DECEMBER 21.

The Church announces to us, to-day, in her Office of Lauds, these solemn words:

Nolite timere: quinta enim die veniet ad vos Dominus noster. Fear not: for on the fifth day, our Lord will come unto you.

SAINT THOMAS, APOSTLE.

This is the last Feast the Church keeps before the great one of the Nativity of her Lord and Spouse. She interrupts the Greater Ferias in order to pay her tribute of honour to Thomas, the Apostle of Christ, whose glorious martyrdom has consecrated this twenty-first day of December, and has procured for the Christian people a powerful patron, that will introduce them to the divine Babe of Bethlehem. To none of the Apostles could this day have been so fittingly assigned as to St. Thomas. It was St. Thomas whom we needed; St. Thomas, whose festal patronage would aid us to believe and hope in that God whom we see not, and who comes to us in silence and humility in order to try our Faith. St. Thomas was once guilty of doubting, when he ought to have believed; and only learnt the necessity of Faith by the sad experience of incredulity: he comes then most appropriately to defend us, by the power of his example and prayers, against the temptations which proud human reason might excite within us. Let us pray to him with confidence. In that heaven of Light and Vision, where his repentance and love have placed him, he will intercede for us, and gain for us that docility of mind and heart, which will enable us to see and recognise Him, who is the Expected of Nations, and who, though the King of the world, will give no other signs of his majesty, than the swaddling-clothes and tears of a Babe. But let us first read the Acts of our holy Apostle. The Church has deemed it prudent to give us them in an exceedingly abridged form, which contains only the most reliable facts, gathered from authentic sources; and thus, she excludes all those details, which have no historic authority.

Thomas Apostolus, qui et Didymus, Galilaeus, post acceptum Spiritum Sanctum, multas provincias profectus est ad praedicandum Christi Evangelium. Par this, Medis, Persis, Hircanis, et Bactris christianae fidei et vitae praecepta tradidit. Postremo ad Indos se conferens, eos in Christiana religione erudivit. Qui ad extremum, vitae doctrinaeque sanctitate, et miraculorum magnitudine, quum caeteris omnibus sui admirationem, et Jesu Christi amorem commovisset, cuius gentis regem, idolorum cultorem, magis ad iram accendit: cujus sententia condemnatus, telisque confossus, Calaminae Apostolatus honorem martyrii corona decoravit. Thomas the Apostle, who was also named Didymus, was a Galilean. After he had received the Holy Ghost, he travelled through many provinces, preaching the Gospel of Christ. He taught the principles of Christian faith and practice to the Parthians, Medes, Persians, Hircanians, and Bactrians. He finally went to the Indies, and instructed the inhabitants of those countries in the Christian religion. Up to the last, he gained for himself the esteem of all men by the holiness of his life and teaching, and by the wonderful miracles he wrought. He stirred up, also, in their hearts, the love of Jesus Christ. The King of those parts, a worshipper of idols, was, on the contrary, only the more irritated by all these things. He condemned the Saint to be pierced to death by javelins: which punishment was inflicted at Calamina, and gave Thomas the highest honour of his Apostolate, the crown of martyrdom.

THE GREAT ANTIPHON OF ST. THOMAS.

O Thoma Didyme! qui Christum meruisti cernere; te precibus rogamus altisonis, succurre nobis miseris; ne damnemur cum impiis, in Adventu Judicis.

OREMUS.
Da nobis, quaesumus, Domine, beati Apostoli tui Thomae solemnitatibus gloriari: ut ejus semper et patrociniis sublevemur, et fidem congrua devotione sectemur. Per Dominum, &c. Amen.

O Thomas Didymus! who didst merit to see Christ; we beseech thee, by most earnest supplication, help us miserable sinners, lest we be condemned with the ungodly, at the coming of the Judge.

LET US PRAY.
Grant, Lord, we beseech thee, that we may rejoice on the solemnity of thy blessed Apostle, Thomas; to the end that we may always have the assistance of his prayers, and zealously profess the faith he taught. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The following Prayer is from the Matins of the Gothic, or Mozarabic, Breviary.

Domine Jesu Christe, qui posuisti in capite Martyris tui Thomae Apostoli coronam de lapide pretioso, fundamento fundatam; ut non confundatur, quia te credidit; coronetur, quia pro te animam posuit: sit ergo intercessionibus ejus in nobis famulis tuis fides vera, qua te etiam coram persecutoribus promptissima devotione confiteamur: quatenus interveniente tanto martyre, coram te et Angelis tuis minime confundamur. Amen. O Lord Jesus Christ, who hast placed on the head of thy Martyr, Thomas the Apostle, a crown made of that precious stone, that is founded in the foundation; that so he might not be confounded, because he believed in thee; nor be uncrowned, because he laid down his life for thee; may there be, by his intercession, in us thy servants, that true Faith, whereby we may confess thee with most ready hearts before persecutors: that thus, by the same great Martyr's intercession, we may not be confounded before thee and thy Angels. Amen.

The Greek Church celebrates, with her usual solemnity, the Feast of St. Thomas; but she keeps it on the sixth of October. We extract the following stanzas from her Hymns.

HYMN OF ST. THOMAS.

{Taken from the Menoea of the Greeks,)

Domini palpato latere, bonorum assecutus es summitatem; nam velut spongia hinc hausisti latices, fontem bonorum, aeternamque potasti vitam, mentibus expellens ignorantiam, divinaque Dei cognitionis dogmata scaturire faciens.

Tua incredulitate et tua fide stabilisti tentatos, nunciare incipiens omni creaturae Deum ac Dominum, carne pro nobis in terris indutum, crucem mortemque subeuntem, clavis perforatum, cujus lancea latus apertum, ex quo vitam haurimus.

Indorum omnem terram fulgere fecisti, sacratissime, ac Deum videns Apostole! Quum enim illuminasses filios luminis et diei, horum, in Spiritu, sapiens, idolica evertisti templa, et sublimasti os in charitate Dei, ad laudem et gloriam Ecclesiae, beate intercessor pro animabus nostris.

Divina videns, Christi Sapientiae spiritualis demonstratus es crater mysticus, O Thoma Apostole, in quem fidelium animae laetantur, et Spiritus sagena populos eruisti ex abysso ignorantiae: unde ex Sion sicut fluvius devenisti charitatis, tua divina scaturire faciens dogmata in omnem creaturam. Christi passionis imitatus, latere pro ipso perforatus, induisti immortalitatem: illum deprecare misereri animabus nostris.

When thy hand touched Jesus' side, thou didst find the perfection of good things; for, as a mystic sponge, thou didst thence imbibe the water of life, the fount of all that is good, and didst drink in everlasting life; whereby thou didst cleanse men's minds from ignorance, giving them to drink of the divine dogmas of the knowledge of God.

Thou didst, by thine own incredulity and thy after-faith, confirm such as were tempted: for thou didst proclaim to all men, how He, that is thy Lord and thy God, became incarnate on this earth for us, was nailed to the Cross and suffered death, and had his side opened with a spear, whence we draw life.

Thou didst make all the Indies shine with much light, O most holy Apostle, thou contemplator of the Divinity! For after thou hadst enlightened these people, and made them to be children of the light and day, thou, by the Spirit of God, didst wisely overthrow the temples of their idols, and didst elevate the people to the love of God, making them an honour and a glory to the Church, O thou that helpest us by thy intercession!

By the vision thou hadst of divine things, thou becamest, O Apostle Thomas! the mystic cup of the Wisdom of Christ, which gives joy to the souls of the faithful. Thou wast the spiritual net, drawing men from the sea of ignorance. Hence is it, that thou camest from Sion as a stream of charity, watering the world with the divine dogmas. Thou didst imitate the passion of Jesus, thou wast pierced in thy side, thou hast put on immortality. Pray to God, that he have mercy on our souls.

O glorious Apostle Thomas! who didst lead to Christ so many unbelieving nations, hear now the prayers of the faithful, who beseech thee to lead them to that same Jesus, who, in five days, will have shown himself to his Church. That we may merit to appear in his divine presence, we need, before all other graces, the light which leads to him. That light is Faith; then, pray that we may have Faith. Heretofore, our Saviour had compassion on thy weakness, and deigned to remove from thee the doubt of his having risen from the grave; pray to him for us, that he will mercifully come to our assistance, and make himself felt by our heart. We ask not, O holy Apostle, to see him with the eyes of our body, but with those of our faith, for he said to thee, when he showed himself to thee: Blessed are they who have not seen, and have believed! Of this happy number, we desire to be. We beseech thee, therefore, pray that we may obtain the Faith of the heart and will, that so, when we behold the divine Infant wrapped in swaddling-clothes and laid in a manger, we may cry out: My Lord! and my God! Pray, O holy Apostle, for the nations thou didst evangelise, but which have fallen back again into the shades of death. May the day soon come, when the Sun of Justice will once more shine upon them. Bless the efforts of those apostolic men, who have devoted their labours and their very lives to the work of the Missions; pray that the days of darkness may be shortened, and that the countries, which were watered by thy blood, may at length see that kingdom of God established amongst them, which thou didst preach to them, and for which we also are in waiting.

THE SAME DAY.

FIFTH ANTIPHON.

O Oriens, splendor lucis aeterne, et sol justitiae; veni et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis. O Orient! splendour of eternal light, and Sun of Justice! come and enlighten them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death.

O Jesus, divine Sun! thou art coming to snatch us from eternal night: blessed for ever be thy infinite goodness! But thou puttest our faith to the test, before showing thyself in all thy brightness. Thou hidest thy rays, until the time decreed by thy heavenly Father comes, in which all thy beauty will break upon the world. Thou art traversing Judea; thou art near Jerusalem; the journey of Mary and Joseph is nigh its term. Crowds of men pass or meet thee on the road, each one hurrying to his native town, there to be enrolled, as the Edict commands. Not one of all these suspects that thou, O divine Orient! art so near him. They see thy Mother Mary, and they see nothing in her above the rest of women; or if they are impressed by the majesty and incomparable modesty of this august Queen, it is but a vague feeling of surprise at there being such dignity in one so poor as she is; and they soon forget her again. If the Mother is thus an object of indifference to them, it is not to be expected that they will give even so much as a thought to her Child, that is not yet born. And yet this Child is thyself, O Sun of Justice! Oh! increase our Faith, but increase, too, our Love. If these men loved thee, O Redeemer of mankind, thou wouldst give them the grace to feel thy presence; their eyes, indeed, would not yet see thee, but their hearts, at least, would burn within them, they would long for thy coming, and would hasten it by their prayers and sighs. Dearest Jesus! who thus traversest the world thou hast created, and who forcest not the homage of thy creatures, we wish to keep near thee during the rest of this thy journey: we kiss the footsteps of Her that carries thee in her womb; we will not leave thee, until we arrive together with thee at Bethlehem, that House of Bread, where, at last, our eyes will see thee, O splendour of eternal light, our Lord and our God!

PRAYER FOR THE TIME OF ADVENT.

(The Mozarabic Breviary, Monday of the Fifth Week, Oratio.)

Immane satis facinus video coram tuis, Deus Pater, oculis a reprobis perpetratum: qui, dum Filium tuum, praedicatum in lege, contemnunt, in incredulitatis suae voragine remanserunt; dum hi quibus non erat de eo nuntiatum, viderunt eum, et qui non audierunt, intelligentia contemplati sunt. Amove ergo, quaesumus, quidquid resistit tibi in opere, ut credulo pectore sic in nobis virgulta donorum praepolleant, ut radix humilitatis nunquam arescat. Amen. O God, our Father! what horrid crime is this I see committed in thy presence by the reprobate Jews! They spurn thy Son, that was foretold in the Law, and remain in the gulf of their incredulity: whereas, they, to whom he was not announced, have seen him; and they who heard not, contemplated him, in their spirit. Remove, therefore, we beseech thee, from us all that resists thee in our conduct, that so, with a believing heart, we may in such manner bring forth the branches of thy gifts bestowed on us, as that the root of humility may never dry up within us. Amen.