The Divine Infant in the Manger.
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 Divine Infant in the Manger.
(Read Heb. x, 4-10.)
CONSIDER FIRSTLY that the first act of the Divine Child, directly He was born, was to raise His mind and His heart to heaven. It was to thank His beloved Father that it had been His good pleasure that He Himself should be reduced to the state of utter abandonment and poverty in which He now found Himself: Yea, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight. (Luke x, 21.)
APPLICATION. You do not find it difficult to conform yourself to the will of God, and to give Him thanks when He caresses you and treats you with tenderness. But how hard it is to you to do so when you feel abandoned, afflicted, and without help. Learn from the Holy Babe to be resigned in times of tribulation, for this is the real mark of filial love for your Heavenly Father.
AFFECTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS. Teach me to do Thy will, for Thou art my God. (Ps. cxlii, 10.)
CONSIDER SECONDLY that His second act was to offer to the Divine Justice in satisfaction for your sins, and in payment of the penalties due to you, all the keen suffering which His delicate frame endured from the bitter cold of the season, the rawness of the night, the bareness of the stable, and the absolute lack of any kind of comfort at all.
APPLICATION. Will you not then thank Him from your heart for this His great goodness? But in order that the sufferings of the Divine Infant may be of greater profit to you, accustom yourself to offer all the little troubles which each day brings, whether they come to you from the inclemency of the season, from bodily weakness, or from mental sufferings, to the Divine Justice in union with the sufferings of Jesus. They will thus be much more acceptable to the Divine Father, and of much greater merit to yourself.
AFFECTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS. Behold, O God our protector, and look on the face of Thy Christ. (Ps. lxxxiii, 10.)
CONSIDER THIRDLY that the third act of the Holy Infant was to express His readiness and desire for the death of the Cross, so far was He from resting content with His actual sufferings in the cave. He yearned to go forth with giant strides from Bethlehem to Calvary, in order to become thereon a victim in expiation for your sins.
APPLICATION. Every little suffering or small discomfort that you encounter in the place and office wherein you serve God and your neighbour, seems too heavy for you to bear, and you do your best to escape from them. Oh what coldness and ingratitude of heart! If only you thought seriously upon what Jesus Christ suffered for you, you would feel no suffering or weariness, but would only hunger and thirst to suffer still more, so as to correspond with the love of Jesus, Who was never weary of suffering for your good, so much so that when He was hanging on the Cross in an abyss of sufferings, He still cried, I thirst.
AFFECTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS. He hath rejoiced as a giant to run the way. (Ps. xviii, 6.)
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.
VII. He to whom all things relish as they are, that is, in God, who is the very truth, not as they are said or esteemed to be, he is wise indeed, and taught rather by God than men.
He who knows how to walk internally, and to make little account of external things, is not at a loss for proper places or times for performing devout exercises.
An internal man quickly recollects himself, because he never pours forth his whole self upon outward things.
Exterior labour is no prejudice to him, nor any employment which for a time is necessary; but as things fall out, he so accommodates himself to them.
He that is well disposed and orderly in his interior, heeds not the strange and perverse carriages of men.
As much as a man draws things to himself, so much is he hindered and distracted by them.—Thomas à Kempis—Imitation of Christ Bk II, Ch I, pt. VII.
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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