Thursday, December 24, 2009

Prayer of the Day

Isaiah 9:1-2, 5-6

The people that walked in darkness, have seen a great light: to them that dwelt in the region of the shadow of death, light is risen.

Thou hast multiplied the nation, and hast not increased the joy. They shall rejoice before thee, as they that rejoice in the harvest, as conquerors rejoice after taking a prey, when they divide the spoils.

For a CHILD IS BORN to us, and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace.

His empire shall be multiplied, and there shall be no end of peace: he shall sit upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom; to establish it and strengthen it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth and for ever: the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Advent

Reading 1
2 Sm 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16

When King David was settled in his palace,
and the LORD had given him rest from his enemies on every side,
he said to Nathan the prophet,
“Here I am living in a house of cedar,
while the ark of God dwells in a tent!”
Nathan answered the king,
“Go, do whatever you have in mind,
for the LORD is with you.”
But that night the LORD spoke to Nathan and said:
“Go, tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD:
Should you build me a house to dwell in?

“‘It was I who took you from the pasture
and from the care of the flock
to be commander of my people Israel.
I have been with you wherever you went,
and I have destroyed all your enemies before you.
And I will make you famous like the great ones of the earth.
I will fix a place for my people Israel;
I will plant them so that they may dwell in their place
without further disturbance.
Neither shall the wicked continue to afflict them as they did of old,
since the time I first appointed judges over my people Israel.
I will give you rest from all your enemies.
The LORD also reveals to you
that he will establish a house for you.
And when your time comes and you rest with your ancestors,
I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins,
and I will make his Kingdom firm.
I will be a father to him,
and he shall be a son to me.
Your house and your Kingdom shall endure forever before me;
your throne shall stand firm forever.’”

Responsorial Psalm
89:2-3, 4-5, 27 and 29

R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

The favors of the LORD I will sing forever;
through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness.
For you have said, “My kindness is established forever”;
in heaven you have confirmed your faithfulness.

R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
“I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant:
Forever will I confirm your posterity
and establish your throne for all generations.”

R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

“He shall say of me, ‘You are my father,
my God, the rock, my savior.’
Forever I will maintain my kindness toward him,
and my covenant with him stands firm.”

R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

Lk 1:67-79

“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;
for he has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty Savior,
born of the house of his servant David.
Through his prophets he promised of old
that he would save us from our enemies,
from the hands of all who hate us.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
to set us free from the hand of our enemies,
free to worship him without fear,
holy and righteous in his sight
all the days of our life.
You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High,
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,
to give his people knowledge of salvation
by the forgiveness of their sins.
In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Saint of the Day

December 24

Christmas at Greccio

What better way to prepare for the arrival of the Christ Child than to take a brief journey to Greccio, the spot in central Italy where St. Francis of Assisi created the first Christmas crib in the year 1223.

Francis, recalling a visit he had made years before to Bethlehem, resolved to create the manger he had seen there. The ideal spot was a cave in nearby Greccio. He would find a baby (we’re not sure if it was a live infant or the carved image of a baby), hay upon which to lay him, an ox and an ass to stand beside the manger. Word went out to the people of the town. At the appointed time they arrived carrying torches and candles.

One of the friars began celebrating Mass. Francis himself gave the sermon. His biographer, Thomas of Celano, recalls that Francis “stood before the manger…overcome with love and filled with a wonderful happiness…” For Francis, the simple celebration was meant to recall the hardships Jesus suffered even as an infant, a savior who chose to become poor for our sake, a truly human Jesus.

Tonight, as we pray around the Christmas cribs in our homes, we welcome into our hearts that same Savior.

Office of Readings

O Lord, open my lips.
– And my mouth will proclaim your praise.

Antiphon: Know that today the Lord will come, and in the morning you will see his glory.

(repeat antiphon*)

The Lord’s is the earth and its fullness,
the world and all who live in it.
He himself founded it upon the seas
and set it firm over the waters.

(repeat antiphon*)

Who will climb the mountain of the Lord?
Who will stand in his holy place?
The one who is innocent of wrongdoing and pure of heart,
who has not given himself to vanities or sworn falsely.
He will receive the blessing of the Lord
and be justified by God his saviour.
This is the way of those who seek him,
seek the face of the God of Jacob.

(repeat antiphon*)

Gates, raise your heads. Stand up, eternal doors,
and let the king of glory enter.
Who is the king of glory?
The Lord of might and power.
The Lord, strong in battle.

(repeat antiphon*)

Gates, raise your heads. Stand up, eternal doors,
and let the king of glory enter.
Who is the king of glory?
The Lord of hosts
– he is the king of glory.

(repeat antiphon*)

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.


(repeat antiphon*)

In time of defeat
Psalm 43 (44)

It is not their own strength that will give them victory, but your right hand and the light of your face.
Our own ears have heard, O God,
and our fathers have proclaimed it to us,
what you did in their days, the days of old:
how with your own hand you swept aside the nations
and put us in their place,
struck them down to make room for us.
It was not by their own swords that our fathers took over the land,
it was not their own strength that gave them victory;
but your hand and your strength,
the light of your face,
for you were pleased in them.
You are my God and my king,
who take care for the safety of Jacob.
Through you we cast down your enemies;
in your name we crushed those who rose against us.
I will not put my hopes in my bow,
my sword will not bring me to safety;
for it was you who saved us from our afflictions,
you who set confusion among those who hated us.
We will glory in the Lord all the day,
and proclaim your name for all ages.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.


It is not their own strength that will give them victory, but your right hand and the light of your face.
Psalm 43 (44)

The Lord will not turn his face from you if you return to him.
But now, God, you have spurned us and confounded us,
so that we must go into battle without you.
You have put us to flight in the sight of our enemies,
and those who hate us plunder us at will.
You have handed us over like sheep sold for food,
you have scattered us among the nations.
You have sold your people for no money,
not even profiting by the exchange.
You have made us the laughing-stock of our neighbours,
mocked and derided by those who surround us.
The nations have made us a by-word,
the peoples toss their heads in scorn.
All the day I am ashamed,
I blush with shame
as they reproach me and revile me,
my enemies and my persecutors.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.


The Lord will not turn his face from you if you return to him.
Psalm 43 (44)

Rise up, Lord, do not reject us for ever.
All this happened to us,
but not because we had forgotten you.
We were not disloyal to your covenant;
our hearts did not turn away;
our steps did not wander from your path;
and yet you brought us low,
with horrors all about us:
you overwhelmed us in the shadows of death.
If we had forgotten the name of our God,
if we had spread out our hands before an alien god —
would God not have known?
He knows what is hidden in our hearts.
It is for your sake that we face death all the day,
that we are reckoned as sheep to be slaughtered.
Awake, Lord, why do you sleep?
Rise up, do not always reject us.
Why do you turn away your face?
How can you forget our poverty and our tribulation?
Our souls are crushed into the dust,
our bodies dragged down to the earth.
Rise up, Lord, and help us.
In your mercy, redeem us.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.


Rise up, Lord, do not reject us for ever.
The Lord proclaims his word to Jacob;
– to Israel, his laws and decrees.

Reading Isaiah 51:17-52:2,7-10

Awake, awake!
To your feet, Jerusalem!
You who from the Lord’s hand have drunk
the cup of his wrath.
The chalice of stupor
you have drained to the dregs.
She has not one to guide her
of all the sons she has borne,
not one to take her by the hand
of all the sons she has reared.
These two calamities have befallen you
– who is there to mourn for you?
Devastation and ruin, famine and sword
– who is there to console you?
Your sons lie helpless
(at every street corner)
like an antelope trapped in a net,
sodden with the wrath of the Lord,
with the threats of your God.
Listen then to this, prostrated one,
drunk, though not with wine.
Thus says your Lord, your God,
defender of your people.
See, I take out of your hand
the cup of stupor,
the chalice of my wrath;
you shall drink it no longer.
I will put it into the hand of your tormentors,
of those who said to you,
‘Bow down that we may walk over you’;
while of your back you made a pavement,
a street for them to walk on.
Awake, awake!
Clothe yourself in strength, Zion.
Put on your richest clothes,
Jerusalem, holy city;
since no longer shall there enter you
either the uncircumcised or the unclean.
Shake off your dust; to your feet,
captive Jerusalem!
Free your neck from its fetters,
captive daughter of Zion.
How beautiful on the mountains,
are the feet of one who brings good news,
who heralds peace, brings happiness,
proclaims salvation,
and tells Zion,
‘Your God is king!’
Listen! Your watchmen raise their voices,
they shout for joy together,
for they see the Lord face to face,
as he returns to Zion.
Break into shouts of joy together,
you ruins of Jerusalem;
for the Lord is consoling his people,
redeeming Jerusalem.
The Lord bares his holy arm
in the sight of all the nations,
and all the ends of the earth shall see
the salvation of our God.

Reading From a sermon by Saint Augustine
Truth has arisen from the earth and justice has looked down from heaven

Awake, mankind! For your sake God has become man. Awake, you who sleep, rise up from the dead, and Christ will enlighten you. I tell you again: for your sake, God became man.

You would have suffered eternal death, had he not been born in time. Never would you have been freed from sinful flesh, had he not taken on himself the likeness of sinful flesh. You would have suffered everlasting unhappiness, had it not been for this mercy. You would never have returned to life, had he not shared your death. You would have been lost if he had not hastened ‘to your aid. You would have perished, had he not come.

Let us then joyfully celebrate the coming of our salvation and redemption. Let us celebrate the festive day on which he who is the great and eternal day came from the great and endless day of eternity into our own short day of time.

He has become our justice, our sanctification, our redemption, so that, as it is written: Let him who glories glory in the Lord.

Truth, then, has arisen from the earth: Christ who said, I am the Truth, was born of the Virgin. And justice looked down from heaven: because believing in this new-born child, man is justified not by himself but by God.

Truth has arisen from the earth: because the Word was made flesh. And justice looked down from heaven: because every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.

Truth has arisen from the earth: flesh from Mary. And justice looked down from heaven: for man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven.

Justified by faith, let us be at peace with God: for justice and peace have embraced one another. Through our Lord Jesus Christ: for Truth has arisen from the earth. Through whom we have access to that grace in which we stand, and our boast is in our hope of God’s glory. He does not say: “of our glory,” but of God’s glory: for justice has not come out of us but has looked down from heaven. Therefore he who glories, let him glory, not in himself, but in the Lord.

For this reason, when our Lord was born of the Virgin, the message of the angelic voices was: Glory to God in the highest, and peace to men of good will.

For how could there be peace on earth unless Truth has arisen from the earth, that is, unless Christ were born of our flesh?
And he is our peace who made the two into one: that we might be men of good will, sweetly linked by the bond of unity.

Let us then rejoice in this grace, so that our glorying may bear witness to our good conscience by which we glory, not in ourselves, but in the Lord. That is why Scripture says: He is my glory, the one who lifts up my head. For what greater grace could God have made to dawn on us than to make his only Son become the son of man, so that a son of man might in his turn become son of God?

Ask if this were merited; ask for its reason, for its justification, and see whether you will find any other answer but sheer grace.

Concluding Prayer

Hurry, Lord Jesus, do not delay.
We put our trust in your loving kindness:
may your coming bring us consolation and support.
You live and reign with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.