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nor the example of the Christians throughout the universal Church earnestly preparing for that coming, could rouse them? No, we cannot forget them: we love them, and come to tell them, (for even now, they may yield to grace, and live,)-that there hath appeared the goodness and kindness of God our Saviour. If this volume of ours should perchance fall into the hands of any of those, who have not yielded to the solicitations of grace, which press them to be converted to the sweet Babe of Bethlehem, their Lord and their God; and who, instead of spending the weeks of Advent in preparing to receive Him at Christmas, lived them out, as they began them, in indifference and in sin :—we shall, perhaps, be helping them to a knowledge of the grievousness of their state, by reminding them of the ancient discipline of the Church, which obliged all the Faithful, under pain of being considered as no longer Catholics, to receive Holy Communion on Christmas Day, as well as on Easter and Whit Sundays. We find a formal decree of this obligation given in the fifteenth Canon of the Council of Agatha, (Agde,) held in 506. We would, also, ask these poor sinners to reflect on the joy the Church feels, at seeing, throughout the whole world, the immense number of her children, who still, in spite of the general decay of piety, keep the Feast of the birth of the Divine Lamb, by the sacramental participation of his Body and Blood.

Sinners! take courage; this Feast of Christmas is one of grace and mercy, on which all, both just and sinners, meet in the fellowship of the same glad Mystery. The heavenly Father has resolved to honour the Birth-day of his Son, by granting pardon to all, save to those who obstinately refuse it. Oh! how worthy is the Coming of our dear Emmanuel to be honoured by this divine amnesty!

1 Tit. iii. 4.

Nor is it we that give this invitation; it is the Church herself. Yes, it is she, that with divine authority, invites you to begin the work of your New Life, on this Day, whereon the Son of God begins the career of his human life. That we may the more worthily convey to you this her invitation, we will borrow the words of a great and saintly Bishop of the Middle-Ages the pious Rabanus Maurus-who, in a Homily on the Nativity of our Lord, encourages sinners to come and take their place, side by side with the just, in the stable of Bethlehem, where even the ox and the ass recognise their Master in the Babe who lies there.

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"I beseech you, dearly beloved Brethren, that you "receive with fervent hearts the words our Lord speaks to you, through me, on this most sweet Feast, 66 on which even infidels and sinners are touched with compunction; on which the wicked man is moved "to mercy, the contrite heart hopes for pardon, the "exile despairs not of returning to his country, and "the sick man longs for his cure; on which is born "the Lamb who taketh away the sins of the world, "that is, Christ, our Saviour. On such a Birth Day, "he that has a good conscience, rejoices more than "usual; and he whose conscience is guilty, fears with a more useful fear. Yes, it is a sweet Feast, bringing true sweetness and forgiveness to all true penitents. My little Children, I promise you with"out hesitation-that every one, who, on this Day, shall repent from his heart, and return not to the "vomit of his sins, shall obtain all whatsoever he shall ask; let him only ask with a firm faith, and not re"turn to sinful pleasures.

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On this Day, are taken away the sins of the entire world-why needs the sinner despair? "this Day of our Lord's Birth, let us, dearest Brethren, "offer our promises to this Jesus, and keep them, as "it is written: Vow ye, and pay to the Lord your

"God. Let us make our promises with confidence "and love; He will enable us to keep them

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"And when I speak of promises, I would not have any one think that I mean the promise of fleeting "and earthly goods. No-I mean, that each of us "should offer what our Saviour redeemed, namely, our soul. But how,' some one will say, 'how shall we offer our souls to Him, to whom they already 'belong?' I answer-by leading holy lives, by chaste thoughts, by fruitful works, by turning away from evil, by following that which is good, by loving God "by loving our neighbour, by showing mercy, (for we "ourselves were in need of it, before we were re"deemed,) by forgiving them that sin against us, (for we ourselves were once in sin,) by trampling on pride, since it was by pride that our first Parent 66 was deceived and fell." 92

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It is thus our affectionate Mother the Church invites sinners to the Feast of the Divine Lamb; nor is she satisfied until her House be filled. The grace of a New Birth, given her by the Sun of Justice, fills this Spouse of Jesus with joy. A new year has begun for her, and, like all that have preceded it, it is to be rich in flower and fruit. She renews her youth as that of an eagle. She is about to unfold another Cycle, or Year, of her mysteries, and to pour forth upon her faithful children the graces, of which God has made the Cycle to be the instrument. In this season of Christmas, we have the first-fruits of these graces offered to us; they are the knowledge and the love of our Infant-God: let us accept them with attentive hearts, that so we may merit to advance, with our Jesus, in wisdom, and age, and grace, before God and men. The Christmas Mystery is the gate of all the others of the rest of the year; but it is

1 Ps. lxxv. 12.

• Fourth Homily On the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ.
St. Luke, xiv. 23.
• Ibid. ii. 52.

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a gate which we may all enter, for, though most heavenly, yet it touches earth; since, as St. Augustine beautifully remarks, in one of his sermons for Christmas: "We cannot as yet contemplate the splendour "of Him, who was begotten of the Father, before the Day Star; let us, then, visit Him, who was born of "the Virgin, in the night-hour. We cannot under"stand how his Name continueth before the sun;8 "let us, then, confess that he hath set his tabernacle "in Her that is purer than the sun. We cannot as "yet see the Only Begotten Son dwelling in the "Father's Bosom; let us, then, think on the Bridegroom that cometh out of his bride chamber.

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We are not yet ready for the banquet of our heavenly "Father; let us, then, keep to the Crib of Jesus, our "Master."6

1 Eleventh Sermon On the Nativity of our Lord.

2 Ps. cix. 3.

* Ibid. lxxi. 17.

Ps. xviii. 6.

Ibid.

• Is. i. 3.

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CHAPTER IV.

MORNING AND NIGHT PRAYERS.

FOR CHRISTMAS.

DURING Christmas, the Christian, on waking in the morning, should unite himself with the Church, who, in her Office of Matins for Christmas Day, thus invites the faithful to come and adore the Messias:

Christus natus est nobis ; venite, adoremus !

Christ is born unto us; come, let us adore him!

He should profoundly adore this dear King, who has rendered himself so accessible to his creatures; and in this disposition of loving reverence, he should perform the first acts of religion, both interior and exterior, wherewith he begins the day. The time for Morning Prayer being come, he may use the following method, which is formed upon the very prayers of the Church :

MORNING PRAYERS.

First, praise and adoration of the Most Holy Trinity :

. Benedicamus Patrem et Filium, cum Sancto Spiritu :

R. Laudemus et superexaltemus eum in sæcula. V. Gloria Patri et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto;

Ry. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc et semper, et in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.

. Let us bless the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

R. Let us praise him and extol him above all, for ever.

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

R7. As it was in the begining, is now, and ever shall be world without end. Amen.

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