Coll. Christi Regis S.J.

Bibl. Phil. Torontonense






Bishop of Saint Agatha, and Founder of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer.




Priest of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer.










24 vols., Price, per vol., */<?/, $1.25.

J£ae/i 6oofc is complete in itself, and any volume will bv gold separately,

/olume I.


6' III.

"'«' ""iv.


«' IX. X.,

XIV. " XV.

" XVI. " XVII.

•• xvin.


PREPARATION FOR DEATH ; or, Considerations on the Eter. nal Truths. Maxims of Eternity— Rule of Life.

WAY OF SALVATION AND OF PERFECTION : Meditations. Pious Reflections. Spiritual Treatises.

GREAT MEANS OF SALVATION AND OF PERFECTION : Prayer. Mental Prayer. The Exercises of a Retreat. Choice of a State of Life, and the Vocation to the

:% .Religious State and to the Priesthood.



THE HOLY EUCHARIST. The Sacrifice, the Sacrament, and the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ. Practice of Love of Jesus Christ. Novena to the Holy Ghost.

VIII. _ GLORIES ^ OF MARTS i. Explanation of the Salve Regina, or Hail, Holy Queen. Discourses on the Feasts of Mary. 2. Her Dolors. Her Virtues. Practices. Examples. Answers to Critics. Devotion to the Holy Angels. Devotion to St. Joseph. Novena to St. Teresa' Novena for the Repose, of the Souls in Purgatory.

VICTORIES OF THE MARTYRS ; or, the Lives of the Most. Celebrated Martyrs of the Church.

XL THE TRUE SPOUSE OF JESUS CHRIST : i. The first sixteen Chapters. 2. The last eight Chapters. Appendi; and various small Works. Spiritual Letters. , DIGNITY AND DUTIES OF THE PRIEST ; or, SELVA, a collection of Material for Ecclesiastical Retreats. Rule of Life and Spiritual Rules.

THE HOLY MASS : Sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Ceremonies of the Mass. Preparation and Thanksgiving. The Mass and the Office that are hurriedly said.

THE DIVINE OFFICE: Explanation of the Psalms and Canticles.

PREACHING : The Exercises of the Missions. Various Counsels. Instructions on the Commandments and Sacraments.


MISCELLANY. Historical Sketch ot the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. Rules and Constitutions of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. Instructions about the Religious State. Lives of two Fathers and of a Lay Brother, C.SS. R. Discourses on Calamities. Re flections useful for Bishops. Rules for Seminaries. , XIX., XX., XXL LETTERS.


Benziger Brothers, New *ork- Cincinnati, and Chicago.





Coll. Christi Regis S,





Doctor of the Church.



Priest of the Congreg ition of the Most Holy Redeemer. SECOND EDITION.


Printers to the Holy Apostolic See.




By virtue of the authority granted me by the Most Rev. Nicholas Mauron, Superior-General of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, I hereby sanction the publication of the work entitled "The Mysteries of the Faith The Incarnation," which is Vol. IV. the new and complete edition in English of the works of Saint Alphonsus de Liguori, called "The Centenary Edition."


Sup. Prov. Baltimorensis. BALTIMORE, MD., September 8, 1886.

Copyright, 1886, by ELIAS FREDERICK SCHAUER.

Coll. Christi Regis S.J.

Bibl. Phil. Torontonense







I. The eternal Word is made man 13

II. The eternal Word being great becomes little 32

III . The eternal Word from being lord became a servant. . . 46

IV. The eternal Word from being innocent becomes as it

were guilty 59

V. The eternal Word from being strong became weak 73

VI. The eternal Word from being his own has made him self ours 85

VII. The eternal Word from being happy made himself

afflicted 98

VIII. The eternal Word from being rich made himself poor. . 113

IX. The eternal Word from being high made himself low. . 126

Discourse for Christmas night. The birth of Jesus Christ 140

Discourse on the name of Jesus I5I

Examples of the Infant Jesus l64



I. Goodness of God in the work of the redemption 172

II. Grandeur of the mystery of the Incarnation 174

III. The love of God for men *77

IV. The Word was made man in the fulness of time 179

V. The abasement of Jesus ........... 182

8 Contents.


VI. Jesus enlightens the world and glorifies God 185

VII. The Son of God was laden with all our iniquities 187

VIII. God sends his Son to die in order to restore us to life.. 190 IX. The love that the Son of God has shown us in the

redemption I(^2

X. Jesus, the man of sorrows, from the womb of his

Mother ^

XI. Jesus charged with the sins of the whole world 197

XII. Jesus suffers during his whole life 199

XIII. Jesus wished to suffer so much to gain our hearts 201

XIV. The greatest sorrow of Jesus 204

XV. The poverty of the Infant Jesus 206

XVI. Jesus is the fountain of grace 208

XVII. Jesus the charitable physician of our souls 210

XVIII. We should hope all things from the merits of Jesus

Christ 212



I. God has given us his only Son to save us 214

II. Bitterness of the heart of Jesus in the womb of his

mother.... , .. 217

III. Jesus made himself a child to gain our confidence and

our love 219

IV. The Passion of Jesus lasted during his whole life 222

V. Jesus offered himself for our salvation from the begin ning 225

VI. Jesus a prisoner in the womb of Mary 227

VII. The sorrow that the ingratitude of man caused Jesus. . . 229 VIII. The love of God manifested to man by the birth of

Jesus 232

IX. St. Joseph goes to Bethlehem with his holy spouse 235



I. The birth of Jesus 238

II. Jesus is born an Infant 240

HI,. Jesus in swaddling-clothes , 243

Contents. 9


IV. Jesus taking milk 246

V. Jesus lying on the straw 248

VI. Jesus sleeping 251

VII. Jesus weeping - 253

VIII. The name of Jesus 255

IX. The solitude of Jesus in the stable. 258

X. The occupation of the Infant Jesus in the stable of

Bethlehem 261

XI. The poverty of the Infant Jesus 263

XII. The abasement of Jesus , 265


I. The adoration of the Magi 268

II. The presentation of Jesus in the Temple 270

III. The flight of Jesus into Egypt 272

IV. The dwelling of Jesus in Egypt 274

V. The return of Jesus from Egypt. 277

VI. The dwelling of Jesus at Nazareth. , 279

VII. The same subjec^ continued 281

VIII. The loss of Jesus in the Temple 283



I. The love that God has manifested to us in the incarna tion of the Word 286

II. Goodness of God the Father and of God the Son in the

work of the redemption 287

III. Motives of confidence that are given to us by the incar

nation of the Word 289

IV. Happiness of having been born after the redemption

and in the true Church , 291

V. Jesus has done and suffered everything to save us 293

VI. The sight of our sins afflicted Jesus from the first

moment of his life 294

VII. The desire that Jesus had to suffer for us 296

VIII, Three fountains of grace that we have in Jesus Christ. 298

JO Contents.



(Chaplet to be recited before every meditation, 300.)



I. The love that God has shown to us in becoming man. . 301

II. The love of God in being born an Infant ............. 303

fll. The life of poverty which Jesus led even from his birth. 305

IV. The life of humility which Jesus led even from his in-


V. The life of sorrow which Jesus led even from his birth. 308 VI. The mercy of God in coming down from heaven to save

us by his death ................................. 3O

VII. The journey of the Infant Jesus to Egypt ............. 3n

VIII. The sojourn of the Infant Jesus in Egypt and in Naza-

reth ...... ..................................... 312

IX. The birth of the Infant Jesus in the cave of Bethlehem. 314 Another meditation for the feast of the circumcision ............ 316

Another meditation for the feast of the Epiphany .............. 3I8

Another meditation for the feast of the Holy Name ....... .320


.................................... 322

Ode on the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ, 322. The Madonna's Lullaby, 328. St. Joseph addressing the divine child Jesus, 330. To the Infant Jesus in the crib, 331. To the Infant Jesus, 332. The Way of Bethlehem ..................................... 334

INDULGENCES attached to the exercises of piety in honor of the Infant Jesus ..........................



Proofs that Jesus Christ has given us of his love in the work of the redemption ............... ....................

HYMN. The soul sighing for Jesus .......................... 4o6

Pious SENTIMENTS of a soul that desires to belong entirely to

Jesus Christ ............................................. ^

Sentiments of a lively faith, 407; of confidence, 409 ; of penitence, 413; of purpose of amendment, 415; _ of love, 417; of conformity to the will of God, 421; Di verse affections, 422.

SIGHS of love towards God ......................... 427

Contents. 1 1

ASPIRATIONS of love to Jesus Christ <34

MAXIMS for attaining perfection in the love of Jesus Christ 437

ACTS that the Christian should perform every day 440

MANNER of making mental prayer 445

EJACULATORY PRAYERS for the twelve greatest solemnities in the year> seven of our Lord and five of the Blessed Virgin, which may be used at any other time and on any day, accord ing to each one's devotion 44^

HYMN. Aspirations to Jesus 449

NOVENA to the holy name of Jesus 451

HYMN. To the Infant Jesus. . . o 465


St. Alphonsus wrote the following little work in 1750; but bis infirmities and his many duties did not permit him to publish it till the year 1758.

By a Novena we mean the nine days that precede a feast; the first day of the novena of Christmas is, there fore, the i6th of December.

These discourses may serve either for meditation or for spiritual reading. After the discourses will be found novenas of meditations and of prayers. There is also added a list of the indulgences attached to this exer cise. ED.



JDiscottrscs for tl)e Notmtu of Cljristtnas.

DISCOURSE I. The Eternal Word is made Man.

Ignem veni inittere in terrain ; et quid volo, nisi ut accendatur ?

" I am come to cast fire on the earth ; and what will I but that it be kindled ?"— Luke, xii. 49.

THE Jews solemnized a day called by them dies ignis,1 the day of fire, in memory of the fire with which Nehe- mias consumed the sacrifice, upon his return with his countrymen from the captivity of Babylon. Even so, and indeed with more reason, should Christmas-day be called the day of fire, on which a God came as a little child to cast the fire of love into the hearts of men.

/ came to cast fire on the earth: so spoke Jesus Christ; and truly so it was. Before the coming of the Messias, who loved God upon earth? Hardly was he known in a nook of i:he world, that is, in Judea; and even there how very few loved him when he came! As to the rest of the world, some worshipped the sun, some the brutes, some the very stones, and others again even viler crea tures still. But after the coming of Jesus Christ, the name of God became everywhere known, and was loved by many. After the Redeemer was born, God was more loved by men in a few years than he had before been in the lapse of four thousand years, since the creation of man, 1 2 Mach. \. i3.

14 Discourses for the Novena of Christmas.

It is a custom with many Christians to anticipate the arrival of Christmas a considerable time beforehand by fitting up in their homes a crib to represent the birth of Jesus Christ; but few there are who think of preparing their hearts, in order that the Infant Jesus may be born in them, and there find his repose. Among these few, however, we would be reckoned, in order that we too may be made worthy to burn witli that happy flame which gives contentment to souls on this earth, and bliss in heaven.

Let us consider on this first day how the Eternal Word had no other end in becoming man than to inflame us with his divine love. Let us ask light of Jesus Christ and of his most holy Mother, and so let us begin.

Adam, our first parent, sins; ungrateful for the great benefits conferred on him, he rebels against God, by a violation of the precept given him not to eat of the for bidden fruit. On this account God is obliged to drive him out of the earthly paradise in this world, and in the world to come to deprive not only Adam, but all the descendants of this rebellious creature, of the heavenly and everlasting paradise which he had prepared for them after this mortal life.

Behold, then, all mankind together condemned to a life of pain and misery, and forever shut out from heav en. -But hearken to God, who, as Isaias tells us in his fifty-second chapter, would seem, after our manner of understanding, to give vent to his affliction in lamenta tions and vvailings: And now what have I here, saith the Lord, for My people is taken away gratis? "And now," says God, "what delight have I left in heaven, now that I have lost men, who were my delight?" My delights

" Et nunc, quid mihi est hie, dicit Dominus, quoniam ablatus est populus meus gratis?" Isai. Hi. 5.

The Eternal Word is made Man. 15

were to be with the children of men.1 But how is this, O Lord? Thou hast in heaven so many seraphim, so many angels; and canst Thou thus take to heart having lost men? Indeed, what need hast Thou of angels or of men to fill up the sum of Thy happiness? Thou hast always been, and Thou art in Thyself, most happy; what can ever be wanting to Thy bliss, which is infinite? "That is all true," says God; "but" (and these are the words of Cardinal Hugo on the above text of Isaias)— " but, losing man, I deem that I have nothing;2 I consider that I have lost all, since my delight was to be with men; and now these men I have lost, and, poor hapless crea tures, they are doomed to live forever far away from me."

But how can the Lord call men his delight? Yes, in deed, writes St. Thomas, God loves man just as if man were his god, and as if without man he could not be happy; "as if man were the god of God himself, and without him he could not be happy."5 St. Gregory of Nazianzen adds, moreover, that God, for the love he bears to men, seems beside himself: "we are bold to say it, God is out of himself by reason of his immense love;" 4 so runs the proverb, " Love puts the lover beside himself." "But no," then said the Lord, "I will not lose man; straightway let there be found a Redeemer who may satisfy my justice in behalf of man, and so rescue him from the hands of his enemies and from the eternal death due to him."

And here St. Bernard, in his contemplations on this subject, imagines a struggle to ensue between the jus-

1 " Delicise meae, esse cum filiis hominum." Prov. viii. 31.

2 " Non repute aliquid me habere."

3 •' Quasi homo Dei Deus esset, et sine ipso beatus esse non posset." Opusc. 63, c. 7.

4 " Audemus dicere quod Deus, prae magnitudine amoris, extra se sit." De Div. Notn, c. 4.

1 6 Discourses for the Novena of Christmas.

tice and the mere)' of God. Justice says: "I no longer exist if Adam be not punished; I perish if Adam die not." Mercy, on the other hand, says: "I am lost if man be not pardoned; I perish if he does not obtain for giveness." : In this contest the Lord decides, that in order to deliver man, who was guilty of death, some in nocent one must die: "Let one die who is no debtor to death."3

On earth, there was not one innocent. ''Since, there fore," says the Eternal Father, "amongst men there is none who can satisfy My justice, let him come forward who will go to redeem man." The angels, the cheru bim, the seraphim, all are silent, not one replies; one voice alone is heard, that of the Eternal Word, who says, Lo, here am I ; send Me? " Father," says the only- begotten Son, "Thy majesty, being infinite, and having been injured by man, cannot be fittingly satisfied by an angel, who is purely a creature; and though Thou mightest accept of the satisfaction of an angel, reflect that, in spite of so great benefits bestowed on man, in spite of so many promises and threats, we have not yet been able to gain his love, because he is not yet aware of the love we bear him. If we would oblige him with out fail to love us, what better occasion can we find than that, in order to redeem him, I, Thy Son, should go upon earth, should there assume human flesh, and pay by my death the penalty due by him. In this manner Thy justice is fully satisfied, and at the same time man is thoroughly convinced of our love!" "But think," answered the Heavenly Father— " think, O my Son, that in taking upon Thyself the burden of man's satisfaction, Thou wilt have to lead a life full of sufferings!" "No

" Perii, si Adam non moriatur."

" Perii, nisi misericordiam consequatur."

" Moriatur, qui nihil debeat morti."— In Annunt. B. M. s. I.

"Ecce ego, mitte me."— Jsai. vi. 8,

The Eternal Word is made Man. \ 7

matter/' replied the Son: " Lo, here am /, send Me" "Think that Thou wilt have to be born in a cave, the shelter of the beasts of the field; thence Thou must flee into Egypt whilst still an infant, to escape the hands of those very men who, even from Thy tenderest infancy, will seek to take away Thy life." "It matters not: Lo, here am I, send Me" "Think that, on Thy return to Palestine, Thou shalt there lead a life most arduous, most despicable, passing Thy days as a simple boy in a carpenter's shop." "It matters not: Lo, here am I, send Me" " Think that when Thou goest fo: th to preach and to manifest Thyself, Thou wilt have indeed a few, but very few, to follow Thee; the greater part will despise Thee and call Thee impostor, magician, fool, Samaritan; and, finally, they will persecute Thee to such a pass that they will make Thee die shamefully on a gibbet by dint of torments." " No matter: Lo, here am 7, send Me"

The decree then being passed that the Divine Son should be made man, and so become the Redeemer of men, the Archangel Gabriel speeds on his way to Mary. Mary accepts him for her Son: And the Word was made flesh}~ And thus behold Jesus in the womb of Mary; having now made his entry into the world in all humil ity and obedience, he says: "Since, O my Father, men cannot make atonement to Thy offended justice by their works and sacrifices, behold me, Thy Son, now clothed in mortal flesh, behold me ready to give Thee in their stead satisfaction with my sufferings and with my death!" Wherefore when He cometh into the world He saith : Sacrifice and oblation tJwu wouldst not ; but a body Thou hast fitted to me. . . . Then said 7, Behold, I come. . . . ^ It is written of Me that I should do Thy will?

" Et Verbum caro factum est." John, i. 14.

" Ideo ingrediens mundurn dicit: Hostiam et oblationem noluisti; corpus autem aptasti mihi. . . . Tune dixi: Ecce venio, . . . ut faciam, Deus, voluntatem tuam."— Heb. x. 5. 2

1 8 Discourses for tkc Novcna of Christmas.

So then, for us miserable worms, and to captivate our love, has a God deigned to become man> Yes it is matter of faith, as the Holy Church teaches us- ' Fo, us men and for o:,r salvation, He came down from heaven and was ,,,ade man.' Yes, indeed, so much has God done in order to be loved by us

ndbd P e a'us

subdued Pers.a, w.shed to gain the affections of that

turn I " r,?0 We'n Ut dreSS6d ''" the Pei'sian cos- »me. In hke manner would our God appear to act ; in

order to draw towards him the affections of men he clothed himself comp.ete.y after the human fashion 'a "d appeared made man : in shape found as a maa.> And bv Ins means he wished to make known the depth of the

o converse with loved . ff< was seen upon ear(At am e

The d,v,ne love for man was extreme, and so it I been from all eternity: I have

and i

ab e it r n nconcev-

Then ,t truly appeared, when the Son of

of stra ?/ "I" 3 'ittle °"e !n 3 Stab'e °" a b""dle •aw : The goodness and kindness of God our Saviour

Habitu inventus ut homo."— Phil, ii 7 ^-•Apparuit gratia Dei Sa,vatoris nostri omnibus hominibus."-

...••In terns visus est, at cum hominibus conversatus ^'-

TJie Eternal Word is made Man. 19

appeared.1 The Greek text reads : The singular love of God towards men appeared. St. Bernard says that from the beginning the world had seen the power of God in the creation, and his wisdom in the government of the world ; but only afterwards, in the Incarnation of the Word, was seen how great was his mercy.2 Before God was seen made man upon earth, men could not conceive an idea of the divine goodness ; therefore did he take mortal flesh, that, appearing as man, he might make plain to men the greatness of his benignity.3

And in what manner could the Lord better display to thankless man his goodness and his love ? Man, by de spising God, says St. Fulgentius, put himself aloof from God forever ; but as man was unable to return to God, God came in search of him on earth.4 And St. Augus tine had already said as much : '• Because we could not go to the Mediator, he condescended to come to us."6

/ will draw them with the cords of Adam, with the bands of love* Men allow themselves to be drawn by love ; the tokens of affection shown to them area sort of chain which binds them, and in a manner forces them to love those who love them. For this end the Eternal Word chose to become man, to draw to himself by such a pledge

" Benignitas et humanitas apparuit Salvatoris nostri Dei." Tit. iii. 4.

" Apparuerat ante potentia in rerum creatione ; apparebat sapi- entia in earum gubernadone ; sed benignitas misericordiae maxime apparuit in humanitate." In Nat. D. s. i.

3 " Priusquam appareret humanitas, latebat benignitas. Sed, unde tanta agnosci poterat ? Venit in carne, ut, apparente humanitate, benignitas agnosceretur." In Epiph. s. i.

"Homo, Deum contemnens, a Deo discessit ; Deus, hominem diligens, ad homines venit." S. de Dupl. Nat. Ckr.

" Quia ad medicum venire non poteramus, ipse ad nos venire dig- natusest." Serm. 88, E. B.

"In funiculis Adam traham eos, in vinculis charitatis."— Osee, xi. 4.

2O Discourses for the Novcna of Christmas.

of affection (a stronger than which could not possibly be found) the love of men : " God was made man, that God might be more familiarly loved by man." It seems that our Redeemer wished to signify this very thing to a de vout Franciscan called Father Francis of St. James, as is related in the Franciscan Diary for the i5th of Decem ber. Jesus frequently appeared to him as a lovely infant : but the holy friar longing in his fervor to hold him in his arms, the sweet child always fled away ; wherefore the servant of God lovingly complained of these de partures. One day the divine Child again appeared to him ; but how ? He came with golden chains in his hands, to give him to understand that now he came to make him his prisoner, and to be himself imprisoned by him, nevermore to be separated. Francis, emboldened at this, fastened the chains to the foot of the Infant, and bound him round his heart ; and, in good truth, from that time forward it seemed to him as if he saw the be loved Child in the prison of his heart made a perpetual prisoner. That which Jesus did with this his servant on this occasion, he really has done with all men when he was made man ; he wished with such a prodigy of love to be, as it were, enchained by us, and at the same time to enchain our hearts by obliging them to love him, ac cording to the prophecy of Osee : I will draw them with the cords of Adam, with the bands of love?

In divers ways, says St. Leo, had God already bene fited man ; but in no way has he more clearly exhibited the excess of his bounty than in sending him a Re deemer to teach him the way of salvation, and to pro cure for him the life of grace. "The goodness of God has imparted gifts to the human race in various ways ;

1 " Deus homo factus est, ut familiarius ab homine diligeretur." Misc. \. i. tit. 87.

2 " In funiculis Adam traham eos, in vinculis charitatis." Osee, xi. 4.

The Eternal Word is made Man. i \

out it surpassed the ordinary bounds of its abundant kindness when, in Christ, mercy itself came down to those who were in sin, truth to those wandering out of the way, and life to those who were dead." !

St. Thomas asks why the Incarnation of the Word is called the work of the Holy Ghost : And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost? It is certain that all God's works, styled by theologians opera ad extra t or external works, are the works of all the three divine Persons. And why, there fore, should the Incarnation be attributed solely to the Person of the Holy Ghost? The chief reason which the Angelic Doctor assigns for it is because all the works of divine love are attributed to the Holy Ghost, who is the substantial love of the Father and of the Son ; and the work of the Incarnation was purely the effect of the sur passing love which God bears to man : " But this pro ceeded from the very great love of God, that the Son of God should assume flesh to himself in the womb of the Virgin."5 And this the prophet would signify when he says, God will come from the south ^ that is, observes the Abbot Rupert, " From the great charity of God, he has shone upon us."! For this purpose, again writes St. Augustine, the Eternal Word came upon earth, to make known to man how dearly God loved him.6 And St. Laurence Justinian : " In no instance has he so clearly

1 " Diversis modis humano generi Bonitas Divina munera imper- tiit ; sed abundantiam solitae benignitatis excessit. quando in Christo ipsa ad peccatores Misericodia, ad errantes Veriias. ad mortuos Vita descendh." De Nat, s. 4.

2 " Etincarnatns est de Spiritu Sancto."

" Hoc autem ex maximo Dei amore provenit, ut Filius Dei car- nem sibi assumeret in titero Virginis." P. 3, q. 32, a. I.

4 " Deus ab austro veniet." Hab. iii. 3.

5 " A magna charitate Dei in nos effulsit."

6 " Maxime propterea Christus advenit, ut cognosceret homo quan tum eum diligat Deus." De catech. rud. c. 4.

22 Discourses for the Novc-na of Christmas.

manifested his amiable charity to men as when God was made man." 1

But what still more evinces the depth of the divine love towards the human race is, that the Son of God should come in search of him, whilst man was fleeing away from him. This the Apostle declares in these, words, Nowhere doth He take hold of the angels; but of the seed of Abraham He taketJi hold? On which St. John Chrysostom thus comments: " He says not, he received, but lie seized hold of ; from the figure of those who are in pursuit of fugitives, that they may effect their cap ture."3 Thus God came from heaven to arrest, as it were, ungrateful man in his flight from him. It is as if he had said, "O man ! behold, it is nothing but the love of thee that has brought me on earth to seek after thee. Why wilt thou flee from me? Stay with me, love me; do not avoid me, for I greatly love thee."

God came, then, to seek lost man ; and that man might the more easily comprehend the love of this his God for him, and might surrender his love in return to one who so deeply loved him, he willed, the first time of his ap pearance under a visible form, to show himself as a ten der infant, laid upon straw. "O blessed straw, fairer than roses or lilies," exclaims St. Peter Chrysologus, "what favored land produced you? Oh, what an en viable lot is yours, to serve as a bed for the King of Heaven! But, alas!" continues the saint, "alas! you are but cold for Jesus ; for you know not how to warm him in that damp cavern, where he is now shivering with

1 " In nullo sic amabilem suam hominibus patefecit charitatem, sicutcum Deus homo factus est." De Casto Conn. c. 23.

2 " Nusquam enim Angelos apprehendit, sed semen Abrahse appre- hendit." llcb. ii. 16.

3 " Non dixit : Suscepit, sed: Apprehendit; ex metaphora in- sequentium eos qui aversi sunt, ut fugientes apprehendere valeant." In II eb. horn. 5.

The Eternal Word is made Man. 23

cold ; but you are fire and flames for us, since you sup ply us with a flame of love which rivers of water shall never quench."

It was not enough, says St. Augustine, for the divine love to have made us to his own image in creating the first man Adam ; but he must also himself be made to our image in redeeming us.2 Adam partook of the forbid den fruit, beguiled by the serpent, which suggested to Eve that if she ate of that fruit she should become like to God, acquiring the knowledge of good and evil ; and therefore the Lord then said, Behold, Adam is become one of us* God said this ironically, and to upbraid Adam for his rash presumption ; but after the Incarnation of the Word we can truly say, " Behold, God is become like one of us." '

"Look, then, O man," exclaims St. Augustine, "thy God is made thy brother ;" 5 thy God is made like thee, a son of Adam, as thou art : he has put on thy selfsame flesh, has made himself passible, liable to suffer and to die as thou art. He could have assumed tiie nature of an angel ; but no, he would take on himself thy very flesh, that thus lie might give satisfaction to God with the very same flesh (though sinless) of Adam the sinner. And he even gloried in this, oftentimes styling himself the Son of man ; hence we have every right to call him our brother.

It was an immeasurably greater humiliation for God to become man than if all the princes of the earth, than if

1 " O felices paleas, rosis et liliis pulchriores ! quae vos genuit tel- lus ? Non palearum momentaneum, sed perpetuum vos suppeditatis incendium, quod nulla flumina exstinguent.''

2 '' In primo homine, fecit nos Deus ad imaginem suam; in hac die, factus est ad imaginem nostram." Serm. 119, E. B. app.

3 " Ecce Adam quasi unus ex nobis factus est." Gtii. iii. 22.

4 " De caetero dicemus veraciter, quia Deus factus est quasi unus ex nobis." De Eninian. 1. T, c. ig.

5 " Deus tuus factus est f rater tuns,"

24 Discourses for the Novena of Christmas.

all the angels and saints of heaven, with the divine Mother herself, had been turned into a blade of grass, or into a handful of clay ; yes, for grass, clay, princes, an gels, saints, are all creatures ; but between the creature and God there is an infinite difference. Ah, exclaims St. Bernard, the more a God has humbled himself for us in becoming man, so much the more has he made his goodness known to us : " The smaller he has become by humility, the greater he has made himself in bounty." ' But the love which Jesus Christ bears to us, cries out the Apostle, irresistibly urges and impels us to love him : The charity of Chiist presseth us?

O God ! did not faith assure us of it, who could ever believe that a God, for love for such a worm as man is, should himself become a worm like him ? A devout au thor says, Suppose, by chance, that, passing on your way, you should have crushed to death a worm in your path; and then some one, observing your compassion for the poor reptile, should say to you, Well, now, if you would restore that dead worm to life, you must first yourself become a worm like it, and then must shed all your blood, and make a bath of it in which to wash the worm, and so it shall revive; what would you reply ? Certainly you would say, And what matters it to me whether the worm be alive or dead, if I should have to purchase its life by my own death ? And much more would you say so if it was not an inoffensive worm, but an ungrateful asp, which, in return for all your benefits, had made an attempt upon your life. But even should your love for. that reptile reach so far as to induce you to suffer death in order to restore it to life, what would men say then ? And what would not that serpent do for you, whose death had saved it, supposing it were capable of reason ? But

" Quanto minorem se fecit in humilitate, tanto majorem exhibuit in bonitate." In Epiph. s. i.

" Charitas Christi urget nos." 2 Cor. v. 14.

The Eternal Word is made Man. 25

this much has Jesus Christ done for you, most vile worm; and you, with the blackest ingratitude, have tried oftentimes to take away his life; and your sins would have done so, were Jesus liable to die any more. How much viler are you in the sight of God than is a worm in your own sight ! What difference would it make to God had you remained dead and forever reprobate in your sins, as you well deserved ? Nevertheless, this God had such a love for you that, to release you from eternal death, he first became a worm like you; and then, to save you, would lavish upon you his heart's blood, even to the last drop, and endure the death which you had justly deserved.

Yes, all this is of faith: And the Word was made flesh.1 He hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own, blood? The Holy Church declares herself to be filled with terror at the' idea of the work of redemption: I con sidered Thy work, and was afraid? And this the prophet said of old: O Lord, I have heard Thy hearing, and was afraid. . . . Thou wentest forth for the salvation of Thy people; for salvation with Thy Christ?

Hence St. Thomas terms the mystery of the Incarna tion the miracle of miracles;5 a miracle above all com prehension, in which God showed how powerful was his love towards men, which of God made him man, of Creator a creature.6 The Creator, says St. Peter^Dami- an, springs from the creature, of Lord it made him ser vant, of impassible subject to sufferings and to death: He hath showed might in His arm.'1 St. Peter of Alcan-

1 " Et Verbum caro factum est." John, \. 14.

2 " Dilexit nos, et lavit nos . . . in sanguine suo"—Apoc. i. 5.

3 "Consideravi opera tua, et expavi."— Off. Circumc. resp. 6. 4"Domine, audivi auditionem tuam, et timui. . . . Egressus es

in salutem populi tui, in salutem cum Christo tuo."— flab. iii. 2. 13.

5 " Miraculum miraculorum. "—/?<? Pot. q. 6, a. 2, ad 9.

6 " Creator oritur ex creatura." In Nat. B. V. s. 2.

7 " Fecit potentiam in bracliio suo." Luke, \. 51.

26 Discourses for the Novcna of Christmas.

tara, one day hearing the Gospel sung which is appointed for the third Mass on Christmas-night /;/ the beginning was the Word in reflecting on this mystery became so inflamed with divine love that, in a state of ecstasy, he was borne a considerable space through the air to the foot of the Blessel Sacrament. And St. Augustine says that his soul could feast forever on the contemplation of the exalted goodness of God, manifested to us in the work of human redemption.1 For this reason it was that the Lord sent this saint, on account of his fervent devotion to this mystery, to inscribe these words on the heart of St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi: And the Word was made flesh.


Whosoever loves, has no other end in loving but to be loved again. God, then, having so clearly loved us, seeks nothing else from us, as St. Bernard remarks, but our love: "When God loves, he desires nothing else than to be loved." : Wherefore, he goes on with this admonition to each one of us: " He has made known his love, that he may experience thine."3 Oman, whoever thou art, thou hast witnessed the love which God lias borne thee in becoming man, in suffering and dying for thee; how long shall it be before God shall know by experience and by deeds the love thou bearest him? Ah! truly every man at the sight of a God clothed in flesh, and choosing to lead a life of such durance, and to suffer a death of such ignominy, ought to be enkindled with love towards a God so loving. Oh that Thou wouldst rend the heavens and wouldst come down : the mountains would melt away at Thy presence, . . . the waters would burn with fire *

"Non satiabar considerare altitudinem consilii tui super salutem generis humani." Con/. 1. 9, c. 6.

"Cum amat Deus, non aliud vult quam amari." In Cant. s. 83.

" Notam fecit dilectionem suam ; experiatur et tuam." De Aqit<cil,

" Utinam dirumperes coelos et descenderes! a facie tua monies defluerent . . . aquje arderent igni."— Isai. Ixiv. i.

The Eternal Word is made Man. 2 7

Oh that Thou wouldst deign,