The First Sunday of Advent.—The Second Coming of Our Blessed Lord.
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 First Sunday of Advent.—The Second Coming of Our Blessed Lord.
(Read Luke xxi, 25-33.)
CONSIDER FIRSTLY that the Church proposes to us in to-day’s Gospel the last judgment as a preparation for Christmas, and this for three reasons. The first is that we may prepare well to welcome Christ with love and with reverential fear: with love, because He is about to be born for us at Bethlehem as a little babe, wrapped in swaddling clothes, poor, an outcast, laid in a manger, and all this in order to be our Saviour; with fear, because shortly He will come again with great power and majesty as our supreme and final judge in the valley of Jehosaphat.
APPLICATION. Reflect for a while upon the meaning of these two comings. The former was in lowliness, the next will be in majesty; the one was in love, the other will be in the rigour of justice; the one as an infant upon a bed of straw weeping and yearning for your salvation, the other as your judge, who will award to you the eternal enjoyment of His Kingdom or sentence you to the woes of an everlasting death. You must then of necessity receive Him in this second coming either with great love or with unspeakable fear.
AFFECTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS. Enter not into judgment with Thy servant, for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified. (Ps. cxlii, 2.)
CONSIDER SECONDLY that another reason why to-day we are reminded of the last judgment is in order that, as Jesus comes at Christmas-time to teach us by word and by example to despise worldly greatness and embrace evangelical poverty, we may the more easily and fully grasp those truths of which men ordinarily take so little notice. At the day of judgment all worldly greatness will have an end, all earthly things will perish by fire and be reduced to ashes. He alone will then triumph and be truly rich, who in order to follow Christ now despises them and tramples them under foot. How the positions of the poor Lazarus and of the rich glutton will then be reversed.
APPLICATION. In what position will you then find yourself? Even at the hour of death these truths will be made quite clear to you. As you are about to breathe your last, the world will be already dead to you, and you will never again see it until it is reduced to ashes at the last day.
AFFECTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS. The Lord hath pity upon them that fear Him, for He knoweth whereof we are made. He remembereth that we are but dust. (Ps. cii, 13-14.)
CONSIDER THIRDLY a last reason why the last judgment is proposed to us to-day is that, as our Lord in His first coming shows to us a throne of grace and in His second will display a throne of rigorous justice, so now we may so strive to approach the throne of His grace as hereafter to rejoice in the effects of His mercy. Thus then, at His second coming in the valley of Jehosaphat, we shall not have to experience the rigours of His justice. I will judge thee, He says by the prophet Ezekiel, according to thy ways, and My eye shall not spare thee, and I will show thee no pity. (Ezek. vii, 3, 4.)
APPLICATION. Exceeding great is the abundance of His mercy in the cave of Bethlehem. Let us go therefore, with St. Paul, with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy (Heb. iv, 6), in order that, as the Church prays on Christmas eve, we may then with all assurance behold Him coming as our Judge Whom now with such joy we welcome as our Saviour.
AFFECTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS. Hear me, O Lord, for Thy mercy is kind: look upon me according to the multitude of Thy tender mercies. (Ps. lxviii, 17.)
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 Interior Conversation.
VI. If thou hadst once perfectly entered into the interior of Jesus, and experienced a little of His burning love, then wouldst thou not care at all for thy own convenience or inconvenience, but wouldst rather rejoice at reproach; because the love of Jesus makes a man despise himself.
A lover of Jesus and of truth, and a true internal man, that is free from inordinate affections, can freely turn himsef to God, and in spirit elevate himself above himself, and rest in enjoyment.—Thomas à Kempis—Imitation of Christ Bk II, Ch I, pt. VI.
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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