On the Arrival of Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem.
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 Arrival of Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem.
Long after night had cast her curtain of darkness over the meadows around Bethlehem, Joseph and Mary were still wandering through the streets of the city of David, their royal ancestor, unable to obtain a shelter for the night. They knocked at one door after another, but always in vain. Dwell in thought, my soul, on the pitiable position of these saintly travellers, and you will feel heart felt compassion for them; then consider:
1st. How the Queen of Heaven, on reaching Bethlehem, exhausted and worn out with fatigue, cannot find a single one of the inhabitants compassionate enough to give her the hospitality she seeks. Think how many godless, wicked persons had already obtained a comfortable lodging and good cheer in the town, whereas these two holy personages cannot find so much as a corner in which to rest their weary limbs. How true was what St. John said, speaking of the Son of God: “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.” (St. John i. 11.) And how early were the words fulfilled which our Lord Himself uttered later on: “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head.” (St. Luke ix. 58.) But you, my soul, instead of burning with indignation at the conduct of the people of Bethlehem, should rather reflect with contrition and grief of heart on how often you have given room within your breast to the world, to the devil, to the evil passions of your sinful nature, and have refused entrance to Christ when He knocked so lovingly at the door of your heart, craving admittance there.
2d. Consider how much the Bethlehemites lost through their churlish behavior in turning away Joseph when he asked for shelter. Oh, how greatly are they to be pitied, those blind mortals, who knew not what a beloved, what a valued Guest they drove from their doors! How great a blessing would have rested on the house in which the Saviour of the world with His all-glorious Mother had been entertained; how richly, how generously He would have rewarded the hospitality shown Him! See, my soul, that you no longer resemble these Bethlehemites. Arise, delay not to prepare this very day a resting-place for your Redeemer; think how you can embellish it and render it a worthy abode for the Infant Christ; and when you have pondered sufficiently on this point, pour out your heart in these words of prayer: most exalted Guest, come to me, knock at my door, do not weary of knocking, and I will open to Thee, I will set apart for Thee the best chamber in my house, my heart, that is, where Thou canst rest according to Thy good pleasure.
3d. Consider how Joseph and Mary, repulsed on all sides, submitted with supernatural patience to this humiliation, although Mary may have shed bitter tears on account of her inability to procure a resting-place for the divine Child whom she loved so tenderly. Finally, my soul, accompany in spirit Joseph and Mary in their holy grief to the outskirts of the town, where, under pressure of these untoward circumstances, they were compelled to take up their quarters in a half-ruined stable. There, while all the world was sunk in sleep, unconscious, unsuspicious that anything extraordinary was happening, they awaited, in holy and devout recollection, the greatest event that ever marked the world’s history. And if, my soul, you have endeavored to realize this memorable instant in that momentous night, then keep the thought of it present to your mind all the day long; let not your occupations or the conversation of others distract you from it, but let your heart be with Joseph and Mary, watching with them in silent meditation for the birth of the Infant Jesus.
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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