On the Mystic Meaning of the Gifts Offered by the Three Kings.
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.
On the Mystic Meaning of the Gifts Offered by the Three Kings.
Possibly, my soul, in spite of the joyful nature of the festival we celebrate to-day, it will be with a certain sadness of heart that you will kneel before the crib. In your meditation you see how the wise men present magnificent gifts to the divine Child with the intention of pleasing Him, and you yourself perhaps stand there poor and destitute, having nothing, absolutely nothing to offer. Of all that you have nothing is really your own, for all was given to you by God, with the exception of your sins, and you cannot well present them to Him. Are you then utterly destitute? Oh no, my soul; God, the call of whose grace you obeyed, has placed you in a position to offer for the divine Child’s acceptance the very same gifts whereby the three kings afforded Him pleasure; only come forward into the Redeemer’s presence and with the three wise men show your treasures; present to Him:
1st. The gold of voluntary poverty, of which you took the vow, or which it is your endeavor to practise as far as is consistent with your station and circumstances. Poverty is like gold; it is as precious, nay, far more precious than gold. Not only does it render you much freer and happier, richer and more contented here below than all the wealth of this world can make you, but it secures for you the succession to an inheritance hereafter, an inheritance of such wealth and splendor that all the treasures of earth are but dust and ashes in comparison with it. Seeing then that your poverty is really mystic gold, remember that this precious metal shines all the more brightly the more it is refined in the crucible. If you desire the offering you present to-day to be truly pure and really valuable, I exhort you to practise the poverty to which you pledged yourself; see that you stand the test of fire. It is not enough merely to make the vow; you must be poor not merely in virtue of having taken the vow of poverty, but because your daily life is a life of poverty.
Your cell, your habit, your furniture, your recreations all ought to proclaim to you that you are poor; and what is more, you must be poor in your own person or at any rate willing to be poor; poor in honors and distinctions, poor in friends and patrons, and if God so will, poor in supernatural consolations and extraordinary graces. Then you will be able like the three kings to offer gold to Jesus, who is Himself poor; pure, refined, shining gold.
2d. Present to Him also the incense of obedience. How insignificant the little grains of incense look! Any one who did not know what they were would not take the trouble to pick them up, if he found them. But under the action of fire, when placed on the glowing embers, what an agreeable, what a delicious fragrance they send up to heaven! Behold in this an emblem of obedience. The man who is perfect in obedience is quiet and modest in his ordinary demeanor; he never puts himself forward; he is ready, like Antony, to wash dishes in the kitchen if obedience imposes this duty upon him. But as soon as the test of fire is applied to his obedience, he then no longer remains hidden; whilst others who till then were considered bright examples, succumb to temptation and fall from our sight, his obedience, like the cloud of sweet perfume emitted by incense, ascends to Heaven, and with it all the other virtues germane to obedience, such as humility, renunciation, trust in God. It ascends to the throne of God on high where the Archangel Michael, exemplary in his obedience, standing on the right hand of the altar of incense, swings the censer instead of Lucifer, who was thrust out of that office on account of his disobedience. But mark one thing: The incense that emits no odor at all is worthless – that is, the man who is utterly disobedient; but the incense that does not smell sweet, which is, on the contrary, unpleasant to the senses, cannot be considered much better. That represents obedience when it is formal or the result of habit; a matter of eye-service, or arising from slavish fear or other purely human motives. Oh, do not offer such incense as that; offer the fragrant incense of willing obedience, obedience that is actuated by the love of God.
3d. Offer also the myrrh of chastity. Myrrh possesses the special property of preserving the body from decomposition and decay, and hence it is an apt symbol of chastity. For that is the virtue which not only preserves the body in its pristine purity and virginity, which not only invests it with a peculiar charm and subtle power, so that the sight of a chaste youth, a modest maiden is most pleasing and even impresses wicked men with involuntary reverence and respect, but it is the virtue which pre-eminently preserves the soul in the original beauty wherein God created it, and keeps it from spiritual decay. “O how beautiful is the chaste generation with glory,” we read in Holy Scripture; and on the other hand, how hideous, how foul a sight is impurity! But observe this well: myrrh is extremely bitter, and chastity likewise is bitter; it costs human nature many a conflict, many a struggle, a great amount of self-denial to practise it. As myrrh comes from the stony deserts of Arabia, so the flower of chastity only flourishes on the stony soil of mortification, of fasting, of an austere rather than an easy life. David was chaste when in his shepherd-days he slept under the blue vault of heaven; how sad was his fall when his crowned head was pillowed on soft velvet cushions! Wherefore bring an offering to-day in this respect also to the Infant Jesus; offer Him the bitter myrrh of chastity and you will then have presented to Him the very same gifts which the three kings presented for His acceptance.
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.
Twelfth Night Prayer for the Twelfth Day of Christmas.
O Jesus! Son of the Virgin Mary, infuse into my soul grace, wisdom, charity, chastity, and humility, that I may love Thee perfectly, praise Thee, serve Thee, and eternally rejoice and glory in Thee, with all who devoutly honor and fervently invoke Thy holy name, O Jesus.
Litany of the Most Holy Name of Jesus
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Jesus, hear us.
Jesus, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
Jesus, Son of the living God, have mercy on us.
Jesus, splendor of the Father, have mercy on us.
Jesus, brightness of eternal light, have mercy on us.
Jesus, King of glory, have mercy on us.
Jesus, sun of justice, have mercy on us.
Jesus, Son of the Virgin Mary, have mercy on us.
Jesus, most amiable, have mercy on us.
Jesus, most admirable, have mercy on us.
Jesus, the mighty God, have mercy on us.
Jesus, father of the world to come, have mercy on us.
Jesus, Angel of great counsel, have mercy on us.
Jesus, most powerful, have mercy on us.
Jesus, most patient, have mercy on us.
Jesus, most obedient, have mercy on us.
Jesus, meek and humble of heart, have mercy on us.
Jesus, lover of Chastity, have mercy on us.
Jesus, lover of us, have mercy on us.
Jesus, God of peace, have mercy on us.
Jesus, author of life, have mercy on us.
Jesus, example of virtues, have mercy on us.
Jesus, zealous lover of souls, have mercy on us.
Jesus, our God, have mercy on us.
Jesus, our refuge, have mercy on us.
Jesus, father of the poor, have mercy on us.
Jesus, treasure of the faithful, have mercy on us.
Jesus, good Shepherd, have mercy on us.
Jesus, true light, have mercy on us.
Jesus, eternal wisdom, have mercy on us.
Jesus, infinite goodness, have mercy on us.
Jesus, our way and our life, have mercy on us.
Jesus, joy of the Angels, have mercy on us.
Jesus, King of the Patriarchs, have mercy on us.
Jesus, Master of the Apostles, have mercy on us.
Jesus, Teacher of the Evangelists, have mercy on us.
Jesus, strength of Martyrs, have mercy on us.
Jesus, light of Confessors, have mercy on us.
Jesus, purity of Virgins, have mercy on us.
Jesus, crown of all Saints, have mercy on us.
Be merciful, spare us, O Jesus!
Be merciful, graciously hear us, O Jesus!
From all evil, deliver us, O Jesus.
From all sin, deliver us, O Jesus.
From Thy wrath, deliver us, O Jesus.
From the snares of the devil, deliver us, O Jesus.
From the spirit of fornication, deliver us, O Jesus.
From everlasting death, deliver us, O Jesus.
From the neglect of Thine inspirations, deliver us, O Jesus.
By the mystery of Thy holy Incarnation, deliver us, O Jesus.
By Thy Nativity, deliver us, O Jesus.
By Thine Infancy, deliver us, O Jesus.
By Thy most divine life, deliver us, O Jesus.
By Thy labors, deliver us, O Jesus.
By Thine agony and Passion, deliver us, O Jesus.
By Thy Cross and dereliction, deliver us, O Jesus.
By Thy sufferings, deliver us, O Jesus.
By Thy death and burial, deliver us, O Jesus.
By Thy Resurrection, deliver us, O Jesus.
By Thine Ascension, deliver us, O Jesus.
By Thine institution of the most Holy Eucharist, deliver us, O Jesus.
By Thy joys, deliver us, O Jesus.
By Thy glory, deliver us, O Jesus.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, spare us, O Jesus!
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, hear us, O Jesus!
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us, O Jesus!Jesus, hear us.
Jesus, graciously hear us.
Let Us Pray.
O Lord Jesus Christ, who has said, Ask and ye shall receive, seek, and ye shall find, knock, and it shall be opened unto you, mercifully attend to our supplications, and grant us the gift of Thy divine charity, that we may ever love Thee with our whole heart and with all our words and deeds, and may never cease from praising Thee.
Make us, O Lord, to have a perpetual fear and love of Thy holy Name, for Thou never failest to help and to govern those whom Thou dost bring up in Thy steadfast love: who livest and reignest forever and ever. Amen.
– Raccolta 113 An indulgence of 7 years. A plenary indulgence once a month on the usual conditions, for the daily and devout recitation of this litany (S. C. Ind., Jan. 16, 1886; S. P. Ap., Jan. 2, 1933).
Prayer in honor of the Most Holy Name
O sweet Name of Jesus, holy above all names in heaven and on earth, and to which every knee, both of men and of angels in heaven, on earth and in hell bends. You are the the way of the just, the glory of the saints, the hope of those in need, the balm of the sick, the love of the devout and the consolation of those that suffer.
O, Jesus be to me a help and a protector so that your Name may be blessed for all times. – Thomas A. Kempis
Prayer of Reparation in Praise of the Holy Name of God entitled:
“The Golden Arrow”
May the most holy, most sacred, most adorable, most incomprehensible and unutterable Name of God be always praised, blessed, loved, adored and glorified in heaven on earth and under the earth, by all the creatures of God, and by the Sacred Heart of our Lord Jesus Christ in the most Holy Sacrament of the altar. Amen.
Prayer in honor of the Holy Name
O my Jesus, Thou art the Savior who hast given Thy blood and Thy life for me, I pray Thee to write Thy adorable name on my poor heart; so that having it always imprinted in my heart by love, I may also have it ever on my lips, by invoking it in all my necessities. If the devil tempts me, Thy name will give me strength to resist him; if I lose confidence, Thy name will animate me to hope; if I am in affliction, Thy name will Thy name will comfort me, by reminding me of all Thou hast endured for me. If I find myself cold in Thy love, Thy name will inflame me by reminding me of the love Thou hast shown me. Hitherto I have fallen into so many sins, because I did not call on Thee; from henceforth Thy name shall be my defense, my refuge, my hope, my only consolation, my only love. Thus do I hope to live, and so do I hope to die, having Thy name always on my lips.
Most holy Virgin, obtain for me the grace of invoking the name of Thy Son Jesus in all my necessities, together with thine own, my Mother Mary; but let me invoke them always with confidence and love, so that I may be able also to say to thee as did the devout Alphonsus Rodriguez: “Jesus and Mary, may I suffer for you; may I die for you; may I be wholly yours, and in nothing my own!” O my beloved Jesus! O Mary, my beloved Lady! give me the grace to suffer and to die for your love. I will be no longer my own, but altogether yours; yours in life, and yours in death, when I hope by your help to expire saying, Jesus and Mary, help me! Jesus and Mary, I recommend myself to you; Jesus and Mary, I love you, and I give and deliver up to you my whole soul.
The Incarnation, Birth and Infancy of Jesus Christ by St. Alphonsus de Liguori. p. 163 (Imprimatur 1927)
Our Lady of Prompt Succor Nine Day Novena
(December 31 – January 8)
Our Lady of Prompt Succor, thou are after Jesus our only hope. O Most Holy Virgin, whose merits have raised thee high above angel choirs to the very throne of the Eternal and whose foot crushed the head of the infernal serpent, thou art strong against the enemies of our salvation. O Mother of God, thou art our Mediatrix most kind and loving. Hasten, then, to our help, and as thou didst once save thy beloved City from ravaging flames and our Country from an alien foe, do now have pity on our misery, and obtain for us the graces we beg of thee. Deliver us from the wiles of Satan, assist us in the many trials which beset our path in this valley of tears, and be to us truly Our Lady of Prompt Succor now and especially at the hour of our death. Amen.
O Mary, Mother of God, who amid the tribulations of the world, watches over us and over the Church of thy Son, be to us and to the Church, truly, Our Lady of Prompt Succor; make haste to help us in all our necessities, that in this fleeting life thou may be our succor, and obtain for us [mention your request here] Help us to gain life everlasting through the merits of Jesus, thy Son, Our Lord and Redeemer. Amen.
Our Lady of Prompt Succor, hasten to help us. (Three times.)
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