December 21st O Antiphon:
O Dawn of the East, brightness of the light eternal, and Sun of Justice, come and enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. – Psalm cvi. 10.
Monday after the Fourth Sunday of Advent.—Arrival at 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.
Monday after the Fourth Sunday of Advent.—Arrival at Bethlehem.
There was no room for them in the inn. (Luke ii, 7.)
CONSIDER FIRSTLY how the Blessed Virgin together with her husband St. Joseph, having arrived at Bethlehem, where on account of Cæsar’s edict there was a great concourse of people, wearied as she was with the journey, went from door to door begging a poor lodging where to rest and to give birth to her first-born. This then is the preparation made for the birth of the Messiah promised so long before by heaven, and so ardently sighed for by His people: no bed whereon to lie nor roof to shelter Him! The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head. (Luke ix, 58.)
APPLICATION. And you who make profession of following Christ made poor for us, are you not ashamed to be enamoured of comforts and on the look out for superfluities both in dress and in food? And when everything is not to your liking, you never cease to complain. Oh, what reason here for confusion!
AFFECTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS. I had rather be despised in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of sinners. (Ps. lxxxiii, 11.) .
CONSIDER SECONDLY how the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph long continued their search, begging in charity the shelter of some poor house wherein the King of glory and the Monarch of the universe might be born and laid, but they found every door shut against them and every convenience refused. What feelings, think you, arose in the Blessed Virgin’s heart at such rejection? She was not troubled, she did not complain as you do when you meet with any refusal. She did but grieve at the sad blindness of her people, who gave no welcome to the Son of God so long expected and so long desired: He came unto His own and His own received Him not. (John i, II.) And yet those people had some excuse, as they knew not who it was who sought a lodging, nor for whom it was asked.
APPLICATION. But you, who know well Who it is Who comes with His inspirations to ask an abode in your heart, in order to make it more holy, what excuse can you hope to have for the refusals you have so often, alas! given Him?
AFFECTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS. My heart hath said to Thee: my face hath sought Thee; Thy face, O Lord, will I seek. (Ps. xxvi, 8.)
CONSIDER THIRDLY how the Blessed Virgin, to whom none would open their doors was obliged to turn with St. Joseph into a poor shelter for cattle. Entirely did she resign herself to the dispositions of Divine Providence, that the Incarnate Word should be born in a stable, deprived of all conveniences and exposed to the bitter cold of winter, so as to give to us all an example of despising the comforts and display of this world, as well also as of being despised by the world itself.
APPLICATION. How far do you correspond with such perfection of virtue? How far do you strive to imitate these examples of despising the world and of being in turn despised by it?
AFFECTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS. I have had delight in the way of Thy testimonies even as in all riches. (Ps. cxviii, 14.)
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.
When Jesus Christ wished to propose a model to His disciples, did He choose it from amidst men distinguished by their knowledge or by the superiority of their intellect? No: He called to Him a little child, set him in the midst of them, and said; Amen, I say to you, unless you be converted and become as little
children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matt. xviii., 2, 3). Now, what do we see in infancy? Simplicity and purity. It believes, it loves, it acts without any thought within itself, but by a pure impulse of the heart; and this is what pleases God.—Thomas à Kempis—Imitation of Christ Bk II, Ch IV, reflection.
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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