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didst thou desire our love, that to gain it thou didst not refuse even to die! How then can I refuse any thing to a God, who has shed his blood and laid down his life for the love of me?
III. "C It is indeed a wonder," says St. Bonaventure," to behold God suffer for the love of men; but "it is a much greater wonder to behold men look on "God suffering so much for their sakes, an infant trembling with cold in a stable, a poor workman "living in a carpenter's shop, and dying like a cri"minal upon a cross, and yet burn not with love for "so loving a God, but despise his love and renounce "it for the miserable gratifications of the earth.” But how is it possible for God so to love men; yet for men, who are so grateful to one another, to be so ungrateful to God? O Jesus, I am so miserable as to be one of such ungrateful beings! Tell me, how thou couldst suffer so much for me, when thou didst know that I should be guilty of so many offences against thee? But since thou hast suffered for me and desirest my salvation, grant me now a great sorrow for my sins, a sorrow equal to my ingratitude. I hate and sovereignly detest, O Lord, all my offences against thee. If hitherto I have despised thy grace, I now value it above all the kingdoms of the earth. I love thee with my whole soul, O God who art worthy of infinite love, and I desire to live only to love thee. Encrease the ardour of my love for thee. Remind me continually of the love which thou hast shown me, that my heart may ever burn with love for thee, as thy heart burns with love for me. O glowing heart of Mary, inflame my poor heart with the fire of holy love.
I. YOU shall draw waters of joy of the Saviour's fountains. Isa. xii. 3. We have three fountains of grace in Jesus Christ. The first is the fountain of mercy, in which we may cleanse ourselves from the filth of all our sins. For this end our most loving Redeemer formed for our benefit this blessed fountain with his own blood: He hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood. Apoc. i. 5. My dear Saviour, how much do I owe thee! Thou hast done for me what no servant would ever do for his master, and no son for his father. No, I cannot cease to love thee, for by thy love for me, thou obligest me to love thee.
II. The second fountain is the fountain of love. Whoever meditates on the sufferings which Jesus Christ endured from his birth till his death for the love of us, cannot but be inflamed with that divine fire which Jesus came to cast upon the earth, and which he so much desired should be enkindled in our hearts. So that the water from this fountain both cleanses and inflames our souls. Grant then, O Jesus, that the blood which thou hast shed for me, may not only wash away all my faults, but may also inflame me with the ardour of thy love. Grant that I may forget all other things, to attend only to love thee, my God, who art worthy of infinite love.
III. The third fountain is the fountain of peace. This is signified by those words of Christ: If any man thirst, let him come to me. St. John, vii. 37. He who desires peace of soul, let him come to me who am the God of peace. The peace which the Lord gives to those who love him, is not the peace which the world promises in pleasures and temporal good
things, which do not satisfy the heart of man: the peace which God gives to his servants, is true peace, peace full of contentment, and surpassing all the joys which creatures are able to afford: He that shall drink of the water that I will give him, shall not thirst for ever. St. John, iv. 13. He who truly loves God, leaves all, despises all, and seeks nothing but God. Yes, my God, all I desire is thyself, and nothing more. There was a time when I sought other things besides thee; but knowing the injustice I have done thee, by preferring vile and perishable things before thee, I would willingly die of grief for my crimes. I am sensible of the evil I have done, and am sorry for it with my whole heart. I am sensible also that thou dost deserve all my love, and hence do I turn to thee to say, and as I hope, to repeat for ever in this life and the next: My God, my God, thee alone do I desire! O Mary, you are the first lover of our God; Oh make me partake of your love.
NOVENA FOR CHRISTMAS.
NINE MEDITATIONS, ONE FOR EACH DAY OF THE
Chaplet to be recited before each Meditation.
I. MOST sweet Jesus, born in a stable, and laid upon straw in a manger, have mercy on us. Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us. Father. Hail Mary. Glory be to the Father.
II. Most sweet Jesus, presented and offered by Mary in the temple to be one day sacrificed for us, have mercy on us. R.-Have mercy, &c.
III. Most sweet Jesus, persecuted by Herod, and obliged to fly into Egypt, have mercy on us. R.Have mercy, &c.
IV. Most sweet Jesus, remaining in Egypt for seven years, poor, unknown and despised by that barbarous nation, have mercy on us. R.-Have mercy, &c.
V. Most sweet Jesus, returned into thy own country to be one day crucified between two thieves, have mercy on us. R.-Have mercy, &c.
VI. Most sweet Jesus, remaining in the temple at the age of twelve years to dispute with the doctors, and after three days found by Mary, have mercy on us. R.-Have mercy, &c.
VII. Most sweet Jesus, living a hidden life at Nazareth for thirty years, serving thy blessed Mother and St. Joseph, have mercy on us. R.-Have
VIII. Most sweet Jesus, for three years before thy passion, preaching and teaching the way of salvation, have mercy on us. R.-Have mercy, &c.
IX. Most sweet Jesus, terminating thy sorrowful life by dying for us on the cross, have mercy on us. R.-Have mercy, &c.
On the love of God in becoming man for us.
LET us consider the immense love which God has shown us in becoming man to obtain for us eternal salvation. Our first father, Adam, had sinned, and had rebelled against God, for which
he was expelled from Paradise, and, together with all his descendants, condemned to eternal death. But the Son of God, looking upon lost man, offered himself to take human flesh and free us from death, by dying for us as a malefactor on the cross. But, my beloved Son, might the Eternal Father have said to him, thou wilt have to lead a most humble and painful life upon the earth. Thou wilt have to be born in a cold stable and laid in a manger. Thou wilt have to fly into Egypt, in thine infancy, to escape from the hands of king Herod. After thy return from Egypt thou wilt have to reside under the roof of an humble carpenter, poor and despised. And at last thou wilt have to lay down thy life in the midst of torments, nailed to a cross, scorned and abandoned by all. Father, replies the Son, I will willingly undertake all, that man may be saved.
What would be said if a prince should take compassion on a dead worm, and be willing to become himself a worm, and shed his own blood, and die to bring back life to the worm? More than this has the Eternal Word done for us: being God, he has voluntarily made himself a worm like to us, and has died to recover for us the life which we had lost by forfeiting divine grace. Seeing that with all the many gifts which he had bestowed upon us he could not gain our love, he became man and gave his whole self to us: "The Word was made "flesh, and delivered up himself for us." "Man, by de"spising God," says St. Fulgentius, "separated him"self from God: but God, by loving man, came from "heaven to recover man." And why did he come? he came in order that man might know how much God loved him, and through gratitude might love God in return. Even the animals about us are loved by us: and why are we so ungrateful to God who has descended from heaven in order to be