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31st December - The Devotion of Mary at the Crib






 

Martyrology - 31st December

Upon the 31st day of December were born into the better life:


At Rome, holy Pope Silvester I who (was said by tradition to have) baptized the Emperor Constantine the Great, confirmed the decrees of the Council of Nice, wrought many other holy works, and fell asleep in peace (in the year 335.)

Likewise at Rome, at the cemetery of Priscilla upon the Salarian Way, the holy martyrs Donata, Paulina, Rustica, Nominanda, Serotina, Hilaria, and their companions.

At Sens, blessed Sabinian, (first) bishop of that see, and Potentian, who were sent thither to preach by the Roman Pontiff, and adorned that city by their last testimony. (He was the Apostle of Sens.)

There also in the persecution under the Emperor Aurelian the holy virgin and martyr Columba, who conquered fire and was slain with the sword (third century.)

At Rhessara, the holy exorcist Hermes.

At Catania, in Sicily, the holy martyrs Stephen, Pontian, Attalus, Fabian, Cornelius, Sextus, Flos, Quintian, Minervinus and Simplician.

On the same day holy Zoticus, a Roman priest, who went to Constantinople, and busied himself with the care of orphans.

At Ravenna, the holy confessor the priest Barbatian.

On the same day holy Melania, the younger, who left Rome along with her husband Pinian (son of the Prefect of Rome), and went to Jerusalem where she became a nun, and he a monk and both died holy deaths. (She was born in 383, married 410, and died in 439.)

And elsewhere many other Holy Martyrs, Confessors and Holy virgins.


R. Thanks be to God

 

Meditations - 31st December: The Devotion of Mary at the Crib



Summary of the Morrow’s Meditation


We will meditate tomorrow: First, on the devotion of the Blessed Virgin at the crib; Second, on the sentiments which we ought to borrow from her in order to pass, in a holy manner, the new year which is about to dawn. We will then make the resolution: First, frankly to resolve to live a better life during the year which is drawing nigh; Second, to sanctify the first day of the year by the double sentiment of gratitude and of contrition: of gratitude to God for the blessings received during this year, and of contrition for the evil we have committed. Our spiritual nosegay shall be the words of St. Augustine; ''How I regret, O my God, all the days of this year in which I have not loved Thee”



Meditation for the Morning


Let us return today to the crib, the source of light, the furnace of love, the paradise of delight. Let us prostrate ourselves in spirit before the Child-God, between Mary and Joseph, and let us offer to Him, at least in spirit, all that these two first adorers of the Incarnate Word offered Him of what is most pious, most loving, most devoted.


First point


Devotion of Mary at the Crib.


The devotion of Mary in these circumstances was a mixture of joy, of sorrow, of holy reflections. It was an ineffable joy for her to look at the Divine Child, to caress Him, to be caressed by Him, and to say to herself: "This is my God, my God with His infinite treasures of holiness and grace, my God with His ineffable beauty which ravishes Paradise; and this God is my Son, my only Son, mine only. He is the Saviour of the world, who will convert all nations and whom all nations will adore. He is the King of Paradise, and there He keeps for me in reserve the most beautiful of thrones. He is my treasure, He is my love, He is the joy of my heart." Oh why have we not more faith, why do we not love more; we should then enjoy something similar in meditation, in communion, and in visiting the Blessed Sacrament.


In the midst of these joys it was an inexpressible sorrow for the heart of Mary to think, when fixing her eyes on the head of this blessed Child, that the day would come when it would be crowned with thorns; when gazing on His face, that it would be bruised with blows, covered with blood and spittle ; when kissing His blessed hands, that they would be pierced with nails; when wrapping Him in swaddling clothes, that He would one day wear garments of ignominy ; when laying Him in His cradle, that the cross would be His death-bed. She could not see a lamb, a dove, or any of the animals offered in sacrifice, without thinking of the adorable Victim of which they were figures. She could not read the Holy Scriptures, the oracles of the prophets, the story of Abel put to death, of Isaac immolated, of Joseph sold, of David and Jeremias persecuted, of the brazen serpent, of the paschal lamb, without seeing in all these things the sufferings and the death of her dearly beloved Son, and what anguish did not her maternal heart suffer in consequence!


At the same time in the midst of these sorrowful previsions which the prophetic spirit, possessed by her in a very perfect degree, rendered certain, she was calm, resigned, and desired nothing but the will of God, an admirable model of tried souls. Amidst these sorrows and joys, she nourished her piety with the most holy reflections, kept preciously in her soul all that she heard the, shepherds and angels say (Luke ii. 19), and which was so edifying, and all that the Holy Spirit said to her upon so much littleness in a God so great, so much poverty in a God so rich, upon exchanging heaven for a stable, the splendour of glory for poor swaddling clothes, the eternal throne for the crib; and these considerations threw her soul into a state of ravishment, into sweet transports, into loving ecstasies. She took the Divine Child in her arms, and offered Him to the Eternal Father, saying, "Behold O God, our protector, and look on the face of Thy Christ" (Ps. lxxxiii. rn). May we partake of the sentiments of Mary towards the Word Incarnate.


Second point


In Order to Pass in a Holy manner from one Year to Another, we ought to Borrow from Mary the Sentiments which we have Been Considering in Mary.


We must rejoice, with a great feeling of gratitude, in the goodness of God who has granted us, during the year which is about to end, so many benefits in the natural order and in the order of grace. In the natural order He has preserved our life, He has guarded us from a thousand dangers, He has provided for all our wants, whilst He has not treated thousands of persons in so gracious a in the order of grace, what sacraments, what instructions, what good examples, what holy inspirations which He has not granted to so many others. Thanks be to God for all these benefits!


Second. We must be afflicted, and we must regret that we have abused so many graces, lost and ill employed so many moments, humoured our defects so greatly, left fruitless so many means of salvation; what matter is there herein for contrition! O God, have mercy on us!


Third. We must reflect seriously, what does there remain to me of the year which is about. to end? There remains to me a sweet and consoling remembrance of the trouble which the good I have done cost me; the trouble is past, the remembrance endures. There remains to me a bitter remembrance of the satisfaction I have felt in my effeminate and sensual life; the satisfaction is past; but the bitter remembrance endures. There remain to me the good and the evil which I have done, and which are destined to be placed in the balance of the divine justice, the one in the scale of recompenses, the other in the scale of punishments. Which will be found wanting? If I continue to lead the same life in the new year which I have done in the old, can I hope for heaven at the end of my course? Was it by living in this manner that the saints were saved? Just God, I understand, it is imperative on me to change my life. It is done, I will be convert, (Ps. lxxvi. II).

Resolutions and spiritual nosegay as above.

 



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