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One Christmas night, Our Lord, denying Himself the comfort of visiting those households where He knows He is loved, came down into the midst of a modern city to see what sinners were doing.

Christmas!... Christmas!... Joy was universal.

Everyone was celebrating. Christ encountered a policeman completely engrossed in directing traffic in a busy plaza.

Christ stepped up to him and asked, “What does this holiday of Christmas mean?”

The policeman eyed Him: “Where do you come from?”

“From Bethlehem.”

“Where?”

“Bethlehem.”

“Oh? Wherever that is. Anyway, don’t you know that Christmas is a holiday for kids? It’s a holiday for everybody. On Christmas, everybody is somebody’s kid!”

“What is the origin of this holiday?”

“Look, you ask too many questions. Can’t you see I’m very busy? If you want to know more, go ask the chief.”

 

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Christmas!... Christmas!...

Every store glittered with worldly displays. Really, what was behind it?

Christ paused by a restaurant advertising “Christmas Party — $50.00.”  Ladies and gentlemen in elegant evening attire were entering the place.

He stepped inside.

Tables, covered with white linen and lighted with red and green candles, were arranged in rows. Bottles of champagne, with gilded foil about their necks, nestled in ice-filled silver pails.

A woman, turning around and seeing Our Lord, gestured indignantly at one of the waiters: “What is this? You let panhandlers in here?”

The waiter, a young man of twenty or so, rushed over to Him. “What are you doing in here?” he demanded. “Begging is permitted only out on the sidewalk!”

Christ studied the young man. “If only you knew what it is that I am ‘begging’ for...”

But He was already being shoved out into the street — as the woman playing the piano sang, “Peace on earth and mercy mild.” Not even the Roman soldiers had been so hasty.

Outside, Christ allowed Himself to be swept along by the throng that flowed like a river between the stores and markets. He saw toys, and more toys, everywhere, and a few Santa Clauses, but rarely a manger scene.

Our Lord then caught sight of a married couple carrying a few small, precious bundles. They seemed to be good, middle-class, peace-loving souls, hurrying somewhere to celebrate Christmas.

Christ followed them, invisible to their eyes. They entered their home and climbed the staircase to their apartment, where others had already gathered. He watched as they opened bottles, served pastries, and then as they ate and drank.

“Imagine,” said one, “just for a change of pace, I went to Midnight Mass!”

“Oh?” said another,” barely considering the remark, “And how was it?”

“Well, it wasn’t as pleasant as a good concert, but quite amusing nevertheless. Saw a number of friends there...”

The apartment had neither a crucifix nor a manger scene. Christ could not long endure the senseless conversation, so He turned away and slowly descended the staircase.

A short distance down the road, Our Lord found Himself near the playground of a large school. Above the gate a prominent sign proclaimed, “Christmas Party for the Children of District 10.”

Ah, children, little children! Our Lord went in. There were hundreds of children inside, receiving toys, candy, and books. As they noisily ran and tumbled about, important looking women hurried under the gaze of a headmistress.  Again, neither a manger scene nor a crucifix could be seen, and nobody mentioned the name of the Child Jesus.

As Christ stood there, a feeling of isolation grew in His heart. He was a trespasser. Finally, He approached a young boy whose arms overflowed with toys. The boy reminded Him of His little friends of bygone days in Bethlehem.

“Do you love the Child Jesus who has given you so many nice toys?”

The boy stared at Him with a puzzled air: “Child Jesus?”

“Don’t you know Him?”

“No...”

The headmistress, as if sensing some danger afoot, rushed over.  “What did this Man say to you?” she frantically asked the boy. Upon learning what Our Lord had asked and what Name He had dared mention, her eyes glared with annoyance.  “Be so kind as to leave... At once!”

 

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Christ again walked through the streets, no longer entering any of the places He passed. He wandered as His mother had in Bethlehem, on a night like this and on the same date so long ago. He roamed through the endless streets, passing innumerable places where His creatures celebrated Christmas without knowing its true meaning. He hesitated to return to Heaven with such observations, for they would sadden the saints.

Weary, He came to the edge of a neglected suburb. A white building ablaze with tiny lights caught His eye. Approaching and looking through one of the windows, He saw His own image prominently displayed on the wall. His eyes brightened, as if reflecting the hundreds of lights outside, when He noticed that in one corner of the room was a simple, but attractively arranged, manger scene.

Just then the door opened and a boy came out, a boy like those who not infrequently come under the care of a parish. The boy stopped abruptly at the sight of the golden-haired man shivering in the darkness. Icy gusts blew around them.

“Sir, you could freeze out here! You need to get out of the cold.”

“I am quite cold,” answered Our Lord.

“Come in, then. We have a good fire going.”

And so Our Lord entered.  Near the fireplace, a group of children were closely gathered around a young priest. As the fire crackled and filled the room with its warmth and light, the priest told the children about the infinite grandeur hidden within the little figure of the Child Jesus in the manger. He stopped his tale the moment Our Lord entered the room.

“Come in! Oh, you look cold! Warm yourself here.”

The children promptly offered the newcomer a place close to the fire.

“Have you had anything to eat? Joseph, go ask your mother to prepare something hot for this gentleman.”

Christ’s gaze slowly passed over all of them, one by one, as if He were memorizing every little face. Above all, He gazed at the young priest.

“Are you alone, my friend?” asked the priest kindly.

“Yes.”

Seized by soul-stirring curiosity, all eyes turned inquisitively upon the stranger, waiting.

Christ did not speak. Very slowly, regally, Jesus’ hand moved. He extended it over their heads, reaching beyond the humble cottages of that neighborhood and encompassing that immense city whose miseries He had witnessed close up. In a tone of voice that none of those present would ever forget, He exclaimed: “Misereor super turbas” – I have pity upon these people!

Then, slowly, before their astonished eyes He disappeared.

“It was Jesus!” cried one of the boys.

The young priest nodded solemnly. “Yes... it must have been...”

 


By Pierre L'Ermite
Illustrations by A.F.Phillips

 

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Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for July 23, 2019

Behold Jesus Christ crucified, Who is the only foundation of...

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July 23

 

Behold Jesus Christ crucified, Who is the only foundation of our hope;
He is our Mediator and Advocate; the victim and sacrifice for our sins.
He is goodness and patience itself;
His mercy is moved by the tears of sinners, and
He never refuses pardon and grace to those who ask it
with a truly contrite and humbled heart.

St. Charles Borromeo


PLEDGE REPARATION TO OUR LADY HERE!

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Bridget of Sweden

Her favorite son became entangled with Queen Joanna I who wa...

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St. Bridget of Sweden

Bridget was nobly born, her father was Birger, the governor of Upland in Sweden, and her mother, Ingeborg, was the daughter of the governor of East Gothland.

At fourteen she was married to young Ulf Gudmarsson, to whom she was happily married for twenty-eight years and had eight children, four boys and four girls, one of whom was St. Catherine of Sweden.

In 1335, she was appointed lady-in-waiting to King Magnus II’s bride, Blanche of Namur, and she spent years at court trying to reform Magnus’ weak, and at times, wicked ways, and the queen’s often well-meaning, but irresponsible, bend.

Though Bridget’s famous visions were already under way at this time, spanning subjects from personal hygiene to politics, she did not have great success with her royal “charges”, and was often seen as a “dreamer.”

After her husband’s death in 1344, she founded an order of women and another of men to support them spiritually. When her order was established, she traveled to Rome accompanied by her daughter Catherine and some disciples, to seek approval of her Rule. But she was never to return to her native Sweden.

In Rome, she worked to bring back the Papacy, then in the French city of Avignon, to the Eternal City. Her visions and prophecies, dealing with the burning political and religious issues of her time, continued and so increased that, alarmed, she submitted them to the direction of Canon Matthias of Linkoping who pronounced them to be of God. Peter, Prior of Alvastra, recorded these visions in Latin.

Her order was only approved by Pope Urban V in 1370.

In 1373 she made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, with Catherine and three of her sons. At Naples, Charles, her favorite son, became entangled with Queen Joanna I who wanted to marry him despite both being already married (Joana thrice). Anguished, Bridget stormed heaven, and Charles, struck by a fever, after two weeks died in his mother’s arms.

Returning from Jerusalem, Bridget, already ailing, received the last rites from her faithful friend, Peter of Alvastra, and died on July 23 at the age of seventy-one.

Bridget was canonized in 1391, and is the patron saint of the Kingdom of Sweden. She is also considered one of the patron saints of Europe.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

In the days of yore, when travel must be had on foot or by h...

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The Virgin Mary Rewards a Bandit

In the days of yore, when travel must be had on foot or by horse, many were the dangers to be found along the roadways. Bandits plagued travelers and made their living by depriving others of their goods and often their very lives.

A young woman in the Papal States, who was very devout towards Mary, met in a certain place a chief of the bandits. Fearing some outrage, she implored him, for love of the most holy Virgin, not to molest her.

"Do not fear," he answered, "for you have prayed me in the name of the mother of God; and I only ask you to recommend me to her." Moved by the woman’s mention of the Blessed Virgin, the bandit accompanied her himself along the road to a place of safety.

The following night, Mary appeared in a dream to the bandit. She thanked him for the act of kindness he had performed for love of her. Mary went on to say that she would remember it and would one day reward him.

The robber, at length, was arrested, and condemned to death. But behold, the night previous to his execution, the blessed Virgin visited him again in a dream, and first asked him: "Do you know who I am?"

He answered, "It seems to me I have seen you before."

"I am the Virgin Mary," she continued, "and I have come to reward you for what you have done for me. You will die tomorrow, but you will die with so much contrition that you will come at once to paradise."

The convict awoke, and felt such contrition for his sins that he began to weep bitterly, all the while giving thanks aloud to our Blessed Lady. He asked immediately for a priest, to whom he made his confession with many tears, relating the vision he had seen. Finally, he asked the priest to make public this grace that had been bestowed on him by Mary.

He went joyfully to his execution, after which, as it is related, his countenance was so peaceful and so happy that all who saw him believed that the promise of the heavenly mother had been fulfilled.

From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

In the days of yore, when travel must be had on foot or by horse, many were the dangers to be found along the roadways.

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