A Solemn Meditation beside the Crib of the Infant Saviour.
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.
A Solemn Meditation beside the Crib of the Infant Saviour.
Hitherto, my soul, your meditations upon the birth of Christ have been of a pleasing nature; you have been filled with holy joy and have stood beside the manger with a certain delight, experiencing nothing but solace, rest, peace and tranquil happiness. To-day you must admit other thoughts, solemn, serious thoughts, which cannot be excluded from the mind when contemplating the Infant Jesus in the manger. Look at that sweet Child and consider this truth: A cross awaits this tender Child; upon this Child divine justice will pour out in full measure the vials of its wrath. To enable you to realize this, consider:
1st. The justice of God, and the manner in which it was manifested in earlier times. Think of Lucifer and his adherents, for whom a just God kindled the fire of hell, a fire which to all eternity will not be extinguished; think of the misery which in punishment of one single sin committed by Adam, a just God sent upon all mankind; think of the fate of the human race which at the time of Noe, a just God saw fit to exterminate by the deluge, saving only eight persons; think of Sodom and Gomorrha, destroyed completely by a just God with fire and brimstone from heaven; think of Pharao and his host swallowed up in the waves of the Red Sea by command of a just God; think, finally, of the hundreds and thousands of Israelites, who all fell in the desert without ever seeing the land of promise. And when you have fully impressed upon your mind the awful nature of the retributive justice of God, turn your thoughts to the manger at Bethlehem, and:
2d. Consider the divine Child in His character of expiatory victim to reconcile sinful man with a justly angered God. With what delight in these days you have gazed upon that Infant! But have you not noticed the bitter tears Mary shed as she contemplated her little Child? Alas! how keen is the pain that Mother’s heart feels, knowing, as she does, how strictly divine justice will deal with that Infant, how severe will be the penalty inflicted on Him. A crown of sharp thorns is reserved for the head of that innocent Child, the head now surrounded by a halo of celestial brightness! The gracious countenance that smiles on you in so engaging a manner from the manger-bed will one day be disfigured beyond recognition on the cross. Those soft little hands and feet will be pierced by cruel nails; the delicate form now swathed in swaddling-clothes will one day be so wounded and bruised that there will be no sound spot left from the crown of His head to the sole of His foot. And that will all be for your sake, my soul; in order that you may escape the chastisements of divine justice. Oh ponder this deeply; ponder moreover with two fold attention on this last day of the year:
3d. The justice of God, appeased by the divine Child by means of an atonement of so great magnitude. Remember that for every day, nay more, for every hour of the year, you must render an account to the just God; you must furthermore give account of all the countless graces which He has lavished upon you so freely on you who are a Religious, a Priest and which you perhaps, like the unfaithful servant, have buried in the earth misused. You will have to give an account of every word you have spoken, of every thought you have entertained, of every action you have performed, of every omission of which you have been guilty; and this account you will have to render to a God who in the execution of what His justice demands required so severe an atonement even from the tender Infant in the manger. Oh cast yourself on your knees before the crib to-day with heartfelt compunction; acknowledge and confess to the divine Child with profound penitence all of which you have been guilty during the past year; implore Him to intercede for you with His Father, who is justly angry, in order that the barren tree may be left standing one more year, and the heavenly Husbandman may wait in His mercy to see if it will not bear fruit. Now ask yourself how you will begin the new year, what measures you will take to insure making a better use of it, and thus avoid incurring the wrath of a just God; and let the resolution you make be the chief fruit of your meditation this day.
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)
St. Sylvester, ora pro nobis.
Twelfth Night Prayer for the Sixth Day of Christmas.
Have mercy on me, O Lord, have mercy on me, for I have no hope but in Thy mercy. It now offers me this new year to repair the evils and retrieve the losses of those that are past. Grant, O Lord, that it be entirely consecrated to Thy glory, sanctified by Thy love, and wholly employed in Thy service.
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