First Sunday of Advent (continued)—The Last Judgment.
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.
First Sunday of Advent (continued)—The Last Judgment.
He was the true light which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world. (John i, 9.)
CONSIDER FIRSTLY the state of utter misery in which the human race lay before the coming of our Saviour. It was a state of complete blindness of intellect with no knowledge of man’s last end or of his Creator. Its will was perverted by the irregular passions of corrupt nature. It lay beneath the tyranny of demons which held it plunged down in an abyss of vice, forced it to adore as its gods the most impious of mankind, and even the devil himself.
APPLICATION. Oh, what would have become of you had your lot been cast in such calamitous and miserable times? And yet, how little do you remember to thank God that He willed you should be born at a time when with facility you can come to know your last end, and that He should have given you so many means to attain that end, of which even now so large a proportion of mankind born among the heathen know nothing whatever.
AFFECTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS. Blessed be the Lord, for He hath shown His wonderful mercy to me. (Ps. xxxi, 22.)
CONSIDER SECONDLY that the divine Father gave His Son as a guide and a master to raise the human race from this state of utter ruin, so that with His teaching He might enlighten our darkness, and by the example of His life be to us a guide for the attainment of our eternal salvation, and an encouragement to fight against our enemies. Oh, how great a benefit is this! Yet how little valued is it by mankind, who choose rather to follow the maxims of the world than the teaching of Jesus Christ, and who prefer the allurements of the flesh and the deceits of the devil to the invitation of the Saviour, and to the example which He set.
APPLICATION. Deplore indeed this universal blindness, but at the same time look well to yourself lest you too be found to be of the number of those ungrateful people who are all but countless.
AFFECTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS. Enlighten mine eyes, that I sleep not ever in death. (Ps. xii, 5.)
CONSIDER THIRDLY the claims that oblige you to embrace the teaching and to follow the example of Jesus Christ. Firstly, as a Christian in your holy Baptism you renounced the slavery of the world, the flesh and the devil, and you were enrolled among the servants of Christ. But the servant should follow closely in the footsteps of his master. Secondly, as a child and member of the Holy Catholic Church, possibly an ecclesiastic or a religious, you are numbered among His soldiers and closest companions, and as such you are under the strictest obligation to imitate Him and to fight under His standard against His enemies.
APPLICATION. Is it possible then that you, a servant, a soldier, and a companion of Jesus Christ, instead of following Him closely, should be ashamed to imitate His example, and instead of fighting on His side should join yourself with His enemies? Reflect then seriously upon yourself, and see whether in your actions and life you conform yourself to the dictates of the world or to the maxims of the Gospel, to the allurements of the devil or to the example of Jesus Christ.
AFFECTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS. Turn away mine eyes lest they behold vanity. (Ps. cxviii, 37.)
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.
The Christian soul detached from the world, has but one desire for time and for eternity, the desire of being united with Jesus, of that ineffable union with which the divine singer ravishes us in the mysterious canticle of love. My beloved to me, and I to Him Who feedth among the lilies, till the day break and the shadows retire (Cant., ii. 16, 17). Alas! what do you seek outside? Re-enter, re-enter into yourself; prepare for the celestial spouse a dwelling worthy of Him, and He will come and repose in it; for it is His delight to dwell in the heart which calls upon Him.—Thomas à Kempis—Imitation of Christ Bk II, Ch I, reflection.
December Devotion: The Immaculate Conception.
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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