O Antiphon - 17th December
O Wisdom, You came forth from the mouth of the Most High, and reaching from beginning to end You ordered all things mightily and sweetly. Come, and teach us the way of prudence.
Meditations - The Third Sunday of Advent: To Study the Mystery of the Incarnate Word
And this is the testimony of John: When the Jews sent from Jerusalem priests and Levites to him to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed and did not deny; and he confessed: I am not the Christ. And they asked him: What then? Art thou Elias? And he said: I am not. Art thou the prophet? And he answered: No. They said, therefore, unto him: Who art thou, that we may give an answer to them that sent us? What sayest thou of thyself? He said: I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Isaiah. And they that were sent were of the Pharisees. And they asked him, and said to him: Why, then, dost thou baptise if thou be not Christ, nor Elias, nor the prophet? John answered them, saying: I baptise with water; but there hath stood One in the midst of you whom you know not. The same is He that shall come after me, who is preferred before me, the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to loose. These things were done in Bethania, beyond the Jordan, where John was baptising.
The Gospel according to St John, i:19–28.
Summary of the Morrow’s Meditation
After having considered the excellence of the Incarnation in its effects, which are the glory of God, the glory of man, the consolation in our troubles and the remedy for our evils, we will now meditate on our duties in regard to this mystery. We will fix our thoughts tomorrow on the first of these mysteries, in order to study and understand it thoroughly; and we shall see, first, that there is no study more beautiful and more worthy of man; second, that there is none more useful. We will then make the resolution, first, often to reflect on this mystery, above all when we hear the angelus ring; second, often to repeat lovingly St Augustine’s prayer, “Lord, grant me to know Thee, that I may love Thee” and these words shall serve us as our spiritual nosegay.
Meditation for the Morning
Let us unite ourselves with the apostle St Paul on his knees before God the Father, to beg of Him, in favour of the faithful of Ephesus, an ever deeper knowledge of Christ and of His love, a knowledge which surpasses all science (Eph iii:14, 16, 19). Let us ardently desire for ourselves this divine knowledge, and let us ardently desire it from the bottom of our hearts. “Lord, grant me to know Thee, that I may love Thee.”
There is no Study more Beautiful and more Worthy of Man than the Study of the Mystery of the Incarnation.
We find, in fact, in this mystery all the perfections of God and all the perfections of the creature united together, since, as consubstantial with His Father, the Incarnate Word is, like Him, infinitely perfect, and as consubstantial with us, He is beautiful with all the perfections with which God can enrich a creature. The Holy Trinity itself takes therein its pleasure and the whole of its delight (Mk i:11). It finds therein infinite glory accruing to itself. Paradise finds there its joy, its pleasure, the subject of its most beautiful songs, and it exclaims, “Glory to God in the Highest!” (Lk ii:14) Can there be anything more worthy of the study of the human mind? We delight to know illustrious men, and we should be ashamed to be ignorant of their origin, of their history, of their great deeds; and the Word Incarnate, the glory and honour of our nature, with which He has united Himself in unity of person He, our Redeemer and Saviour, our King and our Master, and at one and the same time our co-heir sharing with us the kingdom of heaven, how little we study Him, how badly we know Him, and how greatly we deserve the reproach addressed by St John to the Jews, “There hath stood One in the midst of you whom you know not!” (Jn i:26) If Moses said to himself, when speaking of the burning bush, “I will go and see this great sight” (Ex iii:3), how shall we not much more say, I will study and apply myself more and more to understand this marvel above all marvels the marvel of God unchangeable in essence beginning to be that which He was not; the marvel of God remaining God without losing anything of His majesty and glory, although making Himself man and appropriating to Himself all man’s weaknesses and miseries; the marvel of the supreme worship reserved until then for God alone, and now rendered to a Man-God not only by men, but also by even the angels, who adore in Him almighty weakness, the Eternal born in time, the Infinite limited within a little space, the Creator of the world descended to the rank occupied by His works, and become so small a part of the world. I will study and contemplate the Creator in His creature, heaven on earth, sovereign glory in ignominy, infinite riches in poverty, immortality in death, and, better than all that, the divine life in humanity, the perfections of heaven become visible on earth, the most profound humility in the most sublime elevation, the abnegation of self in the divinity, incomparable devotedness in Him to whom is due all devotedness. Now, shall we not imitate St Paul, who made of Jesus Christ his sole study and his only science? To be wise in Jesus Christ was all his ambition (1Cor ii:2), and compared with this divine science all the rest appeared to him to be rather a loss than an advantage (Phil. iii:8). Is it thus that we look upon the study and knowledge of Jesus Christ?
There is no Study more useful than the Study of the Mystery of the Incarnation
God has given us all in Jesus Christ (Rom viii:32), and this mystery is an inexhaustible treasure of riches and spiritual blessings. But a treasure produces only in proportion as we draw upon it, and we cannot draw upon the mystery of the Incarnation except by studying it. By means of this study we learn to love God the Father, who has given us His Son; God the Son, who has given Himself to us; God the Holy Ghost, who performed this mystery in the womb of Mary; and Mary herself, who so divinely cooperated with it. The more we study this great subject, the more the heart is inflamed with love, and we desire to live only for love of God, who has so loved us. By studying this mystery we learn to judge wisely of all things, because we know the judgment and appreciation of Jesus Christ, infallible rules of the true; we learn to perform holily all things, because we have before our eyes the example of the Man God, the adorable type of all that is holy. If we desire to adore God, we adore Him perfectly by uniting our homage to that of the Incarnate Word, who deifies them by presenting them to His Father, covered with all the dignity of His Person. If we wish to solicit graces, we lay our prayer in the heart of the Incarnate Word, who communicates to it the omnipotence of his intervention on the heart of God. Lastly, by studying this mystery virtue appears therein so beautiful, so ravishing, that the heart attaches itself to it with delight, and finds the practice of it as sweet as it is easy. For we say to ourselves, “My God does not ask anything of me which He has not first done Himself; can I then complain and feel that He asks too much of me?” Such are the precious advantages which the study of the mystery of the Incarnation presents. Have we profited by them up to the present time? Do we lovingly study it in the gospels, in the writings of St Paul and the apostles, in pious works which describe its beauty and magnificence?
Resolutions and spiritual nosegay as above.