Mass Schedule of Rev. Fr. David Hewko

January 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
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  • Holy Mass 5:30pm in PA
  • Livestreaming Holy Mass 8:30am in MI
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  • Livestreaming Holy Mass 8:00am in PA
  • Cancelled Holy Mass 12:00pm in PA
  • Rescheduled Holy Mass 5:30pm in PA
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  • Fr Ruiz Holy Mass 9:00pm in GA
  • Holy Mass 5:30pm in PA
  • Livestreaming Holy Mass 8:30am in PA
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  • Fr. Ruiz Holy Mass (Morning)
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  • (Time Change)Fr Ruiz Holy Mass 5:00pm in GA
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  • Fr. Ruiz Holy Mass 8:30am in GA
  • (Time Change)Holy Mass 5:30pm in MA
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  • Holy Mass 5:30pm in MA
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  • Holy Mass 7:30am in MA
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  • Holy Mass 8:30am in MA
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  • Holy Mass 10:00am in MA
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  • Holy Mass 7:30am in MA
12
  • Holy Mass 7:30am in MA
13
  • (TIME CHANGED)Holy Mass in MA
14
  • (Cancelled)Holy Mass 7:30am in MA
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  • (Cancelled)Holy Mass 7:30am in MA
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28
29
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+ SANCTUARY LAMP +

Announcing the availability of reserving the Sanctuary Lamp in Our Lady of Fatima Chapel (this is Fr Hewko’s personal chapel in Massachusetts). The red sanctuary lamp burns continually in honor of the Real & Divine Presence of Christ the King in our Chapel’s Tabernacle (or, as the little seer, Francisco Marto, so affectionately called it: the “Hidden Jesus”). Now, the faithful may reserve each new candle – burning in this honor – especially for their intentions. The votive lamp usually burns for 7 to 8 days… If you’d like to have the lamp burn for your intentions, simply send a note with your request, along with your name and the desired date if you have one. The suggested donation for each lamp lighting is $20.00

Send your request & offering, or any other donation to: paypal.me/ourladyofatimachapel
 

Our Lady of Fatima Chapel Sanctuary Lamp Honoring Our Lord’s Real Presence

Contact:

ourladyofatimachapel@gmail.com

(Taken from Our Lady of Fatima Chapel’s August 2019 email)

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SCROLL DOWN TO VIEW THE MOST RECENT “OUR LADY OF FATIMA CHAPEL NEWSLETTER”. A SINCERE THANK YOU TO THE CHAPEL’S COORDINATOR FOR THIS COMPILATION.

Act of Spiritual Communion

As I cannot this day enjoy the happiness of assisting at the holy Mysteries, O my God! I transport myself in spirit at the foot of Thine altar; I unite with the Church, which by the hands of the priest, offers Thee Thine adorable Son in the Holy Sacrifice; I offer myself with Him, by Him, and in His Name. I adore, I praise, and thank Thee, imploring Thy mercy, invoking Thine assistance, and presenting Thee the homage I owe Thee as my Creator, the love due to Thee as my Savior.

Apply to my soul, I beseech Thee, O merciful Jesus, Thine infinite merits; apply them also to those for whom I particularly wish to pray. I desire to communicate spiritually, that Thy Blood may purify, Thy Flesh strengthen, and Thy Spirit sanctify me. May I never forget that Thou, my divine Redeemer, hast died for me; may I die to all that is not Thee, that hereafter I may live eternally with Thee. Amen.

SUPPLICATION AND RESOLUTIONS FOR THE NEW YEAR

O Eternal Father, after having thanked thy infinite bounty for thy exceeding benefits in the past, we humbly implore pardon for our manifold sins and negligences, for the time we have consumed and wasted in vanities and in things that profit not unto salvation, and for the woeful want of correspondence with Thy graces which we have so habitually manifested.

But filled with confidence in Thy mercy, so lavishly displayed in a multitude of ways, we ask Thy blessings upon our good purposes and resolutions. For now we renew the sacred promises we made in Baptism, when we first became Thy children and heirs of the heavenly kingdom, and we renounce Satan with all his works and pomps.

Firmly convinced that the salvation of our immortal souls is the one great business of life, the purpose for which we have come into the world, we solemnly resolve for the future not only to do all in our power to avoid every grievous sin in thought, word, and deed but also to shun every unnecessary occasion that might imperil our souls. We further resolve to fulfill with greater exactness and fidelity the duties of our station in life, to give more attention to our progress in things spiritual, to be more devoted to holy Mass, to receive the Sacraments more frequently, and to pray more often and more fervently.

Bless, O my God, these good resolutions which we offer to Thee at this, the threshold of a new year. Give us Thy precious grace and make us truly wise. The days and years of our life are passing so swiftly away. Help us, in Thy mercy, to utilize them, as we ought to do, for Thy greater honor and glory, for the good of our neighbor, and for our sanctification. The night cometh in which no man can work longer; soon, at best, we shall have to appear before Thee to render an account of our stewardship. May we then be found worthy to receive from Thee that divine welcome: “Well done, good and faithful servants, enter into the joy of thy Lord.”

 
 
   Our Lady of Fátima Chapel
     Massachusetts Mission of the SSPX-MC


              


Venite Adoremus Dominum

+
This Week’s Holy Mass Schedule

Today’s Sunday Mass Live Streamed @ 10:00 AM
From Our Chapel – Via This Link

Today – Sunday, January 10th – 10 :00 AM  
The Holy Family 

Monday, January 11th – 7:30 AM

Within the Epiphany Octave

Tuesday, January 12th – 7:30 AM
Within the Epiphany Octave

Wednesday, January 13th – 5:30 PM
Octave of the Epiphany

Thursday, January 14th – 7:30 AM
Saint Hilary, Bishop, Confessor & Doctor

Friday, January 15th – 7:30 AM
Saint Paul, First Hermit

Confessions / Rosary – 30 Minutes Before Mass

Today – Feast of The Holy Family  

This Sunday has been chosen by the Church for the celebration of the Feast of the Holy Family; the liturgy of the day, as expressed in the Gospel, harmonizes well with the mystery of the new Feast, for it already carries us forward to the childhood of our Emmanuel and gives us those wonderful words which, after the example of his Blessed Mother, we must ever ponder within our hearts: And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was subject to them.

The Feast of the Holy Family is of recent origin. In 1663 Barbara d’Hillehoust founded at Montreal the Association of the Holy Family; this devotion soon spread and in 1863 Leo XIII expressed his approval of a feast under this title and himself composed part of the Office. The Feast was welcomed by succeeding Pontiffs as an efficacious means for bringing home to the Christian people the example of the Holy Family at Nazareth, and by the restoration of the true spirit of family life, stemming, in some measure, the evils of present-day society. These motives led Benedict XV to insert the Feast in the universal Calendar, and from 1921 it has been fixed for this present Sunday.

 

Mass

The Introit recalls the joy that must have filled the cave of Bethlehem on that Christmas night; let us again rejoice with Mary and Joseph and sing the praises of the resting-place of the Lord of Hosts.

Introit
Exsultat gaudio pater Justi, gaudeat Pater tuus et Mater tua, et exsultet quæ genuit te. The father of the Just rejoiceth greatly, let thy father and thy mother be joyful, and let her rejoice that bore thee.
Ps. Quam dilecta tabernacula tua, Domine virtutum: concupiscit et deficit anima mea in atria Domini. Ps. How lovely are thy tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts! my soul longeth and fainteth for the courts of the Lord.
℣. Glorida Patri. Exsultat gaudio. ℣. Glory be to the Father. The father of the just.

The Church prays in the Collect that the home life of every Christian family may be sanctified and perfected by the example of that of the Holy Family; this is her unceasing wish for her children.

Collect
Domine Jesu Christe, qui, Mariæ et Joseph subditus, domesticam vitam ineffabilibus virtutibus consecrasti: fac nos, utriusque auxilio, Familiæ sanctæ tuæ exemplis instrui; et consortium consequi sempiternum. Qui vivis. O Lord Jesus Christ, who, becoming subject to Mary and Joseph, didst hallow home life by singular virtues: by the help of both do thou grant that we may be taught by the example of thy Holy Family, and have fellowship with it for evermore. Who livest.
Commemoration of the Sunday Within the Octave
Vota, quæsumus, Domine, supplicantis populi cœlesti pietate prosequere: ut et quæ agenda sunt, videant; et ad implenda quæ viderint, convalescant. Per Dominum. According to thy divine mercy, O Lord, receive the vows of thy people, who pour forth their prayers to thee; that they may know what their duty requireth of them, and be able to comply with what they know. Through, &c.
Commemoration of the Epiphany
Deus, qui hodierna die Unigenitum tuum Gentibus, stella duce, revelasti: concede propitius, ut qui jam te ex fide cognovimus, usque ad contemplandam speciem tuæ celsitudinis perducamur. Per eumdem. O God, who by the direction of a star, didst this day manifest thy only Son to the Gentiles: mercifully grant, that we, who now know thee by faith, may come at length to see the glory of thy majesty. Through the same, &c.
Epistle
Lectio Epistolæ beati Pauli Apostoli ad Colossenses. Lesson of the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle, to the Colossians.
Cap. iii. Ch. iii.
Fratres, induite vos ergo, sicut electi Dei, sancti, et dilecti, viscera misericordiae, benignitatem, humilitatem, modestiam, patientiam: supportantes invicem, et donantes vobismetipsis si quis adversus aliquem habet querelam: sicut et Dominus donavit vobis, ita et vos. Super omnia autem hæc, caritatem habete, quod est vinculum perfectionis: et pax Christi exsultet in cordibus vestris, in qua et vocati estis in uno corpore: et grati estote. Verbum Christi habitet in vobis abundanter, in omni sapientia, docentes, et commonentes vosmetipsos, psalmis, hymnis, et canticis spiritualibus, in gratia cantantes in cordibus vestris Deo. Omne, quodcumque facitis in verbo aut in opere, omnia in nomine Domini Jesu Christi, gratias agentes Deo et Patri per ipsum. Brethren: Put ye on, as the elect of God, holy, and beloved, the bowels of mercy, benignity, humility, modesty, patience: Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if any have a complaint against another: even as the Lord hath forgiven you, so do you also. But above all these things have charity, which is the bond of perfection: And let the peace of Christ rejoice in your hearts, wherein also you are called in one body: and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you abundantly, in all wisdom: teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing in grace in your hearts to God. All whatsoever you do in word or in work, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

If we would attain to charity, the bond of perfection which unites all Christians together in the one great family of God, we must pay heed to those virtues which the Epistle puts before us. We must be full of mercy, benignity, humility, modesty, and patience; we must bear with one another and forgive one another, after the example of the Incarnate Word. Then the peace of Christ will dwell not only in our hearts, but in those around us, and our homes will truly become like that of Nazareth, where Mary and Joseph were ever singing in grace to the Lord God.

In the Gradual, Holy Church again celebrates the praises of the House of the Lord; she proclaims the blessedness of those that obtain lasting fellowship in the heavenly home above; yet in the Alleluia-verse she recalls the lowliness of the earthly home of our Emmanuel which made him truly a hidden King.

 

Gradual
Unam petii a Domino, hanc requiram: ut inhabitem in domo Domini omnibus diebus vitæ meæ. One thing I have asked of the Lord, this will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
Ps. Beati qui habitant in domo tua, Domine, in sæcula sæculorum laudabunt te. Ps. Blessed are they that dwell in thy house, O Lord, they shall praise thee for ever and ever.
Alleluia, alleluia. Alleluia, alleluia.
℣. Vere tu es Rex absonditus, Deus Israel Salvator. Alleluia. ℣. Verily Thou art a hidden King, the God of Israel, the Savior. Alleluia.
Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam.

Sequel of the holy Gospel according to St. Luke.

Cap.ii. Ch. ii.

Cum factus esset Jesus annorum duodecim, ascendentibus illis Jerosolymam secundum consuetudinem diei festi, consummatisque diebus, cum redirent, remansit puer Jesus in Jerusalem, et non cognoverunt parentes ejus. Existimantes autem illum esse in comitatu, venerunt iter diei, et requirebant eum inter cognatos et notos. Et non invenientes, regressi sunt in Jerusalem, requirentes eum. Et factum est, post triduum invenerunt illum in templo sedentem in medio doctorum, audientem illos, et interrogantem eos. Stupebant autem omnes qui eum audiebant, super prudentia et responsis ejus. Et videntes admirati sunt. Et dixit mater ejus ad illum: Fili, quid fecisti nobis sic? ecce pater tuus et ego dolentes quaerebamus te. Et ait ad illos: Quid est quod me quærebatis? nesciebatis quia in his quae Patris mei sunt, oportet me esse? Et ipsi non intellexerunt verbum quod locutus est ad eos. Et descendit cum eis, et venit Nazareth: et erat subditus illis. Et mater ejus conservabat omnia verba haec in corde suo. Et Jesus proficiebat sapientia, et aetate, et gratia apud Deum et homines.

When Jesus was twelve years old, they going up into Jerusalem, according to the custom of the feast, And having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the child Jesus remained in Jerusalem; and his parents knew it not. And thinking that he was in the company, they came a day’ s journey, and sought him among their kinsfolks and acquaintance. And not finding him, they returned into Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that, after three days, they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his wisdom and his answers. And seeing him, they wondered. And his mother said to him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said to them: How is it that you sought me? did you not know, that I must be about my father’s business? And they understood not the word that he spoke unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. And his mother kept all these words in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom, and age, and grace with God and men.

Thus, O Jesus! didst thou come down from heaven to teach us. The tender age of Childhood, which thou didst take upon thyself is no hindrance to the ardor of thy desire that we should know the one only God who made all things, and thee, his Son, whom he sent to us. When laid in the Crib, thou didst instruct the Shepherds by a mere look; when swathed in thy humble swaddling-clothes, the subjected to the voluntary silence thou hadst imposed on thyself, thou didst reveal to the Magi the light they sought in following the Star. When twelve years old, thou explainest to the Doctors of Israel the Scriptures which bear testimony to thee. Thou gradually dispellest the shadows of the Law by thy presence and thy words. In order to fulfill the commands of thy heavenly Father, thou dost not hesitate to occasion sorrow to the heart of thy Mother, by thus going in quest of souls that need enlightening. Thy love of man will pierce that tender Heart of Mary with a still sharper sword, when she shall behold thee hanging on the Cross and expiring in the midst of cruelest pain. Blessed be thou, sweet Jesus, in these first Mysteries of thine Infancy, wherein thou already showest thyself devoted to us, and leaving the company of thy Blessed Mother for that of sinful men, who will one day conspire thy death.

The Offertory takes us in thought to the Feast of the Purification; let us again offer ourselves to the Lord.

Offertory
Tulerunt Jesum parentes ejus in Jerusalem, ut sisterent eum Domino. The parents of Jesus carried him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord.

In the Secret the Church again prays that she may be strengthened in peace and grace; these gifts have been purchased for us by our Lord himself; it is through the Holy Mass that we can be more strongly established in them.

Secret
Placationis hostiam offerimus tibi, Domine, suppliciter deprecantes: ut, per intercessionem Deipare Virginis cum beato Joseoph, familias nostras in pace et gratia tua firmiter constituas. Per eundem Dominum. We offer to thee, O Lord, an atoning victim, humbly entreating that through the intercession of the Virgin Mother of God and blessed Joseph, thou wouldst strongly establish our families in thy peace and grace. Through the same Lord.
Commemoration of the Sunday
Oblatum tibi Domini Sacrificium vivificet nos semper et muniat. Per Dominum. May the sacrifice we have offered to thee, O Lord, always enlighten and defend us. Through, &c.
Commemoration of the Epiphany
Ecclesiæ tuæ, quæsumus Domine, dona propitius intuere; quibus non jam aurum, thus et myrrha profertur; sed quod eisdem muneribus declaratur, immolatur et sumitur, Jesus Christus Filius tuus Dominus noster. Qui tecum. Mercifully look down, O Lord, we beseech thee, on the offerings of thy Church; among which, gold, frankincense, and myrrh, are no longer offered; but what was signified by those offerings is sacrificed, and received, Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Who liveth, &c.

 

Communion
Descendit Jesus cum eis, et venit Nazareth, et erat subditus illis. Jesus went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them.

If we have kept before our eyes the example of the holy Family, we may humbly trust that at the hour of our death we shall be helped and consoled and be found worthy to have fellowship with Christ in the eternal dwellings. Such is the last prayer of the Church, and may it be the one we love to repeat and dwell on.

Postcommunion
Quos cœlestibus reficis sacramentis, fac, Domine Jesu, sanctæ familiæ tuæ exempla jugiter imitari: ut in hora mortis nostræ, occurreate gloriosa Virgine Matre tua cum beato Joseph: per te in æterna tabernacula recipimereamur. Qui vivis et regnas. Make us, O Lord Jesus, whom Thou dost refresh with heavenly sacraments, ever to follow the example of thy Holy Family: that in the hour of our death, thy glorious Virgin thy Mother and blessed Joseph may come to our aid, and we may be found worthy to be received by thee into everlasting tabernacles. Who livest, &c.

 

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Fr. Hewko
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   Our Lady of Fátima Chapel
     Massachusetts Mission of the SSPX-MC


              

The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Et Verbum Caro Factum Est


Mystery of Christmas
By Dom Prosper Guéranger

Everything is Mystery in this holy season. The Word of God, whose generation is before the day-star [Ps. cix 3], is born in time – a Child is God – a Virgin becomes a Mother, and remains a Virgin – things divine are commingled with those that are human – and the sublime, the ineffable antithesis, expressed by the Beloved Disciple in those words of his Gospel, THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH, is repeated in a thousand different ways in all the prayers of the Church; and rightly, for it admirably embodies the whole of the great portent which unites in one Person the nature of Man and the nature of God.

The splendour of this Mystery dazzles the understanding, but it inundates the heart with joy. It is the consummation of the designs of God in time. It is the endless subject of admiration and wonder to the Angels and Saints; nay, is the source and cause of their beatitude. Let us see how the Church offers this Mystery to her children, veiled under the symbolism of her Liturgy.

The four weeks of our preparation are over – they were the image of the four thousand years which preceded the great coming – and we have reached the twenty-fifth day of the month of December, as a long desired place of sweetest rest. But why is it that the celebration of our Saviour’s Birth should be the perpetual privilege of this one fixed day; whilst the whole liturgical Cycle has, every year, to be changed and remodeled, in order to yield that ever varying day which is to be the feast of his Resurrection – Easter Sunday?

The question is a very natural one, and we find it proposed and answered, even so far back as the fourth century; and that, too, by St Augustine, in his celebrated Epistle to Januarius. The holy Doctor offers this explanation: We solemnize the day of our Saviour’s Birth, in order that we may honour that Birth, which was for our salvation; but the precise day of the week, on which he was born, is void of any mystical signification. Sunday, on the contrary, the day of our Lord’s Resurrection, is the day marked, in the Creator’s designs, to express a mystery which was to be commemorated for all ages. St. Isidore of Seville, and the ancient Interpreter of Sacred Rites who, for a long time, was supposed to be the learned Alcuin, have also adopted this explanation of the Bishop of Hippo; and our readers may see their words interpreted by Durandus, in his Rationale.

These writers, then, observe that as, according to a sacred tradition, the creation of man took place on a Friday, and our Saviour suffered death also on a Friday for the redemption of man; that as, moreover, the Resurrection of our Lord was on the third day after his death, that is, on a Sunday, which is the day on which the Light was created, as we learn from the Book of Genesis – ‘the two Solemnities of Jesus’ Passion and Resurrection,’ says St Augustine, ‘do not only remind us of those divine facts; but they moreover represent and signify some other mysterious and holy thing.’ [Epist. ad Januarium.]

And yet we are not to suppose that because the Feast of Jesus’ Birth is not fixed to any particular day of the week, there is no mystery expressed by its being always on the twenty-fifth of December. For firstly we may observe, with the old Liturgists, that the Feast of Christmas is kept by turns on each of the days of the week, that thus its holiness may cleanse and rid them of the curse which Adam’s sin had put upon them. But secondly, the great mystery of the twenty-fifth of December, being the Feast of our Saviour’s Birth, has reference, not to the division of time marked out by God himself, which is called the Week; but to the course of that great Luminary which gives life to the world, because it gives it light and warmth. Jesus, our Saviour, the Light of the World [St John viii 12], was born when the night of idolatry and crime was at its darkest; and the day of his Birth, the twenty-fifth of December, is that on which the material Sun begins to gain his ascendancy over the reign of gloomy night, and show to the world his triumph of brightness.

In our ‘Advent’ we showed, after the Holy Fathers, that the diminution of the physical light may be considered as emblematic of those dismal times which preceded the Incarnation. We joined our prayers with those of the people of the Old Testament; and, with our holy Mother the Church, we cried out to the Divine Orient, the Sun of Justice, that he would deign to come and deliver us from the twofold death of body and soul. God has heard our prayers; and it is on the day of the Winter Solstice – which the Pagans of old made so much of by their fears and rejoicings – that he gives us both the increase of the natural light, and him who is the Light of our souls.

St Gregory of Nyssa, St Ambrose, St Maximus of Turin, St Leo, St Bernard, and the principal Liturgists, dwell with complacency on this profound mystery, which the Creator of the universe has willed should mark both the natural and the supernatural world. We shall find the Church also making continual allusion to it during this season of Christmas, as she did in that of Advent.

‘On this the Day which the Lord hath made,’ says St Gregory of Nyssa, ‘darkness decreases, light increases, and Night is driven back again. No, brethren, it is not by chance, nor by any created will, that this natural change begins on the day when he shows himself in the brightness of his coming, which is the spiritual Life of the world. It is Nature revealing, under this symbol, a secret to them whose eye is quick enough to see it; to them, I mean, who are able to appreciate this circumstance of our Saviour’s coming. Nature seems to me to say: Know, O Man! that under the things which I show thee Mysteries lie concealed. Hast thou not seen the night, that had grown so long, suddenly checked? Learn hence, that the black night of Sin, which had reached its height by the accumulation of every guilty device, is this day stopped in its course. Yes, from this day forward its duration shall be shortened, until at length there shall be naught but Light. Look, I pray thee, on the Sun; and see how his rays are stronger, and his position higher in the heavens: learn from that how the other Light, the Light of the Gospel, is now shedding itself over the whole earth.’ [Homily On the Nativity.]

Let us, my Brethren, rejoice,’ cries out St Augustine: [Sermon On the Nativity of our Lord, iii] ‘this day is sacred, not because of the visible sun, but because of the Birth of him who is the invisible Creator of the sun. … He chose this day whereon to be born, as he chose the Mother of whom to be born, and he made both the day and the Mother. The day he chose was that on which the light begins to increase, and it typifies the work of Christ, who renews our interior man day by day. For the eternal Creator having willed to be born in time, his Birthday would necessarily be in harmony with the rest of his creation.’

The same holy Father, in another sermon for the same Feast, gives us the interpretation of a mysterious expression of St John Baptist, which admirably confirms the tradition of the Church. The great Precursor said on one occasion, when speaking of Christ: He must increase, but I must decrease [St John iii 30]. These prophetic words signify, in their literal sense, that the Baptist’s mission was at its close, because Jesus was entering upon his. But they convey, as St Augustine assures us, a second meaning: ‘John came into this world at the season of the year when the length of the day decreases; Jesus was born in the season when the length of the day increases.’ [Sermon In Natali Domini, xi]. Thus, there is mystery both in the rising of that glorious Star, the Baptist, at the summer solstice: and in the rising of our Divine Sun in the dark season of winter.

[It is almost unnecessary to add that this doctrine of the Holy Fathers which is embodied in the Christmas Liturgy is not in any degree falsified by the fact that there are some parts of God’s earth where Christmas falls in a season the very opposite of Winter. Our Lord selected, for the place of his Birth, one which made it Winter when he came upon earth; and by that selection he stamped the Mystery taught in the text on the season of darkness and cold. Our brethren in Australia, for example, will have the Mystery without the Winter, when they are keeping Christmas; or, more correctly, their faith and the Holy Liturgy will unite them with us, both in the Winter and the Mystery of the great Birth in Bethlehem. – Translator’s Note.]

There have been men who dared to scoff at Christianity as a superstition, because they discovered that the ancient Pagans used to keep a feast of the sun on the winter solstice! In their shallow erudition they concluded that a Religion could not be divinely instituted, which had certain rites or customs originating in an analogy to certain phenomena of this world: in other words, these writers denied what Revelation asserts, namely, that God only created this world for the sake of his Christ and his Church. The very facts which these enemies of our holy Religion brought forward as objections to the true Faith are, to us Catholics, additional proof of its being worthy of our most devoted love.

Thus, then, have we explained the fundamental Mystery of these Forty Days of Christmas, by having shown the grand secret hidden in the choice made by God’s eternal decree, that the twenty-fifth day of December should be the Birthday of God upon this earth. Let us now respectfully study another mystery: that which is involved in the place where this Birth happened.

This place is Bethlehem. Out of Bethlehem, says the Prophet, shall he come for/h that is to be the Ruler in Israel [Mich. v 2]. The Jewish Priests are well aware of the prophecy, and a few days hence will tell it to Herod [St Matt. ii 5]. But why was this insignificant town chosen in preference to every other to be the birth-place of Jesus? Be attentive, Christians, to the mystery! The name of this City of David signifies the House of Bread: therefore did he, who is the living Bread come down from heaven [St John vi 41], choose it for his first visible home. Our Fathers did eat manna in the desert and are dead [Ibid. vi 49]; but lo! here is the Saviour of the world, come to give life to his creature Man by means of his own divine Flesh, which is meat indeed [Ibid. vi. 56]. Up to this time the Creator and the creature had been separated from each other; henceforth they shall abide together in closest union. The Ark of the Covenant, containing the manna which fed but the body, is now replaced by the Ark of a New Covenant, purer and more incorruptible than the other: the incomparable Virgin Mary, who gives us Jesus, the Bread of Angels, the nourishment which will give us a divine transformation; for this Jesus himself has said: He that eateth my flesh abideth in me, and I in him [Ibid. vi 57].

It is for this divine transformation that the world was in expectation for four thousand years, and for which the Church prepared herself by the four weeks of Advent. It has come at last, and Jesus is about to enter within us, if we will but receive him [Ibid. i 12]. He asks to be united to each one of us in particular, just as he is united by his Incarnation to the whole human race; and for this end he wishes to become our Bread, our spiritual nourishment. His coming into the souls of men at this mystic season has no other aim than this union. He comes not to judge the world, but that the world may be saved by him [Ibid. iii 17], and that all may have life, and may have it more abundantly [Ibid. x 10]. This divine Lover of our souls will not be satisfied, therefore, until he have substituted himself in our place, so that we may live not we ourselves, but he in us; and in order that this mystery may be effected in a sweeter way, it is under the form of an Infant that this Beautiful Fruit of Bethlehem wishes first to enter into us, there to grow afterwards in wisdom and age before God and men [St Luke ii 40, 52].

And when, having thus visited us by his grace and nourished us in his love, he shall have changed us into himself, there shall be accomplished in us a still further mystery. Having become one in spirit and heart with Jesus, the Son of the heavenly Father, we shall also become sons of this same God our Father. The Beloved Disciple, speaking of this our dignity, cries out: Behold! what manner of charity the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called, and should be the Sons of God! [St John iii 1]. We will not now stay to consider this immense happiness of the Christian soul, as we shall have a more fitting occasion, further on, to speak of it, and show by what means it is to be maintained and increased.

There is another subject, too, which we regret being obliged to notice only in a passing way. It is, that, from the day itself of our Saviour’s Birth even to the day of our Lady’s Purification, there is, in the Calendar, an extraordinary richness of Saints’ Feasts, doing homage to the master feast of Bethlehem, and clustering in adoring love round the Crib of the Infant-God. To say nothing of the four great Stars which shine so brightly near our Divine Sun, from whom they borrow all their own grand beauty – St Stephen, St John the Evangelist, the Holy Innocents, and our own St Thomas of Canterbury: what other portion of the Liturgical Year is there that can show within the same number of days so brilliant a constellation? The Apostolic College contributes its two grand luminaries, St Peter and St Paul: the first in his Chair of Rome; the second in the miracle of his Conversion. The Martyr-host sends us the splendid champions of Christ, Timothy, Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp, Vincent, and Sebastian. The radiant line of Roman Pontiffs lends us four of its glorious links, named Sylvester, Telesphorus, Hyginus and Marcellus. The sublime school of holy Doctors offers us Hilary, John Chrysostom, and Ildephonsus; and in their company stands a fourth Bishop – the amiable Francis de Sales. The Confessor-kingdom is represented by Paul the Hermit, Anthony the conqueror of Satan, Maurus the Apostle of the Cloister, Peter Nolasco the deliverer of captives, and Raymond of Pennafort, the oracle of Canon Law and guide of the consciences of men. The army of defenders of the Church deputes the pious King Canute, who died in defence of our Holy Mother, and Charlemagne, who loved to sign himself ‘the humble champion of the Church.’ The choir of holy Virgins gives us the sweet Agnes, the generous Emerentiana, the invincible Martina. And lastly, from the saintly ranks which stand below the Virgins – the holy Widows – we have Paula, the enthusiastic lover of Jesus’ Crib. Truly, our Christmastide is a glorious festive season! What magnificence in its Calendar! What a banquet for us in its Liturgy!

A word upon the symbolism of the colours used by the Church during this season. White is her Christmas Vestment; and she employs this colour at every service from Christmas Day to the Octave of the Epiphany. To honour her two Martyrs, Stephen and Thomas of Canterbury, she vests in red; and to condole with Rachel wailing her murdered Innocents, she puts on purple: but these are the only exceptions. On every other day of the twenty she expresses, by her white Robes, the gladness to which the Angels invited the world, the beauty of our Divine Sun that has risen in Bethlehem, the spotless purity of the Virgin-Mother, and the clean heartedness which they should have who come to worship at the mystic Crib.

During the remaining twenty days, the Church vests in accordance with the Feast she keeps; she varies the colour so as to harmonize either with the red Roses which wreathe a Martyr, or with the white Amaranths which grace her Bishops and her Confessors, or again, with the spotless Lilies which crown her Virgins. On the Sundays which come during this time – unless there occur a Feast requiring red or white or, unless Septuagesima has begun its three mournful weeks of preparation for Lent – the colour of the Vestments is green. This, say the interpreters of the Liturgy, is to teach us that in the Birth of Jesus, who is the flower of the fields [Cant. i 1], we first received the hope of salvation, and that after the bleak winter of heathendom and the Synagogue, there opened the verdant spring-time of grace.

With this we must close our mystical interpretation of those rites which belong to Christmas in general. Our readers will have observed that there are many other sacred and symbolical usages, to which we have not even alluded; but as the mysteries to which they belong are peculiar to certain days, and are not, so to speak, common to this portion of the Liturgical Year, we intend to treat fully of them all, as we meet with them on their proper Feasts.


Gloria In Excelsis Deo

 

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