Monday, May 5, 2014

Be Born In Us

The Nativity

Be born in us,
Incarnate Love.
Take our flesh and blood,
and Give us Your humanity;
take our eyes, and give us Your vision;
take our minds,
and give us Your pure thoughts;
take our feet and set them in Your path;
take our hands
and fold them in Your prayer;
take our hearts
and give them Your will to love.

Maisie Ward describes the picture:
The Child is lying on the ground on a handful of straw. Our Lady, St. Joseph, St. Peter Martyr and a crowned woman saint are worshipping Him--especially characteristic of Fra Angelico is the annihilation of the centuries which brings these together at the crib.
If you have looked at very many paintings by Fra Angelico, you know that he frequently includes these saints, usually Dominican saints in his pictures. I wish I knew who that queen is, and how Ms. Ward knows that that is St. Peter Martyr. I love the animals in this picture, especially the donkey.

I wrote yesterday of how I sometimes think of myself as a little child accompanying Mary when I meditate on the Mysteries. (I say this like I do it frequently, and I don't.) This is especially true about the Nativity. I picture Mary cuddling the baby Jesus, and myself all curled up and sleepy, leaning on her side. If I'm saying the Rosary in bed, it's hard to stay awake for the whole decade.

In a more serious vein, this Mystery brings back a time when I was struggling with depression. Sometimes I felt like I was going to lose my mind. I thought of it as being in a pit. At some point, I remember saying to the Lord, "Well, I may have to be in this pit, but it's okay if you are here with me," or I might have said, "You better be here with me." I don't remember if it was before or after I said this, it's so long ago that it's all confused, that I read a passage in A Scent of Water that really helped me with this.

Mary Lindsay, a young woman who struggles with intermittent mental illness, has been having a bad time. And one night she has a dream of being pressed to death by rock walls, but she accepts the trial, and then finds a small crack in the stone that she follows to a glimmer of light, which eventually leads to a space in the rock.
The stone walls were still there but the light had hollowed them out into a cave and they no longer frightened me. There was a lantern in the cave and people were moving about, a man and woman caring for a girl who lay on a pile of hay. And for a newborn child. As I watched, the woman stooped and put Him into His mother's arms. 
There's more, but this will give you the main idea of the passage. So many times over the years, I have thought about this when I was having a hard time, and it has comforted me.

I'll end with a quote from St. Ephraem of Syria that closes this chapter of the book.
Joseph caressed the son as a babe, he ministered to Him as God . . . and he was awe-struck at Him as the Just One, greatly bewildered. "Who hath given to me the Son of the Most High to be a son to me? I was jealous of Thy Mother, and I thought to put her away, and I knew not that in her womb was hidden a mighty treasure, that should suddenly enrich my poor estate."
In so many way, the world, and even parts of the Church have put Mary away, but she, like any good mother, waits patiently to reveal her hidden treasure.



  1. I think you've probably seen that Elizabeth Goudge quote before. ;-)