On the Earnest Longing of the Holy Patriarchs for the Incarnation of the Son of God.
PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.
My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.
On the Earnest Longing of the Holy Patriarchs for the Incarnation of the Son of God.
How melancholy, how desolate it would be upon this earth, if winter were always to prevail; if the sun retreated further and further away from our globe, until at last his rays scarcely reached us! How intense would be the desire, the longing of all mankind, to witness the return of the life-giving orb, before the face of the earth was covered with an icy mantle, and all Nature was benumbed and frozen! Now what the sun is to the earth, Christ is to mankind.
1st. Consider first how fervently the patriarchs longed for the advent of the incarnate God while they yet lived on earth. They desired it greatly for the sake of the human race. They saw all around them the profound misery of mankind, who were languishing in the awful darkness of unbelief and superstition, and grovelling in the foul mire of sin and vice. And, contemplating this deplorable degradation, the longing of those holy men for the Redeemer must have been all the greater, because they knew that through His coming alone could an end be put to this misery. Try to realize vividly and share in this yearning of the holy patriarchs, my soul; and then ask yourself whether the evil you see around you in the present day, when unbelief and corruption of morals prevail to such an extent in the world from which you have withdrawn yourself, to seek shelter as in Noe’s ark in the Priesthood or the Religious state, is much less than it was in the days of yore, and whether you experience no longing, no fervent desire that our Lord should again visit our unhappy world with His grace. Or ask yourself what you can, what you will do by means of prayer and penance, by the exercise of your sacred ministry, to shorten the world’s sad season of expectation and accelerate the coming of a joyful Christmas.
2d. Consider further how great was the longing felt by the patriarchs for the incarnation of the Son of God during the period of their detention in Limbo. They yearned for it ardently for their own sakes. They were aware that they could only be released from their prison-house, and conducted to the eternal light of celestial glory, by the coming of the God made man. How often must they have exclaimed in the words of the prophet: “Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just; let the earth be opened and bud forth a Saviour.” (Is. xlv. 8.) But how is it with you, my soul? Perhaps it is not for you to long for the coming of the Saviour for the sake of your unhappy fellow-men; your condition may be even more pitiable than theirs; perhaps you are held captive in a prison far more dismal than the Limbo wherein the patriarchs were detained, in that Limbo, that ante-chamber of hell whence you pass into hell itself that is to say, a state of wrath, of mortal sin. And if this should be the case, how great ought to be your longing to be delivered from this prison by the advent of the divine Child!
3d. Consider the unspeakable delight and exultation of the patriarchs on learning that the Son of God had already assumed human flesh of the Blessed Virgin, and that very shortly He would be born into the world. How they must have rejoiced and exclaimed in their gladness with David: “Show us Thy face, Lord, and we shall be saved.” (Ps. Ixxix. 4.) How triumphantly they must have reechoed the words of the Royal Psalmist: “Therefore my heart hath been glad and my tongue hath rejoiced; moreover my flesh also shall rest in hope; because Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell.” (Ps. xv. 9.) And when you have meditated upon their joy, my soul, then think upon the words St. Bernard once said: “I am cut to the heart, I am filled with confusion, I can scarcely refrain from weeping, because of the sloth and indifference of these evil days in which we live.” Have you not reason to be ashamed, my soul, at the indolence and indifference that are manifested in preparing for the approaching advent of our Lord; the event which filled the patriarchs with so great joy and gladness? And consider well: If you no longer experience the same longing, the same holy exultation in the anticipation of the sweet festival of Christmas, now approaching, as in the days of your childhood, or in the first years of your Religious life, what is the cause of this change, and what will you, what ought you to do, in order that it may again be with you as it was in bygone days?
PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.
My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.
– Meditations on the Life, Teaching, and Passion of Jesus Christ
(Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur: New York, December 31, 1900)
Come, let us adore the King our Lord, who is to come!
Hymn from the Office of Lauds for Advent
The solemn voice of the Precursor is heard, explaining the obscurity of the ancient figures; let our slumbers cease; Jesus is rising on our horizon.
Let the sluggish soul now rise, and stay no more upon this earth; a new star is shining, which will take all sin away.
Lo! the Lamb is sent to forgive us freely our debt; let us unite in tears and prayers, that we may obtain pardon.
That when He comes the second time, filling the world with fear, He may not have to punish us for our sins, but may protect us in mercy.
Power, honour, praise, and glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Paraclete, for ever and ever. Amen.
Prayers from the Office and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for Advent
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.
Almighty Lord and God, who hast brought us to the beginning of this day, let thy powerful grace so conduct us through it, that we may not fall into any sin, but that all our thoughts, words, and actions may be regulated according to the rules of thy heavenly justice, and tend to the observance of thy holy law. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
V. Incline unto my aid, O God.
R. O Lord, make haste to help me.
Lord God, and King of heaven and earth, vouchsafe this day to rule and sanctify, to direct and govern our souls and bodies, our senses, words, and actions in conformity to Thy law, and strict obedience to Thy commands; that by the help of Thy grace, O Saviour of the world! we may be fenced and freed from all evils. Who livest and reignest for ever and ever. Amen.
V. O Lord God of hosts, come and deliver us.
R. Show Thy face, and we shall be saved.
V. Show us, O Lord, thy mercy.
R. And grant us the Saviour, whom we expect from Thee.
V. The Lord shall rise upon thee, O Jerusalem!
R. And His glory shall be seen upon thee.
Exert, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy power and come; that by thy protection we may be freed from the imminent dangers of our sins, and be saved by Thy mercy; who livest and reignest God, world without end. Amen.
Novena for Advent
Hail and blessed be the hour and the moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, O my God! To hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ, and of His blessed Mother. Amen.
(It is piously believed that whoever recites the above prayer fifteen times a day from the feast of St. Andrew (Nov. 30th) until Christmas will obtain what is asked.)
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