Introitus: Puer natus est nobis

Die Octavae Nativitatis Domini
Circvncisio Christi


Isa 9:6
Puer natus est nobis, et fílius datus est nobis: cuius impénum super húmerum eius: et vocábitur nomen eius magni consílii Angelus

A Child is born to us, a Son is given to us; upon His shoulder dominion rests; and His name shall be called the Angel of great counsel.

Ps 97:1
Cantáte Dómino cánticum novum: quia mirabília fecit.
V. Glória Patri, et Fílio, et Spirítui Sancto.
R. Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculórum. Amen

Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wondrous deeds.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
R. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Puer natus est nobis, et fílius datus est nobis: cuius impénum super húmerum eius: et vocábitur nomen eius magni consílii Angelus

A Child is born to us, a Son is given to us; upon His shoulder dominion rests; and His name shall be called the Angel of great counsel.

Die Octavae Nativitatis Domini

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Die Octavae Nativitatis Domini
Circvncisio Christi

Luc 2:21

In illo témpore: Postquam consummáti sunt dies octo, ut circumciderétur Puer: vocátum est nomen eius Iesus, quod vocátum est ab Angelo, priúsquam in útero conciperétur.

At that time, when eight days were fulfilled for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called Jesus, the name given Him by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.

Octave of Christmas: Cooperation with God’s Grace

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Octave of Christmas: Cooperation with God’s Grace
by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876

“And the shepherds said one to another: Let us go over to Bethlehem, and let us see this word that has come to pass, which the Lord hath showed to us.”–Luke 2.

The joyous feast of Christmas once more fills with gladness the hearts of the children of the Church. It is the feast which bears the significant name of the gracious nativity of our Lord and Redeemer Jesus Christ. For, in truth, the incarnation and birth of the Son of God are the source of all the graces which we have received through His life here on earth, and through His death. But that these graces may really serve unto our salvation, depends upon the care with which we dispose ourselves to receive them, and upon the earnestness of our co-operation.

To understand the nature of that co-operation, which may prove meritorious, we need only glance at the shepherds, and consider their mode of acting when the angel addressed to them the words imparting the glad tidings of the birth of the world’s Redeemer: Today is born for you the Redeemer of the world–go to Bethlehem, and you will find the Infant lying in the manger. “Yes, let us go to Bethlehem,” said they; and they hastened thither and found the child with Mary and Joseph.

A study of the conduct of the shepherds will show us how we may derive permanent profit from the holy feast of Christmas, and what dispositions we should have to receive with fruit the inspirations of grace. O Mary, look down upon us with that condescension with which thou didst regard the shepherds the first among the faithful, who paid homage to thy divine Child! I speak in the holy name of Jesus, to the greater honor of God!

In the first place, they were watchful shepherds. The inhabitants of Bethlehem were asleep; the shepherds were watching. This circumstance points to the first condition necessary to really perceive the call of grace, namely: we must walk in the presence of God in recollection of spirit. Why is it we feel so few inspirations of grace? Because we are not watchful. Christ says: Blessed are the servants whom the Lord finds watching. Even those who call themselves children of the Church, generally lead a life of carelessness; they are men of habit, they fulfill the duties of their state as Christians, but only superficially, and are mainly engaged in devising plans for the increase of their worldly profits. But how little attention at prayer and in the performance of their other religious duties! How often they fail to recognize and receive the inspirations of the Holy Ghost! This indolence and sleepiness in the service of God also prevents us from clearly seeing those faults which, through carelessness, precipitation, or impatience, find their way into our ordinary actions. Such lukewarm, sleepy souls also lose many opportunities of performing works of charity, and do not interest themselves in the least about the spiritual or temporal welfare of their neighbor.

The shepherds of that Christmas night were resolute men, resolute servants of the Lord. They did not say: Oh, it is night, and we had better wait till daybreak! No; but when they heard the words of the angel, they resolved to carry out at once the instructions given. Why is it, that in so many cases the inspirations of the Holy Ghost remain fruitless? I reply: Strong will is wanting, a strong will to accomplish not only in part but wholly all that we know to be the will of God, without wavering or excuse. This want of determination is an obstacle to the efficacy of grace, and prevents its bearing fruit. This weakness of will and want of resolution comes from an excessive care for temporal things, from an undue fear of mortal man; and finally from the difficulties connected with the accomplishment of a good work.

When the angel announced the glad tidings to the shepherds, they were tending their sheep; and yet they did not hesitate to leave their flocks and hasten to Bethlehem to seek the divine Child. How different the conduct of the majority of men when there is question of some worldly gain! They are all anxiety. They listen with eagerness to every advice, to every word regarding the advancement of their temporal affairs; but they are, so to say, blind and deaf, when the question of attending to their spiritual interests is urged upon them.

The shepherds determined upon going, and did not stop to consider what the inhabitants of Bethlehem might say when they came there to make inquiries for the Child,–to salute an Infant born in a rude stable, and to adore Him as the promised Messiah, the heir of the family of David. The fear of man is, alas! the reason why so many fail in their courage to follow the inspirations of grace. What will people say? is the discouraging impediment opposing them on all sides. They have an idea that if they walk fearlessly in the way of salvation the children of the world will regard them as ignorant, as slaves of the priests. And yet what little cause have we to fear the children of this world, who, in spiritual matters, are so ignorant and so short-sighted. If God is with us, who can be against us, or who can harm us?

The shepherds continued to listen to the echo of the Gloria which the angels sang, and thus assured themselves that God was with them. It was not a very pleasant task to wander through the streets of Bethlehem at night, to awaken the inhabitants from their slumbers, and make inquiries concerning the newly-born Child. But they disregarded these difficulties and obstacles, and hastened onward without delay. the world did not receive its Redeemer and Deliverer. “He came into His own, and His own received Him not.” What so frequently renders the inspirations of grace fruitless, is our deficiency in self-denial; our love of ease is the great obstacle. It is true, we make good resolutions at times, but we postpone the fulfillment of them, and thus never accomplish them.

The shepherds found the Infant and adored Him, and offered Him their hearts; and, as tradition teaches, they also presented Him with such gifts as their poverty would allow. That which gives efficacy to the inspirations of grace, is the spirit of prayer and of devotion in our spiritual, intercourse with Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. But it is especially the intercourse we hold with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Yes, here is Bethlehem, the city of bread, where Jesus lies in the tabernacle as in a crib, shrouded in the white raiments of the sacramental species. What a fountain of grace here discloses itself to our view! Would that we but profited by it as we might!

We really have no cause to envy the shepherds and their happiness, in being allowed to behold the Infant Jesus once, and to adore Him. We are permitted to visit the same Infant Jesus every day, and even to receive Him into our hearts. Thus our hearts become, as it were, the crib, and we are enabled through Christ, as children of God, to taste of heaven’s joys, even while yet living on this earth.

The shepherds praised and thanked God for the favor they had received. Not without reason does the Church call the Blessed Sacrament the Sacrament of thanksgiving. O Infant Jesus, filled with these sentiments we prostrate ourselves before Thee with the shepherds, and with them we worship Thee! Bless us, as Thou hast blessed them, and save us through the power and the graces of Thy coming into this world! Amen!

The Nativity

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XXXI. The Nativity

“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were shepherds in the same district living in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood by them and the glory of God shone round about them, and they feared exceedingly. And the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of ,great joy which shall be to all the people; for there has been born to you today in the town of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord’ ”

When was Christ born? –Christ was born of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Christmas Day, in Bethlehem, more than nineteen hundred years ago.

When Jesus Christ was born, the Jews were no longer independent. In 64 B.C. Pompey reduced their kingdom and subjected it to Rome.

Because the Jews were always plotting rebellion against Rome, the Jewish king was replaced by Herod, a Gentile, the first non-Jew to become king. Thus the scepter was “taken away from Juda”, and the time predicted for the Messias had arrived.

Today we reckon dates from the birth of Christ. This has been the continuous custom since the time of Charlemagne, although many rulers from the 5th century had adopted the practice.

However, there is an error of some four to six years. Generally, it is supposed, as a matter of historical fact, that Christ was born 7-5 B.C. An error in the calculation of dates in later centuries produced this anomaly.

Bethlehem is a little town in Judea, near the city of Jerusalem. Joseph and Mary went there in obedience to the Emperor at Rome, who had commanded all his subjects to register in the towns of their ancestors.

Joseph and Mary were both descended from King David, whose city was Bethlehem; this is why they went to register there. They tried to find a place to stay in even for only a night, but could find refuge nowhere. And so they sought shelter in a poor stable; there Jesus was born.

Jesus was born in a stable, a poor place. He preferred poverty and humiliation in order to suffer more for us.

He wished to show Himself a friend of the poor, and to teach that the best way to heaven is through humility, and detachment from worldly goods.

The Church celebrates the Nativity on December 25. The feast is called Christmas. On this day every priest is granted the privilege of saying three Masses: one in commemoration of Christ’s eternal birth from God the Father; another in remembrance of His temporal birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary; and a third to recall His spiritual birth in the hearts of the faithful.
The word “Christmas” comes from Christ and Mass The feast is so called because on that day the Mass commemorating the birth of Christ is said.

An angel appeared to shepherds and told them of the Nativity. A star led three Magi (Wise Men) to Bethlehem.

The shepherds represented the poor. The Magi represented the rich. All offered their gifts to the Infant Jesus. Our Lord does not look at the price of our gifts, but at the purity of our hearts.

The Church commemorates the adoration of the Magi on the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6. “Epiphany” means manifestation. In the persons of the Magi, who were not Jews, Our Lord was manifested to all nations of the earth, who were at the time lost in paganism. With the Magi, we are called to the Truth; the Old Testament was ended, and the world had entered upon a new Covenant with God. And if, like the Magi we offer Jesus Christ the gold of our love, the myrrh of self-sacrifice, and the incense of our prayers, we too shall be united with God.

Many churches and homes set up a crib at Christmas. This custom, although of very ancient origin, was popularized by St. Francis of Assisi.
In the year 1223, he visited Pope Honorius III and sought approval of his plans to make a scenic representation of the Nativity. Having obtained the Pope’s consent, Francis left Rome, and arrived at Greccio on Christmas Eve. There in the church he constructed a crib, grouping around it images of the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph, of the shepherds, the ox, and the ass. At the midnight Mass St. Francis acted as deacon. After singing the words of he Gospel, “And they laid Him in a manger” , he knelt down to meditate on the great gift of :he Incarnation. And people around saw in his arms a Child, surrounded by a most brilliant light.

Since then the devotion to the crib has spread far and wide. The crib remains in church until the octave day of the Epiphany. At the proper time the images of the Three Kings and their retinue are added, making a daily advance towards the crib.

Most homes also set up a decorated Christmas tree. It is a reminder of the tree of the cross. The boxes of Christmas gifts remind us of the great Gift that God sent us.

Santa Claus, the jolly and beloved distributor of Christmas gifts, is an American adoption of St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, of the fourth century. This Saint is popular in Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, where he is made the secret purveyor of gifts to children on December 6, his feast day. The custom was brought to New York by the Dutch, quickly spread throughout the United States and became absorbed into the Christmas celebration.

What incidents in Our Lord’s life were closely connected with the Nativity? –The following incidents in Our Lord’s life were closely connected with the Nativity: the Circumcision, the Presentation, and the flight to Egypt.

The Child received the narne Jesus when He was eight days old. He was circumcised, according to the custorn of the Jews. At the Circumcision Jesus began His role of Mediator between God and man, shedding His blood for the first time for us.

“Thou shalt call his name Jesus, for He shall save his people front their sins” (Matt. 1:21). “Therefore God . . . has bestowed upon him the name that is above everv name, so that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bend, of those in heaven, on earth, and under the earth” (Phil. 2:9,10). “If you ask the Father anything in my name. he will give it to you” (John 16:23). The feast of the Circumcision is celebrated on New Year’s Day. Thus the Church teaches us to begin everything in the name of Jesus.

When Jesus was forty days old, His Mother presented Him in the Temple at Jerusalem. In imitation, though the rite is essentially different, mothers today after childbirth seek the blessing of the Church in a thanksgiving ceremony called “churching”.

The feast of the Presentation is celebrated on February 2. It is also called the purification of the Blessed Virgin, or Candlemas Day. On this day candles are blessed and carried in procession, in memory of the words of holy Simeon, when Jesus was presented in the Temple. He said Our Lord was “a Light of revelation to the Gentiles”.

Mary and Joseph took the Child Jesus to Egypt to save Him from King Herod, who wanted to kill Him.

An angel appeared to Joseph and told him to take the Child Jesus and His mother away to Egypt. They stayed in Egypt until the death of King Herod. Then an angel appeared to Joseph and bade him return to the land of the Jews.


St. Sylvester and the Dragon

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St. Sylvester and the Dragon
from the Golden Legend

In this time it happed that there was at Rome a dragon in a pit, which every day slew with his breath more than three hundred men. Then came the bishops of the idols unto the emperor and said unto him: O thou most holy emperor, sith the time that thou hast received christian faith the dragon which is in yonder fosse or pit slayeth every day with his breath more than three hundred men. Then sent the emperor for S. Silvester and asked counsel of him of this matter. S. Silvester answered that by the might of God he promised to make him cease of his hurt and blessure of this people. Then S Silvester put himself to prayer, and S. Peter appeared to him and said: Go surely to the dragon and the two priests that be with thee take in thy company, and when thou shalt come to him thou shalt say to him in this manner: Our Lord Jesu Christ which was born of the Virgin Mary, crucified, buried and arose, and now sitteth on the right side of the Father, this is he that shall come to deem and judge the living and the dead, I commend thee Sathanas that thou abide him in this place till he come. Then thou shalt bind his mouth with a thread, and seal it with thy seal , wherein is the imprint of the cross. Then thou and the two priests shall come to me whole and safe, and such bread as I shall make ready for you ye shall eat. Thus as S. Peter had said, S. Silvester did. And when he came to the pit, he descended down one hundred and fifty steps, bearing with him two lanterns, and found the dragon, and said the words that S. Peter had said to him, and bound his mouth with the thread, and sealed it, and after returned, and as he came upward again he met with two enchanters which followed him for to see if he descended, which were almost dead of the stench of the dragon, whom he brought with him whole and sound, which anon were baptized, with a great multitude of people with them. Thus was the city of Rome delivered from double death, that was from the culture and worshipping of false idols, and from the venom of the dragon. At the last when S. Silvester approached towards his death, he called to him the clergy and admonished them to have charity, and that they should diligently govern their churches, and keep their flock from the wolves. And after the year of the incarnation of our Lord three hundred and twenty, he departed out of this world and slept in our Lord, etc.