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Ember Friday – Third Week of Advent

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The Lord is now nigh; let us adore.

The Church does not read anything from the prophet Isaiah today; she merely gives, in the Office of Matins, a sentence of that chapter of St. Luke’s Gospel, which relates the mystery of our Lady’s Visitation: and to this she subjoins a fragment of Saint Ambrose’s homily upon that passage. The considerations and affections with which this important event of our Lady’s life ought to inspire the faithful, will be given further on in the proper of the saints. The Station for today is in the church of the Holy Apostles, which many suppose to have been first built by Constantine. The glorious bodies of the two holy apostles Philip and James the Less, lie buried under the altar, awaiting the second coming of Him who chose them as His co-operators in the work of the first, and who will give them, on the last day, to sit upon thrones near His own, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

That we may better conform to the intentions of our holy mother the Church, who offers to our contemplation the Visitation of the blessed Virgin, let us recite the following hymn, composed in honour of this mystery during the ages of faith.

A Prose in Honour of the Blessed Virgin
(Taken from the ancient Roman.French missals)

Hail, Mother of the divine Word! Hail, most humble and most spotless Virgin!

Rejoice, thou Mother of a Son who supports thee! Rejoice, thy burden is a burden most sweet to bear!

Hail, branch of Jesse, Fruit-bearing branch! Hail gate of the temple, closed to all but God!

Be glad, thou fleece of Gideon, full of the dew of the holy Spirit! Be glad, thou tent of Solomon, of all the first in beauty!

Hail, shining star of Jacob, lighting up the sea! Hail, thou sealed-up sanctuary, thou burning bush !

What bliss is thine, that thou the humble star should be clad with the Sun, and then bring forth the Sun! What bliss is thine, that thou should be elected the bright ladder reaching up to heaven !

Sing to thy God, thou aurora rising in the light of the new Star! Sing, thou ark of the covenant, bearing unto us sinners thy three treasures.

Oh let thy soul magnify Jesus, and Oh, sweet Mary, pray that, with thee, we too may magnify him. Amen.

Prayer from the Gallican Sacramentary
(In Adventu Domini, Collect)

Oh Lord God, Father almighty, purify the recesses of our heart, and mercifully wash away all the stains of our sins; and grant, Oh Lord, that, cleansed from our sins by thy merciful blessing, we may await in confidence the dread and terrible coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.