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The Immaculate Conception.
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.
The Immaculate Conception.
Hail, full of grace. (Luke i, 28.)
CONSIDER FIRSTLY the privileges of the Blessed Virgin which are signified in those words of the Book of Proverbs: Wisdom hath built herself a house. The special home of the Word made man was the Blessed Virgin Mary, which abode the Divine Wisdom designed as His own dwelling place. Consequently He most assuredly would not allow that the demon should first dwell there and take possession of it. And if He would not that the arch-enemy should enter therein before His coming, still less would He permit it afterwards. Thus it came to pass that the Blessed Virgin was preserved from original sin in an especially privileged manner, by being forestalled by a grace which preserved her from all sin, and exempted her from the slightest inclination to it.
APPLICATION. You who by your misfortune have incurred the stain of original sin, and who also of your own fault have fallen into so many personal ones, pray earnestly to the Blessed Virgin that by the grace of this her great privilege, she may obtain for you from the divine mercy true contrition and the pardon of all your sins.
AFFECTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS. Behold, I was conceived in iniquities, and in sins did my mother conceive me. (Ps. 1, 7.)
CONSIDER SECONDLY that in order that the Blessed Virgin should be a worthy dwelling place of God, the Divine Wisdom was not satisfied merely to keep far from her any taint of sin, but enriched her at that first moment with a fullness of grace greater than that possessed by any of the greatest saints, even at the end of their lives: Her foundations are in the holy mountains, by which we are to understand that the foundations of this edifice of Mary, which was to be raised to so great a height and to be incomparably above that of any other of the saints, stood upon the summit of the perfection of them all. Where they indeed ended there she began.
APPLICATION. Rejoice then exceedingly with the Blessed Virgin in this her rich treasury of grace and beg of her, since she is the dispenser of graces, to obtain for you some assistance in your extreme poverty.
AFFECTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS. As for me I am poor and needy, but the Lord is careful for me. (Ps. xxxix, 18.)
CONSIDER THIRDLY that the Blessed Virgin never allowed so rich a treasure to remain inactive but increased it every moment. Being free from the evil inclinations and resistance of corrupt nature, she performed every act of virtue with the utmost perfection of intention, so that throughout the whole course of her life she doubled her capital in her every act, and thus became richer in graces than all the inhabitants of heaven together. Oh, what an infinite treasure was hers!
APPLICATION. And you, who find yourself with an amount of grace so small and so miserable, why do you keep it so idle and so unprofitable? The poorer one is the more industrious he usually becomes, yet you act in the opposite way. All during your life what store of merits or of virtue have you laid up? Rouse yourself then once for all from this your sloth, if you do not want to hear at the hour of your death the reproof given to the slothful servant in the gospel, who, finding himself with only one talent, left it idle and buried in the earth.
AFFECTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS. I said, now have I begun: this change is of the right hand of the Most High. (Ps. lxxvi, 11.)
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.
Of a good peaceable man.
Grant, O Lord, that, resigning myself in all things to thy blessed will, I may find peace and happiness in being, doing, and suffering whatever Thou shalt appoint. Amen.—Thomas à Kempis—Imitation of Christ Bk II, Ch III, aspiration.
Virtues to practice: Conformity to the will of God, divine love.
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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