O Come Let Us Adore Him

posted Oct 15, 2009, 8:02 AM by Friar Suppliers   [ updated Mar 31, 2016, 10:33 AM ]

In spite of what secular media thinks, we are still in the Christmas season.  In fact it has only just begun. We hope that you are all enjoying this beautiful holy season.

Many of the saints had a special devotion to the Child Jesus.  St. Francis of Assisi is credited with creating the first nativity scene on Christmas Eve in the year 1223.

St. Bonaventure, a Franciscan who was contemporary with St Francis, has given us a complete account of the night of the first live nativity scene.

It happened in the third year before his death, that in order to excite the inhabitants of Grecio to commemorate the Nativity of the Infant Jesus with great devotion, (St. Francis) determined to keep it with all possible solemnity; and lest he should be accused of lightness or novelty, he asked and obtained the permission of the sovereign Pontiff.  Then he prepared a manger, and brought hay, and an ox and an ass to the place appointed. The brethren were summoned, the people ran together, the forest resounded with their voices, and the venerable night was made glorious by many and brilliant lights and sonorous psalms of praise.”

St. Bonaventure goes on to talk about St Francis’s personal devotion to the Baby Jesus that sparked this event:

“The man of God(St. Francis) stood before the manger, full of devotion and piety, bathed in tears and radiant with joy;  the Holy Gospel was chanted by Francis, the Levite of Christ.  Then he preached to the people around the nativity of the poor king; and being unable to utter His name for the tenderness of His love, He called Him the Babe of Bethlehem.”

Again, St. Bonaventure continues the story.

“A certain valiant and veracious soldier, Master John of Grecio, who, for the love of Christ, had left the warfare of this world and become a dear friend of this holy man, affirmed that he beheld an infant marvellously beautiful, sleeping in the manger, Whom the blessed Father Francis embraced with both his arms, as if he would awake Him from sleep.  This vision of the devout soldier is credible, not only by the reason of the sanctity of him that saw it, but by reason of the miracles which afterwards confirmed its truth.”  (thecatholiccompany.com/getfed/story-francis-assisi-first-nativity-scene/)

There are many paintings and statues depicting St. Francis with the Child Jesus.  Nativity scenes grace our churches, homes, lawns, and even public places (although the fight continues yearly to stop this beautiful tradition which started in 1223).  Christmas pageants are as popular today as they were 800 years ago.

Another beautiful and contemporary Saint who beheld the Christ Child every Christmas for four years in a row was St. Faustina Kowalska.  In her diary she records the vision of the Christ child at Christmas.  This is what she recorded in 1937:

“When I arrived at midnight Mass, from the very beginning, I steeped myself in deep recollection, during which time I saw the stable of Bethlehem filled with great radiance.  The Blessed Virgin, all lost in the deepest love, was wrapping Jesus in swaddling clothes, but St. Joseph was still asleep. Only after the Mother of God put Jesus in the manger, did the light of God awaken Joseph, who was also praying.  But after a while, I was left alone with the Infant Jesus who stretched out His little hands to me, and I understood that I was to take Him in my arms.  Jesus pressed His head against my heart and gave me to know, by His profound gaze, how good He found it to be next to my heart.  At that moment Jesus disappeared and the bell was ringing for Holy Communion”  (Diary of St. Faustina, paragraph 1442).

Our Holy Father Pope Francis has declared 2016 as a “Year of Mercy.”  I don’t quite understand what this is all about, but I sense that we have been given a great gift.  To understand this mystery we need to begin by contemplating the mercy of God given to us in the stable of Bethlehem.  The Christ Child is mercy incarnate.  Ask yourself:  Why would God become a human person? Because the greatest attribute of God is His Mercy.  He came to save us because of His unfathomable mercy. Are we unworthy? Oh yeah. However, the greater our unworthiness, the greater is His Mercy.

During this new year, take the time to read St. Faustina’s Diary, “Divine Mercy in My Soul.” Open your hearts to receiving the Mercy of God being offered in our churches by frequenting the sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Communion. Visit a Cathedral and receive an indulgence.

By the time you get this letter, our missionaries will be in Haiti.  Please pray for their safety and success.  There are over 40 people on this trip - The biggest ever;  4 CFR priests, 2 CFR Brothers, 2 CFR Sisters, 10 nurses and 34 lay men and women. You’ll hear all about it in the coming months.

Special Request from Charlie Moran

We are looking for a volunteer who could help us set up fundraising on social media such as “Go Fund Me” and “Razoo.”  Please call Charlie if you can help us set this up. 631-226-6060.

Special Request from Eileen Garbe

Eileen and Rich Garbe will be in Florida, January-March, 2016.  Their daughter will be making deposits for the Friars Suppliers and recording your donations.  Please indicate in the Memo area of your check if it is for the Franciscans or Haiti.  If it is a split donation, please indicate how much goes to the Franciscans and how much for Haiti.  This will be a tremendous help with the bookkeeping.  Thank you.

Thank you for all of your generous donations for our Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Renewal and for our Haiti Mission.  Have a  Merry and Blessed Christmas season.