With The Choirs of Angels, We Sing Venite Adoremus

Human beings have been made by God to be happy. The happiness that God wishes to bestow upon his rational creatures, whose immortal souls are made in His own image and likeness, is not meant to realized in the mindless pursuit of the "pleasures" of this passing, mortal world. No, the happiness that God wishes to bestow upon His rational creatures is eternal, a happiness that can be realized only by the possession of His own Beatific Vision in Heaven. No amount of earthly success or "wealth" or prestige or political power or fame or popularity can provide even a glimpse of a semblance of the happiness that God wishes to bestow upon His rational creatures if they persist as members of His Catholic Church in states of Sanctifying Grace until the points of their dying breaths.

Human beings who do not realize this seek happiness in all of the wrong places. Even some human beings who do realize this, no matter how dimly, think that the happiness that awaits the souls of the just in Heaven for all eternity does not mean to influence them at every moment of their lives, especially in matters of politics and governance and economics. There just have to be "exceptions" to the application of the Catholic Faith in the midst of the "real" world, right? The Child Who was born for us on this very day doesn't really expect us to subordinate everything in ordinary living to Him as He has revealed Himself through His true Church, does He?

Those who make accommodations little by little to the spirit of the world do not realize that the Child Who was born for us of His Virginal and Immaculate Mother, passing through her miraculously like light through a crystal, does indeed want everything in human existence without any exception whatsoever to be subordinated to Him as He has revealed Himself through His true Church.

It is not only those Catholics who wish others "Happy Holidays" in this season who are ashamed of Christ and His doctrine before men. Oh, no. Millions upon millions of politically "conservative" Catholicism across the ecclesiastical divides are ashamed of Christ the King and His doctrine before men, accepting this or that naturalistic political philosophy imaginable while they reject, sometimes with great arrogance and condescension, the immutable teaching of the Catholic Church that Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ must reign as the King of all men and of all nations at all times. Catholicism is the one and only foundation of personal and social order.

The rejection of the Social Kingship of Jesus Christ by His very own people today is highly ironic. There was no room in the inn for Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ on the night that He was born for us in poverty, humility and anonymity, stripped of all of the royal prerogatives of His Sacred Divinity, which, though hidden from full view until His Transfiguration on Mount Thabor and then His Resurrection on Easter Sunday, radiated forth bright beams of light from His Holy Face, an image of the radiance of our souls at the moment of their Baptism. There is no room for Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in the thoughts of so many Catholics today, people who think that "their" ideas and strategies will "improve" a world or at least "build for the future" without seeking to proclaim His Social Teaching as the foundation of all social order. How things never seem to be change.

Although there was a peace or a stillness over the world when Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ was born in the cradle in the stable in the cave in Bethlehem on this day, His own Chosen People were looking for a "political messiah" who would "save" them from the horrors of the Roman occupation of Palestine. The Romans were cruel oppressors who crushed opposition and crucified those who dared to resist them. The Romans had managed to secure the cooperation of a Jewish puppet king, Herod the Great, and of the Pharisees who would later arrest Our Lord and hand him over to the Roman governor at the time, Pontius Pilate, for crucifixion, considered a form of execution for criminals held in especial contempt. Many of the Jews, especially those of the Zealot party, at the time of Our Lord's Nativity in Bethlehem, expected that the long-awaited Messiah would manifest Himself thunderously out of the side of a mountain, throwing off the yoke of the hated Romans in order to restore Israel to its "rightful" place the world in geopolitical terms.

In like manner, you see, so many people today, including so many Catholics, are looking for their "salvation" in politics, projecting Catholic thoughts into the minds of people who believe that human legislatures have the authority to permitting the killing of innocent preborn babies under the cover of law according to the "will" of the "people." There are other Catholics who actually support such killing under all circumstances and in all places without exception, subordinating the binding precepts of the Divine Positive Law and the Natural Law to the political platforms of various candidates and political parties across the ideological spectrum. Whether they be of the false opposite of the naturalist "right" or the false opposite of the naturalist "left," so many Catholics shun the Social Teaching of the true Church founded by the Babe Who was born for us this day in order to justify themselves and their "activity" before men in their quest to "reorder" a world that can be reordered only by the conversion of individual men and of their nations to His own Social Reign.

Everyone, however, is invited this very day to turn away from the anti-Incarnational, religiously indifferentist delusions of Modernity and to rush to be in the company of Our Lady and Saint Joseph to adore the Word Who was Made Flesh in Our Lady's Virginal and Immaculate Womb by the power of the Third Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, God the Holy Ghost, at the Annunciation and is now born for us. The little Babe, God Incarnate, was placed in the wood of the manger, a feeding trough from which barn animals were fed. That same God Incarnate would be affixed to the wood of the Holy Cross thirty-three years later to win back for us on that Tree of Life what had been lost for us with Adam stretched forth his hand to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and partook of its forbidden fruit, eternal life with the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. This day of holy rejoicing means nothing if we are not willing to spurn spurious ideas and activities in order to remind ourselves and others that every moment of our existence is to be lived according to the truths of the Catholic Faith without any exception whatsoever, that we are called to bear a visible, tangible witness in prayer, word, thought and deed to the little Babe and the Deposit of Faith that He has entrusted exclusively to His Catholic Church.

Everyone is invited to turn away from his past sins and mistaken judgments to adore the One Who is Omniscient, the One Who came to bestow upon us His ineffable Mercy through absolutely no merits of our own. No matter their station in the eyes of men, whether high or low, all men on the face of the earth is called to adore the Child Who spent nine months of the tabernacle of His Blessed Mother's Virginal and Immaculate Womb and Who comes to them hidden under the appearance of bread and wine in the Most Blessed Sacrament, beckoning us with His Most Sacred Heart, formed out of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, to adore Him in His Real Presence in the tabernacle. We are called to become like unto little children in having an innocent wonder at the events of this day, events that made possible our salvation and that are meant to define every aspect of our lives.

We are never to lose that child-like innocence and wonder in adoring how Omnipotence and Omniscience lowered Himself to become Man in all things but sin in order to take upon Himself the guilt of us all. This day, Christmas Day, gives us true joy. Sinful men have had a Saviour born for them. Men who lived in the midst of darkness have had their darkness pierced by the Light of Lights, preceded by the very Star of Bethlehem that guided the Three Kings of the East to render their own acts of adoration to the Child and homage to His Most Blessed Mother. Yes, Kings of nations, men who ruled others, prostrated themselves before the King of Kings and paid honor to His Mother, foreshadowing what is expected of the rulers of all nations at all times until the end of time. And I've got news for the Americanists out there in cyberspace: the United States of America is not an exception to this, thank you.

Pope Leo XIII, writing in an encyclical letter, Exeunte Iam Anno, issued 120 years ago this very day, Christmas Day, put the matter this way:

Now the whole essence of a Christian life is to reject the corruption of the world and to oppose constantly any indulgence in it; this is taught in the words and deeds, the laws and institutions, the life and death of Jesus Christ, "the author and finisher of faith." Hence, however strongly We are deterred by the evil disposition of nature and character, it is our duty to run to the "fight proposed to Us," fortified and armed with the same desire and the same arms as He who, "having joy set before him, endured the cross." Wherefore let men understand this specially, that it is most contrary to Christian duty to follow, in worldly fashion, pleasures of every kind, to be afraid of the hardships attending a virtuous life, and to deny nothing to self that soothes and delights the senses. "They that are Christ's, have crucified their flesh, with the vices and concupiscences" -- so that it follows that they who are not accustomed to suffering, and who hold not ease and pleasure in contempt belong not to Christ. By the infinite goodness of God man lived again to the hope of an immortal life, from which he had been cut off, but he cannot attain to it if he strives not to walk in the very footsteps of Christ and conform his mind to Christ's by the meditation of Christ's example. Therefore this is not a counsel but a duty, and it is the duty, not of those only who desire a more perfect life, but clearly of every man "always bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus." How otherwise could the natural law, commanding man to live virtuously, be kept? For by holy baptism the sin which we contracted at birth is destroyed, but the evil and tortuous roots of sin, which sin has engrafted, and by no means removed. This part of man which is without reason -- although it cannot beat those who fight manfully by Christ's grace -- nevertheless struggles with reason for supremacy, clouds the whole soul and tyrannically bends the will from virtue with such power that we cannot escape vice or do our duty except by a daily struggle. "This holy synod teaches that in the baptized there remains concupiscence or an inclination to evil, which, being left to be fought against, cannot hurt those who do not consent to it, and manfully fight against it by the grace of Jesus Christ; for he is not crowned who does not strive lawfully." There is in this struggle a degree of strength to which only a very perfect virtue, belonging to those who, by putting to flight evil passions, has gained so high a place as to seem almost to live a heavenly life on earth. Granted; grant that few attain such excellence; even the philosophy of the ancients taught that every man should restrain his evil desires, and still more and with greater care those who from daily contact with the world have the greater temptations -- unless it be foolishly thought that where the danger is greater watchfulness is less needed, or that they who are more grievously ill need fewer medicines.

But the toil which is borne in this conflict is compensated by great blessings, beyond and above heavenly and eternal rewards, particularly in this way, that by calming the passions nature is largely restored to its pristine dignity. For man has been born under this law, that the mind should rule the body, that the appetites should be restrained by sound sense and reason; and hence it follows that putting a curb upon our masterful passions is the noblest and greatest freedom. Moreover, in the present state of society it is difficult to see what man could be expected to do without such a disposition. Will he be inclined to do well who has been accustomed to guide his actions by self-love alone? No man can be high-souled, kind, merciful, or restrained, who has not learnt selfconquest and a contempt for this world when opposed to virtue. And yet it must be said that it seems to have been pre-determined by the counsel of God that there should be no salvation to men without strife and pain. Truly, though God has given to man pardon for sin, He gave it under the condition that His only begotten Son should pay the due penalty; and although Jesus Christ might have satisfied divine justice in other ways, nevertheless He preferred to satisfy by the utmost suffering and the sacrifice of His life. Thus he has imposed upon His followers this law, signed in His blood, that their life should be an endless strife with the vices of the age. What made the apostles invincible in their mission of teaching truth to the world; what strengthened the martyrs innumerable in their bloody testimony to the Christian faith, but the readiness of their soul to obey fearlessly His laws? And all who have taken heed to live a Christian life and seek virtue have trodden the same path; therefore We must walk in this way if We desire either Our own salvation or that of others. Thus it becomes necessary for every one to guard manfully against the allurements of luxury, and since on every side there is so much ostentation in the enjoyment of wealth, the soul must be fortified against the dangerous snares of riches lest straining after what are called the good things of life, which cannot satisfy and soon fade away, the soul should lose "the treasure in heaven which faileth not." Finally, this is matter of deep grief, that free-thought and evil example have so evil an influence in enervating the soul, that many are now almost ashamed of the name of Christian -- a shame which is the sign either of abandoned wickedness or the extreme of cowardice; each detestable and each of the highest injury to man. For what salvation remains for such men, or on what hope can they rely, if they cease to glory in the name of Jesus Christ, if they openly and constantly refuse to mold their lives on the precepts of the gospel? It is the common complaint that the age is barren of brave men. Bring back a Christian code of life, and thereby the minds of men will regain their firmness and constancy. But man's power by itself is not equal to the responsibility of so many duties. As We must ask God for daily bread for the sustenance of the body, so must We pray to Him for strength of soul for its nourishment in virtue. Hence that universal condition and law of life, which We have said is a perpetual battle, brings with it the necessity of prayer to God. For, as is well and wisely said by St. Augustine, pious prayer flies over the world's barriers and calls down the mercy of God from heaven. In order to conquer the emotions of lust, and the snares of the devil, lest we should be led into evil, we are commanded to seek the divine help in the words, "pray that ye enter not into temptation." How much more is this necessary, if we wish to labor for the salvation of others? Christ our Lord, the only begotten Son of God, the source of all grace and virtue, first showed by example what he taught in word: "He passed the whole night in the prayer of God," and when nigh to the sacrifice of his life, "He prayed the longer."

The frailty of nature would be much less fearful, and the moral character would grow weak and enervated with much less ease if that divine precept were not so much disregarded and treated almost with disdain. For God is easily appeased, and desires to aid men, having promised openly to give His grace in abundance to those who ask for it. Nay, He even invites men to ask, and almost insists with most loving words: "I say unto you, ask and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you." And that we should have no fear in doing this with confidence and familiarity, he softens His words, comparing Himself to a most loving father who desires nothing so much as the love of his children. "If you then being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children: how much more will your Father who is in heaven, give good things to them that ask Him?" And this will not seem excessive to one who considers it, if the efficaciousness of prayer seemed so great to St. John Chrysostom that he thought it might be compared with the power of God; for as God created all things by His word, so man by prayer obtains what he wills. For nothing has so great a power as prayer, because in it there are certain qualities with which it pleases God to be moved. For in prayer we separate ourselves from things of earth, and filled with the thought of God alone, we become aware of our human weakness; for the same reason we rest in the embrace of our Father, we seek a refuge in the power of our Creator. We approach the Author of all good, as though we wish Him to gaze upon our weak souls, our failing strength, our poverty; and, full of hope, we implore His aid and guardianship, Who alone can give help to the weak and consolation to the infirm and miserable. With such a condition of mind, thinking but little of ourselves, as is fitting, God is greatly inclined to mercy, for God resisteth the proud, but to the humble he giveth grace. Let, then, the habit of prayer be sacred to all; let soul and voice join together in prayer, and let our whole daily life agree together, so that, by keeping the laws of God, the course of our days may seem a continual ascent to Him.

The virtue of which we speak, like the others, is produced and nourished by divine faith; for God is the Author of all true blessings that are to be desired for themselves, as we owe to Him our knowledge of His infinite goodness, and our knowledge of the merits of our Redeemer. But, again, nothing is more fitted for the nourishment of divine faith than the pious habit of prayer, and the need of it at this time is seen by its weakness in most, and its absence in many men. For that virtue is especially the source whereby not only private lives may be amended, but also from which a final judgment may be looked for in those matters which in the daily conflict of men do not permit states to live in peace and security. If the multitude is frenzied with a thirst for excessive liberty, if the inhuman lust of the rich never is satisfied, and if to these be added those evils of the same kind to which We have referred fully above, it will be found that nothing can heal them more completely or fully than Christian faith.

Here it is fitting We should exhort you whom God has made His helpers by giving the divine power to dispense His Sacraments, to turn to meditation and prayer. If the reformation of private and public morals is needed, it scarcely requires to be said that in both respects the clergy ought to set the highest example. Let them therefore remember that they have been called by Jesus Christ, "the light of the world, that the soul of the priest should shine like a light illuminating the whole world. The light of learning, and that in no small degree is needed in the priest, because it is his duty, to fill others with wisdom, to destroy errors, to be a guide to the many in the steep and slippery paths of life. Learning ought to be accompanied by innocence of life, because in the reformation of man example is far better than precept. "Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works." The meaning of the divine word is that the perfection of virtue in priests should be such that they should be like a mirror to the rest of men. "There is nothing which induces others more effectively to piety and the worship of God, than the life and example of those who have dedicated themselves to the divine ministry: for, since they are separated from the world and placed in a higher sphere, others look on them as though on a mirror, to take examples from them." Therefore if all men must watchfully heed against the allurements of sin, and against seeking too eagerly fleeting pleasures, it is clear how much more faithful and steadfast ought priests to be. The sacredness of their dignity, moreover -- as well as the fact that it is not sufficient to restrain their passions -- demands in them the habit of stringent selfrestraint, and also a guard over the powers of the soul, particularly the intellect and will, which hold the supreme place in man. "Thou who hast the mind to leave all (says St. Bernard), remember to reckon thyself among what thou wouldst abandon-nay, deny thyself first and before everything." Not before the soul is unshackled and free from every desire, will men have a generous zeal for the salvation of others, without which they cannot properly secure their own everlasting welfare. "There will be one thing only sought (says St. Bernard) by His subjects, one glory, one pleasure -- to make ready for the Lord a perfect people. For this they will give everything with much exertion of mind and body, with toil and suffering, with hunger and thirst, with cold and nakedness." The frequent meditation upon the things of heaven wonderfully nourishes and strengthens virtue of this kind, and makes it always fearless of the greatest difficulties for the good of others. The more pains they take to meditate well, the more clearly will they understand the greatness and holiness of the priestly office. They will understand how sad it is that so many men, redeemed by Jesus Christ, are running headlong to eternal ruin; and by meditation upon God they will be themselves encouraged, and will more effectually excite others to the love of God. Such, then, is the surest method for the salvation of all; and in this men must take heed not to be terrified by difficulties, and not to despair of cure by reason of the long continuance of the evil. The impartial and unchangeable justice of God metes out reward for good deeds and punishment for sin. But since the life of peoples and nations, as such, does not outlast their world, they necessarily receive the rewards due to their deeds on this earth. In- deed it is no new thing that prosperity should come to a wrong-doing state; and this by the just counsel of God, Who from time to time rewards good actions with prosperity, for no people is altogether without merit, and this Augustine considered was the case with the Roman people. The law, nevertheless, is clear that for public prosperity it is to the interest of all that virtue-and justice especially, which is the mother of all virtues -- should be practiced, "Justice exalteth a nation; but sin maketh nations miserable."[20] It is not Our purpose here to consider how far evil deeds may prosper, not whether empires, when flourishing and managing matters to their own liking, do nevertheless carry about with them, as it were shut up in their bowels, the seed of ruin and wretchedness. We wish this one thing to be understood, of which history has innumerable examples, that injustice is always punished, and with greater severity the longer it has been continued. We are greatly consoled by the words of the Apostle Paul, "For all things are yours; and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's." By the hidden dispensation of divine providence the course of earthly things is so guided that all things that happen to man turn out to the glory of God for the salvation of those who are true disciples of Jesus Christ. Of these the mother and guide, the leader and guardian is the Church; which being united to Christ her spouse in intimate and unchangeable charity is also joined to Him by a common cause of battle and of victory. Hence We are not, and cannot be anxious on account of the Church, but We greatly fear for the salvation of very many, who proudly despise the Church, and by every kind of error rush to ruin; We are concerned for those States which We cannot but see are turned from God and sleeping in the midst of danger in dull security and insensibility. "Nothing is equal to the Church;" (says St. John Chrysostom,) "how many have opposed the Church and have themselves perished? The Church reaches to the heavens; such is the Church's greatness. She conquers when attacked; when beset by snares she triumphs; she struggles and is not overthrown, she fights and is not conquered." Not only is she not conquered, but she preserves that corrective power over nature, and that effective strength of life that springs from God Himself, and is unchanged by time. And, if by this power she has freed the world grown old in vice and lost in superstition, why should she not again recover it when gone astray? Let strife and suspicion at length cease, let all obstacles be removed, give the possession of all her rights to the Church, whose duty it is to guard and spread abroad the benefits gained by Jesus Christ, then We shall know by experience, where the light of the Gospel is, and what the power of Christ can do.

This year, which is now coming to an end, has given, as We have said, many signs of a reviving faith. Would that like the spark it might grow to an ever-increasing flame, which, by burning up the roots of sin, may open a way for the restoration of morals and for salutary counsels. We, indeed, who steer the mystical barque of the Church in such a storm, fix Our mind and heart upon the Divine Pilot Who holds the helm and sits unseen. Thou seest, Lord, how the winds have borne down on every side, how the sea rages and the waves are lashed to fury. Command, we beseech Thee, Who alone canst, the winds and the sea. Give back to man that tranquillity and order-that true peace which the world cannot give. By Thy grace let man be restored to proper order with faith in God, as in duty bound, with justice and love towards our neighbor, with temperance as to ourselves, and with passions controlled by reason. Let Thy kingdom come, let the duty of submitting to Thee and serving Thee be learnt by those who, far from Thee, seek truth and salvation to no purpose. In Thy laws there is justice and fatherly kindness; Thou grantest of Thy own good will the power to keep them. The life of a man on earth is a warfare, but Thou lookest down upon the struggle and helpest man to conquer, Thou raisest him that falls, and crownest him that triumphs. (Pope Leo XIII, Exeunte Iam Anno, December 25, 1888.)

Words to ponder this Christmas Day, are they not?

Our Lord did not become Incarnate in Our Lady's Virginal and Immaculate Womb for no purpose. He was not born in anonymity in Bethlehem to remain hidden from public view and out of the public mind and public discourse until His Second Coming on the Last Day. He did undergo His fearful Passion and Death on Good Friday to see men pass by His Sacrifice of Himself to the Father in Spirit and in Truth to atone for human sins (the one andonly Holocaust, by the way) as it is re-presented in unbloody manner on altars of Sacrifice at the hands of true bishops and true priests in future ages just as men passed by His bloody Sacrifice and jeered Him as they did so, too busy to take notice that their own salvation was being wrought for them on that Gibbet. Our Lord did not establish His Holy Catholic Church on the Rock of Saint Peter, the first Pope, to see her, His Mystical Bride, be put on a level of equality with false religions, each of which is from the devil, in the modern pluralist state. Our Lord was born us this day to change our lives and that of the nations in which they live.

The Kingship of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ was hidden from men in Bethlehem, where He was adored by His Blessed Mother and His foster-father and the shepherds, to whom the angels had announced the tidings of peace to men of good will:

For, this day, is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger.And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God, and saying: Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will. And it came to pass, after the angels departed from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another: Let us go over to Bethlehem, and let us see this word that is come to pass, which the Lord hath shewed to us. (Lk. 2: 11-15.)

The shepherds acted on the word of the angels who had spoken to them. They adored the King of Kings. We have the very Word of the Word Himself, the Word Who was made Flesh and dwelt amongst us. We, however, are slow to offer our acts of adoration, prompt to make excuses as to why we can't speak about Our Lord and His true Faith publicly, why it is "inopportune" to exhort others to pray the Holy Rosary that His Most Blessed Mother gave to Saint Dominic de Guzman, embarrassed, truth be told, to rise above the naturalism of Judeo-Masonry that is one of the devil's greatest triumphs, albeit temporary, in this modern world in order to speak boldly as Catholics seeking the true good of each man and of each nation: conversion to the Catholic Faith.

The phrases "Jesus is the reason for the season" or "Keep Christ in Christmas" are very good. They are, however, insufficient to express the fact that we must keep Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in our hearts, consecrated as they must be to His own Most Sacred Heart through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, and in our actions at all times as men and their nations exalt Him as their King, processing behind banners emblazoned with images of Himself as the King and being proud to place on their national flags images of His Holy Cross and of His Most Sacred Heart.

Pope Pius XI, writing in Quas Primas, December 11, 1925, was most clear about this:

Thus the empire of our Redeemer embraces all men. To use the words of Our immortal predecessor, Pope Leo XIII: "His empire includes not only Catholic nations, not only baptized persons who, though of right belonging to the Church, have been led astray by error, or have been cut off from her by schism, but also all those who are outside the Christian faith; so that truly the whole of mankind is subject to the power of Jesus Christ." Nor is there any difference in this matter between the individual and the family or the State; for all men, whether collectively or individually, are under the dominion of Christ. In him is the salvation of the individual, in him is the salvation of society. "Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given to men whereby we must be saved." He is the author of happiness and true prosperity for every man and for every nation. "For a nation is happy when its citizens are happy. What else is a nation but a number of men living in concord? If, therefore, the rulers of nations wish to preserve their authority, to promote and increase the prosperity of their countries, they will not neglect the public duty of reverence and obedience to the rule of Christ. What We said at the beginning of Our Pontificate concerning the decline of public authority, and the lack of respect for the same, is equally true at the present day. "With God and Jesus Christ," we said, "excluded from political life, with authority derived not from God but from man, the very basis of that authority has been taken away, because the chief reason of the distinction between ruler and subject has been eliminated. The result is that human society is tottering to its fall, because it has no longer a secure and solid foundation."

When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony. Our Lord's regal office invests the human authority of princes and rulers with a religious significance; it ennobles the citizen's duty of obedience. It is for this reason that St. Paul, while bidding wives revere Christ in their husbands, and slaves respect Christ in their masters, warns them to give obedience to them not as men, but as the vicegerents of Christ; for it is not meet that men redeemed by Christ should serve their fellow-men. "You are bought with a price; be not made the bond-slaves of men." If princes and magistrates duly elected are filled with the persuasion that they rule, not by their own right, but by the mandate and in the place of the Divine King, they will exercise their authority piously and wisely, and they will make laws and administer them, having in view the common good and also the human dignity of their subjects. The result will be a stable peace and tranquillity, for there will be no longer any cause of discontent. Men will see in their king or in their rulers men like themselves, perhaps unworthy or open to criticism, but they will not on that account refuse obedience if they see reflected in them the authority of Christ God and Man. Peace and harmony, too, will result; for with the spread and the universal extent of the kingdom of Christ men will become more and more conscious of the link that binds them together, and thus many conflicts will be either prevented entirely or at least their bitterness will be diminished.

If the kingdom of Christ, then, receives, as it should, all nations under its way, there seems no reason why we should despair of seeing that peace which the King of Peace came to bring on earth -- he who came to reconcile all things, who came not to be ministered unto but to minister, who, though Lord of all, gave himself to us as a model of humility, and with his principal law united the precept of charity; who said also: "My yoke is sweet and my burden light." Oh, what happiness would be Ours if all men, individuals, families, and nations, would but let themselves be governed by Christ! "Then at length," to use the words addressed by our predecessor, Pope Leo XIII, twenty-five years ago to the bishops of the Universal Church, "then at length will many evils be cured; then will the law regain its former authority; peace with all its blessings be restored. Men will sheathe their swords and lay down their arms when all freely acknowledge and obey the authority of Christ, and every tongue confesses that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father." (Pope Pius XI, Quas Primas, December 11, 1925.)

Do you think that Our Lady, who had been chosen by God from all eternity to be His own Mother and to be His Co-Redemptrix and the Mediatrix of all the graces He would win for men by the shedding of every single drop of His Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross, is pleased that her Divine Son is ignored in the halls of political power and that men act as though they can "improve" the world on their own power by their own ideas without submitting themselves to the Deposit of Faith that He has entrusted exclusively to the Catholic Church and without having belief in, access to, and cooperation with Sanctifying Grace?

Do think that Our Lady is pleased that Catholics accept the falsehood of the separation of Church and State as the "best way" to pursue "justice" in the "modern" world?

Do you think that Saint Joseph, who worked at hard manual labor as a skilled carpenter and who taught his foster-Son how to use his human hands to work with the wood from the trees that He Himself had created, and who never charged anything more than his work was worth (if that!), is pleased with a world where thousands upon thousands of men get rich charging usurious interest to others so as to impoverish them for their entire lifetimes just to buy an automobile or a house?

Do you think that Saint Joseph, Guardian of Virgins and Terror of Demons, is pleased with a world that is premised upon a concept of "civil liberty" that attacks the virtue of Chastity and unleashes the demons aplenty in the midst of every aspect of popular culture?

Our Lady and Saint Joseph were in awe of the great mystery of God's love for them. Our Lady carried Her preborn Son on a donkey as she was being led some seventy-seven miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem, accepting with equanimity the news that Saint Joseph had given her that there was no room for them in the inn, being content to go into a cave where barn animals slept to bring forth that Son in the miraculous manner of His Birth. We must beseech Our Lady and Saint Joseph, therefore, to be more attentive to the simple truth that the Birth of their Son this day has social as well as personal ramifications. The joy that is in our own hearts today must radiate throughout the world so that hearts hardened by unrepentant sin will be softened and minds closed to the truth will be opened and enlightened.

The world of materialism and hedonism and relativism and positivism and religious indifferentism and pluralism in which we live is a world of emptiness and sadness. Billions of people try to fill those void with all sorts of "escapes," seeking happiness, as noted before, in all of the wrong places. True peace in the world is the result of peace in the souls of men, itself a product of those souls being in states of Sanctifying Grace. You can tell a lot about a person as to whether they are prone to smile or frown. One is filled with the joy of Our Lord and with the confident assurance that he has the Heavenly helps of Mary Immaculate and the Good Saint Joseph is prone to smile, yes, even in the midst of adversities, which are seen as the means to unit himself with the true manger from which we are fed the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the God-Man Himself in Holy Communion, that is, the wood of the Holy Cross.

Dom Prosper Gueranger wrote in The Liturgical Year of the spirit that we must maintain as we approach Christmas in the hours leading up to Midnight Mass before we begin to enter into this great Christmas season of joy:


We will begin by telling them that in the early ages of the Church every great Feast was prepared for by long Vigils; during which the people deprived themselves of their usual rest, and spent the hours in the Church, fervently joining in the Psalms and Lessons which made up the Office which we now call Matins. The Night was divided into three parts called Nocturns. At dawn of day they resumed their chants in an Office which was even more solemn than Matins: it was one of praise, and from this its characteristic, was called by the name of Lauds. This Service, which occupied a very considerable portion of the night, is still kept up, though at a time less trying to nature; Matins and Lauds are publicly recited every day in Cathedral and Monastic Churches, and privately by everyone in Holy Orders. They are by far the longest portion of the Divine Office. The want of the old spirit of devoted appreciation of the Liturgy has made the Laity indifferent to being present at the celebration of Matins, and this even in countries where Protestantism has not rendered their presence almost an impossibility. Thus, there are very few places where the people assist at Matins, excepting four times in the year; namely, on the three last days of Holy Week, and on Christmas Night. It is only on the last named that the Office is said at the same hour as anciently; for with regard to Tenebræ, they are recited on the afternoons respectively preceding each of the three days.

The Office of Christmas Night has always been said or sung with extraordinary solemnity. Firstly, it was so just, that the moments immediately preceding the Hour when the Holy Mother gave birth to her Jesus, should be spent in the most fervent prayers and watchings! But, secondly, the Church is not satisfied to-night with saying her Matins---she does so every night, and the faithful may come and assist at them as often as they wish:---she follows them by the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, that so she may the better solemnize the Divine Birth; and she begins her Mass at Midnight, for it was at that silent hour that the Virgin-Mother gave us the Blessed Fruit of her Womb. We cannot be surprised that the faithful, in many parts of Christendom, used to spend the whole Night in the Church.

In Rome, for many centuries---at least from the seventh to the eleventh two Matins were sung, the first in the Basilica of St Mary Major. They commenced immediately after sunset. There was no Invitatory. As soon as they were ended, the Pope celebrated the first or midnight Mass. No sooner was it finished, than the people accompanied him to the Church of St Anastasia, and there he sang the second Mass, or, as it was called, of the Aurora. Again the Pontiff and people formed a procession---this time it was to St Peter's---and having entered the Basilica, the second Matins were begun. They had an Invitatory, and were followed by Lauds. The other Hours having been sung, the Pope said the third and last Mass, at the hour of Terce, which is our 9 o'clock. We are indebted for these details to Amalarius, and to the ancient Liturgist of the thirteenth century published under the name of Alcuin. We also find them clearly indicated by the text of the old Antiphonaries of the Roman Church, which were published by the Blessed Joseph Maria Tommasi, and by Gallicioli.

How lively was the faith of those olden times! To people who lived unceasingly amidst the Mysteries of Religion, Prayer was a tie which knit them closely together, and made them pass hours in the Church without weariness. They understood the value of the Prayers of the Church; and the Ceremonies of the Liturgy, which complete the tribute of man's inward worship of his Creator, were not looked upon as, unfortunately, they now so often are, as a dumb show, or at best an unmeaning poetry introduced for effect. What, in our days, are found only in individuals, were then in the mass of the people---faith, and a keen sense of the supernatural.

Thanks be to God! this strong practical faith is not dead among us, and is each year spreading in the land. How often have not we ourselves been charmed at seeing the traditions of the old Catholic customs still kept up in some families, especially in those favoured parts of the country where heresy has not been able to corrupt the simplicity of the people. We have seen, and it is one of the most pleasing recollections of our childhood, one of these families seated together, after the frugal evening collation, round a blazing fireside, waiting for the hour to come when the whole house was to go to the midnight Mass. A plain but savoury supper, which was to be eaten on their return and so add to the joy of holy Christmas Night, was prepared beforehand. A huge piece of wood, called the Yule-Log, was burning cheerfully on the hearth; it would last till the Mass was over, and warm the old men and the little children, as they came in chilled by the sharp frost.

Meanwhile, till it was time for Mass, their conversation was upon the Mystery of this much-loved Night. They compassionated the Blessed Mother and the sweet Babe, exposed to the inclemency of wintry weather, and with no other shelter than that of a wretched stable. Then, too, there were the Christmas Carols, in the practise of which they had spent many a pleasant evening of Advent. The whole soul was evidently in these dear old melodies, and many a tear would fall as the song went on to tell how the Angel Gabriel visited Mary, and declared to her that she was to be Mother of the Most High God; how Mary and Joseph were worn with fatigue, going from street to street in Bethlehem, trying to find a lodging, and no one would take them in; how they were obliged to shelter in a stable, and how the Divine Child was born in it; how the loveliness of the Babe in his little crib was above all the beauty of the Angels; how the Shepherds went to see him, and took their humble gifts, and played their rude music, and adored him in the faith of their simple hearts. And thus they spent the happy Eve, passing from conversation to song, and from one song to another, and all was on Mary or Jesus, Joseph or Bethlehem. Cares of life were forgotten, troubles were gone, melancholy was a sin; but it was time to leave; the village clock had just gone eleven; and of the happy group, there was a little one who had been too young the other years, and this was his first Midnight Mass. There was no brighter face in the procession than his. Would he ever forget that beautiful Night!

In many of our readers, these reminiscences will excite a feeling of regret that the miseries of the world around us make such Catholic customs as these unrealities: at all events, they will show how the holiest feelings of religion may blend with the best joys of family and home. The lesson is worth learning, though the examples that teach it are too Catholic for these rough times. Let us, therefore, leave them and turn again to objects, which are realities, made holy by to-night's Mystery, they will assist us to enter still further into the spirit of the Church.

There are three places on this earth of ours which we should visit to-night. For two of them, it can only be in spirit. The first is Bethlehem, and the Cave of the Nativity, which is Bethlehem's glory. Let us approach it with respectful awe, and contemplate the humble dwelling which the Son of the Eternal God chose for his first home. It is a Stable in the hollow of a rock, just outside the city walls. It is about forty feet long by twelve in width. The ox and the ass, as spoken by the Prophet, are there, standing near the Manger, mute witnesses of the Divine Mystery to which man refused to lend his own dwelling.

Joseph and Mary enter into the Stable-Cave. It is night, and all nature is buried in silence; but these two Hearts are sending up their praise and adoration to God, who thus deigns to atone for man's pride. The Virgin-Mother prepares the Clothes which are to swathe the limbs of the Divine Infant, and longs, though with a most tranquil patience, for the blissful moment when she shall have the first sight of the Blessed Fruit of her womb, kiss him, caress him and feed him---the Eternal God---at her Breast.

Our Jesus, on his part, now that he is about to leave the sanctuary of his Mother's womb, and make his visible entrance into this world of sin, adores his Heavenly Father, and, according to the revelation of the Psalmist, which is commented by St Paul in his Epistle to the Hebrews, thus speaks: Sacrifice and oblation thou willedst not; but a Body thou hast fitted unto me. Holocausts for sin did not please thee. Then said I, behold I come.

In the head of the Book it is written of me that I should do thy will, O God! {Heb. x 5, 6, 7.}

All this was happening in the Stable at Bethlehem, about this very hour of the Night. The Angels of God were singing their anthems of praise to this his incomprehensible mercy towards his rebel creatures. They looked down with admiration upon the Mother of their God, the Mystical Rose, whose hidden beauty was soon to bloom and fill the world with its fragrance.

O happy cave of Bethlehem! scene of these stupendous Mysteries! who is there that can forget it to-night? Who is there that does not love it above the richest palaces of Kings? From the very commencement of Christianity it was the object of men's deepest veneration. When, later on, God sent the great St Helen to resuscitate in his Church the knowledge and love of the Holy Places of Palestine, one of the works of the holy Empress was to build a magnificent Basilica over the spot, where stands this trophy of God's love for his creatures.

Let us go in spirit to this venerable Basilica; we shall find there groups of infidels and schismatics, but we shall also find the Religious who have the care of it, preparing to sing the same Matins, and in the same Latin tongue, which we are to have. These Religious are the Children of St Francis, heroic followers of the poverty of their Divine Master, the Infant of Bethlehem. Because they are poor and humble therefore they have had, for upwards of four hundred years, the honour of being the sole guardians of these Holy Places, which the Crusaders grew tired of defending. Let us pray in union with them to-night; and go with them, and kiss that sacred spot of the Cave, where is written in letters of gold: HERE WAS JESUS CHRIST BORN OF THE VIRGIN MARY. (HIC DE VIRGINE MARIA JESUS CHRISTUS NATUS EST.)

In vain, however, should we seek at Bethlehem for the holy Crib in which the Infant Jesus lay. The curse of God has struck that unhappy country, and deprived it of this precious relic, which now, for upwards of twelve hundred years, has been venerated in the centre of Catholicity, Rome, the favoured Spouse of Christ.

Rome, then, is the second place we must visit on this blessed Night. And in the Holy City itself there is one special Sanctuary which claims all our veneration and love. It is the Basilica of the Crib, the splendid Church of Saint Mary Major. Of all the Churches which the people of Rome have erected in honour of the Mother of God, this is the grandest. It stands on the Esquiline, rich in its marble and gold, but richer still in its possessing, together with the Portrait of our Lady painted by St Luke, the humble yet glorious Crib of Jesus, of which the inscrutable designs of God have deprived Bethlehem. An immense concourse of people is to-night assembled in the Basilica, awaiting the happy moment when this monument of the love and the humiliation of a God will be brought in, carried on the shoulders of the Priests, as an Ark of the New Covenant, whose welcome sight gives the sinner confidence, and makes the just man thrill with joy. Thus has God willed that Rome, which was to be the new Jerusalem, should be also the new Bethlehem; and that the children of the Church should find, in this the unchangeable centre of their Faith, the varied and exhaustless nourishment of their Love.

But the Basilica of the Crib is not the only sanctuary in Rome which has an attraction for us to-night. An imposing ceremony, which embodies a profound mystery, is taking place, at this very hour, in the palace of the Vatican, near the Tomb of the Prince of the Apostles.

The Divine Infant, who is to be born amongst us, is the Mighty God, the Prince of Peace, whose government is upon his shoulders, {Isa. ix 6.} as we shall sing to-morrow, with the Church. We have already seen how the God of Hosts has honoured this power of Emmanuel, by leading powerful Nations to acknowledge him who lay in the Crib of Bethlehem as the Lord to whom they owed their adoring fealty. The same recognition of that Babe as the Mighty God is made by the ceremony to which we allude. The Sovereign Pontiff, the Vicar of our Emmanuel, blesses, in his name, a Sword and Helmet, which are to be sent to some Catholic warrior who has deserved well of the Christian world. In a letter addressed to Queen Mary of England and to Philip, her husband, Cardinal Pole gives an explanation of this solemn rite. The sword is sent to some Prince, whom the Vicar of Christ wishes to honour in the name of Jesus, who is King: for the Angel said to Mary: The Lord will give unto him the Throne of David his father, {St Luke i 32.} It is from him alone that the power of the sword comes; {Rom. xiii 3, 4.} for God said to Cyrus: I have girded thee with the sword {Isa. xlv l, 5.}); and the Psalmist thus speaks to the Christ of God: Gird thy Sword upon thy thigh, O thou most Mighty!{Ps. xliv 4.} And because the Sword should not be drawn save in the cause of justice, it is for that reason that a Sword is blessed on this Night, in the midst of which rises, born unto us, the divine Sun of Justice. On the Helmet, which is both the ornament and protection of the head, there is worked, in pearls, the Dove, which is the emblem of the Holy Ghost; and this to teach him who wears it that it is not from passion or ambition that he must use his sword, but solely under the guidance of the divine Spirit, and from a motive of spreading the Kingdom of Christ.

How beautiful is this union of energy and meekness under the one symbol and ceremony! This power of blending and harmonizing the varied beauty of distinct classes of truth is not to be found save in that Christian Rome, which is our Mother and where God has established the centre of Light and Love. The ceremony we have been describing is still observed. What a grand list it would be, had we the names of all those glorious Christian Warriors, who were thus created Knights of the Church, at this solemn hour, when we celebrate the Birth of him who came to vanquish our enemy! We are going to adore this Babe in his Crib; let us think of our Mother's teaching, and pay homage to him as our Prince and King, and beseech him to humble the enemies of his Church, and vanquish those who are leagued against both our perfection and our salvation.

And now to the third of the sanctuaries, wherein is to be effected, this Night, the mystery of the Birth of Jesus. This third Sanctuary is near us; it is in us; it is our own heart. Our heart is the Bethlehem that Jesus desires to visit, and in which he would be born, there to live and grow unto a perfect man, as St Paul expresses it. {Eph, iv 13.} Why, after all, was he born in the stable of the city of David, but that he might make sure of our heart, which he loved with an everlasting love, and so ardently that he came down from heaven to dwell in it? Mary's virginal womb held him but for nine months; he wishes us to keep him for ever in our dwelling!

O heart of man, thou living Bethlehem, hold thyself in readiness, and keep a glad feast! Already, thou hast prepared thyself for this union with thy Jesus by the confession of thy misdeeds, by the contrition of thy sins, and by the satisfaction thou hast made for them. Now, therefore, be all attention: he is coming in the Midnight. Let him find everything ready, ready as were the Stable, the Crib and the Swaddling-clothes. True, thou hast nothing to offer him like what Mary and Joseph had---she, a Mother's caresses; and he, the most solicitous and tender care; but thou hast an adoration and a love like those of the poor Shepherds, and these thou must offer. Like the Bethlehem yonder in the far east, thou art living in the midst of heresy, of infidelity, and of men who ignore the divine mystery of divine love: secret then, but hearty, must be thy prayers, like those which are ascending this night to heaven from the few faithful ones who are assembled in the Holy Cave with the Sons of St Francis; for in that unfortunate Palestine, which has been a slave to the most degrading errors for this last thousand years, there are still a few who know and love God. On this glad Midnight, let thy soul become like that splendid Basilica of Rome, which possesses the two treasures, the Holy Crib and the venerable Portrait of the Virgin Mother. Let thy affections and thoughts be pure as the white marble of its pillars; thy charity bright as the gold which glitters on its ceiling; thy deeds shining as the countless tapers which light up its beauty, and turn this night into the glare of a summer noon. Thou must learn, too, O soldier of Christ! to use a Christian's weapons; thou must fight thy way to the Crib of thy Jesus; thou must fight for thy position there, and maintain it by the unbroken loyalty of thy love; thou must fight for the happy consummation of thy victory: union eternal with him. Treasure up these holy sentiments, and let them console and sanctify thee during these moments which precede the coming of Emmanuel into thee. O living Bethlehem! there is a word which heaven gave thee for these moments; take it up, and let it be thy ceaseless prayer;Come, Lord Jesus! come. {Apoc. xxii 20.}

It is time for us to depart, and go into the House of God. The Bells are not being rung for us, it is true---still, their melody wakens up Bethlehem in our hearts. How strange this joyous pealing at this midnight hour! But is not everything strange in this mysterious night of the Birth of God? He is going to show himself to us---but it is to be in a Crib, and as a little Child. When he came on Sinai, it was surrounded with thick clouds of smoke, and amidst thunder and lightning: now, there is nothing but humility, stillness and loveliness beyond measure, The Moon, emblem of the brightness reflected from Jesus upon Mary, is shedding its soft light on our path. The stars are twinkling in the firmament, and make us think of the Star which is so soon to rise and guide the Magi to our Saviour's Crib.

And whilst thus thinking over all these strange mysteries, we have reached the porch of the Church. The Sanctuary sends its light down even to the threshold of the holy place. Beautiful sight, indeed! What wonder that King Clovis, as he entered the Church of Rheims on his first Christmas Night, stood dazzled with the blaze of light, and trembling with emotion said to St Remigius, who had just baptized him: `Father! is this the Kingdom thou didst promise me?' `No, my Son,' replied the Bishop, `it is but the way that will lead thee to it..' (Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B.,The Liturgical Year.)

Yes, the Catholic Church is the only way that will to the Kingdom of Heaven, where alone where will find true happiness for all eternity.

Let us depart, and go into the House of God. Let us take our place with Our Lady and Saint Joseph and the angels and the shepherds.

May the graces of this Christmas Day help us to see ourselves and all others and the world in which we live clearly through the eyes of the true Faith, forgiving all offenses, whether real or imagined, understated or exaggerated, as we are forgiven by the One Who extended His arms on the wood of the Cross to have us nail them to It so that we could be with Him in the presence of His Most Blessed Mother and His foster-father--and all of the angels and saints--beholding the Mystery of the Blessed Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in acts of adoration and thanksgiving for all eternity.

Venite Adoremus!

Viva Cristo ReyVivat Christus Rex!

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.

Saint Joseph, Patron of Departing Souls, pray for us.

Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.

Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.

Saint John the Evangelist, pray for us.

Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.

Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.

Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.

Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.

Saints Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, pray for us.