Friday, December 25, 2009

A Christmas Meditation – The High Mystery of the Nativity


WE reade in Holy Writ of three supernaturall Productions, the one of Adam, the other of Eve, the last of Christ; which as most Miraculous we are now to treat of. Here in his Nativitie, as before in his Conception, let us turne Inquisition into Thanksgiving; and with one Spirit and voyce ring aloud, “The Stone which the Builders refused is the Head of the corner. This was the Lords doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord hath made; let us rejoyce, and be glad in it. This is our wedding-day, wherein by the Sonne, we are joyned to the Father. This is the day of the new Union, wherein He Who is God, remaineth the same that He was, yet for our sakes is borne, and made what He was not; wherein He that was every where without a Body, is made present to us by a Body, that what God hath by Nature, men might receive by Grace. This is a great, a joyfull, a fortunate, a desired day, the end of the Law, the end of the Prophets, the beginning of the Gospell, nay the Gospell it selfe. This is a day of State, usher’d by the Angels, follow’d by the Apostles. Let our Mindes remove the distance of time and place, and dwell a while with our All-Holy Lord and Blessed Lady, lest we loose the pleasure of this day, the least accident whereof is Mysterious.
…let us now enter ourselves, and view this pretty one in his narrow lodging; lay ourselves prostrate before Him; worship Him; and recreate ourselues with the lovely Object. And that our delight may be the greater, let us first behold Him, and His sweetest Mother a part, and then both together. But let us here shut out the Pharisees, and barre them the sight of this Heavenly Infant, who urge the Law, and reject Him the Author of it. Let us exclude the Arrians, who deny his Coequalitie with the Father; and the Sabellians, who confound the Trinitie, of which He is distinctly One and hold that there is in It One Essence, and One Person: and the Samosatenians, who derogate from His Nature, and avouch the Word (Which truly He is) to be no other then a vanishing Sound. Nor let us onely keepe out these, but the whole swarme also of Atheists, and Hereticks. Let the Philosophers too stay without, who not so impious, yet more ignorant, cannot dive to the bottome of this Mystery. But to all those who are honour’d in the Assumption and Profession of His glorious Name, a free Accesse is granted. Enter then you little Flock, you few whom His Father hath bestowed on Him; and see Him, Who when He gave the Law appeared in Fire, now He offers Grace involv’d in Hay. Yet in this dejected posture, in this course manner while He lay, He wanted not a whole Army of Angelicall Spirits that declar’d His Birth to Men; and they who had before chanted His Praises as He sate in Glory, now sing His Goodnesse lying in the Cratch. Though He have a hoomely roofe over His Head, the East observes His Approach. Though the poverty of His Humanitie obscures His Deity, the Starres in Heaven make it known. Behold Him who came Humble to the humble, for the humble, and yet His Humility is above all sublimity. Reverently, and intentively, look on Him Who descended from Heaven to Earth; Who came to you, into you, Who is borne in the night, borne in the midst of Winter, and borne (after the wretched humane condition) naked, and none offer Him assistance. Swadling clothes are wanting; some ragges are found out; a Cradle is missing; a Manger is at hand.

Here He cryes to you, and holds up His pretty Hands to Heaven, which He cals to witnesse that He can humble Himselfe no lower. Can you view this humble, this mercifull spectacle, and not weepe yourselues into marble? O speedily put on sackcloth! besprinckle yourselues with Ashes; kneele downe in the dust and dung under the Manger, where your Lord lyes; knock your selues on the bosomes; fetch sighs and grones from the bottom of your hearts; repay Him the teares He lent you; and by your sad gesture and deportment demonstrate how much you are bound to Him who suffered for you even in His Birth.”

Anthony Stafford, The Femall Glory: or, the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary (1635), “Her Delivery”, pages 102-103 & 110-113.

1 comment:

Mark M said...

I still can't get used to the time different malarkey: Midnight Mass is only starting now in St Peter's!!!

God bless you, Josh!