NOVENA IN PREPARATION OF THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST
“A child is born to us, and a son is given to us.”—Is. ix. 6.
Consider that after so many centuries, after so many prayers and sighs, the Messias, whom the holy patriarchs and prophets were not worthy to see, whom the nations sighed for, ‘the Desire of the eternal hills,’ our Savior, is come; He is already born, and has given Himself entirely to us: “A Child is born to us, and a Son is given to us.” The Son of God has made Himself little, in order to make us great; He has given Himself to us, in order that we may give ourselves to Him; He is come to show us His love, in order that we may respond to it by giving Him ours. Let us, therefore, receive Him with affection; let us love Him, and have recourse to Him in all our necessities: ‘A child gives easily,’ says St. Bernard; children readily give anything that is asked of them, Jesus came into the world a child, in order to show Himself ready and willing to give us all good gifts: “In whom are hid all treasures” (Coloss. ii. 3). The Father hath given all things into His hands. If we wish for light, He is come on purpose to enlighten us. If we wish for strength to resist our enemies, He is come to give us comfort. If we wish for pardon and salvation, He is come to pardon and save us. If, in short, we desire the sovereign gift of Divine love, He is come to inflame our hearts with it; and, above all, for this very purpose, He has become a child, and has chosen to show Himself to us worthy of our love, in proportion as He was poor and humble, in order to take away from us all fear, and to gain our affections. So, said St. Peter Chrysologus, ‘should He come who willed to drive away fear, and seek for love.’ Jesus has besides chosen to come as a little child to make us love Him, not only with an appreciative, but even with a tender love. All infants attract the tender affection of those who behold them; but who will not love, with all the tenderness of which they are capable, a God whom they behold as a little child, in want of milk to nourish Him, trembling with cold, poor, abased, and forsaken, weeping and crying in a manger, and lying on straw? It was this that made the loving St. Francis exclaim: ‘Let us love the child of Bethlehem, let us love the child of Bethlehem. Come, ye souls, and love a God who is become a child, and poor; who is so amiable, and who has come down from heaven to give Himself entirely to you.’
AFFECTIONS AND PRAYERS
Oh, my amiable Jesus, whom I have treated with so much contempt, Thou hast descended from heaven to save us from hell, and to give Thyself entirely to us; how can We, then, have so often despised Thee, and turned our backs upon Thee? Oh, my God, how different is the gratitude of men towards their fellow-creatures! If any one makes them a gift, if any one comes from afar to pay them a visit, if any one shows them a particular mark of affection, they cannot forget it, and feel themselves obliged to repay their benefactors. And yet they are so ungrateful towards Thee, who art their God, and so worthy of their love, and who, for their sake, didst not refuse to give Thy blood and Thy love. But, alas! I have been worse than others in my conduct towards Thee; because I have been more loved by Thee, and more ungrateful towards Thee. Ah, if Thou hadst bestowed those graces with which I have been favored on a heretic, or an idolater, he would have become a saint; and yet I have done nothing but offend Thee. O my Saviour, I pray Thee, forget the injuries I have committed against Thee! But Thou hast indeed said, that when a sinner repents, Thou rememberest no longer the injuries Thou hast received from him: “All his iniquities I will not remember.” If in times past I have not loved Thee, in future I will do nothing else but love Thee. Thou hast given Thyself entirely to me, and I give Thee my whole will; O Lord, I love Thee, I love Thee, I love Thee; and I will continually repeat to Thee, I love Thee, I love Thee! While I live, I will constantly say this; and when I die, I will yield my last breath with these sweet words on my lips, ‘My God, I love Thee; and from the moment of my entrance into eternity, I will begin to love Thee with a love that shall last forever, without ever again ceasing to love Thee. And in the meantime, O my Lord, my only good and my only love, I intend to prefer Thy will to every pleasure of my own. Let the whole world offer itself to me, I will refuse it; for I will never cease to love Him that hath loved me so much; I will never again offend Him who deserves from me an infinite love. Do Thou, O my Jesus, aid my desire with Thy grace. O Mary, my Queen, I acknowledge all the graces I have received from God through thy intercession; cease not, then, to intercede for me. Do thou obtain for me perseverance.