Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Sweet Morn Thou Parent of the Sun (New York, Catholic Hymn Book, Edward Dunigan and Brother, 1851), arranged to Kingsfold (the theme of Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus by Ralph Vaughan Williams)
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1. Sweet Morn! thou Parent of the Sun!
And Daughter of the same!
What joy and gladness, through thy birth,
This day to mortals came!
Clothed in the Sun I see Thee stand,
The Moon beneath thy feet,
The Stars above thy sacred head
A radiant coronet.
2. Thrones and Dominions gird Thee round,
The Armies of the sky;
Pure streams of glory from Thee flow,
All bathed in Deity!
Terrific as the banner’d line
Of battle’s dread array!
Before Thee tremble Hell and Death,
And own thy mighty sway:
3. While crush’d beneath thy dauntless foot,
The Serpent writhes in vain,
Smit by a deadly stroke, and bound,
In an eternal chain.
O Mightiest! pray for us, that He
Who came through Thee of yore,
May come to dwell within our hearts,
And never quit us more.
4. Praise to the Father, with the Son,
And Holy Ghost, through Whom
The Word eternal was conceived
Within the Virgin’s Womb.
Be salvation, honor, blessing,
Now and through eternity.
Immortal, infinite sublime!
Older than chaos, space or time!

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The Imitation of Mary, by Thomas a Kempis (Click/Expand)


I. Upon her head, like that of a Queen, is placed a crown of twelve stars. These twelve stars on the brow of Mary are the twelve prerogatives of the Queen and of the Mother before God in heaven.

She possesses, indeed, in the Church Triumphant, surpassing all other blessed spirits, four special prerogatives:

  1. the power of listening with great goodness,
  2. of condescending with great mercy,
  3. of intervening for us with great power,
  4. and of succoring on earth with great ease.

She, has besides, in the Church Triumphant, four privileges, outstanding among all:

  1. she is resplendent more than all others;
  2. she is glorified more than all others;
  3. she is loved more tenderly than all others;
  4. she is honored more fervently than all others.

Mary possesses also, in relation to the Trinity, four particular favors, which are for her like brilliant stars midst fainter stars.

Better, truly, than those who contemplate the glory of the Divine Trinity,

  1. she contemplates fully the Divine Trinity Itself:
  2. she knows with greater joy its sweetness,
  3. she comprehends with greater profundity its mysteries,
  4. she tastes with greater charm its richness.

II. Listen again, listen devoutly, to what the greatest of the servants of Mary, the doctor of gentle speech, St. Bernard, said to his Religious about the stars which form a crown on the forehead of the Virgin:

No one can estimate the importance of the jewels, no one can count the number of the gems which adorn the diadem of Mary in Heaven.

It is an undertaking above our power, that of examining the value, or of scrutinizing the composition of her brilliant aureole.

We shall undertake to do so with humility.

Without wishing to penetrate the secrets of the Lord, it seems that one can see in the twelve stars the twelve prerogatives of our Mother.

We find indeed in the Virgin Mary,

  1. privileges granted to her soul,
  2. privileges infused into her heart,
  3. privileges attached to her body.

And if we multiply this number three,

by the number of the four known favors,

we shall find the number of twelve stars which shine on the brow of Mary, our Queen.

We find these wonders,

  1. at her birth,
  2. in the salutation she received from the angel,
  3. in the overshadowing of her by the Holy Spirit,
  4. and finally in the conception of Jesus Himself .

The holy doctor goes on to enumerate the circumstances of the life of our Mother in which grace brought its favors.

III. Let us meditate therefore, often and with piety, on the life and deeds of Mary. Let us chant hymns and canticles in her honor, on the days of her solemnities.

Come before her altar and before her image, incline your head, kneel before her, as if you were seeing Mary herself present before you.

Raise your eyes and contemplate Mary speaking with the angels, or better still, Mary holding on her knees her son Jesus:

In contemplating the Mother of Mercy, say then, with a burst of confident love:

IV. Prayer:

O most loving Virgin Mary, Mother of God Queen of Heaven, Mistress of the Earth,

O you, the Joy of Saints, and the Salvation of sinners, listen to the appeals of our repentant hearts!

Listen to the desires of our souls at prayer!

Come to the help of the poor and the infirm!

Renew the courage of the afflicted!

Protect your children against their enemies!

Deliver them from the snares of the devils.

Lead them near to you in blessedness in heaven, where you reign with your Son in the midst of the elect for all eternity!

(Cloistral Discipline, Chap. XIV)


I. Everything is sold or bought on the earth: power, favor, gold, conscience itself. Only the heart is not sold; it gives itself or does not give itself, fashioned as it is with a spark of royalty.

A great orator has said: the heart is the whole of man, it is the raison d’etre of a woman.

The heart of Mary is the greatest of hearts, after the Heart of Jesus.

Was not the Heart of Jesus fashioned from a bit of the human heart of Mary?

II. The Heart of Jesus, united to the divinity in the person of Christ, has transmitted by its contact with the heart of His Mother something of Its grandeur and beauty to the heart of Mary.

Mary is therefore queen by her heart, as she is queen by her human destiny.

Her heart vibrates with more force than the heart of any other creature.

It is less sublime than the Heart of God, but it is unique in heaven and earth.

III. Oh! how sweet it is to feel yourself near this heart which has loved with a mother’s love an Infant God, and which loves with the same maternal love all the children of men.


Love is not a simple sentiment; it is a gigantic force: women hold a power which they do not know.

Only Mary has known what power the heart of a mother has.

To know how to love, and to love always, is an ardent life, an active life, a very short life.

Not to love is to be dead.

Love addresses itself to the spirited person who vibrates and not to the lifeless or inactive person.

Love supposes beauty, and sometimes creates it or exalts it.

Let us love Mary!

She has beauty,
she has grace,
she has charm.

No creature equals her; no woman surpasses her.

She comes next after God, as Dante sings.

Let us say to her then with the heavenly poet:
O Mother, O Queen, O Mary, help us to love you, help us to praise you.

You are beauty, la belta, and we cannot admire you enough.

You are goodness, la bonta, and we cannot praise you enough.

We say to you therefore the only word worthy of you, the word sent from heaven, the word of the Archangel:

Ave Maria!

Practice: Imitate the early Christians and often recite the Liturgical Office of the Holy Virgin.

Thought: O Mary, bless us and our families.

Nos cum prole pia, benedicat Virgo Maria.

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O Purest of Creatures – Sweet Star of the Sea
Fr. Frederick William Faber, (1814-1863) St. Denio
1. O purest of creatures,
sweet Mother! sweet Maid!
The one spotless womb wherein
Jesus was laid!
Dark night hath come down on us,
Mother! And we,
Look out for thy shining, sweet
Star of the Sea!
2. Deep night has come down on this
rough-spoken world,
&-the banners of darkness are
boldly unfurled;
&-the tempest tossed Church—
all her eyes are on thee,
They look to thy shining, sweet
Star of the Sea!
3. He gazed on thy soul; it was
spotless and fair;
For-the empire of sin—it had
never been there;
None had ever owned thee, dear
Mother! but He,
And-He blessed thy clear shining, sweet
Star of the Sea!
4. Earth gave Him one lodging; ‘twas
deep in thy breast,
And God found a home where the
sinner finds rest;
His home and His hiding place
both were in thee,
He-was won by thy shining, sweet
Star of the Sea.
5. O blissful and calm was the
wonderful rest,
That-thou gavest thy God in thy
virginal breast;
For-the heaven He left, He found
heaven in thee,
And-He shone in thy shining, sweet
Star of the Sea!
6. To sinners what comfort, to
angels what mirth,
That God found one creature un-
fallen on earth,
One spot where His Spirit, un-
troubled could be,
The depth of thy shining, sweet
Star of the Sea!
7. O shine on us brighter than
even, then shine,
For-the highest of honours, dear
Mother! Is thine;
“Conceived without sin,” thy chaste
title e’re be,
Clear light from thy birth-spring, sweet
Star of the Sea!
8. So worship we God in these
rude latter days;
So worship we Jesus our
Love, when we praise,
His wonderful grace in the
gifts He gave thee,
The gift of clear shining, sweet
Star of the Sea!
9. Deep night hath come down on us,
Mother! Deep night,
And-we need more than ever the
guide of thy light;
For-the darker the night is the
brighter should be,
Thy beautiful shining, sweet
Star of the Sea!