December 21th O Antiphon:
O Dawn of the East, brightness of the light eternal, and son of Justice, come and enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. – Psalm cvi. 10.
On the Exceeding Greatness of the Miracle Wrought in the Incarnation of Christ.
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 Exceeding Greatness of the Miracle Wrought in the Incarnation of Christ.
When we meditate upon the marvellous work of divine omnipotence which was accomplished in Mary immediately after the announcement to her by the angel of God’s design, are we not compelled to exclaim in amazement: Who ever heard of anything of the kind? Whoever witnessed the like of this? My soul, concentrate all your attention today on the contemplation of this great wonder, the incarnation of Christ that has just taken place and consider:
1st. He who from all eternity was clothed in the majesty of the Godhead, clothes Himself with flesh and blood from the person of the Blessed Virgin. He now begins to have a mother on earth without a father, who from all eternity had a Father without a mother. He becomes a creature, who is Himself the Creator of all things. Creation now beholds – to quote the words of St. Basil – what hitherto it never saw; a child who is the father of His mother, a child who far exceeds His mother in years. And, to crown it all, this child has for His mother one who at the same time is the most inviolate of virgins. O marvel above all marvels, accomplished for our salvation!
2d. Now contemplate yet greater wonders: He comes into the world naked and destitute of covering, who clothes the fields and forests with verdure, who decks the earth with flowers and fruits and herbage. He is laid in a lowly manger, who has the Heaven for His throne and the earth for His footstool. He utters the plaintive wail of a helpless infant, at whose voice the heavens tremble and the earth quakes. He is wrapped in swaddling-clothes, who with His finger sustains the weight of the whole world. He assumes a mortal nature, who from all eternity is immortal and immutable. O wonder of wonders! and all this was done for my sake, yes, truly for my sake!
3d. There is indeed no end to this marvel; we have by no means gauged its full depth. He has become true man, yet He has not a human personality, because His human nature is united to the divine nature. He is one person, but He has two distinct natures. God has become man without ceasing to be God. God has become man, yet His human nature is not absorbed in His divine nature. But here we must stop. One might meditate upon this one mystery, this one miracle, for the whole of a lifetime and yet not fathom its profound depths. This miracle God wrought for you. What do you do for Him? Three weeks of Advent are already past; what have you done in this time of grace for your God, who is so infinitely bountiful to you, and what do you propose to do for Him in the week that yet remains?
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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