Vigil of The Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady. (Full Fast and Abstinence)
On Idle and Useless Thoughts As a Hindrance to Meditating with Profit.
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 Idle and Useless Thoughts As a Hindrance to Meditating with Profit.
If in the previous meditations it has been made plain to you that it is the Holy Ghost alone who helps you to pray who helps you, that is, to engage in mental prayer, proceed to-day to consider a further obstacle to making your meditation with profit. Not only is it true that the sun of the divine mysteries cannot be mirrored in the quagmire of love of the world, it is also true that it cannot be properly reflected from the ruffled surface of a lake that is agitated by the wind. A lake thus agitated is no inappropriate image of the soul in which, while it is engaged in mental prayer, those “thoughts without understanding” continually come and go, which are spoken of in the Book of Wisdom, where it is said: “The Holy Spirit of discipline will withdraw Himself from thoughts that are without understanding.” (Wisd. i. 5.) Now such thoughts are:
1st. All sinful thoughts. Sinful thoughts are “without understanding,” because they are all opposed to the aim of true, divine reason, and all more or less have an aim that is “without understanding.” They are not sparks of light, emitted by Faith, the luminary alone true and therefore alone in accordance with reason, but from the wild fire of unreasoning passions, the heat of which is directly opposed to the fire of the Holy Ghost. Hence you will perceive that this sacred fire will burn low, and gradually die out, as soon as you allow sinful thoughts to intrude upon you during your meditations. Be on your guard against such thoughts! Do not set your mind at rest too easily concerning them, by alleging that as they come without your will, they involve no sin on your part, but rather consider this: It is possible that you do not entice the gnats and wasps, which annoy you so much, into your room, but why do you leave the windows and doors open to afford them ingress, or why do you place at the window sweet things likely to attract them? You do not wish to have sinful thoughts, you bewail the distractions they cause to you in your meditation, but why then do you leave the windows of your soul open, why do you not control your eyes, your ears, why do you by indulging in idle talk invite these evil thoughts to come as you might flies with sugar? Thoughts without understanding are in the second place:
2d. All ordinary, futile thoughts, thoughts by which certainly no harm is intended, but which as a rule have no object at all, and this is in itself contrary to reason. They are those castles in the air, phantoms of the imagination, which, when the soul is engaged in mental prayer, divert it from its actual aim, as flickering will-o-the-wisps cause the traveller to deviate from the right road. They are also those timid thoughts and scruples which entice the soul away from the genial, warmth-giving fire of the Holy Ghost, and detain it in a bleak, sterile desert of harassing fancies and doubts until the time of meditation needless to say a fruitless time is at an end. Ask yourself seriously how it is with you in this respect, and then consider,
3d. The means to be employed against such thoughts.
a. Above all things avoid real or what is called busy idleness. As weeds and toadstools and poisonous fungi nourish luxuriantly upon a damp soil, so bad and useless thoughts abound most in the minds of those who lead an idle life.
b. A celebrated man once said: What we eat makes us what we are. See therefore that, in addition to the daily meditations, you provide your mind, your memory, your imagination with wholesome nourishment relating to God and divine things, and you will find you are not as much troubled by distractions during your meditations.
c. Never engage in mental prayer without preparation, and often cry to God: God, renew a right spirit within me! Take not away Thy Holy Spirit from me!
Finally, bear constantly in mind that it is a shame for people in the world to fritter away the hours of the day in idleness or in useless frivolities; how much more is it a shame for Priests and Religious to trifle away and lose the precious hours when the soul holds converse with God, by indulging in thoughts that are vain, useless and even reprehensible!
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.
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.
Exert, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy power and come; that by Thy protection we may be freed from the imminent dangers of our sins, and be saved by Thy mercy; who livest and reignest 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.)
Act of Perfect Contrition
Oh my God! I am heartily sorry
for having offended Thee and
I detest all my sins because
I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell;
But most of all because I have offended Thee, My God,
Who art all-good and deserving of all my love.
I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace,
To confess my sins, to do penance,
And to amend my life. Amen.
Prayers in Time of Calamity
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