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1. THE ANNUNCIATION
Don’t forget, my friend, that we are children. The Lady of the sweet name, Mary, is absorbed in prayer. You, in that house, can be whatever you wish: a friend, a servant, an onlooker, a neighbour For the moment I don’t dare to be anything. I hide behind you, and, full of awe, I watch what’s happening.
The Archangel delivers his message… Quomodo fiet istud, quoniam virum non cognosco? “But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?” (Lk 1: 34). Our mother’s voice reminds me — by contrast — of all the impurities of men, mine too.
The first decade is about to end. I still have time to tell God, before anyone else does, “Jesus, I love you.”
2. THE VISITATION
By now, my little friend, you have no doubt learned to manage on your own. Joyfully keep Joseph and Mary company . . . and you will hear the traditions of the House of David.You will hear about Elizabeth and Zechariah, you will be moved by Joseph’s pure love, and your heart will pound whenever they men- tion the Child who will be born in Bethlehem.
We walk in haste towards the mountains to a town of the tribe of Judah (Lk 1: 39).
We arrive. It is the house where John the Baptist is to be born. Elizabeth gratefully hails the mother of her Redeemer: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord?” (Lk 1: 42–43).
The unborn Baptist quivers … (Lk 1: 41). Mary’s humility pours forth in the Magnificat… And you and I, who are proud — who were proud — promise to be humble.
3. THE NATIVITY
Caesar Augustus has issued a decree for a census to be taken of the whole world. For this purpose, every- one must go to the city of his ancestors. And, since Joseph belongs to the house and line of David, he goes with the Virgin Mary from Nazareth to the town of David, called Bethlehem, in Judaea (Lk 2: 1–5).
And in Bethlehem is born our God: Jesus Christ! There is no room in the inn; he is born in a stable. And his mother wraps him in swaddling clothes and lays him in a manger (Lk 2: 7).
Cold. Poverty I am Joseph’s little servant. How good Joseph is! He treats me like a son. He even for- gives me if I take the Child in my arms and spend hour after hour saying sweet and loving things to him.
And I kiss him — you kiss him, too! — and I rock him in my arms, and I sing to him and call him King, Love, my God, my Only-one, my All! How beautiful is the Child and how short the decade!
4. THE PRESENTATION
When the time has come for the mother’s purification, in accordance with the Law of Moses, the Child must be taken to Jerusalem to be presented to the Lord (Lk 2: 22).
And this time it will be you, my friend, who carries the cage with the doves (Lk 2: 24).
Just think: She — Mary Immaculate! — submits to the Law as if she were defiled.
Through this example, foolish child, won’t you learn to fulfil the holy law of God regardless of any personal sacrifice?
Purification! You and I certainly do need purification. Atonement and, more than atonement, love. Love as a searing iron to cauterise our soul’s uncleanness, and as a fire to kindle with divine flames the wretchedness of our hearts.
An upright and devout man has come to the Temple, led by the Holy Spirit (it has been revealed to him that he would not die until he had set eyes on the Christ). He takes the Messiah into his arms and says: “Now, my Lord, you can let your servant go from this world in peace, just as you promised, because my eyes have seen the Saviour” (Lk 2: 25–30).
5. THE FINDING OF THE CHILD JESUS IN THE TEMPLE
Where is Jesus? The Child, my Lady! Where is he? Mary is crying. In vain you and I have run from group to group, from caravan to caravan: no one has seen him. Joseph, after fruitless attempts to keep from crying, cries too… And you… And I.
Being a rough little fellow, I cry my eyes out and wail to heaven and earth, . . . to make up for the times when I lost him through my own fault and did not cry.
Jesus: may I never lose you again. Then you and I are united in misfortune and grief, as we were united in sin. And, from the depths of our being come sighs of heartfelt sorrow and burning phrases, which the pen cannot and should not record.
And, as we are consoled by the joy of finding Je- sus — three days he was gone! — debating with the teachers of Israel (Lk 2: 46), you and I will be left deeply impressed by the duty to leave our home and family to serve our heavenly Father.
This blessing is extracted from A Handbook of Prayers. Beautifully illustrated, divided into 20 sections, featuring hundreds of prayers, the Handbook sets out practical ways to grow in your faith, alongside the basic tenets of the Catholic faith.
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