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.
Preparation for the Coming of Christ.
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.
Preparation for the Coming of Christ.
(Read Luke iii, I-6.)
CONSIDER FIRSTLY that St. John, as the precursor of Christ, makes clear the way for you and teaches you how to prepare well for the birth of our Lord. Prepare ye the way of the Lord. This preparation may be reduced to three things, namely, penance, humility, and a pure intention. And first of all as to penance: Preaching the baptism of penance. (Mark i, 4.)
APPLICATION. It is in vain for you to hope that Jesus will come and be born spiritually in your heart, if you do not remove from it all obstacles of sin and of faults. By such exercises of interior and exterior penance you will suitably dispose your heart for the birth of Christ. This penance must not only be interior and consist in a true sorrow for all the sins you have committed, and for the ingratitude you have hitherto shown towards the divine goodness. It must also be exterior by the mortification of your senses, and especially of those which you have most failed to guard.
AFFECTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS. My tears have been my bread day and night. (Ps. xli, 4.)
CONSIDER SECONDLY that you must join humility to penance: Every mountain and every hill shall be made low. (Isa. xl, 4.) You will never be able by penance alone perfectly to cleanse your heart so as to make it worthy of receiving the Holy Infant. It is humility alone that can supply for all.
APPLICATION. Acknowledge then your lack of all good. Confess your unworthiness, and beg of Him that as for love of you He has condescended to be born in a poor wretched stable, which by His divine presence He has transformed as it were into an antechamber of heaven, so He may deign to be born in your heart, which till now has been an abode of unworthy faults, and change it into a dwelling place of virtues pleasing both to God and man.
AFFECTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS. Do Thou deliver me, for I am poor and needy. (Ps. cviii, 21-22.)
CONSIDER THIRDLY that you must aim also at having a pure intention. Make straight His paths, which is as much as to say, that all the preparation on your part must be made purely to please and do honour to the Divine Infant. Be not of the number of those who prepare for the holy Birth of Christ, only to spend the feast with greater joy and in mere merriment. Make it rather your intention to give yourself wholly to the Divine Infant, and to devote yourself entirely to His divine service.
APPLICATION. If then Jesus Christ condescends to be born in the cave of Bethlehem only that He may offer all His labours and all His fatigues, His Blood and His life, for your good, with no thought whatever of Himself, do you also prepare to receive Him with the firm resolution of spending for Him all your fatigues and all your labours together with your whole self, having no other aim in view than to serve Him the better and to love Him the more.
AFFECTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS. I cried unto Thee, O Lord, and said: Thou art my hope, my portion in the land of the living. (Ps. cxli, 6.)
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 pure Mind and simple Intention.
Having cleansed me, O Lord, in the sacred waters of regeneration, plunge me into the fire of Thy divine love; inflame me with Thy holy spirit; and may that sacred source of fire purify and completely transform me, by divesting me of myself, and clothing me with Jesus Christ. Amen.—Thomas à Kempis—Imitation of Christ Bk II, Ch I, prayer.
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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