THE CHRIST CHILD
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 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, admitted there but for a very short time, came out from the stable 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 itself 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 [Os. 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 manager 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 loving Him! O 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 became an infant that cannot speak—the Great One become little—the Supreme One become so abased—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 . . . Oh, what a paradise it is to converse alone with the Infant Jesus in the little grotto of Bethlehem!
There are two principal occupations of a solitary—to pray and to do penance. Behold the Infant Jesus in the little grotto of Bethlehem giving us the example, He, in the crib which He chose for His oratory upon earth, never ceases to pray, and to pray continually to the Eternal Father. There He makes of adoration, of love, and of prayer.
Before this time the Divine Majesty had been, it is true, adored by men and by Angels,; but God had not received from all these creatures that honor which the Infant Jesus gave Him by adoring Him in the stable where He was born. Let us, therefore, constantly unite our adorations to those of Jesus Christ when He was upon this earth.
Oh, how beautiful and perfect were the acts of love which the Incarnate Word made to His Father in His prayer! God had given to man the commandment to love Him with all his heart and all his strength; but this precept had never been perfectly fulfilled by any man. The first to accomplish it amongst women was Mary, and amongst men, Jesus Christ, Who fulfilled it in a degree infinitely superior to Mary. The love of the Seraphim may be said to be cold in comparison with the love of this Holy Infant. Let us learn from Him to love the Lord our God as He ought to be loved; and let us beseech Him to communicate to us a spark of that pure love with which He loved the Divine Father in the stable at Bethlehem.
Oh, how beautiful, how perfect, and dear to God were the prayers of the Infant Jesus! At every moment He prayed to His Father, and His prayers were all for us and for each one of us in particular. All the graces that each one of us has received from the Lord, and our being called to the true faith, our having had time given us for repentance, the lights, the sorrow for sins, the pardon of them, the holy desires, the victory over temptations, and all the other good acts that we have made, or shall make, of confidence, of humility, of love, of thanksgiving, of offering, of resignation—all these Jesus has obtained for us, and all has been the effect of the prayers of Jesus. Oh, how much do we owe Him! And how much we ought to thank Him and to love Him!
Prayers of Affection
My dear Redeemer! How much do I owe Thee! If Thou hadst not prayed for me, in what a state of ruin should I find myself! I thank Thee, O my Jesus; Thy prayers have obtained for me the pardon of my sins, and I hope that they will also obtain for me perseverance unto death. Thou hast prayed for me, and I bless Thee with my whole heart for it; but I beseech Thee not to leave off praying. I know that Thou dost continue even in Heaven to be our advocate: We have an advocate, Jesus Christ; and I know that
Thou dost continue to pray for us: Who also maketh intercession for us. Continue therefore to pray; but pray, O my Jesus, more particularly for me, who am so in want of Thy prayers. I hope that God has already pardoned me through Thy merits; but as I so often fall, I may fall again.
Hell does not cease and will not cease, to tempt me, in order to make me again lose Thy friendship.
Ah, my Jesus, Thou art my hope; it is Thou that must give me fortitude to resist, from Thee I seek it, and of Thee I hope for it! I desire also the grace to love Thee exceedingly.
My death approaches. If I were to die now, I should indeed hope to be saved; but I should love Thee so little in Paradise, because I have hitherto loved Thee so little. I will love Thee much in the days that remain to me, that I may love Thee
still more in eternity.
My dearest Savior, Thou art the King of Heaven, the King of kings, the Son of God; I see Thee in this cave,
forsaken by all! I see no assisting Thee but Joseph and Thy holy Mother. I desire to unite myself also in keeping Thee company. Do not reject me. I do not deserve it, but
I feel that Thou dost invite me by Thy 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 Thee, my dear little hermit, the only love of my soul. Fool that I was I have hitherto forsaken
Thee and left Thee alone, O my Jesus, whilst I was seeking miserable and empoisoned pleasures from creatures; but now enlightened by Thy grace, I desire nothing but to live in solitude on this earth. Oh, bind me, I pray Thee! Ah, by the merits of Thy 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 conversing with Thee; where I may always love Thee.
I love Thee, O Infinite Goodness, and I hope always to love Thee, in time and in eternity.
O Mary, thou who canst do all things, pray to Him to enchain me with His love, and not to permit me ever again to lose His grace. O Mary, my Mother! thy prayers are all-powerful with thy Son, Who loves thee so much. Thou dost so much desire that He should be loved, beseech Him to gibe me a great love for His goodness, and let this love be constant and eternal.
Meditations IX and X, for January 2nd and 3rd THE INCARNATION, BIRTH, AND INFANCY OF JESUS CHRIST, St. Alphonsus Liguori
Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1927