by Rev. Father Bruno Vercruysse S.J., 1875

The masters of the spiritual life recommend that, in meditating, we should consider the mystery presented for consideration as if it were actually taking place before our eyes.

1st Prel. Behold the Child Jesus offering for us to His Heavenly
Father the first drops of His blood.

2d Prel. Ask the grace of beginning this year with a renewal of fervor and generosity.

Point I
The Circumcision

Consideration.--The first day of the year, which corresponds with the octave day of the Feast of the Nativity, is in this, as in most Catholic countries, a festival of obligation. The Church instituted it in memory of the circumcision, to which our Lord submitted on this day through love for us. It is then today that He begins to fulfill His office of Mediator, in taking on Himself the mark, the suffering, and the debt of sin; in offering Himself as a victim of expiation, and shedding His blood for the first time. To this oblation of infinite price He joins the offering of His whole self, and of every instant of His mortal life. What love on the part of God for men!

Application.-- Let us give Him back love for love. We enter today on a new year; let us consecrate the beginning of it to that God who has so loved us, and let this consecration be so entire that every day and every minute shall be employed in His service and to His greater glory. Let us offer to Him also our soul and body, together with the blood that flows in our veins, and be ready to shed the last drop of it in proof of our fidelity and our love.

Affections.-- Renew in detail the above offering and consecration.

Resolutions.-- From this first day of the year, I will earnestly endeavor that my conduct may correspond with this offering and consecration of myself.

Point II
The Holy Name of Jesus

Consideration.-- The angel had said to Joseph, "She shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins." (St. Matt. 1:21.) It was the custom among the Israelites to give a name to their male children with the circumcision, the eighth day after their birth. This name was generally taken from some circumstance relating to the birth of the child, or from a qualify which it was hoped the child would be endowed with. Our Heavenly Father alone knew the unspeakable qualities which were to characterize the Word made Flesh, and He only could give Him a name suited to His divine mission. He gave Him the name of Jesus, which signifies Savior. That name, so beautiful, so glorious, the Divine Child does not wish to bear for one moment without fulfilling its meaning; even at the moment of His circumcision, He showed Himself a Savior by shedding for us that blood a single drop of which is more than sufficient for the ransom and salvation of the whole world. Application.-- In the ancient law, the newly-born became by circumcision the children of Abraham, and inheritors of the promise which he received. Far happier than they, we became by Holy Baptism, of which Circumcision was but a type, the adopted children of God and inheritors of His kingdom; we become Christians, disciples, and brethren of Christ, and co-heirs with Him.

There is a glorious meaning in these titles: but let us remember that if, instead of following in the footsteps of Jesus, we fail to accomplish their solemn meaning; if we bear them in vain; if we dishonor them by our conduct, they will become a judgment and a severe punishment for us.

Affections.-- Gratitude combined with salutary fear.

Resolutions.-- Let us so act that, during this year, all in us shall correspond to the dignity of the great name we bear.

Point III
The New Year

Consideration.-- The blood that Jesus sheds for us in the Circumcision is the blood of the New Covenant, "sanguis meus novi Testament!," (St. Matt. 26: 28;) a covenant which ought to renew the face of the earth by causing reality to succeed to figures, the liberty of the divine adoption to slavery, the law of charity to the law of fear, which characterized the old Covenant.

Application.-- Let us profit by the circumstance of the new year, and of the wonderful renewal wrought in the world by the great mystery of this day, to renew in our hearts an increase of fervor and of generosity in the service of God. May this year be a year of fervor and progress! It will pass rapidly, like that which has just ended. If God gives us the grace to see its end, how glad and happy we shall be to have passed it holily! Colloquy with the Blessed Virgin, who witnessed the ineffable mysteries accomplished in the circumcision of her Divine Son.

On the Name of Jesus

1st Prel. I will represent to myself the angel saying to Joseph, "Thou shalt call His name Jesus; for He shall save His people from their sins." (St. Matt. 1:21.)

2d Prel. I will beg for the grace really to understand the greatness, the merit, and the power of the name of Jesus.

Point I
Greatness of the Name of Jesus

Consideration.-- The name of Jesus is great in its origin; it is God Himself who has given it by the ministry of an archangel. It is great in its signification. Men have sometimes in token of gratitude given to other men the name of savior of their country. Never have they dreamt of giving to any one the name of Savior of the World, a name whose meaning, in the full extent of the word, has been so wonderfully realized by the Son of God made man.

Application.-- With what respect and with what religious attention ought we not to pronounce this great and Holy Name, "which is," says the Apostle, "above all names." (Philip. 2:9.) Accordingly, from the earliest ages of Christianity, the custom was introduced and became general of bowing or uncovering the head when pronouncing or hearing others pronounce it. Do you not often fail to pay to it due veneration, by pronouncing it perhaps without attention or devotion even in your prayers?

Affections.-- Gladness of heart, and gratitude at the thought of the inestimable favor recalled to mind by these words of the Apostle: "God is faithful, by whom you are called unto the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord." (1. Cor. 1:9.)

Resolutions.-- Let us during the coming year redouble our efforts to honor and cause to be honored as much as we can, the Holy Name of Jesus.

Point II
The Merit of the Name of Jesus

Consideration.-- The noble name borne by a son solely by right of heritage is no great merit to him, because its greatness is due to the glory of another. Not so with the name borne by the Son of God. He acquired it by His own merits, by redeeming, at the sacrifice of His life, the human race from the pains of death, which it had incurred, and in re-instating it in its rights to a heavenly inheritance. Was there ever a name or a title better deserved?

Application.-- The names of adopted son of God, of brother or sister of Jesus, which you bear, are also titles of great value; but they are not due to your merits. You owe them to the grace of Baptism, to the special grace of your holy vocation. Nevertheless, it is your duty to prove yourself worthy of them; it is your duty to co-operate with grace, so as worthily to bear the names in which you justly glory. Up to this moment, this grace has not failed you; but have you corresponded with it? Has your co-operation been generous and persevering? Has it been in proportion to the glorious names you bear?

Affections.-- I will awaken in my heart an ardent desire to see the wish of the Apostle fulfilled in me, "That the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you according to the grace of God." (2 Thess. 1: 12.)

Resolutions.-- During the coming year, I wish to neglect nothing that may assist me to attain that end.

Point III
Power Of The Name of Jesus

"At the name of Jesus," says St. Paul, "every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth." (Philip. 2:10.) All things must submit at the invocation of the name of Jesus. By the invocation of this name, the Apostles worked the most astonishing miracles, and the faithful drove out demons from the bodies of the pagans. By the invocation of the name of Jesus, the martyrs of all ages have triumphed over their torments, the confessors and the virgins have resisted the seductions of the world. In this sacred name the Church terminates all her prayers, and in it she desires we should find strength and consolation in our last agony.

Application.-- With what confidence ought we not then to invoke it in our temptations, our troubles, our perplexities, and in all our undertakings; and this the more because Jesus has told us Himself, "If you ask the Father any thing in my name, He will give it you." (St. John 16:23.) Let us, then, become familiar with some ejaculatory prayer in which we shall find the name of Jesus, so that it will come naturally to our lips in critical moments, and above all at the awful moment when we shall be struggling with death. Oh! may our last words then be, "Jesus, Jesus, be unto me a Jesus!"

Colloquy with the Divine Infant Jesus, in conformity with the pious sentiments experienced during the meditation.*

* The author of the Spiritual Exercises attaches so much importance to these Colloquies, that he wishes we should fix upon them with the Preparation of the Points. Therefore they will be found, generally speaking, merely indicated, but not developed. The Affections and Resolutions of the two preceding Points will, if needed, supply ample subject for them. These Colloquies may also be multiplied and addressed according to each person's devotion, or the inspiration of the moment, to others besides those suggested. In the final Colloquy it will be well to offer to God the practical resolutions for the coming day, and to beg earnestly the grace to be faithful to them. A great and very general fault is that of not making practical resolutions for the day, or of not asking grace to keep them faithfully, as if, through our own strength alone, we could hope to accomplish them. The meditation should conclude with the recital of the Pater Noster or the Ave Maria.

The Giving of the Name of Jesus

1st Prel. Represent to yourself the angel Gabriel saying to Mary, "Thou shalt bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus." (St. Luke 1:31.)

2nd Prel. Beg the grace to bear worthily the name conferred on you in Baptism.

Point I
Name of Jesus, Reward of Humility

Consideration.--" His name was called Jesus," (St. Luke 2:21,) Savior. When was this glorious name given to Him? Was it on the day of His birth, when He was glorified by the angels, venerated by the shepherds? No; but at the moment of His circumcision, when He humbled Himself so as to be made like unto sinners, by receiving in His flesh the mark of sin. It was given to Him, then, in reward for His ineffable humiliations. This is even formally declared by the Apostle, " The Lord emptied Himself, taking the form cf a servant; for which cause God hath given Him a name which is above all names." (Philip. 2:7, 9.)

Application.-- If we wish to bear worthily the name of Jesus, which was impressed on our foreheads in Baptism, in Confirmation, and in the religious Profession, let us be humble in heart and soul; be patient and resigned in humiliations, no matter from whom they come. We can not hope to be the companions of Jesus in glory except so far as we shall have taken a part in His humiliations.

Affections.-- Excite in your heart an ardent desire to esteem yourself as nothing, in order that you may increase in favor with God, and to humble yourself willingly for the love of Jesus, that you may attain a greater resemblance to Him.

Resolutions.-- I will accept all humiliations that it may please God to send me, submitting to them joyfully, or at least in a spirit of resignation.

Point II
Name of Jesus, Reward of Obedience

Consideration.--" They called His name Jesus." When did they call Him by it? At the moment when, submitting of His own will to the law of circumcision, He made the sacrifice of His own will and liberty to His Father by binding Himself to observe all His life the harsh requirements of the Mosaic Law; " for every man circumcising himself," says St. Paul, " is a debtor to do the whole law." (Galatians 5:3.) See, then, what it cost the Incarnate Word to merit for Himself the name of Jesus. "Becoming obedient unto death," says the same Apostle; " for which cause God also hath exalted Him, and hath given Him a name which is above all names." (Philip. 2:9.)

Application.-- What a happy resemblance there is between us and Jesus! By the vow of obedience we also have made the sacrifice of our liberty, we have subjected our will until death to the yoke of religious observances. But these observances are infinitely more gentle and more easy to fulfill than those imposed by the Mosaic law. Let us be invariably faithful to them, whatever it may cost us. Without this fidelity, the name, which is our honor, shall not be for us a title to glory and eternal reward.

Affections.-- How often, O Lord! have I failed in this fidelity, even on slight pretexts, and on occasions of little difficulty. What can I do but humble myself, and ask of Thee a more generous heart? Resolutions.-- I will henceforth prove myself more faithful and more generous, especially with regard to such or such points of the rule.

Point III
Name Of Jesus, Reward Of Mortification

Consideration.--" They called His name Jesus." When and at what moment? At the same moment when in circumcision He suffered for us; He shed His blood for us and bound Himself to lead a life of privations, mortifications, and sacrifices, until He should have ended it by the sacrifice of Himself. It was then that His Heavenly Father gave Him the glorious name of Jesus, Savior.

Application.-- Jesus, says St. Peter, " suffered for us " from His entrance into the world, " leaving you an example that you should follow His steps," (1. St. Peter 2:21,) leading a life of abnegation and mortification. And let us not think that there is question only of a counsel; for the words of our Lord prove the contrary. "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross." (St. Matt. 16: 24.) "He that taketh not up his cross and followeth me is not worthy of me." (St. Matt. 10:38.) Consequently, in order not to forfeit the good opinion of our Divine Master, and not to be judged unworthy of the great recompense which He promises to His true disciples, we ought to resemble Him by our love of the cross, by the exercise of continual mortification, which the Apostle calls the " circumcision of the heart." Let us examine ourselves on this point; let us see whether we have not partly lost the spirit of mortification which animated us in our first fervor.

Colloquy with Jesus, who by His humiliations, His obedience, and His sufferings, shows to all who are willing to follow Him, the true road to glory and happiness.

Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.