December 23th O Antiphon:
O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the expected of the nations and their Saviour, come to save us, O Lord our God. – Isaias vii. 14, xxxiii. 22.
On the Visitation of Our Lady.
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 Visitation of Our Lady.
Imagine, my soul, that you see before you the most holy Virgin, going in haste over the hill country of Judea, in holy solitude, bearing within her Jesus, the blessed fruit of her womb. And when you have placed vividly before your mind the form of that Blessed Virgin proceeding on her way quietly and collectedly, with no other companion than Christ, then consider:
1st. That as soon as the stupendous miracle of the incarnation of our Lord was accomplished in her and she had become a tabernacle of the living God, Mary’s great desire is to escape from the busy world, from the conversation of men; she will not remain amid the noise and turmoil of daily life; she prefers to seek holy seclusion and solitude. There, in quiet and retirement, she wishes to await the birth of Christ, which is to bring salvation to mankind, and, associating only with the members of the household of Zachary the Priest, to ponder with loving delight on the mystery of the incarnation. And you, my soul, after Holy Communion, hurry away from the holy table to return to the tumult and turmoil of daily life, impatient again to employ the tongue whereon the God made man rested so recently, in empty and idle conversation. Mary wishes to await our Lord’s birth in the tranquillity of the hill country, and is it possible that you find the enforced quiet and silence of that brief time, so rich in graces, an irksome infliction? If so, how then will you prepare yourself to celebrate the birth of Christ?
2d. Consider how Mary’s arrival brought joy immediately to Zachary’s house. John the Baptist, our Lord’s precursor, leaps for joy in his mother’s womb at the coming of Christ. Zachary receives his cousin with mute signs of pleasure; his tongue is not yet unloosed, but the sight of her inspires him with fresh hope that it may soon be so; and the pious Elizabeth above all, hear how she, filled with the Holy Ghost, exclaims in holy jubilation: “Whence is this to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?” (St. Luke i. 43.) Now if Zachary’s house became an abode of joy and exultation because it was privileged to afford a temporary shelter to Christ, the incarnate Saviour, how is it to be accounted for, my soul, that you derive so little happiness from the fact that your Redeemer dwells with you, that He is in your immediate vicinity in the tabernacle, that He is, so to speak, one of your household, and it is granted you to approach His holy table so frequently, perhaps several times a week, nay, if you are a Priest even to receive Him daily as your spiritual food?
3d. Consider how Mary’s feelings find vent in that superb canticle of praise, the Magnificat: “My soul doth magnify the Lord;” wherein she, the simple, lowly Virgin of Nazareth, with the enthusiasm of the Royal Prophet David, with the wisdom of King Solomon, lauds and magnifies the divine gifts and graces which, by means of the blessed fruit of her womb, God conferred on her and on the whole world. Behold, my soul, how the presence of Jesus inspires, enlightens, enraptures the Blessed Virgin! Now after each Communion you carry about with you that self-same Saviour – where is your Magnificat? It was not amid the bustle and distractions of Jerusalem, it was not during the daily discharge of the duties of her calling, but in the silence and solitude of Elizabeth’s house that Mary sang the Magnificat! Cultivate in yourself, my soul, the love of seclusion and silence, take delight in it especially before and after Holy Communion; then your heart, like Mary’s, will overflow with the sweet praises of your God, and at the approaching Christmas festival more particularly you too will chant a joyous magnificat, if during this last week of Advent you anticipate the birth of the Saviour, as Mary did, in tranquillity and solitude.
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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