First Week - Sunday: Triple Coming of the Saviour
At that time Jesus said to His disciples: There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, by reason of the confusion of the roaring of the sea and of the waves, men withering away for fear and expectation of what shall come upon the whole world. For the powers of heaven shall be moved: and then they shall see the Son of man coming in a cloud with great power and majesty. But when these things begin to come to pass, look up and lift up your heads: because your redemption is at hand. And He spoke to them a similitude. See the fig-tree and all the trees: when they now shoot forth their fruit, you know that summer is nigh. So you also, when you shall see these things come to pass, know that the kingdom of God is at hand. Amen I say to you, this generation shall not pass away till all things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away. The Gospel according to St Luke, xxi:25–36.
Summary of the Morrow’s Meditation.
The holy season on which we have entered is intended on the part of the Church to make us meditate on the three great advents of the Saviour upon earth: the first in the humility of the crib in order to save us; the second in the splendour of His glory at the last day in order to judge us; the third in the secret of our hearts by His grace in order to sanctify us. After having meditated on these three advents we will make the resolution: first, to enter upon a new life of recollection and prayer suitable to the season of Advent; second, to take particular care with regard to the perfection of every one of our ordinary actions, which will be the best manner of sanctifying this holy season. Our spiritual nosegay shall be the words of St Paul: “Behold now is the acceptable time; behold now is the day of salvation” (2co vi:2).
Meditation for the Morning
Let us adore the Spirit of God inspiring the Church with the institution of Advent, to prepare us for the great solemnity of Christmas, of which the whole of this season is as the vigil, St Charles says; “a vigil,” remarks this holy Cardinal, “which ought not to appear long to whoever rightly appreciates the excellence of the feast for which it prepares us” (Lit. S. Car., de Adventu). It is in this spirit that the holy Church cries to heaven: God, send Thy all-powerful grace to dispose our hearts (Collect. Adventus), and that she exclaims in the epistle of today: “Come forth out of your torpor; awake, children of men, prepare your hearts; the birth of the Saviour is at hand” (rom viii:11). It is in this same spirit that she substitutes penitential vestments for her festal vestments, and special and longer prayers for her ordinary prayers; and that where she has it in her power she summons to her pulpits distinguished preachers, who may be able to touch the hearts of the faithful by the accents of a voice to which they are not familiar. Let us enter with our whole heart into the mind of the Church during this holy season.
Why we must meditate in a special manner during Advent on the Mystery of an Incarnate God.
It is a proof of profound wisdom on the part of the Church not to introduce us at once to the crib of Bethlehem, but to point it out to us as it were with her finger a month in advance, that she may say to us, “Be prepared to meet thy God” (amo iv:12). Reflect seriously on this great mystery which, after having been hid nine months in the womb of Mary, is about to reveal itself to the religion of the world on Christmas Day. Prepare for Him in your hearts, by meditation, to have a more lively faith in His greatness; a more profound devotion for the abasement of His majesty; a grateful love for His charity, which has descended so low from so great a height; a true humility, in order to honour Him in His low estate; a gentleness in character and in speech in harmony with His incomparable be dignity; a spirit of penitence and recollection which will not form a contrast to the austerity of the crib and the holy occupations of the Divine Child. If you do not thus prepare your heart by a season’s meditation on the mystery of the Incarnate Word, you will lose the graces attached to this great solem- nity. Let us avoid such a misfortune by commencing from today to occupy ourselves with this mystery, and by entering upon a new life.
Why we ought to meditate in a special manner during Advent on the Coming of the Saviour as Judge.
Doubtless we ought every day of our lives to meditate on the great judgment with which the world will come to an end, and say, whilst performing every one of our actions: “After this the judgment” (heb ix:27). Nevertheless, the Church, believing this thought to be eminently useful to enable us to enter into the sentiments of fervour suitable to the holy season of Advent, summons us specially to meditate upon it through the recital of the last judgment which she causes us to read today in the Gospel. It is our duty to enter into her views; to conceive a lively faith in the coming of this great day, which will be so consoling for the good, who will then receive the recompense of their virtues, so terrible for sinners, who will then receive the punishment due to their vices; and to listen, like St Jerome, to the voice of the trumpet which will summon us to it. May this voice resound in the bottom of our hearts during the whole of this holy season, in order to make us tremble at the mere appearance of evil, as well as to encourage us in the practice of good.
Why we ought to meditate in a Special Manner, during the Holy Season of Advent, on the Coming of the Saviour into our Hearts by Grace.
It is because this advent is the special means by which the graces of the mystery of Christmas are communicated to the soul. Jesus Christ, in this great feast, is not born corporally, as at Bethlehem, but He is born spiritually by His grace in souls which are well prepared to receive Him. He lives therein by His spirit, by the sentiments with which He inspires us, by His humility, His gentleness, His charity in a word, by all His virtues which He communicates to us. O life of Jesus in us, how necessary art thou to us! Thou alone, O my God, canst render to our soul, disfigured by sin, its primary beauty (Hymn Laudum et Vesper, Brev. Paris); Thou alone art our salvation, our strength, our consolation; without Thee our poor soul would perish like a herb without water (Ibidem). We are the sick who cannot be cured save by Thee; men who have fallen and cannot be raised up again except by Thee. Show to us Thy divine graces, which ravish the souls of all; and then, enamoured by Thy charms, we shall regain the lost flower of our innocence (Hymn Laudum et Vesper, Brev. Paris). We should obtain this birth and this life of grace first, through fervent prayers inspired by the feeling of the need which we have of it; second, by dint of vigilance in listening to grace, which asks but to speak to us; third, through generosity in obeying it and by abandoning ourselves lovingly and simply to its guidance.
Resolutions and spiritual nosegay as above.