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him not. But as many as received him, to them he gave power to be made the sons of God; to them that believe in his name, who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And The Word Was Made Flesh, and dwelt among us; and we saw his glory, as it were the glory of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. Thanks be to God.
dedit eis potestatem filios Dei fieri, his, qui credunt in nomine ejus: qui non ex sanguineus, neque ex voluntate carnis, neque ex voluntate viri, sed ex Deo nati sunt. Et Verbum Caro Factum Est, et habitavit in nobis: et vidimus gloriam ejus,gloriam quasi Unigeniti a Patre, plenum gratiae et veritatis.
B. Deo gratias.
ON HOLY COMMUNION DURING CHRISTMAS.
During Advent, Holy Communion prepared the soul for the visible Coming of her heavenly Spouse. He graciously granted her that sublime favour, as a foretaste of that happy Night, in which he would show himself to her as the Divine Babe, whose ineffable loveliness would ravish Angels, Shepherds, and Kings. She enjoyed something of that exquisite delight, which Mary felt, when she had within her chaste womb the God, who was her Child, though as yet concealed from her sight.
But, now that Christmas is come; now, that a little Child is born unto us, cradled in the House of Bread, which is Bethlehem; now, that the Angels have invited the Shepherds, and the Star the Magi, to come and see Him and adore Him;—the Holy Communion must take us on further in the knowledge of our Incarnate Word, illumine us with brighter Light, and produce within us a more ardent longing to possess this Jesus, whose love and lovelyness gleam so magnificently through the humility of these swathing.bands and manger.
It is no longer the invisible Jesus, preparing, by silence and stillness, for the laborious mission of his conquest of souls:—it is the Deliverer of mankind who has begun to run the way ,,1 it is the Sun of Justice darting his first rays on our earth ; it is our God, asking us to give Him, a weak Babe, room in our hearts; it is our Creator, who loveth souls,2 striving to win our love.
Then, let us go to him, that we may know him; let us know him, that we may love him; let us love him, that we may grow like him. What he demands of us by this Christmas mystery, is, that we become, like him, little children, for, there is now no other means of our possessing him, no other way of going to the Father. Therefore, come to him, ye faithful ones, and be enlightened I1 We have ventured to draw up these Acts, thinking that they might assist you in your preparation for the visit you are going to make to the Babe of Bethlehem. May you derive profit from them, and pray for him who gives you them.
ACT OF FAITH.
Thou art about to descend into my breast, O eternal God! and yet, there is nothing to betoken the approach of thy sovereign Majesty! As on the sacred night of thy Birth, thy entrance into Bethlehem was in humility and in silence; so also now, there is nothing to tell men that thou art about to visit me. A Little Child, veiled under the appearance of an humble host, is coming to me, and, in a few moments, I shall hold within me Him who created all things, the Judge of the living and the dead! Oh! how I love to bow down my reason before this wonderful Mystery! How I love, too, to contemplate these incomprehensible abasements of my God, to which he has humbled himself in order that he might exalt me! No—Reason could never have taught me all this! How could Reason tell me what the infinite love of God for his creatures can do, when she cannot even make me see my own nothingness and sinfulness, into which, thou, dear Jesus, art now coming t o Infant-God! I believe in thy love, and thy love is omnipotent. I come to thee with a simple Faith, as the Shepherds went to Bethlehem when the Angel spoke these words to them: There is born unto you, in the City of David, a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord: and this shall be a sign unto you:—you shall find the Infant
1 Ps. xxxiii. 6.
wrapped in swaddling-clothes, and laid in a crib ..1 they went without delay, and found thee, and believed. I would do in like manner, O my Saviour! The sacramental veils which cover thee, are to me, what thy infancy, thy swathing-bands, thy crib, were to them : and I believe thee to be here really present. Accept this homage of my firm Faith, and receive me as one of those humble Shepherds, whose simpleheartedness merited for them the first place at the feast of Bethlehem.
ACT OF HUMILITY.
But, sweet Saviour ! these Shepherds of Bethlehem had another offering besides the simplicity of their Faith, which made them pleasing to thee :—it was, the humility of their hearts. Thou lovest the humble, O my God! and therefore thou didst prefer these humble men to all the rest of mankind, giving them the grand honour of being the first Worshippers at thy Crib. The humility of Mary drew thee from heaven into her chaste womb; and the humility of these fortunate herdsmen made thee call them to be the first to form, with Mary, Joseph, and the Angels, thy court in this humble Stable, which thy adorable presence has converted into a very paradise. In this thou givest an important lesson to me, who am to be favoured as they were, nay, who am about to receive thee within myself. Spare me not, my beloved Jesus; bring down the haughtiness of my spirit; destroy the conceited ambitions of my heart; cast me down at the foot of thy Crib, and suffer me not to rise again, until I have become one of those little children, whom thou so lovest, that thou thyself wouldst be one; so the better to come down even so low as to me. It is as a Weak Babe that thou comest to me, O Infinite God! What can I do, but be confounded, and sink into my deep nothingness, I who have never known the humility and simplicity of a child! In thy divine humility, thou wouldst not be born in any other place than a Stable and a Crib; my heart, then, will satisfy thee, dear Jesus! and Bethlehem itself, compared with me, had not a poverty so worthy of that Majesty, which loves to descend to what is lowest, and of that Light which glories in shining where the darkness is thickest.
ACT OF CONTRITION.
And yet, O God of holiness! the Stable and the Crib, though most unworthy of thy Majesty, had nothing in them
1 St. Luke, ii. 11,12.
which could give thee displeasure. No place, no object, in thy whole creation, could be worthy to serve thee as throne or palace ; but since thou wouldst have a birth-place on this earth, the happy spot, on which thy choice would fall, would become, however contemptible in itself, a sanctuary worthy of thee, because thy greatness and divinity would consecrate and enrich it. There is but one place unworthy of thee, which thou couldst never choose :—the heart of a sinner. Oh! that is the Stable, that is the Crib, which would indeed dishonour thee. Ah ! my dear Jesus ! there are certain consequences, there are certain wounds scarce yet closed, left in me by past sins, which force me to remember, that I was once a dwelling, wherein thou couldst not enter, until thy merciful grace had removed from me the abominations of my sins. Miserable state! how I now grieve over it and detest it! Now that I see thee become, for my sake, the humble and lovely Babe of Bethlehem, how hateful those sins of mine, which needed such a remedy ! and how immense that love of thine, which could deign to give it me! There surely can be no more sin, dearest Lord! Give me thy grace to destroy it within me, and root it up to its last fibre. I do not forget those words of thine: Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God" this is the moment for me to come near thy Crib, and do far more than see thee ;— cleanse, then, my heart, and let neither sin nor attachment to sin ever enter there again.
ACT OF LOVE.
Such is the prayer of my contrite heart—wilt thou, my Infant-God, reject it t The Church, my Mother, has led me to Bethlehem; there I see thee in thy Crib leaning forward towards me, and looking on me with sweetness, and bidding me rejoice, for that thou hast pardoned me, O God of infinite mercy! and forgotten my sins. A contrite heart which sues for mercy, is not all thou askest of me, nor all that I wish to offer thee:—accept, then, my love. Is not this mystery of thy divine Childhood, a mystery of Love? Thou comest to me, because thou lovest me; but thou comest to me as a little Infant, be cause thou wishest me to love thee in return, and have confidence in thee. I do indeed desire to love thee, sweet Saviour !—but, where shall I find a love worthy of being a return for thine, which is so generous, so immense, and