Thursday, 31 December 2009

Meditations for the Octave of Christmas - Jan. 1

Meditation VIII.
The Name of Jesus.1
The name of Jesus is a divine name, announced to Mary on the part of God by St. Gabriel: and thou shalt call His name Jesus.2 For that reason it was called a name above all names.3 And it was also called a name in which alone salvation is found: whereby we must be saved.4
This great name is likened by the Holy Spirit unto oil: Thy name is as oil poured out.5 For this reason, says St. Bernard, that as oil is light, food, and medicine; so the name of Jesus is light to the mind, food to the heart, and medicine to the soul.
It is light to the mind. By this name the world was converted from the darkness of idolatry to the light of faith. We who have been born in these regions, where before the coming of Christ all our ancestors were Gentiles, should all have been in the same condition had not the Messias come to enlighten us. How thankful ought we not, then, to be to Jesus Christ for the gift of faith! And what would have become of us if we had been born . . .6 in the midst of heretics and schismatics? He who believes not is lost: He that believeth not shall be condemned.7 And thus probably we also should have been lost.
The name of Jesus is also food that nourishes our hearts; yes, because this name reminds us of what Jesus has done to save us. Hence this name consoles us in tribulation, gives us strength to walk along the way of salvation, supplies us with courage in difficulties, and inflames us to love our Redeemer, when we remember what he has suffered for our salvation.
Lastly, this name is medicine to the soul, because it renders it strong against the temptations of our enemies. The devils tremble and fly at the invocation of this holy name, according to the words of the Apostle: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.8 He who in temptation calls upon Jesus shall not fall; and he who constantly invokes him shall not fall, and shall be saved: Praising, I will call upon the Lord; and I shall be saved from my enemies.9 And who was ever lost, who when he was tempted invoked Jesus? He alone is lost who does not invoke his aid, or who, whilst the temptation continues, ceases to invoke him.
Affections and Prayers.
Oh, that I had always called upon Thee, my Jesus; for then I should never have been conquered by the devil! I have miserably lost Thy grace, because in temptation I have neglected to call Thee to my assistance. But now I hope for all things through Thy holy name: I can do all things in Him who comforts me.10 Write, therefore, O my Saviour, write upon my poor heart Thy most powerful name of Jesus, so that, by having it always in my heart by loving Thee, I may have it always on my lips by invoking Thee, in all the temptations that hell prepares for me, in order to induce me to become again its slave, and to separate myself from Thee. In Thy name I shall find every good. If I am afflicted, it will console me when I think how much more afflicted Thou hast been than I am, and all for the love of me; if I am disheartened on account of my sins, it will give me courage when I remember that Thou camest into the world to save sinners; if I am tempted, Thy holy name will give me strength, when I consider that Thou canst help me more than hell can cast me down; finally, if I feel cold in Thy love, it will give me fervor, by reminding me of the love that Thou bearest me. I love Thee, my Jesus! Thou art, and I trust Thou wilt always be, my only Love. To Thee do I give all my heart, O my Jesus! Thee alone will I love! Thee will I invoke as often as I possibly can. I will die with Thy name upon my lips; a name of hope, a name of salvation, a name of love. O Mary, if thou lovest me, this is the grace I beg of thee to obtain for me, the grace constantly to invoke thy name and that of thy Son; obtain for me that these most sweet names may be the breath of my soul, and that I may always repeat them during my life, in order to repeat them at my death with my last breath. Jesus and Mary, help me; Jesus and Mary, I love you; Jesus and Mary, I recommend my soul to you.

1Today is the feast of the circumcision of our Lord. A meditation on this mystery has also been posted.
2“Et vocabis nomen ejus Jesum.” – Luke, i. 31.
3“Nomen quod est super omne nomen.” – Phil. ii. 9.
4“In quo oporteat nos salvos fieri.” – Acts, iv. 12.
5“Oleum effusum, nomen tuum.” – Cant. i. 2.
6Original text reads: And what would have become of us if we had been born in Asia, in Africa, in America, or in the midst of heretics and schismatics?
7“Qui non crediderit, condemnabitur.” – Mark, xvi. 16.
8“In nomine Jesu, omne genu flectatur cœlestium, terrestrium, et infernorum.” – Phil. ii. 10.
9“Laudans invocabo Dominum, et ab inimicis meis salvus ero.” – Ps. xvii. 4.
10“Omnia possum in eo qui me confortat.” – Phil. iv. 13.


Meditation for the Feast of the Circumcision

Another Meditation for the Feast of the Circumcision
January 1

Behold the eternal Father, having sent his Son to suffer and die for us, commands that on this day he should be circumcised, and should begin to shed his divine blood, which he was to shed for the last time on the day of his death upon the cross in a sea of contumely and sorrow. And wherefore? In order that this innocent Son should thus pay the penalties which we have deserved. “O admirable,” sings the Holy Church, “admirable condescension of divine pity towards us! O inestimable love of charity! to redeem Thy servant Thou hast given Thy Son to death!”
O eternal God, who could ever have bestowed upon us this infinite gift, but Thou who art infinite goodness and infinite love? O my Lord, if in giving me Thy Son Thou hast given me the dearest treasure Thou hast, it is but right that I should give myself entirely to Thee. Yes, my God, I give Thee my whole self; accept of me, I pray Thee, and let me never depart from Thee again.
Behold, on the other hand, the divine Son, who, full of humility and love towards us, embraces the bitter death destined for him in order to save us sinners from eternal death, and willingly begins on this day to make satisfaction for us to the divine justice with the price of his blood. He humbled Himself, says the Apostle, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross.1
Thou, therefore, O my Jesus, hast accepted death for my sake; what, then, shall I do? shall I continue to offend Thee by my sins? No, my Redeemer, I will no longer be ungrateful to Thee. I am sorry from my heart that I have caused Thee so much bitterness in times past. I love Thee, O infinite Goodness, and for the future I will never cease to love Thee.
Our Redeemer said, Greater love can no man have than to lay down his life for his friends.2 But Thou, O my Jesus, says St. Paul, hast shown greater love than this towards us, by giving Thy life for us who were Thy enemies.
Behold one of them, O Lord, at Thy feet. How many times have I, a miserable sinner, renounced Thy friendship because I would not obey Thee! I now see the evil I have done; forgive me, O my Jesus. Would that I could die of sorrow for my sins! I now love Thee with my whole soul, and I desire nothing else but to love Thee and to please Thee. O Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, pray to Jesus for me.

1“Humiliavit semetipsum, factus obediens usque ad mortem, mortem autem crucis.” – Phil. ii. 8.
2“Majorem hac dilectionem nemo habet, ut animam suam ponat quis pro amicis suis.” – John, xv. 13.


Meditations for the Octave of Christmas - Dec. 31

Meditation VII.
Jesus weeping.

The tears of the Infant Jesus were very different from those of other new-born babes: these 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,”1 says St. Bernard. Tears are a great sign of love. Therefore did the Jews say when they saw the Saviour weeping for the death of Lazarus: Behold how He loved him.2 Thus also might the angels have said on beholding the tears of the Infant Jesus: “Behold how he loves them.”3 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;”4 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.5
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 Saviour 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, whilst Thou wert weeping in the stable of Bethlehem, Thou wert thinking of me; beholding even then my sins, which were the cause of Thy tears. And have I, then, O my Jesus! instead of consoling Thee by my love and gratitude at the thought of what Thou hast suffered to save me, have I increased Thy sorrow and the cause of Thy tears? If I had sinned less, Thou wouldst have wept less. Weep, oh, weep, for Thou hast cause to weep in seeing such great ingratitude of men to Thy great love. But since Thou weepest, weep also for me; Thy tears are my hope. I also will weep for the offences I have committed against Thee, 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 Thy enemy and deprived of Thy beautiful face; but what would my tears avail, O my Jesus, without Thine!
Eternal Father, I offer Thee the tears of the Infant Jesus; for their sake forgive me. And Thou, my dearest Saviour, offer to him all the tears that Thou didst shed for me during Thy life, and with them appease his anger against me. I beseech Thee also, O my Love, to soften my heart by these tears, and to inflame it with Thy holy love. Oh that I could from this day forth console Thee by my love for all the pain I have caused Thee by offending Thee! Grant, therefore, O Lord! that the days that remain to me in this life may not any more be spent in offending Thee, but only in weeping for the offences I have committed against Thee, and in loving Thee with all the affections of my soul. O Mary! I beseech thee, by that tender compassion which thou didst so often feel 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.

1“Illi ex passione lugent, Christus ex compassione.” – In Nat. D. s. 3.
2“Ecce quomodo amat eum!” – John, xi. 36.
3“Ecce quomodo amat eos!”
4“Mea lacrymæ illæ delicta lavarunt.” – In Luc. ii.
5“Et in terra pax hominibus bonæ voluntatis.” – Luke, ii. 14.


Meditations for the Octave of Christmas - Dec. 30

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 watcheth.1 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 whilst our Saviour 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.2 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;”3 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, Thou sleepest, and oh, how do Thy slumbers enamour me! With others sleep is the emblem of death; but in Thee it is the sign of eternal life, because whilst Thou art sleeping Thou art meriting for me eternal salvation. Thou sleepest; but Thy heart sleeps not, it is thinking of suffering and dying for me. Whilst Thou art slumbering, Thou art praying for me, and obtaining for me from God the eternal rest of Paradise. But before Thou dost, carry me (as I hope) to repose with Thee in heaven, I desire that Thou shouldst repose forever in my soul. There was a time, O my God! when I drove Thee 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,—Thou hast already obtained an entrance there. This, I say, is my hope, because I feel a great confidence that I have been forgiven by Thee; I feel a great hatred and penitence for the offences I have committed against Thee,—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 Thy goodness. I thank Thee, my Jesus, and I pray Thee never again to separate Thyself from my soul. I know indeed that Thou wilt not leave me, if I do not drive Thee away; but this is the favor I ask of Thee (and I pray Thee to give me Thy assistance that I may always seek it of Thee), that Thou wouldst not permit me ever to drive Thee from me. Make me forget everything, in order to think of Thee who hast always thought of me and of my welfare. Make me always love Thee in this life, so that I may breathe forth my soul in Thy arms, united to Thee, and may repose eternally in Thee without fear of losing Thee 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.

1“Ego dormio, et cor meum vigilat.” – Cant. v. 2.
2“Ne suscitetis neque evigilare faciatis dilectam, quoadusque ipsa velit,” – Cant. ii. 7.
3“Summa rerum omnium oblivio.” – Reg. fus. disp. int. 6.


Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Meditations for the Octave of Christmas - Dec. 29

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.1 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 Thou hast fitted to Me.2
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;3 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 whilst 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.”4 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.”5 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 more the 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 Thee, and the bitter death that is prepared for Thee on the cross, sufficient, but Thou must, even from the commencement of Thy life, even from Thy infancy, begin to suffer? Yes, because even as an infant Thou wouldst begin to be my Redeemer, and to satisfy the divine justice for my sins. Thou didst choose a bed of straw to deliver me from the fire of hell, into which I have so many times deserved to be cast. Thou didst cry and mourn on this bed of straw to obtain for me pardon from Thy Father. Oh, how these Thy tears afflict and yet console me! They afflict me from compassion at seeing Thee, an innocent babe, suffering so much for sins not Thy own; but they console me, because Thy sufferings assure me of my salvation, and of Thy immense love for me. But, my Jesus, I will not leave Thee 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 Thee. I, who have deserved hell, will not refuse any suffering whatever, so that I may regain Thy favor, O my Saviour. Forgive me, I beseech Thee; receive me once more into Thy friendship, make me love Thee, and then chastise me as Thou wilt. Deliver me from eternal punishment, and then treat me as it shall please Thee. I do not seek for pleasures in this life; he does not deserve pleasure who has had the temerity to offend Thee, O infinite Goodness. I am content to suffer all the crosses Thou shalt send me; but, my Jesus, I will love Thee still. O Mary, who didst sympathize by thy 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 thee in thy sufferings, O my sorrowful Mother, and Thee, O my Jesus, always afflicted and crucified for love of me.

1“Et reclinavit eum in præsepio.” – Luke, ii. 7.
2“Corpus autem aptasti mihi.” – Heb. x. 5.
3“Et reclinavit eum in præsepio.”
4“Neque illum tali loco posuisset, nisi magnum aliquod mysterium ageretur.” – In Natal. D. conc. 1.
5“Legem martyrii præfigebat.”


Monday, 28 December 2009

Meditations for the Octave of Christmas - Dec. 28

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.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, whilst Thou dost suck the breast of Mary, Thou art thinking of me; Thou art thinking of changing this milk into blood, to be shed afterwards at Thy 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,”2 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 Thee, and the paps that gave Thee suck.3 Blessed art thou, O Mother of God, who hadst the happiness to give milk to the Incarnate Word! Oh, admit me, in company with this great Son, to take from thee the milk of a tender and loving devotion to the Infancy of Jesus, and to thyself, my dearest mother.
And I thank Thee, O divine Infant, who didst deign to stand in need of milk for Thy support in order to show me the love that Thou bearest 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, Thou art the bread of heaven, and dost sustain the angels: Thou dost provide all creatures with food; and yet how art Thou reduced to the necessity of begging a little milk from a Virgin in order to preserve Thy life! O divine love, how couldst Thou reduce a God to such a state of poverty that he was in want of a little food? But I understand Thee, O my Jesus! Thou didst take 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 thou canst to this Son, because every drop of this milk will serve to wash out the sins of my soul, and to nourish it afterwards in the Holy Communion. O my Redeemer! how can one not love Thee who believes what Thou hast done and suffered to save us? And I, how could I know this, and yet be so ungrateful to Thee? But Thy goodness is my hope; and this makes me sure that if I wish for Thy grace it is mine. I repent, O sovereign Good! of having offended Thee, and I love Thee above all things. Or, rather, I love nothing, I love and I will love only Thee; Thou art and shalt always be my only good, my only love. My beloved Redeemer, give me, I pray Thee, a tender devotion to Thy holy Infancy, such as Thou hast given to so many souls, who, meditating on Thee, as an Infant, forgetting all else, seem unable to think of anything but loving Thee. It is true that they are innocent, and I am a sinner; but Thou didst become a child to make Thyself loved even by sinners. I have been such; but now I love Thee with my whole heart, and I desire nothing but Thy love. O Mary, give me a little of that tenderness with which thou didst give suck to the Infant Jesus.

1“Quis mihi del te fratrem meum sugentem ubera matris meæ?” – Cant. viii. 1.
2“Lac vestrum Christus est!” – In 1 Jo. tr. 3.
3“Beatus venter qui te portavit, et ubera quæ suxisti.” – Luke, xi. 27.


Sunday, 27 December 2009

Meditations for the Octave of Christmas - Dec. 27

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.1 The Holy Church says the same: “His limbs, wrapped in swaddling-clothes, The Virgin Mother binds.”2 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 Thee 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 Thee 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.3 The bands of Jesus were the healthful binding, to heal the wounds of our souls. Therefore, O my Jesus, Thou wouldst be bound in swaddling-clothes for the love of me. “O Love, how great is thy bond, which could bind a God.”4 O divine Love, Thou alone couldst make my God Thy prisoner. And shall I then, O Lord, refuse to allow myself to be bound by Thy holy love? Shall I for the future have the courage to detach myself from Thy sweet and amiable chains? And for what? To make myself a slave of hell? O my Lord, Thou remainest bound up in this manger for the love of me; I desire always to remain bound to Thee.
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 Thy chastisement, O my beloved Infant, now that I see Thee bound in the swaddling-clothes, depriving Thyself, as it were, of the power of raising Thy hands to punish me? Thou dost give me to understand by these bands that Thou wilt not chastise me, if I will detach myself from the chains of my vices and bind myself to Thee. Yes, my Jesus, I will bind myself. I repent with all my heart of having separated myself from Thee, by abusing that liberty which Thou hast given me. Thou dost 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. Thou hast given Thyself up to be imprisoned in these swaddling-clothes for the love of me; I will be in future a prisoner of Thy 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 in future he able to disengage itself from the love of this sovereign Good. My Jesus, I love Thee; I bind myself to Thee; I give Thee my whole heart, my whole will. No, I will never leave Thee again, my beloved Lord. O my Saviour, who, to pay my debts, wouldst not only be wrapped by Mary in swaddling-clothes, but even be bound as a criminal by the executioners, and thus bound wouldst go along the streets of Jerusalem, led to death as an innocent lamb to the slaughter-house; O Thou who wouldst be nailed to the cross, and didst not leave it until Thou hadst given up Thy life upon it, I beseech Thee permit me not to be ever separated again from Thee, so that I should again find myself deprived of Thy favor and of Thy love. O Mary, who didst one day bind in swaddling-clothes this thy innocent Son, I pray thee, do thou 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.

1“Pannis eum involvit.” – Luke, ii. 7.
2“Membra pannis involuta Virgo Mater alligat.” – Off. de Pass.
3“Vincula illius, alligatura salutaris.” – Ecclus. vi. 31.
4“O Charitas! quam magnum est vinculum tuum, quo Deus ligari potuit!” – Lign. V. de Char. c. 6.


Saturday, 26 December 2009

Meditations for the Octave of Christmas - Dec. 26

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.1 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.”2
Adam came into the world at a full age; but the eternal Word chose to appear as an infant—a child is born to us3—that he might thus attract our hearts to himself with greater force: “so would he be born, who willed to be loved.”4 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,”5 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.”6 My great and supreme God has 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.”7 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.”8 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.9 In this Infant did the eternal Father find his delight, because, as St. Gregory says, “in him alone he found no fault.”10
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 ourselves, 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 Thee in satisfaction for my sins; I offer Thee the tears, the sufferings, the blood, the death of this Infant, who is Thy Son; and through them I implore pity from Thee. If I had not this Son to offer Thee, I should be lost; there would be no longer any hope for me; but Thou hast given him to me for this purpose, in order that, in offering Thee his merits, I might have a good hope of my salvation. My ingratitude, O Lord, is great; but Thy mercy is still greater. And what greater mercy could I hope for from Thee, than that Thou shouldst give me Thy 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 Thee, of which I repent with my whole heart, because by them I have offended Thee, O infinite Goodness. And for the sake of Jesus Christ, I ask of Thee holy perseverance. O my God, if I should again offend Thee, after Thou hast waited for me with so much patience; after Thou hast 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 Thee. I tremble when I think of the number of times that I have betrayed Thee; how many times have I promised to love Thee, and then have again turned my back upon Thee? O my Creator, let me not have to lament the misfortune of seeing myself again deprived of Thy favor: “Permit me not to be separated from Thee; permit me not to be separated from Thee.”11 I repeat it, and will repeat it to my very last breath; and do Thou always give me the grace to repeat to Thee this prayer: “Permit me not to be separated from Thee.”12 My Jesus, my dearest Infant, enchain me with Thy love. I love Thee, and will always love Thee. Permit me not to be ever again separated from Thy love. I love thee too, my Mother; oh, do thou also love me. And if thou lovest me, this is the favor I beg thee to obtain for me, that I may never cease to love my God.

1“Invenietis infantem pannis involutum, et positum in præsepio.” – Luke, ii. 12.
2“Propter nos factus est parvulus.” – In Ps. lviii. s. 1.
3“Parvulus natus est nobis.”
4“Sic nasci voluit, qui voluit amari.”
5“Magnus Dominus et laudabilis nimis.” – Ps. cxliv. 3.
6“Parvus Dominus et amabilis nimis.” – In Cant. s. 48.
7“Amemus Puerum de Bethlehem! Amemus Puerum de Bethlehem!”
8“Sanctus, innocens, impollutus.” – Heb. vii. 26.
9“Dilectus meus candidus et rubicundus, electus ex millibus.” – Cant. v. 10.
10“In hoc solo non invenit culpam.” – In Ezech. hom. 8.
11“Ne permittas me separari a te! ne permittas me separari a te!”
12“Ne permittas me separari a te.”


Friday, 25 December 2009

Meditations for the Octave of Christmas - Dec. 25

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 Saviour.1
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 bowels of his mercy: Through the bowels of the mercy of our God, in which the Orient from on high hath visited us.2 We were lost; and behold him who came to save us: He came down from heaven for our salvation.3 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 giveth his life for his sheep.4 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, amongst 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.”5 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.6
Affections and Prayers.
I have gone astray like a sheep that is lost; seek Thy servant.7 O Lord, I am that sheep which, by following after my own pleasures and caprices, have miserably lost myself; but Thou, who art at once the shepherd and divine Lamb, art he who camest down from heaven to save me by sacrificing Thyself as a victim on the cross in satisfaction for my sins. Behold, the Lamb of God; behold Him who taketh away the sins of the world.8 If, therefore, I desire to amend my life, what need I fear? why should I not confide entirely in Thee, O my Saviour, who wert born on purpose to save me? Behold, God is my Saviour; I will put my trust in him, and will not fear.9 What greater proof couldst Thou give me of Thy mercy, O my dearest Redeemer, to inspire me with confidence, than to give me Thyself? O my dear Infant, how grieved am I that I have offended Thee! I have made Thee weep in the stable of Bethlehem. But since Thou art come to seek me, I throw myself at Thy feet; and although I behold Thee afflicted and humbled, lying upon straw in the manger, I acknowledge Thee for my supreme king and sovereign. I feel that Thy tender infant-cries invite me to love Thee, and demand my heart. Behold it, my Jesus; I present it to-day at Thy feet; change it and inflame it, O Thou who didst come into the world to inflame the hearts of men with Thy holy love. I feel as if I heard Thee say to me in Thy manger, Love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart.10 And I will answer, Ah, my Jesus, if I do not love Thee, who art my Lord and my God, whom shall I love? Thou callest Thyself mine, because Thou wert born in order to give Thyself entirely to me; and shall I refuse to be Thine? No, my beloved Lord, 1 give myself entirely to Thee; and I love Thee with my whole heart. I love Thee, I love Thee, I love Thee, O sovereign Good, the one only love of my soul. I beseech Thee accept me this day, and permit me not evermore to cease to love Thee. O Mary, my Queen, I pray thee, through that consolation which them didst enjoy the first time thou didst behold thy new-born Son and didst give him thy first kiss, beseech him to accept me for his servant, and to enchain me forever to himself by the gift of his holy love.

1“Ecce enim evangelizo vobis gaudium magnum, quod erit omni populo. quia natus est vobis hodie Salvator.” – Luke, ii. 10.
2“Per viscera misericordiæ Dei nostri, in quibus visitavit nos Oriens ex alto.” – Luke, i. 78.
3“Propter nostram salutem, descendit de cœlis.” – Symb. Nic.
4“Ego sum Pastor bonus. Bonus Pastor animam suam dat pro ovibus suis.” – John, x. 11.
5“In præsepio, ubi pastus est animalium, sua collocari membra permittit; in æternam refectionem vescendum a mortalibus suum corpus ostendit.” – In Nat. D. s. 5.
6“Parvulus natus est nobis, et Filius datus est nobis.” – Isa. ix. 6.
7“Erravi sicut ovis quæ periit; quære servum tuum.” – Ps. cxviii. 176.
8“Ecce Agnus Dei, ecce qui tollit peccatum.” – John, i. 29.
9“Ecce Deus Salvator meus; fiducialiter agam, et non timebo.” – Isa. xii. 2.
10“Diliges Dominum Deum tuum ex toto corde tuo.” – Matt. xxii. 37.


Thursday, 24 December 2009

Meditations for the Novena for Christmas - Dec. 24

Meditation IX.
Saint Joseph goes to Bethlehem with His Holy Spouse.
Ascendit autem et Joseph . . ., ut profiteretur cum Maria, desponsata sibi uxore prægnante.
“And Joseph also went up . . . to be enrolled with Mary his espoused wife, who was with child.” – St. Luke, ii. 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 themselves, 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.1
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 long a 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 personages, 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 Saviour! that for the sake of my own cursed inclinations I have often separated myself from Thee and renounced Thy friendship, I 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 enamoured of Thee, O my amiable Infant God! I love Thee, my sweet Saviour; 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.

1“Ascendit autem et Joseph . . ., ut profiteretur cum Maria.”


Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Meditations for the Novena for Christmas - Dec. 23

Meditation VIII.
The Love of God manifested to Men by the Birth of Jesus.
Apparuit gratia Dei Salvatoris nostri omnibus hominibus, erudiens nos, ut . . . pie vivamus in hoc sæculo, expectantes beatam spem et adventum gloriæ magni Dei et Salvatoris nostri Jesu Christi.
“The grace of God our Saviour 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 Saviour Jesus Christ.” – Titus, ii. 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.1 Therefore the love of our God appeared to all men.2
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.3 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 light, 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 coming of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.4 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.5 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.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.7 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.

1“In hoc cognovimus charitatem Dei, quoniam ille animam suam pro nobis posuit.” – I John, iii. 16.
2“Omnibus hominibus.”
3“Lux venit in mundum, et dilexerunt homines magis tenebras quam lucem.” – John, iii. 19.
4“Expectantes beatam spem et adventum gloriæ magni Dei et Salvatoris nostri Jesu Christi.”
5“Videbunt Filium hominis venientem in nubibus cœli. cum virtute magna et majestate.” – Matt. xxiv. 30.
6“In mantis tuas commendo spiritum meum; redemisti me, Domine, Deus veritatis.” – Ps. xxx. 6.
7“Redemisti me, Domine.”


Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Meditations for the Novena for Christmas - Dec. 22

Meditation VII.
The Sorrow that the Ingratitude of Men has caused Jesus.
In propria venit et sui eum non receperunt.
“He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.” – St. John, i. 11.

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 lie 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?1 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.”2
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.”3 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.4 But even at the present day it seems as if Jesus Christ was going about complaining: I am become a stranger to My brethren.5 For he sees that many neither love nor know him, as if he had not done them any good, nor had suffered anything 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.6
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;7 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.8 Thou Thyself, whom I have offended, O my Jesus, hast made Thyself my intercessor: He is the propitiation for our sins.9 I will therefore 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.10 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.

1“Ignem veni mittere in terram, et quid volo, nisi ut accendatur?” – Luke, xii. 49.
2“Et ideo infinite dolebat.”
3“Tristitiam acriorem sæpe in anima fecit ingratitudo, quam dolor inflictus in corpore.”
4“Et posuerunt adversum me mala pro bonis, et odium pro dilectione mea!” – Ps. cviii. 5.
5“Extraneus factus sum fratribus meis.” – Ps. Ixviii. 9.
6“Qui dicebant Deo: Recede a nobis; . . . cum ille implesset domos eorum bonis!” – Job, xxii. 17.
7“Recede a me, Domine.”
8“Convertimini ad me, . . . et convertar ad vos.” – Zach. i. 3.
9“Ipse est propititatio pro peccatis nostris.” – I John, ii. 2.
10“Pater, . . . jam non sum dignus vocari filius tuus.” – Luke, xv. 21.


Monday, 21 December 2009

Meditations for the Novena for Christmas - Dec. 21

Meditation VI.
Jesus a Prisoner in the Womb of Mary.
Factus sum sicut homo sine adjutorio, inter mortuos liber.
“I am become as a man without help, free among the dead.” – Ps. lxxxvii. 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.1 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 Saviour!”2 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.3
Affections and Prayers.
Forget not the kindness of thy surety.4 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 Saviour, 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.

1“Sicut homo sine adjutorio, inter mortuos liber.”
2“O grandis patientia Salvatoris!”
3“Gratiam fidejussoris ne obliviscaris; dedit enim pro te anirnam suam.” – Ecclus. xxix. 19.
4“Gratiam fidejussoris ne obliviscaris.”


Sunday, 20 December 2009

Meditations for the Novena for Christmas - Dec. 20

Meditation V.
Jesus Offered Himself for our Salvation from the Beginning.
Oblatus est, quia ipse voluit.
“He was offered because it was His own will.” – Isa. liii. 7.

The divine Word, from the first instant that he was made man and an infant in Mary’s womb, offered himself of his own accord to suffer and to die for the ransom of the world: He was offered because it was His own will.1 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.2 “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.3 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.”4 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.

1“Oblatus est quia ipse voluit.”
2“Ideo ingrediens mundum dicit: Hostiam et oblationem noluisti; corpus autem aptasti mihi. . . . Tune dixi: Ecce venio.” – Heb. x. 5.
3“Omnia possum in eo qui me confortat.” – Phil. iv. 13.
4“Respice in faciem Christi tui.” – Ps. lxxxiii. 10.


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