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us to our Master's Crib} Thou, O Beloved Disciple of the Emmanuel! thou must procure us this happiness. Thou hast shown us the Divinity of the Word in the bosom of the Eternal Father; lead us now to this same Word made flesh. Under thy patronage, Jesus will permit us to enter into the Stable, to stand near his Crib, to see with our eyes, and touch with our hands,2 this sweet Fruit of eternal Life. May it be granted us to contemplate the sweet Face of Him, that is our Saviour and thy Friend; to feel the throbs of that Heart, which loves both thee and us—and which thou didst see wounded by the Spear, on Calvary. It is good for us to fix ourselves here near the Crib of our Jesus, and share in the graces he there lavishes, and learn, as thou didst, the grand lesson of this Child's simplicity:—thy prayers must get us all this.
Then too, as Son and Guardian of Mary, thou hast to present us to thine own and our Mother. Ask her to give us somewhat of the tender love wherewith she watches over the Crib of her Divine Son; to see in us the Brothers of that Child she bore; and to admit us to a share of the maternal affection she had for thee, the favoured confidant of the secrets of her Jesus.
We also pray to thee, 0 holy Apostle! for the Church of God. She was planted and watered by thy labours, embalmed with the celestial fragrance of thy virtues, and illumined by thy sublime teachings ;-—pray now, that these graces may bring forth their fruit, and that, to the end of her pilgrimage, faith maybe firm, the love of Jesus fervent, and christian morals pure and holy. Thou tellest us, in thy Gospel, of a saying of thy Divine Master: I will not now call you my Servants, but my Friends :3 pray, dear Saint, that there may come to this, from
our hearts and lips, a response of love and courage, telling our Emmanuel, that, like thyself, we will follow him whithersoever he leads us.
Let us, on this second day after our Divine Infant's Birth, meditate upon the Sleep he deigns to take. Let us consider how this God of all goodness, who has come down from heaven to invite his creature man to come to him and seek rest for his soul— seeks rest himself in our earthly home, and sanctifies, by his own divine Sleep, that rest, which to us is a necessity. We have just been dwelling, with delighted devotion, on the thought of his offering his Breast as a resting-place for the Beloved Disciple, and for all souls that imitate John in their love and devotedness: now, let us look at this our God, sweetly sleeping in his humble Crib, or on his Mother's lap.
St. Alphonsus Liguori, in one of his delicious Canticles, thus describes the Sleep of Jesus and the enraptured love of the Mother:
Mary sings—the ravish'd heavens
Soft her voice, her beauty fairer
While to J esus slumbering nigh,
Thus she sings her lullaby.
Sleep my Babe! my God! my Treasure!
Gently sleep: but ah! the sight
I am dying of delight:
If within your lids unfolded,
Slumbering eyes! you seem so fair;
When upon my gaze you open,
How shall I your beauty bear?
Cheeks than sweetest roses sweeter,
Though the kiss my Babe should waken, I must press those lips to mine.
Pardon, Dearest, if I say,
Mother's love will take no nay.
As she ceased, the gentle Virgin
And upon his radiant forehead
Jesus woke, and on her face
Fixed a look of heavenly grace.
Ah ! that look, those eyes, that beauty,
Shafts of love from every feature
Heart of stone! can I behold
Mary's love, and still be cold?
Where, my soul! thy sense, thy reason?
When will these delays be o'er? All things else, how fair so ever,
Are but smoke :—resist no more! Yes! 'tis done! I yield my arms Captive to those double charms.
If, alas, O heavenly beauty!
Now so late those charms I learn,
With thy love my heart will burn
Plant and fruit, and fruit and blossom,
For no other prize I labour,
Love can every pain requite,
Love alone is full delight.1
Let us, then, adore the Divine Babe in this state of Sleep, to which he voluntarily subjects himself,
1 Translation by the Very Rev. R. A. Coffin.—We subjoin the original;
Fermarono i cieli Perdonami, caro,
La loro armonia, Non posso più, no.
and contrast it with the cruel fatigues, which are one day to be His. When he is grown up, and come to the age of manhood, he will go through every toil and suffering in search of us his Lost Sheep. But these first slumbers shall not be troubled by anything of ours, which could pain this loving wakeful Heart; and the Blessed Mother shall not be disturbed in the blissful contemplation of her Sleeping Child, over whom she is, at a future time, to shed such bitter tears. The day is not far distant, when be will say: The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head.1
"Christ has had three resting-places," says Peter of Celles. "The first was in the Bosom of his Eternal "Father. He says: I am in the Father, and the "Father is in me.2 What repose could be compared "to this, of the Father's complacency in the Son, and "the Son's complacency in the Father? It is a "mutual and ineffable love, and they are happy in "the union. But, whilst maintaining this place of his "eternal rest, the Son of God has sought a second, in "the womb of the Virgin Mary. He overshadowed "her with the Holy Ghost, and slept a long sleep in "her chaste womb, whilst his Body was there being "formed. The holy Virgin troubled not the sleep of "her Child: she kept all the powers of her soul in a "silence like that of heaven; and, rapt in self-con"templation, she heard mysteries which it is not "permitted to man to utter. The third resting-place "of Christ is in man. Jesus dwells in a heart that "is purified by faith, enlarged by charity, raised above "Earth by contemplation, and is renewed by the Holy "Ghost. Such a heart as this offers to Jesus not an "earthly but a heavenly dwelling; and the Child,
1 St. Matth. viii. 20.
s St. John, xiv. 11.