This very ancient feast was already solemnized in the seventh century, and Pope Innocent IV, to fulfil the vow made by the Cardinals before the election of his predecessor, gave it an Octave at the first Council of Lyons in 1245. This date (September 8) served to fix that of the feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8.
Mary is inseparable from Jesus in the divine plan, wherefore the Liturgy applies to her what Holy Scripture says of the eternal Wisdom which is the Word “by whom all was made”. Like Christ, the Virgin presides over the whole work of creation, for having been chosen of all eternity to give us the Saviour, it is she, with her Son, whom God had chiefly in view when He created the world.
Antiphon at the Magnificat:
Nativitas tua, Dei Genitrix Virgo, gaudium annuntiavit universo mundo: ex te enim ortus est Sol justitiae, Christus Deus noster: qui solvens maledictionem, dedit benedictionem, et confundens mortem, donavit nobis vitam sempiternam.
Thy Nativity, O Virgin Mother of God, was the herald of joy to the whole world; since from thee arose the Sun of Justice, Christ our God, who, destroying the curse, bestowed the blessing, and confounding death, rewarded us with life everlasting.
Introit: (Ps. xliv. 2)
Salve, sancta parens, enixa puerpera regem: qui caelum terramque regit in saecula saeculorum. * Eructavit cor meum verbum bonum : dico ego opera mea Regi.
Hail, holy Mother! giving birth to thy Child, thou didst bring forth the King, who ruleth the heavens and the earth for ever and ever. Ps. My heart hath uttered a good word : I speak my works to the King.
Famulis tuis, quaesumus, Domine, caelestis gratiae munus impertire: ut, quibus beatae Virginis partus exstitit salutis exordium; Nativitatis ejus votiva solemnitas, pacis tribuat incrementum.
We beseech Thee, O Lord, grant to Thy servants the gift of Thy heavenly grace; that as the child-bearing of the Blessed Virgin was the beginning of salvation, so the joyful festival of her Nativity may bring us an increase of peace.
Epistle: (Wisdom viii. 22-35)
The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His ways, before He made anything from the beginning. I was set up from eternity, and of old, before the earth was made. The depths were not as yet, and I was already conceived; neither had the fountains of waters as yet sprung out; the mountains with their huge bulk had not as yet been established: before the hills I was brought forth; He had not yet made the earth, nor the rivers, nor the poles of the world. When He prepared the heavens, I was there; when with a certain law and compass He enclosed the depths; when He established the sky above, and poised the fountains of waters; when He compassed the sea with its bounds, and set a law to the waters that they should not pass their limits; when He balanced the foundations of the earth; I was with Him forming all things, and was delighted every day, playing before Him at all times, playing in the world: and my delight is to be with the children of men. Now, therefore, ye children, hear me: blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth me, and that watcheth daily at my gates, and waiteth at the posts of my doors. He that shall find me shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord.
O Virgin Mary, blessed and venerable art thou: without blemish to thy maidenhood, thou didst become the Mother of the Saviour. O Virgin Mother of God, He whom the whole world availeth not to contain, being made man, shut Himself up within thy womb. Alleluia, alleluia. v. Happy indeed art thou, O sacred Virgin, and most worthy of all high praise: for out of thee hath risen the sun of justice, Christ who is our God. Alleluia.
Gospel: (Matthew i. 1-16)
(Source: The Saint Andrew Daily Missal)
“The works of her, who was to be the Mother of the God-man, were altogether and in every way most perfect, and even to understand them exceeds the capacity of all human creatures and of the angels. Her interior acts of the virtues were so precious and of such great merit and favour, that they surpass all that the seraphim can do . . . During thy pilgrimage in thy mortal body place most holy Mary as the beginning of thy joy, and follow her through the desert of renunciation and abnegation of all that is human and visible. Follow her by a perfect imitation according to the measure of thy strength and of the light which thou receivest. Let her be thy guiding star and thy Directress: she will manifest to thee God’s Will and will let thee find His holy law which is written in her by the power of God’s right hand: meditate upon it day and night.” – Ven. Mary of Agreda