The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ
(by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876)

"When shall I come and appear before the face of God?"--Psalms xli, 3.

Five thousand one hundred and ninety nine years after the creation; 2957 years after the flood; 2015 years after the birth of Abraham; 1510 years after the departure of Moses and the children of Israel from Egypt; 1032 years after the anointing of King David; in the 65th week, according to the prophecy of Daniel; in the 194th Olympiad; 752 years after the building of Rome; in the 42d year of the reign of the Emperor Augustus, when peace prevailed over the whole earth, and in the 6th age of the world, "Jesus Christ, Eternal God, the Son of the Eternal Father," to bless the world by His coming, was conceived of the Holy Ghost, and nine months later, was born at Bethlehem, of the Virgin Mary. Hence, today is the human birth of our Lord and Saviour.

In these words the holy Church announces, in the Roman Martyrology, today's great and glorious festival, the birth of our Saviour. The entire account of this festival cannot be given better than it is related in the Gospel of St. Luke, wherein we read as follows: Octavius Augustus, the Roman Emperor, had given peace to the whole empire by conquering his enemies. Nowhere was war heard of, and peace reigned over all the world. The emperor, desiring to know the strength of his empire, and the number of his subjects, profited by this calm, and gave command to his officers to register the names of all the inhabitants of his dominions. Cyrinus was charged with the census of Syria and Judea. In order that this registering might be correctly made, the command was issued that everyone should be enrolled in the city from which his family came. Mary, the Blessed Virgin, and St. Joseph resided at Nazareth, a small town in Galilee; but as both were descended from King David, who came from Bethlehem, a small hamlet or town in the tribe of Judah, five miles from Jerusalem, they went thither. There they found all the houses so filled with strangers, who had come for the same purpose, that although St. Joseph took all pains to find a lodging for his holy spouse, he could not succeed. As the night approached, nothing was left for them but to repair to a cave in a rock, outside of Bethlehem. Both submitted to divine Providence, humbly worshipping the judgment of heaven, as they recognized that the only begotten Son of God, who became flesh to teach us humility and poverty, had Himself chosen this lowly and miserable stable as His birthplace.

Mary, the Virgin Mother, knew the hour of His birth, and remained deeply absorbed in contemplation of the great mystery which was soon to be fulfilled. At midnight she brought forth, without pain and without detriment to her virginity, Him whom she had conceived of the Holy Ghost, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of the Heavenly Father, the Saviour of the world. Seeing the Divine Child, she was filled with heavenly joy, and, sinking on her knees, she worshipped Him with deep humility and reverence, while her heart burned with motherly love. To God alone is known the greatness of the devotion and love which the Virgin Mother felt at that most holy moment. She took the Child into her arms, kissed it, and pressed it to her happy heart, wrapped it in poor swaddling-clothes, and, as no better place could be found, laid it in a manger. At that time, an ox and an ass were in the stable, and with their breath warmed the Divine Child trembling with cold. Mary and Joseph, prostrating themselves before the new-born Saviour, worshipped Him most devoutly. The Angels united their adoration with that of Joseph and Mary. They had already adored Him at the first moment of His Incarnation; but St. Paul assures us that they were commanded by the Almighty to adore him again at the time of His birth.

While Mary and Joseph were kneeling before the Child, their souls enraptured with love and awe, the Heavenly Father announced the long-desired birth of the Redeemer of mankind to the heathens and the Jews; to the former, by a star; to the latter, by an Angel. During that night shepherds were watching their flocks in the field, when suddenly an angel, surrounded with wonderful brightness, appeared to them. The men, seized with fear at this apparition, knew not what to say or think. The Angel addressing them, said: "Fear not; for behold, I bring you good tidings of exceeding great joy, that shall be to all people. For this day is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. And this shall be a sign to you: you shall find the child wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger." Hardly had the Angel said this, when a multitude of heavenly Spirits appeared, praising God and saying: "Glory be to God on high, and on earth peace to men of good will." The pious shepherds heard with astonishment the singing of the Angels, and, after they had seen them return to heaven, they said to one another: "Let us go over to Bethlehem, and let us see this word that is come to pass, which the Lord hath showed to us."

They went hastily to Bethlehem, and found, in the stable, all that the Angel had told them: a lovely new-born Child, wrapped in poor swaddling-clothes, lying in a manger, and the Virgin Mother and St. Joseph kneeling beside it. Knowing from the words of the Angel and still more from a divine light, that this beautiful Child in the manger was the long-desired Saviour of mankind, it is not to be doubted that they worshipped Him with great reverence, and giving due thanks for the grace done to them, offered some gifts according to their station. After this they returned to their flocks, and praising the Lord, they related to others what they had heard and seen. So much is known to us from the Gospel of St. Luke concerning the Nativity of Our Lord and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

The further considerations, to which we are led by this birth, are so manifold and so great that whole books filled with them, would not suffice to contain them all. Above all, we should consider the fact, that the only begotten Son of God saw the light of the world in so lowly a place, in the depth of winter and in the silence of the night. No doubt He could have celebrated His visible arrival in this world with grandeur and magnificence in the most noble palace in Jerusalem. But He did not, and why? St. Bernard writes: "Can we then believe that it was by chance that He was born in darkness and in the cold of winter, He who is Lord over winter and summer, day and night? Other children cannot choose the time of their birth, as they have neither reason nor liberty; but Christ, though man, was, as the Son of God, in the beginning with God, and was then the same wise and mighty God He is now. He, as the only begotten Son of God, who could choose for His birth whatever time He preferred, chose what was most painful and hard for a little child, especially the child of a poor mother, who hardly possessed a few swaddling-clothes to wrap it in." He chose in everything what was most trying to human nature. And for what reason did He do this? The Holy Fathers give the following answers:

First, to show, in the most exquisite manner, His infinite love for us, and to move us to love Him in return. Had Christ been born at another time, in a palace, surrounded by luxuries, He would still have shown great love for us; but it could not have been compared with the love He manifested when born in such a night, in such abject poverty and in so lowly a place. Had He been born rich, we should have great cause to love Him; but how much more reason have we now to love Him, when we consider the manner, so full of love to us, in which He deigned to come into the world. Yes, our beloved Saviour, in the poverty of His birth, evinced His great love, and wishes to gain our entire heart. "He who desired to be beloved by us," says St. Peter Chrysologus, "would be born in this and in no other manner."

Secondly, Christ, our Lord, wished to show us, at His birth, the path that leads to heaven, and to teach by his example what later He would teach by words. "He announces in works, what He afterwards teaches with words," says St. Bernard. Yes, not only He, but the stable, the manger, the swaddling-clothes speak to us, and point to the way we must walk, if we wish to derive benefit from the birth, the passion and death of our Saviour. The immoderate desire of the riches, honors and pleasures of this world, or, as St. John says, "the concupiscence of the flesh, the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life," are the principal sources of all vice, and the principal causes why so many men forfeit heaven and are cast into the depth of hell. The new-born Saviour teaches us, by his abject poverty, the deepest humility, and by voluntarily bearing so many discomforts of place and time, how we may overcome the three concupiscences, destroy the source of three most hurtful vices, and if we are solicitous about our salvation, to despise all that is temporal, or at least not to fasten our heart on it, but to live in due humility, and, by constant mortification, preserve our purity according to our station. The Saviour teaches all this by His example. Hence, the Holy Fathers called the manger, the pulpit of the Divine Child. We are all obliged to listen to this Teacher, who came down from heaven, and to live according to His precepts. The Heavenly Father says the same words now to us, which He proclaimed from heaven when our Saviour was baptized: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him!"

From these reasons why Christ was born in a stable, at so rough a time of the year, and in such humility, follows a twofold lesson for us, which I will add in the words of St. Bernard. The first is: "Let us love the Child in the manger," because the new-born Saviour has so loved us, and desires that we should love Him in return. Let us love Him, but with our whole heart, and in works, not only with the tongue and in words, as He has loved us, not only in words, but in deeds. The second is: "Let us endeavor to resemble this Child in poverty, in humility and in despising temporal pleasures." For here we see the truth of the words which, later in life, Christ spoke to His disciples, when He placed a little child in the midst of them: "If you do not become as this little child, you cannot enter heaven." It is this we should especially consider, in regard to the nativity of Christ, on to-day's festival. Besides, it should be remembered, that this is one of the oldest and most sacred feasts in the whole year, and was instituted by the Apostles themselves. The manger in which the Saviour was laid, and the stable in which He was born, have always been kept in great honor. The wickedness of the heathens erected, on the spot, a temple dedicated to Adonis, that the Christians might be prevented from visiting the holy place; but in the course of time, a magnificent Christian church was built in its stead. Many convents were established at Bethlehem, in one of which St. Jerome spent many years.

Later, the manger, sanctified by Christ, was taken to Rome into the Church of St. Mary Major, where it is still honored at this day. In the holy Chapel, at Paris, are preserved the swaddling-clothes in which the Divine Child was wrapped, and which St. Louis received as a gift from the Emperor Baldwin II.


I. Can you consider the beautiful and gracious mystery of Christ's Nativity in all its details, without being moved to the deepest love for your new-born Saviour? Think earnestly, who He is, that out of love for you is born, and at His birth, suffers such privations for your salvation. He who is born, is the only begotten Son of God, who has no need of you, and expects neither benefit nor profit from you, but seeks only your salvation. He suffers, with the greatest patience, bitter cold, abject poverty, ignominious contempt, and great privation; not because He is forced to it, but voluntarily, and for your welfare. What have you to say to this? Does not a Saviour, loving you so tenderly, deserve your whole heart? Oh! follow then the admonitions of St. Bernard; love the little Child of Bethlehem; love your Saviour; love Him with all your strength. But as He has not only loved you in word and affection, but also in deeds, so must you manifest your love in works.

This will be done, if, after the exhortation of St Bernard, you endeavor to resemble the little Child of Bethlehem, and go the way to heaven which Christ pointed out when still in the manger. Your Saviour, the little Child of Bethlehem, was obedient to His father, unto the manger in the stable, as later, He was obedient unto death on the Cross. He could have said in the manger, what He said afterwards: "I do always my heavenly father's pleasure." May you also obey the Lord, your God; keep His commandments; do everything that is agreeable to Him; offend Him not. Your Saviour bore patiently, in the manger, for love of you, cold, poverty, disgrace, and many other hardships. Should similar sufferings assail you, allow them not to disturb you in serving the Lord. Think: My Jesus bore all these for love of me; why should I not suffer for love of Him? He Himself has shown me this path to heaven; He walked in it Himself: why should I not follow Him?

II. What would you have done, or how would you have acted, if you had had the happiness to see and to adore, with the pious shepherds, or the Virgin Mother and St. Joseph, the new-born Saviour, lying in the manger? What expressions of astonishment, love and humility would you have uttered? And if the grace had been bestowed upon you to take your Saviour in your arms, to kiss and embrace Him, how inexpressible would have been the joy of your heart, and your gratitude for so inestimable a favor! Behold, then, who is He that is presented to you in the most holy Eucharist? Is not the same God hidden here in the form of bread, who was lying in the manger, a little Child? This Saviour you can not only see and adore, but also receive into your heart, through holy communion. Faith convinces you of this. Hence St. Bernard says, in a sermon on this festival: "You also, my dear brethren, will find the Child, once wrapped in swaddling-clothes, in the manger of the altar. For, as in times gone by, the Virgin Mother wrapped it in poor swaddlingclothes, so have we hidden it here in the form of bread." This, if you are a Catholic, you undoubtedly believe. With how great zeal and devotion must you therefore prepare yourself for holy Communion! Into what exclamations ought you to break forth before and after it! I leave it to you to consider this. Only this will I call to your memory. Beg the Divine Mother and St. Joseph to impart to you one small spark of the love and devotion that inflamed their hearts on beholding the new-born Saviour. Pray to your loving Redeemer for the favor that St. Margaret of Cortona requested of Him, when He gave her leave to ask Him a grace. She said: "Beloved Saviour, bestow upon me the grace never again to offend Thee." She received what she requested, and so will you receive it, if you pray fervently, and leave nothing undone that is necessary to avoid sin.


The Birth of Jesus Christ
by Bishop Ehrler, 1891

"A child is born to us." (Isai. 9 : 6.)

In these few words, a great mystery is revealed to us, and a grand doctrine proposed to us, than which nothing can be more admirable. The ancient Patriarchs had long looked upward, sighing for the advent of the Messias, and crying out with inconceivable ardor: "Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the Just." (Isai. 45 : 6.) Today, at last, their supplications are granted; the word is made flesh and dwells among us. (John 1 : 14.) Today, the divine nature celebrates its bridal with our human nature; and those sublime nuptials are in Bethlehem. O, ye happy shepherds! "blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear." (Matth. 13: 16.) But, "blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed." (John 20: 29.) Let us, my brethren, seek to merit this latter benediction; and, contemplating with the eyes of faith, the Divine Babe resting on his hard bed in the manger, let us consider:

I. That God has become man; and
II. That he has become man out of love for man.
III. In meditating upon those words: "A child is born to us," we must remember:

1. That Jesus became a poor man; and
2. That He took upon Himself all our miseries.

1. The Incarnation is, in itself, the most stupendous work of God's omnipotence: a work, which we may, indeed, admire, but can never fathom. For, as St. Augustine remarks: "The only reason why it took place, is the power of Him who willed it; otherwise, it would be nothing supernatural, nothing wonderful or unusual." "No word shall be impossible with God," (Luke 1: 37,) but "it is the glory of God to conceal the word." (Prov. 25: 2.) The birth of Christ, the possibility of His birth, and the circumstances attending it, are all wonderful. An angel announces it; the power of the Most High overshadows it; the Holy Ghost comes; the Blessed Virgin believes; she conceives; she gives birth ; and still she remains an immaculate virgin! Who is not lost in wonder and admiration?

2. We are not so much astonished, however, that God should become man, as that He should become a poor man. "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." (Luke 9: 58.) "He came unto His own; and His own received Him not." (John 1 : 11.) He says of Himself: "The world is mine, and the fulness thereof." (Ps. 49: 12). Yet St. John tells us that: "The world knew Him not." (John 1: 10.) He was not even granted a place to be born in; there was no room for Him in the inns of Bethlehem; He was born in a stable, like an animal. O, what a mystery! "He who ascended upon the cherubim" (Ps. 17: 11), who has "the earth for His footstool" (Matth. 5 : 35), is not recognized by the whole world. Even Israel, to whom he hath shown greater favors than to any other nation--" hath not known him." (Isai. 1 : 3.) He did not wish to enter the world as the King of Glory." (Ps. 23 : 7.) He did not desire to be adored as "the Lord in his holy temple." (Ps. 10 : 5.) He came to make atonement for sin. Now, since " pride is the beginning of all sin " (Eccles. 10 : 15.), he wished to begin his earthly life in the deepest humility. He came into the world as the heavenly Physician to cure all its ills by suitable remedies. All that was in the world was luxury, riches, and pride; but by the example of his birth, he showed how these vices may be cured. The precious virtue of Poverty was prized by no one; our Saviour chose Poverty as his bride, and by his choice, he exalted it above all the riches and treasure of earth.

3. But, he became not only a poor man--he also took upon himself all our miseries. He shared not only our humanity, but also our infirmities. Who would not rather be a full-grown man than a helpless infant? This choice was in our Saviour's power; but he chose the latter, in order that the prophecy might be fulfilled: "lam brought to nothing, and I knew not." (Ps. 72 : 22.) This truth seemed so incomprehensible to certain heretics that they contended that our Lord was impassible in his human nature, possessing sensibility neither of body nor of soul. On the contrary, he was" a man of sorrows and acquainted with infirmity." (Isai. 53 : 3.) He must suffer, and thus enter into his heavenly kingdom; and, consequently, his body must have been endowed with the most acute sensibility. "Jesus, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well." (John 10: 28.) "And when he had fasted forty days and nights, he was afterward hungry." (Matth. 4: 2.) While hanging on the cross, He exclaimed: "I thirst." Are not all these signs of sensibility? We read in another place: "Now is my soul troubled." (John 12: 27.) His soul was overcome with emotions of pity on seeing Jerusalem, and "He wept over it." (Luke 19: 41.) Again, in the Garden of Olives, on the night of His Passion, He saith to His disciples: "My soul is sorrowful even unto death. (Mark 24 : 32.) Do not these expressions indicate a high degree of sensibility? As "the first-born amongst many brethren." (Rom. 8 : 29.) " It behooved Him in all things to be made like to His brethren."(Hebr. 2: 17.) Thus, He must have been not only a man, but a man capable of suffering.

II. God became man out of love for mankind! In this he has shown

1. His justice;
2. His mercy; and
3. His love.

1. We "were by nature the children of wrath," (Ephes. 2:3) and enemies of God. This anger is appeased since "the coming of the Prince of Peace." (Isai. 9: 6.) Today, "mercy and truth have met each other: justice and peace have kissed." (Ps. 84: 11). God could not be reconciled to man unless a Mediator appeared who would be, at the same time, God and man, and who would be capable of offering to the Divine Justice an acceptable satisfaction. This was accomplished in the birth of our Saviour. In it, we behold both the Mediator and the atonement. The satisfaction was as great as the sin. The humiliation of a God more than compensated for the proud self-exaltation of man. God was insulted, the Mediator was Jesus Christ, and "God, indeed, was in Christ." (2 Cor. 5:19.) Consequently, peace was restored between God and man; and Justice could find no fault either with the Mediator, or with the terms of peace which He made.

2. It was the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ which led Him to assume the office of Mediator. Divine Justice cried out for satisfaction--which neither man nor angel could grant: but thou, O loving Saviour, didst cast Thyself into the breach! It was "the mercies of the Lord that we are not consumed." (Lament. 3: 22.) He became incarnate through love of man, so that sin might not go unpunished, nor the sinner be left unaided. "He loveth mercy and judgment;" (Ps. 32:5) "and mercy exalteth itself above judgment." (James 2: 13.) "The goodness and kindness of our Saviour God appeared." (Tit. 3: 4.) His goodness moved Him to assume human nature; hence, in the Scriptures He compares himself to a good shepherd, and to the father of the prodigal son. (Luke 15.) As His power was displayed in the creation, and His wisdom in the beautiful order of the universe, so, in an especial manner, is His goodness made known in our redemption. The Church explains the reason of this, when she announces to us: "This day you shall know, that the Lord will come, and save us: and in the morning you shall see His glory : "as was prophesied long before by the royal prophet, "We are filled in the morning with Thy mercy." (Ps. 89: 14.)

3. Now I ask: Why has our Saviour shown such great mercy to us? Because he has loved us so ardently. The doctors of the Church have inferred and taught, that love was the cause of the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, through the co-operation of the Holy Ghost. Love drew our Saviour down from heaven; but since love can not exist without equality between those who love--in order to secure this equality, Jesus assumed our nature. As love ever seeks to be united to the object beloved, hence, "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." (John 1:14.) And, in order to gain our love, from the moment of His advent, He came into the world, not as a full-grown man like Adam, but as a helpless infant. What is more capable of calling forth love than a beautiful, innocent child?" Today the angels announce, not a great and glorious God, but a little amiable God." (St Bernard.) And who will not love such a God?

"A child is born to us!" The great God lies in a poor crib, under the form of a new-born infant. Dearly beloved! "unless you be converted, and become as a little child, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 18: 3.) "For whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be made conformable to the image of His Son." (Rom. 8: 29.) "Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, for a leader and a master to the Gentiles." (Isai. 55: 4.) "God has become man, indeed, through love of man." "Remember, O man," says St. Bernard, "that thou comest from dust and ashes, and be not proud. Remember that thou art now united to God, and be not ungrateful."

O most loving Saviour! thy Nativity conducts us to humility; and the cause of thy birth inspires us with gratitude. Today, in company with the shepherds, we offer thee an humble, grateful, and contrite heart, which "thou wilt not despise." (Ps. 50: 19.) We exclaim, with the Psalmist: "What shall I render to the Lord, for all the things that He hath rendered to me?" (Ps. 115:12.) We are firmly resolved, from this day forward, to shew our humble gratitude (not only in word, but much more in deed,) for that sublime mystery which proclaims to us that a divine "child is given to us" for the eternal salvation of our souls. "Glory be to God on high, and peace on earth to men of good will!" Amen.


The Moral of the Incarnation
by Bishop Ehrler, 1891

"Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people: for this day is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David? (Luke 2 : 10-11.)

At last, after the season of Advent,--with all its hopes and desires-- is past, we have reached the day which must awaken in every Christian heart the same rapturous emotions which filled the souls of the shepherds on the plains of Bethlehem when the angel cried out to them: "Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people: for this day is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David." Let us hasten, in spirit, with those pious shepherds, to the holy crib of the Divine Infant, and there prostrating ourselves in profound adoration, worship Him who has come into the world under such wonderful circumstances, and in whom are hidden the highest mysteries of faith. Whilst we consider, on the one hand, the glory of the Child as announced by the splendid apparition of the angels, and, on the other, His poverty, as shown in the misery and lowliness of His place of birth, let us endeavor to draw some practical lessons from the future career of the Holy Babe, or, in other words, let us meditate on this occasion upon the holy life of Christ. Perhaps you will say, that you have already read and heard much of this divine life: but is that enough? What will it profit you to know the whole history of Jesus, if you do not, at the same time, draw from it lessons for your own guidance? I will then, today, show

I. What Christians must believe of the life of Christ; and
II. What they must do in order to imitate it.

I. Dearly beloved Christians! if you wish to know what you must hold concerning the life of Jesus, you must, in the first place, consider why He wished to live upon earth under the form of a mortal man.

1. It was solely to honor His heavenly Father (as every individual man should seek to honor Him)--through his life. Hence, he said: "My food is to do the will of Him that sent me, that I may perfect His work " (John 4 :34); and, in the consciousness that, during His earthly life, He had perfectly fulfilled His high vocation, He said, in His prayer to His heavenly Father at the Last Supper: "I have glorified Thee upon the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do." (John 17 :4.) But Jesus also wished, by His earthly life, to teach all men how they should live in order to love and serve the true God, and thus become worthy of eternal life. We have, in Jesus, a model and a pattern of what our conduct towards God and our neighbor should be. The life of Jesus should, therefore, be the rule by which we measure all our actions; wherefore, He Himself tells us: "Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls." (Matth. 1 1: 29.) And, again, (as an example of fraternal charity), on the eve of His Passion, when He humbly and lovingly condescended to wash the feet of His disciples, lie said to them and to us: "I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you do also." (John 13 : 15.) If the whole aim of Jesus during His earthly career was to leave us an example, we are all, then, strictly obliged to imitate Him in His holy life.

2. Since we are Christians it is not enough that we serve God according to the common dictates of reason, we must serve Him according to the precepts, the spirit, and the example of Jesus. Christ expressly says: "I am the way." (John 14 : 6.) What else could He mean by this expression than to say: He who would seek to find the right road to heaven, must tread the path which I tread; that is, he must practice the manner of life which I observe; he must model his life after my example--otherwise, he will never reach my heavenly kingdom. This agrees perfectly with what He said upon another occasion: "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." (Matth. 16: 24.) In order to gain the prize, we must imitate Jesus even in His labors and sufferings, as St. Peter writes: "Christ also suffered for us, leaving you an example, that you should follow His steps." (Pet. 2:21.) Finally, listen to the words of St. Paul to the Romans, concerning the necessity of imitating the holy life of Jesus: "Whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be made conformable to the image of His son." (Rom. 8: 29.) What is meant by being "conformable to the image of His Son"? It means that we should make Jesus our model in all our thoughts, words, and deeds, and thus, conform our lives to His holy life. This, my dear Christians, is what you must learn from the life of Jesus; now, listen to what you must do in order to imitate it.

II. What must we do in order to derive benefit from the life of Christ? We must, above all, follow the example of Jesus, as far as our state of life permits. It is true, that we cannot do all the marvels that He did; yet, this divine life embraces such an abundant variety of virtues that every one, the humblest as well as the most exalted, the poor as well as the rich, may draw from it all that is practicable for his condition. 1. Meditate assiduously and frequently upon the life of Jesus; place it before you as a mirror, in which you may see your defects and your manifold shortcomings. Or, still better--do like the artist who wishes to paint the portrait of a man; he looks steadfastly at the face and figure of his sitter; then, he paints awhile; then he compares his work with the original to see if his drawing is correct: if he finds any defects, he goes to work industriously to repair them; he looks again and again at his subject and his work, in order to detect what is wanting in the latter to a perfect copy; and he takes the greatest pains to faithfully represent the original. Place before you, in the same manner, the virtues of Jesus--his humility, patience, poverty, obedience, meekness, charity, zeal for the honor of God, and for the salvation of mankind. Recall His behavior in persecutions and sufferings; compare your conduct with His; and you will soon discover what you must alter, and what you must add, if you would make your life a perfect reflection of that of Christ.

2. Then, follow Jesus openly, before every one, without shame or fear. What! will you blush to imitate the life of Jesus? Is that divine life of a nature to draw down scorn upon you when you endeavor to copy it? Ah! there are many who thus regard it! But, it is of these that Jesus said: "He that shall deny me before men, shall be denied before the angels of God." (Luke 12 : 9.) No, dearly beloved, the life of Christ is the holiest and most glorious of all exemplars; and every honor is as nothing in comparison with the honor of being a true follower of Jesus. Follow Him courageously and magnanimously, for, behold, if you take Him as a model for your imitation, there will not be wanting those who will mock and deride you, and endeavor to turn you aside from your holy purpose. Mark well what St. Paul writes to Timothy: "All who will live piously in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution." (2 Tim. 3:12.) We, Christians, then must expect to endure something from men; for Christ's road leads through many tribulations, and, above all, through the scorn and mockery of the world. Pay no attention to the opinion of the majority. Zealous, pious Christians are always in the minority in this wicked world. "Many are called," says Jesus, "but few chosen," (Matth. 20:16); and in another place, He calls his own "a little flock." (Luke 12 :32.) O, how mistaken are those who use the common excuses: "So and so do thus"; or, " The majority do this"; or, " I am not alone in this!" O, accursed delusions of the devil, by which multitudes permit themselves to be deceived! The thing that is agreeable to the many, is always suspicious; for it is only with the few that we find justice, virtue, and the kingdom of God. If we take sides with the majority, we may be almost sure that we are not in the right path. This doctrine was taught by Jesus, when He sorrowfully exclaimed: "Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction; and many there are who enter by it. How narrow is the gate, and straight is the way which leadeth to life; and few there are who find it." (Matth. 7 : 13-14.) Therefore, do not consider the many wicked, but the few just, and imitate the latter, saying: "These do not this, or that; if these can do this good work, I also will try to do it." But, above all things, fix your attention upon that model of all justice--the sacred life of Christ, and do not turn aside one iota from Him; for as He is the Way, so also is He the Truth and the Life; the Way which leads in truth to an eternal Life of happiness.

Peroration: Having formed this resolution, return from the adoration of the Divine Infant in the crib to your homes and your occupations; and as this Child grew "in wisdom, and age, and grace, with God and men," (Luke 2:52), so may you also daily and zealously increase in the knowledge and the imitation of the life of Jesus! May you, one day, have the happiness of following Jesus at His last Advent upon earth, when He shall come, not as a helpless infant lying on rough straw in a cold stable, but clothed with majesty and glory, and surrounded by all His Angels and Saints. In the ranks of those glorified spirits, may we be found, when the just Judge of the living and the dead shall pronounce sentence upon all mankind, in the day of General Judgment! Amen.

Music: O Magnum Mysterium

O great mystery, and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!

Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear Christ the Lord.