Meditations for the Christmas Novena

from Dec. 16-Dec. 24

by St. Alphonsus de Liguori

Chaplet to be recited before every Meditation

My Most Sweet Jesus, Who was born in a cave and was afterwards laid in a manger upon straw, please have mercy upon us. R. Have mercy, O Lord, please have mercy upon us. Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, etc.

My Most Sweet Jesus, Who was presented and offered by Mary in the Temple, to be afterwards one day sacrificed for us upon the Cross, please have mercy upon us. R. Have mercy, O Lord, please have mercy upon us. Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, etc.

My Most Sweet Jesus, Who was persecuted by Herod and constrained to flee into Egypt, please have mercy upon us. R. Have mercy, O Lord, please have mercy upon us. Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, etc.

My Most Sweet Jesus, Who did dwell in Egypt for 7 years, poor, unknown, and despised by that barbarous nation, have mercy upon us. R. Have mercy, O Lord, please have mercy upon us. Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, etc.

My Most Sweet Jesus, Who returned to Your country to be one day crucified there in the midst of 2 thieves, please have mercy upon us. R. Have mercy O Lord, please have mercy upon us. Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, etc.

My most sweet Jesus, who at the age of 12 years remained in the Temple to dispute with the doctors and after 3 days was found by Mary, please have mercy upon us. R. Have mercy, O Lord, please have mercy upon us. Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, etc.

My most sweet Jesus, who did live concealed from the world for so many years in the shop at Nazareth, serving Mary and Joseph, please have mercy upon us. R. Have mercy, O Lord, please have mercy upon us. Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, etc.

My most sweet Jesus, who for 3 years before Your Passion went about preaching and teaching the way of salvation, have mercy upon us. R. Have mercy, O Lord, please have mercy upon us. Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, etc.

My most sweet Jesus, Who, for the love of us, terminated Your life by dying on the cross, please have mercy upon us. R. Please have mercy, O Lord, please have mercy upon us. Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, etc.

MEDITATION 1

DECEMBER 16

The Love that God has shown to us in becoming Man

Let us consider the immense love, which God showed us in becoming man in order to procure us eternal life. Our first parent, Adam, having sinned and rebelled against God, was driven out of paradise and condemned to everlasting death with all his descendants. But behold the Son of God, Who, seeing man thus lost, in order to deliver him from death offers to take upon Himself human flesh, and to die condemned as a malefactor upon the Cross. But, My Son, we may suppose the Father saying to Him: Consider what a life of humiliation and suffering You will have to lead upon earth. You will have to be born in a cold cave, and have to be laid in a manger for beasts. You will have to flee as an infant into Egypt to escape from the hands of Herod. On Your return from Egypt You will have to live in a shop as a humble servant, poor and despised. And, finally. worn out by sufferings, You will have to give up Your Life upon a Cross, insulted and forsaken by all.— ”Father, all this matters not,” replies the Son, “I am content with enduring all, provided man is saved.” What should we say if a prince were to take compassion upon a dead worm, and were to choose to become a worm himself, and to make, as it were, a bath of his own blood, to die in order to restore the worm to life? But the Eternal Word has done even more than this for us; for, being God, He has chosen to become a worm like us, and to die for us, in order to purchase for us the life of divine grace which we had lost. When he saw that all the gifts he had bestowed upon us could not secure to Him our love, what did He do? He became man, and He gave Himself entirely to us: “The Word was made flesh, and gave Himself for us.”  Man, by despising God, separated himself from God; but God, through His love for man, came from heaven to seek him. And why did He come.  He came in order that man might know how much God loved him, and that thus, out of gratitude at least, he might love him in return. Even the beasts, when they approach themselves to us, make us love them; and why, then, are we so ungrateful towards a God Who descends from heaven to earth to make us love Him? One day, when a priest was saying these words in Mass, "And the Word was made flesh"—a man, who was present, neglected to make an act of reverence; upon which the devil gave him a blow, saying, “O, ungrateful man! If God had done as much for me as He has done for You, I should remain with my face always bent down to the ground returning thanks to Him.”

Affections and Prayers

O great Son of God! You have become man in order to make Yourself loved by men; but where is the love that men bear to You? You have given Your Blood and Your Life to save our souls; and why are we so ungrateful to You, that, instead of loving You, we despise with such ingratitude? Alas! I myself, Lord, have been one of those who, more than others, have thus ill-treated You. But Your Passion is my hope. O, for the sake of that love that induced You to assume human flesh, and to die for me upon the Cross, please forgive me all the offences I have committed against You. I love You, O Incarnate Word; I love You, O my God; I love You, O Infinite Goodness; and I repent of all the injuries I have done You. Would that I could die of sorrow for You! O my Jesus, grant me the gift of Your love; let me not live any longer ungrateful for the affliction You have borne me. I am determined to love You always. Give me holy perseverance. O Mary, Mother of God, and my Mother, obtain for me from Your Son the grace to love Him always even unto death.

MEDITATION 2

DECEMBER 17

The Love of God in being born an Infant

The Son of God, in becoming man for our sake, might have appeared in the world at the age of a perfect man, as Adam appeared when he was created; but, as children generally attract to themselves greater love from those who take care of them, therefore He chose to appear upon earth as an Infant; and as the poorest and most abject Infant that ever was born. Thus did our God choose to be born; because thus did He wish to be loved. The Prophet Isaiah had already predicted that the Son of God was to be born an infant, and thus to give Himself entirely to us through the love that He bore us: A Child is born to us, a Son is given to us.

O my Jesus, my Supreme and True God, what can have attracted You from heaven to be born in a cave, if it be not the love that You bear to man? What has drawn You from the bosom of Your Father to lay Yourself down in a manger? What has brought You down from Your throne above the stars, to stretch Yourself on a little straw? What, from the midst of the 9 choirs of angels, has placed You between 2 animals? You inflame the Seraphim with holy fire, and lo, You are trembling with cold in this stable! You give motion to the heavens and the sun, and now You cannot move without being carried in someone's arms! You provide with food both man and beast, and do You now require a little milk to sustain Your life? You are the delight of heaven, and now how is it that I hear You weep and moan? Tell me who has reduced You to such misery? Who has done this? Love has done it, the love that You bear to man has done it.

Affections and Prayers

O Dearest Infant, tell me what You came on earth to do? Tell me whom You are seeking? O, I understand You now; You came in order to die for me, to deliver me from hell. You came to seek me, a lost sheep, in order that I may no more flee from You, but love You. O, my Jesus, my treasure, my life, my love, my all; if I do not love You, whom then shall I love? Where can I find a father, a friend, a spouse more amiable than You, and who has loved me more than You have done? I am sorry to have been so many years in the world, and yet not to have loved You; yea, rather to have offended and despised You. Forgive me, O my beloved Redeemer; for I repent of having treated You thus; I am sorry for it with all my heart. Pardon me, and give me Your Grace, that I may never again separate myself from You, and that I may love You constantly during the years that remain to me in this life. My love, I give myself entirely to You; accept me, and do not reject me, though I deserve it. O Mary, You are my advocate! Please obtain by Your prayers whatever You desire from Your Divine Son; beg of Him to forgive me, and to give me holy perseverance unto death.

MEDITATION 3

DECEMBER 18

The Life of Poverty which Jesus led even from His Birth

It was ordained by God that, at the time when His Divine Son was born on this earth, the decree of the emperor should be promulgated, obliging everyone to go and enroll himself in the place of his birth. And thus it happened that Joseph had to go with his spouse to Bethlehem to enroll himself according to the decree of Caesar. And now, the time of Her delivery having arrived, Mary, having been driven from the other houses, and even from the common asylum for the poor, was obliged to remain that night in a cave, and there brought forth the King of Heaven. It is true that, if Jesus had been born in Nazareth, He would equally have been born in a state of poverty; but then He would at least have had a dry room, a little fire, warm clothes, and a more comfortable cradle. But no, He chose to be born in this cold cavern without a fire to warm Him; He chose to have a manger for a cradle, and a little prickly straw for a bed, in order that He might stiffer more.

Let us, then, enter into the cave of Bethlehem; but let us enter there with faith. If we go there without faith, we shall see nothing but a Poor Infant, Who moves us to compassion at beholding Him so beautiful, shivering and crying with cold, and with the prickling of the straw on which He lies. But if we enter in with faith, and con- sider that this Child is the Son of God, Who for the love of us has come down to this earth and suffered so much to pay the penalty of our sins, how can it be possible not to thank Him and love Him.

Affections and Prayers

O my sweet Infant, how is it possible that, knowing how much You have suffered for me, I can have been so ungrateful to You, and offended You so often? But these tears which You shed, this poverty which You have chosen for the love of me, make me hope for the pardon of all the offences that I have committed against You. I repent, my Jesus, of having so often turned my back upon You; and I love You above all things, “my God and my All.” My God, from this day forth You shall be my only treasure and my only good. I will say to You, “ Give me Your love, give me Your grace, and I am sufficiently rich.” I wish for, I desire nothing else. You alone are sufficient for me, my Jesus, my life, my love.

MEDITATION 4

 DECEMBER 19

The Life of Humility which Jesus led even from His Infancy

All the marks that the Angel gave to the shepherds to find the Savior, Who was just born, were marks of humility: And this shall be a sign unto you; you shall find the Infant wrapped in swaddling-clothes, and laid in a manger. This shall be the sign, said the Angel, to find the newborn Messiah; you will find Him an Infant, wrapped in poor ragged clothes, in a stable, lying on straw in a manger for animals. Thus would the King of Heaven, the Son of God, be born, because He came to destroy the pride which had been the cause of man's ruin.

The Prophets had already foretold that our Redeemer should be treated as the vilest man upon earth, and overwhelmed with insults. How much contempt had not Jesus to suffer from men! He was treated as a drunkard, as a magician, as a blasphemer, and a heretic. How many affronts did He endure during his Passion! He was forsaken by His own disciples; even one of them sold Him for 30 pieces of silver, and another denied having ever known Him. He was led through the streets bound like a criminal, scourged like a slave, treated like a madman, as a mock king; struck, spit upon in the Face; and at length He was put to Death on a cross, suspended between 2 thieves, as the greatest malefactor in the world. Thus, the noblest of men is treated like the vilest of all. “But, my Jesus, the viler You are, the dearer are You to me.” The more You appear to me, humbled and despised, the more dear and worthy of love do You become to me.

Affections and Prayers

O my sweet Savior! You have embraced so much contempt for the love of me, and I have not been able to bear a word of insult without thinking immediately of revenging myself of it, —I who so often have deserved to be trodden underfoot by the devils in hell! I am ashamed of appearing before You, a proud sinner that I am. O Lord, do not drive me from Your Presence, as I deserve. You have said that You could not despise a heart that repents and humbles itself: I repent of all the offences I have committed against You. Forgive me, my Jesus; for I will not offend You anymore. You have suffered so many injuries for my sake, I will for Your sake bear with all the injuries that may be offered me. I love You, my Jesus, despised for my sake; I love You, my Good, above every other good. Give me Your help, that I may always love You, and suffer every insult for the love of You. O Mary, Full of Grace, my Co-Redemptrix and my Spiritual Mother, as Your son I recommend me to Your Son; please pray to Jesus for me.

MEDITATION 5

 DECEMBER 20

The Life of Sorrow which Jesus led even from His Birth

Jesus Christ could have saved man without suffering and without dying; but no, He chose a life full of tribulations, in order to make us know how much He loved us. Therefore the Prophet Isaiah called Him the Man of Sorrows, because the life of Jesus Christ was to be a life full of sorrows. His Passion did not commence at the time of His Death, but from the commencement of His Life. Behold Him, as soon as He is born, laid in a stable, where for Jesus everything is a torment. His sight is tormented by seeing nothing else in this cave but black rough walls. His sense of smelling is tormented by the stench of the dung of the beasts that are lying there. His sense of touch is tormented by the pricking of the straw that serves Him for a bed. Soon after His birth He is obliged to flee into Egypt, where He passed several years of His childhood poor and despised; the life which He led afterwards in Nazareth was not much better. Behold Him at length terminating His life in Jerusalem, dying on a Cross by dint of torments. Thus, then, the life of Jesus was one continual suffering, and indeed a double suffering; for He had constantly before His Eyes all the sorrows that would afflict Him until the day of His Death. Sister Mary Magdalene Orsini, complaining one day be- fore the crucifix, said to Him: “O Lord, You remained on the Cross for 3 hours, but I have suffered this pain for several years.” But Jesus answered her: “O, ignorant that You are, what do You say? I suffered even from my Mother's womb all the pains of My Life and My Death.” But all these sufferings did not so much afflict Jesus Christ because He chose voluntarily to suffer them—as did the sight of our sins and our ingratitude for His great love. St. Margaret of Cortona was never satisfied with lamenting over the offences committed against God; wherefore her confessor said to her one day, “Margaret, cease crying, because God has already forgiven You.” But she replied, “O, Father, how can I cease crying, when I know that my sins kept Jesus Christ in a state of affliction all His life”

Affections and Prayers

O my sweet Love, have I then, by my sins, kept You in a state of affliction all Your life long? O, tell me, then, what I can do, in order that You may forgive me; for I will leave nothing undone? I repent, O sovereign Good, of all the offences I have committed against You; I repent, and love You more than myself. I feel a great desire to love You; it is You that gives me this desire; give me, therefore, strength to love You ardently. It is only just that I, who have offended You so much, should also love You much. O, remind me constantly of the love You have borne me, in order that my soul may always burn with the love of You; that it may think of You alone, desire You alone, and strive to please You alone. O God of love, I, who once was the slave of hell, now give myself entirely to You. Accept me in 'Your Mercy, and bind me with Your Love, my Jesus, from this day forth. I will love You in life; and in loving You I will die. O Mary, my Mother and my hope, help me to love Your Dear Jesus and mine; this favor alone I desire and hope from You.

MEDITATION 6

 DECEMBER 2I

The Mercy of God in coming own from Heaven to save Us by His Death

St. Paul says, “The goodness and kindness of God our Savior appeared.” When, therefore, the Son of God made Man appeared upon earth, then was seen how great the goodness of God was towards us. The power of God appeared first in the creation of the world, and His Wisdom in sustaining it; but His Mercy appeared to a still greater degree when He took human flesh to save lost man by His Sufferings and Death. And what greater Mercy could the Son of God show us than to take upon Him the pains we have deserved. Behold Him a newborn Infant, weak, and wrapped in swaddling-clothes in a manger; not able either to move or feed Himself, He requires for His sustenance that Mary should feed Him with a little milk. Behold Him afterwards in the judgment- hall of Pilate, bound to a column by cords from which He cannot loosen himself, and there scourged from head to foot. Behold Him in the journey to Calvary, falling down as He goes along the road through weakness and the weight of the Cross that He carries. Behold Him finally nailed to that infamous tree, whereon He finishes His life by dint of suffering.

Jesus Christ wished to gain all the affections of our hearts by His love for us, and therefore He would not send an angel to redeem us, but He would come Himself to save us by His Passion. If an angel had been our redeemer, man must have divided his heart, loving God as his Creator, and the angel as his redeemer; but God, Who desired the whole heart of man, as He was his Creator, chose also to be his Redeemer.

Affections and Prayers

O, my dear Redeemer, where should I be now, if You had not borne with me with so much patience, but had condemned me to death while I was yet in sin Since, then, You have hitherto waited for me, my Jesus, please forgive me speedily, before death surprises me whilst I am guilty of so many offences against You. I repent, O sovereign Good, of having thus despised You; I should like to die of sorrow for my sins. You cannot forsake a soul that seeks You; if I have hitherto neglected You, I will henceforth seek You and love You. Yes, O my God! I love You above all things; I love You more than myself. Help me, Lord, to love You always during the remainder of my life; I ask nothing more; I ask this, and I hope it of You. Mary, my hope, do You pray for me; if You pray for me, I am sure of grace.

MEDITATION 7  

DECEMBER 22

The Journey of the Infant Jesus to Egypt.

The Son of God came from heaven to save mankind; but as soon as He was born, they began to persecute Him even until death. Herod, fearing that this Infant would deprive him of his kingdom, tried to put Him to death; wherefore St. Joseph was advised by the Angel in a dream to take Jesus with His Mother and to flee into Egypt. Joseph promptly obeyed, and informed Mary of it; so he took the few implements of his trade that he possessed, in order that they might serve him to gain a livelihood in Egypt for himself and his poor family. Mary, on Her part, added a small packet of clothes that were to serve for the Holy Infant; and then, drawing near to the crib, She said with tears to Her sleeping Child, “O My Son and My God, You have come down from heaven to save men, and hardly are You born when they seek You to take away Your life.” She then took Him, and, continuing to weep, in the same night She and Joseph set off on their journey.

Let us consider how much these Holy Pilgrims must have suffered whilst they were making so long a journey, deprived of every comfort. The Infant was not yet able to walk; therefore first Mary and then Joseph were obliged by turns to carry Him in their arms. During their journey through the desert of Egypt, their only bed at night was the bare earth in the open air. The Infant weeps with the cold, and Joseph and Mary weep also from compassion. And who would not weep, in seeing the Son of God, poor and persecuted, wandering about on the earth, that He may not be killed by His enemies.

Affections and Prayers.

O, Dearest Infant, You weep; and greatly do You weep, in seeing Yourself so persecuted by those men whom You have so much loved. Alas, my God. I also have persecuted You by my sins; but now I love You more than myself; and there is no sorrow that afflicts me more than the remembrance that, I have despised You, my Sovereign Good. O, forgive me, my Jesus, and permit me to carry You with me in my heart in all the journey of life that I have yet to make, and then to enter together with You into eternity. I have so often driven You from my soul by offending You; but now I love You above everything, and I repent above every other evil of having offended You. My beloved Lord, I will never leave You anymore; but please give me strength to resist temptations; permit me not to separate myself anymore from You; let me rather die than ever again lose Your favor. O Mary, my hope, please make me always live and die in the love of God.

MEDITATION 8

DECEMBER 23

The Sojourn of the Infant Jesus in Egypt and in Nazareth.

Our Blessed Redeemer passed His first infancy in Egypt, leading there for 7 years a life of poverty and contempt. Joseph and Mary were both strangers and unknown there, having there neither relatives nor friends; and they could hardly earn their daily bread by the labor of their hands. Their cottage was poor, their bed was poor, and their food was poor. In this miserable hut Mary weaned Jesus. First She had fed Him from Her breast; and afterwards with Her hands she took from the porringer a little bread soaked in water, and then She put it in the Sacred Mouth of Her Divine Son. In this cottage She made Him His first little garment; She took off His swaddling clothes and began to dress Him. In this cottage the Child Jesus began to take His first steps; but He kept falling many times and trembling, as it happens to other children. Here He began to utter His first words, but in stammering. O, what wonder, to what hasn’t a God reduced himself for the love of us! A God, trembling and falling, as He walks! A God, stammering, while He speaks!

Not unlike this was the poor and abject life that Jesus led on his return from Egypt to the house of Nazareth. Until the age of 30, He held no other office than that of a simple shop boy, being obedient to Joseph and Mary. And He was subject to them. Jesus went to fetch the water; Jesus opened and shut up the shop; Jesus swept the house; He collected the fragments of wood for the fire, and worked all day, helping Joseph in his labors. O, what wonder! A God serving as a boy! A God sweeping the house! A God working and sweating to plane a piece of wood! And who is this? The omnipotent God, Who by a nod created the world, and can destroy it when He pleases! Ought not the mere thought of this to move our hearts to love Him. How sweet it must have been to observe the devotion with which Jesus said His prayers, the patience with which He labored, the promptitude with which He obeyed, the modesty with which He took His food, and the sweetness and affability with which He spoke and conversed! O, every word, every action of Jesus was so holy that it filled everyone with love for Him; but especially Mary and Joseph, who were constantly observing Him!

MEDITATION 9

  DECEMBER 24

The Birth of the Infant Jesus in the Cave of Bethlehem.

The edict of the Roman emperor having gone forth, by which everyone was to go and enroll himself in his own country, Joseph and his spouse, Mary, departed, to go and enroll themselves in Bethlehem. O God, how much must the Blessed Virgin have suffered in this journey, which was of four days, over mountainous roads, and in the winter, with cold, wind, and rain!

As soon as they arrived there, the time of her delivery was at hand; wherefore Joseph went about the town looking for a lodging, where Mary could bring forth her child. But, because they are poor, they are driven away by everyone; they are even driven from the inn where the other poor had been received. They went away therefore from the town in the night; and having found a cave, Mary entered in there. But Joseph said to her: “My spouse, how can you pass the night in this damp, cold place? Do you not see that this is a stable for animals?” But Mary answered: “O my Joseph, it is nevertheless true that this shed is the royal palace in which the Son of God chooses to be born.”

And behold, the hour of the birth being come, while the Holy Virgin was kneeling in prayer, she saw all at once the cave illuminated by a brilliant light; she cast her eyes upon the ground, and beheld the Son of God already born, a tender Infant, crying and trembling with cold: whereupon She first adores Him as Her God; She then places Him in Her bosom, and wraps Him in the poor swaddling-clothes which She had with Her; and, finally, She lays Him on a little straw in the manger. Behold, how the Son of the Eternal Father chose to be born for the love of us.

The souls enamored of Jesus Christ ought to kneel in spirit at the Feet of the Holy Child, and perform for Him the same office that the beasts of the stable of Bethlehem did, which warmed Jesus with their breath; they should, therefore, warm Him also with the sighs of love.

Affections and Prayers.

O my adorable Infant, I should not have the boldness to prostrate myself at Your Feet, if I did not know that You Yourself invite me to approach You. I am he who by my sins have caused You to shed so many tears in the stable of Bethlehem. But since You came upon earth to forgive repentant sinners, forgive me also; for I repent with all my heart of having despised You, my Savior, my God, Who are so good, and have loved me so much. You dost dispense great graces to so many souls during this sacred night; do You, therefore, console my soul also. The grace I desire is the grace to love You from this day forth with my whole heart. O, inflame me wholly with Your holy love! I love You, my God, become a child for me. O, permit me not ever to cease from loving You. O Mary, my Mother, You canst do all things by your prayers; I ask You only this, to pray to Jesus for me.

(Examples of the Infant Jesus.)

EXAMPLE 1

A devout lady wished to know what souls were the dearest to Jesus. One day, while she was hearing Mass, at the elevation of the Sacred Host, she saw the Infant Jesus on the altar, and with him, 3 young virgins. Jesus took the first, and caressed her very much. He went to the second, and, having taken her veil off her face, he struck her severely on the cheek, and turned His Back upon her; but soon after, seeing the child looking sorrowful, He comforted her with all sorts of kindness. At last He approached the third; He seized her by the arm as if He were angry, struck her, and drove her away from Him; but the more she saw herself ill-used and driven off, the more the little virgin humbled herself and followed Him: and thus the vision ended. This devout woman, remaining in the Church with great desire to know what was the meaning of the vision, Jesus appeared to her again, and told her that there are on the earth 3 sorts of souls that love Him. Some love Him; but their love is so weak that if they are not coaxed by spiritual pleasures they become uneasy, and are in danger of turning their backs upon Him; and of these the first virgin was a figure. The second represented those souls who love Him with a less feeble love, but who require to be comforted from time to time. The third was a figure of those more courageous souls who, although constantly desolate, and deprived of spiritual consolations, do not cease doing all they can to please their Lord; and these, he said, were the souls in which He took the greatest delight.

EXAMPLE 2

After having committed a great many sins, a certain nun arrived at such an excess of crime that having one day communicated, she drew from her mouth the sacred particle, placed it in a handkerchief, and afterwards, having shut herself up in a cell, she threw the Blessed Sacrament on the ground, and began to trample it under her feet. But lo, she casts her eyes down, and what does she see? She sees the Sacred Host changed into the form of a beautiful Infant, but all bruised and covered with Blood, Who said to her, “And what have I done to you, that you treat me so badly? Up- on which the wretched creature, full of contrition and repentance, threw herself on her knees in tears, and said to him, “O my God, do You ask me what You have done to me? You have loved me too much!” The vision disappeared, and the nun changed her whole life, and became a model of penance.

EXAMPLE 3

A certain monk, who was travelling on Christmas night, as he passed through a forest, heard a cry as it were of a newborn infant. He approached the place whence he heard the cries, and saw a beautiful infant in the middle of the snow, who was crying and trembling with the cold. Moved to compassion, the monk immediately dismounted from his horse, and, approaching the infant, said, “O my child, how is it that you are thus abandoned to weep and to die in the midst of this snow?” And he heard a voice answer him, “Alas, how can I help crying, while I see myself thus abandoned by all, and that no one receives me or has compassion upon me?” And having said this, he disappeared, giving us to understand that He was our Redeemer, Who by this vision meant to reprove the ingratitude of men, who, having seen Him born for their sake in a stable, leave Him to cry there without even pitying Him.

EXAMPLE 4

The Most Holy Mary appeared one day to the Blessed Coletta, while she was praying to Her to intercede for sinners, and that She showed her Infant Son all torn and cut to pieces, “My daughter,” She said, “have compassion Me and on My Son; behold how sinners treat Him.”

EXAMPLE 5

A certain soldier was full of vices; but he had a devout wife, who, not being able to reform him, recommended him at least not to omit saying everyday a Hail Mary before some image of our Lady. One day, as he was going to commit sin, he passed by a church, which, by chance, he entered; and seeing an image of our Blessed Lady, he knelt down and said a Hail Mary; and what did he then see? He saw the Infant Jesus in the arms of Mary all covered with bleeding wounds. Upon which he said, “O God, what barbarian has thus ill-treated this innocent Babe?” “It is you, sinner,” answered Mary, “it is you who thus ill-used My Son.” Then, full of contrition, he begged Her to obtain for him pardon, calling Her Mother of Mercy. She replied, “You sinners call me Mother of Mercy, but you do not cease to make Me a Mother of Sorrows and of Misery.” But the penitent did not lose courage, and continued to pray to Mary to intercede for him. The Blessed Virgin turned to Her Son, and asked Him to pardon this sinner. Her Son seemed reluctant to do so; but then Mary said to him, “O my Son, I will not leave Your Feet if You do not forgive this afflicted man, who has recommended himself to Me.” Then Jesus said to Her, “O My Mother, I never have refused You anything; do You desire the pardon of this sinner? Then let him be pardoned; and in token of the pardon which I grant him, I desire that he should come and kiss My Wounds.” The sinner went up to the image, drew near, and whilst he was kissing them, the wounds were closed. Immediately on leaving the Church, he asked pardon of his wife, and with mutual consent, they both left the world, and became religious in 2 monasteries at the same time, and ended their lives by a holy death.

EXAMPLE 6

It is mentioned in the life of Brother Benedict Lopez that while he remained in the army he led a life stained with sins. One day he entered a church in Travancor, and saw an image of Mary with the Infant Jesus. Our Lord placed before his eyes his abandoned life. At the sight of his sins he almost despaired of pardon; but turning to Mary, with tears in his eyes, he commended himself to her; and he then perceived that the Holy Infant also was weeping, and that His Tears were falling on the altar; so much so that it was observed by others, who hastened to collect them in a cloth. Soon after this, Benedict, full of contrition, forsook the world, and became a lay-brother in the Society of Jesus, in which he lived and died with the greatest devotion to the Sacred Infancy of Jesus Christ.

EXAMPLE 7

There was in Messina a youth of noble birth called Dominic Ansalone, who was in the habit of going often to a certain church to visit an image of Mary holding in Her arms the Infant Jesus, of which he became quite enamored. Now, it happened that when Dominic lay at the point of death he implored his parents with great earnestness to bring the image of the beloved Child into his room. His wishes were satisfied; full of delight, he placed it on his bed, and looking at it in the most loving manner, and now and then turning to the Infant, he said,” My Jesus, have pity on me!” then turning to the bystanders, “ Behold,” he said, “ behold how beautiful is my little Savior !” On the last night of his life he called his parents, and in their presence he first said to the Holy Infant, “My Jesus, I leave You my heir!” And then he begged his father and mother to employ a certain small sum of money which he had, in having 9 Masses celebrated after his death, and with the rest to make a handsome robe for his Infant heir. Before he died, he raised his eyes to heaven with a look of joy, and said, “O, how beautiful! How beautiful is my Lord!” After saying this, he expired.

EXAMPLE 8

In the Mirror of Examples there is a true story of a certain devout English boy, named Edmund. This happy young man is no other than St. Edmund, Archbishop of Canterbury.  This is what happened to him while he was a young boy: Edmond, being one day of his childhood in the country with other children, as he was fond of prayer and solitude, he separated himself from them, and walked alone in a meadow, entertaining himself in devout aspirations and affections to- wards Jesus Christ. Behold, a beautiful Infant appeared to him, and saluted him with, “God bless you, My dear Edmund!” And then he asked him whether he knew who he was? Edmund answered that he did not. “What do you mean by not knowing me?”, replied the heavenly Infant, “when I am always at your side. If, then, You desire to know me, look at My Forehead.” Edmund looked and read on His Forehead these words, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” The Child then added, “This is My Name; and I desire that in remembrance of the love I bear you, you should every night sign your forehead with this Name, and it shall deliver you from sudden death; as it will also deliver everyone who shall do the same.” Edmund ever after signed himself with the Name of Jesus. On one occasion the evil seized his hands, in order to prevent him from doing so; but he conquered him by prayer, and then constrained him to tell him what was the weapon which he most feared; the devil replied that it was those words with which he signed his forehead. 

We may here add a more recent example, which we read in the Life of the Venerable Brother Gerard Majella, of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. Animated with fervent piety already in his infancy, he loved to visit a church in which was honored the Mother of God holding the Infant Jesus in Her arms. While Gerard was one day entering the church the Divine Infant came to meet him and offered him a piece of white bread—a symbol of the gift that He was soon to give him in the most adorable sacrament of the Eucharist. Gerard, attracted by the sweet charms of the Infant Savior, went often to the same church, and Jesus very frequently bestowed upon him the same favor.

Later on he entered the service of a master who was extremely harsh and who omitted no opportunity to try Gerard's heroic patience. A key was one day accidentally dropped into a well. Foreseeing the trouble and the irritation that this accident would cause his master, and the sins that would be the result, Gerard, full of confidence, took a small statue of the Infant Jesus, lowered it into the well by means of a cord, and said, “You must see to it that my master does not become impatient.” When he had drawn up the statue in the presence of a large number of people, it was holding the key in its hands.

EXAMPLE 9

The devotion of sending about the image of the Infant Jesus to the nuns, each one having it one day, having been introduced into a monastery, one of these virgins whose turn it was, after having spent a long time in prayer, at the close of evening took the image and shut it up in a little closet. But she had hardly lain down to sleep when she heard the Holy Infant knocking at the door of the closet; she therefore got out of bed, and, having re- placed the image on her little altar, she prayed again for a very long time. She then shut it up again, but the Infant again knocked; again she took it out and prayed. At last, weary with sleep, she went and rested herself on the bed, and slept till daybreak; and on awakening she blessed this night that had been passed in holy conversation with her Beloved.

EXAMPLE 10

It is related in the Dominican Diary for the 7th October, that when St Dominic was preaching at Rome there was there a sinner called the beautiful Catharine. She received a Rosary from the hands of the saint, and began to recite it; but she did not leave off her wicked course of life. One day Jesus appeared to her; first, in the shape of a young man, and afterwards the figure changed itself into that of a beautiful Infant, but with a crown of thorns upon his head and a cross on his shoulders, tears flowing from his eyes and blood from his body. He then said to her, It is enough; no more, Catharine; it is enough, do not offend me any more: see how much you have cost me since I began as an Infant to suffer for you, and never left off suffering till my death. Catharine thereupon went immediately in search of St. Dominic, confessed to him, and, instructed by him, after having given all she had to the poor, and having shut herself up in a narrow cell, led a life of such fervor, and received such graces from the Lord, that the saint was struck with admiration. And at last, having been visited by Most Holy Mary, she died a most happy death.

EXAMPLE 11

The Venerable Sister Jane of Jesus and Mary, a Franciscan, whilst she was one day meditating on the Infant Jesus being persecuted by Herod, heard a great noise as of armed men pursuing someone, and then saw before her a beautiful boy looking much distressed, who seemed to be running away, and who said to her: “O Jane, help me and save me; I am Jesus of Nazareth; I am fleeing from sinners, who want to take My life away, and persecute Me worse than Herod; save me.”

EXAMPLE 12

It is related in the life of Father Zucchi of the Society of Jesus, who was most devout to the Infant Jesus, and whose image he used in order to gain many souls to God, that one day he gave one of these little images to a lady, who, though perfectly innocent and good in her habits, yet was very far from having the idea of becoming a nun. The young lady accepted the gift; but smiling she said to him, “What have I to do with this Infant?” He answered, “Nothing, but to put it on the spinet, on which you so frequently play.” She did so; and having constantly this image before her eyes, she could not avoid often looking at it, and from looking at it she began to feel a small touch of devotion. Then she was inflamed with a desire to become better; so that the spinet was rather an occasion to her of prayer than of amusement. At last she resolved to leave the world and become a religious. Then, full of joy, she went and related to Father Zucchi that the Infant had drawn her to His love; and, disengaging her affections from earthly things, had taken entire possession of them Himself. She became religious, and gave herself up to a life of perfection.