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child could not walk, and Joseph and Mary were obliged to carry him by turns in their arms. the deserts of Egypt, the bare ground was their bed, without any screen from the open air. The poor infant wept with cold, and Mary and Joseph wept with compassion. And who would not have shed tears, in seeing the Son of God, thus poor and persecuted, and flying from his enemies who sought his life!
Affections and Prayers.
O My dear infant Saviour, thou didst weep, and thou hadst reason to weep in seeing thyself so persecuted by man, whom thou didst so much love. O God, I am one of those who persecuted thee by my sins. But thou knowest that I now love thee more than myself, and that nothing afflicts me so much as the remembrance of my ever having despised thee, my sovereign good. Pardon me, O Jesus, and grant that I may always carry thee in my heart through the whole journey of my life, that I may enter with thee into eternity. I have many times expelled thee from my soul by offending thee, but now I love thee above all things, and am sorry above every evil for having offended thee. My beloved Lord, I will never more leave thee, but do thou give me strength to resist temptations, and never suffer me to separate myself from thee any more; and grant that I may rather die than lose even once again thy holy grace. Holy Mary, pray for me, that I may live and die in the love of Christ
Jesus our Lord.
On the life of Jesus in Egypt and at Nazareth.
OUR Blessed Redeemer passed the first part of his childhood in Egypt, remaining there for seven years in poverty and obscurity. Joseph and Mary were there as strangers and were unknown, having neither relatives nor friends; so that they had a difficulty in obtaining for themselves their daily bread by the labour of their own hands. Their house, their furniture, their food, were all of the poorest kind. In this little cottage Mary nourished and brought up Jesus. Here she made him his first little garment. Here it was that the child Jesus began to take his first steps, trembling and frequently falling, as it happens to other children. Here he began to utter his first imperfect accents. O ye heavens! to what is God reduced for the love of us! a God trembling and falling as he tries to walk! a God speaking the first broken accents of an infant!
Not unlike this was the poor and abject life which Jesus, after his return from Egypt, lived in the cottage at Nazareth. Here, until the age of thirty years, he did nothing else but assist in the carpenter's shop, in obedience to Joseph and Mary. "And he was subject to them." St. Luke ii. What a subject of overwhelming astonishment! A God in the capacity of a servant! a God omnipotent, who by a single act of his will created the world, and can destroy it whenever he pleases. Ah! how should the thoughts of these things melt us with divine love! How delightful was it to observe the devotion with which Jesus prayed, the patience with which he worked, the readiness with which he obeyed, the modesty with which he eat, the sweet
ness and affability with which he spoke and conversed. Ah how did every word and every action of the holy Jesus gain for him the love of all, but especially of Mary and Joseph, who were always observing him!
Affections and Prayers.
O JESUS, my Saviour, when I reflect that thou, my God, didst spend so many years in a poor cottage unknown and despised for the love of me, how can I desire the distinctions, pleasures, honours and riches of the world! I renounce all these things, and desire to become thy companion on earth, poor, mortified, and contemned, that I may come to enjoy thy blessed company for ever in heaven. What kingdoms! what treasures! O Jesus, hast thou in store for me! Thou shalt be my only treasure, my only good. I am exceedingly sorry for ever having despised thy friendship to satisfy my wicked caprices; I am sorry for it with all my heart. For the future I will rather lose my life a thousand times than lose thy grace. My God, I will never more offend thee, but will always love thee. Help me to continue faithful to thee to the end of my life. Holy Mary, refuge of sinners, intercede for me.
On the birth of Jesus in the stable of Bethlehem.
A DECREE of the Roman Emperor having gone forth, that all persons should present themselves to be enrolled in their own city, Joseph with his spouse Mary, set out from Nazareth to go to be
enrolled in Bethlehem.
O God, how much must the Blessed Virgin have suffered in this long journey, over a mountainous country and in the depth of winter, through frost, and cold, and rain! As soon as they had finished their toilsome journey, Mary's time was accomplished. Joseph, therefore, went through the town in quest of lodgings, where Mary might bring forth her divine child. But, because they were poor, they were rejected by all: they were even refused admittance into the inns where other poor persons were admitted. They, therefore, left the town the same night, and coming to a neglected stable, Mary entered it. There, in the darkness of night, in a cold, damp stable, suited only for beasts, was born amongst us the Eternal Son of God. There did he appear for our sakes a tender infant, weeping and shivering with cold. Having adored him as her God, the Blessed Virgin pressed him to her bosom, and having bound him in the poor swaddling-clothes she had with her, laid him upon some straw in a manger. See in what manner the Son of God chose to be born for the love of us.
Affections and Prayers.
My adorable infant Jesus, I should not dare to present myself at thy feet, if I did not know that thou invitest me to approach thee. I by my sins caused thee to weep in the stable of Bethlehem. But since thou comest into the world to forgive penitent sinners, forgive me I beeeech thee, for I am exceedingly sorry for having despised thee, my Saviour and my God, who hast been so good to me, and hast so much loved me. In this memorable night thou dispensest great graces to many souls; do thou also give consolation to my poor soul. The grace which I now ask of thee is the
grace to love thee from this day forward with my whole heart; inflame my whole self with the fire of thy holy love. I love thee, O my God, who art become an infant for my sake. O do not suffer me any more to cease from loving thee! Holy Mary, your prayers are all-powerful; I ask nothing of you but to pray to Jesus for me.
HYMN TO THE INFANT JESUS.
GREAT King! from heaven's high throne descending low,
Thou shiverest in a manger, Babe divine,
Much hast thou borne for sins: how much for mine!
The world's Creator thou, our God adored,
In joy reposing on thy Father's breast,
If thus to suffer was thy gracious will,
Yet, loving Saviour! let me ask thee still,
Thou grievest, after all thy love, to see
Thou sleepest, holy Infant! but thou art
Tell me, O beauteous Lamb! say what may be
Thy thoughts?I hear thee lisp: "To die for thee."
Thou dwellest on thy death for me, with joy;
Who then, save thee, shall all my thoughts employ?
O love him you for me, and all is done.