Saturday, January 5, 2019

The Vigil of the Epiphany; with a Commemoration of Saint Telesphorus, Pope and Martyr

Semidouble (Privilege of the Second Class

The Feast of Christmas is over; the five Octaves are closed; and we are on the Eve of the Solemnity of our Lord’s Epiphany. We must spend this fifth of January in preparing ourselves for the Manifestation which Jesus, the Angel of the Great Counsel, is about to make to us of his glory. A few more hours, and the Star will stand still in the heavens, and the Magi will be seeking for admission into the stable at Bethlehem.

This Vigil is not like that of Christmas, a day of penance. The Child, whose coming we were then awaiting, in the fervor of our humble desires, is now among us, preparing to bestow fresh favors upon us. This eve of tomorrow’s Solemnity is a day of joy, like those that have preceded it; and therefore, we do not fast, nor does the Church put on the vestments of mourning, even in those churches where the Octave Day of St. Thomas of Canterbury is not observed. If the Office of the Vigil be the one of today,the color used is White. This is the Twelfth day since the Birth of our Emmanuel.

If the Vigil of the Epiphany fall on a Sunday, it shares, with Christmas Eve, the privilege of not being anticipated, as all other Vigils are, on the Saturday: it is kept on the Sunday, has all the privileges of a Sunday, and the Mass is that of the Sunday within the Octave of Christmas Day. Let us, therefore, celebrate this Vigil in great joy of heart, and prepare our souls for tomorrow’s graces.

The Greek Church keeps this a fasting-day, in memory of the preparation for Baptism, which used formerly to be administered, especially in the East, on the night preceding the feast of the Epiphany. She still solemnly blesses the Water on this Feast. We will, in our next section, speak of this ceremony, of which some vestiges still remain in the Western Church.

The holy Church of Rome commemorates today the holy Pope and Martyr, St. Telesphorus. This Pontiff began his reign in the year 127; and among his decrees, we find that of his prescribing the holy sacrifice of the Mass to be offered up on Christmas Night, in order to honor the hour when our Savior was born: he also ordered that the Angelic Hymn Gloria in excelsis should be said, on most days, at the beginning of Mass. This devotion of the holy Pope towards the great Mystery which we are now celebrating, renders his commemoration at this season of the year doubly dear to us. Telesphorus suffered a glorious martyrdom, as St. Ireneus expresses it, and was crowned with eternal glory in the year 138.

The Mass of the Vigil of the Epiphany is that of the Sunday within the Octave of Christmas, except the Commemoration of St. Telesphorus and the Gospel.


Dum medium silentium tenerent omnia, et nox in suo cursu medium iter haberet, omnipotens sermo tuus, Domine, de cœlis, a regalibus sedibus venit.

While all things were in quiet silence, and the night was in the midst of her course, thy Almighty Word, O Lord, came down from thy royal throne.

Ps. Dominus regnavit, decorem indutus est: indutus est Dominus fortitudinem, et præcinxit se. ℣. Gloria Patri. Dum medium.

Ps. The Lord hath reigned, he is clothed with beauty: the Lord is clothed with strength, and hath girded himself. ℣. Glory, &c. While all.


Omnipotens, sempiterne Deus, dirige actus nostros in beneplacito tuo: ut in nomine dilecti Filii tui mereamur bonis operibus abundare. Qui tecum.

O Almighty and Eternal God, regulate our actions according to thy divine will: that, in the name of thy beloved Son, we may abound in good works. Who liveth,&c.

Commemoration of St. Telesphorus
Oremus Let Us Pray.

Deus qui nos beati Telesphori, Martyris tui atque Pontificis, annua solemnitate lætificas: concede propitius; ut cujus natalitia colimus, de ejusdem etiam protectione gaudeamus.

O God, who by the yearly solemnity of blessed Telesphorus, thy Martyr and Bishop, rejoicest the hearts of the faithful; mercifully grant that we who celebrate his martyrdom may enjoy his protection.

Commemoration of the Blessed Virgin.

Deus, qui salutis æternæ, beatæ Mariæ virginitate fœcunda, humano generi præmia prætitisti: tribue, quæsumus, ut ipsam pro nobis intercedere sentiamus, per quam meruimus auctorem vitæ suscipere auctorem vitæ suscipere Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum, Filium tuum. Qui tecum.

O God, who by the fruitful Virginity of Blessed Mary, hast given to mankind the rewards of eternal salvation; grant, we beseech thee, that we may experience Her intercession, by whom we received the Author of Life, our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son. Who liveth, &c.

Lectio Epistolæ beati Pauli Apostoli ad Galatas. Lesson of the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle, to the Galatians.
Cap. iv. Ch. iv.

Fratres, Quanto tempore haeres parvulus est, nihil differt a servo, cum sit dominus omnium: sed sub tutoribus et actoribus est usque ad praefinitum tempus a patre: ita et nos cum essemus parvuli, sub elementis mundi eramus servientes. At ubi venit plenitudo temporis, misit Deus Filium suum factum ex muliere, factum sub lege, ut eos, qui sub lege erant, redimeret, ut adoptionem filiorum reciperemus. Quoniam autem estis filii, misit Deus Spiritum Filii sui in corda vestra, clamantem: Abba, Pater. Itaque jam non est servus, sed filius: quod si filius, et haeres per Deum.

Brethren: As long as the heir is a child, he differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed by the father: So we also, when we were children, were serving under the elements of the world. But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent his Son, made of a woman, made under the law: That he might redeem them who were under the law: that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because you are sons, God hath sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying: Abba, Father. Therefore now he is not a servant, but a son. And if a son, an heir also through God.


Speciosa forma præ filiis hominum: diffusa est gratia in labiis tuia.

Thou art beautiful above the sons of men: grace is poured abroad in thy lips.

℣. Eeructavit cor meum verbum bonum; dico ego opera mea Regi: lingua mea calamus scribæ velociter scribentis.

℣. My heart hath uttered a good word; I speak my works to the King: my tongue is the pen of a scrivener, that writeth swiftly.

Alleluia, alleluia.

Alleluia, alleluia.

℣. Dominus regnavit, decorem induit: induit Dominus fortitudinem, et præcinxit se virtute. Alleluia.

℣. The Lord hath reigned: he hath clothed himself with beauty: he hath clothed himself with strength, and armed himself with might. Alleluia.

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum. Sequel of the holy Gospel according to St. Matthew.
Cap.ii. Ch. ii.

In illo tempore: Defuncto autem Herode, ecce angelus Domini apparuit in somnis Joseph in Ægypto, dicens: Surge, et accipe puerum, et matrem ejus, et vade in terram Israel: defuncti sunt enim qui quærebant animam pueri. Qui consurgens, accepit puerum, et matrem ejus, et venit in terram Israel. Audiens autem quod Archelaus regnaret in Judæa pro Herode patre suo, timuit illo ire: et admonitus in somnis, secessit in partes Galilææ. Et veniens habitavit in civitate quæ vocatur Nazareth: ut adimpleretur quod dictum est per prophetas: Quoniam Nazaraeus vocabitur.

At that time: When Herod was dead, behold an angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph in Egypt, Saying: Arise, and take the child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel. For they are dead that sought the life of the child. Who arose, and took the child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. But hearing that Archelaus reigned in Judea in the room of Herod his father, he was afraid to go thither: and being warned in sleep retired into the quarters of Galilee. And coming he dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was said by prophets: That he shall be called a Nazarene.


Deus firmavit orbem terræ, qui non commovebitur; parata sedes tua, Deus, ex tunc: a seculo tu es.

God hath established the world, which shall not be moved; thy throne, O God, is prepared from of old; thou art from everlasting.


Concede, quæsumus, omnipotens Deus; ut oculis tuæ majestatis munus oblatum, et gratiam nobis piæ devotionis obtineat, et effectum beatæ perennitatis acquirat. Per Dominum.

Grant, we beseech thee, O Almighty God, that this sacrifice, offered to thy divine majesty, may obtain for us the grace of true devotion, and a happy eternity. Through, &c.

Commemoration of St. Telesphorus.

Munera tibi, Domine, dicata sanctifica: et, intercedente beato Telesphoro, Martyre tuo atque Pontifice, per eadem nos placatus intende.

Sanctify, O Lord, the offerings consecrated to thee: and being appeased thereby, mercifully look upon us, by the intercession of blessed Telesphorus, thy Martyr and Bishop.

Commemoration of the Blessed Virgin.

Muneribus nostris, quæsumus, Domine, precibusque susceptis: et cœlestibus nos munda mysteriis, et clementer exaudi. Per Dominum.

Receive, O Lord, our offerings and prayers: cleanse us by these mysteries, and mercifully hear us. Through, &c.


Tolle puerum, et matrem ejus, et vade in terram Israel; defuncti sunt enim qui quærebant animam pueri.

Take the Child and his Mother, and go in to the land of Israel: for they are dead, who sought the life of the Child.


Per hujus, Domine, operationem mysterii, et vitia nostra pergentur, et justa desideria compleantur. Per Dominum.

May the efficacy of this sacrament, O Lord, cleanse us from our sins, and obtain for us the accomplishment of our just desires. Through, &c.

Commemoration of St. Telesphorus.
Oremus. Let Us Pray.

Refecti participatione muneris sacri, quæsumus, Domine Deus noster, ut cujus exsequimur cultum, intercedente beato Telesphoro, Martyre tuo atque Pontifice, sentiamus effectum.

May this communion, O Lord, cleanse us from sin, and by the intercession of blessed Telesphorus, thy Martyr and Bishop, make us effectually partakers of this heavenly remedy.

Commemoration of the Blessed Virgin.

Hæc nos communio, Domine, purget a crimine: et intercedente beata Virgine Dei Genitrice Maria, cœlestis remedii faciat esse consortes. Per Dominum.

May this communion, O Lord, cleanse us from sin: and by the intercession of Blessed Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, make us partakers of thy heavenly remedy. Through, &c.

The last words of our Advent were those of the Spouse, recorded in the prophecy of the Beloved Disciple: Come, Lord Jesus, come! We will close this first part of our Christmas with those words of the Prophet Isaias, which the Church has so often spoken to us: unto us a Child is born! The heavens have dropped down their Dew, the clouds have rained down the Just One, the earth has yielded its Savior, the Word is made flesh, the Virgin has brought forth her sweet Fruit—our Emmanuel, that is, God with us. The Sun of Justice now shines upon us; darkness has fled; in heaven there is Glory to God; on earth, there is Peace to men. All these blessings have been brought to us by the humble yet glorious Birth of this Child. Let us adore him in his Crib; let us love him for all his love of us; and let us prepare the gifts we intend to present to him, with the Magi, on tomorrow’s Feast. The joy of the Church is as great as ever; the Angels are adoring in their wondering admiration; all nature thrills with delight:—Unto us is born a little Child!


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