19 - 27 minutes readSeptember 8 – The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary ~ Dom Prosper Gueranger

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September 8 – The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Let us celebrate the Nativity of the Virgin Mary; let us adore her Son, Christ our Lord. Such is the invitation addressed to us today 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. Today, as on the glorious Assumption, the sacred Canticle is heard; 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 endeavor 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, recognize 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 realized 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 recognize 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. “The midst of the earth,” says the Abbot of Clairvaux, “admirably represents Mary. Mary is the center 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 who 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.”

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. “All ye nations, come 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.” “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 today; and the Church, beside herself, bids her choirs sing wedding songs.”

Not only do the Doctors of the 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.”

This union of Rome and Byzantium in the celebration of today’s festival, dates back as far as the seventh century at least; 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 Judæa like the rose on the thorn.

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 (detailed in Giovan Domenico Mansi’s Sacrorum conciliorum, volume xxiii). It was the accomplishment of a vow made by him and the other Cardinals during the Church’s widowhood, which, throughout 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 blessed, 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!”

In Judæa, the scepter has been taken away from Juda; but the usurper of his power, Herod the Idumæan, 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 hear 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 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.

Salve, sancta parens, enixa puerpera Regem; qui cœlum terramque regit in sæcula sæculorum. Hail, holy parent, who didst bring forth the King: who rules heaven and earth for ever and ever.
Ps. Eructavit cor meum verbum bonum: dico ego opera mea Regi. Gloria Patri. Salve. Ps. My heart hath uttered a good word: I speak my works to the King. Glory be to the Father, & Hail.

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 today may develop in us the work of sanctification and peace begin at Bethlehem.

Famulis tuis, quæsumus Domine, cœlestis gratiæ munus impertire: ut, quibus beatæ Virginis partus exstitit salutis exordium, Nativitatis ejus votiva solemnitas pacis tribuat incrementum. Per Dominum. We beseech thee, O Lord, to bestow on thy servants the gift of heavenly grace; that for thos to whom the blessed Virgin’s maternity was the beginning of salvation, the votive solemnity of her Nativity may procure increase of peace. Through, &c.

In private Masses, after the Collect, Secret, and Postcommunion of the feast, a commemoration is made of St. Adrian.

Præsta, quæsumus, omnipotens Deus: ut, qui beati Adriani, martyris tui, natalitia colimus, intercessione ejus in tui nominis amore roboremur. Per Dominum. Grant, we beseech thee, O almighty God, that we who celebrate the festival of blessed Adrian thy martyr, may by his intercession be strengthened in the love of thy name. Through.
Lectio libri Sapientiæ. Lesson from the Book of Wisdom.
Cap. viii. Ch. viii.
Dominus possedit me in initio viarum suarum antequam quidquam faceret a principio. Ab aeterno ordinata sum, et ex antiquis antequam terra fieret. Nondum erant abyssi, et ego jam concepta eram, necdum fontes aquarum eruperant; necdum montes gravi mole constiterant: ante colles ego parturiebar. Adhuc terram non fecerat, et flumina, et cardines orbis terræ. Quando præparabat cælos, aderam; quando certa lege et gyro vallabat abyssos; quando æthera firmabat sursum, et librabat fontes aquarum; quando circumdabat mari terminum suum, et legem ponebat aquis, ne transirent fines suos: quando appendebat fundamenta terræ; cum eo eram, cuncta componens. Et delectabar per singulos dies, ludens coram eo omni tempore, ludens in orbe terrarum; et deliciæ meæ esse cum filiis hominum. Nunc ergo, filii, audite me: beati qui custodiunt vias meas. Audite disciplinam, et estote sapientes, et nolite abjicere eam. Beatus homo qui audit me, et qui vigilat ad fores meas quotidie, et observat ad postes ostii mei. Qui me invenerit, inveniet vitam, et hauriet salutem a Domino. The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his ways, before he made any thing from the beginning. I was set up from eternity, and of old before the earth was made. The depths were not as yet, and I was already conceived. neither had the fountains of waters as yet sprung out: The mountains with their huge bulk had not as yet been established: before the hills I was brought forth: He had not yet made the earth, nor the rivers, nor the poles of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was present: when with a certain law and compass he enclosed the depths: When he established the sky above, and poised the fountains of waters: When he compassed the sea with its bounds, and set a law to the waters that they should not pass their limits: when be balanced the foundations of the earth; I was with him forming all things: and was delighted every day, playing before him at all times; Playing in the world: and my delights were to be with the children of men. Now therefore, ye children, hear me: Blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth me, and that watcheth daily at my gates, and waiteth at the posts of my doors. He that shall find me, shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord.

When princes are born, we prognosticate their future greatness by recalling the glory of their ancestors. The Church does in like manner today. 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 hills I was brought forth: when He prepared the heavens, I was present.”

Our weak human nature, subject to time, can conceive of things only 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 waited and watched 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.

Benedicta et venerabilis es, Virgo Maria, quæ sine tactu pudoris inventa es mater Salvatoris. Thou art blessed and venerable, O Virgin Mary, who without any violation of purity, wert found the Mother of our Savior.
℣. Virgo Dei Genitrix, quem totus non capit orbis, sin tua se clausit viscera factus homo. ℣. O Virgin Mother of God, he whom the whole world is unable to contain, being made man, enclosed himself in thy womb.
Alleluia, alleluia. Alleluia, alleluia.
℣. Felix es, sacra Virgo Maria, et omni laude dignissima: quia ex te ortus est Sol justitiæ, Christus Deus noster. Alleluia. ℣. Thou art happy, O holy Virgin Mary, and most worthy of all praise, because from thee arose the Sun of justice, Christ our God. Alleluia.
Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum. Sequel of the holy Gospel according to St. Matthew.
Cap. i. Ch. i.
Liber generationis Jesu Christi filii David, filii Abraham. Abraham genuit Isaac. Isaac autem genuit Jacob. Jacob autem genuit Judam, et fratres ejus. Judas autem genuit Phares, et Zaram de Thamar. Phares autem genuit Esron. Esron autem genuit Aram. Aram autem genuit Aminadab. Aminadab autem genuit Naasson. Naasson autem genuit Salmon. Salmon autem genuit Booz de Rahab. Booz autem genuit Obed ex Ruth. Obed autem genuit Jesse. Jesse autem genuit David regem. David autem rex genuit Salomonem ex ea quae fuit Uriae. Salomon autem genuit Roboam. Roboam autem genuit Abiam. Abias autem genuit Asa. Asa autem genuit Josophat. Josophat autem genuit Joram. Joram autem genuit Oziam. Ozias autem genuit Joatham. Joatham autem genuit Achaz. Achaz autem genuit Ezechiam. Ezechias autem genuit Manassen. Manasses autem genuit Amon. Amon autem genuit Josiam. Josias autem genuit Jechoniam, et fratres ejus in transmigratione Babylonis. Et post transmigrationem Babylonis: Jechonias genuit Salathiel. Salathiel autem genuit Zorobabel. Zorobabel autem genuit Abiud. Abiud autem genuit Eliacim. Eliacim autem genuit Azor. Azor autem genuit Sadoc. Sadoc autem genuit Achim. Achim autem genuit Eliud. Eliud autem genuit Eleazar. Eleazar autem genuit Mathan. Mathan autem genuit Jacob. Jacob autem genuit Joseph virum Mariae, de qua natus est Jesus, qui vocatur Christus. The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham begot Isaac. And Isaac begot Jacob. And Jacob begot Judas and his brethren. And Judas begot Phares and Zara of Thamar. And Phares begot Esron. And Esron begot Aram. And Aram begot Aminadab. And Aminadab begot Naasson. And Naasson begot Salmon. And Salmon begot Booz of Rahab. And Booz begot Obed of Ruth. And Obed begot Jesse. And Jesse begot David the king. And David the king begot Solomon, of her that had been the wife of Urias. And Solomon begot Roboam. And Roboam begot Abia. And Abia begot Asa. And Asa begot Josaphat. And Josaphat begot Joram. And Joram begot Ozias. And Ozias begot Joatham. And Joatham begot Achaz. And Achaz begot Ezechias. And Ezechias begot Manasses. And Manasses begot Amon. And Amon begot Josias. And Josias begot Jechonias and his brethren in the transmigration of Babylon. And after the transmigration of Babylon, Jechonias begot Salathiel. And Salathiel begot Zorobabel. And Zorobabel begot Abiud. And Abiud begot Eliacim. And Eliacim begot Azor. And Azor begot Sadoc. And Sadoc begot Achim. And Achim begot Eliud. And Eliud begot Eleazar. And Eleazar begot Mathan. And Mathan begot Jacob. And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

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, 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 … The hills of the world were bowed down by the journeys of His eternity.” This mountain, from whence the holy One, the Eternal, the Ruler of the world, is to come, is the blessed Virgin Mary, 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.

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 heaven and earth have been in labor 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.

Beata es, Virgo Maria, quæ omnium portasti Creatorem: genuisti qui te fecit, et in æternum permanes virgo. Thou art blessed, O Virgin Mary, who didst bear the Creator of all things: thou didst bring forth him who made thee, and thou remainest for ever a virgin.

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.

Unigeniti tui, Domine, nobis succurrat humanitas: ut, qui natus de Virgine, Matris integritatem non minuit, sed sacravit, in Nativitatis ejus solemniis, nostris nos piaculis exuens, oblationem nostram tibi faciat acceptam Jesus Christus Dominus noster. Qui tecum. May the humanity of thy only-begotten Son be our succor, O Lord; that Jesus Christ our Lord, who, when born of a Virgin, did not diminish, but consecrated the integrity of his Mother, may on this solemnity of her Nativity deliver us from our sins, and make our oblation acceptable to thee. Who liveth.
Commemoration of St. Adrian
Muneribus nostris, quæsumus Domine, precibusque susceptis; et cœlestibus nos munda mysteriis, et clementer exaudi. Per Dominum. Receive our offerings and prayers, O Lord, we beseech thee; and purify us by heavenly mysteries, and mercifully hear us. Through our Lord.
Vere dignum et justum est, æquum et salutare, nos tibi semper et ubique gratias agere: Domine sancte, Pater omnípotens, æterne Deus: Et te in Festivitate beatæ Mariæ semper Vírginis collaudáre, benedícere et prædicare. Quæ et Unigenitum tuum Sancti Spíritus obumbratione concepit: et, virginitatis gloria permanente, lumen æternum mundo effudit, Jesum Christum, Dominum nostrum. Per quem majestátem tuam laudant Angeli, adorant Dominatiónes, tremunt Potestates. Coeli coelorumque Virtutes ac beata Seraphim socia exsultatione concelebrant. Cum quibus et nostras voces ut admitti jubeas, deprecamur, supplici confessione dicentes: Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus. It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should always, and in all places, give thanks to thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, eternal God: and that we should praise, bless, and glorify thee on the Nativity of the blessed Mary ever a Virgin. Who by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost conceived thine only-begotten Son, and, the glory of her virginity still remaining, brought forth the eternal light to the world, Jesus Christ our Lord. By whom the Angels praise thy Majesty, the Dominations adore it, the Powers tremble before it, the Heavens, the heavenly Virtues, and blessed Seraphim, with common jubilee glorify it. Together with whom we beseech thee that we may be admitted to join our humble voices saying: Holy! Holy! Holy!

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.

Beata viscera Mariæ Virginis, quæ portaverunt æterni Patris Filium. 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 ask for in the Postcommunion.

Sumpsimus, Domine, celebritatis annuæ votiva sacramenta: præsta, qu&aesumus; ut et temporalis vitæ nobis remedia præbeant et æternæ. Per Dominum. We have received, O Lord, the votive mysteries of this annual celebration; grant, we beseech thee, that they may confer upon us remedies for time and eternity. Through our Lord.
Commemoration of St. Adrian
Da, quæsumus, Domine Deus noster: ut, sicut tuorum commemoratione sanctorum temporali gratulamur officio; ita perpetuo lætemur aspectu. Per Dominum. Grant we beseech thee, O Lord our God, that as in commemorating thy saints, we rejoice in a temporal festival; so we may exult in beholding them for eternity. Through our Lord.

After the Collect of the feast, a commemoration is made of a holy martyr, whom the Church associates in the honors paid to our Lady on the second day of her earthly life. Gorgonius was chamberlain of the emperor Diocletian. The “saints of Cæsar’s household,” whose greetings St. Paul sent to the Philippians, had, ever since then, been increasing in numbers. Eusebius shows that before the last persecution they were in great favor with the emperors; such preference was shown them, that they were exempted from all participation in public rites in order that they might accept the government of the provinces. In the palace, their wives, children, and servants, were allowed full liberty to practice and profess their faith; so much so, that the court of Nicomedia formed as it were a little church around the empress Prisca and her daughter Valeria, who were then Christians, but who, unhappily, did not persevere.

It required all the craft of Galerius to make Diocletian publish the bloody edicts of the year 303 against the religion of such devoted men, whom he loved, says Eusebius, as his own sons. But once the gate of martyrdom was opened, and Cæsar had become Nero once more, the officers of the palace surpassed in glory all the other heroes of Christ illustrious for their courage throughout the empire, and even beyond its limits. Chief among these valiant men, the historian mentions Peter, Drotheus, and Gorgonius. The relics of the last-named were afterwards translated to Rome; it is on this account that he has a place in the Roman calendar, where he has the honor of being in the cortège of the Mother of God.

Commemoration of St. Gorgonius Martyr
Ant. Iste sanctus pro lege Dei sui certavit usque ad mortem, et a verbis impiorum non timuit: fundatus enim erat supra firmam petram. Ant. This saint fought, even to death, for the law of his God, and feared not the words of the wicked; for his was founded upon a firm rock.
℣. Gloria et honore coronasti eum, Domine. ℣. Thou hast crowned him with glory and honor, O Lord.
℟. Et constituisti eum super opera manuum tuarum. ℟. And hast set him over the works of thy hands.
Sanctus tuus, Domine, Gorgonius sua nos intercessione lætificet: et pia faciat solemnitate gaudere. Per Dominum. May thy holy Gorgonius rejoice us, O Lord, by his intercession, and cause us to be joyful on his pious festival. Through our Lord.

In honor 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.

℟. Solem justitiæ Regem paritura suremum: * Stella Maria maris hodie processit ad ortum. ℟. In order to bring forth the sun of justice, the sovereign King: * Mary, the star of the sea, today arose in the heavens.
℣. Cernere divinum lumen gaudete fideles. * Stella Maria maris hodie processit ad ortum. ℣. Rejoice, ye faithful, to behold the divine light. * Mary, the star of the sea, today arose in the heavens.
℟. Stirps Jesse virgam produxit, virgaque florem: * Et super hunc florem requiescit Spiritus almus. ℟. The rod of Jesse produced a branch, and the branch a flower: * And upon the flower rests the Spirit of love.
℣. Virgo Dei Genitrix virga est, flos Filius ejus. * Et super hunc florem requiescit Spiritus almus. ℣. The Virgin Mother of God is the branch, the flower is her Son. * And upon the flower rests the Spirit of love.
℟. Ad nutum Domini nostrum ditantis honorem: * Sicut spina rosam, genuit Judæa Mariam. ℟. At the will of the Lord enriching us with honor: * Mary sprang from Judæa as the rose from the thorn.
℣. Ut vitium virtus operiret, gratia culpam. * Sicut spina rosam, genuit Judæa Mariam. ℣. That vice might be overcome by virtue, and sin by grace. * Mary sprang from Judæa as the rose from the thorn.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. * Sicut spina rosam, genuit Judæa Mariam. Glory be to the Father, &c. * Mary sprang.

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 today, 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 eye 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.


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