The Divine Office eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 261 pages of information about The Divine Office.

In the antiphons for the Magnificat and the Benedictus it may be noticed that the three manifestations are given not in the same order.  “This day is the Church united to the Heavenly Spouse, for Christ, in the Jordan, washes away her sins; the Magi run to the royal nuptials with their gifts, and the guests of the feast are gladdened by the water changed into wine” (Ant. of Benedictus).  The Magi, seeing the star, said to each other:  “This is the sign of the King:  let us go and seek him, and offer him gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh” (Ant. of Magnificat, 1st Vesp.), “We celebrate a festival adorned by three miracles:  this day, a star led the Magi to the manger; this day water was changed into wine at the marriage feast; this day Christ vouchsafed to be baptised by John, in the Jordan of our salvation” (Ant. of Magnificat, 2nd Vesp.).  Now, the baptism is the special event commemorated by the Easterns on this feast, and on account of its connection with the baptism, this feast has, amongst the Greeks, the secondary title of the feast of lights.  And, in Ireland (Synodus II., St. Patricii, can. 20), contrary to the ancient custom of the Church, solemn baptism was administered on this feast day.  This subject of the baptism forms the only theme of the ancient sermons bearing on this feast.  On the other hand, the visit of the Magi is the sole event commemorated by St. Augustine in his six sermons delivered on this feast day.  The third event, the marriage feast, is of later commemoration; and Maximus of Turin doubted if they all actually happened on the same day.

The Octave to the feast dates from the eighth century.  It was customary on this date, in the Eastern Church, to read publicly the epistola festalis of the Patriarch of Alexandria arranging the date of Easter and the practice was ordered by the fourth Council of Orleans in 541.

In Epiphany the invitatory is not said in the beginning of Matins, in order, say the liturgists, not to repeat the inquiry made by Herod from the scribes about the birthplace of Christ, an inquiry and invitation inspired by hatred and anger.  The invitatory is omitted, they tell us, that we, like the Magi, may come to Christ, without other than a silent invitation.  Teachers of olden time used to urge those who were slow to believe to imitate the Magi.  But, the invitatory is not quite omitted.  It is read in the third nocturn, which typifies the law of grace, in which the Apostles and their successors invite all to praise and worship God.  The psalms of the feast are taken from the psalms of each day of the week, but chiefly from Friday’s psalms, perhaps because the Magi’s visit was on that day.


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The Divine Office from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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