The boundless desire for the coming of Christ which is a feature of the whole of Advent, is expressed in the Liturgy with an impatience which grows greater, the closer we come to Christmas and, so to speak, to the world’s end. “The Lord comes from far” (1st vespers, 1st Sunday.) “The Lord will come” (Introit, 2nd Sunday.) “The Lord is nigh” (Introit, 3rd Sunday.) This gradation will be emphasised throughout the whole season, ever more and more. Thus on December 17th begin the Greater Antiphons which, from their initial letters, are called the O Antiphons, and which form an impassioned appeal to the Messias whose prerogatives and glorious titles they make known to us. Dom Gueranger affirms that those antiphons contain the “whole marrow” of the Advent liturgy. On account of their number Honorius of Autun connects them with the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost with which our Lord was filled.
December 17th O Antiphon:
O Wisdom, who camest out of the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: come and teach us the way of prudence. – Ecclesiasticus xxiv. 5; Wisdom viii. I.
Thursday after the Third Sunday of Advent.—The Trial of St. Joseph.
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.
Thursday after the Third Sunday of Advent.—The Trial of St. Joseph.
(Read Matt. i, 18-25.)
CONSIDER FIRSTLY that Joseph, who was so holy and so pleasing in the sight of God as to merit to be the spouse of the Mother of God and the guardian of the Word Incarnate, could never have contemplated that his espousals with Mary would have brought him such bitter sorrows. For so it was that the mystery of the Incarnation was concealed from him, although it had been clearly revealed to St. John and St. Elizabeth. But this is the ordinary way of Divine Providence, which afflicts those who are the most just in order to enrich them the more with merits, and that they may be examples of more heroic virtues. What an admirable example St. Joseph gave of prudence, of patience and of charity! Notwithstanding his knowledge of her condition, he does not condemn the Blessed Virgin, he does not inwardly complain to God or outwardly manifest his grief.
APPLICATION. When you imagine you have been in some way injured, you at once become disturbed and grow indignant. You instantly condemn the offender for what does not in fact exist or for more than there really is. You cry out and complain. Learn from Joseph patience in bearing the wrongs you may have to suffer, prudence in not noticing them, charity in concealing them.
AFFECTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS. Thou art my patience, O Lord; my hope, O Lord, from my youth. (Ps. lxx, 5.)
CONSIDER SECONDLY that our Blessed Lady was well aware of Joseph’s intense affliction and of the thought he entertained of putting her away. Able as she was to calm this anguish in the heart of her spouse by discovering to him the mystery, she chose at all costs rather to keep silence about her great privilege and to leave to Divine Providence the defence of her innocence.
APPLICATION. Does not this make you ashamed of being so ready to publish whatever may redound to your own praise, and so quick to excuse yourself whenever you happen to be blamed? Let it suffice that God sees your innocence. Leave the care of defending you from calumnies to Him Who knows well how to turn them to your profit.
AFFECTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS. In Thee, O Lord, do I put my trust; I said, Thou art my God. (Ps. xxx, 15.)
CONSIDER THIRDLY the consolation of St. Joseph, in finding himself delivered by the loving providence of God from his extreme anguish. Through the ministry of an angel there was revealed to him the mystery of the Divine Incarnation, and the incomparable sanctity of the Blessed Virgin. Thereupon he realised that he himself was no other than the spouse of the Mother of God, and the guardian on earth of the Son of God. Forthwith he would have exclaimed with the Psalmist: According to the multitude of my sorrows in my heart, Thy comforts have given joy to my soul. (Ps. xciii, 19.)
APPLICATION. So too will it be with you, if you know how to bear your afflictions in a truly Christian spirit, so as even in this life to enjoy a hundredfold of the divine consolations, and in the next to receive an eternal reward.
AFFECTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS. Oh let Thy mercy be my comfort, according unto Thy word unto Thy servant. (Ps. cxviii, 76.)
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.
Of a pure Mind and simple Intention.
I. With two wings a man is lifted up above earthly things; that is with simplicity and purity.
Simplicity must be in the intention, purity in the affection.
Simplicity aims at God; purity takes hold of Him, and tastes Him.
No good action will hinder thee, if thou be free from inordinate affections.
If thou intendest and seekest nothing else but the will of God and the profit of thy neighbour, thou shalt enjoy internal liberty.
If thy heart were right, then every creature would be to thee a looking-glass of life and a book of holy doctrine.
There is no creature so little and contemptible as not to manifest the goodness of God.—Thomas à Kempis—Imitation of Christ Bk II, Ch IV, pt. I.
December Devotion: The Immaculate Conception.
Virtues to practice: Conformity to the will of God, divine love.
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.
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.
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