Friday, December 24, 2010

Vision of the Nativity

St. Luke's Gospel doesn't give us very many details about what really happened on that Holy Night when Jesus was born.  It's always left me wondering how exactly Mary had Jesus and what her and Joseph felt.  I mean, the birth of a baby with all it's labor, pain, and bodily fluids and not a very picturesque way for God to make His appearance on earth.   And how was Jesus as a baby? Did He know that He was God even as a baby? Was he different than any other baby?  These things have always made me wonder until recently, I read the most beautiful description of that Holy Night from a vision of St. Bridget of Sweden.  This is from an alphabet book of saints called, To See the Little Jesus! To See His Blessed Mother! (Available for purchase here).  When I read aloud this excerpt to my son on the day we did the letter B, for St. Bridget, I had to stop reading because it was so moving. 

The background story is that St. Bridget of Sweden makes a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  When she reaches the place where Jesus was born, she kneels down to kiss the silver star (a star that marks the spot where Jesus was born).  This is when the room disappears and she has this vision:

"When all things were now ready, the Maiden knelt down with great awe and began to pray.  She turned Her back to the manger, but lifted Her face towards Heaven and looked to the East.  And with hands uplifted and Her eyes towards Heaven she knelt without moving, wrapped in divine sweetness.

While She was thus absorbed in prayer, I saw That which was in Her womb move, and in a moment She gave birth to Her Son.  [on other accounts of her vision, I've read that St. Bridget saw a light pass through her womb at the moment Jesus was born. He lay on the ground pure and clean, free of any soil].

And so much light went from Him that the taper in the stone wall no longer gave any light...

But when the Maiden felt that She delivered, She bent Her head and folded Her hands, and with great awe She adored the Child and said to Him: 'Welcome, my God, my Lord, and my Son!"

Then the boy wept and trembled with cold on the hard floor, and stretched out His little hands to His Mother, and She took Him up and laid His cheek against Hers and Him to her breast with joy and great compassion.

And She sat down on the floor and laid Him on Her knees and began to swathe Him first with the linen cloths and then with the woolen pieces, and at last, wound the whole about His little body, legs and arms in one swaddling cloth, and swathed His head in the two woolen pieces that She had brought with Her.

St. Joseph threw himself upon his knees, adoring the Child and weeping for joy.  And in the Virgin there was no weakness as in other women when they are delivered.  She stood up with the Child in Her arms, and She and Joseph laid Him in the manger and adored Him with great joy.  And then I heard wonderful sweet singing of many Angels. 

There are so many things to ponder in this vision, but the thing that really strikes me the sublime holiness and deep adoration of Mary toward her baby, Jesus.  She has a full understanding of how He can be her God and baby and the same time.  It's an amazing and beautiful thing to behold. 

May God give us the gift of Mary's understanding and faith this Christmas.

Have a Blessed Christmas!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing this, Sarah. What a beautiful Christmas meditation!