Second, to recognise Jesus as true Man in His earthly or temporal birth as Son of Mary, born in a stable where, without speaking a word, but rather by the force of example alone, He teaches humility of service to God and neighbour, instructs us in obedience to the decrees of His Father and the arrangements made by Mary and Joseph, and furthermore warns us against the softening influence of material comforts by the poverty of His manger (Gospel).
Third, to realise more and more the spiritual birth of Jesus in our souls (Epistle), by recalling our birth as “reborn” members of His Mystical Body, growing with Him throughout the coming year, by rejoicing in His Joys from Christmas to Lent, by sorrowing with His Sorrows during Lent and by celebrating His Glories during the Easter and Pentecostal periods. Before the crib today, in union with Mary, contemplate this threefold Birth of Jesus.
Season of the Nativity
The glorious and joyful I class feast of the Nativity of Our Lord, with II class octave, is 25 December and begins the Season of Christmastide which runs through 5 January.
The first Mass of Christmas is ideally celebrated at midnight. The Gregorian Introit is one of the most moving: Dominus dixit ad me. Filius meus es tu. Ego hodie genui te. (The Lord hath said to me: Thou art My Son. This day have I begotten Thee.) The Gospel of this first Mass tells of the Christmas events, describes how our Lord was born in a stable in Bethlehem, how He was visited by the humble shepherds, who were called by angels, and how a multitude of angels proclaimed, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will." The great mystery of Christmas, expressed in the first Mass, consists in realising the great mercy and love of God the Father in allowing His Only Begotten Son, the Second Person of the Trinity, to be born as a creature, of a virgin, in the lowly stable in Bethlehem. Laid into a humble manger, Our Blessed Lord, our own Creator from all eternity, humbled Himself through Divine Love to share our human nature. Some fragments of the original manger have lain for hundreds of years beneath the high altar at St. Mary Major in Rome. The second Mass (of dawn) emphasizes how Our Lord appeared in the world as its True Light. The magnificent Introit relates the prophecy of Isaias concerning Our Redeemer: "A Light shall shine upon us this day for the Lord is born to us, and He shall be called Wonderful, God, the Prince of Peace, the Father of the world to come of whose reign there shall be no end." St. Anastasia, a popular martyr of ancient times, who was slain in the reign of Diocletian by being burned alive, is commemorated through a collect in the Mass. She is the same Anastasia mentioned in the Canon of the Mass. The third Mass of Christmas instructs us that the newborn child is called upon to gain salvation for all mankind. The Gospel is the usual Last Gospel of St. John, the familiar first words being, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." For edification of the faithful it is recommended the proper Last Gospel, previously in use, of Epiphany be said.
In all the Masses of Christmas the particular Preface, Communicantes and Hanc Igitur are used.
Tomorrow, the liturgy of the remainder of the Octave.