On the Greater Glory Rendered to God through the Incarnation of Our Lord.
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.
On the Greater Glory Rendered to God through the Incarnation of Our Lord.
It has been a question with many whether by the incarnation of our divine Lord, God had not stooped too low, and thus derogated from His majesty and glory. In order to close your mind against this idea, my soul, go back in imagination to that first Sabbath morning, when God the Father, seated upon His throne, received the homage of all creation, when the heavens and the earth, when millions of worlds and tens of millions of created beings burst forth into one mighty hymn of praise, to laud and magnify their Almighty Creator. How glorious is that moment! How magnificent the song of praise that resounds throughout all space! And yet, my soul, the honor and glory that accrues to God through the incarnation of His Son is far greater. You are amazed to hear that this is so; therefore consider:
1st. There is nothing whereby the greatness and glory of God is more strikingly manifested than by miracles. When He changed water into wine, when He calmed the raging waves of the sea with a single word, when He caused the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the dumb to speak, even the coldest, most indifferent of mankind could not refrain from giving glory to God. Now of all the wondrous works of God there is none greater than the incarnation of His Son. For in very truth, which is the more marvellous, the change of water into wine, or the change which is effected in human nature by the incarnation of Christ? Which is more marvellous, the stilling of the angry waves of the sea, or the calming of the fierce, stormy waves of human passion which took place when God assumed the nature of man? Which is the greater miracle, to open the eye of man that is closed to the light of day, to give hearing to the deaf ear, to loose the stammering tongue, or to cure the whole human race, sick with the deadly malady of sin, and not merely to cure it, but at one and the same time to raise it out of its condition of deep degradation and place it on such a height as could only be attained through God taking upon Himself the nature of man? Nor is this all: through His incarnation God did not only restore man, who had fallen so low, to his original position; He did not only exalt him above the angels, but astounding thought for us worms of earth! He raised mankind in and through Christ to a divine dignity, to divine sonship, to intimate union with the Triune God! Can you conceive a more wondrous elevation of the creature, can you imagine a more stupendous miracle? Now if any and every miracle is an ascription of praise and glory to Almighty God, how vast must be the glory accruing to Him from this miracle of miracles!
2d. Consider how the glory of God was also greatly increased by the incarnation of Christ, because it was the first occasion whereon infinite praise and honor were ascribed to Him. Great and glorious as was the song of praise of all creation, which you imagined yourself hearing at the commencement of this meditation, it was yet comparatively poor and insufficient. Even the hosannas of angels and cherubim are finite praise. But since it was determined, in the counsels of the Most High, that the divine Son should take upon Himself human nature, since therefore human nature is in the person of Christ inseparably united to the divine nature, man’s ascription of praise assumes a different character, it is ennobled, in a certain sense divinized, it bears the stamp of infinity. From the lips of the divine Infant, as He lay in the crib, from this God made man, the Most High received the first tribute of infinite praise, and this infinite praise has never been hushed. Wherefore God the Father looks down from heaven upon no ascription of praise with as much satisfaction as on that which ascends from mankind, whose nature His divine Son assumed. Consequently the praise rendered to Him by one single human being is of more value in His sight than that of all the rest of irrational creation.
And now, my soul, have you not cause to blush because you have hitherto been so slothful in giving glory to God? Can you say with David: “Seven times a day I have given praise to Thee” (Ps. cxviii. 164)? See that from hence forth when the sound of the bell summons you to the choir, to join in divine worship, you obey without delay; do not rub your eyes and consider whether you shall rise, but rather put aside your employment at once; remember that you are called upon to sing the praises of God, and that this is the noblest work man can perform on earth, as you learn from the meditation of to-day.
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.
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.
Exert, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy power and come; that by Thy protection we may be freed from the imminent dangers of our sins, and be saved by Thy mercy; 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.
Prayers in Time of Calamity
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