo eram cuncta compónens: et delectábar per síngulos dies, ludens coram eo omni témpore: ludens in orbe terrárum: et delíciæ meæ esse cum fíliis hóminum. Nunc ergo, fílii, audíte me: Beáti, qui custódiunt vias meas. Audíte disciplínam, et estóte sapiéntes, et nolíte abiícere eam. Beátus homo, qui audit me et qui vígilat ad fores meas cotídie, et obsérvat ad postes óstii mei. Qui me invénerit, invéniet vitam et háuriet salútem a Dómino. Deo gratias.||Lesson from the book of ProverbsThe Lord begot me, the firstborn of His ways, the forerunner of His prodigies of long ago; from of old I was poured forth, at the first, before the earth. When there were not depths I was brought forth, when there were not fountains or springs of water; before the mountains were settled into place, before the hills, I was brought forth; while as yet the earth and the fields were not made, nor the first clods of the world. When He established the heavens I was there, when He marked out the vault over the face of the deep; when He made firm the skies above, and poised the fountains of waters; when He set for the sea its limit, so that the waters should not transgress His command; when He fixed fast the foundations of the earth, then was I beside Him as His craftsman, and I was His delight day by day, playing before Him all the while, playing on the surface of His earth and I found delight in the sons of men. So now, O children, listen to me; happy those who keep my ways. Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. Happy the man who obeys me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at my doorsteps; for he who finds me finds life, and wins favor from the Lord. Thanks be to God.|
When princes are born we prognosticate their future greatness by recalling the glory of their ancestors. The Church does in like manner to-day. The Gospel will recount the temporal genealogy of Messias, which is also the genealogy of her, who was born for the very purpose of giving birth to him. But first, this passage from the Book of Proverbs sets before us the divine origin of the Son and of the Mother. It is of both that Eternal Wisdom says: Before the hill s I was brought forth: when he prepared the heavens, I was present.
Our weak human nature, subject to time, can only conceive of things according to the series of their progressive evolutions; but God sees them independently of time, which he rules with his eternity; he sees them in the order of mutual dependence in which he has placed them with a view to the manifestation of his glory. With God, the beginning and the principle of every work, is the purpose for which it is done. Now the Most High acts outside himself solely to reveal himself, by his Word made Flesh and become the Son of a created Mother as he is the Son of the Creator. The God-Man as end, Mary as the means : such is the object of the eternal decrees, the purpose of the world’s existence, the fundamental conception, with regard to which all else is but accessory and dependent.
O Lady, who dost deign to call us also thy children, it is well for us that thy goodness is equal to thy greatness! Happy is the human race for having watched and waited for thee during so many long ages, and for having found thee at length; for with thee is salvation and life.
In the Gradual the Church again sings of Mary’s virginal and divine Maternity; for this is the day which gave us the Mother of God.
|Benedícta et venerábilis es, Virgo Maria: quæ sine tactu pudóris invénta es Mater Salvatóris. Virgo, Dei Génetrix, quem totus non capit orbis, in tua se clausit víscera factus homo. Allelúia, allelúia. Felix es, sacra Virgo María, et omni laude digníssima: quia ex te ortus est sol iustítiæ, Christus, Deus noster. Allelúia.||Blessed and venerable are you, O Virgin Mary, who, without spot to your maidenhood, were made the Mother of the Savior. O Virgin, Mother of God, He Whom the whole world cannot contain, enclosed Himself in your womb, becoming Man. Alleluia, alleluia. Happy are you, O Holy Virgin Mary, and most worthy of all high praise; for out of you has risen the sun of justice, Christ our God. Alleluia.|
GOSPEL – Matthew 1-16
|Initium ✝ sancti Evangélii secúndum Matthaeum.
R. Gloria tibi Domine!Liber generatiónis Iesu Christi, fílii David, fílii Abraham. Abraham génuit Isaac. Isaac autem génuit Iacob. Iacob autem génuit Iudam et fratres eius. Iudas autem génuit Phares et Zaram de Thamar. Phares autem génuit Esron. Esron autem génuit Aram. Aram autem génuit Amínadab. Amínadab autem génuit Naásson. Naásson autem génuit Salmon. Salmon autem génuit Booz de Rahab. Booz autem génuit Obed ex Ruth. Obed autem génuit Iesse. Iesse autem génuit David regem. David autem rex génuit Salomónem ex ea, quæ fuit Uriæ. Sálomon autem génuit Róboam. Róboam autem génuit Abíam. Abías autem génuit Asa. Asa autem génuit Iosaphat. Iósaphat autem génuit Ioram. Ioram autem génuit Ozíam. Ozías autem génuit Ióatham. Ióatham autem génuit Achaz. Achaz autem génuit Ezechíam. Ezechías autem génuit Manássen. Manásses autem génuit Amon. Amon autem génuit Iosíam. Iosías autem génuit Iechoníam et fratres eius in transmigratióne Babylónis. Et post transmigratiónem Babylónis: Iechonías génuit Saláthiel. Saláthiel autem génuit Zoróbabel. Zoróbabel autem génuit Abiud. Abiud autem génuit Elíacim. Elíacim autem génuit Azor. Azor autem génuit Sadoc. Sadoc autem génuit Achim. Achim autem génuit Eliud. Eliud autem génuit Eleázar. Eleázar autem génuit Mathan. Mathan autem génuit Iacob. Iacob autem génuit Ioseph, virum Maríæ, de qua natus est Iesus, qui vocátur Christus.
R. Laus tibi, Christe!
S. Per Evangelica dicta, deleantur nostra delicta.
|Continuation ☩ of the Holy Gospel according to Matthew
R. Glory be to Thee, O Lord.The book of the origins of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, Jacob begot Judas and his brethren. Judas begot Phares and Zara of Thamar, Phares begot Esron, Esron begot Aram. And Aram begot Aminadab, Aminadab begot Naasson, Naasson begot Salmon. Salmon begot Booz of Rahab. Booz begot Obed of Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, Jesse begot David the king. And David the king begot Solomon of the former wife of Urias. Solomon begot Roboam, Roboam begot Abia, Abia begot Asa. And Asa begot Josaphat, Josaphat begot Joram, Joram begot Ozias. And Ozias begot Joatham, Joatham begot Achaz, Achaz begot Ezechias. And Ezechias begot Manasses, Manasses begot Amon, Amon begot Josias. And Josias begot Jechonias and his brethren at the time of the carrying away to Babylon. And after the carrying away to Babylon Jechonias begot Salathiel, Salathiel begot Zorobabel. And Zorobabel begot Abiud, Abiud begot Eliachim, Eliachim begot Azor. And Azor begot Sadoc, Sadoc begot Achim, Achim, begot Eliud. And Eliud begot Eleazar, Eleazar begot Matthan, Matthan begot Jacob. And Jacob begot Joseph, the husband of Mary, and of her was born Jesus Who is called Christ.
R. Praise be to Thee, O Christ.
S. By the words of the Gospel may our sins be blotted out.
Mary of whom was born Jesus: these words contain the whole mystery of our Lady, the title which expresses her whole being according to both nature and grace; for, Jesus, who was to be born of Mary, to be made of a woman, (Gal. 4:4.) was from the beginning the hidden reason of all creation, to be manifested in the fulness of time. This was God’s great work, of which the prophet said in ecstasy : O Lord, thy work, . … in the midst of the years thou shalt make it known; …. the holy One shall come from the shady mountain (Juxta lxx) . …. The hills of the world were bowed down by the journeys of his eternity. (Habacuc 3:2-6 ) This mountain, from whence the holy One, the Eternal, the Ruler of the world, is to come, is the blessed Virgin Mary, (Andr. Cret. Oratio in Annunt. Deiparae.) whom the power of the Most High will overshadow, and who, at her very birth, is set far above all the heights of earth and of heaven. (Joan. Damasc. in Natal. B. M. Homilia i.)
The days, then, are accomplished. Ever since the hour when the Eternal Trinity came forth from their repose to create heaven and earth, all the generations of the heaven and the earth have been in labour to bring forth the day which is to give a Mother to the Son of God. Parallel with the direct line from Abraham and David to the Messias, all human genealogies have been preparing for Mary the generation of adoptive sons whom Jesus is to make his brethren.
With the Church, let us congratulate our Lady on this her sublime maternity, which embraces all creatures together with the Creator.
|Beáta es, Virgo María, quæ ómnium portásti Creatórem: genuísti qui te fecit, et in ætérnum pérmanes Virgo.||Blessed are you, O Virgin Mary, you who bore the Creator of all things; you brought forth Him Who made you, and you remain a Virgin forever.|
May this maternity, and the virginity which it sealed, draw us ever nearer to the Son of Mary and the Son of God ; may they unite us in greater purity to the Sacrifice prepared on the Altar.
|Unigéniti tui, Dómine, nobis succúrrat humánitas: ut, qui natus de Vírgine, matris integritátem non mínuit, sed sacrávit; in Nativitátis eius sollémniis, nostris nos piáculis éxuens, oblatiónem nostram tibi fáciat accéptam Iesus Christus, Dóminus noster: Qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.||May the humanity of Your only-begotten Son help us, O Lord, as He, Who, born of a virgin did not lessen but consecrated the purity of His mother, so, on the festival of her Nativity may Jesus Christ, our Lord, free us from our sins and render our sacrifice acceptable to You.
Who livest and reignest with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen
|de Beata Maria Virgine
Vere dignum et iustum est, æquum et salutáre, nos tibi semper et ubique grátias ágere: Dómine sancte, Pater omnípotens, ætérne Deus: Et te in Festivitate beátæ Maríæ semper Vírginis collaudáre, benedícere et prædicáre. Quæ et Unigénitum tuum Sancti Spíritus obumbratióne concépit: et, virginitátis glória permanénte, lumen ætérnum mundo effúdit, Iesum Christum, Dóminum nostrum. Per quem maiestátem tuam laudant Angeli, adórant Dominatiónes, tremunt Potestátes. Coeli coelorúmque Virtútes ac beáta Séraphim sócia exsultatióne concélebrant. Cum quibus et nostras voces ut admitti iubeas, deprecámur, súpplici confessióne dicéntes:
It it truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God: and that we should praise and bless, and proclaim Thee, in the Feast of the Blessed Mary, ever-Virgin: Who also conceived Thine only-begotten Son by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost, and the glory of her virginity still abiding, gave forth to the world the everlasting Light, Jesus Christ our Lord. Through whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, the Dominations worship it, and the Powers stand in awe. The Heavens and the heavenly hosts together with the blessed Seraphim in triumphant chorus unite to celebrate it. Together with these we entreat Thee that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted while we say with lowly praise:
When we receive our Lord in holy Communion, let us not forget that we owe his coming to the blessed child who was born on this day nineteen centuries ago.
|Beáta víscera Maríæ Vírginis, quæ portavérunt ætérni Patris Fílium.||Blessed is the womb of the Virgin Mary, which bore the Son of the eternal Father.|
May the annual return of the beautiful feast never be without fruit in our souls; and may the adorable mysteries it has led us to receive, deliver us from evils both temporal and eternal. This is what we asji for in the Postcommunion.
Súmpsimus, Dómine, celebritátis ánnuæ votíva sacraménta: præsta, quaesumus; ut et temporális vitæ nobis remédia praebeant et ætérnæ. Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, Filium tuum: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.
|Let us pray.
We have partaken of the solemn sacrament on this annual feast: grant we beseech You, that it may bring us assistance both for the present and for life everlasting. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
The Antiphons and Hymn are the same as at First Vespers.
ANTIPHON OF THE MAGNIFICAT
|Nativitas tua, Dei Genitrix Virgo, gaudium annuntiavit universo mundo: ex te enim ortus est Sol justitiae, Christus Deus noster: qui solvens maledictionem, dedit benedictionem, et confundens mortem, donavit nobis vitam sempiternam.||Thy birth, O Virgin Mother of God, brought joy to the whole world: for out of thee arose the Sun of Justice, Christ our God: who, taking off the curse, hath bestowed blessing; and, defeating death, hath given us life everlasting.|
In honour of our sweet Lady’s birth, let us sing the beautiful Responsories composed by Fulbert of Chartres and Robert the Pious. France first adopted them, and the whole of Europe soon followed her example.
|R. Solem justitiae Regem paritura supremum: * Stella Maria maris hodie processit ad ortum.
V. Cernere divinum lumen gaudete fideles. * Stella Maria maris hodie processit ad ortum.
R. Stirps Jesse virgam produxit, virgaque florem: * Et super hunc florem requiescit Spiritus almus.
V. Virgo Dei Genitrix virga est, flos Filius ejus. * Et super hunc florem requiescit Spiritus almus.
R. Ad nutum Domini nostrum ditantis honorem: * Sicut spina rosam, genuit Judaea Mariam.
V. Ut vitium virtus operiret, gratia culpam. * Sicut spina rosam, genuit Judaea Mariam.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. * Sicut spina rosam, genuit Judaea Mariam.
|R. In order to bring forth the Sun of justice, the sovereign King: * Mary, the Star of the sea, to-day arose in the heavens.
V. Rejoice, ye faithful, to behold the divine light. * Mary, the Star of the sea, to-day arose in the heavens.
R. The rod of Jesse produced a branch, and the branch a flower: * And upon the flower rests the Spirit of love.
V. The Virgin Mother of God is the branch, the flower is her Son. * And upon the flower rests the Spirit of love.
R. At the will of the Lord enriching us with honour: * Mary sprang from Judea as the rose from the thorn.
V. That vice might be overcome by virtue, and sin by grace. * Mary sprang from Judaea as the rose from the thorn.
Glory be to the Father… * Mary sprang from Judea as the rose from the thorn.
At length, O Mary, our earth possesses thee! Thy birth reveals to it the secret of its destiny, the secret of that love which called it from nothingness, that it might become the palace of the God who dwelt above the heavens. But what a mystery, that poor, weak humanity, inferior to the Angels by nature, should be chosen to give to the Angels their King and their Queen! Their King they will soon adore, a new-born Babe in thine arms; their Queen they reverence to-day, admiring thee in thy cradle as only Angels can admire. In the beginning these morning stars, these noble spirits, contemplated the manifestations of Almighty Power, and praised the Most High; yet never did their eager gaze discover such a marvel as that which delights their eyes at this hour: God, more purely imaged under a corporeal veil, under the fragile form of an infant one day old, than in all the strength and all the beauty of their nine angelic choirs; God, so captivated by such weakness united, by his grace, to such love, that he made it the culminating point of his work by determining to manifest his Son therein.
Queen of Angels, thou art our Queen also ; accept us as thy liegemen. On this day, when the first movement of thy holy soul was towards God, and the first smile of thy lovely eyes was for thy happy parents, may holy Anne allow us to kneel and kiss thy little hand, already filled with the divine bounties of which thou art the predestined dispenser. And now, grow up, sweet little one! Let thy feet be strengthened to crush the serpent, and thy arms to carry the treasure of the world! Angels and men, the whole of nature, God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, all are awaiting the solemn moment, when Gabriel may fly down from heaven, to hail thee full of grace, and bring thee the message of Eternal Love.