— Council of Vienne ♰♰♰

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The Octave of the Epiphany

Mystery of the Vocation of the Magi
A reflection each day during the Octave of the Epiphany Jan. 7 - 13
by Dom Prosper Gueranger, 1870

The Epiphany is a Privileged Octave of the 2nd Class, as is the Octave of Corpus Christi.

Jan. 7th        Jan. 8th        Jan. 9th       

Jan. 10th        Jan. 11th        Jan. 12th        Jan. 13th       

January 7th: The Second Day
Within the Octave of the Epiphany

A Solemnity of such importance as the Epiphany could not be without an Octave. The only Octaves, during the year, that are superior to this of the Epiphany, are those of Easter and Pentecost. It has a privilege which the Octave of Christmas has not; for no Feast can be kept during the Octave of the Epiphany, unless it be that of a Patron of first class; whereas, Feasts of a double and semi-double rite are admitted during the Christmas Octave. It would even seem, judging from the ancient Sacramentaries, that, anciently, the two days immediately following the Epiphany were Days of Obligation, as were the Monday and Tuesday of Easter and Whitsuntide. The names of the Stational Churches are given, where the Clergy and Faithful of Rome assembled on these two days.

In order that we may the more fully enter into the spirit of the Church, during this glorious Octave, we will contemplate, each day, the Mystery of the Vocation of the Magi, and we will enter, together with them, into the holy Cave of Bethlehem, there to offer our gifts to the Divine Infant, to whom the Star has led the Wise Men.

These Magi are the harbingers of the conversion of all nations to the Lord their God; they are the Fathers of the Gentiles in the faith of the Redeemer that is come; they are the Patriarchs of the human race regenerated. They arrive at Bethlehem, according to the tradition of the Church, three in number; and this tradition is handed down by St. Leo, by St. Maximus of Turin, by St. Cesarius of Aries, and by the Christian paintings in the Catacombs of Rome, which paintings belong to the period of the Persecutions.

Thus is continued in the Magi the Mystery prefigured by the three just men at the very commencement of the world: Abel, who, by his death, was the figure of Christ; Seth, who was the father of the children of God, as distinct from the family of Cain; and Enos, who had the honor of regulating the ceremonies and solemnity to be observed in man's worship of his Creator.

The Magi also continued, in their own person, that other Mystery of the three new parents of the human family, after the Deluge, and from whom all races have sprung: Sem, Cham, and Japheth, the Sons of Noe.

And, thirdly, we behold in the Magi that third Mystery of the three fathers of God's chosen people: Abraham, the Father of believers; Isaac, another figure of Christ immolated; and Jacob, who was strong against God (Gen. xxxii. 28), and was the father of the twelve Patriarchs of Israel.

All these were but the receivers of the Promise, although the hope of mankind, both according to nature and grace, rested on them; they, as the Apostle says of them, saluted the accomplishment of that Promise afar-off (Heb. xi. 13). The Nations did not follow them, by serving the true God; nay, the greater the light that shone on Israel, the greater seemed the blindness of the Gentile-world. The three Magi, on the contrary, come to Bethlehem, and they are followed by countless generations. In them, the figure becomes the grand reality, thanks to the mercy of our Lord, who having come to find what was lost, vouchsafed to stretch out His arms to the whole human race, for the whole was lost.

These happy Magi were also invested with regal power, as we shall see further on; as such, they were prefigured by those three faithful Kings, who were the glory of the throne of Juda, the earnest maintainers among the chosen people of the traditions regarding the future Deliverer, and the strenuous opponents of idolatry: David, the sublime type of the Messias; Ezechias, whose courageous zeal destroyed the idols; and Josias, who re-established the Law of the Lord, which the people had forgotten.

And if we would have another type of these holy pilgrims, who come from a far distant country of the Gentiles to adore the King of Peace, and offer Him their rich presents--the sacred Scripture puts before us the Queen of Saba, also a Gentile, who hearing of the fame of Solomon's wisdom, whose name means the Peaceful, visits Jerusalem, taking with her the most magnificent gifts--camels laden with gold, spices, and precious stones--and venerates, under one of the sublimest of his types, the Kingly character of the Messias.

Thus, O Jesus! during the long and dark night, in which the justice of thy Father left this sinful world, did the gleanings of grace appear in the heavens, portending the rising of that Sun of thine own Justice, which would dissipate the shadows of death, and establish the reign of Light and Day. But, now, all these shadows have passed away; we no longer need the imperfect light of types: it is Thyself we now possess; and though we wear not royal crowns upon our heads, like the Magi and the Queen of Saba, yet Thou receivest us with love. The very first to be invited to Thy Crib, there to receive Thy teachings, were simple Shepherds. Every member of the human family is called to form part of Thy court. Having become a Child, Thou hast opened the treasures of Thine infinite wisdom to all men. What gratitude do we not owe for this gift of the light of Faith, without which we should know nothing, even whilst flattering ourselves that we know all things! How narrow, and uncertain, and deceitful, is human science, compared with that which has its source in Thee! May we ever prize this immense gift of Faith, this Light, O Jesus! which Thou makest to shine upon us, after having softened it under the veil of Thy humble Infancy. Preserve us from pride, which darkens the soul's vision, and dries up the heart. Confide us to the keeping of Thy Blessed Mother; and may our love attach us forever to Thee, and her maternal eye ever watch over us lest we should leave Thee, O Thou the God of our hearts!


Hymn: Quicumque Christum quaeritis

O ye, that are in search of Jesus, raise up your eyes aloft: there shall you see the sign of His eternal glory.

This Star, which surpasseth the sun's disc in beauty and light, announces that God has come upon the earth clothed in human flesh.

It is not a Star, that is made to serve the night, following the monthly changes of the moon; but it seems to preside over the heavens and mark the course of the day.

'Tis true, that Polar Stars are lights that never set; yet are they often hid beneath the clouds.

But this Star is never dimmed; this Star is never extinguished; nor does a coming cloud o'ershadow her blaze of light.

Let comet, the harbinger of ill and meteors formed by Dog-star's vapourous heat, now fade away before this God's own light.

January 8th: The Third Day
Within the Octave of the Epiphany

The great Mystery of the Alliance of the Son of God with the universal Church, and which is represented in the Epiphany by the Magi, was looked forward to by the world in every age previous to the coming of our Emmanuel. The Patriarchs and Prophets had propagated the tradition; and the Gentile world gave frequent proofs that the tradition prevailed even with them.

When Adam, in Eden, first beheld her whom God had formed from one of his ribs, and whom he called Eve, because she was the Mother of all the living (Gen. iii. 20),--he exclaimed: "This is the bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh. Man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall be two in one flesh (Ibid. ii. 23, 24)." In uttering these words, the soul of our first Parent was enlightened by the Holy Spirit, and, as we are told by the most profound interpreters of the Sacred Scriptures, (such as Tertullian, St. Augustine, St. Jerome, &c.,) he foretold the Alliance of the Son of God with His Church, which issued from His Side, when opened by the spear, on the Cross; for the love of which Spouse, He left the right hand of His Father, and the heavenly Jerusalem, His mother, that He might dwell with us, in this our earthly abode.

The second father of the human race, Noe--after he had seen the Rainbow in the heavens, announcing that now God's anger was appeased--prophesied to his three Sons their own respective future, and, in theirs, that of the world . Cham had drawn upon himself his father's curse; Sem seemed to be the favoured son--for from his race, there should come the Saviour of the world; but, the Patriarch immediately adds: "May God enlarge Japheth, and may he dwell in the tents of Sem (Gen. ix. 27)." In the course of time, the ancient alliance, that had been made between God and the people of Israel, was broken; the Semitic race fluctuated in its religion, and finally fell into infidelity; and, at length, God adopts the family of Japheth, that is, the Gentiles of the west, as his own people; for ages, they had been without God, and now the very Seat of religion is established in their midst, and they are put at the head of the whole human race.

Later on, it is the great God Himself that speaks to Abraham, promising him that he shall be the father of a countless family. "I will bless thee," says the Lord, "and I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven (Ibid. xxii. 17)." As the Apostle tells us, more numerous was to be the family of Abraham according to the faith, than that which should be born to him of Sara. All they that have received the faith of a Mediator to come, and all they that, being warned by the Star, have come to Jesus as their God--all are the children of Abraham.

The Mystery is again expressed in Rebecca, the wife of Isaac. She feels that there are two children struggling within her womb (Ibid. xxv. 22); and this is the answer she receives from God, when she consulted him: "Two nations are in thy womb, and two peoples shall be divided out of thy womb; and one people shall overcome the other, and the elder shall serve the younger (Gen. xxv. 23)." Now, who is this "younger" child that overcomes the elder, but the Gentiles, who struggle with Juda for the light, and who, though but the child of the promise, supplants him who was son according to the flesh? Such is the teaching of St. Leo and St. Augustine.

Next, it is Jacob, who, when dying, calls his twelve sons, the fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel, around his bed, and prophetically assigns to each of them the career they were to run. Juda is put before the rest; he is to be the King of his brethren, and from his royal race shall come the Messias. But the prophecy concludes with the prediction of Israel's humiliation, which humiliation is to be the glory of the rest of the human race. "The sceptre shall not be taken away from Juda, nor a Ruler from his thigh, till He come that is to be sent, and he shall be the Expectation of the Nations (Ibid. xlix. 10)."

When Israel had gone out of Egypt, and was in possession of the Promised Land, Balaam cried out, setting his face towards the desert, where Israel was encamped: "I shall see him, but not now; I shall behold him, but not near. A Star shall rise out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall spring up from Israel. Who shall live when God shall do these things? They shall come in galleys from Italy; they shall overcome the Assyrians, and shall waste the Hebrews, and, at the last, they themselves also shall perish (Num. xxiv. 17, 23, 24)." And what kingdom shall succeed this? The kingdom of Christ, who is the Star, and the King that shall rule for ever.

David has this great day continually before his mind. He is forever celebrating, in his Psalms, the Kingship of his Son according to the flesh: he shows Him to us as bearing the Sceptre, girt with the Sword, anointed by God His Father, and extending His kingdom from sea to sea: he tells us, how the Kings of Tharsis and the Islands, the Kings of the Arabians and of Saba, and the Princes of Ethiopia, shall prostrate at his feet and adore him: he mentions their gifts of gold (Ps. lxxi).

In his mysterious Canticle of Canticles, Solomon describes the joy of the spiritual union between the divine Spouse and His Church, and that Church is not the Synagogue. Christ invites her, in words of tenderest love, to come and be crowned; and she, to whom he addresses these words, is dwelling beyond the confines of the land where lives the people of God. "Come from Libanus, my Spouse, come from Libanus, come! Thou shalt be crowned from the top of Amana, from the top of Sanir and Hermon, from the dens of the lions, from the mountains of the leopards (Cant. iv. 8)." This daughter of Pharaoh confesses her unworthiness: I am black, she says; but, she immediately adds, that she has been made beautiful by the grace of her Spouse (Cant. i. 4).

The Prophet Osee follows with his inspired prediction: "And it shall be in that day, saith the Lord, that she shall call me, My Husband, and she shall call me no more Baali. And I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and she shall no more remember their name. And I will espouse thee to me forever. And I will sow her unto me in the earth, and I will have mercy on her, that was without mercy. And I will say to that, which was not my people: Thou art my people; and they shall say: Thou art my God."

The elder Tobias, whilst captive in Babylon, prophesies the same alliance. The Jerusalem, which was to receive the Jews, after their deliverance by Cyrua, is not the City of which he speaks in such glowing terms; it is a new and richer and lovelier Jerusalem. "Jerusalem! City of God! bless the God eternal, that He may rebuild His tabernacle in thee, and may call back all the captives to thee. Thou shalt shine with a glorious light. Nations from afar shall come to thee, and shall bring gifts, and shall esteem thy land as holy. For they shall call upon the great Name in thee. All that fear God shall return thither. And the Gentiles shall leave their idols, and shall come into Jerusalem, and shall dwell in it. And all the kings of the earth shall rejoice in it, adoring the King of Israel (Tob. xiii. & xiv)."

It is true, the Gentiles shall be severely chastised by God, on account of their crimes; but, that justice is for no other end, than to prepare those very Gentiles for an eternal alliance with the great Jehovah. He thus speaks, by His Prophet Sophonias: "My judgment is to assemble the Gentiles, and to gather the kingdoms: and to pour upon them my indignation, all my fierce anger: for, with the fire of my jealousy shall all the earth be devoured. Because, then I will restore to the people a chosen lip, that all may call upon the name of the Lord, and may serve Him with one shoulder. From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia shall my suppliants, the children of my dispersed people, bring me an offering (Soph. iii. 8, 9, 10)."

He promises the same mercy by his Prophet Ezechiel: "One King shall be over all, and they shall no more be two nations, neither shall they be divided any more into two kingdoms. Nor shall they be defiled any more with their idols: and I will save them out of all the places in which they have sinned. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. And they shall have One Shepherd. And I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will establish them, and will multiply them, and will set my Sanctuary in the midst of them forever (Ezechiel, xxxvii. 22 & seqq)."

After the prophet Daniel has described the three great Kingdoms, which were successively to pass away, he says there shall be a Kingdom, "which is an everlasting Kingdom, and all kings shall serve Him, (the King,) and shall obey Him." He had previously said: "The power" (that was to be given to the Son of man) "is an everlasting power, that shall not be taken away; and His Kingdom shall not be destroyed (Dan. vii. 27)." Aggeus thus foretells the great events which were to happen before the coming of the One Shepherd, and the establishment of that everlasting Sanctuary, which was to be set up in the very midst of the Gentiles: "Yet one little while, and I will move the heaven, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land. And I will move all Nations, and the Desired of all nations shall come (Agg. ii. 7, 8)."

But, we should have to cite all the Prophets, in order to describe, in all its grandeur, the glorious spectacle promised by God to the world, when, being mindful of the Gentiles, He should lead them to the feet of Jesus. The Church has quoted the Prophet Isaias in the Epistle of the Feast, and no Prophet is so explicit and so sublime as this son of Amos. The expression of the same universal expectation and desire is found also among the Gentiles. The Sibyls kept up the hope in the heart of the people; and in Rome itself, we find the Poet Virgil repeating, in one of his poems, the oracles they had pronounced. "The last age," says he, "foretold by the Cumean Sibyl, is at hand; a new and glorious era is coming: a new race is being sent down to earth from heaven. At the birth of this Child, the iron age will cease, and one of gold will rise upon the whole world. No remnants of our crimes will be left, and their removal will free the earth from its never-ending fear (Ecolog. iv)." If we are unwilling to accept, as did St. Augustine and so many other holy Fathers, these Sibylline oracles as the expression of the ancient traditions--we have pagan philosophers and historians, such as Cicero, Tacitus, and Suetonius, testifying, that, in their times, the world was in expectation of a Deliverer; that this Deliverer would come, not only from the East, but from Judea; and that a Kingdom was on the point of being established, which would include the entire world.

O Jesus, our Emmanuel! this universal expectation was that of the holy Magi, to whom Thou didst send the Star. No sooner do they receive the signal of thy having come, than they set out in search of Thee, asking--where is He born, that is King of the Jews? The oracles of thy Prophets were verified in them; but, if they received the first-fruits of the great promise, we possess it in all its fulness. The Alliance is made; and our souls, for love of which thou didst come down from heaven, are Thine. The Church is come forth from Thy divine side, with the Blood and Water; and all that Thou dost for this Thy chosen Spouse, Thou accomplishest in each of her faithful children. We are the sons of Japheth, and we have supplanted the race of Sem, which refused us the entrance of its tents; the birth-right, which belonged to Juda, has been transferred to us. Each age, do our numbers increase, for we are to become numerous as the stars of heaven.

We are no longer in the anxious period of expectation; the Star has risen, and the Kingdom it predicted will now forever protect and bless us. The Kings of Tharsis and the Islands, the Kings of Arabia and Saba, the Princes of Ethiopia, are come, bringing their gifts with them; all generations have followed them. The Spouse has received all her honors, and has long since forgotten Amana, and Sanir, and Hermon, where she once dwelt in the midst of wild beasts; she is not black, she is beautiful, with neither spot nor wrinkle upon her, but in every way is worthy of her divine Lord. Baal is forgotten forever, and she lovingly speaks the language given her by her God. The One Shepherd feeds the one flock. The last Kingdom, the Kingdom which is to continue forever, is faithfully fulfilling its glorious destiny.

It is thou, O Divine Infant! that bringest us all these graces, and receivest all this devoted homage of thy creatures. The time will soon come, dear Jesus! when Thou wilt break the silence Thou hast imposed on Thyself in order that Thou mightest teach us humility--Thou wilt speak to us, as our Master. Caesar Augustus has long ruled over Pagan Rome, and she thinks herself the kingdom that is to have no end; but she and her Rulers must yield to the Eternal King and His eternal City: the throne of earthly power must now give place for the Throne of Christian charity, and a new Rome is to spring up, grander than the first.

The Gentiles are looking for Thee, their King; but the day will come, when they will have no need to seek Thee, but Thou, in Thy mercy, wilt go in search of them, by sending them apostles' and missioners, who will preach thy Gospel to them. Show Thyself to them, as He to whom all power has been given in heaven and on earth; and show them also Her, whom thou hast made to be Queen of the universe. May this august Mother of Thine be raised up from the poor Stable of Bethlehem, and from the humble dwelling of Nazareth, and be taken, on the wings of Angels, to that throne of mercy which thou hast made for her, and from which she will bless all peoples and generations with her loving protection.


Hymn: En Persici ex Orbis

Lo! in the heart of Persia's world, where opens first the fate unto the rising sun, the Magi, most wise interpreters, perceive the standard of the King.

It shone, and the other stars of heaven put out their lights: not even would lovely Day-Star show his face.

"Who," say they, "is this great King, who commands the stars? at whose presence the heavens tremble, and light and air do His bidding?

"The sign we see tells us of that great Being, who is eternal and infinite--the most high, exalted, boundless One, who existed before heaven and earth were made.

"This is He that is King of the Gentiles, and King of the Jews: He was promised to our Father Abraham, and to his seed forever.

"For Abraham, the first parent of believers, and the sacrificer of his only Son, was told that his race should become numerous as the stars of heaven.

"At length the Flower of David is come, springing from Jesse's root: blooming by His sceptre's rod, He now rules over the universe."

Then quickly do they follow, with their gaze fixed aloft, and the Star sails through the air, pointing the bright path to be pursued.

But when the Star had reached the point direct above the Child's head, it hovered there: then stooping down its torch, it showed the sacred face they sought.

The Magi looked upon the Babe, then opening their eastern treasures, prostrate, and offer Him the votive homage of incense, myrrh, and kingly gold.

These, dear Babe, are the rich tokens of thy power and kingdom, for they mark the triple character, which thy Father would have us recognise.

The Gold proclaims him King; the sweet-smelling Saba Incense declares Him to be God; and the Myrrh signifies that He is Man, for it is the symbol of His future tomb;

That Tomb, whereby God broke open the prison of Death, after He had permitted His sacred Body to suffer death, and the Tomb had raised it up again to life.

January 9th: The Fourth Day
Within the Octave of the Epiphany
The Star foretold by Balaam having risen in the East, the three Magi, whose hearts were full of the expectation of the promised Redeemer, are immediately inflamed with the desire of going in search of Him. The announcement of the glad coming of the King of the Jews is made to these holy Kings in a mysterious and silent manner; and hereby it differs from that made to the Shepherds of Bethlehem, who were invited to Jesus' Crib by the voice of an Angel. But the mute language of the Star was explained to them by God Himself, for He revealed His Son to them; and this made their Vocation superior in dignity to that of the Jewish Shepherds, who, according to the dispensation of the Old Law, could know nothing save by the ministry of Angels.

The divine grace, which spoke, directly and by itself, to the souls of the Magi, met with a faithful and unhesitating correspondence. St. Luke says of the Shepherds, that they came with haste to Bethlehem (St. Luke, ii. 16); and the Magi show their simple and fervent eagerness by the words they addressed to Herod: We have seen His Star in the East, they say, and we are come to adore him (St. Matth. ii. 2).

When Abraham received the command from God to go out of the land of Chaldea, which was the land of his fathers and kindred, and go into a strange country, he obeyed with such faithful promptitude, as to merit the being made the Father of all them that believe (Rom. iv. 11): so, likewise, the Magi, by reason of their equally docile and admirable faith, have been judged worthy to be called the Fathers of the Gentile Church.

They, too, or at least one or more of them, went out from Chaldea, if we are to believe St. Justin and Tertullian. Several of the Fathers, among whom are the two just mentioned, assert that one, if not two, of these holy Kings was from Arabia. A popular tradition, now for centuries admitted into Christian Art, tells us that one of the three was from Ethiopia; and certainly, as regards this last opinion, we have David and other Prophets telling us that the coloured inhabitants of the banks of the Nile were to be objects of God's special mercy.

The term Magi implies that they gave themselves to the study of the heavenly bodies, and that, too, for the special intention of finding that glorious Star, whose rising had been prophesied. They were of the number of those Gentiles who, like the centurion Cornelius, feared God, had not been defiled by the worship of idols, and maintained, in spite of all the ignorance which surrounded them, the sacred traditions of the religion that was practised by Abraham and the Patriarchs.

The Gospel does not say that they were Kings; but the Church applies to them those verses of the Psalm, where David speaks of the Kings of Arabia and Saba, that should hereafter come to the Messias, bringing their offerings of gold. The tradition of their being Kings rests on the testimony of St. Hilary of Poitiers, of St. Jerome, of the Poet Juvencus, of St. Leo, and several others; and it would be impossible to controvert it by any well-grounded arguments. Of course, we are not to suppose them to have been Monarchs, whose kingdoms were as great as those of the Roman Empire; but we know, that the Scripture frequently applies this name of King to petty princes, and even to mere governors of provinces. The Magi, therefore, would be called Kings, if they exercised authority over a considerable number of people; and, that they were persons of great importance, we have a strong proof in the consideration and attention showed them by Herod, into whose palace they enter, telling him that they are come to pay their homage to the new-born King of the Jews. The city of Jerusalem is thrown into a state of excitement by their arrival, which would scarce have occurred had not the three strangers, who came for a purpose which few heeded, been attended by a numerous retinue, or had not attracted attention by their imposing appearance.

These Kings, then, docile to the divine inspiration, suddenly leave their country, their riches, their quiet, in order to follow a Star: the power of that God, who had called them, unites them in the same path, as they were, already, one in faith. The Star goes on before them, marking out the route they were to follow: the dangers of such a journey, the fatigues of a pilgrimage which might last for weeks or months, the fear of awakening suspicions in the Roman Empire towards which they were evidently tending--all this was nothing to them; they were told to go, and they went.

Their first stay is at Jerusalem, for the Star halts there. They, Gentiles, come into this Holy City, (which is soon to have God's curse upon it,) and they come to announce that Jesus Christ is come! With all the simple courage, and all the calm conviction of Apostles and Martyrs, they declare their firm resolution of going to Him, and of adoring Him. Their earnest inquiries constrain Israel, who was the guardian of the divine prophecies, to confess one of the chief marks of the Messias--his Birth in Bethlehem. The Jewish Priesthood fulfils, though with a sinful ignorance, its sacred ministry, and Herod sits restlessly on his throne, plotting murder. The Magi leave the faithless City, which has turned the presence of the Magi into a mark of its own reprobation. The Star reappears in the heavens, and invites them to resume their journey. Yet a few hours, and they will be at Bethlehem, at the feet of the King they are in search of.

O dear Jesus! we, also, are following Thee; we are walking in Thy light, for Thou hast said, in the Prophecy of Thy beloved Disciple: I am the bright and morning Star (Apoc. xxii. 16). The meteor that guides the Magi is but Thy symbol, O divine Star! Thou art the morning Star; for Thy Birth proclaims that the darkness of error and sin is at an end. Thou art the morning Star; for, after submitting to death and the tomb, thou wilt suddenly arise from that night of humiliation to the bright morning of Thy glorious Resurrection. Thou art the morning Star; for, by Thy Birth and the Mysteries which are to follow, Thou announcest unto us the cloudless day of eternity. May Thy light ever beam upon us! May we, like the Magi, be obedient to its guidance, and ready to leave all things in order to follow it! We were sitting in darkness when thou didst call us to Thy grace, by making this Thy light shine upon us. We were fond of our darkness, and Thou gavest us a love for the Light! Dear Jesus! keep up this love within us. Let not sin, which is darkness, ever approach us. Preserve us from the delusion of a false conscience. Avert from us that blindness into which fell the City of Jerusalem and her king, and which prevented them from seeing the Star. May Thy Star guide us through life, and bring us to Thee, our King, our Peace, our Love!

We salute thee, too, O Mary, thou Star of the Sea, that shinest on the waters of this life, giving calm and protection to thy tempest-tossed children who invoke thee! Thou didst pray for the Magi as they traversed the desert; guide also our steps, and bring us to Him who is Thy Child and Thy Light eternal. Amen


Hymn: O Sola Magnarum

O Bethlehem! greater than the greatest of cities! 'Twas thy happy lot to give birth to the Prince of our salvation, who had become incarnate by the heavenly mystery.

'Twas thou didst nurse Him who is the Only begotten Son and Heir of the eternal Father; He was made Man by the power of the Spirit of the God who darts the thunder-bolts; and this same Jesus is God under human flesh.

His eternal Father, who bears witness to Him, bids Him enter on His kingdom, and inherit it. The Prophets, who are His witnesses and vouchers, were the proclaimers of the Father's will.

This kingdom of Jesus includes all things--the firmament, the sea, the earth, from where the sun rises to where he sets, and hell, and heaven.

He is the King of those ancient judges, who ruled the race of Jacob: He is the King of the Church, (the Mistress of the earth): He is King of both temples, the new and old.

The children of Ephralm and the holy family of Manasses worship Him; the tribes of the twelve Brethren, sons of Jacob, also receive Him as their God.

The degenerate race, too, which, observing the rites of idolatrous worship, had framed in hot furnaces the statute of the cruel Baal,

Now turns to worship Christ, leaving for His sake the smoke-grimed gods of their fathers, stones, and metals, and stocks, planed, hewn, and chiselled by the hands of man.

Rejoice, all ye nations of the earth! Judea, Rome, and Greece, Egypt, Thrace, Persia, Scythia! Ye are now all under the one same King!

Praise your King, O all ye people! just and sinners, living, weak, and dead, give him praise. None must die henceforth!

January 10th: The Fifth Day
Within the Octave of the Epiphany
The Magi have reached Bethlehem; the humble dwelling of the King of the Jews has been thrown open to them; there, says St. Matthew, they found the Child, with Mary His Mother (St. Matth. ii. 11). Falling down, they adore the divine King they have so fervently sought after, and for whom the whole earth has been longing.

Here we have the first commencement of the Christian Church. In this humble Stable, we have the Son of God, made Man, presiding as Head over his mystical body; Mary is present, as the co-operatrix in the world's salvation, and as the Mother of divine Grace; Juda is represented by this Holy Queen and her Spouse St. Joseph; the Gentiles are adoring, in the person of the Magi, whose faith is perfect now that they have seen the Child. It is not a Prophet that they are honouring, nor is it to an earthly King that they open their treasures; He, before whom they prostrate in adoration, is their God. "See, I pray you," says St. Bernard, "and attentively consider how keen is the eye of faith. It recognises the Son of God whether feeding at his Mother's breasts, or hanging on the Cross, or dying in the midst of suffering; for the Good Thief recognises him on the Cross, and the Magi recognise him in the Stable; He, in spite of the nails which fasten Him, and they, in spite of the clouts which swathe him (Second Sermon for the Epiphany)."

So that all is consummated, Bethlehem is not merely the birth-place of our Redeemer; it is the cradle of the Church. Well did the Prophet say of it: And thou, Bethlehem, art not the least among the princes of Juda (St. Matth. ii. 6). We can understand St. Jerome's leaving all the ambitions and comforts of Rome, to go and bury himself in the seclusion of this Cave, where all these mysteries were accomplished. Who would not gladly live and die in this privileged place, sanctified as it is by the presence of our Jesus, embalmed with the fragrance of the Queen of Heaven, filled with the lingering echoes of the songs of Angels, and fresh, even yet, with the memory of those ancestors of our faith, the holy Magi!

These happy Kings are not scandalised at the sight they behold on entering the humble dwelling. They are not disappointed at finding, at the end of their long journey, a weak Babe, a poor Mother, and a wretched Stable. On the contrary, they rightly understand the mystery. Once believing in the promise, that the Infinite God would visit His creature Man, and show him how He loved him--they are not surprised at seeing Him humbling Himself, and taking upon Himself all our miseries that He might be like us in all, save sin. Their own hearts told them that the wound inflicted on man by pride was too deep to be healed by anything short of an extreme remedy; so that, to them, these strange humiliations at Bethlehem bespeak the design and action of a God. Israel, too, is in expectation of the Messias, but he must be mighty and wealthy and exalted, above all other kings, in earthly glory; the Magi, on the contrary, see in the humility and poverty of this weak Babe of Bethlehem the indications of the true Messias. The grace of God has triumphed in these faithful men; they fall down before Him, and, full of admiration and love, they adore Him.

Who could describe the sweet conversations they held with His Blessed Mother? for, the King himself, whom they were come in search of, broke not, even for their sakes, the voluntary silence he had imposed on himself by becoming an Infant. He accepted their homage, he sweetly smiled upon them, He blessed them; but He would not speak to them; Mary alone was to satisfy, by her sublime communications, the holy curiosity of the three pilgrims, who represented the entire human race. How amply must she not have rewarded their faith and love, by announcing to them the Mystery of that virginal Birth, which was to bring salvation to the world; by telling them of the joys of her own maternal heart; and by describing to them the sweet perfections of the divine Child! They themselves would fix their eyes on the Blessed Mother, and listen to her every word with devout attention; and oh! how sweetly must not divine grace have penetrated their hearts through the words of Her, whom God Himself has chosen as the means to lead men to the knowledge and the love of His sovereign Majesty! The Star, which, but an hour ago, had brightly shone for them in the heavens, was replaced by another, of a lovelier light, and stronger influence; and it prepared them for the contemplation of that God, who calls Himself the bright and morning Star (Apoc. xxii. 16)! The whole world seemed now a mere nothing in their eyes; the Stable of Bethlehem held within it all the riches of heaven and earth. They had shared in that long expectation of the human race, the expectation of four thousand years--and now, it seemed but as a moment, so full and perfect was their joy at having found the God, who alone can satisfy the desires of man's heart.

They understood and entered into the merciful designs of their Emmanuel; they gratefully and humbly contracted with Him the alliance He so mercifully made, through them, with the human race; they adored the just judgments of God, who was about to cast off an unbelieving people; they rejoiced at the glories of the Christian Church, which had thus been begun in their persons; they prayed for us, their posterity in that same Church.

We, dear Babe of Bethlehem!--we the Gentiles, who, by our regeneration, have become the posterity of these first Christians--we adore Thee as they did. Since their entrance into Bethlehem, long ages have passed away; but there has been an unbroken procession of people and nations tending towards Thee under the guidance of the Star of Faith. We have been made members of Thy Church, and we adore Thee with the Magi. In one thing are we happier than these first-born of the Church; we have heard Thy sacred words and teachings, we have contemplated Thy sufferings and Thy Cross, we have been witnesses of Thy Resurrection, we have heard the whole universe, from the rising to the setting of the sun, hymning Thy blessed and glorious Name: well may we adore and love Thee as King of the earth! The Sacrifice, whereby all thy Mysteries are perpetuated and renewed, is now offered up daily in every part of the world; the voice of Thy Church is heard speaking to all men; and all this light and all these graces are ours! The Church, the ever-enduring Bethlehem, the House of the Bread of Life, gives Thee to us; and we are forever feasting on thy adorable beauty. Yea, sweet Jesus, we adore Thee with the Magi.

And thou, O Mary! teach us as thou didst teach the Magi. Unfold to us, and each year more clearly, the sweet Mystery of thy Jesus, and, at length, win us over unreservedly to His service. Thou art our Mother--watch over us, and suffer us not to lose any of the lessons He teaches us. May Bethlehem, wherein we have entered in company with the holy Magi, work in us the renovation of our whole lives.


Hymn: Fit Porta Christi Pervia

The Gate of Christ is opened--a Gate all filled with grace:--the King passes, and the Gate remains shut, as it had forever been.

The Son of the infinite God came forth from the Virgin's womb: He is the Spouse, Redeemer, Creator, and (as the Psalm speaks,) the Giant of His Church.

He is the glory and the joy of His Mother; He is the immense hope of them that believe in Him. He drank the bitter cup of death, and so absolved our sins.

He is the Stone that came from the mountain, filling the world with grace. The ancient prophets tell us that this Stone is to come, and is not to be cut by the hand.

It is He, the Word, who was made Flesh as the Angel was speaking; He was born a Virgin from the Virgin's virginal womb.

The heavens give forth their Dew, and the clouds rained down the Just One; the earth opens and buds forth its Saviour, our Lord.

O wonderful conception! the Child it has produced is Christ, and the Mother that was Virgin in giving Him birth, remained a virgin after she had given Him birth.

Let every soul be glad, for the Redeemer of nations, the Lord of the world, is come to redeem the creatures He had made.

The Creator of the human race, whom the whole world is too little to hold, has hid Himself, O holy Mother! in thy womb.

He that was born of His Father, before all ages, God of God, is now born in time of his dear Virgin-Mother.

He takes away all sin, and gives his sacred gifts; He brings increase of light, and breaks the power of night.

January 11th: The Sixth Day
Within the Octave of the Epiphany
The Magi were not satisfied with paying their adorations to the great King, whom Mary presented to them. After the example of the Queen of Saba, who paid her homage to the Prince of Peace, in the person of King Solomon, these three Eastern Kings opened their treasures, and presented their offerings to Jesus. Our Emmanuel graciously accepted these mystic gifts, and suffered them not to leave him until he had loaded them with gifts infinitely more precious than those he had vouchsafed to receive. The Magi had given him of the riches which this earth produces; Jesus repays them with heavenly gifts. He strengthened in their hearts the virtues of faith, hope, and charity; he enriched, in their persons, the Church of which they were the representatives; and the words of the Canticle of Mary were fulfilled in them: He hath filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he hath sent empty away (St. Luke, i. 53), for the Synagogue refused to follow them in their search after the King of the Jews.

But let us consider the gifts made by the Magi, and let us, together with the Church and the Holy Fathers, acknowledge the Mysteries expressed by them. The gifts were three in number, in order to honour the sacred number of the Persons in the divine Essence, as likewise to express the triple character of the Emmanuel. He had come, that He might be King over the whole world; it was fitting that men should offer Gold to Him, for it is the emblem of sovereign power. He had come to be High Priest, and, by His mediation, reconcile earth to heaven; Incense, then, was an appropriate gift, for the Priest uses it when he offers sacrifice. But, thirdly, it was only by His own death that he was to obtain possession of the throne, which was prepared for His glorified Human Nature, and the perpetual Sacrifice of the Divine Lamb was to be inaugurated by this same His Death; the gift of Myrrh was expressive of the Death and Burial of an immortal Victim. The Holy Ghost, who inspired the Prophets, had guided the Magi in their selection of these three gifts. Let us listen to St. Leo, who speaking of this Mystery, says with his usual eloquence:

"O admirable Faith, which leads to Knowledge and perfect Knowledge, and which was not taught in the school of earthly wisdom, but was enlightened by the Holy Ghost Himself! For, whence had they learnt the supernatural beauty of their three Gifts?--they that had come straight from "their own country, and had not, as yet, seen Jesus, nor beheld, in his Infant Face, the Light which directed them in the choice of their offerings? Whilst the Star met the gaze of the bodily eye, their hearts were instructed by a stronger light--the ray of Truth. Before setting out on the fatiguing journey, they knew Him, to whom were due, by Gold, the honours of a King; by Incense, the worship of God; by Myrrh, the faith in His Mortal Nature (Sermon the Fourth On the Epiphany)."

But these three gifts, which so sublimely express the three characters of the Man-God, are fraught with instruction for us. They signify three great virtues, which the Divine Infant found in the souls of the Magi, and to which He added increase by His grace. Gold signifies charity, which unites us to God; Frankincense prayer, which brings God into man's heart; and Myrrh self-abnegation, suffering, and mortification, whereby we are delivered from the slavery of corrupt nature. Find a heart that loves God, that raises herself up to Him by prayer, that understands and relishes the power of the cross--and you have in that heart the worthiest offering which can be made to God, and one which He always accepts.

We, too, O Jesus! offer Thee our treasure and our gifts. We confess Thee to be God, and Priest, and Man. We beseech Thee to accept the desire we have of corresponding to the love Thou showest us by giving Thee our love in return; we love Thee, dear Saviour! do Thou increase our love. Receive, also, the gift of our Prayer, for, though of itself it be tepid and poor, yet it is pleasing to Thee because united with the prayer of Thy Church: teach us how to make it worthy of Thee and how to give it the power of obtaining what Thou desirest to grant: form within us the gift of prayer, that it may unceasingly ascend up like sweet Incense in Thy sight. And, lastly, receive the homage of our contrite and humble hearts, and the resolution we have formed of restraining and purifying our senses by mortification and penance.

The sublime Mysteries, which we are celebrating during this holy season, have taught us the greatness of our own misery, and the immensity of Thy love for us, and we feel more than ever the obligation we are under of fleeing from the world and its concupiscences, and of uniting ourselves to Thee. The Star shall not have shone upon us in vain: it has brought us to Thee, dear King of Bethlehem! and Thou shalt be King of our hearts. What have we that we prize and hold dear, which we can hesitate to give Thee in return for the sweet infinite treasure of Thyself, which Thou hast given to us?

Dear Mother of our Jesus! we put these our offerings into thy hands. The gifts of the Magi were made through thee, and they were pleasing to thy Son; thou must present ours to Him, and He will be pleased with them, in spite of their poverty. Our love is deficient; fill up its measure by uniting it with thine own immense love. Second our prayer by thy maternal intercession. Encourage us in our warfare against the world and the flesh. Make sure our perseverance, by obtaining for us the grace of a continual remembrance of the sweet Mysteries which we are now celebrating; pray for us, that, after thine own example, we may keep all these things in our hearts. That must be a hard and depraved heart, which could offend Jesus in Bethlehem; or refuse Him anything, now that He is seated on thy lap, waiting for our offering! O Mary! keep us from forgetting that we are the children of the Magi, and that Bethlehem is ever open to receive us.

Let us borrow the language of the ancient Liturgies, in order to give expression to the sentiments awakened in us by all these ineffable Mysteries. Let us begin with this Hymn on the Nativity of our Lord, left us by the saintly Bishop of Poitiers, Venantius Fortunatus.


Hymn: Agnoscat Omne Saeculum

Let all ages acknowledge that He is come, who is the reward of life. After mankind had carried the yoke of its cruel enemy, our Redemption appeared.

What Isaias foretold, has been fulfilled in the Virgin; an Angel announced the mystery to her, and the Holy Ghost filled her by His power.

Mary conceived in her womb, for she believed in the word that was spoken to her: the womb of a youthful maid holds Him, whom the whole earth cannot contain.

The Root of Jesse has given its flower, and the Branch has borne its fruit: Mary has given birth to Jesus, and the Mother is still the spotless Virgin.

He that created the light suffers Himself to be laid in a manger; He that, with the Father, made the heavens, is now wrapt by His Mother's hand in swaddling-clothes.

He that gave to the world the Ten Commandments of the law, deigns, by becoming Man, to be under the bond of the law.

What the old Adam defiled, that the new Adam has purified; and what the first cast down by his pride, the second raised up again by His humility.

Light and salvation are now born to us, night is driven away, and death is vanquished: oh! come, all ye people, believe; God is born of Mary. Amen.

January 12th: The Seventh Day
Within the Octave of the Epiphany
Having laid their offerings at the feet of Jesus, as the sign of the alliance they had, in the name of all mankind, contracted with Him, and laden with His graces and blessings, the Magi take their leave of the Divine Babe; for such was His will. They take their departure from Bethlehem, and the rest of the world seems a wilderness to them. Oh! if they might be permitted to fix their abode near the new-born King and His incomparable Mother!--but no; God's plan for the salvation of the world requires that everything savouring of human pomp and glory should be far from Him, who had come to take upon Himself all our miseries.

Besides, they are to be the first messengers of the Gospel; they must go and tell to the Gentiles that the Mystery of Salvation has begun, that the earth is in possession of its Saviour, and that their salvation is nigh at hand. The Star does not return to them; they needed it to find Jesus; but, now, they have Him in their hearts, and will never lose Him. These three men are sent back into the midst of the Gentile-world, as the leaven of the Gospel, which, notwithstanding its being so little, is to leaven the whole paste (St. Matth. xiii. 33). For their sakes, God will bless the nations of the earth; from this day forward, infidelity will lose ground, and faith will progress; and, when the Blood of the Lamb having been shed, Baptism shall be promulgated, the Magi shall be, not merely men of desire, but perfect Christians, initiated into all the Mysteries of the Church.

The ancient tradition, which is quoted by the author of The Imperfect Work on St. Matthew, which is put in all the editions of St. John Chrysostom, and was probably written about the close of the 6th century--tells us that the three Magi were baptised by St. Thomas the Apostle, and devoted themselves to the preaching of the Gospel. But we scarcely need a tradition on such a point as this. The vocation of these three Princes could never be limited to the mere privilege of being the first, among the Gentiles, to visit the eternal King, who had come down from heaven to be born on this earth and show Himself to His creatures; a second vocation was the consequence of the first, the vocation of preaching Jesus to men.

There are many details relating to the life and actions of the Magi, after they had become Christians, which have been handed down to us; but we refrain from mentioning them, as not being sufficiently ancient or important traditions, to have induced the Church to give them place in her Liturgy. We would make the same observation with regard to the names assigned to them of Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthassar; the custom of thus naming them is too modern to deserve credit; and though it might be indiscreet to deny that these were their true names, it seems very difficult to give proofs of their correctness.

The Relics of these holy Kings were translated from Persia to Constantinople, under the first Christian Emperors, and, for a long time, were kept in the Church of Saint Sophia. At a later period, they were translated to Milan, when Eustorgius was Bishop of that City. There they remained till the 12th century, when, through the influence of the Emperor Frederic Barbarossa, they were translated to the Cathedral Church of Cologne, by Reynold, Archbishop of that metropolitan See. The Relics are in a magnificent Shrine, perhaps the finest specimen now extant of medieval metallic-art, and the superb Cathedral, where it is religiously kept, is, by its size and architectural beauty, one of the grandest Churches of the Christian world.

Thus have we followed you, O Blessed Magi! Fathers of the Gentile-world! from your first setting out from the East for Bethlehem, to your return to your own country, and even to your sacred resting place, which the goodness of God has made to be in this cold West of ours. It was the love of children for their parents that made us thus cling to you. Besides, were we not ourselves in search of that dear King, whom you so longed for and found? Blessed be those ardent desires of yours, blessed be your obedience to the guidance of the Star, blessed be your devotion at the Crib of Jesus, blessed be the gifts you made Him, which while they were acceptable to God were full of instruction to us! We revere you as Prophets, for you foretold the characters of the Messias by the selection of your three gifts. We honour you as Apostles, for you preached, even to Jerusalem herself, the Birth of the humble Jesus of Bethlehem, of that Jesus whom His Disciples preached not till after the triumph of His Resurrection. We hail you as the Spring-Flowers of the Gentile-world, but Flowers which produced abundant and rich fruits, for you brought over entire nations and countless people to the service of our divine King.

Watch over us, and protect the Church. Be mindful of those Eastern countries, whence rises to the earth the light of day, the beautiful image of your own journey towards Bethlehem. Bless this Western world of ours, which was buried in darkness when you first saw the Star, and is now the favoured portion of God's earth, and on which the Divine Sun of Justice pours forth His brightest and warmest rays. Faith has grown weak among us; re-enkindle it. Obtain of the divine mercy, that the West may ever send forth her messengers of salvation to the south, and north, and even to that infidel East, where are laid the tents of Sem, and where the light that you gave her has been long extinguished by her apostacy. Pray for the Church of Cologne, that illustrious sister of our holiest Churches in the West; may she preserve the faith, may she defend her sacred rights and liberty; may she be the bulwark of Catholic Germany, and be ever blessed by the protection of her Three Kings, and the patronage of the glorious Ursula and her virginal army. Lastly, we beseech you, venerable Magi! to introduce us to the Infant Jesus, and His Blessed Mother; and grant us to go through these forty days, which the Church consecrates to the Mystery of Christmas, with hearts burning with love for the Divine Child, and may that same love abide with us during the pilgrimage of our life on this earth.


Hymn: Nuntium vobis fero

"I bring yon tidings from heaven above: Christ, the Ruler of the earth, is born in Bethlehem of Juda: for thus was it foretold by the Prophet."

Thus sing the glad choir of Angels: the same is announced by the Star, and the Eastern Kings come to offer to Jesus the worthy homage of their mystic gifts.

They offer their Frankincense to Him as to their God; the Myrrh honours His sepulchre; the Gold is the token of His Kingly character. Whilst thus worshipping One, the three offerers give three gifts to the Blessed Three.

Let us, too, sing praise to our Tri-Une God: glory to the Father, and to His divine Son, and to the Holy Spirit, who is sent into the hearts of the faithful by the Father and the Son. Amen.

January 13th: The Eighth Day
The Octave of the Epiphany
The thoughts of the Church, today, are fixed on the Baptism of our Lord in the Jordan, which is the second of the three Mysteries of the Epiphany. The Emmanuel manifested Himself to the Magi, after having shown Himself to the Shepherds; but this manifestation was made within the narrow space of a stable at Bethlehem, and the world knew nothing of it. In the Mystery of the Jordan, Christ manifested himself with greater publicity. His coming is proclaimed by the Precursor; the crowd, that is flocking to the river for Baptism, is witness of what happens; Jesus makes this the beginning of His public life. But who could worthily explain the glorious circumstances of this second Epiphany?

It resembles the first in this, that it is for the benefit and salvation of the human race. The Star has led the Magi to Christ; they had long waited for His coming, they had hoped for it; now, they believe. Faith in the Messias' having come into the world is beginning to take root among the Gentiles. But faith is not sufficient for salvation; the stain of sin must be washed away by water. He that believeth and is baptised, shall be saved (St. Mark, xvi. 16). The time is come, then, for a new manifestation of the Son of God, whereby there shall be inaugurated the great remedy, which is to give to Faith the power of producing life eternal.

Now, the decrees of divine Wisdom had chosen Water as the instrument of this sublime regeneration of the human race. Hence, in the beginning of the world, we find the Spirit of God moving over the Waters (Gen. i. 2), in order that they might "even then conceive a principle of sanctifying power," as the Church expresses it in her Office for Holy Saturday (The Blessing of the Font). But, before being called to fulfil the designs of God's mercy, this element of Water had to be used by the divine justice for the chastisement of a sinful world. With the exception of one family, the whole human race perished, by the terrible judgment of God, in the Waters of the Deluge.

A fresh indication of the future supernatural power of this chosen element was given by the Dove, which Noe sent forth from the Ark; it returned to him, bearing in its beak an Olive-branch, the symbol that peace was given to the earth by its having been buried in Water. But, this was only the announcement of the mystery; its accomplishment was not to be for long ages to come.

Meanwhile, God spoke to His people by many events, which were figurative of the future Mystery of Baptism. Thus, for example, it was by passing through the waters of the Red Sea, that they entered into the Promised Land, and during the miraculous passage, a pillar of a cloud was seen covering both the Israelites, and the Waters, to which they owed their deliverance.

But, in order that Water should have the power to purify man from his sins, it was necessary that it should be brought in contact with the Sacred Body of the Incarnate God. The Eternal Father had sent His Son into the world, not only that He might be its Lawgiver, and Redeemer, and the Victim of its salvation--but that He might also be the Sanctifier of Water; and it was in this sacred element that He would divinely bear testimony to His being His Son, and manifest Him to the world a second time.

Jesus, therefore, being now thirty years of age, comes to the Jordan, a river already celebrated for the prophetic miracles which had been wrought in its waters. The Jewish people, roused by the preaching of John the Baptist, were flocking thither in order to receive a Baptism, which could, indeed, excite a sorrow for sin, but could not effect its forgiveness. Our divine King approaches the river, not, of course, to receive sanctification, for He Himself is the author of all Justice--but to impart to Water the power of bringing forth, as the Church expresses the mystery, a new and heavenly progeny (The Blessing of the Font). He goes down into the stream, not, like Josue, to walk dry-shod through its bed, but to let its waters encompass Him, and receive from Him, both for itself and for the Waters of the whole earth, the sanctifying power which they would retain forever. The saintly Baptist places his trembling hand upon the sacred head of the Redeemer, and bends it beneath the water; the Sun of Justice vivifies this His creature; He imparts to it the glow of life-giving fruitfulness; and Water thus becomes the prolific source of supernatural life.

But, in this the commencement of a new creation, we look for the intervention of the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity. All Three are there. The heavens open; the Dove descends, not as a mere symbol, prophetic of some future grace, but as the sign of the actual presence of the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of love, who gives peace to men and changes their hearts. The Dove hovers above the head of Jesus, overshadowing, at one and the same time, the Humanity of the Incarnate Word and the water which bathed His sacred Body.

The manifestation is not complete; the Father's voice is still to be heard speaking over the Water, and moving by its power the entire element throughout the earth. Then was fulfilled the prophecy of David: The Voice of the Lord is upon the waters; the God of majesty hath thundered. The Voice of the Lord breaketh cedars, (that is, the pride of the devils). The Voice of the Lord divideth the flame of fire, (that is, the anger of God). The Voice of the Lord shaketh the desert, and maketh the flood to dwell, (that is, announces a new Deluge, the Deluge of divine Mercy) (Ps. cssviii. 3, 5, 7, 8, 10). And what says this Voice of the Father? This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (St. Matth. iii. 17).

Thus was the Holiness of the Emmanuel manifested by the presence of the Dove and by the voice of the Father, as His kingly character had been previously manifested by the mute testimony of the Star. The mystery is accomplished, the Waters are invested with a spiritual purifying power, and Jesus comes from the Jordan and ascends the bank, raising up with Himself the world, regenerated and sanctified, with all its crimes and defilements drowned in the stream. Such is the interpretation and language of the Holy Fathers of the Church regarding this great event of our Lord's Life.

Let us honour our Lord in this second Manifestation of His divinity, and thank Him, with the Church for His having given us both the Star of Faith which enlightens us, and the Water of Baptism which cleanses us from our iniquities. Let us lovingly appreciate the humility of our Jesus, who permits Himself to be weighed down by the hand of a mortal man, in order, as He says Himself, that He might fulfil all justice (St. Matth. iii. 15); for having taken on Himself the likeness of sin, it was requisite that He should bear its humiliation, that so He might raise us from our debasement. Let us thank Him for this grace of Baptism, which has opened to us the gates of the Church both of heaven and earth; and let us renew the engagements we made at the holy Font, for they were the terms on which we were regenerated to our new life in God.


Hymn: Jesus Refulsit Omnium

Jesus, the merciful Redeemer of all nations, shone forth on this day; let the faithful of every race celebrate Him in their songs of praise.

A Star, shining in the heavens, announces His Birth; it leads the way, and guides them to His Crib.

Prostrating, they adore the Infant wrapped in swaddling clothes; they confess Him to be the true God, offering Him their mystic gifts.

Thirty years of His life had passed, and He, the infinitely pure God, seeks the laver of baptism.

John, the favoured Baptist, trembles as he bends the head of Jesus beneath the waters--that Jesus whose Blood was to purify the whole earth from its sins.

The divine voice of the Father is heard from heaven, bearing testimony to His Son; and the Holy Spirit, too, is present, the giver of holy grace.

We beseech Thee in humble supplication, O Jesus! protect Thy people; we ask it of Thee by the power Thou didst show when Thou didst command the water to be changed into wine.

May praise, honour, and all power be to the Trinity forever and forever. Amen

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