The Feast of the Immaculate Conception – Holy Day of Obligation.
Thursday after the Second Sunday of Advent.—The Message of the Angel Gabriel.
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.
Thursday after the Second Sunday of Advent.—The Message of the Angel Gabriel.
(Read Luke i, 26-29.)
CONSIDER FIRSTLY, that although Almighty God had decreed so long before to redeem mankind by means of the Word Incarnate, yet He would not that His divine plan should be carried out in the person of the Blessed Virgin without her full consent. Accordingly He sent to her the Angel Gabriel, in order that she might of her own free will consent to become the Mother of God. A like method does God pursue in working out the salvation of each one of us. He wills not to raise any one to the dignity of a son of God without his own consent. Consequently He sends His messages, that is to say His inspirations, in order that man should by his own free will co-operate in the acquisition of so high a dignity, which he can never attain to without the concurrence of his own will. He Who created you, says the great St. Augustine, without yourself, will not save you without yourself.
APPLICATION. Ask yourself how far you have until now corresponded with the divine inspirations? How far have you been promptly faithful to them? This neglect on your part is the principal reason of your living perhaps far short of what God expects of you.
AFFECTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS. That I should do Thy will; O my God, I have desired it and Thy law is in the midst of my heart. (Ps. xxxix, 9.)
CONSIDER SECONDLY, that before giving her consent the Blessed Virgin pondered well the proposal, to see how the title of Mother could be consistent with her vow of virginity. How shall this be done? (Luke i, 34.) In this she manifested a consummate prudence, and together with it an intense love of purity.
APPLICATION. You on your part at one time perhaps do not give ear to God’s inspiration, at another you rush at a resolution without reflection and without counsel. Learn from the Blessed Virgin to listen to the voice of God which speaks to your heart, and also in serious matters not to act without the advice of your confessor or director lest otherwise you take a false step.
AFFECTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS. Teach me goodness and discipline and knowledge. (Ps. cxviii, 66.)
CONSIDER THIRDLY that the Blessed Virgin was not only chosen in order that she might consent to and accept the dignity of Mother of God, but she was also chosen to receive in the name of the whole human race the Word Incarnate as Lord and Redeemer of the world. In this way therefore she was made a protectress to all mankind, and also the channel of all those blessings which the Incarnation has brought to us. Consequently, as through her there came to us all the blessings of the Divine Word, so in like manner through means of her we receive all the marvellous benefits of the most sacred humanity.
APPLICATION. This being so, beg of her with all possible fervour to obtain for you the grace of which she is dispenser, seeing that she is the distributor of all the gifts of heaven. Above all, implore of her to obtain for you the grace to correspond faithfully with the inspirations of God, upon which your welfare so much depends.
AFFECTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS. How have I loved Thy law, O Lord: it is my meditation all the day long. (Ps. cviii, 97.)
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.
Of what consequence to you are the discourses and the thoughts of men! It is not they who are to judge you. If they wrongfully accuse you, He who sees into the depths of all consciences has already justified you. If they reproach you with real faults, should
you not be happy to be warned of them, happy to suffer a salutary humiliation? That which troubles you is the pride which cannot bear being called to task. The humble man is not irritated, is not excited, even when passion unjustly condemns him. Full of the knowledge of his own misery, no one can ever humble him more than he already humbles himself in his heart. Do you wish that nothing should change the calm of your soul? Then abandon yourself to God in all things; and in troubles, contradictions and annoyances, say with Jesus Christ: Yes, Father, for so it hath seemed good in Thy sight (Luke, x., 21).—Thomas à Kempis—Imitation of Christ Bk II, Ch II, reflection.
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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