Meditations -Saturday in the first Week of Advent: First Preparation for Christmas
Summary of the Morrow’s Meditation
In order to prepare our souls for the birth of the Saviour, we will consider, in our next meditation, that the most necessary preparation is: first, to renounce sin; second, to expiate sin by penance. We will then make the resolution: first, to watch over ourselves, so that we may avoid all sin; second, to accept, in a spirit of penance, all the troubles and annoyances which may befall us. Our spiritual nosegay shall be the words of Isaiah: “Prepare ye the way of the Lord” (xl:3).
Meditation for the Morning
Let us adore Jesus Christ, warning us, by His Holy Church, to prepare the way in our souls for His near coming. Let us thank Him for so useful a warning, and let us promise Him to put it in practice during the whole of the holy season of Advent.
All Sin must be Renounced: the First Preparation for the Feast of Christmas.
When a sovereign or some other great personage is about to make a sojourn somewhere, the first solicitude of the persons called upon to enjoy the honour of receiving him is to cleanse the apartment they have reserved for him, and to remove from it every stain which might displease his eyes. Jesus Christ, at the approaching feast of Christmas, is coming to dwell and reign within us. Him self directing our feelings and our conduct. It is for us, then, to banish from our hearts not only all sin, but all attachment to sin, above all, to certain favourite sins into which we have fallen so often for a long time past, and for which we are forever making excuses to ourselves, in spite of the complaints uttered by our conscience. It is our duty not only to weep over our voluntary distractions in themselves and in their cause; our uncharitable words, our falsehoods, our sensuality; but also to stifle the mischievous disposition which engenders these faults: the want of devotion, which causes distractions; the secret aversions, whence proceed so many faults against charity; the spirit of pride, which causes us to utter so many falsehoods in order to render ourselves of some account; the unbridled love of ourselves, which produces sensuality. Blind as we are, we attack the branches and the twigs, and we leave the trunks and the roots, which produce fresh branches and fresh twigs. It is for us to separate ourselves from all occasions of falling, such as a certain kind of society which is a cause of dissipation for us; certain ties which entangle us; certain intercourse which ruins us.
Sin must be Expiated: the Second Preparation for Christmas.
Two things are required to expiate sin: a spirit of penitence and works of penance, first, a spirit of penitence. How could Our Saviour enter within us if He did not behold in us true repentance for having offended Him; if the sighs of our heart, wounded with sorrow and love, did not prove to Him that we love Him, that we deplore our sad past, and that henceforth we desire to serve Him better? Is it really true that our sins afflict us that we feel an overwhelming grief for them, that is to say, greater than for all the misfortunes which might happen to us; a supernatural grief, produced by the Holy Spirit, and founded upon motives of faith; a universal grief, embracing all our faults, without exception? Do not our sins more often leave us as tranquil, as careless, as though we were innocent? Whence comes it, excepting that this regret is granted only to prayer, and that we either do not pray or that we pray badly; excepting, also, that we do not meditate enough on the horror sin deserves, the sufferings it caused Jesus Christ in His holy passion, and the evil it does to ourselves? If we knew that by sinning we should lose one of our eyes, or incur the disgrace or displeasure of one of our superiors, we should detest the fault, and we should regret it bitterly after having committed it. O Jesus, how little faith we have, thus to lose our soul, to incur Thy hatred, to displease Thee, O my God, as we do by sinning! Is not sin a greater evil than all imaginable misfortunes? O Lord, touch my heart; may I feel what misery it is to offend or displease Thee; may I weep over my faults, especially during this holy season. Second, if we have a real spirit of penitence, it will inspire us to perform acts of penance; for all sin, even when it is pardoned, must be punished either in this world or in the next. Now, penance in this world is much sweeter and more meritorious than the penalties of the life to come. For that it is sufficient to accept willingly, in a spirit of expiation, all the sufferings which may befall us, and to make of necessity a virtue; it is sufficient to mortify our will, our desires, our tastes, our disposition; to deprive ourselves of certain enjoyments which have only an insignificant effect upon the health; not to refuse to grant any of the sacrifices it may ask us for. And these penitential works, far from being painful, will fill the soul with consolation. We shall find incomparably more of sweetness than of bitterness in them. Let us here examine ourselves in the sight of God, who sees into the bottom of the heart, whether we have the spirit of penance, and if we perform penitential works.
Resolutions and spiritual nosegay as above.