Rorate Caeli

Christmas is the first day of Holy Week

"Does not our Jesus offer himself from his Crib as well as from his Cross?" (Dom Prosper Guéranger)

Humiliating, demeaning, emasculating... Words cannot describe the utter disgust of a man who feels forced by circumstances to do something which he considers beneath him -- beneath his abilities and skills, beneath his knowledge and training.

Verbum caro factum est, et habitavit in nobis.

Can we, however, begin to comprehend the enormity of the Incarnation? And, even more, of the fact that those first moments that the Lord chose for his life on Earth, "in the bleak midwinter", in a "poor lowly stable", "away in a manger" were already the beginning of His Passion?

Gloria in excelsis Deo!

His whole life on Earth was a lengthy Holy Week, from the hay in the manger which must have caused Him great discomfort to the cold He felt in His nakedness (the same nakedness to be humiliatingly exposed amidst the painfulness of Good Friday). The peacefulness of the bosom of the Immaculate Virgin, the warm and delightful Fœderis Arca, was gone.

Genuit puerpera Regem, cui nomen æternum.

The Virgin certainly tried her best to alleviate any discomfort -- but she knew that the life of this God-Man, whose health and integrity she was charged to protect, together with St. Joseph, would by definition be "too" human and, therefore, too full of the obstacles of this earthly life.

Maria autem conservabat omnia verba hæc conferens in corde suo.

Each and every one of these difficulties was beneath the Divinity. But there was the Christ-Child, redeeming the world from the very beginning of His ministry. He chose the hard way. He chose His Mother for this purpose from all Eternity. He chose St. Joseph. He chose the cold and the night. He chose the flesh and the pain. He chose all of this for us.

Benedicamus Domino! Deo gratias!

That is why the Church has from Antiquity chosen the feast of the greatest of all martyrs, Saint Stephen Protomartyr, to immediately follow the Nativity of the Lord. It reminds us, thus, that the self-inflicted humiliation of the Incarnation is inseparable from the self-elected humiliation of His Passion and death, of His sacrifice, and it reminds His followers of the sacrifice they must be willing to make if they wish to be worthy of the least of His discomforts.

Ut, sicut homo genitus idem refulsit et Deus, sic nobis hæc terrena substantia conferat quod divinum est. (from the Secret of the Second Mass of Christmas Day)