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Small Practices for the Month Following Christmas

 

CHRISTMAS, or small practices for the month of the Holy Infancy.
Paris: Librairie de la propagation catholique – Jules Vic, editor, 4th edition, 1878. 

 EXPLANATION
The numbers in this “small practices” correspond with the different days of the month that immediately follow the feast of Christmas. For example, there are here 32 numbers, starting on the eve of the feast when one would join the precursor to the Messiah in order to prepare to receive the Word Made Flesh. On the feast of Christmas itself, one would unite with the angel sent to announce the birth of the Savior. Then, continuing the Services to the end, one would render a series of pious reverences towards Jesus, during the entire month of Holy Infancy.Each number may either be detached from the others, and the 32 separated items can then be drawn as lots during a reunion, or a number can be assigned to be performed [by the same person] for the entire month. In all Christian families, counting those who live nearby a church, an oratory is to be found containing a crèche of Bethlehem to be visited daily during the month following Christmas. During this not-to-be-missed visit, the image of the divine Infant may be venerated through the recitation of the prayer indicated below; the faithful can also benefit from the short reflection suggested for the “service” to be performed that day. In drawing one of these tickets, one may apply the pertinent practice and, from time to time, read again the indicated aspiration or perhaps another of one’s choosing.  

1: The Precursor to the Messiah

PREPARE THE WAY OF THE LORD (St. Luke, c.III, v A)
You will perform at the court of the king Jesus the service of His saint precursor.
Prepare through fervent desires, a way for Jesus to enter into your heart, where He wishes to be born. Level, through humility, the mountains and hills of your pride, fill, with confidence, the profound valleys where you will stop discouragement, and gentleness and simplicity will straighten the tortuous byways of your character where there are to be found so many contradictions and asperities.
Practice: Generosity.
Aspiration: Lord, inspire our hearts to prepare the ways for Your only Son.


2: The Angel charged with announcing the birth of J.C.


TO YOU IS BORN THIS DAY A SAVIOR (St. Luke II, v. 44)
You will perform at the court of the king Jesus the service of the angel that announced the birth of J.C. to the shepherds.
Let all know, through your humility, your gentleness, and your obedience, that the Infant Jesus is born in your heart. Determine each day to grow in the practice of these virtues, so that the newly born Savior is for you a perfect model.
Practice: The imitation of the virtues of the Child Jesus.
Aspiration: Jesus, gentle and humble, render my heart to be like yours.

3: The Angels who sing Gloria.


GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST AND PEACE ON EARTH TO ALL MEN OF GOOD WILL (Luke II, v.4)
You will perform at the court of the king Jesus the service of the angels who sang the Gloria.
Join this celestial gathering to celebrate and praise the God made man; but, in singing pious hymns before His holy crib, ask the blessed Spirits around you to lend you their celestial ardors, that you will be penetrated by gratitude for the goodness of the Incarnation, and to inspire in you the desire not to have any motive, in all your actions, but the greater glory of God.
Practice: Gratitude towards God.
Aspiration: I will sing eternally the mercies of God.


4: The Shepherds Keep Watch Over Their Flocks.


AND THERE WERE SHEPHERDS WHO WATCHED OVER THEIR FLOCKS (Luke II, v. 8)
You will perform at the court of the king Jesus the service of shepherds who watched over their flocks.
Note that it was to the poor, hard-working and vigilant, to whom first God revealed the mystery of His birth. If you wish to have a part of divine communications, detach yourself from the goods of the earth, love work and watch over the flock that God has confided in you, that is to say, with all your heart and all the power of your soul.
Practice: Vigilance
Aspiration: Oh, my Jesus, may you be the guardian of my soul.

 

5: The Shepherds go to Bethlehem.


THE SHEPHERDS SAID TO ONE ANOTHER: LET US ALL GO TO BETHLEHEM (Luke II, v. 15.)
You will perform at the court of the king Jesus the service of the shepherds who said to one another: Let us all go to Bethlehem.
Go follow the shepherds to offer your adoration to the Child Jesus, but recall that to reach this immolated God, there is no other route than that of humiliation and suffering. Decide, then, that you will courageously withstand them in order to come to find and possess your loveable Savior.
Practice: Looking for Jesus.
Aspiration: I have found what my heart loves, I have Him and I will never leave Him.

 

6 : The Shepherds carry the small presents.


MY CHILD, GIVE ME YOUR HEART. (Prov. XXIII, v. 26.)
You will perform at the court of the king Jesus the service of shepherds carrying small presents.
Do not wait to go to the crèche until you have practiced heroic acts of virtue or that you have amassed treasures of [personal] merit to deposit at Jesus’ feet, but, humbly and grateful for your poverty, give to your Savior with love the sacrifice of a pointless word, an impatient impulse, a moment of vanity, or any other that, however light it may be, our loving Master will receive with the same goodness with which He accepted the modest offering of the shepherds.
Practice: Fidelity to small things.
Aspiration: My Jesus, give me the grace never to neglect the smallest occasion to give you testimony of my love.


 7: The Shepherds praising the Lord


THEY RETURNED PRAISING AND GLORIFYING GOD. (Luke II, v. 20.)
You will perform at the court of the king Jesus the service of shepherds praising and glorifying God for all that they had seen and heard.
Share in the spiritual joy of these holy shepherds, and when you come from visiting Jesus and have finished your prayers, withdraw always with a very lively desire to glorify God, with a great awareness of your own nothingness and a strong resolution to correct your faults.
Practice: Edifying Conversations.
Aspiration: Oh, Jesus! That my lips never cease to praise you and that love for you be always present in my heart.


8: The Star


WE HAVE SEEN HIS STAR IN THE EAST AND WE HAVE COME TO ADORE HIM. (Matt, II, v. 2)
You will perform at the court of the king Jesus the service of the star that led the Magi to the stable.
Admire the goodness of Providence, that gives to each his star, that is to say, the necessary grace to achieve salvation. How many of these stars does not God make shine within your soul! Open then your eyes to this celestial light and set yourself to be an ardent flame that attracts and guides toward Jesus all those with whom you come into contact.
Practice: Fidelity to grace.
Aspiration: Lord, open my eyes to the light of your grace.

 

9: The Three Royal Magi


JESUS BEING IN BETHLEHEM, THE MAGI CAME FROM THE ORIENT TO JERUSALEM TO ADORE HIM. (Matt II, v. 4 and 2).
You will perform at the court of the king Jesus the service of the three Royal Magi who presented to the Child in Bethlehem all that was most precious from their own countries.
Following the example of these holy persons, leave everything for Jesus and you will find everything with this divine King. Make the sacrifices that are the dearest, give Him your heart, immolate your own will, abandon yourself to His good pleasure, and be assured that He will not be outdone in generosity towards you.
Practice: Abnegation of your own will.
Aspiration: I do not want anything but Jesus, the crucified Jesus.


10: A King offers gold


THEY PRESENT TO HIM A GIFT OF GOLD. (Luke II, v. 41)
You will perform at the court of the king Jesus the service of the Royal Magi who presented gold.
Open the treasure of your heart, and draw from there the gold of your most ardent charity to offer it to your most loving King. Pray that you will embrace more and more His love, so that your soul will be purified of anything that may be displeasing to His divine gaze.
Practice: Purity of Intention.
Aspiration: My God, give me your love and your grace and I will be rich enough.

 

11: A King carries myrrh


THEY PRESENT TO HIM A GIFT OF MYRRH. (Luke II, v. 41)
You will perform at the court of the king Jesus the service of the Royal Magi that carries myrrh to the Son of God made Man.
Render homage to the holy humanity of the Son of God, victim for your salvation. Conform yourself to this divine model, through trials and sufferings, in union with the sorrows that Jesus endured from the time of His birth.
Practice: Mortification of the senses.
Aspiration: Lord, divert my eyes from fear that they will see the vanities [of the world].

 

12: A King offers incense


THEY PRESENT TO HIM A GIFT OF INCENSE. (Luke 11, v. 41)
You will perform at the court of the king Jesus the service of the Royal Magi whom presented incense to the immolated God.
Unite yourself to this saintly king in offering to God who has deigned to live among us the incense of diligent and fervent prayer. Raise often your heart towards Him who comes down to you in order to listen to your requests and to fill you with His graces.
Practice: Attention while in prayer and the practice of short exclamatory prayers.
Aspiration: Lord, teach me to pray.


13: The stable


THE WORD IS MADE FLESH, AND CAME TO LIVE AMONGST US. (John I, v. 14)
You will perform at the court of the king Jesus the service of the stable that received the Holy Family.
Through Holy Communion, Jesus much wishes to live in your heart, which he often finds full of faults and imperfections and in worse condition than the stable in Bethlehem. Testify to God your gratitude for the distinct honor that He renders your soul in choosing your soul as His residence; pray then to be rid of all that displeases Him; and to be replenished with only that which is pleasing to Him.
Practice: Union with God.
Aspiration: Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

 

 14: The Manger


THEY FOUND THE CHILD LYING IN A MANGER (Luke II, v. 46)
You will perform at the court of the king Jesus the service of the manger where the Son of God was placed after His birth.
Pray to our Savior that He will choose your heart as a manger; but take care to free yourself of the love of self and of creatures and to draw Jesus to you through holy and fervent desires that make His divine heart somehow obliged to descend into your own there to find rest.
Practice: A tender love for the Child Jesus.
Aspiration: Oh, Jesus! Make of my heart a crib, and there come and be reborn.

 

15: The Holy Virgin


MARY PRESERVED THE MEMORY OF ALL THESE THINGS, MEDITATING UPON THEM IN HER HEART. (Luke II, v. 49)
You will perform at the court of the king Jesus the service of the Holy Virgin, rendering homage to the Savior whom she had given to the world.
Who can describe the tenderness and respect with which the Most Blessed Mother took her divine Son, so expected and desired for centuries, in her arms. She adored Him as her God, kissed Him as her Son, and hardly could stop looking upon Him. Ask Mary to allow you to penetrate the sentiments within her maternal heart. Adore, along with her, her holy Son, pray to her to place Him in your arms, and to obtain the grace to love and serve him perfectly all throughout your life.
Practice: Confidence in the Most Holy Virgin.
Aspiration: Mother of Jesus, place your divine son as a satchel in my heart, so that He will be the subject of all my affections.


16: St. Joseph


JOSEPH, HUSBAND OF MARY, WAS A JUST MAN. (Matt. I, v. 19).
You will perform at the court of the king Jesus the service of St. Joseph, accompanying the Holy Virgin on her voyage to Bethlehem.
See with what great care he assisted Mary, how he comforted her with all his might, with what solicitude he searched for a place for this august queen to rest. Admire the patience with which he suffered the poor reception and rebuffs of the local inhabitants, his submission to the will of God and the dispositions of Providence. Imitate the virtues of this great saint and his humble silence during these unfortunate meetings; you will thus merit the grace of dying like him in the arms of Jesus and Mary.
Practice: Devotion to St. Joseph
Aspiration: St. Joseph who was so dear to Jesus and Mary, pray for us.

 

17: The hay


HE HAD NOWHERE TO REST HIS HEAD (Luke IX, v. 58)
You will perform in the court of the king Jesus the service of hay on which the divine king wished to be placed upon His birth.
Make sure that it is very soft and of good quality; remove from it the thistles and thorns; do all to subtract the sharp and stiff edges of your own spirit; you would prefer to grind and crush you faults, rather than to preserve in yourself anything that could bruise the childhood of the Incarnate God.
Practice: Avoiding all that might wound one’s neighbor.
Aspiration: My sweet Jesus, I love my neighbor as myself for the love of you.

 

18: The ox


THE OX HAS RECOGNIZED ITS OWNER. (Is. I, v. 3)
You will perform in the court of the king Jesus the service of the ox that approached the divine Infant in order to warm Him with its breath.
Know that if the place and season caused extreme suffering to the newborn Jesus, the coldness of men was even more painful to Him than the temperature. Make the effort, through your constant fidelity and through the ardor of your sighs, to compensate this loving Savior for the forgetfulness and indifference of most whom he fills with bounty.
Practice: Devotion and fervor.
Aspiration: My Jesus, I give myself to You, as You have given all of Yourself to me.


19: The donkey


THE DONKEY HAS RECOGNIZED THE CRECHE OF HIS MASTER. (Isaiah I, 3)
You will perform in the court of the king Jesus the service of the Donkey that suffered near the crib of a God.
Offer yourself humbly to this divine King, to be employed in occupations that that are the most abject for His service since you are incapable of the more sublime occupations. Resign yourself to suffer, to be despised, in the imitation of Our Lord. Tell Him, together with the royal Prophet, that you are a beast of burden before Him, and ask for the intelligence of real Christians and humility of spirit and heart.
Practice: To yearn to be unknown and be counted for nothing.
Aspiration: My Savior, give me the treasure of your humility.


20: The linen (swaddling clothes)


YOU WILL FIND A CHILD WRAPPED IN SWADDLING CLOTHES. (Luke II, v. 12)
You will perform in the court of the king Jesus the service of the swaddling clothes wrapping the holy Infant. To have the honor of approaching thus the God mad Man, have a horror of the smallest venial sins and make the effort to acquire the purity of heart that is so agreeable to Jesus and to His Divine Mother.
Practice: The devotion to the immaculate heart of Mary.
Aspiration: Oh, Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

 

21: The Shepherd carries the milk


THE GENTLENESS AND THE GOODNESS OF THE SAVIOR, OUR GOD, IS SHOWN. (Tit. III, v. i.)
You will perform in the court of the king Jesus the service of the shepherd carrying milk.
You will discharge this employ with all the faith, through saintly discourse, in order to make Our Lord known and loved; but take care, in order to produce a good effect, to join also words to deeds of gentleness and charity that we have given to our divine Master.
Practice: Gentleness
Aspiration: My, Jesus, give me the spirit of gentleness and patience.


22: The lamp


I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD. (John VII, v. 12.)
You will perform in the court of the king Jesus the service of the Lamp that lit the stable.
Rid your soul of all affection, whether for self or things of the world, so that the Holy Spirit will fill it with the unction of divine grace that brings us the newborn Jesus, and that your holy life will bring light and edification to the world.
Practice: Good example.
Aspiration: O, God! Dissipate through the grace of your coming the fog enveloping my spirit.

 

23: The Owner of the stable


THERE WAS NO PLACE FOR THEM IN THE INN. (Luke II, v. 7.)
You will perform in the court of the king Jesus the service by the owner of the stable where the Son of God wished to become little to be born for us.
Open promptly the doors of your soul, so that there St. Joseph, the Holy Virgin, and the divine Savior, about be born, will find a place to rest. Receive this blessed visitation with ineffable joy. Compensate them, as would an amiable host, so graciously that you will make up for the rebuffs received from all those denying them hospitality. And, say with a tender confidence: “Jesus, Mary, Joseph, do not ever allow sin to deprive me of your holy presences, and ensure that the memory of you will always be the treasure of my memory and your love that of my heart.
Practice: Devotion to the Holy Family.
Aspiration: It is good for us to reside there.


24: The faithful servant of Jesus and Mary


HERE IS THE SERVANT OF THE LORD. (Luke I, v. 38.)
You will perform in the court of the king Jesus the service of the servant of Jesus and Mary.
What grace if you know how to profit from it! Devote yourself entirely to the Holy Infant in the quality of a “slave”; offer all the strength of your soul in order to serve Him; tell this loveable Master that you are His forever; ask that He use you in accordance with His holy will, and that He never allow that you practice any resistance for that which He wishes to ordain for you.
Practice: Charity for the poor.
Aspiration: Lord, what do you wish me to do?

 

25: The Sweeper


YOU ARE TRULY A HIDDEN GOD. (Isaiah XIV, v. 45.)
You will perform at the court of the king Jesus the service of the sweeper of the stable where God deigned to be born.
This task, however small in appearance, will merit for you the greatest graces from the king of Heaven. He wishes to come into your heart, although it may be a thousand times more miserable than the cave in Bethlehem. To make this residence agreeable to your Savior, struggle with yourself to imitate His hidden virtues, and remember that this divine Master spent thirty years of his mortal life in obscurity, performing the most humble series of lowly and back-breaking work.
Practice: Love for a hidden and laborious life.
Aspiration: Oh, Jesus! Grant that my life be hidden in God with You. 


26: The duster


IT IS HERE THAT ALL THE SINS THAT WE HAVE COMMITTED ARE ERASED. (Imit., 1, III, c. 53.)
You will perform at the court of the king Jesus the service of the duster making the dust and the spider webs disappear from the crèche.
You will perform this task in order to banish from your heart all natural attachments that could end purity and innocence and to avoid all occasions where your virtue would be threatened.
Practice: Detachment from creatures.
Aspiration: Lord, create in me a pure heart.

 

27: Flowers and fruits


MY FLOWERS DERIVE FROM THE FRUITS OF GLORY AND ABUNDANCE. (Eccl., XXIV, v. 23)
You will perform at the court of the king Jesus the service of the flowers and fruits presented by the shepherds to the holy Infant of Bethlehem.
The flowers are emblems of good desires; ask Jesus that He transform you into fruits of virtue, both sweet and savory to His divine heart. Humility, obedience and charity are the most agreeable to Him. Work without end to acquire them and apply yourself everyday to their practice.
Practice: The prompt and courageous execution of good resolutions.
Aspiration: My God, it is today that I commence.


28: The lamb


BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD THAT TAKES AWAY THE SINS OF THE WORLD. (John I, v. 29).
You will perform at the court of the king Jesus the service of the lamb offered by the shepherds.
Present your heart to Jesus as a victim of obedience. Following the example of the loveable Master, who was obedient even unto the Cross, do not make use of your will to make others submit to you, remain without response in order to resist the temptations of self-love, and renounce entirely the spirit of independence that may lead you to subtract from orders from Heaven.
Practice: Obedience.
Aspiration: Jesus, so obedient, have pity on me.

 

29: The toy


TO US A CHILD IS BORN. (Isaiah IX, v. 6)
You will perform at the court of the king Jesus the service of the toy of the holy Infant.
Place yourself in the hands of this gentle Master; pray that He will make of you what He wills; abandon yourself to His actions; and say with all your soul: My God, I am here to accomplish your divine will; do with me according to your wishes.
Practice: Abandonment.
Aspiration: My Jesus, Your pleasure is my pleasure.

 

30: The company of the Holy Infant


MY DELIGHTS ARE TO BE WITH THE CHILDREN OF MEN. (Prov. VIII, v. 31)
You will perform at the court of the king Jesus the service of childhood companions.
There is no sweeter or more amiable employ than this. Approach your loveable Master without fear; unite your heart to the Heart of this newborn infant; receive His sighs; dry His tears; never leave Him alone; instead stay continuously in His presence and renew without ceasing the offering of your heart and all that belongs to you.
Practice: Remembering the presence of God.
Aspiration: Oh, Jesus! That you be great and that you be admirable; that you be small and that you be loveable!


31: The Guardian of the Holy Family.


MAY THE LORD BLESS YOU AND KEEP YOU. (Numb. VI, v. 24.)
You will perform at the court of the king Jesus the service of the guardian of the Holy Family.
With what joy and respect you should reside near your divine Savior, His Holy Mother and teacher during his childhood! Guard faithfully this precious treasure, and demonstrate a generous courage to scatter and combat the enemies that may try to remove you.
Practice: Energy.
Aspiration: Who separates me from your love? Oh, Jesus!

 

32: The Doorkeeper


BLESSED IS THE ONE WATCHING DAILY AT MY GATE. (Prov. VIII, v. 34.)
You will perform at the court of the king Jesus the service of doorkeeper of the stable.
Refuse entry into your heart to anyone but God, and be ever ready to allow Jesus to enter when He knocks at your door.
Practice: Silence: one word for men and one hundred for God.
Aspiration: Lord, place a guard at my mouth and a door at my lips. 

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