O God, who hast not without reason mingled the birthday of the glorious high-priest, Thomas, with the joys of thy nativity, by the intervention of his merits, make these thy servants venerate thy majesty with the reverence of due honour. Amen. And as he, according to the rule of a good shepherd, gave his life for his sheep, so grant thou to thy faithful ones, to fear no tyrannical madness to the prejudice of Catholic truth. Amen. We ask that they, by his example, for obedience to the holy laws, may learn to despise persons, and by suffering manfully to triumph over tyrannical madness. Amen.
— Prayer for the Feast of St. Thomas Becket, listed under the heading “Proper Benedictions for the Circuit of the Year,” from a pontifical of Anianus, Bishop of Bangor (1268).
December 23: The Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Eighth Antiphon (according to the Sarum Use / Book of Common Prayer)
O Virgo virginum, quomodo fiet istud? quia nec primam similem visa es, nec habere sequentem. Filiae Jerusalem, quid me admiramini? Divinum est mysterium hoc quod cernitis.
O Virgin of virgins, how shall this be? for neither before thee was any like thee, nor shall there be after: Daughters of Jerusalem, why marvel ye at me? The thing which ye behold is a divine mystery.
This feast, which is now kept not only throughout the whole of Spain but in many other parts of the Catholic world, owes its origin to the bishops of the tenth Council of Toledo, in 656. These prelates thought that there was an incongruity in the ancient practice of celebrating the feast of the Annunciation on the twenty-fifth of March, inasmuch as this joyful solemnity frequently occurs at the time when the Church is intent upon the Passion of our Lord, so that it is sometimes obliged to be transferred into Easter time, with which it is out of harmony for another reason; they therefore decreed that, henceforth, in the Church of Spain there should be kept, eight days before Christmas, a solemn feast with an octave, in honour of the Annunciation, and as a preparation for the great solemnity of our Lord’s Nativity. In course of time, however, the Church of Spain saw the necessity of returning to the practice of the Church of Rome, and of those of the whole world, which solemnize the twenty-fifth of March as the day of our Lady’s Annunciation and the Incarnation of the Son of God. But such had been, for ages, the devotion of the people for the feast of the eighteenth of December, that it was considered requisite to maintain some vestige of it. They discontinued, therefore, to celebrate the Annunciation on this day; but the faithful were requested to consider, with devotion, what must have been the sentiments of the holy Mother of God during the days immediately preceding her giving Him birth. A new feast was instituted, under the name of the Expectation of the blessed Virgin’s delivery.
This feast, which sometimes goes under the name of Our Lady of O, or the feast of O, on account of the great antiphons which are sung during these days, and, in a special manner, of that which begins O Virgo virginum (which is still used in the Vespers of the Expectation, together with the O Adonaï, the antiphon of the Advent Office), is kept with great devotion in Spain. A High Mass is sung at a very early hour each morning during the octave, at which all who are with child, whether rich or poor, consider it a duty to assist, that they may thus honour our Lady’s Maternity, and beg her blessing upon themselves. It is not to be wondered at that the Holy See has approved of this pious practice being introduced into almost every other country. We find that the Church of Milan, long before Rome conceded this feast to the various dioceses of Christendom, celebrated the Office of our Lady’s Annunciation on the sixth and last Sunday of Advent, and called the whole week following the Hebdomada de Exceptato (for thus the popular expression had corrupted the word Expectato). But these details belong strictly to the archaeology of liturgy, and enter not into the plan of our present work; let us, then, return to the feast of our Lady’s Expectation, which the Church has established and sanctioned as a new means of exciting the attention of the faithful during these last days of Advent.
Most just indeed it is, O holy Mother of God, that we should unite in that ardent desire thou hadst to see him, who had been concealed for nine months in thy chaste womb; to know the features of this Son of the heavenly Father, who is also thine; to come to that blissful hour of his birth, which will give glory to God in the highest, and, on earth, peace to men of good-will. Yes, dear Mother, the time is fast approaching, though not fast enough to satisfy thy desires and ours. Make us redouble our attention to the great mystery; complete our preparation by thy powerful prayers for us, that when the solemn hour has come, our Jesus may find no obstacle to his entrance into our hearts.
Of a volume of a book in the Saint’s handwriting which could not be destroyed by water.
I CANNOT think of leaving unnoticed another miracle which once took place by means of the opposite element. For many years after the holy man had departed to the Lord, a certain youth fell from his horse into the river which in Scotic is called Boend (the Boyne), and, being drowned, was for twenty days under the water. When he fell he had a number of books packed up in a leathern satchel under his arm; and so, when he was found after the above-mentioned number of days, he still had the satchel of books pressed between his arm and side. When the body was brought out to the dry ground, and the satchel opened, it was found to contain, among the volumes of other books, which were not only injured, but even rotten, a volume written by the sacred fingers of St. Columba; and it was as dry and wholly uninjured as if it had been enclosed in a desk.
Of another Miracle in similar circumstances.
AT another time a book of hymns for the office of every day in the week, and in the handwriting of St. Columba, having slips, with the leathern satchel which contained it, from the shoulder of a boy who fell from a bridge, was immersed in a certain river in the province of the Lagenians (Leinster). This very book lay in the water from the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord till the end of the Paschal season, and was afterwards found on the bank of the river by some women who were walking there: it was brought by them in the same satchel, which was not only soaked, but even rotten, to a certain priest named Iogenan, a Pict by race, to whom it formerly belonged. On opening the satchel himself, Iogenan found his book uninjured, and as clean and dry as if it had been as long a time in his desk, and had never fallen into the water. And we have ascertained, as undoubted truth, from those who were well informed in the matter, that the like things happened in several places with regard to books written by the hands of St. Columba namely, that the books could suffer no injury from being immersed in water. But the account we have given of the above-mentioned book of Iogenan we have received from certain truthful excellent, and honourable men, who saw the book itself, perfectly white and beautiful, after a submersion of so many days, as we have stated.
These two miracles, though wrought in matters of small moment, and shown in opposite elements namely, fire and water, redound to the honour of the blessed man, and prove his great and singular merits before the Lord.
That the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper should be received kneeling, and not in a sitting posture, as hitherto.
That the communion might, in extreme cases, or to sick persons desiring it, be administered in private.
That baptism also might, when deemed necessary, be privately administered.
That children, or young persons, should be confirmed by a bishop — that is, make a personal avowal of the engagements entered into by god-fathers and god-mothers at the time of baptism.
That the anniversary of the Nativity, of Christmas, the day on which our Saviour was born; Good Friday, or the Passion, when he suffered death for us; Easter, or the resurrection; Pentecost, or the descent of the Holy Spirit — should all be observed as solemn days.
— The Five Articles of Perth.
…in modern times, when the mere ceremonial of divine worship (and Presbyterians must allow this) is supposed to be of little consequence compared to the temper and spirit in which we approach the Deity, the Five Articles of Perth seem to involve matters which might be dispensed or complied with, without being considered as essential to salvation;
from the time when God in the beginning created the heaven and the earth;
the 2957th year after the flood;
the 2015th year from the birth of Abraham;
the 1510th year from Moses, and the going forth of the people of Israel from Egypt;
the 1032nd year from the anointing of David King;
in the 65th week according to the prophecy of Daniel;
in the 194th Olympiad;
the 752nd year from the foundation of the City of Rome;
the 42nd year of the rule of Octavian Augustus, all the earth being at peace, Jesus Christ, the Eternal God, and the Son of the Eternal Father, desirous to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming, being conceived by the Holy Spirit, nine months after his conception was born in Bethlehem of Juda, made Man of the Virgin Mary.
THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST ACCORDING TO THE FLESH.