FEBRUARY 2.
THE PURIFICATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN.

The Forty Days of Mary’s Purification are now completed, and she must go up to the Temple, there to offer to God her Child Jesus. Before following the Son and his Mother in this their mysterious journey, let us spend our last few moments at Bethlehem, in lovingly pondering over the mysteries at which we are going to assist.

The Law commanded, that a woman, who had given birth to a son, should not approach the Tabernacle for the term of forty days; after which time, she was to offer a sacrifice for her Purification. She was to offer up a lamb as a holocaust, and a turtle or dove as a sin-offering. But if she were poor, and could not provide a lamb, she was to offer, in its stead, a second turtle or dove.

By another ordinance of the Law, every first-born son was to be considered as belonging to God, and was to he redeemed by five sicles, each sicle weighing, according to the standard of the Temple, twenty obols. [Lev. xii.; Num. iii. 47. The Obol was about three half pence of English money.]

Mary was a Daughter of Israel - she had given Birth to Jesus - he was her First-born Son. Could such a Mother, and such a Son, be included in the Laws we have just quoted? Was it becoming that Mary should observe them?

If she considered the spirit of these legal enactments, and why God required the ceremony of Purification, it was evident that she was not bound to them. They, for whom these Laws had been made, were espoused to men;- Mary was the chaste Spouse of the Holy Ghost, a Virgin in conceiving, and a Virgin in giving Birth to, her Son; her purity had ever been spotless as that of the Angels - but it received an incalculable increase by her carrying the God of all sanctity in her womb, and bringing him into this world. Moreover, when she reflected upon her Child being the Creator and sovereign Lord of all things - how could she suppose that he was to be submitted to the humiliation of being ransomed as a slave, whose life and person are not his own?

And yet!, the Holy Spirit revealed to Mary, that she must comply with both these Laws. She, the holy Mother of God, must go to the Temple like other Hebrew mothers, as though she had lost something which needed restoring by a legal sacrifice. He, that is the Son of God and Son of Man, must be treated in all things as though he were a Servant, and be ransomed in common with the poorest Jewish boy. Mary adores the will of God, and embraces it with her whole heart.

The Son of God was not to be made known to the world but by gradual revelations. For thirty years, he leads a hidden life in the insignificant village of Nazareth; and during all that time, men took him to be the son of Joseph. [St. Luke iii. 23.] It was only in his thirtieth year, that John the Baptist announced him, and then only in mysterious words, to the Jews, who flocked to the Jordan, there to receive from the Prophet the baptism of penance. Our Lord himself gave the next revelation the testimony of his wonderful works and miracles. Then came the humiliations of his Passion and Death, followed by his glorious Resurrection, which testified to the truth of his prophecies, proved the infinite merits of his Sacrifice, and, in a word, proclaimed his Divinity. The earth had possessed its God and its Saviour for three-and-thirty years, and men, with a few exceptions, knew it not. The Shepherds of Bethlehem knew it; but they were not told, as were afterwards the Fishermen of Genesareth, to go and preach the Word to the furthermost parts of the world. The Magi, too, knew it; they came to Jerusalem, and spoke of it, and the City was in a commotion; but all was soon forgotten, and the Three Kings went back quietly to the East. These two events, (which would, at a future day, be celebrated by the Church as events of most important interest to mankind,) were lost upon the world, and the only ones that appreciated them were a few true Israelites, who had been living in expectation of a Messias, who was to be poor and humble, and was to save the world. The majority of the Jews would not even listen to the Messias’ having been born; for Jesus was born at Bethlehem, and the Prophets had distinctly foretold that the Messias was to be called a Nazarite. [St Matth. ii. 23.]

The same Divine plan - which had required that Mary should be espoused to Joseph, in order that her fruitful Virginity might not seem strange in the eyes of the people - now obliged her to come, like other Israelite mothers, to offer the sacrifice of Purification, for the Birth of the Son, whom she had conceived by the operation of the power of the Holy Ghost, but who was to be presented in the Temple as the Son of Mary, the Spouse of Joseph. Thus it is, that Infinite Wisdom delights in showing that his thoughts are not our thoughts, and in disconcerting our notions; he claims the submissiveness of our confidence, until the time come that he has fixed for withdrawing the veil, and showing himself to our astonished view.

The Divine Will was dear to Mary in this as in every circumstance of her life. The Holy Virgin knew, that by seeking this external rite of Purification, she was in no wise risking the honour of her Child, or failing in the respect due to her own Virginity. She was in the Temple of Jerusalem what she was in the house of Nazareth., when she received the Archangel’s visit - she was the Handmaid of the Lord. She obeyed the Law, because she seemed to come under the Law. Her God and her Son submitted to the ransom as humbly as the poorest Hebrew would have to do; he had already obeyed the edict of the emperor Augustus, in the general census; he was to be obedient even unto death, even to the death of the Cross. The Mother and the Child, both humbled themselves in the Purification, and man’s pride received, on that day, one of the greatest lessons ever given it.

What a journey was this of Mary and Joseph, from Bethlehem to Jerusalem! The Divine Babe is in his Mother’s arms - she had him on her heart the whole way. Heaven, and earth, and all nature, are sanctified by the gracious presence of their merciful Creator. Men look at this Mother as she passes along the road with her sweet Jesus; some are struck with her appearance, others pass her by as not worth a look; but of the whole crowd, there was not one that knew he had been so close to the God, who had come to save him.

Joseph is carrying the humble offering, which the Mother is to give to the Priest. They are too poor to buy a lamb - besides, their Jesus is the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world. The Law required that a Turtle, or Dove, should be offered in the place of a lamb, when the Mother was poor. Innocent birds emblems of purity, fidelity, and simplicity. Joseph has also provided the five Sicles, the ransom to be given for the First-born Son - Mary’s only Son, who has vouchsafed to make his Brethren, and, by adopting our nature, to render us partakers of his.

At length, the Holy Family enter Jerusalem. The name of this holy City signifies Vision of Peace; and Jesus comes to bring her Peace. Let us consider the names of the three places, in which our Redeemer began, continued, and ended his life on earth. He is conceived at Nazareth, which signifies a Flower; and Jesus is, as he tells us in the Canticle, the Flower of the field and the Lily of the valley [Cant. ii. 1.], by whose fragrance we are refreshed. He is born at Bethlehem, the house of Bread; for he is the nourishment of our souls. He dies on the Cross in Jerusalem, and, by his Blood, he restores peace between heaven and earth, peace between men, peace within our own souls; and, on this day of his Mother’s Purification, we shall find him giving us the pledge of this peace.

Whilst Mary, the Living Ark of the Covenant, is ascending the steps, which lead up to the Temple, carrying Jesus in her arms, let us be attentive to the mystery - one of the most celebrated of the prophecies is about to be accomplished, one of the principal characters of the Messias is about to be shown as belonging to this Infant. We have already had the other predictions fulfilled, of his being conceived of a Virgin, and born in Bethlehem; to-day, be shows us a further title to our adoration - he enters the Temple.

This edifice is not the magnificent Temple of Solomon, which was destroyed by fire, during the Jewish captivity. It is the Second Temple, which was built after the return from Babylon, and is not comparable to the First in beauty. Before the century is out, it also is to be destroyed; and our Saviour will soon tell the Jews, that not a stone shall remain on stone that shall not be thrown down [St. Luke, xxi. 6.]. Now, the Prophet Aggeus - in order to console the Jews, who had returned from banishment, and were grieving because they were unable to raise a House to the Lord equal in splendour to that built by Solomon - addressed these words to them, which mark the time of the coming of the Messias: “Take courage, O Zorobabel, saith the Lord; and take courage, O Jesus, the son of Josedec, the High Priest; and take courage, all ye people of the land; - for thus saith the Lord of hosts: Ye t 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; and I will fill this House with glory. - Great shall be the glory of this House, more than of the first; and in this place I will give Peace, saith the Lord of hosts.” [Agg. ii. 5,7,8,10.]

The hour is come for the fulfilment of this prophecy. The Emmanuel has left Bethlehem; he has come among the people; he is about to take possession of his Temple, and the mere fact of his entering it, will straightways give it a glory, which is far above that of its predecessor. He will often visit it during his mortal life; but his coming to it to-day, carried as he is in Mary’s arms, is enough for the accomplishment of the promise, and all the shadows and figures of this Temple at once pale before the rays of the Sun of Truth and Justice. The blood of oxen and goats will, for a few years more, flow on its altar; but the Infant, who holds in his veins the Blood that is to redeem the world, is, at this moment, standing near that very Altar. Amidst the Priests who are there, and amidst the crowd of Israelites who are moving to and fro in the sacred building, there are a few faithful ones, who are in expectation of the Deliverer, and they know that the time of his manifestation is at hand;- but there is not one among them all, who knows, that at that very moment, this expected Messias is under the same roof with himself.

But, this great event could not be accomplished, without a prodigy being wrought by the Eternal God, as a welcome to his Son. The Shepherds had been summoned by the Angel, and the Magi had been called by the Star, when Jesus was born in Bethlehem: this time, it is the Holy Ghost himself who sends a witness to the Infant, now in the great Temple.

There was then living in Jerusalem an old man whose life was well nigh spent. He was a Man of desires [ Dan. x. 11], and his name was Simeon; his heart had longed unceasingly for the Messias, and, at last, his hope was recompensed. The Holy Ghost revealed to him, that he should not see death, without first seeing the rising of the Divine Light. As Mary and Joseph were ascending the steps of the Temple, to take Jesus to the Altar, Simeon felt within himself the strong impulse of the Spirit of God; he leaves his house, and walks towards the Temple; the ardour of his desire makes him forget the feebleness of age. He reaches the porch of God’s House - and there, amidst the many mothers who had come to present their children, his inspired gaze recognises the Virgin, of whom he had so often read in Isaias, and he presses, through the crowd, to the Child she is holding in her arms.

Mary, guided by the same Divine Spirit, welcomes the saintly old man, and puts into his trembling arms the dear object of he r love, the Salvation of the world. Happy Simeon! figure of the ancient world, grown old in its expectation, and near its end. No sooner had he received the sweet Fruit of Life, than his youth is renewed as that of the eagle, and in his person is wrought the transformation, which was to be granted to the whole human race. He cannot keep silence - he must sing a Canticle - he must do as the Shepherds and Magi had done, he must give testimony: “Now,” says he, “now, O Lord, thou dost dismiss thy servant in Peace, because my eyes have seen thy Salvation, which thou hast prepared - a Light that is to enlighten the Gentiles, and give glory to thy people Israel.” [St. Luke, ii. 29, and following verses.]

Immediately, there comes, attracted to the spot by the same Holy Spirit, the holy Anne, Phanuel’s daughter, noted for her piety, and venerated by the people on account of her great age. Simeon and Anna, the representatives of the Old Testament, unite their voices, and celebrate the happy coming of the Child, who is to renew the face of the earth; they give praise to the mercy of Jehovah, who, in this place, in this Second Temple, gives Peace to the world, as the Prophet Aggeus had foretold.

This was the Peace so long looked forward to by Simeon, and now, in this Peace will he sleep. Now, O Lord, as he says in his Canticle, thou dost dismiss thy servant, according to thy word, in Peace! His soul, quitting its bond of the flesh, will now hasten to the bosom of Abraham, and bear to the elect, who rest there, the tidings that Peace has appeared on the earth, and will soon open heaven. Anne has some years still to pass on earth; as the Evangelist tells us, she has to go and announce the fulfilment of the promises to such of the Jews as were spiritually minded, and looked for the Redemption of Israel [St. Luke, ii. 38.]. The divine seed is sown; the Shepherds, the Magi, Simeon, and Anne, have all been its sowers; it will spring up in due time; and when our Jesus has spent his thirty years of hidden life in Nazareth, and shall come for the harvest-time, he will say to his Disciples: Lift up your eyes, and see the countries, for they are white already for the harvest [ St. John, iv. 35.]: pray ye the Lord of the harvest, that he send labourers into his harvest [St. Luke, x. 2.].

Simeon gives back to Mary the Child she is going to offer to the Lord. The two Doves are presented to the Priest, who sacrifices them on the Altar; the price for the ransom is paid; the whole law is satisfied; and, after having paid her homage to her Creator in this sacred place, where she spent her early years, Mary, with Jesus fastly pressed to her bosom, and her faithful Joseph by her side, leaves the Temple.

Such is the mystery of this fortieth day, which closes, by this admirable Feast of the Purification, the holy season of Christmas. Several learned writers, among whom we may mention Henschenius and Pope Benedict the Fourteenth, are of opinion that this Solemnity was instituted by the Apostles themselves. This much is certain, that it was a long-established Feast even in the fifth century.

The Greek Church and the Church of Milan count this Feast among those of our Lord; but the Church of Rome has always considered it as a Feast of the Blessed Virgin. It is true, it is our Saviour who is this day offered in the Temple; but this offering is the consequence of our Lady’s Purification. The most ancient of the Western Martyrologies and Calendars call it The Purification. The honour thus paid by the Church to the Mother, tends, in reality, to the greater glory of her Divine Son, for He is the Author and the End of all those prerogatives which we revere and honour in Mary.

 


FIRST VESPERS OF THE PURIFICATION.

The holy Church sings, in this Office, the celebrated Antiphons of the Feast of the Circumcision, which speak of the great Mystery of the Incarnation of the Word, and of Mary’s fruitful Virginity. We give the Psalms in the Second Vespers, inasmuch as they are more generally assisted at by the Faithful than the First.

Ant. O admirabile commercium! Creator generis humani, animatum corpus sumens, de Virgine nasci dignatus est; et procedens homo sine semine, largitus est nobis suam Deitatem. Ant. O admirable Interchange! The Creator of mankind, assuming a living Body, deigned to be born of a Virgin; and becoming Man, without man’s aid, bestowed on us his Divinity.

Psalm Dixit Dominus, as below in Second Vespers.

Ant. Quando natus es ineffabiliter ex Virgine, tunc impletae sunt Scripturae; sicut pluvia in vellus descendisti, ut salvum faceres genus humanum: te laudamus, Deus noster.

Ant. When thou wast born ineffably of the Virgin, the Scriptures were fulfilled. As dew upon Gedeon’s Fleece, thou camest down to save mankind. O Lord, our God! we praise thee.

Psalm Laudate pueri, as below in Second Vespers.

Ant. Rubum, quem viderat Moyses incombustum, conservatam agnovimus tuam laudabilem virginitatem: Dei Genitrix, intercede pro nobis. Ant. In the bush seen by Moses as burning yet unconsumed, we recognise the preservation of thy glorious Virginity. O Mother of God, intercede for us.

Psalm Laetatus sum, as below in Second Vespers.

Ant. Germinavit radix Jesse, orta est stella ex Jacob, Virgo peperit Salvatorem: te laudamus, Deus noster. Ant. The Root of Jesse hath budded; the Star hath risen out of Jacob; a Virgin hath brought forth the Saviour. O Lord our God! we praise thee.

Psalm Nisi Dominus, as below in Second Vespers.

Ant. Ecce Maria genuit nobis Salvatorem, quem Joannes videns exclamavit, dicens: Ecce Agnus Dei, ecce qui tollit peccata mundi, alleluia. Ant. Lo! Mary hath brought forth a Saviour unto us, whom John seeing, exclaimed: Behold the Lamb of God! Be hold him that taketh away the sins of the world. Alleluia.

Psalm Lauda Jerusalem, as below in Second Vespers.

The Capitulum is the prophecy of Malachy, announcing the coming of the Lord, the Angel of the Testament, into his Temple. The prophecy was fulfilled on the day of Mary’s Purification.

CAPITULUM.

(Malach. III.)

Ecce ego mitto Angelum meum, et praeparabit viam ante faciem meam. Et statim veniet ad Templum sanctum suum Dominator quem vos quaeritis, et Angelus testamenti, quem vos vultis.

Behold I send my Angel, and he shall prepare the way before my face. And presently the Lord, whom ye seek, and the Angel of the testament, whom ye desire, shall come to his holy Temple.

Ave maris stella,
Dei Mater alma,
Atque semper Virgo,
Felix coeli Porta.

Sumens illud Ave
Gabrielis ore,
Funda nos in pace,
Mutans Evae nomen.

Solve vincla reis,
Profer lumen caecis,
Mala nostra pelle
Bona cuncta posce.

Monstra te esse Matrem,
Sumat per te preces
Qui pro nobis natus,
Tulit esse tuus.

Virgo singularis,
Inter omnes mitis
Nos culpis solutos,
Mites fac et castos.

Vitam praesta puram,
Iter para tutum,
Ut videntes Jesum,
Semper collaetemur.

Sit laus Deo Patri,
Summo Christo decus,
Spiritui Sancto,
Tribus honor unus.
Amen.

Hail, Star of the Sea! Blessed Mother of God, yet ever a Virgin! O happy gate of heaven!

Thou that didst receive the Ave from Gabriel’s lips, confirm us in peace, and so let Eva be changed into an Ave of blessing for us.

Loose the sinner’s chains, bring light to the blind, drive from us our evils, and ask all good things for us.

Show thyself a Mother, and offer our prayers to him, who would be born of thee, when born for us.

O incomparable Virgin, and meekest of the meek, obtain us the forgiveness of our sins, and make us meek and chaste.

Obtain us purity of life, and a safe pilgrimage; that we may be united with thee in the blissful vision of Jesus.

Praise be to God the Father, and to the Lord Jesus, and to the Holy Ghost: to the Three one self-same praise.
Amen.

V. Responsum accepit Simeon a Spiritu Sancto.
R. Non visurum se mortem, nisi videret Christum Domini.
V. Simeon had received an answer from the Holy Ghost.
R. That he should net see death, before he had seen the Christ of the Lord.

* In the Monastic Breviary, it is preceded by this Responsory:

R. breve. Ave Maria, gratia plena, * Dominus tecum.
Ave Maria, gratia plena, * Dominus tecum.
V. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui. * Dominus tecum.
Gloria Patri.
Ave Maria, gratia plena, * Dominus tecum.

ANTIPHON OF THE MAGNIFICAT

Ant. Senex Puerum portabat, Puer autem senem regebat: quem Virgo peperit, et post partum Virgo permansit: ipsum quem genuit adoravit. Ant. The old man carried the Child, but the Child guided the old man. A Virgin bore him, and, after childbirth, continued a Virgin: she adored Him, whom she brought forth.

Oremus.
Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, Majestatem tuam supplices exoramus: ut sicut unigenitus Filius tuus hodierna die cum nostrae carnis substantia in Templo est praesentatus; ita nos facias purificatis tibi mentibus praesentari. Per eumdem.

Let us pray.
O Almighty and Eternal God, we humbly beseech thy divine Majesty, that as thy only Son, in the substance of our flesh, was this day presented in the temple, so our souls, being perfectly cleansed, may become a pure oblation, and presented to thee. Through the same, &c.

 


THE BLESSING OF THE CANDLES.

After Tierce, fellows the Blessing of the Candles, which is one of the three principal ones observed by the Church during the year; the other two are the Blessing of the Ashes, and the Blessing of the Palms. The signification of this ceremony bears so essential a connection with the mystery of our Lady's Purification, that if Septuagesima, Sexagesima, or Quinquagesima Sunday fall on the 2nd of February, the Feast is deferred to to-morrow; but the Blessing of the Candles, and the Procession, which follows it, always take place on this precise day.

In order to give uniformity to the three great Blessings of the year, the Church prescribes for that of the Candles the same colour for the vestments of the sacred Ministers, as is used in the two other Blessings of the Ashes and Palms - namely, Purple. Thus this solemn function, which is inseparable from the day on which our Lady's Purification took place, may be gone through every year on the 2nd of February, without changing the colour prescribed by the three Sundays just mentioned.

It is exceedingly difficult to say what was the origin of this ceremony. Baronius, Thomassin, and others, are of opinion, that it was instituted towards the close of the 5th century, by Pope St. Gelasius, in order to give a christian meaning to certain vestiges, still retained by the Romans, of the old Lupercalia. St. Gelasius certainly did abolish the last vestiges of the feast of the Lupercalia, which, in earlier times, the Pagans used to celebrate in the month of February. - Pope Innocent the Third, in one of his sermons for the Feast of the Purification, attributes the institution of this ceremony of Candlemas to the wisdom of the Roman Pontiffs, who turned into the present religious rite the remnants of an ancient pagan custom, which had not quite died out among the Christians. The old Pagans, he says, used to carry lighted torches in memory of those which the fable gives to Cures, when she went to the top of Mount Etna in search of her daughter Proserpine. But against this, we have to object, that on the pagan Calendar of the Romans, there is no in mention of any Feast in honour of Ceres, for the month of February. - We, therefore, prefer adopting the opinion of Dom Hugh Menard, Rocca, Henschenius, and Pope Benedict the Fourteenth; that an ancient feast, which was kept in February, and was called the Amburbalia, during which the pagans used to go through the city with lighted torches in their hands, gave occasion the Sovereign Pontiffs to substitute, in its place, a Christian ceremony, which they attached to the Feast of that sacred mystery, in which Jesus, the Light of the world, was presented in the Temple by his Virgin-Mother.

The mystery of to-day's ceremony has frequently been explained by liturgists, dating from the 7th century. According to St. Ivo of Chartres [In his Second Sermon on the Purification], the wax which is formed from the juice of flowers by the bee, (which has always been considered as the emblem of virginity,) signifies the virginal flesh of the Divine Infant, who diminished not, either by his conception or his birth, the spotless purity of his Blessed Mother. The same holy Bishop would have us see, in the flame of our Candle, a symbol of Jesus, who came to enlighten our darkness. St. Anselm [Enarrations on St. Luke] Archbishop of Canterbury, speaking on the same mystery, bids us consider three things in the blest Candle: the Wax, the Wick, and the Flame. The Wax, he says, which is the production of the virginal bee, is the Flesh of our Lord; the Wick, which is within, is his Soul; the Flame, which burns on the top, is his Divinity.

Formerly, the Faithful looked upon it as an honour to be permitted to bring their wax tapers to the Church, on this Feast of the Purification, that they might be blessed together with those, which were to he borne in the procession by the Priests and sacred Ministers; and the same custom is still observed in some congregations. It would be well if Pastors were to encourage this practice, retaining it where it exists, or establishing it where it is not known. There has been such a systematic effort made to destroy, or, at least, to impoverish the exterior rites and practices of religion, that we find, throughout the world, thousands of christians who have been insensibly made strangers to those admirable sentiments of faith, which the Church alone, in her Liturgy, can give to the body of the Faithful. Thus, we shall be telling many what they have never heard before, when we inform them, that the Church blesses the Candles to-day, not only to be carried in the Procession, which forms part of the ceremony, but, also, for the use of the Faithful, inasmuch as they draw, upon such as use them with respect, whether on sea or on land, (as the Church says in the Prayer,) special blessings from heaven. These blest Candles ought, also, to be lit near the bed of the dying Christian, as a symbol of the immortality merited for us by Christ, and of the protection of our Blessed Lady.

As soon as all is prepared, the Priest goes up to the Altar, and thus begins the Blessing of the Candles.

V. Dominus vobiscum.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.

Oremus.
Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, aeterne Deus, qui omnia ex nihilo creasti, et jussu tuo per opera apum hunc liquorem ad perfectionem cerei pervenire fecisti; et qui hodierna die petitionem justi Simeonis implesti: te humiliter deprecamur, ut has candelas ad usus hominum, et sanitatem corporum et animarum, sive in terra, sive in aquis, per invocationem tui sancti Nominis, et per intercessionem beatae Mariae semper Virignis, cujus hodie festa devote celebrantur, et per preces omnium Sanctorum tuorum, benedicare et sanctificare digneris; et hujus plebis tuae, quae illas honorifice in manibus desiderat portare, teque cantando laudare, exaudias voces de coelo sancto tuo, et de sede Majestatis tuae; et propitius sis omnibus clamantibus ad te, quos redemisti pretioso sanguine Filii tui, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti, Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. R. Amen.

V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.

Let us pray.
Holy Lord, Father Almighty and Eternal God, who didst create all timings out of nothing and by the labour of the bees, following thy commands, hast brought this liquor to the perfection of wax; and who, on this day, didst accomplish the desire of the righteous Simeon; we humbly beseech thee, that by the invocation of thy most holy name, and by the intercession of Blessed Mary, ever a Virgin, whose festival we this day devoutly celebrate, and by the prayers of all thy Saints, thou wouldst vouchsafe to bless and sanctify these candles, for the service of men, and for the good of their bodies and souls in all places, whether on sea, or on land; and that thou wouldst please mercifully to hear from thy holy temple, and from the throne of thy majesty, the prayers of this thy people, who desire to carry them in their hands with reverence, and with sacred hymns to praise thy name; and show mercy to all that cry out unto thee, whom thou hast redeemed by the precious blood of thy beloved Son: who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. R. Amen.

Oremus.
Omnipotens, sempiterne Deus, qui, hodierna die, Unigenitum tuum, ulnis sancti Simeonis in Templo sancto tuo suscipiendum praesentasti: tuam supplices deprecamur clementiam, ut has candelas, quas nos famuli tui, in tui Nominis magnificentiam suscipientes, gestare cupimus luce accensas, benedicere et sanctificare, atque lumine supernae benedictionis accendere digneris; quatenus eas tibi Domino nostro offerendo, digni et sancto igne dulcissimae charitatis tuae succensi, in Templo sancto gloriae tuae representari mereamur. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. R. Amen.
Let us pray.
O Almighty and Eternal God, who on this day wast pleased that thy only Son should be presented in the temple, and be received into the arms of holy Simeon: we humbly beseech thy mercy to bless, sanctify, and give the light of thy heavenly benediction to these candles, which we thy servants desire to carry in honour of thy name: that by offering them to thee, our Lord God, we may be inflamed by the fire of thy sweet love, and made worthy to be presented in the holy temple of thy glory. Through the same Christ our Lord. R. Amen.
Oremus.
Domine Jesu Christ; lux vera, quae illuminas omnem hominem venientem in hunc mundum: effunde benedictionem tuam super hos cereos, et sanctifica eos lumine gratiae tuae; et concede propitius, ut sicut haec luminaria, igne visibili accensa, nocturnas depellunt tenebras, ita corda nostra invisibili igne, id est Sancti Spiritus splendore illustrata, omnium vitiorum caecitate careant: ut purgato mentis oculo, ea cernere possimus quae tibi sunt placita, et nos trio saluti utilia; quatenus post hujus saeculi caliginosa discrimina, ad lucem indeficientem pervenire mereamur. Per te, Christe Jesu, Salvator mundi, qui in Trinitate perfecta vivis et regnas Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. R. Amen.
Let us pray.
Lord Jesus Christ the true light, that enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world: pour forth thy blessing upon these candles, and sanctify them by the light of thy grace; and grant in thy mercy, that as these candles, by their visible light, dispel the darkness of the night, so our hearts burning with invisible fire, and enlightened by the grace of the Holy Ghost, may be delivered from all blindness of sin that the eye of our soul being purified, we may discern those things that are pleasing to thee, and beneficial to our souls: that after having finished the darksome passage of this life, we may come to never-fading joys, through thee, O Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world, who, in perfect Trinity livest and reignest God, world without end. R. Amen.
Oremus.
Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui per Moysen famulum tuum, purissimum olei liquorem ad luminaria ante conspectum tuum jugiter concinnanda praeparari jussisti: benedictionis tuae gratiam super hos cereos benignus infunde, quatenus sic administrent lumen exterius ut, te donante, lumen Spiritus tui nostris non desit mentibus interius. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate ejusdem Spiritus Sancti, Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. R. Amen.
Let us pray.
O Almighty and Eternal God, who, by thy servant Moses, commandedst the purest oil to be prepared for lamps, continually to burn in thy presence, mercifully pour forth the grace of thy blessing on these candles: that as they supply us with visible light, so, by thy assistance, the light of thy Spirit may never be wanting inwardly in our souls. Through our Lord Jesus Christ thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the same Holy Spirit, God, world without end. R. Amen.
Oremus.
Domine Jesu Christe, qui hodierna die, in nostrae carnis substantia, inter homines apparens, a parentibus in Templo es praesentatus; quem Simeon venerabilis senex, lumine Spiritus tui irradiatus, agnovit, suscepit, et benedixit: praesta propitius, ut ejusdem Spiritus Sancti gratia illuminati, atque edocti, te veraciter agnoscamus et fideliter diligamus. Qui cum Deo Patre, in unitate ejusdem Spiritus sancti, vivis et regnas, Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. R. Amen.
Let us pray.
Lord Jesus Christ, who appearing amongst men in the substance of our flesh, wast pleased this day to be presented in the temple by thy parents, and whom the venerable Simeon, enlightened by the Holy Ghost, publicly confessing, received in his arms, and blessed: mercifully grant that, being inspired and taught by the grace of the same Holy Spirit, we may sincerely acknowledge and faithfully love thee. Who with God the Father, in the unity of the same Holy Spirit, livest and reignest God, world without end. R. Amen.

These five Prayers having been said, the Celebrant sprinkles the Candles with holy water, (saving the Asperges in secret,) and then incenses them; after which, he distributes them to both clergy and Laity [In receiving the Candle, the Faithful should kiss first the Candle itself, and then the Priest's hand]. During the distribution, the Church - filled with emotion at the sight of these sacred symbols, which remind her of her Jesus - shares in the joyous transports of the aged Simeon, who, whilst holding the Child in his aims, confessed him to be the Light of the Gentiles. She chants his sweet Canticle, separating each verse by an Antiphon, which is formed out of the last words of Simeon.

Ant. Lumen ad revelationem gentium, et gloriam plebis tuae Israel.

Ant. A Light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

CANTICLE OF SIMEON.

(St. Luke, II.)

Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine: * secundum verbum tuum in pace.

Ant. Lumen ad revelationem gentium, et gloriam plebis tuae Israel.

Quia viderunt oculi mei: * Salutare tuum.

Ant. Lumen ad revelationem gentium, et gloriam plebis tuae Israel.

Quod parasti: * ante faciem omnium populorum.

Ant. Lumen ad revelationem gentium, et gloriam plebis tuae Israel.

Gloria Patri et Filio, * et Spiritui Sancto.

Ant. Lumen ad revelationem gentium, et gloriam plebis tuae Israel.

Sicut erat in principio, et nunc et semper, * et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

Ant. Lumen ad revelationem gentium, et gloriam plebis tuae Israel.

Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace.

Ant. A Light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

Because my eyes have seen thy Salvation.

Ant. A Light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

Which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples.

Ant. A Light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.

Ant. A Light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Ant. A Light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

After the distribution of the Candles, the following Antiphon, and verse of the 43rd Psalm, are sung.

Exsurge, Domine, adjuva nos, et libera nos propter nomen tuum.
Ps. Deus, auribus nostris audivimus: patres nostri annuntiaverunt nobis. V. Gloria Patri. Exsurge.

Arise, O Lord, help us, and, for thy name's sake, deliver us.
Ps. We have heard, O God, with our ears: our fathers have declared unto us. V. Glory. Arise.

If it be in the season of Septuagesima, there is also added by the Deacon, Flectamus genua, (Let us kneel down); to which the Subdeacon replies, Levate, (Arise).

Oremus.
Exaudi, quaesumus, Domine, plebem tuam: et quae extrinsecus annua tribuis devotione venerari, interius assequi gratiae tuae luce concede. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Let us pray.
Give ear, we beseech thee, O Lord, to thy people; that what we outwardly perform by this yearly devotion, we may inwardly obtain the effects of, by the light of thy grace. Through, &c.

 


THE PROCESSION.

Filled with holy joy. radiant with the mystic light, excited, like the venerable Simeon, by the impulse of the Holy Spirit - the Church goes forth to meet her Emmanuel. It is this meeting which the Greek Church calls the Hypapante [or Hypante], under which name she also designates to-days Feast. The Church wield imitate that wondrous Procession, which was formed in the Temple of Jerusalem the day of Mary's Purification. Let us listen to St. Bernard.

"On this day, the Virgin-Mother brings the Lord of the Temple into the Temple of the Lord; Joseph presents to the Lord a Son, who is not his own, but the Beloved Son of that Lord himself, and in whom he is well pleased; Simeon, the just man, confesses Him for whom he had been so long waiting; Anna, too, the widow, confesses him. The Procession of this solemnity was first made by these four, which, afterwards, was to be made, to the joy of the whole earth, in every place and by every nation. Let us not be surprised at its then being so little; for He they carried was Little! Besides, all who were in it were just, and Saints, and perfect - there was not a single sinner." [First Sermon On the Purification].

And yet, let us join the holy procession. Let us go to meet Jesus, the Spouse of our souls, as did the Wise Virgins, carrying in our hands lamps burning with the flame of charity. Let us remember the command given us by our Lord: Let your loins be girt, and lamps burning in your hands: and you yourselves like to men who wait for their Lord [St. Luke, xii. 35,36]. Guided by faith, and enlightened by charity, we shall meet and know him, and he will give himself to us. The holy Church opens her chants of this Procession with the following Antiphon, which is found, word for word, in the Greek Liturgy of this same Feast.

Ant. Adorna thalamum taum, Sion, et suscipe Regem Christum: amplectere Mariam, quae est coelestis porta; ipsa enim portat Regem gloriae novi luminis; subsistit Virgo, adducens manibus Filium ante luciferum genitum; quem accipiens Simeon in ulnas suas, praedicavit populis Dominum eum esse vitae et mortis et Salvatorem mundi.

Ant. Adorn thy bride-chamber, O Sion, and receive Christ, thy King. Salute Mary, the gate of heaven; for she beareth the King of glory, who is the new Light. The Virgin stands, bringing in her hands her Son, the Begotten before the day-star; whom Simeon receiving into his arms, declared him to the people as the Lord of life and death, and the Saviour of the world.

Then is added the following Anthem, taken from the Gospel, and in which is related the mysterious meeting between Jesus and Simeon.

Ant. Responsum accepit Simeon a Spiritu Sancto, non visurum se mortem, nisi videret Christum Domini; et cum inducerent Puerum in Templum, accepit eum in ulnas suas, et benedixit Deum, et dixit: Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine, in pace.
V. Cum inducerent puerum Jesum parentes ejus ut facerent secundum consuetudinem Legis pro eo, ipse accepit eum in ulnas suas.
Ant. Simeon had. received an answer from the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Christ of the Lord; and when his parents brought the Child into the Temple, he took him into his arms, and blessed God, and said: Now, thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, in peace.
V. When his parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, he took him into his arms.

On re-entering the Church, the Choir sings the following Responsory:

R. Obtulerunt pro eo Domino par turturum, aut duos pullos columbarum: * Sicut scriptum est in Lege Domini.
V. Postquam impleti sunt dies purgationis Mariae, secundum legem Moysi, tulerunt Jesum in Jerusalem, ut sisterent eum Domino. * Sicut scriptum est in Lege Domini.
Gloria Patri. * Sicut scriptum est in Lege Domini.

R. They offered for him, to the Lord, a pair of turtle doves, or two young pigeons: * As it is written in the Law of the Lord.
R. After the days of Mary's purification, according to the law of Moses, were accomplished, they carried Jesus to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord. * As it is written in the law of the Lord. Glory. * As it is written in the law of the Lord.

After the Procession, the Celebrant and his Ministers put off their purple vestments, and vest in white for the Mass of the Purification. But if it be any of the three Sundays, Septuagesima, Sexagesima, or Quinquagesima, the Mass of the Feast is deferred till the morrow, as we have already explained.

 


MASS.

In the Introit, the Church sings the glory of Jerusalem's Temple, that was this day visited by the Emmanuel. Great, indeed, to-day, is the Lord in the City of David, great is he on his mount of Sion. Simeon, the representative of the whole human race, receives into his arms Him that is the Mercy sent us by God.

INTROIT.

Suscepimus, Deus, misericordiam tuam in medio Templi tui: secundum Nomen tuum, Deus, ita et laus tua in fines terrae: justitia plena est dextera tua.
Ps. Magnus Dominus et laudabilis nimis, in civitate Dei nostri, in monte sancto ejus. V. Gloria Patri. Suscepimus.

We have received thy mercy, O God, in the midst of thy temple: according to thy name, O God, so also is thy praise unto the ends of the earth: thy right hand is full of justice.
Ps. Great is the Lord, and exceedingly to be praised: in the City of our God, in his holy Mountain. V. Glory, &c. We have.

In the Collect, the Church prays that her children may be presented, as Jesus was, to the Eternal Father; but, in order that the may meet with a. favourable reception, she asks him to grace them with purity of heart.

COLLECT.

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus Majestatem tuam supplices exoramus ut, sicut unigenitus Filius tuus, hodierna die, cum nostrae carnis substantia in Templo est praesentatus, ita nos facias purificatis tibi mentibus praesentari. Per eumdem. O Almighty and Eternal God, we humbly beseech thy divine Majesty, that as thy Only Begotten Son, in the substance of our flesh, was this day presented in the temple, so our souls being perfectly cleansed, may become a pure oblation, and presented to thee. Through the same,

EPISTLE.

Lectio Malachiae Prophetae.

Cap. III.

Haec dicit Dominus Deus: Ecce ego mitto Angelum meum et praeparabit viam ante faciem meam. Et statim veniet ad Templum suum Dominator quem vos quaeritis, et Angelus testamenti quem vos vultis. Ecce venit, dicit Dominus exercituum; et quis potent cogitare diem adventus ej us? et quis stabit ad videndum eum? Ipse enim quasi ignis conflans, et quasi herba fullonum; et sedebit conflans, et emundans argentum, et purgabit filios Levi, et colabit eos quasi aurum et quasi argentum: et erunt Domino offerentes sacrificia in justitia. Et placebit Domino sacrificium Juda et Jerusalem, sicut dies saeculi et sicut anni antiqui, dicit Dominus omnipotens.

Lesson from the Prophet Malachy.

Ch. III.

Thus saith the Lord God: Behold I send my angel, and he shall prepare the way before my face. And presently the Lord whom you seek, and the Angel of the Testament whom you desire, shall come to his Temple Behold he cometh, saith the Lord of hosts: and who shall be able to think of the day of his coming? and who shall stand to see him? For he is like a refining fire, and like the fuller's herb: and he shall sit refining and cleansing the silver, and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and shall refine them as gold, and as silver, and they shall offer sacrifices to the Lord in justice. And the sacrifice of Juda and Jerusalem shall please the Lord, as in the days of old, and in the ancient years, saith the Lord Almighty.

All the Mysteries of the Man-God have this for their object - the purifying of our hearts. He sends his Angel, (that is, his Precursor,) before his face, that he may prepare his way; and we have heard this holy Prophet crying out to us, in his wilderness: Be humbled, O ye hills! and ye valleys, be ye filled up! - At length, he that is the Angel, the Sent, by excellence, comes in person, to make a Testament, or Covenant, with us. He comes to his Temple, and this Temple is our heart. But, he is like a refining fire, that takes away the dross of metals. He wishes to renew us, by purifying us; that thus we may be worthy to be offered to him, and with him, by a perfect sacrifice. We must, therefore, take care and not be satisfied with admiring these sublime Mysteries. We must hold this as a principle of our spiritual life - that the Mysteries brought before us, feast after feast, are intended to work in us the destruction of the old, and the creation of the new, man. We have been spending Christmas; we ought to have been born together with Jesus; this new Birth is now at its fortieth day. To-day, we must be offered by Mary, (who is, also, our Mother,) to the Divine Majesty, as Jesus was. The moment is come for our offering, for it is the hour of the Great Sacrifice - let us redouble the fervour of our preparation.

In the Gradual, the Church again celebrates that sweet Mercy, who has appeared in the Temple of Jerusalem, and is about to show himself to us in this more perfect manifestation of the Holy Sacrifice.

GRADUAL.

Suscepimus. Deus, misericordiam tuam in medio Templi tui: secundum nomen tuum, Deus, ita et laus tua in fines terrae.
V. Sicut audivimus, ita et vidimus in civitate Dem nostae, in monte sancto ejus.

Alleluia, alleluia.
V. Senex Puerum portabat: Puer autem senem regebat.
Alleluia.

We have received thy Mercy, O God, in the midst of thy Temple: according to thy name, O God, so also is thy praise unto the ends of the earth.
V. As we have heard, so have we seen in the City of our God, on his holy mountain.

Alleluia, alleluia.
V. The old man carried the Child: but the Child guided the old man.
Alleluia.

If the season of Septuagesima be already begun, the Church, instead of the Alleluia-verse, sings the following Tract, which is composed of the words of the venerable Simeon.

TRACT.

Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine, secundum verbum tuum in pace.
V. Qua viderunt oculi mei Salutare tuum.
V. Quod parasti ante faciem omnium populorum.
V. Lumen ad revelationem gentium, et gloriam plebis tuae Israel.

Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace.
V. Because my eyes have seen thy Salvation.
V. Which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples.
V. A Light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

GOSPEL.

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam.

Cap. II.

In illo tempore: Postquam impleti sunt dies purgationis Mariae, secundum legem Moysi, tulerunt Jesum in Jerusalem, ut sisterent eum Domino, sicut scriptum est in Lege Domini : Quia omne masculinum adaperiens vulvam, sanctum Domino vocabitur. Et ut darent hostiam, secundum quod dictum est in Lege Domini, par turturum, aut duos pullos columba rum. Et ecce homo erat in Jerusalem, cui nomen Simeon: et homo iste justus et timoratus, exspectans consolationem Israel; et Spiritus Sanctus erat in eo. Et responsum acceperat a Spiritu Sancto, non visurum se mortem nisi prius videret Christum Domini. Et venit in Spiritu in Templum. Et cum inducerent puerum Jesum parentes ejus, ut facerent secundum consuetudinem Legis pro eo: et ipse accepit eum in ulnas suas, et benedixit Deum, et dixit: Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine, secundum verbum tuum in pace; quia viderunt oculi mei Salutare tuum, quod parasti ante faciem omnium populorum, lumen ad revelationem gentium, et gloriam plebis tuae Israel.

Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Luke.

Ch. II.

At that time: After the days of the purification of Mary, according to the law of Moses, were accomplished, they carried Jesus to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord. As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male opening the womb shall be called holy to the Lord. And to offer a sacrifice according as it is written in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtle doves, or two young pigeons. And behold there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was in him. And he had received an answer from the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. And became by the Spirit into the temple. And when his parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, he also took him into his arms, and blessed God, and said: Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace. Because my eyes have seen thy Salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples: a light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

The Holy Spirit has led us to the Temple, as he did Simeon. There, we see the Virgin-Mother offering at the Altar her Son, who is the Son of God. We are filled with admiration at this fidelity, of the Child and his Mother, to the Law; and we feel, in our hearts, a desire to be also presented to our Creator, who will accept our homage, as he accepted that offered him by his Divine Son. Let us, at once, put ourselves in those same holy dispositions, which filled the hearts of Jesus and Mary. The salvation of the world has, this day, gained ground; let the work of our individual sanctification also advance. From this Feast forward, the Mystery of the Infant-God will no longer be put before us, by the Church, as the special object of our devotion; the sweet Season of Christmas will, in a few hours, have left us, and we shall have to follow our Jesus in his combats against our enemies. Let us keep close to our dear King. Let us ever keep Simeon's spirit, and follow our Redeemer, walking in His footsteps, who is our Light. Let us love this Light, and merit, by our fidelity in using it, that it unceasingly shine upon us. During the Offertory, the Church speaks the praises of the grace put, by our Lord, on Mary's lips. She celebrates the favours poured out on Her, who was called by the Archangel, Blessed among women.

OFFERTORY.

Diffusa est gratia in labiis tuis; propterea benedixit te Deus in aeternum, et in saeculum saeculi.

Grace is spread on thy lips therefore hath God blessed thee for ever, and for ever.

SECRET.

Exaudi, Domine, preces nostras: et ut digna sint munera, quae oculis tuae Majestatis offerimus, subsidium nobis tuae pietatis impende. Per Dominum.

Mercifully hear our prayers, O Lord, and grant us the assistance of thy mercy, that what we offer to thy divine Majesty may be worthy to be accepted. Through, &c.

The Preface is that of Christmas, as given in the chapter On Hearing Mass during the Season of Christmas.

After having distributed the Bread of Life - the Fruit of Bethlehem - which has been offered on our Altar, and has redeemed us from all our iniquities, the holy Church again reminds her children of the sentiments which filled Simeon's soul. But, in the Mystery of love, we not only, like Simeon, receive into our arms Him, who is the Consolation of Israel; he enters into our very breast and soul, and there he takes up his abode.

COMMUNION.

Responsum accepit Simeon a Spiritu Sancto, non visurum se mortem, nisi videret Christum Domini.

Simeon received an answer from the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death till he beheld the Christ of the Lord.

Let us, in the Postcommunion, unite with the Church, in praying that the heavenly remedy of our regeneration may not only produce in our souls a passing grace, but may, by our fidelity, fructify in us to life eternal.

POSTCOMMUNION.

Quaesumus, Domine Deus noster, ut sacrosancta mysteria, quae pro reparationis nostrae munimine contulisti, intercedente beata Maria semper Virgine, et praesens nobis remedium esse facias et futurum. Per Dominum. We beseech thee, O Lord our God, that the sacred mysteries we have received to preserve our new life, may, by the intercession of Blessed Mary, ever a Virgin, become a remedy to us both now and for the future. Through, &c.

 

 


SECOND VESPERS.

The Second Vespers of our solemnity are composed of the Psalms of our Lady's Office, which are sung to the Antiphons taken from the Gospel. Having elsewhere explained why the Church has applied these five Psalms to our Lady, we give them without any commentary. The Hymn is the same as in First Vespers, - the Ave Maris Stella - which ever brings such sweet consolation to our hearts, and is so pleasing to Mary. When we come to the Magnificat, let us sing it with those sentiments wherewith our Lady herself sang it, when the Holy Spirit inspired her with the Canticle.

Ant. Simeon justus et timoratus exspectabat redemptionem Israel, et Spiritus Sanctus erat in eo.

Ant. Simeon, a just man, and one that feared God, waited for the redemption of Israel, and the Holy Ghost was in him.

PSALM 109.

Dixit Dominus Domino meo: * Sede a dextris meis.
Donec ponam inimicos tuos: * scabellum pedum tuorum.
Virgam virtutis tuae emittet Dominus ex Sion: * dominare in medio inimicorum tuorum.
Tecum principium in die virtutis tuae in splendoribus sanctorum: * ex utero ante luciferum genui te.
Juravit Dominus, et non poenitebit eum: * Tu es Sacerdos in aeternum secundum ordinem Melchisedech.
Dominus a dextris tuis: * confregit in die irae suae reges.
Judicabit in nationibus, implebit ruinas: * conquassabit capita in terra multorum.
De torrente in via bibet: * propterea exaltabit caput.
The Lord said to my Lord, his Son: Sit thou at my right hand, and reign with me.
Until, on the day of Thy last coming, I make thy enemies thy footstool.
O Christ! the Lord thy Father will send forth the sceptre of thy power out of Sion: from thence rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.
With thee is the principality in the day of thy strength, in the brightness of the saints: for the Father hath said to thee: From the womb before the day-star I begot thee.
The Lord hath sworn, and he will not repent: he hath said, speaking of thee, the God-Man: Thou art a Priest for ever, according to the order of Melchisedech.
Therefore, O Father, the Lord thy Son, is at thy right hand: he hath broken kings in the day of his wrath.
He shall also judge among nations: in that terrible coming, he shall fill the ruins of the world: he shall crush the heads in the land of many.
He cometh now in humility; he shall drink, in the way, of the torrent of sufferings: therefore shall he lift up the head.
Ant. Simeon justus et timoratus exspectabat redemptionem Israel, et Spiritus Sanctus erat in eo.

Ant. Responsum accepit Simeon a Spiritu Sancto, non visurum se mortem, nisi videret Dominum.

Ant. Simeon, a just man, and one that feared God, waited for the redemption of Israel, and the Holy Ghost was in him.

ANT. Simeon received an answer from the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord.

PSALM 112.

Laudate, pueri, Dominum: * laudate nomen Domini.
Sit nomen Domini benedictum: * ex hoc nunc et usque in saeculum.
A solis ortu usque ad occasum: * laudabile nomen Domini.
Excelsus super omnes gentes Dominus: * et super coelos gloria ejus.
Quis sicut Dominus Deus noster qui in altis habitat:* et humilia respicit in coelo et in terra?
Suscitans a terra inopem: * et de stercore erigens pauperem.
Ut collocet eum cum principibus: * cum principibus populi sui.
Qui habitare facit sterilem in domo: * matrem filiorum laetantem.
Praise the Lord, ye children: praise ye the name of the Lord.
Blessed be the name of the Lord: from henceforth now and for ever.
From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, the name of the Lord is worthy of praise.
The Lord is high above all nations: and his glory above the heavens.
Who is as the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high:
and looketh down on the low things in heaven and on earth? Nay, not content with this, he deigns to come down among us.
Raising up, from his divine crib, the needy from the earth: and lifting up the poor out of the dunghill.
That he may place him with princes: with the princes of his people.
Who maketh a barren woman to dwell in a house, the joyful mother of children.
Ant. Responsum accepit Simeon a Spiritu Sancto, non visurum se mortem, nisi videret Dominum.

Ant. Accipiens Simeon Puerum in manibus, gratias agens benedixit Dominum.

Ant. Simeon received an answer from the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord.

Ant. Simeon taking the Child in his arms, giving thanks, blessed the Lord.

PSALM 121.

Laetatus sum in his quae dicta sunt mihi: * In domum Domini ibimus.
Stantes erant pedes nostri: * in atriis tuis Jerusalem.
Jerusalem quae aedificatur ut civitas: * cujus participatio ejus in idipsum.
Illuc enim ascenderunt tribus, tribus Domini: * testimonium Israel ad confitendum Nomini Domini.
Quia illic sederunt sedes in judicio: * sedes super domum David.
Rogate quae ad pacem sunt Jerusalem: * et abundantia diligentibus te.
Fiat pax in virtute tua: * et abundantia in turribus tuis.
Propter fratres meos et proximos meos: * loquebar pacem de te.
Propter domum Domini Dei nostri: * quaesivi bona tibi.

I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: We shall go into the house of the Lord.
Our feet were standing in thy courts. O Jerusalem! Our heart loves and confides in thee, O Mary.
Mary is like to
Jerusalem that is built as a City; which is compact together.
For thither did the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord: the testimony of Israel, to praise the Name of the Lord.
Because seats sat there in judgment: seats upon the house of David; and Mary is of a kingly race.
Pray ye, through Mary, for the things that are for the peace of Jerusalem: and may abundance be on them that love thee, O Church of our God!
The voice of Mary:
Let peace be in thy strength, O thou new Sion! and abundance in thy towers.
I, a daughter of Israel, for the sake of my brethren and of my neighbours, spoke peace of thee.
Because of the house of the Lord our God, I have sought good things for thee.
Ant. Accipiens Simeon Puerum in manibus, gratias agens benedixit Dominum.

Ant. Lumen ad revelationem gentium, et gloriam plebis tuae Israel.

Ant. Simeon taking the Child in his arms, giving thanks, blessed the Lord.

Ant. A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

PSALM 126.

Nisi Dominus aedificaverit domum: * in vanum laboraverunt qui aedificant eam.
Nisi Dominus custodierit civitatem: * frustra vigilat qui custodit eam.
Vanum est vobis ante lucem surgere: * surgite post quam sederitis, qui manducatis panem doloris.
Cum dederit dilectis suis somnum; * ecce haereditas Domini, filii: merces, fructus ventris.
Sicut sagittae in manu potentis: * ita filii excussorum.
Beatus vir, qui implevit desiderium suum ex ipsis: * non confundetur cum loquetur inimicis suis in porta.

Unless the Lord build the House, they labour in vain that build it.
Unless the Lord keep the City, he watcheth in vain that keepeth it.
It is vain for you to rise before light; rise ye after you have sitten, you that eat of the bread of sorrow.
When he shall give sleep to his beloved: behold the inheritance of the Lord are children; the reward, the fruit of the womb.
As arrows in the hand of the mighty, so the children of them that have been shaken.
Blessed is the man that hath filled his desire with them; he shall not be confounded when he shall speak to his enemies in the gate.

Ant. Lumen ad revelationem gentium, et gloriam plebis tuae Israel.

Ant. Obtulerunt pro eo Domino par turturum, aut duos pullos collumbarum.

Ant. A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

Ant. They offered for him, to the Lord, a pair of turtles, or two young pigeons.


PSALM 147

Lauda, Jerusalem, Dominum: * lauda Deum tuum, Sion.
Quoniam confortavit seras portarum tuarum: * benedixit filiis tuis in te.
Qui posuit fines tuos pacem, * et adipe frumenti satiat te.
Qui emittit eloquium suum terrae: * velociter currit sermo ejus.
Qui dat nivem sicut lanam: * nebulam sicut cinerem spargit.
Mittit crystallum suam sicut buccellas: * ante faciem frigoris ejus quis sustinebit?
Emittet verbum suum, et liquefaciet ea: * flabit spiritus ejus, et fluent aquae.
Qui annuntiat verbum suum Jacob: * justitias, et judicia sua Israel.
Non fecit taliter omni nationi: * et judicia sua non manifestavit eis.

Praise the Lord, O Mary, thou true Jerusalem: O Mary, O Sion ever holy, praise thy God.
Because he hath strengthened against sin the bolts of thy gates: he hath blessed thy children within thee.
Who hath placed peace in thy borders, and filleth thee with the fat of corn, with Jesus, who is the Bread of life.
Who sendeth forth by thee his Word to the earth; his Word runneth swiftly.
Who giyeth snow like wool; scattereth mists like ashes.
He sendeth has crystal like morsels: who shall stand before the face of his cold?
He shall send forth his Word by Mary and shall melt them: his spirit shall breathe, and the waters shall run.
Who declareth his Word to Jacob: his justices and his judgments to Israel.
He hath not done in like manner to every nation; and his judgments he hath not made manifest to them.

Ant. Obtulerunt pro eo Domino par turturum, aut duos pullos collumbarum.

Ant. They offered for him, to the Lord, a pair of turtles, or two young pigeons.

CAPITULUM.

(Malach. III.)

Ecce ego mitto Angelum meum, et praeparabit viam ante faciem meam. Et statim veniet ad Templum sanctum suum Dominator, quem vos quaeritis, et Angelus testamenti, quem vos vultis. Behold I send my Angel, and he shall prepare the way before my face. And presently the Lord, whom you seek, and the Angel of the testament, whom you desire, shall come to his Temple.

For the Hymn, Versicle, and Response, see above, as for First Vespers.

ANTIPHON OF THE MAGNIFICAT.

Ant. Hodie beata Virgo Maria puerum Jesum praesentavit in templo; et Simeon repletus Spiritu Sancto accepit eum in ulnas suas, et benedixit Deum in aeternum. Ant. This day, the Blessed Virgin Mary presented the Child Jesus in the Temple and Simeon, full of the Holy Ghost, took him in his arms, and blessed God for ever.

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus Majestatem tuam supplices exoramus ut, sicut unigenitus Filius tuus, hodierna die, cum nostrae carnis substantia in Templo est praesentatus, ita nos facias purificatis tibi mentibus praesentari. Per eumdem. O Almighty and Eternal God, we humbly beseech thy divine Majesty, that as thy Only Begotten Son, in the substance of our flesh, was this day presented in the temple, so our souls being perfectly cleansed, may become a pure oblation, and presented to thee. Through the same,

 

 


Let us now listen to the several Churches, celebrating, in their Liturgies, the Mystery of the Purification. We will begin with the Mozarabic Breviary, where we find the five following prayers, in which the Gothic Church of Spain offers to God the sentiments inspired into her by the example of holy Simeon.

PRAYER.

Omnipotens Deus, Pater et Domine, largire credenti tuo populo pacem: ut in templo tuo videamus Salutare tuum; quem Simeon justus ulnis suis accepit ut, qui Lumen ad revelationem gentium exstitit, indultor criminum ipsemet credentium sentiatur. Amen. O Almighty God, Father, and Lord! grant peace unto thy faithful people; that we may see, in thy Temple, thy Salvation, whom the just Simeon took into his arms  that thus He, who was the light to the revelation of the Gentiles, may be the pardoner of the sins of them that believe. Amen.

PRAYER.

Tu es, Domine, salus, et tua est salus: hanc gaudemus in nobis largitam; hanc etiam usque in finem a te petimus largiendam: effunde, quaesumus, super populum tuum benedictionem tuam: ut privetur maledictio poenae, et ditescat in nobis fructus justitiae. Amen. Thou, O Lord, ant salvation, and thine is salvation. We rejoice that thou hast given it unto us; we beseech thee that thou wilt grant it unto us, even to the end. Pour out, we beseech thee, thy blessing on thy people; that so, the curse of our punishment may be removed, and we grow rich in the fruits of justice. Amen.

PRAYER.

Beatam, Domine, illam justi tui Simeonis vocem fac in nobis pari diligentia personare: ut quia vidimus et credimus Salutare tuum; in pace, cum jusseris, dimittamur: non quo a te dimissos fines vitae accipiamus; sed, per te absolutes a debito, in fine pacem sempiternam possideamus. Amen.

Grant, O Lord, that, with Simeon's devotion, we may even sing his blessed words. May we, when thou so wiliest, be dismissed in peace, because we have seen, and believed in, thy Salvation. Dismiss us not from thyself, at the close of life; but, setting us free from our debts, give us, in the end, to possess everlasting Peace. Amen.

PRAYER.

Vidimus gloriam tuam, Domine, gloriam quasi Unigenitum deitate, primogenitum munere: illic unicum Patris, hic in fratribus primum: illic aequaliter subsistentem, et in sinu Patris manentem, hic socios non derelinquentem: largire ergo tuo fieri participes regno, quibus es propitiatus in mundo: quibusque advenisti prius redemptor, existe in futuro remunerator. Amen. We have seen thy glory, O Lord! the glory as of the Only Begotten Divinity, and the First, Born in grace: in heaven, the Only Son of the Father; on earth, the first among many brethren: in heaven, consubstantial with thy Father, and abiding in his bosom; on earth, dwelling with them that thou madest like to thyself. Grant, therefore, that we to whom thou didst show such mercy on earth, may share with thee in thy kingdom. Thou hast already been our Redeemer; be, in the life to come, our Remunerator. Amen.

PRAYER.

Deus, qui in expiatione parientium, par turturum, vel duos pullos tibi offerri praecipis columbarum; in vivam nos praepara hostiam, qui pro nobis ipse factus es hostia: ut, qui legem implere venisti, non solvere, in nobis Evangelii gratiam digneris opulentius propagare. Amen O God, who didst command, that women, who had given birth to a child, should be purified by offering unto thee a pair of turtle doves, or two young pigeons: make us become a living victim to thee, who didst, make thyself a victim for our sakes: that thus, thou, who camest, not to destroy, but to fulfil, the law, mayest graciously infuse into us the riches of the grace of the
Gospel.

The Ancient Liturgies contain but few hymns on the Purification of the Blessed Virgin. One of these is the composition of St. Paulinus, the Patriarch of Aquileia, and is not without its merits.

HYMN.

Postquam Puellae dies quadragesimus
Est adimpletus juxta Legem Domini,
Maria Virgo Jesum sanctum puerum
Ulnis sacratis templi nunc in atriis
Tulit, tremendi Genitoris unicum.
Mater beata carnis sub velamine
Deum ferebat humeris castissimis,
Dulcia strictim basia sub labiis
Deique veri hominisque impresserat
Ori, jubente quo sunt cuncta condita.
Duos parentes tulerunt candidulos
Pullos columbae lacteolis plumulis,
Dedere in templo par pro eo turturum,
Legis veluti promulgabat sanctio,
Quales perustas consecrarent hostias.
Dei sacerdos humilis, mitissimus,
Erat in urbe justus, senex optimus,
Felix, beatus Simeon coelifluus,
Sanctoque plenus adfuit Spiramine
Sacra sub aula, nutu Dei concitus.
Hic namque dudum responsum susceperat,
Sancto docente Spiritu, quod vinculo
Mortis resolvi non possit de corpore,
Donec videret Christum vivens Domini,
Quem misit altis Genitor de soliis.
Suscepit ergo Puerum in manibus,
Egit superno Genitori gratias,
Ulnis retentans benedixit Dominum,
Amore plenus cordis cum dulcedine
Addens et alto sermone subintulit:
Dimitte tuum, Domine, nunc obsecro,
In pace servum, quia meis merui
Videre tuum Salutare visi bus,
Quod praeparasti pietate unica
Ante tuorum populorum faciem.
Fulgensque lumen gentium in oculis,
Gloriam plebi Israeli ger minis;
Positus hic est in ruinam scandali,
Et in salutem Jacob stirpis aureae,
Donee secreta cordium se pallient.
Ipsius ecce tuam, sancta Genitrix,
Transibit ictus gladii per animam.
Servabat alta mystica sub pectore
Maria, verba conferens alacriter,
Dictis supernis credula fideliter.
Gloria Patri Jesu magni nominis,
Et tibi, Nate Patris unigenite,
Deus, potestas, virtus super aethera;
Sancto per omne saeculum Paraclito
Laus infinita, honor et imperium. Amen.

As soon as the Maiden's forty days were accomplished, according to the Law of the Lord, the Virgin Mary took the Holy Child Jesus, Only Begotten Son of Eternal Father, into Temple, carrying him in  her saintly arms.

The Blessed Mother carried upon her most chaste bosom her God, who was hid under the veil of our flesh. Sweetly and fondly does she kiss the lips of Him that was true God and Man, and, at whose bidding, all things were made.

The Parents took two tender little milk-white doves, which they offered for their Jesus, and which, by the prescription of the Law, were consumed in a holocaust.

There lived in the City a Priest of God, who was humble, and meek exceedingly: he was just, and, though old, was without a fault: his name was Simeon, the happy, blessed, heavenly-minded Simeon, who, being full of the Holy Ghost, was urged by a divine impulse to enter the holy Temple.

He had, long ago, received an answer from the Holy Ghost, that he should not be loosed, by death, from the bonds of his flesh, until he had seen, in this present life, the Christ of the Lord, whom the Father was to send from his high throne.

Receiving, therefore, the Child into his hands, he gave thanks to the heavenly Father; and, as he held the Babe in his arms, he blessed his Lord. Then, also, with his heart teeming with love, he thus sweetly cried aloud:

"Dismiss thy servant, Lord! dismiss me, I beseech thee, in Peace, for I have now seen, with mine eyes, the Saviour thou hast, in wondrous mercy, prepared before the face of every people.

"He is the Light that is to shine upon the Gentiles, and bring glory to the people of Israel. He is set for the fall and the salvation of the rich race of Jacob, as shall be seen on the day when the secrets of hearts shall be revealed.

"Behold, O Holy Mother thy own soul shall be pierced with a sword!" Mary heard these high mysterious words, pondering them joyfully in her heart, for she ever took the words of heaven with ready faith.

Glory be to the Father of our Lord Jesus! And to thee, the Only Begotten Son of the Father, to thee, O God! be power and heavenly virtue! And to the Holy Paraclete, be infinite praise, honour, and  empire, for endless ages.  Amen.

 

Sequences for the Purification are as rare as Hymns, in the ancient Liturgies. The one we give here, is taken from the old Sequence-Book of the Monastery of St. Gall, and was composed by Blessed Notker.

SEQUENCE.

Concentu parili hic te, Maria, veneratur populus, teque piis colit cordibus.

Generosi Abrahae tu filia veneranda, regia de Davidis stirpe genita.

Sanctissima corpore, castissima moribus, omniumque pulcherrima, Virgo virginum.

Laetare Mater et Virgo nobilis, Gabrielis Archangelico quae oraculo credula, genuisti clausa filium.

In cujus sacratissimo sanguine emundatur universitas perditissima generis, ut promisit Deus Abrahae.

Te Virga arida Aaron flore speciosa praefigurat, Maria, sine viri semine nato floridam.

Tu porta jugiter serata, quam Ezechielis vox testatur, Maria: soli Deo pervia esse crederis.

Sed tu tamen matris virtutum dum nobis exemplum cupisti commendare, subisti remedium pollutis statutum matribus.

Ad Templum deduxisti tecum mundandum, qui tibi integritatis decus Deus homo genitus adauxit, intacta Genitrix.

Laetare, quam scrutator cordis et renum probat habitatu proprio singulariter dignam, sancta Maria.

Exsulta, cui parvulus arrisit tunc, Maria, qui laetari omnibus et consistere suo nutu tribuit.

Ergo quique colimus festa parvuli Christi propter nos facti, ejusque piae Matris Mariae,

Si non Dei possumus tantam exsequi tardi humilita tem, forma sit nobis ejus Genitrix.

Laus Patri gloriae, qui suum Filium Gentibus et populo revelans, Israel nos sociat.

Laus ejus Filio, qui suo sanguine nos Patri reconcilians, supernis sociavit civibus.

Laus quoque Spiritui Sancto sit per aevum.
Amen.

 

 

This people, with one accord, venerates thee, O Mary! and honours thee with devout heart.

Thou art the Daughter of the noble Abraham, and of the kingly race of David.

O Virgin of virgins! thou wast pure above all creatures, most spotless in thy life, and of surpassing beauty.

Be glad, Mother and Virgin most glorious! Thou didst believe what Gabriel the Archangel said unto thee; thou didst bring forth a Son, and yet wast a Virgin as before.

In the most precious Blood of this thy Son, the lost human race was cleansed, as God had promised unto Abraham.

The dry Rod of Aaron, that yielded a lovely flower, was a figure of thee, O Mary! who wast the Virgin-Mother of the Flower Divine.

Thou wast the ever-closed Gate, O Mary, of which Ezechiel speaks, and which was opened to none save only God.

But, on this day, wishing to give us an example worthy of the Mother of every virtue, thou didst subject thyself to the law which was made not but for the mothers of men.

O spotless Mother! thou didst bring with thee to the Temple, (as though he could be cleansed,) Him, who gave thee the splendour of thy virginity; thou didst bring with thee the God made Man.

Be glad, O Holy Mary! whom He, that searcheth the hearts and reins, found to be the only worthy dwelling of his majesty.

Rejoice, O Mary! on whom the Little One, whose look gives joy and being to the world, looked and smiled.

We, therefore, who celebrate the Feast of Jesus, (become an Infant for our sakes,) and of his sweet Mother Mary, Since we cannot, because we are weak, follow the wondrous humility of a God, let us take Mary as our model.

Praise to the Father of glory, who hath united us all into one, by revealing his Son to both the Gentiles and his people of Israel.

Praise to the Son, who hath given us fellowship with the citizens of heaven, by reconciling us, by his Blood, to the Father.

Praise, too, be for ever to the Holy Ghost. Amen.

The admirable Sequence we subjoin to this, is one of the finest written by Adam of Saint-Victor. We are indebted for it to Gautier, who was the first to publish it, in his beautiful edition of the great Lyric's poetical writings. But, besides the interest it has as being so fresh a treasure, our readers will find in it so much beauty, that we should not be surprised at their giving it the first place among all the hymns to our Lady, written in the Middle-Ages.

SEQUENCE.

Templum cordis adornemus,
Novo corde renovemus
Novum senis gaudium,
Quod dum ulnis amplexatur,
Sic longaevi recreatur
Longum desiderium.

Stans in signum populo rum,
Templum luce, laude cho rum,
Corda replens gloria,
Templo Puer praesentatus,
Post in cruce vir oblatus,
Pro peccatis hostia.

Hinc Salvator, hinc Maria,
Puer pius, Mater pia,
Moveant tripudium;
Sed cum votis perferatur
Opus lucis, quod signatur
Luce luminarium.

Verbum Patris lux est vera,
Virginalis caro cera,
Christi splendens cereus;
Cor illustrat ad sophiam
Qua virtutis rapit viam,
Vitiis erroneus.

Christum tenens per amorem,
Bene juxta festi morem,
Gestat lumen cereum:
Sicut senex Verbum Patris
Votis, strinxit pignus Matris
Brachiis corporeum.

Gaude, Mater genitoris,
Simplex intus, munda foris,
Carens ruga, macula;
A dilecto praeelecta,
Ab electo praedilecta
Deo muliercula.

Omnis decor tenebrescit,
Deformatur et horrescit
Tuum intuentibus:
Omnis sapor amarescit, 
Reprobatur et sordescit
Tuum praegustantibus.

Omnis odor redolere
Non videtur, sed olere
Tuum odorantibus:
Omnis amor aut deponi
Prorsus solet, aut postponi
Tuum nutrientibus.

Decens maris luminare,
Decus matrum singulare,
Vera parens veritatis,
Via vitro pietatis,
Medicina saeculi;
Vena vini fontis vitro,
Sitienda cunctis rite,
Sano dulcis et languenti,
Salutaris fatiscenti
Confortantis populi.

Fons signate
Sanctitate,
Rivos funde,
Nos infunde;
Fons hortorum
Internorum,
Riga montes
Arescentes,
Unda tui rivuli.

Fons redundans,
Sis inundans;
Cordis prava
Quaeque lava;
Fons sublimis,
Munde nimis,
Ab immundo
Munda mundo
Cor immundi populi.
Amen.

Let us adorn the temple of our souls, and, with new hearts, bring back again that old man's joy, whose long-cherished wish is granted, as his arms press Jesus to his breast.

This Child is the Standard of the people, filling the Temple with light, our choirs with praise, and our hearts with jubilee. This day, is he presented in the Temple, who will, another day, when grown to manhood, be offered on the Cross, the offering for sin.

On one side Jesus, on the other Mary; here the sweet Infant, and there the sweet Mother; oh! what a glad sight! But let us devoutly carry within us that work of Light, which our lighted tapers symbolise.

The Father's Word is the light; his virginal flesh is the wax; our lighted taper is Christ himself, who enlightens our hearts with that wisdom, which rescues the sinner from the error of his way, and sets him on virtue's path.

He that holds Jesus by love, carries, as our Feast would have him do, the Candle blest with light. So did Simeon love the Father's Word, and fondly carry in his arms the mother's Babe.

Be glad, O Mother of thy God! simple, pure, unwrinkled, spotless Mother! O Maiden chosen by the God of thy love, and loved by the God of thy choice.

All beauty is cloudy, deformed, and displeasing to him that has seen thine. All sweetness seems bitter, or false, or insipid, to the soul that has tasted of thine.

All fragrance, put near thine, grows faint or foul; all other love must quite cease, or be but after-thought, in hearts that feed on thine.

Beautiful Star of the sea! Thou beautiful honour of all mothers! O true Mother of Truth! O path of holy living! O remedy of the world's ills! Source of the fount of that Wine of Life, for which all men should thirst, and whose strength-giving chalice is sweet to the healthy and the sick, and restores the drooping heart!

O Fount sealed up in holiness! pour out on us thy streams! O Fount of inner gardens! water, with thy rivulet's wave our parched and stony hearts!

Overflowing Fount! flow out on us, and wash our hearts' defilements. O Fount sublime, limpid above our thought! cleanse thy servants' hearts from an unclean world. Amen.

Now let us give ear to the sweet hymn of the Greek Church. She thus celebrates the Purification in her Menaea.

IN HYPAPANTE DOMINI.

Hodie Simeon in brachiis Dominum gloriae recipit, quem sub nube olim Moyses contemplatus est in Sina visibili tabulas sibi dan tem; hic est qui in Prophetis loquitur et Legis factor; hic est quem David annuntiat, hic in omnibus terribilis, hic habeas magnam ditissimamque misericordiam.

O thesaure saeculorum, vita omnium, propter me infans effectus es, sub lege factus es tu qui olim sculpsisti in tabulis legem in Sina, ut omnes solveres ab antiqua servitute legis, Gloria miserationi tuae, Salvator; gloria regno tuo, gloria  dispensationi tuae, tu solus es philanthropus.

Illum qui fertur in curru Cherubim et hymnificatur in canticis Seraphim, ferens ulnis Deipara Maria nuptinescia ex se incarnatum, legislatorem adimplentem legis ordinem, dedit manibus senis sacerdotis; ferens autem ille Vitam, vitas deprecabatur solutionem dicens: Domine, nunc dimitte me, ut nuntiem Adamo quia vidi immutabilem parvulum Deum, qui est ante saecula, et Salvatorem mundi.

Procumbens senex et vestigiis intus insistens nupti-nesciae et Deimatris: Ignem, inquit, fers, o pura; infantem cum tremore in brachiis portas Deum luminis inoccidui, pacisque Dominum.

Mundatur a Seraphim, dum accipit Isaias carbunculum, aiebat senex Dei-matri; tu autem manibus quasi manubrio accendis me, donans quem fers Luminis innoccidui pacisque Dominum.

Ad Deiparam curramus, o bona; voluntatis, ad videndum illius Filium, quem ad Simeon ipsa deducit, quem e coelo incorporati cernentes obstupescunt, dicentes: Mirabilia videmus nunc, et incredibilia et incomprehensibilia. Qui: Adam finxit olim portatur ut infans; qui locum nescit collocatur in senilibus ulnis; qui ineffabili versatur Patris sinu volens circumscribitur carne et non divinitate, qui solus est philanthropus.

This day, Simeon receives into his arms the Lord of glory, whom, heretofore, Moses saw under a cloud, on Mount Sina, when he received the tables of the Law. This is he that speaks in the Prophets, and is the Maker of the Law. This is he whom David foretells: he is the terrible God: his mercy is great and exceeding rich.

O thou the Treasure of all ages, and the Life of all creatures! thou, for my sake, becamest an Infant; thou who, heretofore, didst engrave the Law on the Tables, on Sina, wast made under the Law, so to give all men freedom from the ancient servitude of the Law. Glory, O Jesus! be to thy mercy. Glory be to thy kingdom! Glory be to thy dispensation, O thou the only lover of mankind!

Mary, the Virgin-Mother of God, carries in her arms Him that is seated on the chariot of Cherubim, and is hymned in the songs of Seraphim: him that was made incarnate from her: Him, the Law-giver, who now is observing the ordinance of the Law. She gave him into the arms of the aged Priest, who, as he thus held the Life, prayed to be loosed from life, saying: "Now, O Lord, dismiss me, that I may go tell Adam how I have seen the immutable God, who is from all eternity, made a Little Child, and Saviour of the world."

The old man prostrates, and follows, in spirit, the steps of the Virgin-Mother of God, he says: "Thou art carrying Fire, O pure one! Thy trembling arms are bearing the Infant, who is the God of never-setting light, and the Lord of peace."

"Isaias was cleansed when he took from the Seraph the burning coal ," said the old man to the Mother of God: "but thou inflamest me with the instrument of thy hands, giving me Him thou holdest - the Lord of Light, that setteth not, and of peace."

O ye that are of good-will! let us all run to the Mother of God, to see her Child, whom she now gives to Simeon; which the heavenly Spirits seeing, they say in deepest wonder: "This day, I've beheld wonderful, incredible, incomprehensible, things. He, that heretofore made Adam, is carried as a Babe! He, whom no space may hold, is held in an old man's arms! He, that dwells in the bosom of the Father, wills to have, by flesh, the limits Divinity could not have! Who but God could bear towards man such love as this!"

We adore and thank thee, O Emmanuel! on this happy day, which saw thee enter into the Temple of thy Majesty, carried in the arms of thy incomparable Mother. Thou comest into the Temple, that thou mayest offer thyself for our sakes. Thou deignest to be redeemed by the payment of a ransom, for, one day, thou hast to pay an infinite ransom for us. Thou comest, now, to offer a ceremonial sacrifice, because thou art soon to abolish every sacrifice by the one that alone is perfect. Thou enterest, to-day, into that Jerusalem, which is to be the place of thy passion and death. Our salvation urges thee on. Thou wast born for us, but thou art not satisfied; and every gift of this thy fortieth day must needs bespeak the future proof thou hast yet to give us, of the love thou bearest us.

O thou, the Consolation of Israel! on whom the Angels love to look I thou enterest into the Temple, and they, who were living in expectation of their Redeemer, redouble their hope. Oh! that we hail something of that love, which burned in Simeon's heart, as he held thee in his arms! All he lived for, was to see thee, O Divine Infant! and having seen thee, he longs to die. One brief moment's sight of thee makes him sleep in peace What must it be to possess thee eternally, when a glance could satisfy the longings of a whole life!

But, O Saviour of our souls! if Simeon was so satiated with this seeing thee presenting thyself for mankind in the Temple, how ought we to love thee, we who have seen the final consummation. Of thy Sacrifice? The day will come, when, as the devout servant Bernard expresses it, thou wilt be offered. not in the Temple and on Simeon's arms, but outside the City-gates and on the arms of the Cross. On that day, man will not offer up the blood of a victim for thee, but thyself wilt offer up thine own Blood for man. Now, it is the morning; then, it will be the evening, sacrifice. Now, thou art in the age of Infancy; then, thou wilt have attained the fulness of the age of Man; and having loved us from the beginning, thou wilt love us even unto the end.

What return shall we make to thee, O Divine Infant! for thou bearest within thy heart, during this thy first offering, the same infinite love of us, wherewith thou wilt consummate thy last? Can we do less than offer ourselves to thee, from this very day, and be wholly thine? Thou givest thyself to us, in the Adorable Sacrament, with more perfection than thou didst give thyself to Simeon; and we receive thee, not in our arms, but in our very breast. Dismiss us, dear Jesus! break our chains. Give us thy Peace, and may we, like Simeon, enter now on a new life. In order to imitate thy virtues, and he united with thee, we have endeavoured, during this holy Season, to gain that humility and simplicity, which thou wishest to see within us. Assist us to persevere in the spiritual life, that, like thee, we may grow in age and wisdom, before both God and men [St Luke 2:52].

And thou, O Mary! purest of Virgins, and Mother blessed above all mothers! O Daughter of the Prince! how beautiful are thy steps [Cant. 7:1] on this day of thy Purification, when thou enterest the Temple, with our Jesus in thy arms! Who could tell the joy, and the humility, of thy maternal heart, in this offering thou makest to the Eternal Father of his and thy Son? Looking around on the mothers, who have come for their own purification on this same day, thou rejoicest at the thought, that the babes, they are now presenting in the Temple, will one day see and know thy Jesus, their Saviour. What a privilege. that these Children should be presented to the Lord together with thine! What honour for these mothers, that they should be purified in thy holy company! If the Temple is glad at seeing enter within its walls the God, in whose honour it has been built - part of its joy, is to see him throned there in thy arms, who art the holiest of creatures, the one child of Eve that has never known sin, the Virgin- Mother of this God.

But, whilst humbly keeping within thyself the secrets of the Eternal Father, and mingled in the Throng of these Hebrew mothers - the holy Simeon advances towards thee, O Mary! Knowing that the Holy Ghost has revealed the mystery to him, thou affectionately placest in his hands the God of heaven and earth, who has come to be the Consolation of Israel. The holy Anna, too, approaches thee, and thou lovingly receivest her. Perhaps, in thy younger years, thou hadst received from her, in this very Temple, the affection and care of a second mother. Thy heart thrills with delight, at hearing these two venerable Saints extolling God's faithfulness to his promises, and the glory of thy Child, and the splendour of the Light which is now to be shed forth on all nations. The happiness of thus hearing the praises of the God, who is thy Child, fills thee with joy and thankfulness - but oh! what a sword of grief pierces thy heart, dear Mother, at the words of Simeon as he gives thee back thy Babe! Henceforth, thou must weep as often as thou lookest on Him. He is to be a sign of contradiction [St Luke 2:34], and the wounds men are to give him are to wound thy soul! The blood of victims like these, that are now being offered in the Temple, shall cease to flow, and be changed for the Blood of thy Jesus!

O Mother of Sorrows! we were the cause of all this. It was our sins, that changed thy joy into mourning. And yet, thou lovest us, because thy Jesus loves us! Love us now and for ever. Intercede for us with thy Son. Pray, that we may never lose the graces granted us during these forty happy days. These graces drew us to the Crib of thy Child, and thy affection for us encouraged to stay. We are resolved to maintain our position near this Jesus, following him through all the Mysteries which are now to succeed this of his Infancy. We are resolved to be faithful disciples of this dear Master, and follow him, as thou didst, even to the foot of that Cross. which was revealed to thee on this day.