Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Eleventh Day of Christmas

MEDITATION XI: The Poverty of the Infant Jesus.

O God! who would not feel compassion if he saw a little prince, the son of a monarch, born in such poverty as to be left to lie in a damp, cold cavern, not having bed, servants, fire, or clothes sufficient to warm him? Ah, my Jesus, you are the Son of the Lord of heaven and earth, and yet you lie in this cold grotto without other cradle than a manger, with nothing but straw for you bed, and miserable rags to cover you. The angels stand round you and sing your praises, but they do not relieve your poverty. My dear Redeemer, the poorer you are, the more amiable you render yourself in our eyes, because you have embraced so great a poverty for this end, to make us love you more. If you had been born in a palace, if you had a cradle of gold, if you had been assisted by the first princes of the earth, you would have acquired more respect from men, but less love; but this stable where you sleep, these miserable rags that cover you, this straw that serves as your bed, this manger that is you only cradle, oh, how do they attract our souls to love you, because you have made yourself poor in order to become more dear to us! "The viler he was for me," says St. Bernard, "the dearer he is to me." You have made yourself poor to enrich us with you riches; that is, with grace and glory: He became poor, that through His poverty you might be rich (II Cor. 8:9).

The poverty of Jesus Christ was for us great riches, inasmuch as it moves us to acquire the treasures of heaven and to despise those of earth. Ah, my Jesus! your poverty has induced so many saints to leave all—riches, honors, and kingdoms—in order to become poor with you! Oh, detach me also, my Savior, from all affection to earthly goods, so that I may be made worthy to acquire your holy love, and thus to possess you, the infinite Good!

Affections and Prayers.

Oh that I also could say to you, O holy Infant, with your dear St. Francis, "My God and my All!" and with David, What have I in heaven? and besides Thee, what do I desire upon earth? . . . God of my heart, and the God that is my portion forever (Ps. 72:25); so that from this day forth I might desire no other riches but those of you love, and that my heart might be no more under the dominion of the vanities of the world, but that you alone, my love, might be its only Lord. But I even now wish to begin to say it: God of my heart, and the God that is my portion forever (Ps. 72:25). Miserable that I was, I have hitherto only sought after worldly goods, and have found nothing but thorns and gall. I feel more satisfaction at finding myself at your feet, to thank you and love you, than I have ever experienced from all my sins. One fear alone afflicts me—the fear that you have not yet forgiven me; but your promises of forgiveness to the penitent, the thought that you made yourself poor for the love of me, that you are still calling me to love you; the tears, the blood you shed for me, the sorrows, the ignominy, the bitter death you endured for me, all console me/and make me hope certainly for pardon. And supposing you had not forgiven me, what shall I then do? Do you desire that I should repent? I repent with my whole heart of having offended you, O my Jesus! Do you desire that I should love you? I love you more than myself. Do you desire that I should give up everything? Behold, I give up all and give myself to you; and I know that you accept me, otherwise I should not have sorrow, nor love, nor the desire to give myself to you. I give myself then to you, and you have already accepted me. I love you, and you also love me. Do not permit that this love between us should evermore be interrupted.

O my Mother Mary! obtain for me the grace that I may always love Jesus, and that I may always be loved by him!

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