Friday, January 2, 2009

The Ninth Day of Christmas

MEDITATION IX: The Solitude of Jesus in the Stable.

Jesus chose at his birth the stable of Bethlehem for his hermitage and oratory; and for this purpose he so disposed events as to be born out of the city in a solitary cave, in order to recommend to us the love of solitude and of silence. Jesus remains in silence in the manger; Mary and Joseph adore and contemplate him in silence. It was revealed to Sister Margaret of the Blessed Sacrament, a discalced Carmelite, who was called the Spouse of the Infant Jesus, that all that passed in the cave of Bethlehem, even the visit of the shepherds and the adoration of the holy Magi, took place in silence, and without a word.

Silence in other infants is impotence; but in Jesus Christ it was virtue. The Infant Jesus does not speak; but oh, how much his silence says! Oh, blessed is he that converses with Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, in this holy solitude of the manger. The shepherds, though admitted there but for a very short time, came out from the stable all inflamed with love to God; for they did nothing but praise and bless him: They returned, glorifying and praising God (Luke 2:20). Oh, happy the soul that shuts it self up in the solitude of Bethlehem to contemplate the divine mercy, and the love that God has borne, and still bears, to men! I will lead her into the wilderness, and I will speak to her heart (Hosea 2:14). There the divine Infant will speak, not to the ear, but to. the heart, inviting the soul to love a God who hath loved her so much. When we see there the poverty of this wandering little hermit, who remains in that cold cave, without fire, with a manger for a crib, and a little straw for a bed; when we hear the cries, and behold the tears of this innocent Child, and consider that he is our God,—how is it possible to think of anything but of loving him! Oh, what a sweet hermitage for a soul that has faith in the stable of Bethlehem!

Let us also imitate Mary and Joseph, who, burning with love, remain contemplating the great Son of God clothed in flesh, and made subject to earthly miseries,—Wisdom become an infant that cannot speak,—the Great One become little,—the Supreme One become so abased,—the Rich One become so poor,—the Omnipotent so weak. In short, let us meditate on the divine majesty shrouded beneath the form of a little Infant, despised and forsaken by the world, and who does and suffers everything in order to make himself loved by men, and let us beseech him to admit us into this sacred retreat;—there stop, there remain, and never leave it again. "O solitude," says St. Jerome, "in which God speaks and converses familiarly with his servants;" O beautiful solitude, in which God speaks and converses with his chosen souls, not as a sovereign, but as a friend, as a brother, as a spouse! Oh, what a paradise it is to converse alone with the Infant Jesus in the little grotto of Bethlehem!

Affections and Prayers.

My dearest Savior, you are the King of Heaven, the King of kings, the Son of God; and how is it, then, that I see you in this cave, forsaken by all? I see no one assisting you but Joseph and your holy Mother. I desire to unite myself also to them in keeping you company. Do not reject me. I do not deserve it; but I feel that you invite me by your sweet voice, speaking to my heart. Yes, I come, O my beloved Infant! I will leave all things to pass my whole life alone with you, my dear little hermit, the only love of my soul. Fool that I was, I have hitherto forsaken you and left you alone, O my Jesus, while I was seeking miserable and poisonous pleasures from creatures; but now, enlightened by your grace, I desire nothing but to live in solitude with you, who wills to live in solitude on this earth: Who will give me wings like a dove, and I will fly and be at rest (Ps. 54:7)? Ah, who will enable me to fly from this world, where I have so often found my ruin,—to fly, and to come and remain always with you, who are the joy of paradise and the true lover of my soul? Oh, bind me, I beg you, to your feet, so that I may no longer be separated from you, but may find my happiness in continually keeping company with you! Ah, by the merits of your solitude in the cave of Bethlehem, give me a constant interior recollection, so that my soul may become a solitary little cell, where I may attend to nothing but to conversing with you; where I may take counsel with you in all my thoughts and all my actions; where I may dedicate to you all my affections; where I may always love you, and sigh to leave the prison of this body to come and love you face to face in heaven. I love you, O infinite Goodness, and I hope always to love you, in time and in eternity.

O Mary, you who can do all things, pray to him to enchain me with his love, and not to permit me ever again to lose his grace.

No comments: