For our Christmas meditation.........
Excerpted from a very, very old book, with its cover missing, The Faith That Never Dies or The Priest of God in the Catholic Home. Highly recommended..........
Bethlehem and the Child Jesus
From the hour of the Annunciation, Mary bore within her sacred womb Our
Lord Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God. A living
ciborium, Mary contained and bore among men the body and the blood, the soul
and divinity, of the Savior. She enclosed the whole
world, the God of heaven, He whom seraphims and angels continually adore!
Nine months after, on the 24th of December, Joseph and Mary reached the
little town of Bethlehem, the City of David, there to be
enrolled, according to the decree of Caesar Augustus, who then commanded the
The divine prophecies were thus unconsciously fulfilled by Augustus,
and it was an unquestioned fact among the Jews that the
Christ, the Messias, should be born at Bethlehem and descended from King
David. On arriving at Bethlehem, Joseph and Mary found
there was no room for them at the inn; the night was approaching, and they
found themselves obliged to go out of the town and seek
shelter in a grotto, which for many centuries had been a place of refuge for
shepherds and their flocks. According to ancient religious
traditions, David, Abraham, and Noe had frequently sought asylum in this
grotto, and at the very beginning of the human race, Seth the
son of Adam, who had filled the place of Abel, had taken refuge there to
Toward midnight the Blessed Virgin was warned by God that the moment
was come in which the Word Incarnate should appear to
the eyes of his creatures. Then she clothed herself in the white raiment
she had brought for that hour, and prepared, with Saint Joseph,
a little hay and straw in a manger, and the swaddling clothes upon the
straw. There Mary, kneeling, lifted up her arms to heaven, and
became absorbed in a blissful ecstasy--all holy and divine she knelt, the
Virgin Mother of God.
A heavenly light enveloped her, and suddenly in the midst of this
light there appeared to her enraptured vision the Holy Infant Jesus,
all radiant with glory; He looked at her with love, and stretched out His
little arms. Then Mary, full of joy, adored Him as her God,
and taking Him in her arms, she held Him to her heart, and covered Him with
tears and kisses. Then she wrapped Him in swaddling
clothes and laid Him in the manger; Joseph on one side and Mary on the
other, kneeling and prostrate before the Lord, were as the two
cherubim of gold before the ark of the alliance; they were the first to
adore God made man, and they adored Him in the name of heaven
and earth, with one faith, one love, and an unutterable fervor.
At the very same hour a great miracle took place in a neighboring
field, where shepherds were watching their flocks by the silence of
the night. An ancient tradition relates there were three: an old man, a
young man, and a child. A bright light suddenly shone around
them, and an angel of the Lord stood by them: Behold, he said, I bring
you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all people: For
this day is born to you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this shall be
a sign unto you. You shall find the Infant wrapped in
swaddling-clothes, and laid in a manger. And suddenly there was with the
angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God, and
saying: Glory to God in the highest: and on earth peace to men of good
will. Then the shepherds, being struck with amazement, said
to one another: Let us go over to Bethlehem, and let us see this word that
is come to pass, which the Lord hath showed to us. And
they came with haste: and they found Mary and Joseph, and the Infant lying
in a manger. Then they adored Him, received His first
benedictions, and returned to their flocks, glorifying and praising God.
Thus the Child Jesus chose from among the poor His first
worshippers and earliest disciples. Having Himself become poor for love of
us, Our Lord makes the choice of the poor before the rich,
and gives to them this consolation among all the troubles and privations by
which they are overwhelmed.
Nevertheless, a little time after, the rich, and wise, and noble were
admitted in their turn to adore the holy Child of Bethlehem. They
were called Magi, and came from the East. A star, a miraculous light,
warned them of the birth of the Savior, and they immediately
departed, carrying with them rich gifts, until they also arrived at
Bethlehem; then, their earnest faith piercing the veil which hid from
their eyes the divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, they prostrated themselves
at His feet, adored Him as their God, and offered to Him
gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
Rich and poor, we are each and all of us called upon thus to believe in
and adore the Infant Jesus; the little Child in the manger at
Bethlehem is verily our God, the one true, living, and eternal God, who for
love of us came down from heaven to earth. Not content
with abasing His infinite Majesty to the very level of His creatures by
becoming their Master and their Brother, He still did more, since
he took upon Himself the whole burden of sin by which they had been
eternally lost, and thus all are saved who believe and hope in
Jesus Christ, who adore Him, and return Him love for love, and who are
obedient in all things to His holy Church; and all who remain
faithful unto death are assured of the eternal happiness of heaven. Jesus
Christ is the Lord our God, and in His eternal glory He is
infinitely worthy of our homage and adoration; But He is also our very
tender, very merciful child Savior, and in His willing abjection
He is infinitely worthy of our love.
And what dignity could be greater or more sublime than that of the
Still Mary, like Jesus, merits our love as much as our veneration: she
is as good as she is great, as gentle as she is pure, as merciful
as she is perfect and holy!
Jesus, Mary, Joseph! names full of blessing and salvation! How happy
we are to have so merciful a God, and ever near Him two
such powerful intercessors!
Let us live, like Mary and Joseph, quiet, peaceful lives, all filled
with love of the child Jesus, who reposes in our hearts as in a second
manger, a manger which is often, alas! as cold and comfortless as that of
Let us, like the shepherds, go with fervor, with love, with gladness,
and, above all, with a lively faith into our churches, where we
can always find the Child of Bethlehem hidden and humiliated there, as once
within the swaddling clothes, so now beneath the veils of
the Most Holy Eucharist.
The Catholic Church is the thrice-honored Bethlehem which possesses and
encloses Jesus Christ, and which by giving Him to
faithful hearts consoles all the sorrows of humanity, saves the world by
teaching it to know, to serve, and to love the Savior.
A Blessed Christmas to you and yours!
With the love of Christmas in our hearts,
Chari & Willa