The First Day of Christmas – St. Stephen, ora pro nobis.
The New-born Child.
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 New-born Child.
In the cradle before us lies the new-born Infant wrapped in swaddling-clothes and laid in the manger. Let us contemplate Him for a few moments and see what lessons He teaches us.
1. He teaches us the unspeakable force of divine charity. How was it possible for the Eternal Word, the co-equal Son of God, to leave the bosom of His Father to clothe Himself with the flesh of sinful man? It seems an almost extravagant act of love, one unworthy of the dignity of God. Yet love puts everything aside except the burning desire to promote the welfare of the loved. The Son of God forgot all else in His divine compassion for us. How dearly He must love us! How great should be our confidence in His love!
2. He teaches us never to judge by appearances. If we had been told that God had come to dwell on earth, would not the stable of Bethlehem have been the last place where we should have sought Him? In how many a humble cottage there may still be found saints more dear to God than even those who have a worldwide repute for their holiness and virtue!
3. He teaches us the true dignity of self-abasement. God could not do anything unworthy of Himself when clad in human flesh. It therefore was no disparagement to the divine honor that He should thus infinitely condescend. Nay, it proved that the greatest possible likeness to God is attained by the most complete humiliation of self. How little I have learned to practise this lesson!
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.
St. Stephen (first martyr), ora pro nobis.
Twelfth Night Prayer for the First Day of Christmas.
O sweet Jesus, with the angels let me praise Thee; with the shepherds let me see Thee; with St. Joseph let me find Thee.
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