SIX VOLUMES IN ONE
BY THE DISTINGUISHED EXPONENTS OF CATHOLICISM
REV. HENRY DODRIDGE, D. D.
REV. HENRY EDWARD MANNING, D. D.
REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada
REV. STEPHEN KEENAN
REV. BERNARD VAUGHAN, S. J.
REV. THOMAS N. BURKE, O. P.
Q. Which are the principal Sundays distinguished from the rest?
A. The four Sundays before Christ's nativity, called Advent Sundays, from the word Adventus, that is, coming; to put us in mind, that the birth of Christ approaches, and that we are to prepare for a worthy celebration of it; as also to prepare for the second coming of our Saviour, at the day of judgment. Other remarkable Sundays, are Septuagesima, Sexagesima, Quinquagesima, and Quadragesima; which are designed to prepare ourselves for penance, and a worthy celebration of the passion and resurrection of our Lord. As also Passion Sunday, Palm Sunday, and Low Sunday. Passion Sunday is so called from the passion of Christ, then drawing nigh, and was ordained to prepare us for a worthy celebrating, of it; Palm Sunday is a day in memory and honor of the triumphant entry of our Saviour Christ into Jerusalem; and is so called from the palm branches which the Hebrew children strewed under his feet, crying Hosanna to the son of David, Matt xxi. And hence it is, that yearly on this day, the Church blesses Palms, and makes a solemn procession, in honor of the same triumph, all the people bearing palm branches in their hands. The palms are likewise an emblem of the victory which Christ gained over sin and death, by dying on the cross. Low Sunday, is the octave of Easter day, and is called by the Church, Dominica in Albis, from the Catechumens, or Neophytes, who were on that day solemnly divested in the Church of their white garments.
Q. What are the principal feasts of our Lord ?
A. Christmas Day, so called from the mass that is said in honor of our blessed Saviour's nativity, or birth at Bethlehem : And on this day we ought to give God thanks, for sending his Son into the world for our redemption, we ought also to endeavor to study, and learn those great lessons of poverty of spirit, of humility, and of self-denial, which our blessed Redeemer teaches us from the crib of Bethlehem.
Q. What is the reason that on Christmas day mass is said at midnight?
A. Because Christ was born at midnight.
Q. Why are three masses said by every priest upon Christmas day ?
A. This ancient observance may be understood to denote three different births of Christ; his eternal birth from his father, his temporal birth from his mother, and his spiritual birth in the hearts of good Christians.
Q. Are there any other feasts of our Lord?
A. Yes ; the circumcision, or New Year's day. It is a feast in memory of Christ being circumcised the eighth day after his birth, as the law of Moses ordained; Gen. xvii. 12, and that he then first shed his blood for the redemption of the world; and on this day, we ought to study how we may imitate him by a spiritual circumcision in our hearts. It is called New Year's day, because on the first of January the Romans reckoned the beginning of the new year, and Christ offered his blood as a gift. Hence, the custom among Christians of New Year's gifts.
The Epiphany, or twelfth-day: Epiphany is a Greek word, signifying manifestation, because our Lord then began to manifest himself to the Gentiles, viz: To the three kings in the east, who came and adored our blessed Saviour in the manger. It is called twelfth-day, because, it is celebrated the twelfth day after the nativity exclusively. Gold, myrrh, and frankincense were offered, to signify, he was a king, man, and God. The devotion of this day, is to give God thanks for our vocation to the true faith, and like the wise men, to make our offerings of gold, frankincense, and myrrh; that is of charity, prayer, and mortification, to our newborn Saviour. On this day the Church also celebrates the memory of the baptism of Christ, and of his first miracle of changing water into wine, in Cana of Galilee.
The Resurrection, or Easter day, is a solemnity in memory and honor of our Saviour Christ's rising from death on the third day. It is called Easter, from the east, so Christ is called Oriens, or rising. For, as the prophet Zechariah says, his name shall be called Oriens, chapter iv. 12. Because as the material sun daily arises from the east, so, he, the Son of justice, at this day rose from the dead. The devotion of this time, is to rejoice in Christ's victory over death and hell; and to labor to imitate his resurrection, by rising from the death of sin to the life of grace.
Ascension day: A feast kept the fortieth day after Christ's resurrection, in memory of his visible ascending into heaven, in sight of his Apostles and disciples; and therefore, it is a festival of joy, as well as by reason of the triumphs of our Saviour on this day, and the exaltation of our human nature, by him now exalted above the angels; as likewise, because our Saviour has taken possession of that kingdom in our name, and is preparing a place for us. It is also a part of the devotion of this day, to labor to disengage our hearts from this earth, and earthly things, to remember that we are but strangers and pilgrims here, and to aspire after our heavenly country, where Christ, our treasure, is gone before us, in order to draw our hearts thither after him.
Whitsuntide, or Pentecost: A feast in commemoration and honor of the Holy Ghost, descending visibly Upon the heads of the Apostles, in the shape of tongues, as it were of fire. It is called Whitsunday, because at this time the Catechumens, who were then baptized, were all in white. It was anciently called Wied Sunday, that is, holy Sunday; for Wied, or Wihed, signifies holy in the old Saxon language. It is called Pentecost, from the Greek word, signifying fiftieth, it being the fiftieth day after the resurrection, and the tenth' after the ascension. The proper devotion of this' time, is to invite the Holy Ghost into our souls by fervent prayer, and to give ourselves up to his divine influences.
Trinity Sunday: a feast celebrated on the Sunday after Whit Sunday, being the octave of Whit Sunday, to signify that the work of man's redemption was completed by the whole Trinity, and the truth of the mystery of the Trinity, being acknowledged solemnly on this day, against the several heresies that denied it..
Corpus Christi day: a feast instituted by the Church in honor and memory of the body and blood of Christ, really present in the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist; during the octave of which feast, the blessed sacrament is exposed, to be adored by the faithful, in all the principal Churches in Catholic countries, and •great processions are made in honor of it, and therefore, it is called Corpus Christi day, or the day of the body of Christ; a standing proof of the real presence.
The transfiguration of our Lord, a feast in remembrance of Christ appearing in glory, upon Mount Tabor, to St. Peter, James, and John; and it is so called from the Latin word, transfiguro, which signifies to transfigure or change shape.