December 22th O Antiphon:
O King of the Gentiles and the desired of them, Thou cornerstone that makest both one, come and deliver man, whom Thou didst form out of the dust of the earth. – Aggeus ii. 8; Ephesians ii. 14, 20.
The Expectation of Delivery.—I.
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.
The Expectation of Delivery.—I.
I. The infant Jesus, shut up in His mother’s womb, earnestly desired that hour in which He was to appear to the world and commence the work of our salvation. He might have then said, as He afterwards did, “I have a baptism wherewith I am to be baptized; and how am I straitened until it be accomplished!” (Luke xii. 50.) He remained in this state, however, for nine months, and would not exempt Himself for one day. He had embraced our common nature, and He would not refuse any of the inconveniences or sufferings which were attached to it. What man would suffer himself to be so long imprisoned when he could avoid it? Christ suffered it, and for your sake. Be ashamed, then, to complain of small inconveniences, when God suffered so much.
II. The desire of the blessed Virgin to see her Son, whom she knew to be “God of God,” increased in proportion as the happy moment approached. She might well apply to herself those words of the Canticle: “Who shall give Thee to me, that I may find Thee and kiss Thee.” (Cant. viii. I.) In the mean time, whilst her heart was filled with the most ardent affections of love, she resigned herself with perfect conformity to the will of God, in regard to the time, place, and manner of her delivery, because she was convinced that “God hath care of us.” (I Pet. v. 7.) Imitate her example, and “cast all your solicitude upon God.”
III. How well the divine Infant rewarded His mother whilst He remained shut up in her womb! If at the first moment of His conception He bestowed upon her such extraordinary grace and favor, what increase of these did He not give her throughout the nine months during which she carried Him in her womb. He illuminated her understanding with an infused light and knowledge of the mysteries of faith; He inflamed her will with more than seraphic affections of love. He was no burden, no pain, no trouble to her; but a most welcome guest, and an effectual comforter on all occasions. He would be so to you, with due proportion, in the Sacrament, if you would give Him a similar entertainment and not immediately distract your mind with other affairs.
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 sec 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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