the church's morning prayer
"Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel because He has visited and ransomed His people." —Luke 1:68
Many hundreds of thousands of priests and religious have promised under pain of sin to pray each morning today's Gospel reading, Zechariah's canticle, as part of praying the Liturgy of the Hours. I promised to do this over twenty-five years ago, and by God's grace I have kept my promise.
The Church so emphasizes Zechariah's prophecy because:
- It is a prophecy, and prophets are part of the foundation of the Church (Eph 2:20).
- Zechariah prayed this prayer when he was "filled with the Holy Spirit" (Lk 1:67). May we also be filled with the Holy Spirit when we pray it.
- This prophecy teaches us that each morning should remind us that Jesus is "the Dayspring" (Lk 1:78), the Dawn, the Light of the world (Jn 8:12).
- This prophecy immediately precedes the Bible's account of the first Christmas, and praying this prayer has proven a good way to prepare to meet Christ in a new way during the Christmas season.
Although most of you are not obligated to pray Zechariah's canticle each day, pray it today and each day of the Christmas season and into the new millennium. You may decide to pray this prayer forever as Jesus guides your "feet into the way of peace" (Lk 1:79).
Prayer: Jesus, may I make any sacrifice necessary to give You myself as Your Christmas gift.
Promise: "Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before Me; your throne shall stand firm forever." —2 Sm 7:16
Praise: "Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel because He has visited and ransomed His people" (Lk 1:67).
Nihil Obstat: Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, July 21, 1999
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July 29, 1999