℣. Puer natus est nobis.
℣. To us a child is born.
℟. Et filius datus est nobis.
℣. To us a son is given.
(Versicle before Lauds)
Today, in the 1962 Dominican Rite Calendar, we celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The feast is 1st Class, with a 2nd Class octave. The Festive Office is prayed. with everything being taken from the Proper of the Season for this day.
As in the Roman Breviary, the 4th Lesson at Matins is a hope-filled homily by Pope Leo the Great. It begins:
“Today, dearly beloved, our Savior was born. Let us rejoice. Sadness would be out of place today, the birthday of Life. No one should feel excluded from sharing this joy, since all men have the same reason for being glad. Let the saint rejoice because the draws nearer to the palm of victory. Let the sinner be glad because he is offered a pardon. Let the pagan be filled with eagerness because he is called to a new life.”
This wonderful homily sums up so well the true joy that we should experience today. Sadly, many will wake up today, already exhausted by the frantic weeks of shopping and partying which characterizes the new advent season, and this spirit of joy and hope will be utterly lost on them. Washed away as well, in the flood of neurotic consumerism, is the wonderful period of penance and interior preparation which is the proper preparation for our Savior’s birth.
Of the many unique elements which distinguish the Dominican Rite from the Roman during this feast, the one that I find most interesting is the inclusion of additional readings during the Mass. The Dominican Rite Mass for the Vigil of Christmas, as well as Christmas day (all three of them) contain additional readings, after the Collect prayer but before the Epistles. They are referred to as “lessons” (lectio), and they are all taken from the Book of Isaiah. They are as follows:
Vigil: Isa. 62, 1-4
Christmas Day (First Mass): Isa. 9, 2, 6-7.
Christmas Day (Second Mass): Isa. 61, 1-3; 62, 11-12.
Christmas Day (Third Mass): Isa. 52, 6-10
Another peculiarity of the Dominican Breviary occurs during Matins. In the Roman Breviary, Lesson ix consists of the Gospel of John 1: 1-14, followed by a portion of a homily of St. Augustine on the Gospel. In the Dominican Breviary, Lesson ix consists of the same Gospel reading, followed by a portion of a homily of St. John Chrysostom. Then, after the homily, the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew is read...the genealogy of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham begot Isaac. And Isaac begot Jacob. And Jacob begot Judas and his brethren. And Judas begot Phares and Zara of Thamar. And Phares begot Esron. And Esron begot Aram. And Aram begot Aminadab. And Aminadab begot Naasson. And Naasson begot Salmon. And Salmon begot Booz of Rahab. And Booz begot Obed of Ruth. And Obed begot Jesse.
And Jesse begot David the king. And David the king begot Solomon, of her that had been the wife of Urias. And Solomon begot Roboam. And Roboam begot Abia. And Abia begot Asa. And Asa begot Josaphat. And Josaphat begot Joram. And Joram begot Ozias. And Ozias begot Joatham. And Joatham begot Achaz. And Achaz begot Ezechias. And Ezechias begot Manasses. And Manasses begot Amon. And Amon begot Josias.
And Josias begot Jechonias and his brethren in the transmigration of Babylon. And after the transmigration of Babylon, Jechonias begot Salathiel. And Salathiel begot Zorobabel. And Zorobabel begot Abiud. And Abiud begot Eliacim. And Eliacim begot Azor. And Azor begot Sadoc. And Sadoc begot Achim. And Achim begot Eliud. And Eliud begot Eleazar. And Eleazar begot Mathan. And Mathan begot Jacob.
And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ
Grant, we beg of you, almighty God, that the new birth, according to the flesh, of your only Son may free us from our longstanding slavery to sin. Through the same…