Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Seventh Day of Christmas

MEDITATION VII: Jesus weeping.

The tears of the Infant Jesus were very different from those of other new-born babes: they weep through pain; Jesus did not weep from pain, but through compassion for us and through love: "They weep because of suffering, Christ because of compassion," says St. Bernard. Tears are a great sign of love. Therefore did the Jews say when they saw the Savior weeping for the death of Lazarus: Behold how he loved him (John 11:36). Thus also might the angels have said on beholding the tears of the Infant Jesus: "Behold how he loves them." Behold how our God loves men; since for the love of them we see him made man, become an Infant, and shedding tears.

Jesus wept and offered to his Father his tears to obtain for us the pardon of our sins. "These tears," says St. Ambrose, "washed away my sins;" by his cries and tears he implored mercy for us who were condemned to eternal death, and thus he appeased the indignation of his Father. Oh, how eloquently did the tears of this divine little one plead in our behalf! Oh, how precious were they to God! It was then that the Father caused the angels to proclaim that he made peace with men, and received them into his favor: And on earth peace to men of good will (Luke 2:14).

Jesus wept through love, but he also wept through sorrow at the thought that so many sinners, even after all his tears and the blood he should shed for their salvation, would yet continue to despise his grace. But who would be so hard-hearted, on seeing an Infant God weeping for our sins, as not to weep also, and to detest those sins that have made this loving Savior shed so many tears? Oh, let us not increase the sorrows of this innocent babe; but let us console him by uniting our tears to his! Let us offer to God the tears of his Son, and let us beseech him for their sake to forgive us!

Affections and Prayers.

My beloved Infant, while you were weeping in the stable of Bethlehem, you wert thinking of me; beholding even then my sins, which were the cause of your tears. And have I, then, O my Jesus! instead of consoling you by my love and gratitude at the thought of what you have suffered to save me, have I increased your sorrow and the cause of your tears? If I had sinned less, you would have wept less. Weep, oh, weep, for you have cause to weep in seeing such great ingratitude of men to your great love. But since you weep, weep also for me; your tears are my hope. I also will weep for the offences I have committed against you, O my Redeemer! I hate them, I detest them, I repent of them with my whole heart. I weep for all those days and those wretched nights of mine in which I lived as your enemy and deprived of your beautiful face; but what would my tears avail, O my Jesus, without yours!

Eternal Father, I offer you the tears of the Infant Jesus; for their sake forgive me. And you, my dearest Savior, offer to him all the tears that you shed for me during your life, and with them appease his anger against me. I beseech you also, O my Love, to soften my heart by these tears, and to inflame it with your holy love. Oh that I could from this day forth console you by my love for all the pain I have caused you by offending you! Grant, therefore, O Lord! that the days that remain to me in this life may not any more be spent in offending you, but only in weeping for the offences I have committed against you, and in loving you with all the affections of my soul.

O Mary, I beseech you, by that tender compassion which you so often felt at the sight of the Infant Jesus in tears, obtain for me a constant sorrow for the offences which I have so ungratefully been guilty of against him.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Sixth Day of Christmas

MEDITATION VI: Jesus sleeping.

Very short and painful were the slumbers of the Infant Jesus. A manger was his cradle, straw was his bed, and Straw his pillow; so that Jesus was constantly interrupted in his sleep by the hardness of this rough and painful little bed, and by the severe cold of the cave. Notwithstanding all this, nature succumbing to its wants, the sweet babe from time to time slept amidst his
sufferings.

But the sleep of Jesus differed very much from that of other children. The slumbers of other children are useful for the preservation of life, but not for the operations of the soul, because the soul, being buried in sleep with the senses, cannot then work; but such was not the sleep of Jesus Christ: I sleep, and my heart watches (Cant. 5:2). His body was asleep, but his soul was watching; because in Jesus there was united the person of the Word, who could not sleep, nor be influenced by the slumber of the senses. The Holy Infant slept therefore; but while he slept he thought of all the sufferings he was to endure for our sake during all his life and at his death. He thought of the labors he was to undergo in Egypt and in Nazareth during his miserable and despised life; he thought more particularly on the scourges, the thorns, the ignominies, the agonies, and on that miserable death that he should at last suffer upon the cross; and whilst he was sleeping he offered all this to his Eternal Father to obtain for us pardon and salvation; so that while our Savior was sleeping he was meriting for us and appeasing his Father, and obtaining graces for us.

Let us now beseech him, by the merit of his blessed slumbers, to deliver us from the deadly slumber of sinners who unhappily sleep in the death of sin, forgetful of God and of his love; and to give us instead the blessed sleep of the holy spouse, of which he said, Stir not up, nor make the beloved to wake till she please (Cant. 2:7). This is the sleep that God gives to his beloved souls, which is none other, as St. Basil says, "but the most profound oblivion of all things;" and this is when the soul forgets all earthly things, to attend only to God and to the things that concern his glory.

Affections and Prayers.

My beloved and holy Infant, you sleep, and oh, how do your slumbers enamor me! With others sleep is the emblem of death; but in you it is the sign of eternal life, because while you are sleeping you are meriting for me eternal salvation. You sleep; but your heart sleeps not, it is thinking of suffering and dying for me. While you are slumbering, you are praying for me, and obtaining for me from God the eternal rest of Paradise. But before you carry me (as I hope) to repose with you in heaven, I desire that you should repose forever in my soul. There was a time, O my God! when I drove you away from me; but I trust that, by means of knocking so often at the door of my heart,—now by making it afraid, now by enlightening it, now by the voice of love,—you have already obtained an entrance there. This, I say, is my hope, because I feel a great confidence that I have been forgiven by you; I feel a great hatred and penitence for the offences I have committed against you, penitence that causes me great sorrow; but a sorrow of peace, a sorrow that comforts me and makes me hope most assuredly for pardon from your goodness. I thank you, my Jesus, and I beg you never again to separate yourself from my soul. I know indeed that you wilt not leave me, if I do not drive you away; but this is the favor I ask of you (and I pray you to give me your assistance that I may always seek it of you), that you would not permit me ever to drive you from me. Make me forget everything, in order to think of you who has always thought of me and of my welfare. Make me always love you in this life, so that I may breathe forth my soul in your arms, united to you, and may repose eternally in you without fear of losing you again.

O Mary, assist me in life and in death, so that Jesus may always repose in me, and that I may always repose in Jesus.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Fifth Day of Christmas

MEDITATION V: Jesus lying on the Straw.

Jesus is born in the stable at Bethlehem. His poor Mother has neither wool nor down to make a bed for the tender Infant. What does she do, then? She gathers together a small handful of straw into the manger, and puts it there for him to lie on: And she laid Him in the manger (Luke 2:7). But, O my God, how hard and painful is this bed for an infant just born; the limbs of a babe are so delicate, and especially the limbs of Jesus, which were formed by the Holy Spirit with a special delicacy, in order that they might be the more sensible to suffering: A body you have fitted to me (Heb. 10:5).

Wherefore the hardness of such a bed must have caused him excessive pain,—pain and shame; for what child, even of the lowest of the people, is ever laid on straw as soon as he is born? Straw is only a fit bed for beasts; and yet the Son of God had none other on earth than a bed of miserable straw. St. Francis of Assisi heard one day as he sat at table these words of the Gospel: And laid Him in the manger; and exclaimed, "What? my Lord was laid on the straw, and shall I continue to sit?" And thus he arose from his seat, threw himself on the ground, and there finished his scanty meal, mingling it with tears of tenderness as he contemplated the sufferings that the Infant Jesus endured while he lay on the straw.

But why did Mary, who had so earnestly desired the birth of this Son—why did she, who loved him so much, allow him to lie and suffer on this hard bed, instead of keeping him in her arms? This is a mystery, says St. Thomas of Villanova: "Nor would she have laid him in such a place, unless there had been some great mystery in it." This great mystery has been explained by many in different ways, but the most pleasing explanation to me is that of St. Peter Damian: Jesus wished as soon as he was born to be placed on the straw, in order to teach us the mortification of our senses: "He laid down the law of martyrdom." The world had been lost by sensual pleasures; through them had Adam and multitudes of his descendants till then been lost. The Eternal Word came from heaven to teach us the love of suffering; and he began as a child to teach it to us by choosing for himself the most acute sufferings that an infant can endure. It was, therefore, he himself who inspired his Mother to cease from holding him in her tender arms, and to replace him on the hard bed, that he might feel the more cold of the cave and the pricking of this rough straw.

Affections and Prayers.

O Lover of souls, O my loving Redeemer is not, then, the sorrowful Passion that awaits you, and the bitter death that is prepared for you on the cross, sufficient, but you must, even from the beginning of your life, even from your infancy, begin to suffer? Yes, because even as an infant you would begin to be my Redeemer, and to satisfy the divine justice for my sins. You chose a bed of straw to deliver me from the fire of hell, into which I have so many times deserved to be cast. You cried and mourned on this bed of straw to obtain for me pardon from your Father. Oh, how your tears afflict and yet console me! They afflict me from compassion at seeing you, an innocent babe, suffering so much for sins not your own; but they console me, because your sufferings assure me of my salvation, and of your immense love for me. But, my Jesus, 1 will not leave you alone to cry and to suffer. I myself will also weep; for I alone deserve to shed tears on account of the offences I have committed against you. I, who have deserved hell, will not refuse any suffering whatever, so that I may regain your favor, O my Savior. Forgive me, I beseech you; receive me once more into your friendship, make me love you, and then chastise me as you will. Deliver me from eternal punishment, and then treat me as it shall please you. I do not seek for pleasures in this life; he does not deserve pleasure who has had the temerity to offend you, O infinite Goodness. I am content to suffer all the crosses you shall send me; but, my Jesus, I will love you still.

O Mary, who sympathized by your sufferings with the sufferings of Jesus, obtain for me the grace to suffer all my trials with patience. Woe to me if, after so many sins, I do not suffer something in this life! And blessed shall I be if I have the happiness to accompany you in your sufferings, O my sorrowful Mother, and you, O my Jesus, always afflicted and crucified for love of me.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Fourth Day of Christmas

Meditation IV: Jesus Taking Milk.

As soon as Jesus was swathed, he looked for and took milk from the breast of Mary. The spouse in the Canticles desired to see her little brother taking milk from his mother: Who shall give thee to me for my brother, sucking the breast of my mother (Cant. 8:1). The spouse desired it, but did not see him; but we have had the happiness to see the Son of God made Man and become our brother, taking milk from the breasts of Mary. Oh, what a spectacle must it not have been to Paradise to see the divine Word become an infant sucking milk from a virgin who was his own creature!

He, then, who feeds all men and all animals upon the earth, is become so weak and so poor that he requires a little milk to sustain life! Sister Paula, the Camaldolese, in contemplating a little image of Jesus taking milk, felt herself immediately all inflamed with a tender love to God. Jesus took but little of this milk, and took it but seldom in the day. It was revealed to Sister Mary Anne, a Franciscan, that Mary only gave him milk three times in the day. O milk most precious to us, to be changed into blood in the veins of Jesus Christ, and so to be made by him a bath of salvation to cleanse our souls!

Let us consider also that Jesus took this milk in order to nourish the body which he wished to leave us as food in the Holy Communion. Therefore, my Blessed Redeemer, while you nurse at the breast of Mary, you art thinking of me; you art thinking of changing this milk into blood, to be shed afterwards at your death, as the price wherewith to ransom my soul, and as its food in the most Holy Sacrament, which is the salutary milk with which our Lord preserves our souls in the life of grace: "Christ is your milk," says St. Augustine.

O beloved Infant, O my Jesus, let me also exclaim with the woman in the Gospel, Blessed is the womb that bare you, and the paps that gave you suck (Luke 11:27). Blessed are you, O Mother of God, who had the happiness to give milk to the Incarnate Word! Oh, admit me, in company with this great Son, to take from you the milk of a tender and loving devotion to the Infancy of Jesus, and to yourself, my dearest mother.

And I thank you, O divine Infant, who deigned to stand in need of milk for your support in order to show me the love that you bear me. This is what our Lord once gave St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi to understand that he had reduced himself to the necessity of taking milk in order to make us comprehend the love that he has for redeemed souls.

Affections and Prayers.

O my sweet and most amiable Infant, you are the bread of heaven, and sustain the angels: you provide all creatures with food; and yet you are reduced to the necessity of begging a little milk from a Virgin in order to preserve your life! O divine love, how could you reduce a God to such a state of poverty that he was in want of a little food? But I understand you, O my Jesus. You took milk from Mary in this stable to offer it to God changed into blood on the cross as a sacrifice, and in satisfaction for our sins. Give, O Mary! give all the milk you can to this Son, because every drop of this milk will serve to wash away the sins of my soul, and to nourish it afterwards in the Holy Communion. O my Redeemer! how can one not love you who believes what you have done and suffered to save us? And I, how could I know this, and yet be so ungrateful to you? But your goodness is my hope; and this makes me sure that if I wish for your grace it is mine. I repent, O sovereign Good! of having offended you, and I love you above all things. Or, rather, I love nothing, I love and I will love only you; you are and shall always be my only good, my only love. My beloved Redeemer, give me, I pray, a tender devotion to your holy Infancy, such as you have given to so many souls, who, meditating on you, as an Infant, forgetting all else, seem unable to think of anything but loving you. It is true that they are innocent, and I am a sinner; but you became a child to make yourself loved even by sinners. I have been such; but now I love you with my whole heart, and I desire nothing but your love.

O Mary, give me a little of that tenderness with which you gave suck to the Infant Jesus.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Third Day of Christmas

Meditation III: Jesus in Swaddling-clothes.

Imagine that you see Mary, having now brought forth her Son, taking him with reverence in her arms, adoring him as her God, and then wrapping him up in swaddling-clothes: She wrapped Him up in swaddling-clothes (Luke 2:7). The Holy Church says the same in the Office of the Passion:
"His limbs, wrapped in swaddling-clothes,
The Virgin Mother binds"

Behold the Infant Jesus, who obediently offers his little hands and feet, and allows himself to be swaddled. Consider that every time the Holy Infant allowed himself to be swathed he thought of the cords with which he should one day be bound and led captive in the garden, and of those also with which he should be tied to the column, and of the nails which should fasten him to the cross; and thinking of these things, he willingly allowed himself to be bound, in order to deliver our souls from the chains of hell.

Bound, then, in these swaddling-clothes, and turning towards us, Jesus invites us to unite ourselves to him with the holy bonds of love. And turning to his eternal Father, he says: My Father, men have abused their liberty, and by rebelling against you have made themselves the slaves of sin; but I will make satisfaction for their disobedience, and will be bound and confined in these swaddling-clothes. Bound with these, I offer you my liberty, in order that man may be delivered from the slavery of the devil. I accept these swaddling-clothes; they are dear to me, because they are the symbols of the cords with which, from this moment forth, I offer myself to be one day bound and led to death for the salvation of men.

His bands are a healthful binding (Ecclus. 6:31). The bands of Jesus were the healthful binding, to heal the wounds of our souls. Therefore, O my Jesus, you would be bound in swaddling-clothes for the love of me. "O Love, how great is your bond, which could bind a God." O divine Love, you alone could make my God your prisoner. And shall I then, O Lord, refuse to allow myself to be bound by your holy love? Shall I for the future have the courage to detach myself from your sweet and amiable chains? And for what? To make myself a slave of hell? O my Lord, you remain bound up in this manger for the love of me; I desire always to remain bound to you.

St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi said that the bands that we ought to take should be a firm resolution of uniting ourselves to God by means of love; detaching ourselves at the same time from all affection for anything that is not God. For this reason, also, it seems that our loving Jesus has allowed himself to be, as it were, bound and made a prisoner in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, under the sacramental species, in order that he might behold his beloved souls made also prisoners of his love.

Affections and Prayers.

And what fear can I have of your chastisement, O my beloved Infant, now that I see you bound in the swaddling-clothes, depriving yourself, as it were, of the power of raising your hands to punish me? You give me to understand by these bands that you will not chastise me, if I will detach myself from the chains of my vices and bind myself to you. Yes, my Jesus, I will bind myself. I repent with all my heart of having separated myself from you, by abusing that liberty which you have given me. You offer me a more desirable liberty; a liberty which delivers me from the chains of the devil, and places me among the children of God. You have given yourself up to be imprisoned in these swaddling-clothes for the love of me; I will be in future a prisoner of your infinite love. O blessed chains, O beautiful emblems of salvation, which bind souls to God, bind also my poor heart; but bind it so fast that it may never be able to free itself from the love of this sovereign Good. My Jesus, I love you; I bind myself to you; I give you my whole heart, my whole will. No, I will never leave you again, my beloved Lord. O my Savior, who, to pay my debts, would not only be wrapped by Mary in swaddling-clothes, but even be bound as a criminal by the executioners, and thus bound would go along the streets of Jerusalem, led to death as an innocent lamb to the slaughter-house; O you who would be nailed to the cross, and did not leave it until you had given up your life upon it,—I beseech you, permit me not to be ever separated again from you, so that I should again find myself deprived of your favor and of your love.

O Mary, who once bound in swaddling-clothes your innocent Son, bind me also, a miserable sinner; bind me to Jesus, so that I may never again separate myself from his feet, that I may always live and die bound to him, so that one day I may have the happiness to enter into that blessed country where I shall never be able and shall never be afraid of detaching myself from his holy love.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Second Day of Christmas

Meditation II: Jesus Is Born an Infant.

Consider that the first sign which the angel gave to the shepherds whereby they might discover the new-born Messias was that they would find him under the form of an infant: You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling-clothes, and laid in a manger (Luke 2:12). The littleness of infants is a great attraction for love; but a still greater attraction must the littleness of the Infant Jesus be to us, who, being the incomprehensible God, has made himself small for the love of us: "For our sake he became a little child."

Adam came into the world at a full age; but the eternal Word chose to appear as an infant—a child is born to us—that he might thus attract our hearts to himself with greater force: "so would he be born, who willed to be loved." He came not into the world to inspire terror, but to be loved; and for this reason he preferred to show himself, at his first appearance, as a tender, weak infant. Our Lord is great, and greatly to be praised (Ps. 144:3), says St. Peter Chrysologus. My Lord is great, and therefore he deserves highly to be praised for his divine majesty. But when the saint considered him as a little child in the stable of Bethlehem, he exclaimed with tenderness, "My Lord is a little child, and greatly to be loved." My great and supreme God made himself little for my sake.

Ah, how is it possible that any one can reflect with faith on a God become a little child, crying and wailing on the straw in a cave, and yet not love him, and invite all men to love him, as did St. Francis of Assisi, who said, "Let us love the child of Bethlehem, let us love the child of Bethlehem." He is an infant; he does not speak, he only cries; but, O my God! are not these cries all voices of love, with which he invites us to love him, and demands our hearts!

Let us consider, besides, that infants also gain our affections because we consider them innocent: but all other infants are born with the infection of original sin; Jesus was born an infant, but he was born holy; holy, innocent, unpolluted (Heb.7:26). My beloved, says the holy spouse, is all ruddy with love, and all white with innocence, without a spot of any sin: My beloved is white and ruddy, chosen out of thousands (Cant. 5:10). In this Infant did the eternal Father find his delight, because, as St. Gregory says, "in him alone he found no fault."

Let us miserable sinners comfort ourselves, because this divine Infant has come down from heaven to communicate his innocence to us by means of his Passion. His merits, if we only know how to apply them to our selves, can change us from sinners into innocents and saints: in these merits let us place all our confidence; through them let us continually ask for graces from the eternal Father, and we shall obtain everything.

Affections and Prayers.

Eternal Father, I, a miserable sinner, worthy of hell, have nothing of my own to offer you in satisfaction for my sins; I offer you the tears, the sufferings, the blood, the death of this Infant, who is your Son; and through them I implore pity from you. If I had not this Son to offer you, I should be lost; there would be no longer any hope for me; but you gave him to me for the purpose that, in offering you his merits, I might have a good hope of my salvation. My ingratitude, O Lord, is great; but your mercy is still greater. And what greater mercy could I hope for from you, than that you should give me your own Son for my Redeemer, and for the victim of my sins? For the love, therefore, of Jesus Christ, forgive me all the offences that I have committed against you, of which I repent with my whole heart, because by them I have offended you, O infinite Goodness. And for the sake of Jesus Christ, I ask of you holy perseverance. O my God, if I should again offend you, after you waited for me with so much patience; after you assisted me with so much light, and forgiven me with so much love, I should indeed deserve a special hell for myself. O my Father, do not forsake me, I pray you. I tremble when I think of the number of times that I have betrayed you; how many times have I promised to love you, and then have again turned my back upon you? O my Creator, let me not have to lament the misfortune of seeing myself again deprived of your favor: Permit me not to be separated from you; permit me not to be separated from you. I repeat it, and will repeat it to my very last breath; and always give me the grace to repeat to you this prayer: Permit me not to be separated from you. My Jesus, my dearest Infant, chain me with your love. I love you, and will always love you. Permit me not to be ever again separated from your love.

I love you too, my Mother; oh, love me also. And if you love me, this is the favor I beg you to obtain for me, that I may never cease to love my God.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The First Day of Christmas

Meditation I: The Birth of Jesus

The birth of Jesus Christ caused a universal joy to the whole world. He was the Redeemer who had been desired and sighed after for so many years; and therefore he was called the desired of the nations, and the desire of the eternal hills. Behold him already come, and born in a little cave. Let us consider that this day the angel announces to us also the same great joy that he announced to the shepherds: Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people; for this day is born to you a Savior (Luke 2:10).

What rejoicing is there in a country when the first-born son is born to a king! But surely we ought to keep still greater festival when we see the Son of God born and come down from heaven to visit us, urged to this by the depth of his mercy: Through the depth of the mercy of our God, in which the Orient from on high hath visited us (Luke 1:78). We were lost; and behold him who came to save us: For our salvation he came down from heaven. Behold the shepherd who came to save his sheep from death by giving his life for their sake: I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd gives His life for his sheep (John 10:11). Behold the Lamb of God, who came to sacrifice himself, to obtain for us the divine favor, and to become our deliverer, our life, our light, and even our food in the most Holy Sacrament!

St. Maximus says that for this reason, among others, Christ chose to be laid in the manger where the animals were fed, to make us understand that he has become man also to make himself our food: "In the manger, where the food of animals is placed, he allowed his limbs to be laid, thereby showing that his own body would be the eternal food of men." Besides this, he is born every day in the Sacrament by means of the priests and the words of consecration; the altar is the crib, and there we go to feed ourselves on his flesh. Some one might desire to have the Holy Infant in his arms, as the aged Simeon had; but faith teaches us that, when we receive Communion, the same Jesus who was in the manger of Bethlehem is not only in our arms, but in our breasts. He was born for this purpose, to give himself entirely to us: A child is born to us, a son is given to us (Is. 9:6).

Affections and Prayers.

I have gone astray like a sheep that is lost; seek Thy servant (Ps. 118:176). O Lord, I am that sheep which, by following after my own pleasures and caprices, have miserably lost myself; but you, who are at once the shepherd and divine Lamb, are he who came down from heaven to save me by sacrificing yourself as a victim on the cross in satisfaction for my sins. Behold, the Lamb of God; behold him who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). If, therefore, I desire to amend my life, what need I fear? why should I not confide entirely in you, O my Savior, who were born on purpose to save me? Behold, God is my Savior; I will put my trust in him, and will not fear (Is. 12:2). What greater proof could you give me of your mercy, O my dearest Redeemer, to inspire me with confidence, than to give me yourself? O my dear Infant, how grieved am I that I have offended you! I have made you weep in the stable of Bethlehem. But since you have come to seek me, I throw myself at your feet; and although I behold you afflicted and humbled, lying upon straw in the manger, I acknowledge you for my supreme king and sovereign. I feel that your tender infant-cries invite me to love you, and demand my heart. Behold it, my Jesus; I present it today at your feet; change it and inflame it, O you who came into the world to inflame the hearts of men with your holy love. I feel as if I heard you say to me from the manger, Love the Lord your God with your whole heart (Matt. 12:37). And I will answer, Ah, my Jesus, if I do not love you who are my Lord and my God, whom shall I love? You call yourself mine, because you were born in order to give yourself entirely to me; and shall I refuse to be yours? No, my beloved Lord, 1 give myself entirely to you; and I love you with my whole heart. I love you, I love you, I love you, O sovereign Good, the one only love of my soul. I beseech you accept me this day, and permit me never to cease to love you.

O Mary, my Queen, through that consolation which you enjoyed the first time you beheld your new-born Son and gave him your first kiss, beseech him to accept me for his servant, and to chain me forever to himself by the gift of his holy love.

Devotions for the Twelve Days of Christmas

Each day during the Twelve Days of Christmas we will continue with our meditations from St. Alphonsus on the Divine Infancy of Our Lord. As with the meditations for the Christmas Novena, they are taken from The Incarnation, Birth, and Infancy of Jesus Christ. May you find them to be profitable for your soul.

The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Christus natus est nobis, venite adoremus.
Christ is born for us, come let us adore.




Today Christ is born.
Today a Savior appeared.
Today the Angels sang on earth and the Archangels rejoiced.
Today the just exult, saying:
Glory to God in the highest, Alleluia!


A blessed Christmas to all readers of
Evening Devotions.
May the Divine Infant Jesus
fill your hearts with His
Love, Peace, and Joy

Fr. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Novena - Day IX

Chaplet of the Infant Jesus which may be recited before reading the meditation.

MEDITATION IX: Saint Joseph goes to Bethlehem with His Holy Spouse.

And Joseph also went up ... to be enrolled with Mary his espoused wife, who
was with child (Luke 2:4).


God had decreed that his Son should be born not in the house of Joseph, but in a cavern and stable of beasts, in the poorest and most painful way that a child can be born; and therefore he caused Caesar to publish an edict, by which people were commanded to go and enroll them selves, every one in his own city whence he drew his origin.

When Joseph heard this order, he was much agitated as to whether he should take with him or leave behind the Virgin Mother, as she was now so near childbirth. My spouse and my lady, said he to her, on the one hand, I do not wish to leave you alone; on the other, if I take you with me, I am much afflicted at the thought of all that you will have to suffer during this long journey, and in such severe weather. My poverty will not permit me to conduct you with that comfort which you require. But Mary answers him, and tries to give him courage with these words: My Joseph, do not fear. I will go with you; the Lord will assist us. She knew, both by divine inspiration, and also because she was well versed in the prophecy of Micheas that the divine Infant was to be born in Bethlehem. She therefore takes the swaddling-clothes, and the other miserable garments already prepared, and departs with Joseph. And Joseph also went up . . . to be enrolled with Mary (Luke 2:4).

Let us now consider all the devout and holy discourses which these two holy spouses must have held together during this journey concerning the mercy, goodness, and love of the divine Word, who was shortly to be born, and to appear on the earth for the salvation of men. Let us also consider the praises, the benedictions, the thanksgivings, the acts of humility and love, which these two illustrious pilgrims uttered on the way. This holy Virgin, so soon to become a mother, certainly suffered much in so longa journey, made in the middle of winter, and over rough roads; but she suffered with peace and with love. She offered to God all these her trials, uniting them to those of Jesus, whom she carried in her womb.

Oh, let us unite ourselves also, and let us accompany Mary and Joseph in the journey of our life; and, with them, let us accompany the King of Heaven, who is born in a cave, and makes his first appearance in the world as an infant, but as the poorest and most forsaken infant that ever was born amongst men. And let us beseech Jesus, Mary, and Joseph that, through the merits of the pains which they suffered in this journey, they would accompany us in the journey that we are making to eternity. Oh, blessed shall we be if, in life and in death, we keep company with these three great person ages, and are always accompanied by them!

AFFECTIONS AND PRAYERS.

My beloved Redeemer, I know that in this journey Thou wast accompanied by hosts of angels from heaven; but on this earth who was there that bore Thee company? Thou hadst but Joseph and Mary who carried Thee with her. Refuse not, O my Jesus! that I also accompany Thee. Miserable ungrateful sinner that I have been, I now see the injuries I have done Thee; Thou didst come down from heaven to make Thyself my companion on earth, and I by my frequent offences have ungratefully abandoned Thee! When I remember, O my Savior, that for the sake of my own cursed inclinations I have often separated myself from Thee and renounced Thy friendship, 1 could wish to die of sorrow. But Thou didst come into the world to forgive me; therefore forgive me now, I beseech Thee, for I repent with all my soul of having so often turned my back upon Thee and forsaken Thee. I purpose and hope, through Thy grace, nevermore to leave or separate myself from Thee, O my only love! My soul has become enamored of Thee, O my amiable Infant God! I love Thee, my sweet Savior; and since Thou hast come upon earth to save me and to dispense to me Thy graces, I ask this one only grace of Thee, permit me not to be ever again separated from Thee. Unite me, bind me to Thyself, enchain me with the sweet cords of Thy holy love. O my Redeemer and my God, who will then have the heart to leave Thee, and to live without Thee, deprived of Thy grace?

Most holy Mary, I come to accompany thee in this journey; and thou, O my Mother, cease not to accompany me in the journey that I am making to eternity. Do thou assist me always, but especially when I shall find myself at the end of my life, and near that moment on which will depend either my remaining always with thee to love Jesus in paradise, or my being forever separated from thee and hating Jesus in hell. My Queen, save me by thy intercession; and may my salvation be to love thee and Jesus forever, in time and in eternity. Thou art my hope; I hope everything from thee.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Novena - Day VIII

Chaplet of the Infant Jesus which may be recited before reading the meditation.

MEDITATION VIII: The Love of God manifested to Men by the Birth of Jesus.

The grace of God our Savior hath appeared to all men, instructing us that we should live . . . godly in this world, looking for the blessed hope and coming of the glory of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ. (Titus 2:11).

Consider that by the grace that is said here to have appeared is meant the tender love of Jesus Christ towards men,—a love that we have not merited, which therefore is called "grace."

This love was, however, always the same in God, but did not always appear. It was at first promised in many prophecies, and foreshadowed by many figures; but at. the birth of the Redeemer this divine love indeed appeared, and manifested itself by the Eternal Word showing himself to man as an infant, lying on straw, crying and shivering with cold; beginning thus to make satisfaction for us for the penalties we have deserved, and so making known to us the affection which he bore us, by giving up his life for us: In this we have known the charity of God, because he hath laid down his life for us (I John 3:16). Therefore the love of our God appeared to all men.

But why is it, then, that all men -have not known it, and that even at this day so many are ignorant of it? This is the reason: The light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light (John 3:19). They have not known him, and they do not know him, because they do not wish to know him, loving rather the darkness of sin than the light of grace.

But let us endeavor not to be of the number of these unhappy souls. If in past times we have shut our eyes to the fight, thinking little of the love of Jesus Christ, let us try, during the days that may remain to us in this life, to have ever before our eyes the sufferings and death of our Redeemer, in order to love him who hath loved us so much: Looking for the blessed hope and corning of the glory of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ. Thus may we justly expect, according to the divine promises, that paradise which Jesus Christ has acquired for us by his blood. At his first coming Jesus appeared as an infant, poor and humble, and showed himself on earth born in a stable, covered with miserable rags, and lying on straw; but at his second coming he will come on a throne of majesty: We shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and majesty (Matt. 24:30). Blessed then will he be who shall have loved him, and miserable those who have not loved him.

AFFECTIONS AND PRAYERS.

O my holy Infant! now I see Thee lying on straw, poor afflicted, and forsaken; but I know that one day Thou wilt come to judge me, seated on a throne of splendor, and attended by the angels. Forgive me, I implore Thee, before Thou dost judge me. Then Thou wilt have to conduct Thyself as a just judge; but now Thou art my Redeemer, and the Father of mercy. I have been one of those ungrateful ones who have not known Thee, because I did not choose to know Thee and therefore, instead of being inclined to love Thee by the consideration of the love Thou hast borne me, I have only thought of satisfying my own desires, despising Thy grace and Thy love. But into Thy sacred hands I commend my soul, which I have lost; do Thou save it: Into Thy hands I commend my spirit Thou hast redeemed me, O Lord, the God of truth (Ps. 30:6). In Thee do I place all my hopes, knowing that, to ransom me from hell Thou hast given Thy blood and Thy life: Thou hast redeemed me, O Lord, the God of truth (Ps. 30:6). Thou didst not condemn me to death when I was living in sin, but hast waited for me with infinite patience, in order that, having come to myself, I might repent of having offended Thee, and might begin to love Thee and that thus Thou mightest be able to forgive and save me Yes, my Jesus, I will please Thee. I repent, above every other evil, of all the offences I have committed against Thee; I repent, and love Thee above all things. Do Thou save me in Thy mercy, and let it be my salvation to love Thee always in this life and in eternity.

My dearest Mother Mary, recommend me to thy Son. Do thou represent to him that I am thy servant, and that I have placed all my hope in thee. He hears thee, and refuses thee nothing.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Novena - Day VII

Chaplet of the Infant Jesus which may be recited before reading the meditation.

MEDITATION VII: The Sorrow that the Ingratitude of Men has caused Jesus.

He came unto His own, and His own received Him not (John, 1:2).

In these days of the holy Nativity St. Francis of Assisi went about the highways and woods with sighs and tears and inconsolable lamentations. When asked the reason, he answered: How should I not weep when I see that love is not loved! I see a God become, as it were foolish, for the love of man, and man so ungrateful to this God! Now, if this ingratitude of man caused so great a sorrow to the heart of St. Francis, let us consider how much more it must have afflicted the heart of Jesus Christ.

He was hardly conceived in the womb of Mary when he saw the cruel return he was to receive from man. He had descended from heaven to enkindle the fire of divine love, and this desire alone had brought him down to this earth, to suffer there an abyss of sorrows and ignominies: I am come to cast fire on the earth; and what will I but that it be kindled (Luke 12:49). And then he beheld an abyss of sins which men would commit after having seen so many proofs of his love. It was this, says St. Bernardine of Sienna, which made him feel an infinite sorrow: "And therefore he sorrowed infinitely.

Even among us it is an insufferable sorrow for one man to see himself treated with ingratitude by another; for the blessed Simon of Cassia observes that ingratitude often afflicts the soul more than any pain afflicts the body: "Ingratitude often causes more bitter sorrow in the soul than pain causes in the body." What sorrow, then, must our ingratitude have caused to Jesus, who was our God, when he saw that his benefits and his love would be repaid him by offences and injuries! And they repaid Me evil for good, and hatred for My love (Ps. 108:5). But even at the present day it seems as if Jesus Christ was going about complaining: I am become a stranger to My brethren (Ps 68:9). For he sees that many neither love nor know him, as if he had not done them any good, nor had suffered any thing for love of them. O God, what value do the majority of Christians even now set upon the love of Jesus Christ? Our blessed Redeemer once appeared to the blessed Henry Suso in the form of a pilgrim who went begging from door to door for a lodging, but every one drove him away with insults and injuries. How many, alas! are like those of whom Job speaks: Who said to God, Depart from us. Whereas he had filled their houses with good things (Job 12:17).

We have hitherto united ourselves to these ungrateful wretches; but shall we always be like them? No; for that loving Infant does not deserve it, who came from heaven to suffer and die for us, in order that we might love him.

AFFECTIONS AND PRAYERS.

Is it, then, true, O my Jesus, that Thou didst descend from heaven to make me love Thee; didst come down to embrace a life of suffering and the death of the cross for my sake, in order that I might welcome Thee into my heart, and yet I have so often driven Thee from me, and said, "Depart from me, Lord; go away from me, Lord; for I do not want Thee?" O God, if Thou wert not infinite goodness, and hadst not given Thy life to obtain my pardon, I should not have courage to ask it of Thee; but I feel that Thou Thyself dost offer me peace: Turn ye to me, saith the Lord, and I will turn to you (Zach. 1:3). Thou Thyself, whom I have offended, O my Jesus, hast made Thyself my intercessor: He is the propitiation for our sins (I John 2:2). I will there fore not do Thee this fresh injury of distrusting Thy mercy. I repent with all my soul of having despised Thee, O sovereign Good! receive me into Thy favor for the sake of the blood which Thou hast shed for me: Father, I am not worthy to be called Thy Son (Luke 15:21). No, my Redeemer and my Father, I am no longer worthy to be Thy son, having so often renounced Thy love; but Thou dost make me worthy of Thy merits. I thank Thee, O my Father I thank Thee and I love Thee. Ah, the thought alone of the patience with which Thou hast borne with me for so many years, and of the favors Thou hast conferred upon me after so many injuries that I have done Thee, ought to make me live constantly on fire with Thy love. Come, then, my Jesus, for I will not drive Thee away any more, come and dwell in my poor heart. I love Thee, and will always love Thee; but do Thou inflame my heart every day more and more by the remembrance of the love Thou hast borne me.

O Mary, my Queen and Mother, help me. Pray to Jesus for me. Make me during the days that are left me in this world live grateful to that God who has loved me so much, even after I have so greatly offended him.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Novena - Day VI

Chaplet of the Infant Jesus which may be recited before reading the meditation.

MEDITATION VI: Jesus a Prisoner in the Womb of Mary.

I am become as a man without help, free among the dead (Ps. 87:5-6).

Consider the painful life that Jesus Christ led in the womb of his Mother, and the long-confined and dark imprisonment that he suffered there for nine months. Other infants are indeed in the same state; but they do not feel the miseries of it, because they do not know them. But Jesus knew them well, because from the first moment of his life he had the perfect use of reason. He had his senses, but he could not use them; eyes, but he could not see; a tongue, but he could not speak; hands, but he could not stretch them out; feet, but he could not walk; so that for nine months he had to remain in the womb of Mary like a dead man shut up in the tomb: I am become as a man without help, free among the dead (Ps. 87:5-6). He was free, because he had of his own free will made himself a prisoner of love in this prison; but love deprived him of liberty, and bound him there so fast in chains that he could not move: "Free among the dead! oh, great patience of our Savior!" says St. Ambrose, while he considered the sufferings of Jesus in the womb of Mary.

The womb of Mary was, therefore, to our Redeemer a voluntary prison, because it was a prison of love. But it was also not an unjust prison: he was indeed innocent himself, but he had offered himself to pay our debts and to satisfy for our crimes. It was therefore only reasonable for the divine justice to keep him thus imprisoned, and so begin to exact from him the due satisfaction.

Behold the state to which the Son of God reduces himself for the love of men! he deprives himself of his liberty and puts himself in chains, to deliver us from the chains of hell. What gratitude and love should we not show in return for the love and goodness of our deliverer and our surety, who, not by compulsion but only out of love, offered himself to pay, and has paid for us, our debts and our penalties by giving up his divine life! Forget not the kindness of thy surety; for He hath given His life for thee (Eccl. 29:19).

AFFECTIONS AND PRAYERS.

Forget not the kindness of thy surety (Eccl. 29:19) Yes, my Jesus, the prophet has reason to warn me not to forget the immense favor which Thou hast shown me. I was the debtor, I the criminal, and Thou the innocent one; Thou, O my God, hast chosen to satisfy for my sins by Thy sufferings and Thy death. But after all this kindness I have forgotten Thy favors and Thy love, and I have had the boldness to turn my back upon Thee, as if Thou hadst not been my Lord, and that Lord who has loved me so much. But if in times past I have forgotten Thy mercies, O my dear Redeemer, I will in future never forget them again. Thy sufferings and Thy death shall be the constant subjects of my thoughts, because they will always recall to my mind the love that Thou hast borne me. Cursed be the days in which, forgetting what Thou hast suffered for me, I have made so bad a use of my liberty. Thou hast given it to me to love Thee, and I have used it to despise Thee. But I now consecrate entirely to Thee this liberty which Thou hast given me. I beseech Thee, my Savior, deliver me from the misery of seeing myself again separated from Thee, and again made the slave of Lucifer. I implore Thee to bind my poor soul to Thy feet by Thy holy love, so that it may never again be separated from Thee. Eternal Father, by the imprisonment of the infant Jesus in the womb of Mary, deliver me from the chains of sin and of hell. And thou, O Mother of God, help me! Thou hast in thy womb the Son of God imprisoned and confined; as, therefore, Jesus is thy prisoner, he will do everything that thou tellest him. Tell him to pardon me; tell him to make me holy. Help me, my Mother, for the sake of the favor and honor that Jesus Christ conferred upon thee by dwelling within thee for nine months.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Novena - Day V

Chaplet of the Infant Jesus which may be recited before reading the meditation.

MEDITATION V: Jesus Offered Himself for our Salvation from the Beginning.

He was offered because it was His own will (Is. 53:7).

The divine Word, from the first instant that he was made man and an infant in Mary s womb, offered him self of his own accord to suffer and to die for the ransom of the world: He was offered because it was His own will (Is. 53:7). He knew that all the sacrifices of goats and bulls offered to God in times past had not been able to satisfy for the sins of men, but that it required a divine Person to pay the price of their redemption; wherefore he said, as the Apostle tells us, When He cometh into the world He saith: Sacrifice and oblation Thou woudst not, but a body Thou hast fitted to me. . . . Then said I, Behold, I come (Heb. 10:5). "My Father," said Jesus, "all the victims hitherto offered to Thee have not sufficed, nor could they suffice, to satisfy Thy justice; Thou hast given me this passible body, in order that by shedding my blood I might appease Thee and save men: ‘Behold, I come;’ here I am ready, I accept everything, and I submit myself in everything to Thy will."

The inferior part felt repugnance, for it naturally was averse to this life and death, so full of sufferings and shame; but the rational part, which was entirely subordinate to the will of his Father, conquered and accepted everything; and Jesus began from that moment to suffer all the anguish and sorrows that he would have to suffer during all the years of his life. Thus did our Redeemer act from the very first moment of his entrance into the world.

But, O God, how have we conducted ourselves towards Jesus since we began, as adults, to know by the light of faith the sacred Mysteries of Redemption? What thoughts, what designs, what goods have we loved? Pleasures, amusements, vengeance, sensuality; these are the goods that have engrossed the affections of our hearts. But if we have faith, we must at last change our life and our affections. Let us love a God who has suffered so much for us. Let us represent to ourselves the sufferings which the heart of Jesus endured for us, even from his infancy; for then we shall not be able to love anything else but that heart which hath loved us so much.

AFFECTIONS AND PRAYERS.

My Lord, wilt Thou know how I have behaved towards Thee during all my life? Ever since I began to have the use of reason, I began to despise Thy grace and Thy love. But Thou knowest it much better than I do; nevertheless, Thou hast borne with me, because Thou still carest for my welfare. I fled from Thee, and Thou didst follow after and call me. The very same love that made Thee come down from heaven to seek the lost sheep has made Thee bear with me and not forsake me. My Jesus, Thou now seekest me, and I seek Thee. I feel that Thy grace is assisting me: it assists me with the sorrow I feel for my sins, which I abhor above every other evil; it assists me by making me feel a great desire to love Thee and to please Thee. Yea, Lord, I will love Thee and please Thee as much as I can. On one side I feel afraid, it is true, at the thought of my frailty and the weakness which I have contracted by my sins; but Thy grace gives me a greater confidence, and causes me to hope in Thy merits; so that I can say, from the bottom of my heart: I can do all things in Him who strengtheneth me (Phil. 4:13). If I am weak, Thou wilt give me strength against my enemies; if I am infirm, I hope that Thy blood will be my medicine; if I am a sinner, I hope Thou wilt make me a saint. I acknowledge that I have hitherto cooperated to my own ruin, because I have neglected, on dangerous occasions, to have recourse to Thee. But from this day forth, my Jesus and my hope, I will always have recourse to Thee; and from Thee I hope for every assistance and every good. I love Thee above all things, and I will always love Thee alone. Have pity on me, and help me through the merits of all those sufferings which from Thy infancy Thou hast endured for me. Eternal Father, for the sake of Jesus Christ accept of my love. If I have offended Thee, let the tears of the Infant Jesus, who is praying for me, appease Thy wrath: Look on the face of Thy Christ (Ps. 83:19). I do not deserve favors, but this Thy guiltless Son deserves them, who offers Thee a life of sufferings, in order that Thou mayest be merciful to me.And thou, O Mary, Mother of mercy, cease not to intercede for me. Thou knowest how much I confide in thee; and I know well that thou dost not forsake him that has recourse to thee.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Novena - Day IV

Chaplet of the Infant Jesus which may be recited before reading the meditation.

MEDITATION IV: The Passion of Jesus lasted during His Whole Life.

My sorrow is continually before me (Ps. 27:18).

Consider that in the first moment that the soul of Jesus Christ was created and united to his little body in the womb of Mary, the Eternal Father intimated to his Son his will that he should die for the redemption of the world; and in this same moment he presented to his view the entire dreadful scene of the sufferings he would have to endure, even unto death, in order to redeem mankind. He brought before him in that moment all the labors, contempt, and poverty that he would have to suffer during his whole life, as well in Bethlehem as in Egypt and in Nazareth; and then all the sufferings and ignominy of his Passion, the scourges, the thorns, the nails, and the cross; all the weariness, the sadness, the agonies, and the abandonment in which he was to end his life upon Calvary.

When Abraham was leading his son to death, he would not afflict him by giving him notice of it beforehand, even during the short time that was necessary for them to arrive at the mount. But the Eternal Father chose that his Incarnate Son, whom he had destined to be the victim of his justice in atonement of our sins, should suffer then all the pains to which he was to be subject during his life and at his death. Wherefore, from the first moment that he was in his mother’s womb, Jesus suffered continually that sorrow which he endured in the garden, and which was sufficient to have taken away his life: My soul is sorrowful unto death (Matt. 26:38). So that from that time forth he felt most vividly, and endured the united weight of all the sorrows and contumely that awaited him.

The whole life, then, of our blessed Redeemer, and all the years that he spent, were a life and years of pains and tears: My life is wasted with grief, and My years in sighs (Ps. 30:11). His divine heart never passed one moment free from suffering. Whether he watched or slept, whether he labored or rested, whether he prayed or spoke, he had continually before his eyes that bitter representation which tormented his holy soul more than all their sufferings tormented the holy martyrs. The martyrs have suffered; but, assisted by grace, they suffered with joy and fervor. Jesus Christ suffered; but he suffered with a heart full of weariness and sorrow; and he accepted all for the love of us.

AFFECTIONS AND PRAYERS.

O sweet, O amiable, O loving Heart of Jesus, even from Thy infancy Thou wert full of bitterness, and Thou didst suffer agonies in the womb of Mary without consolation, and without having any one to look upon Thee and to console Thee by their sympathy. All this Thou didst suffer, O my Jesus, in order to satisfy for the eternal sorrow and agony which I deserved to endure in hell for my sins. Thou didst then suffer, deprived of all relief, to save me, who have had the boldness to forsake God, and to turn my back upon him, in order to satisfy my miserable inclinations. I thank Thee, O afflicted and loving Heart of my Lord! I thank Thee, and I sympathize with Thee, especially when I see that whilst Thou dost suffer so much for the love of man, these very men do not even pity Thee. O love of God, O ingratitude of man! O men, O men, behold this little innocent lamb who is in agony for you, to satisfy the divine justice for the injuries you have committed against him. See how he prays and intercedes for you with his eternal Father; behold him and love him. O my Redeemer, how few are those who think of your sorrows and your love! O God, how few are those that love Thee! But unhappy me, for I also have lived so many years in forgetfulness of Thee! Thou hast suffered so much in order to be loved by me, and I have not loved Thee. Forgive me, my Jesus, forgive me, for I will amend my life and love Thee. Ah, wretched me, O Lord, if I still resist Thy grace, and in resisting it damn myself! All the mercies that Thou hast shown me, and, above all, Thy sweet voice, which now calls me to love Thee, would be my greatest punishment in hell. My beloved Jesus, have pity on me, let me not live any longer ungrateful to Thy love; give me light, give me strength to conquer everything, in order to accomplish Thy will. Grant my prayer, I beseech Thee, for the merits of Thy Passion. In this is all my confidence.

O Mary, My dearest Mother, help me; it is thou who hast obtained for me all the favors I have received from God: I bless thee for them; but if thou dost not persevere in helping me, I shall persevere in being faithless, as I have been in times past.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Novena - Day III

Chaplet of the Infant Jesus which may be recited before reading the meditation.

MEDITATION III: Jesus made Himself a Child to gain our Confidence and our Love.

A child is born to us, and a son is given to us (Is. 9:6).

Consider that after so many centuries, after so many prayers and sighs, the Messias, whom the holy patriarchs and prophets were not worthy to see, whom the nations sighed for, "the Desire of the eternal hills," our Savior, is come; he is already born, and has given himself entirely to us: A child is born to us, and a son is given to us.

The Son of God has made himself little, in order to make us great; he has given himself to us, in order that we may give ourselves to him; he is come to show us his love, in order that we may respond to it by giving him ours. Let us, therefore, receive him with affection; let us love him, and have recourse to him in all our necessities.

"A child gives easily," says St. Bernard; children readily give anything that is asked of them. Jesus came into the world a child, in order to show himself ready and willing to give us all good gifts: In whom are hid all treasures (Col. 2:3). The Father hath given all things into His hands (John 3:35). If we wish for light, he is come on purpose to enlighten us. If we wish for strength to resist our enemies, he is come to give us comfort. If we wish for pardon and salvation, he is come to pardon and save us. If, in short, we desire the sovereign gift of divine love, he is come to inflame our hearts with it; and, above all, for this very purpose, he has become a child, and has chosen to show himself to us worthy of our love, in proportion as he was poor and humble, in order to takeaway from us all fear, and to gain our affections. "So," says St. Peter Chrysologus, "should he come who willed to drive away fear, and seek for love."

Jesus has, besides, chosen to come as a little child to make us Jove him, not only with an appreciative but even with a tender love. All infants attract the tender affection of those who behold them; but who will not love, with all the tenderness of which they are capable, a Gcd whom they behold as a little child, in want of milk to nourish him, trembling with cold, poor, abased, and forsaken, weeping and crying in a manger, and lying on straw? It was this that made the loving St. Francis exclaim: "Let us love the child of Bethlehem, let us love the child of Bethlehem." Come ye souls, and love a God who is become a child, and poor; who is so amiable, and who has come down from heaven to give him self entirely to you.

AFFECTIONS AND PRAYERS.

O my amiable Jesus! whom I have treated with so much contempt, Thou hast descended from heaven to save us from hell, and to give Thyself entirely to us; how can we, then, have so often despised Thee, and turned our backs upon Thee? O my God! how different is the gratitude of men towards their fellow- creatures! If any one makes them a gift, if any one comes from afar to pay them a visit, if any one shows them a particular mark of affection, they cannot forget it, and feel themselves obliged to repay their benefactors. And yet they are so ungrateful towards Thee, who art their God, and so worthy of their love, and who, for their sake, didst not refuse to give Thy blood and Thy love. But, alas! I have been worse than others in my conduct towards Thee, because I have been more loved by Thee, and more ungrateful towards Thee. Ah, if Thou hadst bestowed those graces with which I have been favored on a heretic, or an idolater, he would have become a saint; and yet I have done nothing but offend Thee. O my Savior I pray Thee, forget the injuries I have committed against Thee. But Thou hast indeed said that when a sinner repents, Thou rememberest no longer the injuries Thou hast received from him: All his iniquities I will not remember (Ezech. 18:22). If in times past I have not loved Thee, in future I will do nothing else but love Thee. Thou hast given Thyself entirely to me, and I give Thee my whole will; O Lord, I love Thee, I love Thee, I love Thee; and I will continually repeat to Thee, I love Thee, I Jove Thee! While I live, I will constantly say this; and when I die, I will yield my last breath with these sweet words on my lips, "My God, I love Thee;" and from the moment of my entrance into eternity, I will begin to love Thee with a love that shall last forever, without ever again ceasing to love Thee. And in the mean time, O my Lord! my only good and my only love, I intend to prefer Thy will to every pleasure of my own. Let the whole world offer itself to me; I will refuse it; for I will never cease to love him that hath loved me so much; I will never again offend him who deserves from me an infinite love. Do Thou, O my Jesus! aid my desire with Thy grace.

Mary, my Queen! I acknowledge all the graces I have received from God through thy intercession; cease not, then, to intercede for me. Do thou obtain for me perseverance, thou who aft the Mother of perseverance.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Novena - Day II

Chaplet of the Infant Jesus which may be recited before reading the meditation.

MEDITATION: Bitterness of the Heart of Jesus in the Womb of his Mother.

Sacrifice and oblation Thou wouldest not; but a body Thou hast fitted to Me (Heb. 10:5).

Consider the great bitterness with which the heart of the Infant Jesus must have felt itself afflicted and oppressed in the womb of Mary at the first moment when his Father proposed to his consideration all the series of contempt, sorrow, and agonies which he was to suffer during his life, to deliver men from their miseries: In the morning He wakeneth my ear, . . . and I do not resist; I have given my body to the strikers (Is. 1:4,6).

Thus did Jesus speak by the mouth of the prophet: In the morning He wakeneth my ear; that is to say, from the first moment of my conception my Father made me feel that it was his will that I should lead a life of sorrows, and in the end should be sacrificed on the cross: And I do not resist; I have given my body to the strikers. And all this I accepted for your salvation, O ye souls of men, and from that time forth I gave up my body to the scourges, to the nails, and to the death of the cross.

Consider that whatever Jesus Christ suffered in his life and in his Passion, was all placed before him whilst he was yet in the womb of Mary, and he accepted every thing that was proposed to him with delight; but in accepting all this, and in overcoming the natural repugnance of sense, O my God, what anguish and oppression did not the innocent heart of Jesus suffer! Well did he understand what he was first of all to endure, shut up for nine months in the dark prison of the womb of Mary; in suffering the shame and the sorrows of his birth, being born in a cold grotto that was a stable for beasts; in having afterwards to lead for thirty years an humble life in the shop of an artisan; in considering that he was to be treated by men as ignorant, as a slave, as a seducer, and as one guilty of death, and of the most infamous and painful death that ever was allotted to the most worth less of criminals.

All this did our dearest Redeemer accept every moment; but each moment that he accepted it he suffered at once all the pains and humiliations that he would afterwards have to endure even unto death. The very knowledge of his divine dignity made him feel still more the injuries that he would have to receive from men: All the day long my shame is before me (Ps. 43:16). He had continually before his eyes his shame, especially that confusion which he should one day feel at seeing himself stripped naked, scourged, and suspended by three iron nails; and so to end his life in the midst of the insults and curses of those very men for whom he was to die: Becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross (Phil. 2:8). And for what? To save us miserable and ungrateful sinners.

AFFECTIONS AND PRAYERS.

My beloved Redeemer, oh, how much did it cost Thee, even from Thy first entrance into the world, to raise me from the ruin which I have brought on myself by my sins! Thou hast consented to be treated as the lowest of slaves, in order to deliver me from the slavery of the devil, to whom I had willingly sold myself by sin; and yet, knowing all this, I have had the boldness to afflict continually Thy most amiable heart, which. has loved me so much! But since Thou, who art so innocent, and art my God, hast accepted such a painful life and death, I accept for Thy love, O my Jesus, every trouble that shall come to me from Thy hands. I accept it and embrace it, because it comes from those hands which were once pierced through, in order to deliver me from the hell which I have so often deserved. Thy love, O my Redeemer, in offering Thyself to suffer so much for me, does more than oblige me to accept for Thy sake every sorrow, every humiliation. O my Lord, for Thy own merit’s sake, give me Thy holy love; Thy love will render all sufferings and ignominy sweet and pleasant to me. I love Thee above everything: I love Thee with my whole heart; I love Thee more than myself. But during Thy whole life how many and what great proofs of Thy love didst Thou not give me; and yet, ungrateful that I am, how many years have I not lived in the world without giving Thee any proofs of my love. I dread appearing before Thee when Thou shalt come to judge me, poor as I now am, without having done anything for the love of Thee. But what can I do without Thy grace? I can do nothing but pray that Thou wilt succor me; but even this prayer comes simply from Thy grace. O my Jesus, help me through the merits of Thy sufferings, and of the blood Thou hast shed for me.

Most holy Mary, recommend me to thy Son, for the love that thou bearest him. Behold, I am one of those sheep for which thy Son has died.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Novena - Day I

Chaplet of the Infant Jesus which may be recited before reading the meditation.

MEDITATION: God has given Us his only Son to save Us.

"I have given Thee to be the light of the Gentiles, that Thou mayest be My salvation even to the farthest part of the earth" (Is. 49:6).

Consider that the Eternal Father addressed these words to the Infant Jesus at the instant of his conception: I have given Thee to be the light of the Gentiles, that Thou mayest be My salvation (Is. 49:6). My Son, I have given Thee to the world for the light and life of all people, in order that Thou mightest procure for them their salvation, which I have as much at heart as if it were my own. Thou must therefore employ Thyself entirely for the well-being of men: "Wholly given to man, Thou must be wholly spent in his service" (St. Bernard). Thou must therefore, at Thy birth, suffer extreme poverty, in order that men may become rich, "that Thou mayest enrich them by Thy poverty." Thou must be sold as a slave to acquire liberty for man; and Thou must be scourged and crucified as a slave to satisfy my justice for the punishment due to man. Thou must give Thy blood and Thy life to deliver man from eternal death; in short, Thou art no longer Thine own, but Thou belongest to man: A child is born to us, a son is given to us (Is. 9:6). Thus, my beloved Son, man will be constrained to love me, and to be mine, when he sees that I give Thee, my only-begotten one, entirely to him, and that there is nothing left for me to give him.

God so loved the world—(O infinite love! only worthy of an infinite God!)—God so loved the world as to give His only-begotten Son (John 3:16). The Infant Jesus, far from being sorrowful at this proposal, is pleased at it, accepts it with love, and exults in it: He hath rejoiced as a giant to run the way; (Ps. 63:6) and from the first moment of his incarnation he gives himself entirely to man, and embraces with pleasure all the sorrows and ignominy that he must suffer on earth for the love of man. These were (says St. Bernard) the mountains and hills that Jesus Christ had to pass with so many labors in order to save man: Behold, He cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping over the hills (Cant. 2:8).

Here consider that the divine Father, in sending his Son to be our Redeemer and mediator between himself and man, has in a certain sense bound himself to forgive us and love us, on account of the covenant he made to receive us into his favor, providing his Son satisfied for us his divine justice. On the other hand, the divine Word, having accepted the decree of his Father (who, by sending him to redeem us, has given him to us), has also bound himself to love us; not, indeed, for our own merits, but in order to fulfil the merciful will of his Father.

AFFECTIONS AND PRAYERS.

My dearest Jesus, if it is true (as the law says) that dominion is acquired by gift, since Thy Father hath given Thee to me, Thou art mine; for me Thou wert born, to me hast Thou been given: A child is born to us, a Son is given to us (Is. 9:6). Therefore I may well say, "My Jesus and my all." Since Thou art mine, everything that belongs to Thee is also mine. Of this I am assured by Thy Apostle: How hath He not also with Him given us all things (Rom. 8:32). Thy blood is mine, Thy merits are mine, Thy grace is mine, Thy paradise is mine; and if Thou art mine, who shall be able to take Thee from me? "No man can take God away from me," said with joy the abbot St. Anthony. So, from this day forth, will I also continually say. It is only through my own fault that I can lose Thee and separate myself from Thee; but if in past times I have abandoned Thee and lost Thee, O my Jesus, I now repent of it with all my soul, and I am resolved to lose my life and everything sooner than lose Thee, O infinite Good, and only love of my soul! I thank Thee, Eternal Father, for having given me Thy Son; and since Thou hast given him entirely to me, I, miserable sinner, give myself entirely to Thee. For the sake of this same Son, accept me, and bind me with the chains of love to this my Redeemer; but bind me so strongly that I also may be able to say, Who shall separate me from the love of Christ? (Rom. 8:35) What good shall there ever be in the world that shall separate me from my Jesus? And Thou, my Savior, if Thou art all mine, know that I am all Thine. Dispose of me, and of all that belongs to me, as shall best please Thee. And how can I refuse anything to a God who has not refused me his blood and his life?

Mary, my Mother, do thou guard me with thy protection. I will no longer be my own. I will be all my Savior’s. Do thou help me to be faithful; I trust in thee.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sanctity Through the Rosary by Edouard Hugon, O.P.

Part III: The Rosary and the Practice of Holiness.

Chapter IV: The Rosary and Heroic Holiness.

The degree of charity demanded of religious constitutes a sort of perfect charity. However, the fecundity of the Church is not exhausted. Nature has exhausted all her energies, grace itself seems to have reached its zeniths, when suddenly it surpasses itself in such a way that the human seems to disappear, only the divine stands out. This is heroism.

Heroism is a sort of mean between the human and the divine, or rather it is humanity transformed by the divinity. This heroism, as St. Thomas says, renders certain men divine: Secundum quam dicuntur aliqui divini viri (S.T. I. II. Q. 68, art. I, adl.). This is the climax of sanctity.

The whole life of the Church is, as it were, formed of heroism from the days of the first martyrs down to the time of modern missionaries. Twelve million martyrs! This is surely the triumph of holiness. Paganism and hell reap their harvest too, they also have their victims, but the Church reaps a harvest of heroism. Every century has re-echoed the glorious cry of the first centuries. A hero is one who subdues nature so completely that every other love is sacrificed for the love of Jesus Christ. Every epoch has witnessed this prodigy. We see young souls sacrificing that filial love and devotion which they owe their parents in order to follow a persecuted Christ, and sometimes to die for Him. The first separation of a child from the home and happiness of its childhood is truly a wrench, but the love of the Savior makes heroes of His followers. Again, we see maternal affection which, so to speak, lives on sacrifices and devotedness, immolating its offspring generously and willingly for the love of Jesus. We are told of a mother about to be martyred, who led her child with her to martyrdom. Exhorting the child to remain steadfast to the faith she whispered words of encouragement in its ear: Because I love you, my child, and you love me, I offer you to Jesus as a victim. Come, my child, and die. The mother and child marched joyously forward to death which united them in a happy embrace for eternity.

From the commencement of the Church down to our own days there have been souls so passionately in love that they gave their very blood and life itself. It was truly heroism which filled the great soul of St. Paul, when he wished to be anathema for his brethren. It was heroism which impelled the apostle of the poor, St. Vincent de Paul, to call out to the rich ladies of Paris for alms with which to clothe and feed his abandoned poor.

Heroism engenders in the soul a Christ-like love of our enemies. It has urged the saints to kiss the bloody hand of the murderers of their kinfolk; it caused Saint Grignion de Montfort to utter this cry: O my God, take my life, but pardon my enemies.

Heroic souls are still to be found in our own days, and ever will be found. While misery and distress exist in the world to be relieved, we shall find hearts overflowing with love, souls ready and willing to pour out their blood.

We, who feel ourselves unworthy to be named brethren of the saints, must never forget that every Christian, in certain circumstances, may be called to heroism. Baptism, by creating noble aspirations in the soul, imposes grave obligations on us. There may arise in our lives occasions, combats, struggles, when ordinary holiness will not suffice for us to triumph, nothing less than heroism will do. But the just are not taken by surprise at such moments; they are ready for the combat. In reality, every soul in the state of grace possesses the germs, the seeds of heroism, the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost. According to St. Thomas, the gifts do not, in fact, differ from heroism; they are the seed, heroism is the flower. In some souls the seeds never blossom forth into flower, but it is within the power of every soul to do so. All that is needed is a ray of the sun to open the bud; and this ray is the impulse of the Holy Spirit, which at once overwhelms us and leads us to sublimity.

Humility cannot conceal this truth from us. Contemptible beings as we are, it is in our power, aided by the Holy Spirit, to rise even to the heights of the divinity. The Rosary will initiate us into the art of this ascent.

Theologians teach that every virtue was practiced by the Word Incarnate in a perfect and heroic degree. His whole life was unceasing heroism. But the Rosary is the story of the life of Jesus; we see His heroism in each one of the fifteen Mysteries. The gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seeds hidden within Him, budded forth into abundant flower. Therefore, in order to contemplate virtue in its perfection, its zenith, we have only to meditate on the Rosary: for all those predestinated to heroism are by that very fact predestinated to become comfortable to Christ our Lord, Who reveals Himself in its Mysteries.

This devotion is truly a school wherein saints are formed. A young man, John Gaulbert by name, set out one day accompanied by a large escort to avenge the murder of his brother. John surprised the murderer at a lonely spot. He was defenseless and powerless to escape and extended his hands in the form of a cross imploring mercy for the sake of Him Who was crucified for us. It was Good Friday. Such remembrance aroused the germs of heroism latent in John’s soul. Not content with forgiving his enemy, he took him unto himself as a brother. Shortly afterwards, on entering a Church, the crucifix inclined its head towards him in reward for his heroic act.

The Mysteries are not only examples of heroism; they possess a special efficacy in making us practice what they teach. We have already said more than once that contact with the soul of the Word disposes us for the reception of those graces which can make us like unto Him. If we unite ourselves, then, with the heroism of Our Blessed Lord in the Rosary, we shall receive grace to be heroic like Him, when occasion requires. These special graces are, as it were, a ray of the sun which is sufficient to draw forth into flower the seeds of that heroism already in our souls. They are the divine breath which breathes over our souls and leads them whithersoever it wills. At least for some instants we no longer perceive our faults and imperfections. Words of Scripture seem to be fulfilled in us: Saul is become a prophet. Thus the Rosary is quite capable of making a soul rise to the very highest summits of holiness. Heroism is not of rare occurrence in the lives of the children of Mary.

But if heroism is a divine virtue, it must have a divine language. God lends to the heroes of sanctity a voice namely the voice of miracles. The true Church in every age produces workers of miracles. Miracles were, so to speak, the thunder and lightning in the midst of which the New Law was promulgated. They were very numerous in the first centuries, because the voice of paganism still dominated the voice of truth, but they are necessary for every age to demonstrate the holiness of the Church and as a means of converting souls. There are always unbelievers to be found. Every day we hear of unbelievers rising against Christ and His Church in countries where the Gospel has been preached for centuries. God silences these insolent revolutionaries; by His power and mercy He has recourse to the voice of miracles. Each year at Lourdes, and in other places throughout the world, the voice of the miraculous peals out like a thunder-clap in protest to the cry of unbelief, and sometimes even the most incredulous are forced to yield their submission. Miracles are not wanting to the Church. Christ himself promises that they would be granted to every age and every people. He that believe th in me, and the works that I do, he also shall do; and greater than these shall he do (John 14:12). These words have been literally fulfilled. During every century down to our own day the Church has bestowed on her saints the signal honor and dignity of canonization. But from each and all she exacts the tribute of miracles; and the examination preceding canonization is almost excessively severe in this respect. However, saints have continued to pass the test, working the miracles required by the Church as they likewise paid the tribute of heroism during their lives.

The Rosary, which teaches us the practice of holiness and inspires us with the desire of heroism, has also been fruitful in miracles, thus giving proof of its divine origin and sanctity. We recall those words of Pope Pius IX: Among all the devotions approved by the Church, none has been favored by so many miracles as the devotion of the Most Holy Rosary. It is worthy of note that the Virgin of Miracles, Our Lady of Lourdes, is also the Virgin of the Rosary; she holds up the Rosary before the eyes of the people, as a pledge of their hope and salvation.

The miracles worked by the Rosary have a social importance that is really tremendous. One of their outstanding characteristics is the fact that they won decisive victories for the Church. This is a point deserving of attention. The very first encounter of the Rosary with the Albigensians resulted in the enemy being laid low and defeated. As a rule, great heresies are never entirely overcome by a single blow; their effects last during several generations and centuries after the death of their authors. They give rise to various minor heresies. The Albigensian heresy, on the contrary, was extinguished immediately, although it had as leaders some of the most famous of the clergy and laymen of the time. The institution of the Rosary completely confounded the heretics, and St. Dominic, while still alive, saw the enemy dying of its fatal wound without hope of recovery.

At a later period the Rosary gained another victory for the Church when Christianity triumphed over Islam at the battle of Lepanto. The Mother of God appeared in the heavens, terrible as an army in the battle array, encouraging the Christians and terrifying the infidels. Here again the victory was decisive: the empire of Mohammed never recovered its past glories from this defeat; today it lies smouldering in insignificance. *

In more recent times the Rosary crushed the power of Protestantism in France at the siege of La Rochelle.

We have mentioned the great historical miracles worked by the recitation of the Rosary. How many others, both spiritual and temporal, are wrought by Mary’s intercession at every hour and moment of the day: miracles of healing, of conversion, of protection? Miracles and heroism enter into the life of every canonized saint and are a proof of his holiness; miracles and heroism are also intimately connected with the history of the Rosary; they bear witness to the holiness of the true Church.

Although these miracles were wrought by the intercession of the Mother of God, yet they are worked in the Church and for the Church; they serve to distinguish her from all the heretical sects. They are a mark of holiness.

We see, now, how the Rosary, rightly understood, can initiate us into all the various degrees of the spiritual life. Let us implore of Mary the grace to be able to grasp some of its teaching; for if we have this practical understanding of the Rosary, we have acquired the science of the saints.
* Editor's Note: This reference is to the Ottoman Empire which no longer exists. We would do well to remember that it was the Holy Rosary which defeated the forces of Islam when they attempted to invade Christendom in times past. Today, as we battle militant Islam on many fronts, let us take up this weapon yet again. With our Lady at our side, we cannot fail.

Sanctity Through the Rosary by Edouard Hugon, O.P.

Part III: The Rosary and the Practice of Holiness.

Chapter III: The Rosary and Perfect Holiness.

Ordinary holiness is necessary if we wish to attain eternal salvation, but there is a higher degree of holiness, which, although not the highest, may be called the perfection of love in the perfection of sacrifice. This is the holiness aimed at in the religious life.

By virtue of their religious profession, consecrated souls are bound to aspire to perfection. God the Father must be able to recognize His Son in each one of them; Mary must be able to see clearly in their souls the sweetness, charity, humility and spirit of renunciation of Jesus. But to arrive at this stage they must labor unceasingly at the work of their sanctification, and even after the efforts of a lifetime their ideal will still not be realized, because their model is Infinite Perfection itself.

The religious life, then, is a continual advance towards perfection. But in what does this perfection consist? When we read the lives of saintly, worthy religious we see that they paid to the Church the tribute of heroism, just as the holy martyrs pay the tribute of their blood. Profession creates within the soul an ardent desire for perfection, makes it aspire even to heroism; more than once, submission and obedience have reached a heroic degree.

Nevertheless, the holiness ordinarily demanded of religious is not heroic charity; it is charity of a lower degree than heroic charity, but higher than the charity expected from Christians in general. It consists in the removal of all those obstacles which hinder in any way the operations of divine love in the soul. It is a species of perfect charity, or, as we have already said, the perfection of love in the perfection of sacrifice. Our Redeemer showed His love for us by sacrificing Himself for our sakes, we must also prove our love for Him by death and sacrifice. We sacrifice and put to death our worldly ambitions and possessions by the vow of poverty; we sacrifice and put to death the flesh and the senses by the vow of chastity; we sacrifice and put to death our will by the vow of obedience. When the heart and soul are immolated, when the will free will, that most dear possession, the inheritance of even the most lowly of the sons of men is entirely abandoned to God, then we have the perfection of love in the perfection of sacrifice. A religious who is faithful to his three vows already has this perfect charity which is bordering on heroism.

In order to be faithful it is not sufficient merely to avoid mortal sin. No doubt, as long as a soul avoids serious faults it is still, in a sense, in the state of perfection. But in order fully to respond to Him Who calls us to perfection, the souls must have a deadly hatred of venial sin. One who commits deliberate venial faults wounds our Blessed Lord in that which is very dear to His heart. He cannot be said to be in the state of perfection of love in the perfection of sacrifice. It is evident that detestation of venial sin must go hand in hand with a sincere desire of perfection. All progress in perfection consists in lessening venial faults; each time we commit a deliberate venial fault we fall a degree, on to a lower level from these radiant heights towards which a true religious soars. A soul, therefore, that is seriously desirous of perfection must be determined to avoid as far as possible all deliberate venial sin. We say deliberate because it is the teaching of the Church that it is impossible, save by a singular privilege such as was granted to Our Blessed Lady, to avoid all indeliberate faults. Again, we do not take a vow to be perfect, but only to strive after perfection. We are not hypocrites or liars if we still have our faults in the religious state, but only if we renounce our desire for the attainment of perfection.

The holiness required of a religious may be summarized in these few words: the perfection of love in the perfection of sacrifice, which supposes fidelity to our three vows, together with an intense hatred and horror of deliberate venial sin.

The great secret of progress in the way of perfection is to keep very close to Jesus, united to Him. If we are guided by His inspirations, if we leave ourselves completely in His hands, then we shall run with Him in the royal way, we shall be able to exclaim with the Psalmist: Exultavit ut gigas ad currendam viam. He hath rejoiced as a giant to run the way (Ps. 18:6).

The Rosary can help us in a very special manner to reach our goal. Jesus in the Rosary is our model, our way, and our life. He is our model, because He was the first and most perfect religious of His Heavenly Father. He is our way; He stretches forth His all-powerful hand to sustain and support us; He is our life, because meditation on the Mysteries results in marvelous graces being poured into our souls to aid us in the observance of our vows.

Our Blessed Lord in the Rosary is the religious par excellence of the Eternal Father. A religious is one who is entirely bound to God. In fact, the word religion is derived from religare, which means to bind a second time. Every human being is bound to God by the very fact that all depend on Him for their creation and preservation. Without Him they could not exist for an instant.

We add a moral and voluntary bond to this necessary physical bond. God is our first principle, we adhere to Him by the bond of adoration. God is our sovereign master, we bind ourselves to Him by submission and obedience. God is our last end, we unite ourselves to Him by the bond of love. Religion is the link which binds us a second time to God, our Redeemer and our first principle. St. Thomas says that the term religious may be applied in this wide sense to all who serve God; but it usually reserved for those who consecrate their whole lives to the divine service, disengaging themselves completely from worldly affairs and attaching themselves to God in a very special way by their three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Poverty binds them to the source of all good; chastity to a Virgin God, the source of beauty and purity; obedience to God, the sovereign master of all liberty. Thus, in every possible way is a religious bound to God.

In the Mysteries of the Rosary, we can consider the absolute submission of Jesus Christ to the will of the Father. In the Incarnation we see our adorable Savior coming forth from the bosom of the Father, assuming our frail human nature, making Himself entirely dependent on God, constituting Himself, as it were, His vassal. Behold I come to do thy will, O God: Ecce venio ut faciam voluntatem tuam (Heb. 10:9). When about to return to that eternal abode whence He came, He uttered the selfsame words: Fiat voluntas tua. This one thought was the dominating factor of His whole existence here below. When He remained behind in Jerusalem, separating Himself from Mary and Joseph, it was that He might be about His Father’s business; when He passed entire nights in ardent prayer, it was to fulfil the will of Him Who sent Him. Every instant of His life was spent in carrying out the mission entrusted to Him, until at its close He could say to His Father: Opus consummavi quod dedist mihi ut faciam. I have finished the work which Thou gavest to Me to do (John 17:4). He was the type of the perfect religious, one who is consecrated entirely and completely to God.

Jesus practiced poverty even to heroism: He was born in the midst of poverty and felt its pangs during the whole of His life. He had not whereon to lay His head. On Calvary His garments were taken from Him and divided among the soldiers. He is still poor for unto this day He dwells in the Eucharist, where He despoils Himself of even the appearance of humanity and dons the borrowed clothing of the sacramental species.

With regard to chastity, Jesus is a Virgin God, son of a virgin Mother, spouse of a virgin Church. He willed His body to be laid, after death, in a sepulchre which was not already the resting place of any man; He still dwells in the Blessed Sacrament, the pure wheat of His chosen ones, the wine which gives birth to virgins.

For obedience He had a passionate love. Out of love for obedience He became incarnate, lived and died; He remains in the Eucharist, even allowing Himself sometimes to be desecrated by sacrilegious and sinful hands.

So it is with all the Mysteries. Our Redeemer is the model for all religious when He says: I have given you an example that as I have done, so do you also (John 13:15).

But He did not content Himself with simply showing us the way. He is our way and our life. Meditation on the Mysteries of the Rosary has a wonderful efficacy for communicating to us the graces of our vocation. Our three vows are a solemn challenge to the three great concupiscences of the world. But Our Savior triumphed over this triple power of the evil spirit by His life, passion and resurrection which we recall in the fifteen Mysteries. He Himself was never under the sway of the demon or hell; it was for us that He triumphed over sin; for our sakes He expiated those vices which originate in us from this triple root; for our sakes He merited the graces of the virtues. When we meditate on the Rosary, then, we actually assist at the victory of Our Savior over the three concupiscences. As a result of this meditation holy souls will obtain from their contact with the Word Incarnate actual graces which will help them to destroy vices. By uniting ourselves with Jesus in His poverty in the different mysteries, we obtain grace to conquer the concupiscence of the eyes; our contact with Jesus, Who is purity itself, will help to triumph over the concupiscence of the flesh; our humble obedience, modeled on His, will destroy in us the pride of life. In this fashion, the observance of our vows will become easy, the contrary temptations will be overcome.

We have seen that religious perfection does not consist in merely avoiding mortal sin, there must also be an intense hatred and horror of the slightest venial fault. The Rosary can obtain this grace for us. Not only will it strengthen us in moments when the life of the soul is in peril, but its influence extends also to those daily innumerable little struggles which the soul undergoes: the combat between our lower and higher natures, between renunciation and tepidity. In the Rosary we can contemplate on Jesus, the exemplar of all religious, perfect from His very birth. By thus uniting ourselves to Him, we surely receive a little of His admirable perfection. We learn to forget ourselves and to think only of our Well-Beloved and His interests. We have a holy horror of offending Him even in the slightest degree; the more we detach ourselves from ourselves and created things, the more are we attracted towards fervor and love in the divine service.

These are some of the wonderful effects of meditating wisely on the Rosary. But we must be vigilant. If we neglect to respond to the inspiration of Jesus when He draws nigh, He will pass by and we shall be left to pursue our journey to eternity alone. The way is long and difficult, it is easy to become discouraged and turn back.

In such moments we can always have recourse to Mary. Mary in the Rosary knows from experience all the trials and troubles of a religious. She practiced in those Mysteries poverty, chastity and obedience, with perfection such as excluded even the faintest shadow of venial sin. If we unite ourselves to her in her celestial Psalter, the Mediatrix of All Grace will obtain grace for us to imitate her perfection, her love of God, her detestation of sin. Aided by Mary, we shall endeavor to reach Jesus and the good Master, for the sake of His mother, will take compassion on us and will deign to draw near to us again. Hence, we shall arrive safely in eternity in the company of Jesus and Mary. If religious only realized the wealth and treasures hidden in the Mysteries of the Rosary, how easy would become the way of perfection for them! Supported by the hands of Jesus and Mary, that is by the graces which proceed from both, they would be able to repeat these words of Brother Marie Raphael, O.P.: I have found in my Rosary the secret of holiness.