December 17th O Antiphon:
O Wisdom, who camest out of the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: come and teach us the way of prudence. – Ecclesiasticus xxiv. 5; Wisdom viii. x
We Ought Not to Impute too Much Blame to Adam.
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.
We Ought Not to Impute too Much Blame to Adam.
It is a very ordinary thing for us, children of Adam, seeing the terrible misery which original sin has brought upon the earth, to feel unduly indignant with the father of the human race. Yet we have far more reason to blame ourselves than to blame Adam. For picture to yourself our first parent, burdened with the weight of years, worn with care and sorrow, continuing to the end of his days to till the ground in the sweat of his brow, and perform the arduous work of each day in the spirit of penance, without murmuring or complaint, and then consider:
1st. Adam only committed one mortal sin, but for that one sin he did penance all his life long. For full 930 years he eat his bread moistened with tears, in the sweat of his brow, and patiently bowed his neck under the heavy cross which the Lord laid upon his shoulders as a penance, beginning from the murder of his beloved son Abel and ending only with his own death. And you, who complain of Adam, perhaps can scarcely reckon the number of your grievous sins, and infinitesimally small is your penance in comparison with his! Adam did penance for nine hundred and thirty years, and you consider it a great thing to do penance for a few months or even days, and that penance is often ridiculously light. O my soul, look at the number of your sins and the small amount of your penitential works, and you will cease to blame Adam so severely.
2d. Consider that Adam was only warned against sin once, when God told him that if he eat of the fruit of the forbidden tree, he should die the death. But you, who are so ready to blame Adam, have been warned a hundred, a thousand times over against sin. Sin itself is a warning to you, for you see daily how hideous it is, what evils it brings on us; now Adam had no opportunity of seeing all that. Not only does God the Father warn you against falling into sin, but God the Son does so likewise in His holy Gospel, the Holy Spirit by His divine inspirations, the apostles and their successors by their preaching; nay, you even have an angel specially your own, who warns and admonishes you; yet Adam, warned but once, sinned but once, whereas you, warned as you are a thousand times, also sin a thousand times. Leave off, then, complaining of Adam’s guilt; had you been in his place, oh how far greater would have been the misery your wilfulness would have brought on mankind!
3d. Consider how infinitely more abundant in mercy must the incarnation of Christ now appear to you. Even if all mankind had, like Adam, performed the most severe penance on account of sin for a thousand years and more, they could not thereby have earned the grace of redemption. Now, however, far from imitating Adam’s penance, his posterity lived in the past and still live in the present, as if they had not lost their primeval innocence; and yet God had compassion upon these careless, impenitent sinners, and became man in order to deliver them from the guilt of original sin. Meditate upon this, my soul, and then in conclusion consider this besides: It may perhaps hitherto never have occurred to you to imitate Adam (whose feast is celebrated at the close of Advent as that of one of the Church’s holy penitents) in what he did that was laudable. Then begin now! Be during this Advent-tide not a sinful but a penitent child of Adam, and make a firm resolution from this day forth not merely to perform the penances prescribed by the Rule, but also to practise such mortifications and penitential exercises as are not obligatory; so that you may be able on the day when our first parent is commemorated by the Church, to offer them as an evening sacrifice, well pleasing to God, at the crib of the Infant Saviour born on that self-same night.
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.
Bend Thine ear, O Lord, we beseech Thee, to our prayers, and enlighten the darkness of our minds by the grace of Thy visitation; 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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