December 23th O Antiphon:
O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the expected of the nations and their Saviour, come to save us, O Lord our God. – Isaias vii. 14, xxxiii. 22.
The Expectation of Delivery.—II.
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.—II.
I. This expectation existed on the part of the Fathers in Limbo; they prayed and cried out continually with Isaias: “Drop dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just: let the earth be opened and bud forth a saviour.” (xlv. 8.) They longed to be set free from bondage in order that they might enjoy the beatific vision. “Shine forth,” they exclaimed from their prison-house, “before Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasses. Stir up thy might, and come to save us.” (Ps. lxxix. 3.) Rouse your sluggish mind with these inflamed desires. “Be ashamed” (it was the reflection of St. Bernard), “that the display of so much kindness does not cause in you a joy corresponding to that inflamed desire, which the mere promise excited in the hearts of the ancient Saints.”
II. What expectation a devout soul ought to entertain of having Christ spiritually born in itself by grace! “What is my hope? is it not the Lord?” (Ps. xxxviii. 8.) In this expectation we ought to employ all the faculties of our souls: our memories and understandings should attentively consider His admirable virtues and perfections: our wills should be exercised in ardent affections of love, and in desires of representing in ourselves what we behold in Him, in order that we may with the Apostle “behold the glory of the Lord with face uncovered, and be transformed into the same image.” (2 Cor. iii. 18.)
III. We ought not to content ourselves with mere affections and desires, for by these we only conceive Christ; but we must bring Him forth by actions. We must labor in the exercise of Christian perfection “till Christ be formed in us.” (Gal. iv. 19.) If our desires do not display themselves in acts of virtue, they will only torture our consciences and prove our ruin. “Desires,” says the Wise Man, “kill the slothful.” (Prov. xxi. 25.) Encourage yourself, therefore, and inflame your heart with the antiphons of the Church used during this holy time. “O wisdom, which issued from the mouth of the Most High, extending from end to end mightily, and sweetly disposing all things, come and teach us the way of prudence, etc.”
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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