On the Incarnation of Christ As Enhancing the Grace of Redemption.
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 Incarnation of Christ As Enhancing the Grace of Redemption.
Unquestionably certain as it is that God, had He so chosen, could have adopted various other ways and means of effecting our redemption, it would be impossible to conceive a method of redemption more beautiful, more touching, more rich in graces and blessings than that of the incarnation of our Lord. Now to-day, in order to make it evident to you, my soul, that it is precisely the incarnation of Christ that confers on our redemption a deeply affecting character and makes it appear to us peculiarly salutary and abounding in grace, represent to yourself our poor humanity before the coming of Christ, under the image of a sick man, covered with wounds and festering sores, and earnestly desirous to be cured. Then consider:
1st. How much it adds to the moral and physical relief of the sufferer if the skilful physician whom he calls in to his aid does not content himself with sending his assistant, but comes himself to diagnose the case in person, and bind up the wounds. How pleased the patient is to observe that the physician shows no disgust at the sickening effluvium of the sores, but lays on the healing plaster with his own hand! Thus the heavenly Physician, the God made man, acted towards mankind sick unto death. He Himself lived upon earth in the form of man in order to heal the wounds sin had made, to cleanse them with His own blood, to restore health to souls infected with the deadly malady of sin. In how much more beauteous, more glorious a light does the grace of redemption appear in consequence of the incarnation of the celestial Physician!
2d. Consider how it cheers a sick man or an unhappy prisoner, what consolation it affords him both in heart and mind, if his master or – if we may venture to dream of such an honor – his king comes to visit him. It is recorded to the credit of Alexander the Great, that on one occasion he took the frontlet from his own imperial brow to bind up the wounds of one of his soldiers, and it may be imagined how much this condescension on the part of his monarch cheered and encouraged the wounded warrior. But the King of Heaven acted more nobly and generously, since He, having become man, did not merely visit mankind in its sickness, He did not merely bind up its wounds with the bandages of His divine compassion, but of His own free will He laid aside His royal diadem, and in its place wore a crown of thorns for our sake. Now does not the grace of redemption on this account acquire an added lustre, a heightened charm through the incarnation of Christ, without which it would perhaps have been simply an act of divine clemency – one however which could never be sufficiently appreciated – on the part of the great King enthroned for evermore in the majesty of His celestial kingdom?
3d. Consider how the object of the redemption was not only to deliver man from the servitude of sin, but also to lead him to the practice of virtue and perfection, and this latter benefit and blessing of redemption was, like all the rest, brought about in the best and noblest manner by the incarnation of our Lord. For the very virtues which redeemed man is required constantly to practise, the very perfection after which he ought continually to strive, are nowhere to be seen in such beauty and resplendency as in the incarnate Saviour. He went before us to be for us a bright example, a shining model; from Him the holy martyrs learnt their thirst for suffering, the saintly monks and anchorites learnt their fervor in prayer, their love of poverty, the virgins learnt their spotless purity, the penitents their spirit of mortification. Thus we see that, in this respect also, through the incarnation the blessing of redemption becomes a source of greater glory to Christ, more salutary and profitable for ourselves.
My soul, you have already been meditating for some time upon this one sacred mystery of the incarnation of our Lord, and evermore you discover in it fresh beauty, fresh marvels of divine wisdom and charity. Learn from this to prize most highly the possession of the Faith, incomparable in beauty and in excellence, and in gratitude for this gift bear willingly the privations of this season of Advent; offer them up for all those unhappy persons for whom this beneficent sun has not risen, who have not the light of Faith.
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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