The Third Sunday of Advent.—The Testimony of St. John the Baptist.
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 Third Sunday of Advent.—The Testimony of St. John the Baptist.
(Read John i, 19-28.)
CONSIDER FIRSTLY how perfectly St. John the Baptist followed the counsel contained in the words: the greater thou art, the more humble thyself in all things. (Ecclus. iii, 20.) Although in the sight of God and in the eyes of men he was so exceedingly great as to be even thought to be the Messiah, yet he humbled himself, utterly refusing honour that became the Messiah alone: He confessed, I am not the Christ. Ambition for divine honours was the ruin first of the angels, and then of Adam. By the same way too did Lucifer hope to compass the fall of John the Baptist, but all to no purpose.
APPLICATION. Your pride probably does not make you aspire to divine honours. But how often do you seek after honour amongst men, and aim at an esteem out of all proportion with your merits? When you hear others out of mere flattery praise you, do you then check them or are you not rather pleased and gratified? God grant that you be not of the number of those who seek to pass themselves off as being something much better than they are.
AFFECTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS. Thou wilt save the humble people, but wilt bring down the eyes of the proud. (Ps. xvii, 28.)
CONSIDER SECONDLY that St. John humbled himself not only in refusing honours that were due to God alone, but also those which he deserved, saying that he was neither Elias nor a prophet, although Christ Himself had called him Elias and had extolled him as more than a prophet. In the same manner as the proud spare no efforts to gain honours which they do not deserve, so too do the humble endeavour as far as ever they may to conceal all that might gain for them any respect or esteem.
APPLICATION. Reflect for a moment upon yourself and see if you try always to hide your talents, your knowledge and your gifts, in order to escape praise, or whether in your pride you do not rather seek to conceal your faults and your mistakes in order to escape all blame.
AFFECTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS. I am brought to nothing, and I knew not. I am become as a beast before Thee, and I am always with Thee. (Ps. lxxii, 22-23.)
CONSIDER THIRDLY that St. John, when obliged to give some account of himself, was silent as to his noble parentage and the dignity of his father in his sacerdotal character. He merely made allusion to what was absolutely necessary, namely to the office which he held as precursor of the Messiah: I am the voice of one crying in the way, make straight the path of the Lord. He called himself a voice to show that he aspired to no higher function than that of a voice, which has no merit and no worth of itself but derives all from him who moves it and makes it speak.
APPLICATION. Whenever you have to undertake some office such as that of preaching or teaching or some other honourable ministry, in which you must necessarily make some show of your knowledge or of Your talent, learn then from St. John not to take the glory to yourself, but to refer all to God Who has given you the necessary gifts and the strength: What hast thou not received? and if thou hast received why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it? (I Cor. iv, 7.)
AFFECTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS. Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory. (Ps. cxiii, 9.)
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 good peaceable man.
II. Thou knowest well enough how to excuse and colour thy own doings, and thou wilt not take the excuse of others.
It were more just that thou shouldst accuse thyself, and excuse thy brother.
If thou wilt be borne withal, bear also with another.
See how far thou art yet from true charity and humility, which knows not how to be angry with any one, or to have indignation against any one but one’s self.
It is no great thing to be able to converse with them that are good and meek, for this is naturally pleasing to all.
And everyone would willingly have peace, and love those best that agree with them.
But to live peaceably with those that are harsh and perverse, or disorderly, or such as oppose us, is a great grace and a highly commendable and manly exploit..—Thomas à Kempis—Imitation of Christ Bk II, Ch III, pt. II.
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.)
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