Meditations - Monday in the first Week of Advent.
Summary of the Morrow’s Meditation
We shall meditate tomorrow on three means whereby to sanctify the season of Advent, that is to say: first, on the spirit of penitence and renewal of life; second, on holy desires for the birth of Christ in us: third, on special devotion to the mystery of the Incarnation. We will then make the resolution: first, to excite ourselves during every day of this holy season to lead a better life, and to ask of God by fervent prayers to enable us to do so; second, to think often and lovingly of the mystery of the Incarnation, above all when reciting the Angelus. Our spiritual nosegay shall be the prayer which the Church has borrowed from the prophet to invoke the reign of Christ in us: “Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just” (isa xlv:8).
Meditation for the Morning
Let us adore with a deep feeling of love and gratitude the Incarnate Word dwelling during nine months in the womb of Mary, whence He will issue forth on the most blessed night of Christmas to show Himself to the world. He bestows on us the holy season of Advent to dispose us to receive all the graces attached to the celebration of His birth. Let us thank Him for His goodness, and propose to ourselves richly to profit by it.
The Spirit of Penitence and of a Renewal of Life: the First Condition for Passing the Season of Advent Holily.
The season of Advent is, as we have already seen in one meditation, a series of holy and blessed days, destined to prepare us for the feast of Christmas by a better and more perfect life. It would, therefore, be in a way to profane it if we were to pass it in an ordinary manner. Formerly the Church sanctified Advent by abstinence, fasting, and long prayers. If we have not the courage of past days, we ought, at least, to sanctify it by a serious retrospect of ourselves, of the manner in which we perform our spiritual exercises, the employment of our time, the books we read, and our conversations, the defects of our character, our self-will and our self-love. We ought to examine ourselves in respect to all these things in presence of the crib, and taking as our judge the Child-God. This serious examination will give birth in us to great sentiments of penitence for the past, strong resolutions for the future, and a firm determination to enter upon a new life. We have not a moment to lose. We have entered upon a holy season. We must set ourselves to work with our whole heart, and begin from this very instant with settling on some special defects to be corrected between now and Christmas.
Holy Desires for the Birth of Christ within us: the Second Disposition in which to Spend in a Holy Manner the Season of Advent.
In the same degree in which the patriarchs and prophets longed for the coming of the Messiah, we ought also to long after His birth in our hearts by grace. For of what use would be the coming of the Messiah upon earth if He did not come to be born and live in us; that is to say, if He did not come to animate us with His spirit, to inspire us with His grace, to fill us with His sentiments (php ii:5), since it is only on this condition that we are Christians, and that we can be saved (rom viii:9). Now Jesus Christ enters into the soul only if we desire Him, and according to the proportion in which we desire Him. He who does not desire Him does not appreciate Him, and renders himself, on that very account, unworthy to receive Him. We ought, then, during this holy season, to be men of desires (dan ix:23), to sigh as the patriarchs of old did for the coming of the Messiah, and like the saints of the New Law after the reign of Jesus Christ in their hearts often repeating with them, “Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just; let the earth be opened and bud forth a Saviour” (isa xlv:8). “Oh, that Thou wouldst rend the heavens and wouldst come down” (isa lxiv:1). “Come without delay, O Adonai! O Emmanuel! God with us! O King of peoples! Saint of saints! Expectation of the nations; the Desired of the eternal hills; Sun of justice; Splendour of glory. Come, O Lord, come!” (O Antiphon for Advent) And these holy desires ought to be at once ardent and generous; ardent, that they may be in harmony with the excellence of the gift we ask for; generous to the point of sacrificing all which is displeasing to the Divine Host whom we desire should dwell in us. We cannot be ignorant of what displeases Him in us: our love of our own ease and of our well-being, our pride; in a word, everything which is a contrast to the humility, the suffering, and the poverty of the crib.
A Special Devotion to the Mystery of the Incarnation: the Third Disposition Necessary for Spending Advent Holily.
At all times this devotion ought to be eminently dear to the Christian soul; but the Church having instituted the season of Advent in order to lead us to honour and meditate upon this mystery, it is our duty to occupy ourselves with it in a special manner; to study the infinite love which has united the sublime nature of God to poor human nature; to thank, to love, to bless this great mystery; and in reparation of the past to live for nothing during Advent except the love and imitation of the Incarnate Word, who has condescended to render Himself the model of the life of a Christian. Happy he who will understand these truths, and who during the whole of this holy season will make it his study to bring them into practice; that is to say, to love and imitate the Word Incarnate. In so doing the whole of Christianity consists. Jesus Christ came down from heaven to earth solely to enkindle in all hearts the sacred fire of His love, and He did nothing more than show us by His example the line of conduct which we must follow during our sojourn upon earth. Let us thank Him for this double boon, and let us promise Him to profit by it.
Resolutions and spiritual nosegay as above.