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 Universal Expectation of the Saviour. (continued – 3)
“And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root.”-Is. xi. 1.
At this time the great city of Rome, after long and terrible wars, had made itself mistress of all known nations. God had permitted the establishment of this power, the most formidable which had ever ruled the world, for He designed great things for Rome. It was His will that it should become the place where all nations should assemble, and the centre of the world, so that the Gospel, having penetrated it, might be easily extended to the ends of the earth. He willed yet more, that this city, which then held all nations in subjection by its warlike power, should one day reign over the world through meekness and peace, although unarmed, despoiled, nearly destroyed, and without any other power than the word of God; in a word, that it should become the centre of the Christian Church, the dwelling-place of the Pope, the Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth, the seat of the holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church, of which we are all children. But at the time of which I am speaking, Rome was all pagan. It was the metropolis of paganism, as it was to become the metropolis of Christianity. All the gods of all nations had their temples in the city, except the true God.
And Rome itself was in expectation. Heathen poets announced in mysterious language both the Infant Saviour and the Virgin His Mother. It is related that one day the powerful Emperor Augustus, who reigned at this time at Rome, being troubled in his mind by a prediction of this kind, was going to the temple to consult the greatest of his false gods, when he saw in the clouds, over the temple itself, an altar, on which was standing a young woman beaming with divine purity, and holding an Infant in her arms. In fact, Mary and the Infant Jesus were soon about to dethrone, on this very spot, Jupiter, the king of the false gods. On the ruins of his temple now stands a beautiful church, dedicated to our Saviour and His Mother, and it is called the “Altar of Heaven” (Ara Cœli) in memory of the vision of Augustus.
Thus we see how God, in His eternal Providence, had prepared for the coming of His Son. All these marks of a common hope appearing amongst such different nations announced the coming of the Saviour, as the first buds announce the coming of spring. In the frightful state in which the world then was, there rose up from the earth towards heaven an immense concert of lamentations and prayers. All these voices of woe seemed to utter those beautiful words which the Church sings during Advent: “Rorate, cœli, desuper et nubes pluant justum.”
Let us who have had the blessing of being born in the light of the Gospel, often tum our eyes towards the past, in order to understand all that we owe to God. Let us sum up, that we may always remember it, the history of man from the creation to the Redemption. One origin, one fall, one promise, one family from which springs the whole human race, the separation which exists even in this family between the good and the bad: then on one side the people of God preserved from age to age, wavering often, but always upheld by the Divine mercy, and preserving the inheritance of the promise; on the other side, the heathen world separated from God, at first through their own fault, then through an incurable blindness, slaves of every passion, skilled in every crime, but enduring inexpressible sufferings, and preserving none of the truth except the hope of deliverance. As all the nations of the earth have a common origin, so there is but one deliverance for all the griefs of humanity, of which Adam’s sin is the common source. In ancient France, the cry on days of victory and rejoicing, was ‘Noël!’ which means ‘Christmas!’ and this one cry expressed every joy. ‘Christmas!’ is also the cry of the rescued race of man, and all their hopes have their starting-point at the cradle of the Saviour.
The proof is evident. To form an idea of the barbarity of idolatrous times, we have only to glance from afar to those unhappy lands on which the light of God has never shone. At the present time more than half the earth is buried in this darkness, from which Christianity alone has delivered us. Asia, and nearly the whole of Africa, are ignorant of the law of God, and all the horrors of which I have just spoken, the oppression of the weak by the strong, and barbarous selfishness, reign as powerfully in those lands as they reigned over the whole earth before the coming of the Saviour. At the present time there are countries in which the women are in a state of degradation and servitude which makes us blush for shame, in which men almost admit that their mothers and sisters have no souls. What, then, if we speak of those great empires of China and Cochin-china, in which for centuries past so many holy martyrs have shed their blood, in which millions of Christians were pursued, tortured, and torn in pieces, till brave Christian soldiers from Europe made idolatry tremble on its throne only a few years ago? What, then, if we speak of those wild regions of Africa, where the men are organised into classes, and sold like brutes, or killed by hundreds, either by sacrificing them with dreadful tortures to a deified serpent, or by strangling them to enliven a festivity, or to accompany into the next world the soul of some chief. This is what goes on even in our days in countries where the kingdom of God is unknown. And, no doubt, the same or other like horrors would exist among us if the kingdom of God was no longer among us. Let us prostrate ourselves, therefore, before Him who has delivered us from this darkness, without any merit of ours. Let us love and serve with all our hearts the Divine Saviour who has redeemed us. Let us bless Him all the days of our life. Let us bless also the Immaculate Mother who gave Him to the world, and whose hands are always stretched out towards Him, to turn away from this too ungrateful world the scourges which would fall upon it, if it was abandoned for a single day by its Saviour and its Deliverer.
O holy Mother of our Sayiour! remember us continually during these days which belong to thee, and which are the happiness of the children of God, and the misery of those who know Him not, or who abandon Him. Of what shall we complain, now that the Lord has made us heirs of His kingdom? What matter though the road be difficult, if the splendid horizon of our heavenly country appears without ceasing to encourage and strengthen us? Stretch out thine arms; O Mother, towards us ; shew thyself to us at the end of the journey, then, when we shall have marched courageously until the end, receive thy wearied children, present them to thy Divine Son, their Saviour and their hope, and may His kingdom, which they have sought on earth, become their reward in heaven. Amen.
Never to pass a day without thanking God for having made us Christians.
 “Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just.”—Ord.
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.
August Devotion: The Most Pure Heart of Mary
Virtues to practice: The sanctification of our actions, diligence, edification, fidelity in little things
O Heart of Mary, Mother of God, and our Mother; Heart most worthy of love, in which the adorable Trinity is ever well pleased, worthy of the veneration and love of all the angels and of all men; Heart most like to the Heart of Jesus, of which thou art the perfect image; Heart full of goodness, ever compassionate toward our miseries; deign to melt our icy hearts and grant that they may be wholly changed into the likeness of the Heart of Jesus, our divine Saviour. Pour into them the love of thy virtues, and kindle in them that divine fire with which thou thyself dost ever burn. In thee let Holy Church find a safe shelter; protect her and be her dearest refuge, her tower of strength, impregnable against every assault of her enemies. Be thou the way which leads to Jesus, and the channel, through which we receive all graces needful for our salvation. Be our refuge in time of trouble, our solace in the midst of trial, our strength against temptation, our haven in persecution, our present help in every danger, and especially at the hour of death, when all hell shall let loose against us its legions to snatch away our souls, at that dread moment, that hour so full of fear, whereon our eternity depends. Ah, then most tender virgin, make us to feel the sweetness of thy motherly heart, and the might of thy intercession with Jesus, and open to us a safe refuge in that very fountain of mercy whence we may come to praise Him with thee in paradise, world without end. Amen.
An indulgence of 7 years once on any day of the month; A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if this act of devotion is repeated daily for entire month (Apostolic Brief Dec. 21, 1901)
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