Saturday, July 11, 2009

Saturday - Day of Our Lady

The Nativity
When I was at the crib of Bethlehem, I beheld a most beautiful Virgin with child, in a white mantle and tunic, evidently soon about to be delivered. With her was a most venerable old man, and they had an ox and an ass. When they entered the cave, the old man tied the ox and the ass to the crib; going out he brought the Virgin a lighted torch, and set it in the wall. Then he again withdrew so as not to be personally present at the birth. Then the Virgin loosed her shoes from off her feet, and laid aside her white mantle, and took off her veil from her head, and laid it beside her, remaining in her tunic, her long hair, as beautiful as gold, falling down over her shoulders. Then she drew out two fine, clean linen cloths, and two of wool, which she had brought to wrap the new-born Child in, and two smaller linen ones to cover and tie His head. These she laid beside her to use in due time. When all these things were ready, then the Virgin, kneeling with great reverence, placed herself in prayer, with her back to the crib, her face eastward, raised to Heaven. She stood with uplifted hands, and eyes fixed on Heaven, rapt as it were, in an ecstasy of contemplation, inebriated with the divine sweetness. And while she thus stood in prayer, I beheld her Child move in her womb, and at once in a moment, and in the twinkling of an eye, she brought forth her Son, from whom such ineffable light and splendor radiated, that the sun could not be compared to it; nor did the torch, and so sudden and momentary was the mode of bearing, that I could not perceive or discern how, or in what part she brought forth. Nevertheless, I immediately beheld that glorious Babe lying naked from all filth or impurity...I then also heard angelic chants of wonderful suavity and great sweetness....When the Virgin perceived that she had been delivered, she immediately bowed her head, and joining her hands, adored her Son with great respect and reverence, saying: "Welcome, my God, and my Lord, and my Son." Then the Child crying, and, as it were, shivering with cold and the hard floor where He lay, turned a little, and stretched out His limbs, seeking to find a mother's favour and caress. Then His mother took Him in her hands and clasped Him to her heart, and with her cheek and breast warmed Him with great joy, and a mother's tender compassion. Then, and drawing them tight on sitting on the ground, she laid her Son in her lap....and began diligently to wrap Him up, at first in linen and then in woolen cloths, and drawing them tight on His little body, bound His legs and arms with fillets tied to the four corners of the outer woolen cloth. And then she wrapped on her Son's head the two small linen cloths, which she had ready for the purpose. When this was done, the old man entered, and prostrating himself on his knees on the ground, he adored Him, weeping for joy. Nor did the Virgin on this occasion lose colour or strength, as befalls other woman who are delivered, except that her size was diminished. Then she arose with the Child in her arms, and both together, that is, she and Joseph, laid Him in the manger, and kneeling, adored Him with immense joy and gladness. (Lib. vii, c.21).
While the Blessed Virgin and Joseph were adoring the Infant in the crib, I beheld the shepherds, and those that tended the flocks, come to see and adore the Child. When they saw Him, they immediately adored Him with great reverence and joy; and afterwards returned, praising and glorifying God for all that they had heard and seen (Lib. vii, c.23).

Picture shows Nossa Senhora da Alva, Church in Aljezur, Portugal.