Sunday, December 25, 2011

Agnosce, o Christiane, tuam dignitatem: St. Leo the Great on the True Source of Human Dignity


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The Christmas Sermon of St. Leo the Great
(From Matins of Christmas Day, 2nd Nocturn)
Online Source: www.breviary.net

Lesson iv
Sermo sancti Leónis PapæThe Lesson is taken from a Sermon by St. Leo the Pope
Sermo 1 de Nativitáte Domini

Birthplace of our Lord and Saviour
Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem
Salvátor noster, dilectíssimi, hódie natus est : gaudeámus.  Neque enim fas est locum esse tristítiæ, ubi natális est vitæ : quæ, consúmpto mortalitátis timóre, nobis íngerit de promíssa ætérnitáte lætítiam.  Nemo ab hujus alacritátis participatióne secérnitur.  Una cunctis lætítiæ commúnis est rátio : quia Dóminus noster, peccáti mortísque destrúctor, sicut nullum a reátu líberum réperit, ita liberándis ómnibus venit. Exsúltet sanctus, quia appropínquat ad palmam : gáudeat peccátor, quia invitátur ad véniam : animétur Gentílis, quia vocátur ad vitam.  Dei namque Fílius secúndum plenitúdinem témporis, quam divíni consílii inscrutábilis altitúdo dispósuit, reconciliándam auctóri suo natúram géneris assúmpsit humáni, ut invéntor mortis diábolus, per ipsam, quam vícerat, vincerétur.
Dearly beloved : Unto us is born this day a Saviour.  Therefore let us rejoice.  Sadness should find no place amongst those who keep the Birthday of Life.  For as of this day Life came unto us dying creatures, to take away the sting of death, and to bring the bright promise of joy eternal.  And no one is excluded from sharing in this our gladness.  For all mankind hath one and the same cause thereof, to wit, that our Lord, the Destroyer of sin and death, because he findeth no one free from condemnation, is come to set everyone free.  Rejoice, O saint, for thou drawest nearer thy crown!  Rejoice, O sinner, for thy Saviour offereth thee pardon!  Rejoice, O Jew, for Messias is come.  Rejoice, O Gentile, for God calleth thee to life!  Now is come the fulness of time, fixed by the unsearchable counsel of God, when the Son of God took upon him the nature of man, that he might reconcile it to its Maker.  Now is come the time when the devil, the inventor of death, is met and beaten in that very flesh which hath been the field of his victory.
V.  Tu autem, Dómine, miserére nobis.
R.  Deo grátias.
V.  But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R.  Thanks be to God.
R.  O magnum mystérium, et admirábile sacraméntum, ut animália vidérent Dóminum natum, jacéntem in præsépio :* Beáta Virgo, cujus víscera meruérunt portáre Dóminum Christum.
V.  Ave, María, grátia plena : Dóminus tecum.
R.  Beáta Virgo, cujus víscera meruérunt portáre Dóminum Christum.
R.  How great the mystery, fraught with a wondrous, hidden meaning, that beasts should behold the new-born Lord, lying in the manger : *Blessed art thou, O Virgin, whose womb was made meet to bear the Lord Christ.
V.  Hail, Mary, full of grace : the Lord is with thee.
R.  Blessed art thou, O Virgin, whose womb was made meet to bear the Lord Christ.

V.  Jube domne, (Dómine) benedícere.
V.  Vouchsafe, Reverend Father (O Lord), thy blessing.
Benedíctio 5: Christus perpétuæ det nobis gáudia vitæ.R.  Amen.
Benediction 5: May Christ bestow upon us the joys of life eternal.
R.  Amen.
Lesson v
In quo conflíctu pro nobis ínito, magno et mirábili æquitátis jure certátum est, dum omnípotens Dóminus cum sævíssimo hoste non in sua majestáte, sed in nostra congréditur humilitáte : objíciens ei eámdem formam, eamdémque natúram, mortalitátis quidem nostræ partícipem, sed peccáti totíus expértem.  Aliénum quippe ab hac nativitáte est, quod de ómnibus légitur : Nemo mundus a sorde, nec infans, cujus est uníus diéi vita super terram.  Nihil ergo in istam singulárem nativitátem de carnis concupiscéntia transívit, nihil de peccáti lege manávit.  Virgo régia Davídicæ stirpis elígitur, quæsacro gravidánda fœtu, divínam humanámque prolem prius concíperet mente, quam córpore.  Et ne supérni ignára consílii ad inusitátos pavéret affátus, quod in ea operándum erat a Spíritu Sancto, collóquio discit angélico : nec damnum credit pudóris, Dei Génitrix mox futúra.
When the Almighty Lord entered this field of battle against the devil, he did so in great and wondrous fairness.  For against our cruel enemy he opposed not the armament of his uncreate Majesty, but the lowliness of our flesh.  He brought against him the very shape and the very nature of our mortality, with this difference only, that he was without sin.  For his birth is not like that of the ordinary run of men, of whom there is the saying : No one is clean from stain, not even the day-old babe.  In this birth alone no desires of the flesh had place.  In this birth alone no consequence of sin had part.  A Virgin of the kingly lineage of David was chosen to be the Mother who grew heavy with the sacred Child.  She was chosen to conceive this divine and human offspring in her body because already she had conceived him in her soul.  And that the unwonted events ordained by the counsel of God might cause her no alarm, she was taught them beforehand when the Angel announced that what was to be wrought in her was of the Holy Ghost, and that to become the Mother of God was not to forego her virgin modesty.
V.  Tu autem, Dómine, miserére nobis.
R.  Deo grátias.
V.  But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R.  Thanks be to God.
R.  Beáta Dei Génitrix María, cujus víscera intácta pérmanent : * Hódie génuit Salvatórem sæculi.V.  Beata, quæ crédidit : quóniam perfécta sunt ómnia, quæ dicta sunt ei a Dómino.
R.  Hódie génuit Salvatórem sæculi.
R.  Blessed is God's holy Mother, Mary, maiden undefiled, * For as on this day she hath brought forth the Saviour of the world.
V.  Blessed is she that believed, for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.
R.  For as on this day she hath brought forth the Saviour of the world.

V.  Jube domne, (Dómine) benedícere.
V.  Vouchsafe, Reverend Father (O Lord), thy blessing.
Benedíctio 6: Ignem sui amóris accéndat Deus in córdibus nostris.
R.  Amen.
Benediction 6: May God enkindle in our hearts the fire of his holy love.
R.  Amen.
Lesson vi

Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem
Agámus ergo, dilectíssimi, grátias Deo Patri, per Fílium ejus in Spíritu Sancto : qui propter multam caritátem suam, qua diléxit nos, misértus est nostri : et cum essémus mórtui peccátis, convivificávit nos Christo, ut essémus in ipso nova creatúra, novúmque figméntum.  Deponámus ergo véterem hóminem cum áctibus suis : et adépti participatiónem generatiónis Christi, carnis renuntiémus opéribus.  Agnósce, o Christiáne, dignitátem tuam : et divínæ consors factus natúræ, noli in véterem vilitátem degéneri conversatióne redíre.  Meménto, cujus cápitis et cujus córporis sis membrum.  Reminíscere, quia érutus de potestáte tenebrárum, translátus es in Dei lumen et regnum.
Wherefore, dearly beloved, let us give thanks to God the Father, through his Son, in the Holy Ghost : who for his great love, wherewith he loved us, hath had mercy on us ; and even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, that in him we might be a new creature, and a new workmanship.  Let us then put off the old man with his deeds.  And, having obtained a share in the Sonship of Christ, let us renounce the deeds of the flesh.  Acknowledge, O Christian, thine own dignity, who hast been made partaker of the divine nature, and change not back my misdoing into thy former baseness.  Bethink thee whose Body it is whereof thou art made a member, and who is its Head.  Be mindful that he hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and translated us into God's light and God's kingdom.
V.  Tu autem, Dómine, miserére nobis.
R.  Deo grátias.
V.  But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R.  Thanks be to God.
R.  Sancta et immaculáta virgínitas, quibus te láudibus éfferam, néscio : *Quia quem cæli cápere non póterant, tuo grémio contulísti.V.  Benedícta tu in muliéribus, et benedíctus fructus ventris tui.
R.  Quia quem cæli cápere non póterant, tuo grémio contulísti.
V.  Glória Patri, et Fílio, et Spirítui Sancto.
R.  Quia quem cæli cápere non póterant, tuo grémio contulísti.
R.  O blessed Maiden, so holy and spotless in thy virginity, I know not how to praise thy greatness : *For thou hast borne in thy breast him whom the heavens cannot contain.
V.  Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
R.  For thou hast borne in thy breast him whom the heavens cannot contain.
V.  Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
R.  For thou hast borne in thy breast him whom the heavens cannot contain.


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