On Original Sin.
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 Original Sin.
Place yourself in imagination, my soul, in the blessed and happy conditions that prevailed in the earthly paradise before original sin existed, when our first parents walked with God in Eden in a state of perfect innocence, and the earth, not as yet laid under a curse, yielded its fairest fruits spontaneously and plentifully. Then proceed to consider:
1st. What original sin has brought about. Consider how this sin on Adam’s part, which has been handed down as an heirloom to all his posterity, completely altered at one stroke all the conditions of this happy life in paradise. Man, God’s favored child, became God’s enemy; created for immortality, he became subject to death. Destined for heaven, he became ripe for hell. Think furthermore how the earth too was cursed for the sake of this sin, so that thorns and thistles sprang up everywhere in profusion, the plants became poisonous to him, the brute beasts began to thirst for his blood. Think of all the misery that has prevailed, and still prevails upon earth ever since that sin was committed, and you will see from the terrible chastisement it entailed how hateful it was in the sight of God, and also what a sad burden it is to have a sin which God so hates weighing upon one. Alas! the guilt of that sin once rested upon you, and it yet rests upon thousands of your fellow-creatures. What feelings ought not these thoughts to awaken in you!
2d. Consider that it is by no means unjust that Adam’s sin should become the inheritance of his descendants. If a man strike a mortal blow with his right hand, it is not that hand only that is punished for the deed, but the whole man. The other members of the body are, it is true, guilt less, yet they all suffer for the criminal act, as being fellow members of the one by which it was perpetrated. Just the same if, in a town or community, the principal citizens or members rebel against their ruler in the name of all the others, not only are the leading men arrested, but the whole town is made to suffer, by being deprived of its liberties and privileges, and those who come after, although not in the least to blame for the revolt of their forefathers, yet have to bear the penalty of what was done before their birth. Now if you see the justice of this rule, and acknowledge that no sensible person would think of contesting it, you will no longer see anything unfair in the law whereby original sin, the sin of Adam, our first parent, the head of the human race, is made the inheritance of every member of the vast body of mankind. But in order to make this still clearer, proceed to consider:
3d. If parents squander their wealth, or any property of importance belonging to them, their children perhaps as yet unborn, have to expiate their extravagance by a life of poverty and abjection, whereas had it not been for their parents’ fault, they would have lived in easy circumstances and been treated with respect. Now with regard to our first parents, Adam and Eve, the case is analogous; by their sin they squandered all their celestial treasures, the riches of grace, the gift of original justice, and were in consequence driven out of paradise, and reduced to the utmost poverty and destitution. And we, their heirs and descendants, inherit the guilt and misery of our progenitors just in the same way that we should without any merit of our own have inherited their rich treasures of grace, provided they had, by observing the commandments of God, been, so to speak, more provident of those treasures. If, my soul, this meditation has made apparent to you both the heinousness of Adam’s sin, and also that the transmission of that guilt to his descendants is in conformity to a natural law, oh then, whenever your eyes rest on the baptismal font or you witness the administration of the sacrament of regeneration, give thanks to your God for having delivered you from this guilt by no merit of your own, and say some prayers, and offer some works of penance for the unhappy children who are in danger of passing into eternity with the awful burden of original sin still weighing upon them.
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.
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.
The Prayer of the Immaculate Conception
O God, Who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, didst prepare a worthy dwelling place for Thy Son, we beseech Thee that, as by the foreseen death of this, Thy Son, Thou didst preserve her from all stain, so too Thou wouldst permit us, purified through her intercession, to come unto Thee. Through the same Lord Jesus, Christ, Thy Son, Who livest and reignest with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, 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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