Electronic Prayer Book

Appendix One: A Meditation by Bishop Ottokar Prohaszka

 

Appendix to Supplement A: Lesson 18

Appendix One: A Meditation by Bishop Ottokar Prohaszka

(Newman Press 1963)

The Blessed Virgin and The Divine Child

On the first Christmas day, spring came upon earth amid the bitter cold of winter, and God took human shape, in order that He might give Himself to us. It is then that we are granted out most far-reaching glimpse into the radiant soul of His Mother.

(a) It becomes clear to us at Bethlehem that God could not have given a greater gift to mankind than His Son; that He could never have approached more closely to humanity than when Christ was born as one of us; and that no one has even received Him with more glowing love than did His beloved Mother, when first she pressed Him to her heart. At the sight of the Virgin Mother’s heart the liturgy bursts forth into enthusiastic praise. It shows us with profoundest reverence the soul of Mary as an altar, lighted up for the coming of the Lord, and as a temple filled with the fragrance of incense; and the rest it leaves to us. We have, to picture her happiness and bliss with the deepest love and reverence. There is not, and never will be, a single soul upon earth who can fathom what Mary felt on that first Christmas night. God wished to have her to Himself, and therefore He led, her away from the noisy town to the lonely cave, lying quiet on the hillside under the midnight sky; and here she brought forth her first-born Son. Love is the union of two souls, so that from two separate entities they become one. The Mother and the Child, who once were but one, have now become two; yet this division only serves to fuse and intensify the two glowing flames of their love. In Bethlehem we see God the Son love Mary as His Mother, and Mary love God the Son as her Child. The charm and bliss of this freshly engendered reciprocal love cast an incomparable glamour over the first Christmas night. Truly we can say hodie mellflui facti sunt coeli, on this day the heavens have overflowed with honey.

(b) And the Child? ‘Come ye nations, and let us adore the Lord.’ To this Child worship is due, for He is Emmanuel—God with us. He belongs to us; He is our Brother. Yet we dimly perceive that God, the infinitely great, has only humiliated Himself to the extent of becoming one of us, for the sake of His high and eternal purposes. The cold and the darkness which greeted Him at His advent are symbolic of what He came to conquer — the dark power of scepticism and of death, the decay and the loss of the soul, abysses, all of them, at the mouth of which the Divine Child sits at play.

Jesus the Joy of the Angels

(a) To see how tiny the Infinite became; to compare the Lord of the far distant stars with the Babe of Bethlehem; to know that here He is the same as there; to ponder the fact that God came upon earth as a Child, and that He was a Child in the profoundest sense of the word— this indeed is a vision meet for angels, a sight at which the Cherubim fold their wings and bow to the earth, and the prophecy is fulfilled, ‘All the angels of God shall adore him.’ From all eternity the angels have worshipped God in Heaven, but now their threefold Sanctus resounds here below. Long ago Jacob saw angels ascending and descending to and from Heaven by a ladder, and this happens again in Bethlehem. They stand before the Cave and wonder where Heaven really is, in the heights which are their abode, or here upon earth. Surely it is where God is, the tender God of love. We must all bear a heaven like this, where God abides, within our hearts.

(b) The greatest joy is that of the Christmas Angel. Perhaps he is that same Archangel Gabriel, who bore God’s message to Mary. Upon this holy night he wings his way to earth, robed in his most splendid raiment, to proclaim the good tidings of great joy. The soul is clothed in its feelings and emotions, and these can be radiant with joy. The stable, the manger, the straw, the poverty of its surroundings cannot prevent the soul from overflowing with rapture. We must learn how to develop the moral greatness and beauty within ourselves, that we may rejoice in them and be independent of externals.

(c) His companions of the heavenly host rejoice with him; a wind of joy sweeps through their serried ranks as they burst into their song of praise. We must learn from this outburst of seraphic rejoicing that it is only purity and strength which can bring forth such glorious fruit, it is beyond the power of the soul which has been tarnished and darkened by the spurious joys and allurements of earth. Let us in the first place cultivate spotless purity of conscience, which is the essential foundation of all true joy.

‘Let Us Go Over to Bethlehem’

The shepherds said one to another: Let us go over to Bethlehem, and let us see this word that is come to pass, with the Lord hath shewed to us. (Luke 2: 15).

(a) The shepherds urge one another on — “Come, let us go”; their hearts are full of joyous excitement, they cannot withstand the longing which impels them forward. We, too, are often swept irresistibly onward by the tide of grace, and God encourages us by His inspirations. Impulses play an important part in human life. Youth follows the urge of enthusiasm, maturity that of duty; but the love of God is the most powerful impulse and driving power which exists, the focus of the fiery, heaven storming toils and struggles of all the ages of man.

(b) The shepherds are guided by the angel’s words. They were not ordered, but invited, to go to Bethlehem. God often calls us in this way. He does not command, He requests us to do something. Dear Lord, give us tender, sensitive hearts, which will always grasp what Thou requirest of us, Our hearts are ready to do Thy Will, for we know that in giving pleasure to Thy Divine Majesty lies our greatest privilege and happiness. The Psalmist tells us that God’s Countenance smiles upon us, when we do good. Let us meditate upon this saying and rejoice in it.

(c) Ardour leads the shepherds irresistibly onward; and it is in ardour that passionate love of God manifests itself. It is tranquil but strong, like the flow of a swift current; its surface is placid and unruffled, but no power on earth can stem it. We, too, must strive, and act, and will in this way, if we are to make real progress we must do good diligently, indefatigably, increasingly. We must act, not for the sake of appearances, but because of the divine value which our souls acquire through our good actions.

Appendix Two: “The Perpetual Virginity of Mary