December 18th O Antiphon:
O Adonai, and Leader of the house of Israel, Who didst appear to Moses in the flame of the burning bush, and didst give unto the law on Sinai: come and with an outstretched arm redeem us. – Exodus iii. 2, xx.
Friday after the Third Sunday of Advent.—Expectation of the Nativity.
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.
Friday after the Third Sunday of Advent.—Expectation of the Nativity.
It came to pass that her days were accomplished. (Luke ii, 6.)
CONSIDER FIRSTLY the ardent desires of the ancient Fathers to see the promised Messiah. Listen to their sighs and prayers through the long ages. Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the Just. (Is. xlv, 8.) It pleased God that this His coming should be so long deferred, because the more intense is the desire the more ceaselessly does it make us plead and pray, and earnest prayer is the surest means of gaining all that God has ordained to bestow upon us.
APPLICATION. If you do not feel a real longing for Jesus to be born spiritually within your heart, you will not be worthy to receive Him. Redouble therefore at this season your supplications as did the ancient Fathers, so that you may deserve to rejoice at His coming.
AFFECTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS. Stir up Thy might, and come and save. (Ps. lxxix, 3.)
CONSIDER SECONDLY the intense longing of the Blessed Virgin, to bring to the light of day her divine offspring. This desire was increased in her heart specially for two reasons. The first was in order herself to be able to worship and serve the Son of the Divine Father, Who had deigned to choose her as His Mother, the other in order to give to the world its Redeemer, for the salvation of mankind, and to rescue the human race from all its miseries.
APPLICATION. You too should desire that Jesus Christ may come to you spiritually, not only for your own advantage, but much more that you may offer Him your homage, and that you also may co-operate with Him in the salvation of others.
AFFECTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS. O Lord God of hosts, convert us; and show Thy face, and we shall be saved. (Ps. lxxix, 20.)
CONSIDER THIRDLY the still more fervent longing of Jesus Himself. He had remained for nine months within the narrow limits of His Mother’s womb, offering to His Father on our behalf the keen suffering He underwent in that darksome prison. When however He saw the hour of His going forth approach, He rejoiced, not indeed to leave that straitened space, but from His longing to begin at once His journey from the cave to Calvary for the redemption of mankind. He hath rejoiced as a giant to run the way. (Ps. xix, 6.)
APPLICATION. How different are your desires and what quite other longings are yours. You are immediately displeased at some work that has been given you, you are vexed at being made subject to another’s will, because you wish to enjoy more liberty and greater ease, but if you really loved Jesus you would not grow weary of suffering some trifle for love of Him. Love never gets weary nor complains, nor in fact is there ever greater proof of love than when there is labour and suffering for the beloved. Only love Jesus truly and every suffering and all labour will seem to you easy and delightful.
AFFECTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS. What have I in heaven but Thee, and beside Thee what do I desire upon earth? (Ps. lxxii, 25.)
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.
II. If thou wert good and pure within, then wouldst thou discern all things without impediment, and understand them right.
A pure heart penetrates heaven and hell.
According as every one is interiorly, so he judgeth exteriorly.
If there be joy in the world, certainly the man whose heart is pure enjoys it.
And if there be anywhere tribulation and anguish, an evil conscience feels the most of it.
As iron put into the fire loses the rust and becomes all fiery: so a man that turns himself wholly to God puts off his sluggishness, and is changed into a new man.—Thomas à Kempis—Imitation of Christ Bk II, Ch IV, pt. II.
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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