Wednesday after the Second Sunday of Advent.—Espousals of the Blessed Virgin.
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.
Wednesday after the Second Sunday of Advent.—Espousals of the Blessed Virgin.
A virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph. (Luke i, 27.)
CONSIDER FIRSTLY, that although the Blessed Virgin had made a vow of virginity, yet she consented to be espoused to St. Joseph, having received an assurance from heaven that this would be no prejudice to her resolve, but that rather it would be a means of keeping concealed the virtue of virginity, which at that time was little known among mankind, and would at the same time make it more pleasing in the sight of God. Every virtue has great worth and merit in His sight, but when it is hidden from the eyes of men and seen only by God how much greater is its value as regards both humility and merit!
APPLICATION. And how do you act? Are you careful that God alone shall know the good that you do, or do you like rather to parade it before men? The grain of wheat except it be buried shall not bring forth fruit that is of any worth.
AFFECTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS. And the words of my mouth shall be such as may please: and the meditation of my heart always in Thy sight. (Ps. xviii, 15.)
CONSIDER SECONDLY, that God willed that the Blessed Virgin should be espoused to St. Joseph, in order that the great mystery of the Divine Incarnation, wrought through the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary, should remain concealed. It was thus in accord with the dispositions of Divine Providence and the economy of our redemption that this secret mystery should for some length of time be hidden.
APPLICATION. To you also it would be of the greatest advantage to keep concealed not only the good that you do and your virtues, but also any talents and abilities that you may have until God shall order otherwise through those who are placed over you. You would then be imitating Jesus Christ, Who lived a hidden life until He was thirty years old, and allowed Himself to be commonly regarded as no more than an ordinary man.
AFFECTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS. O how great is the multitude of Thy sweetness, O Lord, which Thou hast hidden from them that fear Thee. Thou shalt hide them in the secret of Thy face, from the disturbance of men. (Ps. xxx, 20-21.)
CONSIDER THIRDLY, that these espousals were willed by God in order to preserve the Divine Son and His Mother from the slightest breath of ill-fame, and that the Blessed Virgin might have a help in safe-guarding the life of her Son in the midst of poverty and even persecution. Conclude then what a blessing this marriage was in reality to the Blessed Virgin, though it had first seemed to run counter to the vow she had made.
APPLICATION, So will it always be with you if only you let yourself be guided by Divine Providence. You will always find relief and comfort where most of all you feared difficulty. Learn then to trust yourself entirely to God and to leave in His hands all care of yourself.
AFFECTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS. In Thee, O Lord, do I put my trust; I said, Thou art my God. My lot is in Thy hands. (Ps. xxx, 15-16.)
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 Humble Submission.
II. When a man humbles himself for his defects, he then easily appeases others, and quickly satisfies those who are angry with him.
The humble man God protects and delivers: the humble He loves and comforts: to the humble He inclines himself: to the humble He gives grace, and after he has been depressed, raises him to glory.
To the humble He reveals his secrets, and sweetly draws and invites him to Himself.
The humble man having received reproach, maintains himself well enough in peace, because he is fixed in God, and not in the world.
Never think thou hast made any progress till thou look upon thyself as inferior to all.—Thomas à Kempis—Imitation of Christ Bk II, Ch II, pt. II.
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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