…but first, Day 1 of the Christmas Novena I’m praying:
V. O God, come to my assistance.
R. O Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory be to the Father…
O most sweet infant Jesus, who descended from
the bosom of the eternal Father into the womb of the
Virgin Mary, where, conceived by the Holy Ghost, you
took upon yourself, O Incarnate Word, the form of a
servant for our salvation. Have mercy on us.
Have mercy on us, O Lord. Have mercy on us.
As for your memorization homework:
Noël! Noël! Noël! Noël!
A Catholic tale have I to tell:
And a Christian song have I to sing
While all the bells in Arundel ring.
I pray good beef and I pray good beer
This holy night of all the year,
But I pray detestable drink for them
That give no honour to Bethlehem.
May all good fellows that here agree
Drink Audit Ale in heaven with me,
And may all my enemies go to hell!
Noël! Noël! Noël! Noël!
May all my enemies go to hell!
(H/T to IANS)
On an only minutely more serious note, I recommend to you “12 Ways to Traditionally Prepare to Celebrate Jesus’ Birthday“. My favorite counsels therein are:
5) Read the Bible
7) Do not go shopping till after Christmas
9) Tell children that Santa Claus is really Saint Nicholas
12) Do something for a poor, sick or lonely person and maybe for an enemy too
Let me now leave you with a profound reflection from my patron saint, St. Francis de Sales, taken from his Sermons for Advent and Christmas (“Third Sunday”, pp. 25-26 [I, of course, have the older, homelier edition heheh]). The following was preached in 1620, but it could (should?) have been said last Sunday:
“[The] scribes and Pharisees declared that they were awaiting the promised Messias, the Desire of the Nations [Ag. 2:8, Douay] and Him whom Jacob called “the Desire of the eternal hills.” [Gen. 49:26]. Some ancient Fathers explain these words by saying that they describe the desire of the angels for the Incarnation; others hold that we should understand by them the desire that God had from all eternity to unite our human nature with the divine, a desire that He communicated to both angels and men, though in different ways.
Some, such as the Patriarchs and the Prophets, longed ardently for Him, and by those longings raised to Heaven they petitioned for the Incarnation of the Son of God. Solomon in the Canticle of Canticles [Cant. 1:1 (1:2)] expresses this longing in the words of the spouse: “Let Him kiss me with a kiss of His mouth.” What does this kiss signify but the hypostatis union of the human nature with the divine? Others desire it, too, but almost imperceptibly. For from time immemorial we find people seeking the Divinity. Not being able to make an incarnate God, because that belongs to God alone, they sought ways to fabricate deities. For this purpose they erected images and idols which they adorned and regarded as gods among them.
Certainly I know that these were illusions. But yet we see in them the desire that God had implanted in all hearts for the Incarnation of His Son, the desire for the union of the divine nature with the human nature.”
It may sound like an old preacher’s saw, but it’s a truth as old as the hills: the best gift that we can give others is the gift of Jesus, the gift of knowing not only that from the very foundation of the universe Absolute Love has been at work, but also that each of us is included in the intention of that triune Love. That Love was so intent on drawing us all into His embrace that He became not simply “one of us,” but in fact a mere infant, so that every hardened defense would be lowered in response to such a delicate offer. This is, of course, no mere sentimentalism, since that tender offer is ratified as an efficacious desire by the regal authority bundled within, and yet obscured what humble wrappings bundled, the Infant Christ.
This week give the gift of life, of light, of love, of Jesus–share this message with someone you know. They may have been waiting to hear it all their lives. On a mystical level, we must respond to the fact that, every time a person eagerly tears opens gift, he is fundamentally and implicitly hoping that Jesus will be there to meet him. For the Christian Good News is nothing less than that God wrapped Himself up in the confines of our human nature, in order that He, in His Church, might be able to weave us into the triune fabric of his own divine nature [cf. II Pet. 1:4].