Here is how most people celebrate their birthdays!
But the great St. John Eudes didn’t look at it quite like that and wrote an extremely lengthy prayer for Christians to recite on their birthdays. Here are a few excerpts:
Prayer to Jesus for the Anniversary of Your Birth
“O Jesus, I adore Thee in Thy eternal birth and Thy divine dwelling for all eternity in the bosom of Thy Father. I also adore Thee in Thy temporal conception, and in Thy presence in the sacred womb of Thy most pure mother, for the space of nine months, and in Thy birth into this world at the end of that time. I adore and revere the great and admirable occurrence of these mysteries…
Again I adore and glorify Thee, O Good Jesus, as performing all these things for Thyself, and for me and for everyone in the world. On this anniversary of my birth I give myself to Thee, O my Dear Jesus, that I may now repeat the acts Thou didst perfect while dwelling from all eternity in the bosom of the Father, and for nine months in the womb of Thy mother…
Such, O my Lord, is the rightful homage I ought to have rendered to Thee, had I been able, at the moment of my birth, and indeed from the first moment of my life, that I now endeavor to render to Thee, although very tardily and imperfectly…
In Thy temporal birth, Thou didst render for me to Thy Father all the rightful homage I should have rendered Him at my own birth, and Thou didst then practice all the acts and exercises of devotion that I should have practiced. Be Thou blessed for ever!”
St. John Eudes, The Life and the Kingdom of Jesus in Christian Souls
“At the true age of one month, a human being is four and a half millimeters long. Its tiny heart has already been beating for a week, its arms, legs, head, brain are already recognizable. At two months old, from head to the tip of its bottom, the human embryo is about three centimeters long. It could fit curled up inside a walnut shell. Inside a clenched fist, it would be invisible, and the clenched fist would crush it accidentally without even noticing.
But open your hand, the embryo is almost complete, hands, feet, head, organs, brain, everything is in its place and from now on will merely grow. Look more closely , you can already read the life lines in its palms and predict its good fortunes. Look closer still, with an ordinary microscope, and you can see its fingerprints. Everything is already there and it would be possible to issue its identity card.”
“The incredible Tom Thumb, the man no bigger than my thumb, actually exists ; not the one in the fairy tale, but the one which every one of us once was.”
Quote from: Dr. Jerome LeJeune (the great pro-life scientist who discovered the cause of Down Syndrome)
Filed under: Biblical Reflections
Visitation, Initial D in the Gradual: originally from Wonnental Abbey, a Cistercian abbey that was founded in1248 and dissolved in 1807.
Our Blessed Mother is recorded speaking only 7 times in the Bible. These are often referred to as the 7 words of Mary. 1st Word: (How shall this be done?) 2nd Word: (Behold the Handmaid of the Lord) 3rd Word: (Her Salutation to Elizabeth) 4th Word: (The Magnificat) 5th Word: (Son, why hast Thou done so to us?) 6th Word: (They have no wine.) 7th Word: (Do whatever He tells you.)
A reflection by Mother St. Paul on the 4th Word of Mary: The Magnificat
“As soon as Elizabeth has finished “crying out with a loud voice ” her praise of Mary and of Jesus, and of the benefits God has wrought for herself and her son, Mary speaks, and in the longest of her recorded “words “ gives vent to the thoughts pent up in her breast. She at once closes the door against any praise given to herself: “My soul doth magnify the Lord” He it is Whom we must praise and make much of; “and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior”; Mary understands what it is that is making her so full of joy. It is the presence of Jesus her Savior. She has Him within her…”
“The name that St Bernardine gives to Mary s fourth word is “Flamma amoris jubilantis” (A Flame of Joyful Love); Her love for God was so strong that it made her burst out into this joyful song of praise. She could no longer keep to herself all that God had done to her ; she must tell others ; she was so full of joy that she must sing God’s praises. And all her love and joy found expression in the Magnificat a song of thanksgiving for the Incarnation a song which showed clearly that Mary’s joy was caused by the glory that was given to God by the Incarnation.
All through those blessed three months during which Mary abode with Zachary and Elizabeth, she was singing Magnificat. All through her life she sang Magnificat, even though she was the Mother of Sorrows, for the thought of God’s glory ever lifted her out of herself and made her praise Him for all He did. It was because Mary had said her Fiat that she could say her Magnificat….”
The Vision of St. Juliana (1191-1258) of Mont Cornillon (about 1645/50)
Philippe de Champaigne 1602 – 1674
You may have never heard of St. Juliana of Cornillon (Juliana of Liege), 1192 -1258. She was an Augustinian nun who was the first promoter of a feast day in honor of the Blessed Sacrament. In his November 17, 2010 audience Pope Benedict spoke eloquently about St. Juliana.
“The Pope explained how the Belgian saint “possessed great culture, … and a profound sense of the presence of Christ, which she experienced particularly intensely in the Sacrament of the Eucharist”. At the age of sixteen she had a vision which convinced her of the need to establish a liturgical feast for Corpus Christi “in which believers would be able to adore the Eucharist so as to augment their faith, increase the practice of virtue and mend the wrongs done to the Blessed Sacrament”, said the Holy Father. Click here to read more.
What many people don’t know is that she also had a profound devotion to Christ in His Blessed Mother’s womb. Here is an excerpt from a book about her life written in 1873 detailing this devotion.
“She had also a great devotion for the feasts of our Lady, but of all her feasts, the one she celebrated with most ardent devotion and piety was the feast of the Annunciation. It seemed as if she could never cease from meditating upon and admiring the celestial simplicity of the words of the angel Gabriel; the trouble that his salutation at first gave to Mary, the consent that she gave to become the Mother of God, the profound humility, the more than angelic modesty, and the ardent love, our Blessed Lady displayed upon this occasion.
At the thought of the Eternal Word descending from the bosom of His Father, and becoming man for love of us, her heart became so inflamed with love, that it seemed to her she could no longer contain it within her breast…
A devotion that she frequently recommended to the other religious, was to recite the ” Ave Maria,” and the canticle ” Magnificat,” nine times every day, in honour of the nine months our Lord dwelt in the womb of His ever Blessed Mother; and she assured them that she was indebted to the practice of this devotion for many favours and graces she had obtained from heaven.
When ever she recited or sung the “Magnificat,” she was accustomed to contemplate the fatigues our Blessed Lady suffered in her journey from Nazareth to the house of her cousin Elizabeth. She then considered the tender embraces of those two women so beloved by God, the joy with which St. John the Baptist leaped in the womb of his mother, at the approach of Mary, who bore his Saviour within her womb; then she meditated upon their holy salutations and the thanksgivings they afterwards rendered to God.”
From: The Life of St. Juliana of Cornillon by Brother George Ambrose Bradbury, O.C. 1873. pp 24-25
“It goes without saying that in the small kingdom that was the home, the wife was queen….Her importance was all the greater since…a great many things that we buy in shops or factories were produced at home. Cloth, for instance, was spun and woven in the house. “
“To a large extent clothing was home-made, too: the excellent wife of Proverbs :busies herself with wool and thread, holding the distaff and the spindle.” Daily Life in the Time of Jesus by Henri Daniel-Rops pp. 150-51, 275
A Pictorial History of Mary Sewing
The Child Mary Learning to Sew
The Young Virgin, ca. 1632–33, Francisco de Zurbarán
According to medieval legend, as a girl the Virgin Mary lived in the Temple in Jerusalem, where she devoted herself to praying and sewing vestments, the subject of Zurbarán’s painting, executed about 1632–33.
“I have represented the future Mother of Our Lord as occupied in embroidering a lily,—always under the direction of St. Anne; the flower she is copying being held by two little angels.” Dante Gabriel Rosetti
Saint Anne and the young Virgin sewing, fresco by the Master of the Bambino Vispo, Museo dell’Opera di Santa Croce
Mary Preparing for Christ’s Birth
Here are a number of paintings where Mary is sewing while she is expecting the Unborn Christ Child – we can imagine that she was sewing His swaddling and baby clothes
Romanesque Spinning Virgin, Catalan Fresco, Museu d’Art de Catalunya, Barcelona
Mary In the House Of Elizabeth Robert Anning Bell (sewing baby clothes for John the Baptist)
Mary Spinning with Joseph before the Birth of Jesus, Strasbourg, Musee de Notre-Dame I’Oeuvre, inv 1482
The Virgin is occasionally depicted knitting a garment, thought to represent the seamless garment worn by Christ (John 19:23). This seamless garment that the guards casts lots for beneath the cross was likely given to Jesus as a gift from his mother, since it was customary for Jewish mothers to make such a garment for their sons as a last gift before they entered the world on their own. Here are 2 representative paintings of this type of Knitting Madonna sewing the seamless garment.
The Holy Family by Ambrogio Lorenzetti, c. 1345
Detail from the right wing of the Buxtehude Altar by Bertram von Minden, 1400-1410