Rorate Caeli

On the 160th Anniversary of the Dogmatic Definition of the
Immaculate Conception by Pope Pius IX

Dominus possedit me in initio viarum suarum, antequam quidquam faceret a principio. Ab æterno ordinata sum, et ex antiquis, antequam terra fieret. (From the Lesson for the Mass of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Proverbs viii, 22-23: The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his ways, before he made any thing from the beginning. I was set up from eternity, and of old before the earth was made.)

The Morning Star is about to rise upon the night which overspreads the fallen world with its deep shadows. The East already warms, and the glorious Sun of Justice sends His rays before His coming. That beautiful Star precedes Him on His way. It is full of His light, and is the reflection of His purity.

Oh, Lucifer - no longer art thou the bringer of the light, but the prince and ruler of the darkness. And now thy kingdom is invaded by the dawning day, and Mary is the bringer of the light. The instant is come for that elected creature to appear, who, of a daughter of Eve, is made the Mother of God.
Chosen in the counsels of eternity; associated with the Son of God from the beginning of the sacred plan; revealed to the angels with her Son; assailed by the proud and aspiring Lucifer for her lowliness, because of Him who lifts up the lowly; revered by the angelic hosts as their Queen, and the animated temple of their Lord; proclaimed to our first parents as the antagonist of their destroyer, and as destined with her Son to crush the serpent's head; contemplated and preached by the prophets, as The Woman and The Virgin, who was to bring into the world its long-desired deliverer; prefigured by the noblest women of Israel; renowned in the tradition of the Gentiles through their Sybils, and sung by their poets; daughter of Abraham, of Juda, and of David—of a lineage which God had upheld and protected for more ages than the Christian Church yet numbers, and so illustrious only because it is destined to terminate in her; closing the Old Testament and opening the New; the repairer of woman and the Mother of salvation to mankind; raised to an office, to a dignity, and an alliance with her God, which, next to her divine Son, makes her one and unapproachable in excellence; above the angels, yea, above the Seraphs, for which of them can say to God, "Thou art my Son?"—this Mother of God is about to pass, from God's eternal counsel, to created life.

The Father contemplates the forming of the fairest of His daughters;—the Son considers the graces which are suited to His Mother;—the Holy Ghost prepares to sanctify the chosen spouse whom His Spirit shall search and His power overshadow. It was on the sixth day, and after He had prepared the world for the residence of man, that out of the deep counsels of His Most Blessed Trinity, the Almighty spoke the final word of creation: "Let us make man". He formed Adam from the innocent earth, He drew Eve from his innocent side, He graced them with pure and holy souls. For four thousand years have their descendants multiplied in sin, sprung from the disobedience of that guilty pair, till they have covered the earth with a terrible history. And to each germ that buds from that bitter root, by virtue of His primal gift and promise, God owes an immortal soul. But no sooner does a soul come to animate the new offshoot from that old stock of Adam, than it is overmastered by the contamination which flows forever onwards from corrupted source.

But a bud is springing from the root of Jesse; and the poison of the serpent shall not infect it, nor shall his foul breathings blight its beauty. The Adorable Trinity is about to pronounce the creative word: "Let the Mother of God be made".

Archbishop W. B. Ullathorne

[Personal recess for several days.]