V. O God, come to my assistance.
R. O Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory be to the Father…
The Adoration of the Kings
O most sweet infant Jesus, who was made known
to the three kings, who worshipped you as you lie on
Mary’s breast, and offered you the mystical presents
of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Have mercy on us.
Have mercy on us, 0 Lord. Have mercy on us.
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THE BLESSED VIRGIN SAID TO VENERABLE MOTHER MARY OF AGREDA:
“My daughter, great were the gifts which the Kings offered to my most holy Son, but greater still was the affection with which they offered them and the mystery concealed beneath them. I wish you also to offer up similar gifts. For I assure you, my dearest, that there is no more acceptable gift to the Most High than voluntary poverty. There are few in the world who use temporal riches well and offer them to their Lord with the generosity and love of those holy Kings. You too can make such an offering of the things necessary for sustenance, giving a part to the poor: Your ceaseless offer, however, must be love, which is the gold; continual prayer, which is the incense, and the patient acceptance of labors and true mortifications, which is the myrrh. All that you do for the Lord, you should offer up to Him with ardent affection.”
* * *
John Saward, Redeemer in the Womb (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993), pp. 26-27, 68:
“The God-Man sanctified his forerunner while they were still both being carried by their mothers. At the Visitation, the promise made to Zechariah comes true: “[John] will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15), The grace of the Holy Spirit flows from Jesus through Mary to John and from John to Elizabeth. Origen (c. 185-254) describes this cascade of the Spirit, this proto-Pentecost, as follows:
Jesus, who in [Mary’s] womb, hurried to sanctify John still in his mother’s womb. … [A]s soon as Mary had spoken the word that the Son of God in her womb had suggested, the child [in Elizabeth] leapt with joy, and at that moment Jesus made his precursor his prophet…. There is no doubt that she who was then filled with the Holy Spirit was filled on account of her son. She was not the first to be granted the Holy Spirit. No, only when John, enclosed in her womb, had received the Holy Spirit, only after his sanctification, was she filled with the Holy Spirit….
Even before his birth, the Child Jesus is at his saving, sanctifying work. … What is more, grace comes to John from Jesus through Mary, who, in Gerald Manley Hopkins’ words, ‘this one work has to do — Let all God’s glory through.’ Already … Mary is at her handmaidenly, motherly work of mediating the grace of her Son. …
In his second sermon on the Epiphany, [St. Bonaventure] says that the first ‘house’ of the Child Jesus, the house in which he was formed and found by Joseph and the angels, was ‘the house of the Virgin’s womb’. He was first found in Nazareth in Mary as conceived, in Bethlehem with Mary as born, in Jerusalem by Mary as adult. The Magi ‘gave great honour to Christ and his Mother, who conceived and carried him’.
In a sermon on the epistle for the purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary (cf. Malachi 3:1), [Bonaventure] finds the classical four levels of meaning in the word ‘Temple’. In its literal meaning it is ‘the material basilica’; allegorically, the Virgin’s womb; in its moral sense, ‘the faithful soul’; in its eschatological sense, ‘the heavenly Jerusalem’. Of the Virgin’s womb he says that it is a temple made by the Father’s power, adorned by the wisdom of the Son, dedicated by the grace of the Holy Spirit, filled by the presence of the Word made flesh, his ‘special temple and hospice’.“