V. Dóminus vobíscum.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.
Omnípotens sempitérne Deus, dírige actus nostros in beneplácito tuo: ut in nómine dilécti Fílii tui mereámur bonis opéribus abundáre:
Qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus per omnia saecula saeculorum.
Commemoratio Die sexta post Nativitatem
Concéde, quaesumus, omnípotens Deus: ut nos Unigéniti tui nova per carnem Natívitas líberet; quos sub peccáti iugo vetústa sérvitus tenet.
Per eundem Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti, Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.
Let us pray.
O Almighty and eternal God, direct our actions in conformity with Your will, that in the name of Your beloved Son we may be worthy to do good works in abundance.
Who livest and reignest with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.
Let us pray.
Commemoratio Die sexta post Nativitatem
Grant, we beseech You, almighty God, that the new birth, in the flesh, of Your only-begotten Son may deliver us whom the bondage of old keeps under the yoke of sin.
Through the same Jesus Christ, thy Son, Our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.
From the Office of Matins:
Lectio sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam.
In illo tempore: Erat Ioseph, et Maria mater Iesu, mirantes super his, quae dicebantur de illo. Et reliqua.
Homilia sancti Ambrosii Episcopi.
Lib. 2. in cap. 2. Lucae, prope finem.
Vides uberem in omnes gratiam, Domini generatione diffusam et prophetiam incredulis negatam esse, non iustis. Ecce et Simeon prophetat, in ruinam et resurrectionem plurimorum venisse Dominum Iesum Christum, ut iustorum, iniquorumque merita discernat; et pro nostrorum qualitate factorum, iudex verus et iustus aut supplicia decernat, aut praemia.
V. Tu autem, Dómine, miserére nobis.
R. Deo grátias.
From the Holy Gospel according to Luke
In that time his father and mother were wondering at those things which were spoken concerning him. And so on.
Homily by St Ambrose, Bishop of Milan.
Bk. ii. on Luke ii.
We see that God's abounding grace is poured forth on all by the birth of the Lord, and that the gift of prophecy is not denied to the righteous, but to the unbelieving. Simeon prophesieth that our Lord Jesus Christ is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel, setting forth that the just and the unjust reap different fruits from the coming of the Saviour; so will it be with us; according to our individual works will the True and Just Judge apportion to us punishment or reward.
V. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R. Thanks be to God.
From Gueranger's Liturgical Year.
On this the sixth day since the Birth of our Emmanuel, let us consider how the Divine Infant lies in the Crib of a Stable, and is warmed by the breath of the Ox and the Ass, as Isaias had foretold: The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib; but Israel hath not known me [Isa. i 3]. Thus does the great God enter that world which his own hands have created! The dwellings of men are refused him, for man has a hard heart for his God, and an indifference which is a real contempt. The only shelter he can find to be born in is a Stable; and that necessitates his coming into the world in the company of poor dumb brutes.
At all events, these animals are his own work. When he created the irrational world of living things, he subjected it, as the inferior part of creation, to man; and man was to ennoble it, by referring it to the Creator. When Adam sinned, this subjection, this harmony, was broken. The apostle teaches us that the brute creation is not insensible to the degradation thus forced upon it by sinful man [Rom. viii 19, 20.]. It obeys him with reluctance; it not infrequently rebels against and deservedly punishes him; and on the day of judgement it will take the side of its Creator, and avenge itself of that wickedness of which man has made it the unwilling instrument [Wisd. v 21].
In the mystery of his Birth, the Son of God visits this part of his creation; men refused to receive him, and he accepts the hospitality of the dwelling of brutes. It is from their dwelling that he begins the divine career of the three and thirty years. The first human beings he invites into the company of his blessed Mother and his dear St Joseph, the first he admits into the Stable to see and adore himself, are shepherds, who were busy watching their flocks, and whose simple hearts have not been corrupted by the atmosphere of cities.
The Ox - which, as we learn from Ezechiel [Ezech. i 10] and St John [Apoc. iv 7], is one of the symbolic creatures standing round God’s throne - is the figure of the sacrifices of the Old Law. The blood of oxen has flowed in torrents upon the altar of the Temple: it was the imperfect and material offering prescribed to be made to God, until he should send the true Victim. The Infant Jesus, who lies in the Crib, is that Victim, and St Paul tells us what he says to his Eternal Father: Sacrifices and Oblations and Holocausts for sin thou wouldst not have, neither are they pleasing to thee; behold, I come! [Heb. x 8, 9].
The Prophet Zachary [Zach. ix 9, quoted by St Matt. xxi 5], foretelling the peaceful triumph of the Meek King, says that he will make his entry into Sion riding upon an Ass. We shall assist, further on in the year, at the accomplishment of this prophecy. Now that we are at Bethlehem, in our Christmas mystery, let us observe how the heavenly Father places his Divine Son between the instrument of his peaceful triumph and the symbol of his Sacrifice on Calvary.
Ah! dear Jesus! Creator of heaven and earth! how strange is this thy entrance into thine own world! The whole universe should have given thee a welcome of love and adoration: and yet what motionless in difference! Not one house to take thee in! Men buried in sleep! And when Mary had placed thee in the Crib, thy first sight was that of two poor animals, the slaves of him who proudly rejected thee! Yet this sight did not displease thee, for thou dost not despise the work of thy hands. What afflicts thy loving Heart is the presence of sin in our souls, the sight of that enemy of thine which has so often caused thee to suffer. Oh! hateful sin! we renounce it, and wish, dear Jesus, to acknowledge thee for our Lord and Master, as did the Ox and the Ass. We will unite in that hymn of praise which creation is ever sending up to thee, by henceforth adding to it the homage of our adoration and gratitude; nay, we will lend speech to nature, and give it soul, and sanctify it, by referring all creatures to thy service.
The following Prose is the composition of Adam of St Victor, and is one of the most mystical of the Sequences in the Missals of the Middle Ages. It will serve us as a further tribute of praise to the Divine Infant.