December 18th O Antiphon:
O Adonai, and Leader of the house of Israel, Who didst appear to Moses in the flame of the burning bush, and didst give unto the law on Sinai: come and with an outstretched arm redeem us. – Exodus iii. 2, xx. I
Wednesday after the Third Sunday in Advent.
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 Reasons Why God Delayed So Long to Execute the Decree of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.
Place before yourself to-day, my soul, the infinite wisdom of Almighty God, as you behold it in the creation, the government of the universe, and perhaps also in the guidance of your own life; and your unhesitating answer to the question why the decree of the incarnation was not carried out for so long a time will be this: Because divine Wisdom judged that time to be the best. Now in order that this display of the divine Wisdom manifested in the postponement of our Lord’s incarnation may prove a source of edification to you, consider:
1st. What a difficult task it was for the incarnate Saviour to induce the Jews to believe in Him. Yet these Jews had for thousands of years looked for the promised Messias, for thousands of years they had prophecies in numerable and countless types all pointing to the coming of the Son of God made man; and if in spite of all this they had such difficulty in believing in Him, if a large majority remained obdurate in their unbelief, how would it have been if God had taken upon Himself the nature of man, without that long interval of prediction and preparation for mankind?
2d. Consider how slow all the rest of the world were to believe in the Son of God made man, although at the period of His advent the world was in a state of indescribable wretchedness, and precisely at that time wickedness and vice had reached their climax. The danger of eternal perdition for the generality of mankind was greater, the longing of the just for a Redeemer was more intense then than it had ever been before. And if in spite of this, our Lord and His apostles had to open a way for faith in the incarnate Saviour at the cost of their lives and the shedding of their blood, how would it have been if Christ had been born as man into the world sooner, before the world had become awake to a sense of its own deplorable misery, before sin had reached its highest point of guilt? The unspeakable benefit and mercy of our Lord’s incarnation, the indispensable necessity for Him to assume the nature of man, the need of a Redeemer, all this would have been utterly incomprehensible to mankind.
3d. Consider further: If we look at the world in our own day we see the coldness and indifference with which the fact of our Lord’s incarnation, that supreme work of grace, is regarded. Only a small number are penetrated with a deep sense of the grand, the important nature of that marvellous event. From the minds of a vast proportion of mankind the very remembrance of it seems to be obliterated. What can we imagine would have been the coldness, the indifference, the culpable oblivion, if this event had taken place at an earlier stage in the world’s history, if it had occurred not nineteen hundred, but five thousand years ago?
From to-day’s meditation learn, my soul, humbly to adore the divine Wisdom. And if you earnestly desire the removal of some evil, release from some irksome post, or whatever it may be, and God does not presently grant your request, await His good pleasure in all tranquillity. Divine Wisdom knows best what moment is the most advantageous time for you, as He knew best what was the most suitable epoch for the incarnation of the Son of God.
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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