Nativity - ANGUIER, Michel - Marble

                      December 24

                 CHRISTMAS EVE

 (Today is a day of Fast and Abstinence.)

                The Liturgical Year

              Dom Guéranger, O.S.B.

At length, says St. Peter Damian, in his Sermon for this holy Eve, at length we have got from the stormy sea into the tranquil port; hitherto it was the promise, now it is the prize; hitherto labour, now rest; hitherto despair, now hope; hitherto the way, now our home. The heralds of the divine promise came to us; but they gave us nothing but rich promises. Hence, our Psalmist himself grew wearied, and slept, and, with a seeming reproachful tone, thus sings his lamentation to God: But thou hast, rejected and despised us; thou hast deferred the coming of thy Christ. At another time he assumes a tone of demand, and thus prays: O thou that sittest upon the Cherubim, show thyself! Seated on thy high throne, with myriads of adoring Angels around thee, look down upon the children of men, who are victims of that sin, which was committed indeed by Adam, but permitted by thy justice. Remember what my substance is; thou didst make it to the likeness of thine own; for though every living man is vanity, yet inasmuch as he is made to thy Image, he is not a passing vanity. Bend thy heavens and come down, and turn the eyes of thy mercy upon us thy miserable suppliants, and forget us not unto the end!

Isaias, also, in the vehemence of his desire, thus spoke: For Sion’s sake I will not hold my peace, and for the sake of Jerusalem I will not rest, till her Just One come forth as brightness. Oh! that thou wouldst rend the heavens, and wouldst come down! So, too, all the Prophets, tired of the long delay of the Coming, have prayed to thee, now with supplication, now with lamentation, and now with cries of impatience. We have listened to these their prayers; we have made use of them as our own, and now, nothing can give us joy or gladness, till our Saviour come to us, and, kissing us with the kiss of his lips, say to us, I have heard and granted your prayers.

But, what is this that has been said to us: Sanctify yourselves, O ye children of Israel, and be ready; for on the morrow, the Lord will come down? We are, then, but one half day and night from the grand visit, the admirable Birth of the Infant-God! Hurry on your course, ye fleeting hours, that we may the sooner see the Son of God in his crib, and pay our homage to this world-saving Birth. You, Brethren, are the Children of Israel, that are sanctified, and cleansed from every defilement of soul and body, ready, by your earnest devotion, for tomorrow’s mysteries. Such, indeed, you are, if I may judge from the manner in which you have spent these sacred days of preparation for the Coming of your Saviour.

But if, notwithstanding all your care, some drops of the stream of this life’s frailties are still on your hearts, wipe them away and cover them with the snow-white robe of Confession. This I can promise you from the mercy of the divine Infant: he that shall confess his sins and be sorry for them, shall have born within him the Light of the World; the darkness that deceived him, shall be dispelled; and he shall enjoy the brightness of the true Light. For how can mercy be denied to the miserable this night, in which the merciful and compassionate Lord is so mercifully born? Therefore, drive away from you all haughty looks, and idle words, and unjust works; let your loins be girt, and your feet walk in the right paths; and then come, and accuse the Lord, if this night he rend not the heavens, and come down to you, and throw all your sins into the depths of the sea.


              CHRISTMAS VIGIL

                  MASS PROPERS

         Simple     Violet Vestments

         Privilege of the First Class

           Station at St. Mary Major

     INTROITUS – Exodus 16: 6, 7

Hodie sciétis, quia véniet Dóminus, et salvábit nos: et mane vidébitis glóriam ejus. Ps. 23.1 Dómini est terra et plenitúdo ejus: orbis terrárum, et univérsi qui hábitant in eo. V. Glória Patri.


This day you shall know that the Lord will come, and save us: and in the morning you shall see His glory. Ps. 23:1 The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof: the world and all they that dwell therein. V. Glory be to the Father.


Deus, qui nos redemptiónis nostræ ánnua exspectatióne lætíficas: præsta; ut Unigénitum tuum, quem Redemptórem læti suscípimus, veniéntem quoque júdicem secúri videámus, Dóminum nostrum Jesum Christum Fílium tuum: Qui tecum.

O God, who makest us glad with the yearly expectation of our redemption, grant that we who now joyfully receive Thine only-begotten Son as our Redeemer, may also without fear behold  Him coming as our Judge, the same our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son: Who with Thee.

         EPISTLE – Romans 1:1- 6

Paulus, servus Jesu Christi, vocátus Apóstolus, segregátus in Evangélium Dei, quod ante promíserat per Prophétas suos in Scriptúris sanctis de Fílio suo, qui factus est ei ex sémine David secúndum carnem: qui prædestinátus est Fílius Dei in virtúte secúndum spíritum sanctificatiónis ex resurrectióne mortuórum Jesu Christi Dómini nostri: per quem accépimus grátiam, et apostolátum ad obediéndum fídei in ómnibus géntibus pro nómine ejus, in quibus estis et vos vocáti Jesu Christi Dómini nostri.

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an Apostle, separated unto the Gospel of God, which He had promised before by His prophets in the holy Scriptures concerning His Son, who was made to Him of the seed of David according to the flesh: who was predestinated the Son of God in power according to the spirit of sanctification by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead: by whom we have received grace, and apostleship for obedience to the faith in all nations for His name, among whom are you also called of Jesus Christ our Lord.

   GRADUAL – Exodus 16: 6, 7

Hodie sciétis, quia véniet Dóminus, et salvábit nos: et mane vidébitis glóriam ejus. V. Qui regis Israël, inténde: qui dedúcis, velut ovem, Joseph: qui sedes super Chérubim, appáre coram Ephraim, Bénjamin, et Manásse.

This day you shall know that the Lord will come and save us: and in the morning you shall see His glory. V. Give ear, O Thou that rulest Israel: Thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep, Thou that sittest upon the Cherubim, shine forth before Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasses.

Alleluia is omitted.

[The Alleluia is only said when the Vigil falls on a Sunday.]


      GOSPEL – Matthew 1:18-21

Cum esset desponsáta mater Jesu María Joseph, ántequam convenírent, invénta est in útero habens de Spíritu Sancto. Joseph autem vir ejus, cum esset justus et nollet eam tradúcere, vóluit occúlte dimíttere eam. Hæc autem eo cogitánte, ecce Angelus Dómini appáruit in somnis ei, dicens: Joseph, fili David, noli timére accípere Maríam cónjugem tuam: quod enim in ea natum est, de Spíritu Sancto est. Páriet autem fílium, et vocábis nomen ejus Jesum: ipse enim salvum fáciet pópulum suum a peccátis eórum.

Then Mary the Mother of Jesus was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Whereupon Joseph her husband, being a just man and not willing publicly to expose her, was minded to put her away privately. But while he thought on these things behold the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in his sleep, saying: Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins.

        OFFERTORY – Psalm 23: 7

Tollite portas, príncipes, vestras: Et elevámini, portæ æternáles, et introíbit Rex Glóriæ.

Lift up your gates, O ye princes: and: be ye lifted up, O eternal gates, and the King of glory shall enter in.


Da nobis, quǽsumus, omnípotens Deus: ut, sicut adoránda Fílii tui natalítia prævenímus, sic ejus múnera capiámus sempitérna gaudéntes: Qui tecum vivit.

Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that even as we anticipate the adorable birthday of Thy Son, so too may we joyfully receive His eternal gifts: Who with Thee.

              COMMON PREFACE

Vere dignum et justum est, ǽquum et salutáre, nos tibi semper, et ubíque grátias ágere: Dómine sancte, Pater omnípotens, ætérne Deus: per Christum Dóminum nostrum. Per quem majestátem tuam laudant Angeli, adorant Dominatiónes, tremunt Potestátes. Cæli, cælorúmque Virtútes, ac beáta Séraphim socía exsultatióne concélebrant. Cum quibus et nostras voces, ut admítti jubéas, deprécamur, súpplici confessióne dicéntes:

It is truly meet and just, right and availing unto salvation, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God, through Christ our Lord. Through whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, the dominations worship it, the powers stand in awe. The heavens, and the heavenly hosts, and the blessed Seraphim join together in celebrating their joy. With whom we pray Thee join our voices also, while we say in lowly praise:

SANCTUS, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth. Pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua.


Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus Dóminus Deus Sábaoth. Pleni sunt cæli et terra glória tua. Hosánna in excélsis. Benedíctus qui venit in nómine Dómini. Hosánna in excélsis.

       COMMUNION – Isaiah 40: 5

Revelabitur gloria Dómini: et vidébit omnis caro salutáre Dei nostri.

The glory of the Lord shall be revealed: and all flesh shall see the salvation of our God.


Da nobis, quǽsumus, Dómine, unigéniti Fílii tui recensíta nativitáte respiráre; cujus cælésti mystério páscimur et potámur. Per eúmdem Dóminum.

Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that the celebration of the birth of Thine only- begotten Son may give us fresh life; whose heavenly mystery is our food and drink. Through the same our Lord.




St Ambrose Polyptych (detail) 1477. Tempera on wood

                          December 7

                        ST. AMBROSE

Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, was the son of another Ambrose, a Roman citizen, and was born when his father was Prefect of Gaul, [about the year of our Lord 340.] A swarm of bees settled upon his face when he was in his cradle, which was considered an omen of his future eloquence. He received a liberal education at Rome. He was afterwards, under the Prefect Probus, made governor of Liguria and Emilia, and so came with authority to Milan. Auxentius, an Arian, who had been intruded into the Bishoprick of Milan, happening to die, the most violent disputes arose about the choice of a successor. Ambrose came to the church in his official capacity, and urged upon the contending factions, in a long and powerful speech, the necessity of keeping the public peace; whereupon a child suddenly cried out, “Ambrose, Bishop,” and the whole assembly took it up, and unanimously called for his election.

     Ambrose refused, and would not yield to their prayers, whereupon on they carried their petition to the Emperor Valentinian. It was very pleasing to this Prince that those he had appointed as judges should be chosen Bishops, as to the Prefect Probus, who had, as it were prophetically, said to him when he appointed him, “Go and govern them more like a Bishop than a Judge.” When the will of the Emperor was added to the desire of the people, Ambrose yielded, and received Baptism, (for hitherto he was only a Catechumen,) Confirmation, and Communion, and then the several Orders on successive days, till on the eighth day, which was the 7th of December, [in the year 374,] the weight of the Episcopate was laid upon his shoulders. Being made Bishop, he showed himself a stout upholder of the Catholic faith, and the discipline of the Church, and turned to the truth great numbers of Arians and other heretics, and, among them, he begat in Christ Jesus that burning and shining light of the Church, Augustine.

Saint Ambrose of Milan

                     ST. AMBROSE


          Double    White vestments

    Commemoration for the Vigil of

           Immaculate Conception

        of the Blessed Virgin Mary


In Medio Ecclesiæ aperuit os ejus: et implevit eum Dominus spiritu sapientiæ, et intellectus: stolam gloriæ induit eum.

Ps. 91: 2. Bonum est confiteri Domino: et psallere nomini tuo, Altissime. Gloria Patri.


            Ecclesiasticus 15: 5

In the midst of the Church the Lord opened his mouth: and filled him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding: He clothed him with a robe of glory.

Ps. It is good to give praise to the Lord: and to sing to Thy Name, O Most High. Glory be to the Father.


O God, who didst give blessed Ambrose as a minister of eternal salvation to Thy people: grant, we beseech Thee, that we, who have had him for our teacher on earth, may deserve to have him for our advocate in heaven. Through our Lord.

        For the Feria in Advent

Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to prepare the ways of Thine only-begotten Son; that through His coming we may attain to serve Thee with purified minds. Who with Thee liveth and reigneth.

Third Collect for the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception of B.V.M.

O God, who didst wondrously preserve the Mother of thine only-begotten Son from original sin in her Conception:  grant, we beseech thee, that strengthened by her intercession we may be ready with clean hearts to take part in her holy-day.  Through the same Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.


Dearly beloved, I charge thee, before God and Jesus Christ, Who shall judge the living and the dead, by His coming and His kingdom: preach the word: be instant in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine. For there shall be a time when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears, and will indeed turn away from the truth, but will be turned into fables. But be thou vigilant, labour in all things, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil thy ministry. Be sober. For I am even now ready to be sacrificed and the time of my dissolution is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. As to the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord, the just Judge, will render to me in that day: and not only to me, but to them also that love His coming.



            Ecclus. 44: 16, 20

Behold the great priest, who in his days pleased God. There was not found the like to him, who kept the law of the Most High.


Alleluia, alleluia. The Lord hath sworn, and He will not repent. Thou art a priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech. Alleluia


At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing any more but to be cast out, and be trodden on by men. You are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father, Who is in heaven. Do not think that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For amen I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall not pass of the law, till all be fulfilled. He therefore that shall break one of these least commandments, and so shall teach men, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but he that shall do and teach, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.


               Psalm 88: 25

My truth and My mercy shall be with him: and in My Name shall his horn be exalted.


Almighty and everlasting God, through the intercession of blessed Ambrose, Thy Confessor and Bishop, make Thou the gifts offered to Thy Majesty profitable unto our eternal salvation. Through our Lord.

     Secret for the Feria in Advent

Be appeased, we beseech Thee, O Lord, by the prayers and offerings of our humility: and where we have no merits to plead for us, do Thou help us with Thine aid. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord.

The Immaculate Conception with Saints by Piero di CosimoThe Immaculate Conception with Saints by Piero di Cosimo

For the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception of B.V.M.

May our gifts, O Lord, he commended to thy clemency by the prayer of the Immaculate Mother of God:  whom thou didst preserve from all taint of original sin, that she might deserve to become a worthy dwelling place for thy Son.  Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God.


It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation that we should at all times and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, eternal God: through Christ our Lord. through Whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, Dominations worship, Powers stand in awe. The Heavens and the Heavenly hosts together with the blessed Seraphim in triumphant chorus unite to celebrate it. Together with them we entreat Thee, that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted, while we say in lowly praise:



                 Psalm 88: 36-38

Once I have sworn by My holiness: his seed shall endure for ever; and his throne as the sun before Me, and as the moon perfect for ever; and a faithful witness in heaven.


Grant, we beseech Thee, O almighty God, that we, who have received the Sacraments of our salvation, may ever be helped by the prayers of blessed Ambrose, Thy Confessor and Bishop, in whose honour we have offered these gifts to Thy Majesty. Through our Lord.

          For the Feria in Advent

Filled with the food of this spiritual nourishment, we suppliantly entreat Thee, O Lord, that through our participation in this Mystery Thou wouldst teach us to despise earthly things and to love heavenly ones. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord.

For the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception of B.V.M.

O merciful God, grant protection unto our weakness; that we, who forestall the festival of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of thine only-begotten Son, may by the help of her intercession rise again from our iniquities.  Through the same Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.