36 - 50 minutes readDecember 27 – Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist ~ Dom Prosper Gueranger

Reader Mode Text to speech



Nearest to Jesus' Crib, after Stephen, stands John, the Apostle and Evangelist. It was only right, that the first place should be assigned to him, who so loved his God, that he shed his blood in his service; for, as this God himself declares, greater love than this hath no man, that he lay down his life for his friends [1 John, 15:13] and Martyrdom has ever been counted, by the Church, as the greatest act of love, and as having, consequently, the power of remitting sins, like a second Baptism. But, next to the sacrifice of Blood, the noblest, the bravest, and which most wins the heart of Him who is the Spouse of souls, is the sacrifice of Virginity. Now, just as St. Stephen is looked upon as the type of Martyrs, St. John is honoured as the Prince of Virgins. Martyrdom won for Stephen the Crown and palm; Virginity merited for John most singular prerogatives, which, while they show how dear to God is holy Chastity, put this Disciple among those, who, by their dignity and influence, are above the rest of men.

St. John was of the family of David, as was our Blessed Lady. He was, consequently, a relation of Jesus. This same honour belonged to St. James the Greater, his Brother; as also to St. James the Less, and St Jude, both Sons of Alpheus. When our Saint was in the prime of his youth, he left, not only his boat and nets, not only has lather Zebedee, but even his betrothed, when everything was prepared for the marriage. He followed Jesus, and never once looked back. Hence, the special love which our Lord bore him. Others were Disciples or Apostles, John was the Friend, of Jesus. The cause of this our Lord's partiality, was, as the Church tells us in the Liturgy, that John had offered his Virginity to the Man-God. Let us, on this his Feast, enumerate the graces and privileges that came to St. John from his being The Disciple whom Jesus loved.

This very expression of the Gospel, which the Evangelist repeats several times - The Disciple whom Jesus loved [John, 13:23, 19:26, 21:7, 21:20] - says more than any commentary could do. St. Peter, it is true was chosen by our Divine Lord, to be the Head of the Apostolic College, and the Rock whereon the Church was to be built: he, then, was honoured most; but St. John was loved most. Peter was bid to love more than the rest loved, and he was able to say, in answer to Jesus' thrice repeated question, that he did love him in this highest way: and yet, notwithstanding, John was more loved by Jesus than was Peter himself, because his Virginity deserved this special mark of honour.

Chastity of soul and body brings him who possesses it into a sacred nearness and intimacy with God. Hence it was, that at the Last Supper - that Supper, which was to be renewed on our Altars, to the end of the world, in order to cure our spiritual infirmities, and give life to our souls - John was placed near to Jesus, nay, was permitted, as the tenderly loved Disciple, to lean his head upon the Breast of the Man-God. Then it was, that he was filled, and from their very Fountain, with Light and Love: it was both a recompense and a favour, and became the source of two signal graces, which make St. John an object of special reverence to the whole Church.

Divine wisdom wishing to make known to the world the Mystery of the Word, and commit to Scripture those profound secrets, 'which, so far, no pen of mortal had been permitted to write - the task was put upon John. Peter had been crucified, Paul had been beheaded, and the rest of the Apostles had laid down their lives in testimony of the Truths they had been sent to preach to the world; John was the only one left in the Church. Heresy had already begun its blasphemies against the Apostolic Teach ings; it refused to admit the Incarnate Word as the Son of God, Consubstantial to the Father. John was asked by the Churches to speak, and he did so in language heavenly above measure. His Divine Master had reserved to this his Virgin-Disciple the honour of writing those sublime Mysteries, which the other Apostles had been commissioned only to teach - THE WORD WAS GOD, and this WORD WAS MADE FLESH for the salvation of mankind. Thus did our Evangelist soar, like the Eagle, up to the Divine Sun, and gaze upon Him with undazzled eye, because his heart and senses were pure, and there fore fitted for such vision of the uncreated Light. If Moses, after having conversed with God in the cloud, came from the divine interview with rays of miraculous light encircling his head: - how radiant must have been the face of St. John, which had rested on the very Heart of Jesus, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge! [Col. 2:3] how sublime his writings! how divine his teaching! Hence, the symbol of the Eagle, shown to the Prophet Ezechiel, [Ezechiel 1:10, 10:14] and to St. John himself in his Revelations, [Apoc. 4:7] has been assigned to him by the Church: and to this title of The Eagle has been added, by universal tradition, the other beautiful name of Theologian, This was the first recompense given by Jesus to his Beloved John  a profound penetration into divine Mysteries. The second was the imparting to him a most ardent charity, which was equally a grace consequent upon his angelic purity, for purity unburdens the soul from grovelling egotistic affections, and raises it to a chaste and generous love. John had treasured up in his heart the Discourses of his Master: he made them known to the Church, and especially that divine one of the Last Supper, wherein Jesus had poured forth his whole Soul to his own, whom he had always tenderly loved, but most so at the end [John, 13:1]. He wrote his Epistles, and Charity is his subject: God is Charity - he that loveth not, knoweth not God - perfect Charity casteth out fear - and so on throughout, always on Love. During the rest of his fife, even when so enfeebled by old age as not to be able to walk, he was for ever insisting upon all men loving each other, after the example of God, who had loved them and so loved them! Thus, he that had announced more clearly than the rest of the Apostles the divinity of the Incarnate Word, was by excellence the Apostle of that divine Charity, which Jesus came to enkindle upon the earth.

But, our Lord had a further gift to bestow, and it was sweetly appropriate to the Virgin-Disciple. When dying on his cross, Jesus left Mary upon this earth. Joseph had been dead now some years. Who, then, shall watch over his Mother? who is there worthy of the charge? Will Jesus send his Angels to protect and console her? - for, surely, what man could ever merit to be to her as a second Joseph? Looking down, he sees the Virgin-Disciple standing at the foot of the Cross: we know the rest, John is to be Mary's Son - Mary is to be John's Mother. Oh! wonderful Chastity, that wins from Jesus such an inheritance as this! Peter, says St. Peter Damian, shall have left to him the Church, the Mother of men; but John, shall receive Mary, the Mother of God, whom he will love as his own dearest Treasure, and to whom he will stand in Jesus' stead; whilst Mary will tenderly love John, her Jesus' Friend, as her Son.

Can we be surprised after this, that St John is looked upon by the Church as one of her greatest glories? He is a Relative of Jesus in the flesh; he is an Apostle, a Virgin, the Friend of the Divine Spouse, the Eagle, the Theologian, the Son of Mary; he is an Evangelist, by the history he has given of the Life of his Divine Master and Friend; he is a Sacred Writer, by the three Epistles he wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost; he is a Prophet, by his mysterious Apocalypse, wherein are treasured the secrets of time and eternity. But, is he a Martyr? Yes, for if he did not complete his sacrifice, he drank the Chalice of Jesus [Matt. 20:22], when, after being cruelly scourged, he was thrown into a caldron of boiling oil, before the Latin Gate, at Rome. He was, therefore, a Martyr in desire and intention, though not in fact. If our Lord, wishing to prolong a life so dear to the Church, as well as to show how he loves and honours Virginity, - miraculously stayed the effects of the frightful punishment, St John had, on his part, unreservedly accepted Martyrdom.


Such is the companion of Stephen at the Crib, wherein lies our Infant Jesus. If the Protomartyr dazzles us with the robes he wears of the bright scarlet of his own blood - is not the virginal whiteness of John's vestment fairer than the untrod snow? The spotless beauty of the Lilies of Mary's adopted Son, and the bright vermilion of Stephen's Roses - what is there more lovely than their union? Glory, then, be to our New-Born King, whose court is tapestried with such heaven-made colours as these! Yes, Bethlehem's Stable is a very heaven on earth, and we have seen its transformation. First, we saw Mary and Joseph alone there - they were adoring Jesus in his Crib; then, immediately, there descended a heavenly host of Angels singing the wonderful Hymn; the Shepherds soon followed, the humble simple-hearted Shepherds; after these, entered Stephen the Crowned, and John the Beloved Disciple; and, even before there enters the pageant of the devout Magi, we shall have others coming in, and there will be, each day, grander glory in the Cave, and gladder joy in our hearts. Oh! this Birth of our Jesus! Humble as it seems, yet, how divine! What King or Emperor ever received, in his gilded cradle, honours like these shown to the Babe of Bethlehem? Let us unite our homage with that given him by these the favoured inmates of his court. Yesterday, the sight of the Palm in Stephen's hand animated us, and we offered to our Jesus the promise of a stronger Faith: to-day, the Wreath, that decks the brow of the Beloved Disciple, breathes upon the Church the heavenly fragrance of Virginity - an intenser love of Purity must be our resolution, and our tribute to the Lamb.


The Church commences her chants of the holy Sacrifice with words taken from the Book of Ecclesiasticus, which she applies to St. John. Our Lord has proclaimed his mysteries to the Church, by the teaching of his Beloved Disciple. He favored him with his divine intimacy, which filled him with the spirit of wisdom. He clad him with a robe of glory in reward for his virginal purity.

In medio Ecclesiæ aperuit os ejus; et implevit eum Dominus Spiritu sapientiæ et intellectus; stolam gloriæ induit eum. He opened his mouth in the midst of the Church, and the Lord filled him with the spirit of wisdom: he clad him with a robe of glory.
Ps. Bonum est confiteri Domino, et psallere nomini tuo, Altissime. Ps. It is good to give praise to the Lord, and to sing to thy name, O Most High.
℣. Gloria. In medio. ℣. Glory, &c. He opened.

In the Collect, the Church asks for the Light, that is, for the Word of God, of whom St. John was the propagator by his sublime writings. She aspires to the eternal possession of this Emmanuel, who is come to enlighten the world, and who has revealed to his Beloved Disciple the secrets of heaven.

Ecclesiam tuam, Domine, benignus illustra: ut beati Joannis, Apostoli tui et Evangelistæ, illuminata doctrinis, ad dona perveniat sempiterna. Per Dominum. Mercifully, O Lord, enlighten thy Church: that being taught by blessed John, thine Apostle and Evangelist, she may come to thy eternal rewards. Through, &c.
Commemoration of Christmas Day
Concede, quæsumus, omnipotens Deus, ut nos Unigeniti tui nova per carnem nativitas ilberet, quos sub peccati jugo vetusta servitus tenet. Grant, we beseech thee, O Almighty God, that we who groan under the old captivity of sin, may be freed therefrom by the new Birth of thine Only Begotten Son.
Commemoration of St. Stephen
Da nobis, quæsumus, Domine, imitari quod colimus: ut discamus et inimicos diligere, quia ejus natalitia celebramus, qui novit etiam pro persecutoribus exorare Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum. Qui tecum. Grant, O Lord, we beseech thee, that we may imitate him whose memory we celebrate, so as to learn to love even our enemies, because we now solemnize his martyrdom who knew how to pray, even for his persecutors, to our Lord Jesus Christ thy Son. Who liveth, &c.
Lectio libri Sapientiæ. Lesson from the Book of Wisdom.
Eccl. cap. xv. Ecclus ch. xv.
Qui timet Deum faciet bona, et qui continens est justitiæ apprehendet illam: et obviabit illi quasi mater honorificata, et quasi mulier a virginitate suscipiet illum. Cibabit illum pane vitae et intellectus, et aqua sapientiæ salutaris potabit illum: et firmabitur in illo, et non flectetur: et continebit illum, et non confundetur: et exaltabit illum apud proximos suos, et in medio ecclesiæ aperiet os ejus, et adimplebit illum spiritu sapientiæ et intellectus, et stola gloriae vestiet illum. Jucunditatem et exsultationem thesaurizabit super illum, et nomine æterno hæreditabit illum. He that feareth God, will do good: and he that possesseth justice, shall lay hold on her, And she will meet him as an honourable mother, and will receive him as a wife married of a virgin. With the bread of life and understanding, she shall feed him, and give him the water of wholesome wisdom to drink: and she shall be made strong in him, and he shall not be moved: And she shall hold him fast, and he shall not be confounded: and she shall exalt him among his neighbours. And in the midst of the church she shall open his mouth, and shall fill him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding, and shall clothe him with a robe of glory. She shall heap upon him a treasure of joy and gladness, and shall cause him to inherit an everlasting name.

The Wisdom here spoken of, is Jesus the Eternal Word, who came to St. John and called him to the Apostolate. The Bread of life wherewith she fed him is the divine Bread of the Last Supper, the Body and Blood of Jesus; the wholesome Water is that promised by our Savior to the Samaritan Woman, and of which St. John drank so abundantly from its very source, when he rested his head on the Heart of Jesus. The immovable Strength is the Saint’s close and resolute custody of the treasure of his Virginity, and the courageous profession of the religion of Christ before the Proconsuls of Domitian. The Treasure which Wisdom heaped upon him is the magnificence of the prerogatives granted to him. Lastly, the everlasting Name is that glorious title given him of John the Beloved Disciple.

Exiit sermo inter fratres, quod disciplus ille non moriter; et non dixit Jesus: Non moritur; A report was spread among the brethren, that that Disciple should not die; but Jesus said not: He should not die;
℣. Sed: Sic eu ovlo manere, donec veniam; tu me sequere. ℣. But: So I will have him remain till I come; follow thou me.
Alleluia, alleluia. Alleluia, alleluia.
℣. Hic est discipulus ille, qui testimonium perhibet de his; et scimus quia verum est testimonium ejus. Alleluia. ℣. This is the Disciple that beareth testimony of these things; and we know his testimony is true. Alleluia.
Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem. Sequel of the holy Gospel according to St. John.
Cap.xxi. Ch. xxi.
In illo tempore, dixit Jesus Petro: Sequere me. Conversus Petrus vidit illum discipulum, quem diligebat Jesus, sequentem, qui et recubuit in cœna super pectus ejus, et dixit: Domine, quis est qui tradet te? Hunc ergo cum vidisset Petrus, dixit Jesu: Domine, hic autem quid? Dicit ei Jesus: Sic eum volo manere donec veniam, quid ad te? tu me sequere. Exiit ergo sermo iste inter fratres quia discipulus ille non moritur. Et non dixit ei Jesus: Non moritur, sed: Sic eum volo manere donec veniam, quid ad te? Hic est discipulus ille qui testimonium perhibet de his, et scripsit haec: et scimus quia verum est testimonium ejus. At that time: Jesus said to Peter: Follow me. Peter turning about, saw that disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also leaned on his breast at supper, and said: Lord, who is he that shall betray thee? Him therefore when Peter had seen, he saith to Jesus: Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith to him: So I will have him to remain till I come, what is it to thee? follow thou me. This saying therefore went abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die. And Jesus did not say to him: He should not die; but, So I will have him to remain till I come, what is it to thee? This is that disciple who giveth testimony of these things, and hath written these things; and we know that his testimony is true.

This passage of the holy Gospel has been much commented upon. Some of the Fathers and Commentators interpret it as signifying that St. John was to be exempt from death, and that he is still living in the flesh, awaiting the coming of the Judge of the living and the dead. It is certain that this opinion regarding our Apostle has been entertained; and one of the arguments in its favor was this passage. But the general opinion of the Holy Fathers is that nothing further is implied by it than the difference between the two vocations of St. Peter and St. John. The former shall follow his divine Master by dying, like him, on the cross; the latter shall remain—he shall live to a venerable old age—and at length, Jesus shall come and take him out of this world by sending him a sweet and peaceful death.

During the Offertory, the Church makes a remembrance of the flourishing Palms which grew up around the Beloved Disciple; she tells us of the all the spiritual children he had trained, and of the Churches he had founded; all which, like young cedars round the venerable parent-tree on Libanus, multiplied under the fostering care of their Father.

Justus ut palma florebit; sicut cedrus, quæ in Libano est muliplicabitur. The just shall flourish, like the palm tree; he shall grow up like the cedar of Libanus.
Suscipe, Domine, munera quæ in ejus tibi solemnitate deferimus, cujus nos confidimus patrocinio liberari. Per Dominum. Receive, O Lord, the offerings we make to thee, on this feast, by whose intercession we hope to be delivered. Through, &c.
Commemoration of Christmas Day
Oblata, Domine, munera, nova Unigeniti tui nativitate sanctifica: nosque a peccatorum nostrorum maculis emunda. Sanctify, O Lord, our offerings by the new Birth of thine Only Begotten Son, and cleanse us from the stains of our sins.
Commemoration of St. Stephen
Suscipe, Domine, munera, pro tuorum commemoratione Sanctorum; ut sicut illos passio gloriosos effecit, ita nos devotio reddat innocuos. Per Dominum. Receive, O Lord, these offerings in memory of thy Saint; and as their sufferings have made them glorious, so may our devotion render us free from sin. Through, &c.

The Preface, as in “Season of Christmas”: but on the Octave Day it is as below:

For the Octave Day
Vere dignum et justum est æquum et salutare, te Domine suppliciter exorare, ut gregem tuum, Pastor æterne, non deseras, sed per beatos Apostolos tuos continua protections custodias. Ut iisdem rectoribus gubernetur, quos operis tui vicarios eidem contulisti præesse Pastores. Et ideo cum Angelis et Archangelis, cum Thronis et Dominationibus, cumque omni militia cœlestis exercitus, hymnum gloriæ tuæ canimus, sine fine dicentes: Sanctus, &c. It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, humbly to beseech thee, that thou, O Lord, our eternal Shepherd, wouldst not forsake thy flock, but keep it under thy continual protection, by thy blessed Apostles. That it may be governed by those whom thou hast appointed its vicars and pastors. And therefore with the Angels and Archangels, with the Thrones and Dominations, and with all the heavenly host, we sing an everlasting hymn to thy glory, saying: Holy, &c.

The mysterious words of the Gospel are repeated in the Communion, that is, at the moment when Priest and people have partaken of the Victim of salvation, they convey this teaching—that he who eats of this Bread, though he must die the death of the body, will yet live for the coming of the supreme Judge and Rewarder.

Exiit sermo inter fratres quod disciplus ille non moritur. Et non dixit Jesus: Non moritur; sed: Sic eum volo manere donec veniam. A report was spread among the brethren, that that disciple should not die. But Jesus said not: He should not die; but: So will I that he remain till I come.
Refecti cibo potuque cœlesti, Deus noster, te supplices deprecamur; ut in cujus hæc commemoratione percepimus, ejus muniamur et precibus. Per Dominum. Being refreshed, O Lord, with this heavenly meat and drink, we humbly beseech thee, that we may be assisted by his prayers, on whose feast we have received these sacred mysteries. Through, &c.
Commemoration of Christmas Day
Præsta, quæsumus, omnipotens Deus: ut natus hodie Salvator mundi, sicut divinæ nobis generationis est auctor, ita et immortalitatis sit ipse largitor. Grant, we beseech thee, O Almighty God, that as the Savior of the world, who was born this day, procured for us a divine birth, he may, also, bestow on us immortality.
Commemoration of St. Stephen
Auxilientur nobis, Domine, sumpta mysteria; et intercedente beato Stephano, Martyre tuo, sempiterna protectione confirment. Per Dominum. May the mysteries we have received, O Lord, be a help to us; and, by the intercession of the blessed Martyr Stephen, strengthen us with thy perpetual protection. Through, &c.


The Antiphons and Psalms are sung as yesterday, the Feast of St. Stephen: they are given in page 234. After the last Psalm, the Office of St. John is resumed, commencing as follows:

(Ecclus. XV.) 

Qui timet Deum, faciet bona: et qui continens est justitiae, apprehendet illam, et obviabit illi quasi mater honorificata. He that feareth God, will do good: and he that possesseth justice, shall lay hold on her, and she shall meet him as an honourable mother.


Exsultet orbis gaudiis:
Coelum resultet laudibus;
Apostolorum gloriam
Tellus et astra concinunt.Vos saeculorum judices,
Et vera mundi lumina:
Votis precamur cordium,
Audite voces supplicum.Qui templa coeli clauditis,
Serasque verbo solvitis,
Nos a reatu noxios
Solvi jubete quaesumus.Praecepta quorum protinus
Languor salusque sentiunt;
Sanate mentes languidas,
Augete nos virtutibus.Ut cum redibit Arbiter
In fine Christus saeculi,
Nos sempiterni gaudii
Concedat esse compotes.Jesu tibi sit gloria,
Qui natus es de Virgine:
Cum Patre et almo Spiritu
In sempiterna saecula.
Let the earth exult with joy: let the heavens re-echo with praise: the glory of the Apostles is sung by both earth and heaven.O ye, the Judges of the world, and the true Lights of the earth! we pray to you with
all earnestness of heart: hear the prayers of your clients.'Tis ye that have power, by your word, to shut and open the gates of heaven: we beseech you, loosen us from the bonds of sin.Sickness and health promptly do your bidding; on! heal our languid souls, bring us growth in virtue;That so, when Jesus, our judge, shall come again at the end of the world, he may grant us to be partakers of never-ending bliss.Glory be to thee, O Jesus, that wast born of the Virgin! and to the Father, and to the Spirit of love, for everlasting ages.
℣. Valde honorandus est beatus Joannes.
℟. Qui supra pectus Domini in coena recubuit.
℣. Most worthy of honour is the blessed John.
℟. Who leaned upon the Lord's breast at the supper.

According to the Monastic Rite it is as follows:-

R. Breve. Constitues eos principes, * Super omnem terram.
Constitues eos principes, * Super omnem terram.
V. Memores erunt nominis tui, Domine. * Super omnem terram.
Gloria Patri.
Constitues eos principes, * Super omnem terram.

Exsultet coelum laudibus,
Resultet terra gaudiis;
Apostolorum gloriam
Sacra canunt solemnia.

Vos saecli justi judices
Et vera mundi lumina,
Votis precamur cordium,
Audite preces supplicum.

Qui coelum verbo clauditis,
Serasque ejus solvitis
Nos a peccatis omnibus
Solvite jussu, quaesumus.

Quorum praecepto subditur
Salus et languor omnium,
Sanate aegros moribus,
Nos reddentes virtutibus.

Ut cum judex advenerit,
Christus in fine saeculi,
Nos sempiterni gaudii
Faciat esse compotes.

Gloria tibi, Domine,
Qui natus es de Virgine,
Cum Patre, et Sancto Spiritu,
In sempiterna saecula.


Ant. Exiit sermo inter fratres, quod discipulus ille non moritur: et non dixit Jesus: Non moritur; sed:
Sic eum volo manere donec veniam.
Ant. There went abroad among the brethren this saying, that that disciple should not die: and Jesus did not say to him: He should not die; but: So I will have him to remain till I come.


Ecclesiam tuam, Domine, benignus illustra, ut beati Joannis Apostoli tui et Evangelistae illuminata doctrinis, ad dona perveniat sempiterna. Per Dominum.
Mercifully, O Lord, enlighten thy Church: that being taught by blessed John, thine Apostle and Evangelist, she may come to thy eternal rewards. Through,& c.

Commemoration of the Holy Innocents

Ant. Hi sunt, qui cum mulieribus non sunt coinquinati: virgines enim sunt, et sequuntur Agnum quocumque ierit.

℣. Herodes iratus occidit multos pueros.
℟. In Bethlehem Judae, civitate David.OREMUS.
Deus cujus hodierna die praeconium Innocentes martyres non loquendo, sed moriendo confessi sunt, omnia in nobis vitiorum mala mortifica: ut fidem tuam, quam lingua nostra loquitur, etiam moribus vita fateatur.

Ant. These are they who were not defiled with women: for they are virgins, and follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.

℣. Herod, being angry, killed many children.
℟. In Bethlehem of Juda, the city of David.

O God, whose praise the holy Martyrs, the Innocents, published this day, not by speaking, but by dying; mortify in us all our vicious inclinations: that we may show forth in our actions, thy faith,
which we profess with our lips.

Commemoration of Christmas Day

Ant. Hodie Christus natus est: hodie Salvator apparuit: hodie in terra canunt Angeli, laetantur Archangeli: hodie exsultant justi, dicentes: Gloria in excelsis Deo. Alleluia.

℣. Notum fecit Dominus, alleluia.
℟. Salutare suum, alleluia.

Concede, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus, ut nos Unigeniti tui nova per carnem Nativitas liberet, quos sub peccati jugo vetusta servitus tenet.

Ant. This day, Christ is born; this day, the Saviour hath appeared; this day, the Angels sing on earth; the Archangels rejoice; this day, the just exult, saying: Glory be to God in the highest, alleluia.

℣. The Lord hath made known, alleluia.
℟. His salvation, alleluia.

Grant, we beseech thee, O Almighty God, that we who groan under the old captivity of sin, maybe freed therefrom by the new Birth of thine Only Begotten Son,

Commemoration of St Stephen

Ant. Sepelierunt Stephanum viri timorati, et fecerunt planctum magnum super eum.

℣. Stephanus vidit coelos apertos.
℟. Vidit et introivit: beatus homo cui coeli patebant.

Da nobis, quaesumus. Domine imitari quod colimus, ut discamus et inimicos diligere: quia ejus natalitia celebramus, qui novit etiam pro persecutoribus exorare Dominum nostrum Jesum
Christum, Filium tuum, Qui tecum.

Ant. Devout men buried Stephen, and made great mourning over him.

℣. Stephen saw the heavens opened.
℟. He saw and entered: blessed man, to whom the heavens opened.

Grant, O Lord, we beseech thee, that we may imitate him whose memory we celebrate, so as to learn to love even our enemies, because we now solemnise his martyrdom who knew how to pray, even for his enemies, to our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son, Who liveth, &c.


Now let us listen to the several Churches, proclaiming, in their liturgical praises, the glory of St, John. We begin with the Church of Rome, from which we take this beautiful Preface of the
Leonian Sacramentary.


Vere dignum et justum est, aequum et salutare, nos tibi gratias agere. Pater omnipotens, beati Apostoli tui Joannis Evangelistae natalitia venerantes. Qui Domini nostri Jesu Christi Filii tui vocatione suscepta, terrenum respuit patrem, ut posset invenire coelestem: retia saeculi, quibus implicabatur, abjecit, ut aeternitatis dona mente libera sectaretur: nutantem fluctibus navem reliquit, ut in ecclesiasticae gubernationis tranquilliate consisteret: a piscium captione cessavit, ut animas mundanis gurgitibus immersas, calamo doctrinae salutaris abstraheret: destitit pelagi profundari mari, secretorum scrutator redditus divinorum. Eo usque procedens, ut et in coenae mysticae sacrosancto convivio in ipsius recumberet pectore Salvatoris; et eum in cruce Dominus constitutus, vicarium sui, Matri Virgini Filium subrogaret, et in principio Verbum, quod Deus erat apud Deum, prae caeteris ostenderet praedicandum. It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should give thanks to thee, O Almighty Father! now that we are celebrating the Feast of thy blessed Apostle, John the Evangelist. Having received the vocation of our Lord Jesus Christ thy Son, he left his earthly father, that he might find one in heaven. He threw down the nets of this world, wherein he was entangled, that he might, with a free soul, pursue the goods that are eternal He abandoned his boat, which was ever tossing on the waves, that he might calmly steer a spiritual bark in the Church. He gave up his trade of fishing, that, by the hook of saving doctrine, he might draw out souls ingulfed in the surges of the world. He ceased his searching in the deep waters of the sea, that he might be made worthy to penetrate into secrets divine. Even thus was he favoured - he leaned his head on the Saviour's breast, in the most holy banquet of the mystic supper; our Lord, when hanging on the cross, gave him to the Virgin-Mother to be her Son in His own stead; and it was he, above all others, that showed how this was to be preached: In the beginning was the Word, who was God with God.

The Church of Milan, in her Ambrosian Missal, thus sings forth the praises of the Beloved Disciple:

Vere dignum et justum est, aequum et salutare, nos tibi gratias agere, aeterne Deus: beati Joannis Evangelistae merita recolentes, quem Dominus Jesus Christus non solum peculiari semper decore ornavit; sed et in cruce positus, tamquam haereditario munere prosecutus, vicarium pro se Matri Filium clementer attribuit. Quem ad eum usque dignitatis gradum divina benignitas evexit, ut et fac tus ex piscatore Discipulus, et humanae dispensationis modum excedens, ipsam Verbi tui sine initio Deitatem prae caeteris et mente conspiceret, et voce perferret. It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation , that we should give thanks to thee, O Eternal God! whilst celebrating the merits of blessed John the Evangelist, whom our Lord Jesus Christ not only adorned with every peculiar grace, but to whom also, he, when fastened to the cross, lovingly granted, as though it were the gift of inheritance, to take his own place and be the Son of Mary. Even unto this grade of honour did thy divine goodness raise him, that being changed from a fisher man into a Disciple, and, in the dispensing thy Truth, going beyond the measure of other men - he, above all others, both saw and preached the very Divinity of thy Eternal Word.

The Mozarabic Missal has the following prayer to our holy Apostle and Evangelist:


Genite ingeniti Filius Dei summi; qui sacrum illud arcanum pectoris tui dilecto tuo Joanni Apostolo reserasti: cum in sinu tuo recubans Evangelii sui fluenta ex ipso pectoris tui fonte haurire promeruit. Tu nos intuere propitius, ut perte abdita cognoscamus, per te bona quae manifesta sunt impleamus. Reserans nobis pectoris tui occulta, quibus possimus cognoscere, et conditionis nostrae infirmitatem, et ad tuae divinitatis pervenire cognitionem. Manifestans de te quid amemus, indicans de nobis quid corrigamus. Quo hujus dilecti tui suffragiis, moribus nostris in melius commutatis, aufugiat pestis, dispereat languor, pellatur mucro. Quidquid adversum est fidei christianae intereat; quidquid prosperum, convalescat. Arceantur fames, sedentur lites, haeresam obtrudantur fautores. Foecandetur frugibus terra, vestiatur virtutibus anima; atque cuncta nobis in commune proveniant bona. Quo tibi Deo nostro fideliter servientes, et his sine peccato utamur concessis, et post deliciis fruamur aeternae possessionis. Amen. O Son of God! Begotten of the Unbegotten infinite God! who didst open the sacred treasury of thy Breast to thine Apostle, when he, reclining on thy Bosom, merited to drink in, from the very fountain of thy Heart, the streams of his own Gospel: look upon us with an eye of pity, that so, by thee, we may know thy mysteries, and do the good thou hast manifested unto us. Reveal unto us the hidden things of thy Heart, whereby we may be taught both the weakness of our own nature, and the Divinity which is thine. Show us thyself, that we may love thee; show us in ourselves what we must correct. That thus, by the prayers of thy beloved Disciple, our evil ways being converted, pestilence may flee from us, sickness disappear, and the sword be sheathed. May all that is adverse to Christian faith perish; may all that prospers it, be strengthened. May famines cease, may dissensions be appeased, may the upholders of heresy be confounded. May the earth be pregnant with fruits, our souls he clad with virtues, and all good things come unto us all. That thus, faithfully serving thee our God, we may both use these gifts without sin, and, hereafter, enjoy the bliss of possessing thee for eternity. Amen.

The following Hymn, which we have taken from the Milan Liturgy, is attributed to St. Ambrose; it certainly bears a resemblance to his style - sublime thoughts, majestically told.


Amore Christi nobilis
Et filius Tonitrui,
Arcana Joannes Dei
Fatu revelavit sacro.Captis solebat piscibus
Patris senectam pascere;
Turbante dum natat salo
Immobilis ude stetit.Hamum profundo merserat,
Piscatus est Verbum Dei;
Jactavit undis retia,
Vitam levavit hominum.Piscis bonus pia est Fides,
Mundi supernatans salum.
Subnixa Christi pectore,
Sancto locuta Spiritu:"In principio erat Verbum,
Et Verbum erat apud Deum,
Et Deus erat Verbum. Hoc erat
In principio apud Deum.""Omnia per ipsum facta sunt."
Sed ipse laude resonet;
Et laureatus Spiritu,
Scriptis coronetur suis.Commune multis passio,
Cruorque delictum lavans;
Hoc morte praestat Martyrum.
Quod fecit esse Martyres.

Vinctus tamen ab impiis,
Calente olivo dicitur
Tersisse mundi pulverem,
Stetisse victor aemuli.

Gloria tibi, Domine,
Qui natus es de Virgine;
Cum Patre et Sancto Spiritu
In sempiterna saecula.

John - the honoured loved- one of Jesus, and named by Him the Son of Thunder - revealed in sacred words, the hidden things of God.He was a fisherman, and supported his aged parent by his toil: whilst sailing on the troubled waves, he received the faith, and firmly did he hold to it.

He throws his hook into the deep, and takes the Word of God; he lets down his nets into the waters, he draws in Him who is the Light of the world.

His fervent Faith is the good Fish which swam through the briny flood of this world; it rested on the Breast of Christ, and thus spoke in the Holy Spirit:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God."

"All things were made by Him." Then, let us sing the praises of this Disciple, and since he bears the laurels of the Spirit, let his writings be his crown.

Martyrdom has been granted to many, and this shedding of their own blood purifies them from every sin; our John did what was better than Martyrdom - he taught to the world that which made the Martyrs.

Yet we are told, that he was bound by wicked men, and plunged into boiling oil; it did but cleanse him from this world's dust, and give him victory over the enemy.

Glory be to thee, O Lord, that wast born of the Virgin! and to the Father, and to the Holy Ghost, for everlasting ages. Amen.

We will now give a few stanzas from the Hymns which the Greek Church, in her accustomed pomp of language, sings in honour of St. John. She keeps his Feast on the 26th September.
(XXVI. Septembris, in magno Vespertino, et passim.)

Venite, sapientiae abyssum et orthodoxorum scriptorem dogmatum, Fideles, hymnis coronemus divinis hodie, Joannem gloriosum et dilectum: is enim intonuit: Verbum erat in principio. Ideo voce tonitru simili demonstratus est, quasi Evangelio mundum illuminans, multisapiens et celeberrimus.Vere aperteque tu manifestatus es amicus ex corde magnus Christi magistri; pectori enim illius incubuisti, unde hausisti sapientiae dogmata, quibus tamquam Dei praeco divinus, ditas omnem terrae circuitum, quam possidens jucunda Christi Ecclesia nunc gaudens exornat.

Gaude, vere theologe, gaude, Matris Domini fili amabilissime: tu enim stans juxta crucem Christi divinam audisti vocem Magis tri: Ecce nunc mater tua, ad te clamantis. Ideo digne te omnes ut Christi Apostolum magnum et dilectum beatificamus.

Contemplator ineffabilium revelationum, et interpres supernorum Dei mysteriorum Zebedaei filius, scribens nobis Christi Evangelium, divine loqui Patrem, et Filium, et Spiritum nos docuit.

Lyra a Deo mota coelestium odarum, mysticus ille scriptor, os divina loquens, Canticum canticorum dulciter decantat, et precatur salvari nos.

Tonitru filium, divinorum sermonum fundamentum, theologiae ducem, et primum praeconem verae sapientiae dogmatum, Joannem dilectum et virginem, o mortalium genus, multis laudemus acclamationibus.

Flumina theologiae, ex venerando ore tuo salierunt, Apostole, quibus Ecclesia Dei potata, adorat, orthodoxe, Trinitatem consubstantialem; et nunc depre care, Joannes theologe, stabiliri et salvari animas nostras.

Virgultum puritatis, boni odoris unguentum apparuit nobis in hodierna festivitate; ad ipsum igitur clamemus: Tu qui supra pectus recubuisti Dominicum tu qui mundo stillare fecisti Verbum, Joannes Apostole; qui Virginem custodivisti ut pupillam oculi, postula pro nobis apud Christum magnam misericordiam.

Apostolorum celsitudinem, theologiae tubam, spiritalem ducem, qui orbem terrarum Deo subegit, venite, fideles, beatificemus Joannem illustrissimum, e terra sublatum et non ablatum, sed viventem et exspectantem terribilem Domini secundum adventum; cui ut inculpabiliter assistamus deprecare, amice mystice Christi pectori ejus innixe cum amore, tuam memoriam celebrantes.

Come, ye Faithful, let us this day crown with sacred hymns the glorious and Beloved John, an abyss of wisdom, and the writer of orthodox dogmas: for it was he that uttered. In the beginning was the Word. Therefore did he appear as with the voice of thunder, enlightening the world with his Gospel - he the exceeding wise and world-wide famed Disciple.Thou wast truly and manifestly the great bosom-friend of Jesus thy Master; for thou didst recline upon his Breast, imbibing thence the dogmas of wisdom, wherewith, as God's sublime herald, thou enrichest the earth's circuit, and which the glad Church of Christ, now possessing it, exultingly honours.

Rejoice, thou true Theologian! rejoice, thou most amiable Son of our Lord's Mother! for, when standing nigh the Cross of Jesus, thou didst hear his divine voice saying unto thee: Behold now thy Mother. Therefore do we all bless thee, as the great and Beloved Apostle of Christ.

The contemplator of ineffable revelations, the interpreter of God's most high mysteries, the son of Zebedee, wrote us the Gospel of Christ, and thereby taught us how to speak theologically of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

This heaven-hymned Harp attuned by God, this mystic writer, this mouth that speaks divine things, is now sweetly- singing the Canticle of Canticles, and prays for our salvation.

Let us, O ye mortals! proclaim his many praises:- John, the Son of thunder - the source of divine language - the Prince of Theology - the first preacher of true wisdom's dogmas - the Beloved and Virgin-Disciple.

The streams of Theology gushed from thy venerable lips, O Apostle! the Church of God has drunk them in, O teacher of truth! and adores the consubstantial Trinity. O holy Theologian John! now pray that our souls may be unwavering and saved.

The flower of purity, the fragrant perfume, breathes upon this day's feast; let us, therefore, pray to him: Blessed Apostle John! who didst recline upon Jesus' Breast! who didst pour out The Word upon the earth; who didst guard the Virgin as the apple of thine eye! Oh! ask Jesus to show his great mercy unto us.

Come, ye faithful! let us bless the most renowned John, the exalted one among the Apostles, the trumpet of theology, the spiritual guide - he that brought the world into subjection to God - he that was raised above the earth, not taken away from it, and is living and awaiting the dread second coming of our Lord. O thou the mystic Friend of Christ, that didst lovingly lean upon his Breast, help us, who celebrate thy memory, help us by thy prayers to present ourselves guiltless before our judge.

As usual, we will close these liturgical praises of our dear Saint, by a Prose of the Western Churches in the Middle-Ages, which we have taken from the collection of the Monastery of Saint Gal. It was composed by the Blessed Notker, and was for centuries in the Roman-French Missals.


Joannes, Jesu Christo
Multum dilecte virgo.Tu ejus amore
Carnalem in navi
Parentem liquisti.Tu leva conjugis
Pectus respuisti,
Messiam secutus,
Ut ejus pectoris
Sacra menuisses
Fluenta potare.Tuque in terris positus,
Gloriam conspexisti
Filii Dei,
Quae solum Sanctis
In vita creditur
Contuenda esse perenni.Te Christus
In cruce triumphans,
Matri suae dedit custodem;
Ut Virgo
Virginem servares,
Atque curam suppeditares.Tute carcere
Flagrisque fractus,
Testimonio pro Christo
Es gavisus.Idem mortuos suscitas,
Inque Jesu nomine
Venenum forte vincis.

Tibi summus tacitum
Prae caeteris Verbum suum
Pater revelat.

Tu nos omnes
Sedulis precibus
Apud Deum
Semper commenda,
Joannes, Christi care.

O John! the dearly Beloved Virgin-Disciple of Jesus!For love of Him, thou didst leave thy father Zebedee and his boat.

Thou didst disdain the caresses of thy young betrothed, and didst follow the Messias,

That thou mightest merit to drink at the sacred fount of his Heart.

Thou, too, when on this earth, didst behold the transfiguration of the Son of God,

Which vision, as we are taught, is not granted save to the Saints in life eternal.

Jesus, when conquering on his cross, entrusted his Mother to thy keeping;

That thou, a Virgin, mightest protect and care for the Virgin, in His stead.

Imprisoned and torn by scourges, thou didst rejoice - for it was thy bearing testimony to Christ.

Thou, too, raisest the dead to life, and, in the name of Jesus, breakest the poison's power.

To thee, above the rest; the Almighty Father reveals his own embosomed Word.

Do thou ever commend us all to God, by unwearied intercession, O John, Disciple dear to Christ!


Beloved Disciple of the Babe of Bethlehem! - how great is thy happiness! how wonderful is the reward given to thy love and thy purity! In thee was fulfilled that word of thy Master: Blessed are the dean of heart; for they shall see God. Not only didst thou see this God-Man - thou wast his Friend, and on his Bosom didst rest thy head. John the Baptist trembles at having to bend the head of Jesus under the water of Jordan; Magdalene, though assured by his own lips that her pardon was perfect as her love, yet dares not raise her head, but keeps clinging to his feet; Thomas scarce presumes to obey him when he bids him put his finger into his wounded Side; - and thou, in the presence of all the Apostles, sittest close to Him, leaning thy head upon his Breast! Nor is it only Jesus in his Humanity that thou seest and possessest; but, because thy heart is pure, thou soarest, like an eagle, up to the Sun of Justice, and fixest thine eye upon him in the light inaccessible, wherein he dwelleth eternally with the Father and the Holy Ghost.

Thus was rewarded the fidelity wherewith thou didst keep intact for Jesus the precious treasure of thy Purity. And now, O worthy favourite of the great King! forget not us poor sinners. We believe and confess the Divinity of the Incarnate Word, whom thou hast evangelised unto us; but we desire to draw nigh to him during this holy season, now that he shows himself so desirous of our company, so humble, so full of love, so dear a Child, and so poor! Alas! our sins keep us back; our heart is not pure like thine; we have need of a Patron to introduce us to our Master's Crib! [Isai. 1:3] Thou, O Beloved Disciple of the Emmanuel! thou must procure us this happiness. Thou hast shown us the Divinity of the Word in the bosom of the Eternal Father; lead us now to this same Word made flesh. Under thy patronage, Jesus will permit us to enter into the Stable, to stand near his Crib, to see with our eyes, and touch with our hands [1 John 1:1], this sweet Fruit of eternal Life. May it be granted us to contemplate the sweet Face of Him, that is our Saviour and thy Friend; to feel the throbs of that Heart, which loves both thee and us - and which thou didst see wounded by the Spear, on Calvary. It is good for us to fix ourselves here near the Crib of our Jesus, and share in the graces he there lavishes, and learn, as thou didst, the grand lesson of this Child's simplicity; - thy prayers must get us all this.

Then too, as Son and Guardian of Mary, thou hast to present us to thine own and our Mother. Ask her to give us somewhat of the tender love wherewith she watches over the Crib of her Divine Son; to see in us the Brothers of that Child she bore; and to admit us to a share of the maternal affection she had for thee, the favoured confidant of the secrets of her Jesus.
We also pray to thee, O holy Apostle! for the Church of God. She was planted and watered by thy labours, embalmed with the celestial fragrance of thy virtues, and illumined by thy sublime teachings; - pray now, that these graces may bring forth their fruit, and that, to the end of her pilgrimage, faith may be firm, the love of Jesus fervent, and christian morals pure and holy. Thou tellest us, in thy Gospel, of a saying of thy Divine Master: I will not now call you my Servants, but my Friends [John 15:15]: pray, dear Saint, that there may come to this, from our hearts and lips, a response of love and courage, telling our Emmanuel, that, like thyself, we will follow him whithersoever he leads us.

Let us, on this second day after our Divine Infant's Birth, meditate upon the Sleep he deigns to take. Let us consider how this God of all goodness, who has come down from heaven to invite his creature man to come to him and seek rest for his soul - seeks rest himself in our earthly home, and sanctifies, by his own divine Sleep, that rest, which to us is a necessity. We have just been dwelling, with delighted devotion, on the thought of his offering his Breast as a resting-place for the Beloved Disciple, and for all souls that imitate John in their love and devotedness: now, let us look at this our God, sweetly sleeping in his humble Crib, or on his Mother's lap.

St. Alphonsus Liguori, in one of his delicious Canticles, thus describes the Sleep of Jesus and the enraptured love of the Mother:

(Translation by the Very Rev. R.A. Coffin.)

Mary sings - the ravish'd heavens
Hush the music of their spheres;
Soft her voice, her beauty fairer
Than the glancing stars appears:
While to Jesus slumbering nigh.
Thus she sings her lullaby.Sleep my Babe! my God! my Treasure!
Gently sleep: but ah! the sight
With its beauty so transports me,
I am dying of delight:
Thou canst not thy Mother see,
Yet thou breathest flames to me.If within your lids unfolded,
Slumbering eyes! you seem so fair;
When upon my gaze you open,
How shall I your beauty bear?
Ah! I tremble when you wake,
Lest my heart with love should break.Cheeks than sweetest roses sweeter.
Mouth where lurks a smile divine -
Though the kiss my Babe should waken,
I must press those lips to mine.
Pardon, Dearest, if I say,
Mother's love will take no nay.As she ceased, the gentle Virgin
Clasped the Infant to her breast.
And upon his radiant forehead
Many a loving kiss impress'd:
Jesus woke, and on her face
Fixed a look of heavenly grace.Ah! that look, those eyes, that beauty.
How they pierce the Mother's heart;
Shafts of love from every feature
Through her gentle bosom dart
Heart of stone! can I behold
Mary's love, and still be cold?

Where, my soul! thy sense, thy reason?
When will these delays be o'er?
All things else, how fair so ever.
Are but smoke:- resist no more!
Yes! 'tis done! I yield my arms
Captive to those double charms.

If, alas, O heavenly beauty!
Now so late those charms I learn.
Now at least, and ever, ever,
With thy love my heart will burn
For the Mother and the Child,
Rose and Lily undefiled.

Plant and fruit, and fruit and blossom,
I am theirs, and they are mine;
For no other prize I labour,
For no other bliss I pine;
Love can every pain requite,
Love alone is full delight.

Fermarono i cieli
La loro armonia,
Cantando Maria
La nanna a Gesù.Con voce divina
La Virgine bella,
Più vaga che stella,
Diceva così:Mio figlio, mio Dio,
Mio caro tesoro,
Ta dormi, ed io moro
Per tanta beltà.Dormendo, mio bene,
Tua l'aura non miri,
Ma Taura che spiri,
E foco per me.Cogli occhi serrati
Voi pur mi ferite;
Or quando li aprite,
Per me che sara?Le guance di rose
Mi rubano il core:
O Dio! che si more
Quest' alma per te.Mi sforza a baciarti
Un labbro si raro:
Perdonami, caro,
Non posso più, no.

Si tacqne, ed al petto
Strincendo il Bambino,
Al volto divino
Un baci donò.

Si desta il diletto;
E tutto amoroso,
Con occhio vezzoso
La Madre guardò.

Ah Dio! ch' alla Madre
Quegli occhi, quel guardo
Fu strale, fu dardo,
Che l'alma feri.

E tu non languisci,
O dur' alma mia,
Vedendo Maria
Languir per Gesù.

Se tardi v' amai,
Bellezze divine,
Ormai senza fine
Per voi arderò.

Il Figlio e la Madre,
La Madre col Figlio,
La rosa col giglio
Quest' alma vorrà.

Let us, then, adore the Divine Babe in this state of Sleep, to which he voluntarily subjects himself, and contrast it with the cruel fatigue, which are one day to be His when he is grown up, and come to the age of manhood, he will go through every toil and suffering in search of us his Lost Sheep. But these first slumbers shall not be troubled by any- thing of ours, which could pain this losing wakeful Heart; and the Blessed Mother shall not be disturbed in the blissful contemplation of her Sleeping Child, over whom she is, at a future time, to shed such bitter tears. The day is not far distant, when he will say: The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head [Matt. 8:20].

"Christ has had three resting-places," says Peter of Celles. "The first was in the Bosom of his Eternal Father. He says: I am in the Father, and the Father is in me? [John, 14:11]. What repose could be compared to this, of the Father's complacency in the Son, and the Son's complacency in the Father? It is a mutual and ineffable love, and they are happy in the union. But, whilst maintaining this place of his eternal rest, the Son of God has sought a second, in the womb of the Virgin Mary. He overshadowed her with the Holy Ghost, and slept a long sleep in her chaste womb, whilst his Body was there being formed. The holy Virgin troubled not the sleep of her Child: she kept all the powers of her soul in a silence like that of heaven; and, rapt in self-contemplation, she heard mysteries which it is not permitted to man to utter. The third resting-place of Christ is in man. Jesus dwells in a heart that is purified by faith, enlarged by charity, raised above Earth by contemplation, and is renewed by the Holy Ghost. Such a heart as this offers to Jesus not an earthly but a heavenly dwelling; and the Child, who is born unto us, will not refuse to enter it, and take his rest within it." [Fourth Sermon On our Lord's Nativity.]

To this Eternal Word, made Flesh for our salvation, let us offer up this Hymn of our great ecclesiastical Poet, Prudentius.


Corde natus ex parentis
Ante mundi exordium
A et O cognominatus:
Ipse fons et clausula
Omnium quae sunt, fuerunt,
Quaeque post futura sunt.Ipse jussit, et creata,
Dixit ipse, et facta sunt;
Terra, coelum, fossa ponti,
Trina rerum machina,
Quaeque in his vigent subalto
Solis et lunae globo.Corporis formam caduci,
Membra morti obnoxia
Induit, ne gens periret
Primoplasti ex germine,
Merserat quem lex profundo
Noxialis Tartaro.O beatus ortus ille,
Virgo cum puerpera
Edidit nostram salutem,
Foeta Sancto Spiritu,
Et puer Redemptor orbis
Os sacratum protulit.Psallat altitude coeli,
Psallite, omnes Angeli,
Quidquid est virtutis usquam,
Psallat in laudem Dei:
Nulla linguarum silescat,
Vox et omnia consonet.Ecce quem vates vetustis
Concinebant saeculis,
Quem Prophetarum fideles
Paginae spoponderant,
Emicat promissus olim:
Cuncta collaudent eum.Te senes et te juventus,
Parvulorum te chorus,
Turba matrum, virginumque,
Simplices puellulae,
Voce concordes pudicis
Perstrepant concentibus.

Fluminum lapsus, et undae
Littorum crepidines,
Imber, aestus, nix, pruinae,
Silva et aura, nox, dies,
Omnibus te concelebrent
Saeculorum saeculis.

Born from the bosom of the Father before the world began, his name is Alpha and Omega. He is the beginning and end of all things present, past, and future.He commanded and they were created, he spoke and they were made: earth, heaven, and sea - the triple kingdom - and all things that are in them, under the sun and moon.

He clothes himself with a frail Body, and with members subject to death; lest the human race, the offspring of Adam, should perish together with their first Parent, whom a terrible sentence had condemned to the depth of hell.

O that happy Birth, when a Virgin-Mother, having conceived of the Holy Ghost, brought forth the Child that was our salvation ', and the Babe, the Redeemer of the world, showed unto us his divine Face!

Let high heaven sing, and sing all ye Angels! Let every living creature sing to the praise of God! Let every tongue proclaim it, and every voice join in the hymn of praise.

Behold the Promised Messias, of whom sang the Seers in the ancient times, and whom the Prophets foretold in their truthful oracles! Praise be to him from every creature.

May the aged, and the young, and children, mothers, and virgins, and innocent maidens, sing to thee, O Jesus! and with concordant voice chastely hymn thy praise!

May the flowing river and the sea-shore wave, rain and heat, snow and frost forest and zephyr, day and night, for ever and for ever give thee praise.

Let us now honour and invoke the ever Blessed and most Merciful Mother of our God, and use the words of this beautiful Hymn of the ancient Roman-French Missals:


Laetare, puerpera,
Laeto puerperio,
Ciujus casta viscera
Foecundantur Filio.Lacte fluunt ubera
Cum pudoris lilio;
Membra foves tenera,
Virgo, lacte proprio.Patris Unigenitus,
Per quem fecit saecula.
Hic degit humanitus.
Sub Matre paupercula.Ibi sanctos reficit
Angelos laetitia:
Hie sitit et esurit
Degens ab infantia.Ibi regit omnia.
Hic a Matre regitur:
Ibi dat imperia,
Hic ancillae subditur.Ibi summi culminis
Residet in solio;
Hic ligatus fasciis
Vagit in praesepio.O homo! considera,
Revocans memoriae,
Quanta sint haec opera
Divinae clementiae.

Non desperes veniam,
Si multum deliqueris,
Ubi tot insignia
Charitatis videris.

Sub Matris refugio
Fuge, causa veniae:
Nam tenet in gremio
Fontem indulgentiae.

Hanc salutes saepius
Cum spei fiducia,
Dicens, flexis genibus:
Ave plena gratia.

Quondam flentis lacrymas
Sedabas uberibus:
Nunc iratum mitigas
Pro nostris excessibus.

Jesu, lapsos respice,
Piae Matris precibus;
Emendatos effice
Dignos coeli civibus.

Rejoice, O Virgin-Mother! in thy joy-giving delivery, for thy chaste womb was made fruitful of the very Son of God.O wondrous sight - Jesus feeding from the Lily of Purity! Yea, most pure Virgin, thou feedest at thy breasts his infant life.

The Only Begotten of the Father, by whom he made this world, is dwelling here the Babe of a poor Mother. There, be is feeding the holy Angels with joy:- here, he is in hanger and thirst, from his cradle.

There, he holds all things in subjection:- here, he is in subjection to a Mother. There, le commands:- here, he obeys his Handmaid.

There, he is seated on the throne of highest majesty:- here, he is lying swathed and weeping in a manger.

Think on this, O man! and to thy memory recall these stupendous works of God's mercy.

And though thy sins be great, yet canst thou not despair, for the proofs thou seest here of Jesus' love speak but of pardon.

Thou wouldst have pardon? fly to the Mother for protection, for she holds on her lap the Infinite Fountain of Mercy.

Often bend thy knee before her, and, with hopeful love, salute her thus: hail! full of grace!

As thou, of old, didst feed thy Jesus, and stay his infant tears; so now, dear Mother, appease him angered by our sins.

Hear, O Jesus! thy sweet Mother's prayers, and, with an eye of pity, look upon us sinners! Correct and change us, and make us worthy to be citizens of heaven.


This text is taken from The Liturgical Year, authored by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)