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A Meditation On The Incarnation Of Christ, Sermons On The Life And
Passion Of Our Lord And Of Hearing And Speaking Good Words. -Thomas A Kempis

REJOICING I will rejoice in the Lord: and I will joy in God, my Jesus. O most sweet Jesus and most loving Babe, my joy and my crown: my soul longs to sing and praise Thee. Suffer me to spend one joyous day with Thee: and to pass this holy day in spiritual gladness. For although short be the day and passing the night of Thy birth: nevertheless great is the subject matter for exercising devotion, and as it were an undying fire is lit upon the altar. I hope then that this day will be longer, and that I shall be more devout therein than is wont; so that my fervour pass not away with the season: but rather grow with earnest meditation. O day of joy, day of the eternal King: depart not from me so speedily: but be to me the cause of everlasting bliss. O when will come that day, to which no night succeeds: which knows not diversity of seasons, but where it is ever bright and daylight; where God is seen face to face, where Jesus is perfectly loved and praised, where the mind is never drawn away from Him, and the affection of the heart never defiled: but where He is all in all. Because of that day of eternity this day is solemnized in time: and that I might live ever there with Jesus: He willed to be here one of mortal men.

O venerable and supremely lovable Jesus, O sweetly to be embraced, worthily to be worshipped and ever to be preached, Babe most glorious; Thou art my only beloved, sought after before all and above all: to Whom I owe myself entirely, and, whatever I can add or desire, comes not up to my wish. For Thou art above all: and whatever I can possess or give is almost nothing, and less than little. I know and faithfully believe, that for my sake Thou hast come hither: for my sake Thou hast willed lowlily to be laid here. For Thou hast done all this for my eternal salvation: and to commend to me the more dearly Thy boundless love.

O how much I am bound to love Thee, how much to praise and bless with angels and archangels, with saints and all men of good will: because for me Thou hast become incarnate and made man. It is strange if ever my thought can wander from Thee: and, after tasting Thy sweetness, be turned away to anything else. Truly Thou art a hidden manna, having in itself all sweetness: and surpassing all other sweetness. Thou art a paradise of delight, Thou a garden of pleasures: Thou art the source of wisdom, the sun of justice, the light of the world, the joy of Heaven, the peace of the heart, the comfort of the soul: hope in affliction, refuge in temptation, help in every need. Thy presence brings me joy: Thy absence often causes me grief. All this however love effects, which suffers not the lover to repose without: but compels him either to rejoice in Thee, or sweetly to weep for Thee. Who has brought me hither; if not Love? And who drew Thee from Heaven: and brought Thee down to me; if not Love? O Love and love: how sweet and strong is this love. Thence arises so great a clamour within, and thence springs so burning an eagerness: that nothing to it yields taste or delight, except Jesus, eternal love. This love makes us despise the world: and reckon all things as nothing. This makes us forsake our own: and live under the yoke of obedience. This makes us reject the delights of the flesh: and eagerly seek the toil of penance. This makes us flee the noise of the world: and take leisure with God in silence. This makes us die to the world: and live to God alone.

The love of Jesus draws my heart to the crib: and wills that I offer Him devout service. And now what shall I do for the beloved babe, my Lord God, made little for my sake? Hast Thou need of me; Who holdest Heaven and earth at Thy beck? And if Thou dost not need my ministration: nevertheless I need Thine, Whom I am bound to serve according to my power; since for me all grace and virtue come from Thee: and my whole good depends upon Thee. Would that I could do something pleasing to Thee: for this would be most delightful to me. And if I have not been able to serve Thee in the flesh, and was not worthy to be admitted to this: still in the spirit I can do all by the affection of the heart, and the zeal of a good will. For also BY SERVING MY BRETHREN FOR THY NAME’S SAKE, I can perform many deeds of love which Thou considerest as done to Thee.

I desire indeed to arouse by loving words: my devotion towards Thy sacred infancy. Certainly I will not depart hence, but I will sit here near Thee; and contemplate meanwhile Thy dear face: so that I may thus the better forget my misery. Here will I meditate on Thy commandments: and exercise myself in Thy wonders. Here will I be up-lifted from earthly things: and associated with heavenly. Here will I think on the days of old: and have in mind the eternal years. Here will I ponder my last end: and my years in groanings. Here will I appease Thy face by prayer: and beseech my Judge. Here will I be mindful of Thy works: and of Thy numberless blessings bestowed upon the race of man. Here will I find my heart: here will I abandon myself wholly. For IT IS BETTER THAT JESUS SHOULD HAVE MY HEART THAN I: because with Him it is at rest: with me it is in unrest. Here will I sleep, here repose: and my slumber shall be sweet. Here will I arise at midnight to praise Thee: and pray Thee for my sins. From the morning I will watch unto Thee: and to Thy name will I sing the livelong day. If I go forth I will say, I shall come back soon: and if I delay long, I will seek forgiveness. Again will I pray and appease Thy face: nor will I cease to give thanks. I will rise in great wonder: and I will praise Thy honied name, blessed for ever. I will sit again in my poverty: knowing that I am not worthy or able to think of such ineffable goods: sweet above all the desirable things of the world. Then reverently I will worship Thee: and I will offer Thee all Thy good things; wishing and longing that all Thy works praise Thee: albeit fully praise Thee they cannot. THEREFORE I BESEECH THAT THOU THYSELF PRAISE THYSELF: FOR UNLESS THOU PRAISE THYSELF: NEVER SHALT THOU BE FULLY AND WORTHILY PRAISED. Praise now, O my soul, the Lord: praise thy God, O Sion. Praise Jesus the Saviour: and if thou canst not praise Him perfectly: nevertheless cease not to praise Him partially, according to thy powers.

In my life I will praise Thee, O good Jesus, sweet and dear Babe: I WILL SING PSALMS TO MY GOD AS LONG AS I AM. For Thou hast called me to Thy most holy crib: in which Thou hast deigned to lie for me unworthy. Who can draw me away from this? No one, Lord Jesus: for Thou art my beloved, from Whom I will not be separated for ever. I will abide here therefore IN THE SERVICE OF MY MASTER, AND OF MY MISTRESS, holy Mary, and of St. Joseph, Thy fosterer: if perchance there be need of any service. I will make a little fire, I will blow it diligently: I will lay the table, and bring in the water. I will clean out the hall, I will sweep the little house; I will stop up the cracks and crevices: because of the stormy winds and rain. I will tidy this noble and royal manger; I will arrange neatly therein the hay and the straw: for there are no precious linens here. Then I will gather roses and lilies: I will bring flowers and grasses; I will beautify this holy nursery, which does not seem to me dirty like a stable: but gives me more pleasure than an imperial palace. I will also open the window; that the brightness of God may shine from within, and the holy angels fly in from above: and fill this whole house with sweet praise. I will shut the door carefully; that Herod may not enter to destroy the Babe: Whom I have undertaken faithfully to guard. For I would suffer myself to be slain: sooner than sacrilegious hands be laid on Him. And if it be necessary to fly, and He will have it so, I am also ready to cross over into Egypt. But when the shepherds come, to them I will open with joy: and bring them into this court of the supreme King. For they are those to whom the angel announced this mystery: and directed to visit; whom devotion brought here: and the praise of God led back. Then, when the holy Magi arrive from eastern parts, joyously I will run to meet such honourable guests, kings and counts; and having greeted them all with becoming respect, I will invite them to enter this court, to behold the face of the KING AND QUEEN: Whose wondrous sign shines in the heavens. With them entering I will enter; with them worshipping I will worship, with them offering I WILL OFFER MYSELF ENTIRELY: AND WHATEVER I MAY HAVE, ALL THIS I GIVE AS A HOLOCAUST TO THE LORD. But when they return to their own country, I will abide here in the court; that I may serve the Lord my King: and His blessed Mother, the ever and glorious Virgin Mary. No man shall be able to call me hence from this court: no bull, no authority, no gift or promise to turn me away. Here will I establish my covenant; here will I make an everlasting compact: here will I live, here die, and here all shall end.

Let it please thee, I beseech, my Lady, holy Mary: that I abide in the service of thee, and of Thy Son, my Lord, with all devotion and reverence. For I am more pleased to be here and beg with you: than to be in delights with the kings and princes of the world. And if it be needful even to beg: I will go out cheerfully and beg enough for us. And if nobody be willing to give: I will suppliantly beseech the holy angels: and they will provide sufficiently for us from Heaven. For in place of earthly bread: they will rain down for us heavenly manna. O Jesus, manna of hearts, having in itself all sweetness: Thou art our food and our comfort. The affection of devotion speaketh here: and whatever is prepared here tastes most sweet to him that loveth. I beseech thee also, venerable father Joseph, who art so called because of the dignity of thy ministry, and to veil the heavenly secret: that thou deign to admit me to aid thee. Bid something be brought for the comfort of the mother and the Babe: I will be ready for services of this kind.

O if I had known when you first came hither; I should certainly have gone with you: and I should have led the ox, or the ass. Willingly I should have carried the cloak of my Lady, or Joseph’s bag, all the long way: or even I should have procured a shelter. O would that I had been so near, that I should have heard the holy angels sing, and this great joy would have been announced to me; ah, how joyously and with what haste I should have gone over to Bethlehem, and should have outrun the shepherds themselves, if I could: that thus I might have merited to be the first to see my new born Lord. And if they reverently returned to their flock: I nevertheless should have remained with my Infant Lord. I should have been willing to forsake all my sheep: rather than leave my Jesus; or even to sell the whole flock: that I might provide thence for my Lord with His family. But it has not been given to all, to see the Word of God made flesh: and laid so innocently in the manger. To all nevertheless it is now preached, and proclaimed throughout the whole world: so that if anyone wishes to believe, and seeks to be saved, and draws nigh with a whole and pure heart to this Child; he shall receive remission of all his sins from Him: and by His gift after this mortality shall possess eternal life. Amen.

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