Advent meditation: The book of Judith tells the story of how Holofernes attempted to destroy the city of Jewish city Bethulia. Judith infiltrated the enemy camp. When Holofernes was sleeping, Judith cut off his head and saved the people of Bethulia. Judith is another type of Mary, the woman who crushes the head of the serpent. Bethulia means “virgin,” and so this city too is a type of the Blessed Virgin Mary who was saved from the curse of the enemy.
Prayer: Blessed art thou, our God, who hast brought into contempt the enemies of thy people. O daughter Judith and Most Blessed Virgin Mary, you are blessed by the Most High God above all women on earth; and blessed be the Lord God, who created the heavens and the earth, who has guided you to strike the head of the leader of our enemies. Your hope will never depart from the hearts of men, as they remember the power of God. May God grant this to be a perpetual honor to you, and may he visit you with blessings. (Adapted from the prayer of Uzziah, Judith 13:17-20)
Scripture: Judith was left alone in the tent , with Holofernes stretched out on his bed, for he was overcome with wine. Now Judith had told her maid to stand outside the bedchamber and to wait for her to come out, as she did every day; for she said she would be going out for her prayers. And she had said the same thing to Bagoas. So every one went out, and no one, either small or great, was left in the bedchamber. Then Judith, standing beside his bed, said in her heart, “O Lord God of all might, look in this hour upon the work of my hands for the exaltation of Jerusalem. For now is the time to help thy inheritance, and to carry out my undertaking for the destruction of the enemies who have risen up against us.” She went up to the post at the end of the bed, above Holofernes’ head, and took down his sword that hung there. She came close to his bed and took hold of the hair of his head, and said, “Give me strength this day, O Lord God of Israel!” And she struck his neck twice with all her might, and severed his head from his body. And Uzziah said to her, “O daughter, you are blessed by the Most High God above all women on earth; and blessed be the Lord God, who created the heavens and the earth, who has guided you to strike the head of the leader of our enemies.” (Judith 13:2-8, 18)