December 19th O Antiphon:
O Root of Jesse, who standest for an ensign of the people, before whom kings shall keep silence, and unto who the Gentiles shall make their supplication: come to deliver us, and tarry not. – Isaias xi. 10.
On the Consent the Blessed Virgin Mary Gave to the Incarnation of Our Lord.
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 Consent the Blessed Virgin Mary Gave to the Incarnation of Our Lord.
The subject of this meditation may perhaps surprise you, and cause you to ask yourself in amazement: Can it be that the consent of an insignificant mortal was requisite for the fulfilment of the divine decree? Yes, my soul, it is true; so far did God go in His wondrous condescension, that even in a matter so great and exalted, one in which the salvation of the whole of mankind was concerned, He respected man’s free will, in order that as it was by the exercise of man’s free will that the curse of original sin came upon the human race, so also by the exercise of his free will the blessing of redemption should be brought within our reach. Endeavor to place before yourself, my soul, that important moment, the most important of all others since the world was made, when the Archangel Gabriel had announced the celestial tidings to the Blessed Virgin; and consider:
1st. How the angel, having executed the commission given him by God, and delivered his message to the Blessed Virgin, waited for her reply. But it is not Gabriel alone who thus waits, as St. Bernard remarks, for Mary to give her consent, to intimate her readiness to become the Mother of the Son of God; the most Holy Trinity in the heavens above is also waiting, the angelic choirs in the realms of bliss, the holy patriarchs in Limbo are likewise waiting; nay, more – the saint continues – “the whole world, O Virgin, lies prostrate at thy feet, awaiting, expecting a favorable answer, and not without reason, for all our solace, all our hope of redemption depends on thy reply.”
Oh, how grand, how illustrious does the holy Virgin Mary appear at that moment when Heaven and earth are waiting in expectancy for a word of consent from her lips! When your soul is deeply impressed with a sense of her sublime dignity, proceed to consider:
2d. How after mature deliberation the exalted Virgin utters one sentence, one at which Heaven and earth rejoice, and these are her words: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word.” (St. Luke i. 38.) O words of salvation, on which the incarnation of our Lord immediately follows! but words no less of profound humility! Only imagine, this Virgin at whose grandeur and glory you could not sufficiently marvel under the first point of this meditation, now in all humility calls herself a handmaid of the Lord; she a handmaid, who has just been chosen to become the Mother of God – she a handmaid who but just now was elevated to the highest dignity, who was saluted even by an archangel with respect and reverence. O my soul, admire on the one hand the glory, on the other the humility of our Lady, and say to yourself: there are times when Almighty God speaks to you by your angel Guardian or by the mouth of your Superior, making known to you His will in regard to some matter, and then – for such is the Christian’s dignity – He waits for you to consent. Woe betide you if in the pride of your heart you withhold that consent, instead of, like Mary, expressing your prompt and humble obedience in the words which bring salvation to the individual as they did to the whole human race: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord.”
3d. Consider that there is yet one thing which surpasses and exceeds Mary’s admirable and astonishing humility, and that is the incomprehensible condescension of Almighty God manifested in the incarnation of Christ, which took place immediately after she had given her consent. Scarcely had the words passed her lips before God became man. He who is infinite greatness became a little child; He who is almighty became frail and weak; He whose bliss is beyond comprehension became an infant destined to endure poverty, suffering and death. Meditate attentively upon this. Read what is related of Nabuchodonosor in the book of Daniel (ch. iv. 30): “He was driven away from among men and did eat grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till his hair grew like the feathers of eagles and his nails like birds claws.” What a terrible degradation for a monarch once so great and so mighty! Yet if God had not merely made him like to the lower animals, but had actually changed him into one of the brutes, Nabuchodonosor would only have descended from a higher to a lower place in the scale of creation. Now in the incarnation of Christ the Creator Himself becomes a creature. How infinite is the distance! What unspeakable abasement on the part of your God! And you forsooth must needs resist and refuse to yield your consent if God requires something of you which perhaps involves some sacrifice of your pride? No, my soul, such shall not be your conduct. From henceforth let Mary’s words: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord,” be yours also; take them for your motto, and exclaim with St. Bernard: O most sweet Jesus! the more Thou dost abase Thyself by becoming man, the greater dost Thou show Thyself by Thy exceeding charity to me; and the more contemptible Thou dost become for my sake, so much the dearer Thou art to me.
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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