Christmas Novena to the Divine Infant Jesus
By St Alphonsus Maria de Liguori (1696-1787)
THE NINTH DAY
The Birth of the Infant Jesus in the cave of Bethlehem.
Since the Roman Emperor’s edict said that everyone was to enrol in his own country, Joseph and his wife, Mary, departed for Bethlehem. The trip took four days, travelling over mountainous roads, in the cold of winter wind and rain. Think of how much the Blessed Virgin must have suffered on that journey.
As soon as they arrived, the time of her delivery was at hand, so Joseph went around the Town looking for lodging where Mary could give birth to her child. But, because they were poor, they were driven away by everyone, even from the Inn where poor people were normally sheltered. So, they left the Town and found a cave. As Mary entered, Joseph protested, saying, “My dear wife, how can you spend the night in this cold, damp place? Can you not see that this is a stable for animals?” But she answered, “Joseph, this shed is the Royal Palace where the Son of God chooses to be born.”
And since the time for the birth had arrived, the Holy Virgin was in prayer. Suddenly the cave became brilliantly lit, as if by the sun or a star and the Son of God came forth into the world, as a tender Infant, crying and trembling with cold. The ﬁrst thing Mary did was to adore Him as her God. Then she held Him to her bosom and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes which she had brought along. Finally, she laid Him on a little straw in the manger, the feeding trough for animals.
That is how the Son of the eternal God chose to be born for love of us.
A saint once said, that those who love Jesus Christ most, ought to kneel at the feet of the Holy Infant and, in spirit, perform for Him the same service as the beasts in the stable at Bethlehem did, who warmed Him with their breath. We should warm Him with our sighs of love.
Affections and Prayers:
O Adorable Infant Jesus!
I should not have the boldness
to cast myself at Thy feet,
if I did not know that Thou, Thyself,
invitest me to draw near Thee.
It is I, who by my sins,
have made Thee shed so many tears
in the stable of Bethlehem.
But since Thou hast come on earth
to pardon repentant sinners,
forgive me too, now that I am heartily sorry
for having spurned Thee, my Saviour and my God,
Who art so good and Who hast loved me so much.
In this night,
in which Thou bestowest great graces
on so many souls,
grant too, Thy heavenly consolation
to this poor soul of mine.
All that I ask of Thee
is the grace to love Thee always,
from this day forward,
with all my heart.
Set me on fire with Thy holy love.
I love Thee, O my God,
Who hast become a Babe for love of me.
Never let me cease loving Thee evermore.
O Mary, Mother of Jesus and my Mother,
thou canst obtain everything
from thy Son by thy prayers.
This is the only favour I ask of Thee.
Do thou pray to Jesus for me.