After St. Paul the Hermit, father of the Anchorites or hermits, the Christmas Cycle honours Saint Anthony, father of the Cenobites, who live in common.
When he was 18, he retired into the Egyptian desert and led the life of a hermit. The devil, in order to frighten him and drive him from the solitude would appear to him in the most hideous shapes; but the Lord made him formidable to his foes: one word from his mouth reduced these prodigies to nothingness (Epistle).
His holiness soon attracted souls desirous to see the divine Kingship of Christ more perfectly confirmed in themselves. As a new lawgiver, he gave them the doctrine and rule of life that he had received from God in prayer (Epistle).
St. Anthony, the first of Abbots, instituted the monastic life in community by which are formed noble souls always ready, like their Father in God, to receive the Lord when He shall come to take them from this world (Gospel). Wherefore today’s Mass is that of the Commons of Abbots, who honoured him with his friendship, he successfully defended the dogma of the divinity of Christ. He died in 356 at the age of 105 years.
INTROIT Ecclesiasticus 45: 30
The mouth of the just shall meditate wisdom, and his tongue shall speak judgment: the law of his God is in his heart.. (Ps. 36: 30-31) Be not jealous of evildoers: nor envy them that work iniquity. v. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Repeat The mouth of the just…
May the intercession of the blessed abbot Antony, we beseech Thee, O Lord, commend us unto Thee, that what we can not have through our own merits, we may obtain through his patronage. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
EPISTLE Ecclesiasticus 31: 8-11
Lesson from the Book of Wisdom. Beloved of God and men, whose memory is in benediction. He made him like the saints in glory, and magnified him in the fear of his enemies, and with his words he made prodigies to cease. He glorified him in the sight of kings, and gave him commandments in the sight of his people, and showed him His glory. He sanctified him in his faith and meekness, and chose him out of all flesh. For He heard him and his voice, and brought him into a cloud. And He gave him commandments before His face, and a law of life and instruction.
GRADUAL/ALLELUIA Psalm 61: 13,14
Lord, Thou has prevented him with blessings of sweetness; Thou hast set on his head a crown of precious stones. V. He asked life of Thee, and Thou hast given him length of days for ever and ever. Alleluia, alleluia. V. (Psalm 91: 13 ) The just shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow up like the cedar of Lebanon. Alleluia.
GOSPEL Luke 12: 35-40
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: “Let your loins be girt and lamps burning in your hands, and you yourselves like to men who wait for their lord when he shall return from the wedding: that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the lord, when he cometh, shall find watching: Amen I say to you that he will gird himself and make them sit down to meat, and passing will minister unto them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. But this know ye, that if the householder did know at what hour the thief would come, he would surely watch, and would not suffer his house to be broken open. Be you then also ready, for at what hour you think not the Son of man will come.”
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Psalm 20: 3-4
Thou hast given him his heart’s desire, O Lord, and hast not withholden from him the will of his lips: Thou hast set on his head a crown of precious stones.
May Thy holy abbot Antony we beseech Thee, O Lord, obtain for us that the victims placed upon Thy holy altar may avail us unto salvation. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
PREFACE of the Common
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation that we should at all times and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God: through Christ our Lord. Through Whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, the Dominations worship it, the Powers stand in awe. The Heavens and the Heavenly hosts together with the blessed Seraphim in triumphant chorus unite to celebrate it. Together with them we entreat Thee, that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted, while we say in lowly praise:
HOLY, HOLY, HOLY…
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Luke 12: 42
The faithful and wise servant whom his Lord setteth over his family: to give them their measure of wheat in due season.
May the reception of Thy sacrament, and the intercession of blessed Antony Thy abbot, protect us, O Lord; that we may put into practice the virtues of his life, and receive the help of his intercession. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.