by Catherine Doherty.
Christmas. The familiar story—a stable, a manger, a Baby, a virgin mother, shepherds, carols, presents, Christmas trees, good will to all men.
Do we ever stop to consider the utter desolation of that birth? The loneliness of it? The startling pain of the man who became the foster-father of God? The wound of a deeper pain that lay heavy and hidden in the heart of Mary, the virgin mother?
Was this the welcome of the Messiah, awaited by the world? Was this to be the pattern of infinite years, this utter rejection by his creatures of both himself and his love?
His birth was the beginning of his passion. The wood of the manger was the precursor of the wood of the cross.
Was the sea of love, the essence of this little Baby, poured out in vain? Was his warm and healing smile lost, wasted on a cold, indifferent world, that would reject its very Source, and, anew with every generation, crucify It with cruel mockery and wanton jest?
It seems like it, does it not?
Behold our century, two thousand years removed from the moment of the birth of Christ! Behold our cold hearts, our empty souls, our days spent in the worship of self, in worrying only about the altars of those hideous idols we have created out of our own substance. Legion is their name. To mention but a few—security, power, wealth, health, beauty of body. These idols, our own distorted images, are what we really worship.
Babe of Bethlehem, have mercy on us! Send your angels to call us to your feet. Send us your graces, to open our blind eyes, so that, prostrating ourselves before your utter destitution, we may find in its infinite richness a laver of our sins.
Cleansed by your divine Presence, we may bring you, this Christmas day, or the next, the gift of self. Strip us naked of it, and fill us with your love, making us strong with your strength.
Help us to become as little children, who alone shall enter heaven. As little children we shall see easily through the tinsel of wealth, power, and security. And we shall reject all of them for your sake, embracing but one thing, desiring but one thing, living but one thing—your love.
Sear us with the sparks of your fire. We can then indeed bring the true message of your birth to a world that has forgotten its very meaning, and thus restore it, and all that dwell therein, to your Father in heaven who so loved us as to send you to redeem us.
From Where Love Is God Is, (Bruce Publ. Co., 1953) pp. 72, 73.
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