Thursday, September 9, 2021

Second Day Within the Octave of the Nativity

Let Us make man to Our image and likeness. “And God made man; He modelled him,” says Tertullian, “to the image of God, i.e. of Christ. Wonderful deed, to fashion this slime of the earth! God seems to be absorbed in it; He makes it the work of His hand and of His heart; counsel, wisdom, providence, and above all love, trace the lines. As He forms each lineament of this clay, He has in mind Christ who is to become man. This slime of the earth, stamped with the image of the Christ to come, is not only God’s work, it is also His pledge.”

These words were spoken concerning our first parent, Adam; but how much more truly do they apply to the Mother of the Man-God, during these days when He who is to be born of her watches over her growth! As God, He now places in her provisionally what He wills to take from her hereafter. For, as Man, He will receive from her, together with His sacred Body, everything that children naturally inherit from their parents: such dispositions and qualities as arise from the physical complexion; features, ways, habits acquired by imitation or by early education. Such is the ineffable condescension of Him who, knowing all things by infused science, condescends to pass like us through the apprenticeship of life. Jesus is to have no earthly father; He will therefore receive more from His Mother than could any other son. In return, no creature could be so like to Jesus in the order of grace, as she whom He thus deigns to resemble in the order of nature; and our heavenly Father loves every creature in proportion to the degree of that creature’s conformity to the image of His divine Son. How exceedingly, then, O Mary, art thou loved! Already in thy sweet features we discern the nobility of the King’s daughter, whose glory is from within, hidden beneath the golden fringes and variety of ornaments that deck her; for the manifold gifts of the holy Spirit enhance the grace and beauty that crown thee in thy very cradle. Together with Andrew of Crete, speaking on this day, we thus salute thee: “Hail, mediatrix of the law of grace; seal of the ancient and of the new Alliance; luminous fulfilment of all prophecy; summary of revealed truth; living, immaculate book of God the Word, wherein, without writing or characters, the Word God its Author may be daily read! Hail, first-fruits of our regeneration; term of the divine promises and predictions; sanctuary promised by God to His own glory; liberatrix foretold to the nations!”

The Greeks make today a special commemoration of our Lady’s holy parents. Already yesterday the Menæa repeated in a thousand ways the gratitude all creatures owe to them. We select the following passages from among many.

Mensis Septembris, Die viii

Exsultet cœlum, lætetur terra: quippe Dei cœlum, sponsa Dei, partu in terra edita est. Sterilis infantem Mariam ex repromissione lactat, qaudetque pro partu Joachim: Mihi, in quiens, virga nata est, ex qua germinavit flos Christus ex radice David.

Let heaven exult and earth rejoice, for God’s own heaven, his bride, is this day born on earth. According to promise, the barren mother suckles her infant Mary; Joachim rejoices in his daughter, saying, Mine is the branch whereon is to blossom Christ the flower, of the root of David.

Exaudisti, Domine, preces meas, Anna dicat, mihi hodie fructum eam præbens, quæ ex cunctis generationibus atque feminis præfinita est intemerata Mater tua.

Now may Anne say: Thou hast heard, O Lord, my prayer, giving me this day as fruit, the Virgin chosen among all women and of all generations to be thy spotless Mother.

Eva hodie damnatione absoluta est, Adam item absolutus ab intiqua maledictione, clamans in tua nativitate, immaculata: In te sumus a morte redempti.

Eve’s sentence is cancelled today; and Adam, released from the ancient curse, cries out at thy birth, O immaculate one: In thee we are redeemed from death.

Audio David tibi concinentem: Adducentur virgines post te, adducentur in templum Regis; ipseque, conserta cum eo voce, Regis filiam celebro canticis.

I hear David singing to thee: Virgins shall be brought after thee, they shall be brought into the temple of the King. And I, uniting my voice with his, celebrate thee in my songs, O daughter of the King!

Steriles, animæ infecundæ, adeste festinanter; nam Anna multa nunc prole gaudet. Matres, choros ducite cum Mater Dei.

Come, hasten, all ye barren and fruitless souls; for Anne is now the joyful mother of many children. And ye mothers lead the choirs with the Mother of God.

Res stupenda: fons vitæ de sterili nascitur. Gaude, Joachim: non enim tui similis inter patres, per quem data est nobis virgo Deum suscipiens, tabernaculum divinitatis, mons sanctus.

O prodigy! the fount of life springs from one that was sterile. Rejoice, O Joachim, for among all fathers there is none like unto thee, by whom was given to us the Virgin Mother of God, the tabernacle of the Divinity, the holy mountain.

Exsultate, populi: lucis thalamus e ventre prodiit; porta orientalis, hodie genita, ingressum magni præstolatur sacerdotis, ad salutem animarum nostrarum.

Exult, O ye people: the nuptial chamber of the light has come forth from her mother’s womb; today is born the eastern gate which will soon give entrance to the great High Priest, for the salvation of our souls.


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