Saturday, December 25, 2010

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about...

December 25th, Christmas Day
On this Christmas day, we take a moment to meditate upon the Nativity of Christ our Lord. Here follows the revelation of the Birth of Christ, as it was given to St. Bridget.
"When I was present by the manger of the Lord in Bethlehem I beheld a Virgin of extreme beauty wrapped in a white mantle and a delicate tunic through which I perceived her virginal body. With her was an old man of great honesty and they had with them an ox and ass. These entered the cave and the man having tied them to the manger went out and brought in to the Virgin a lighted candle which having done he again went outside so as not to be present at the birth. Then the Virgin pulled off the shoes from her feet, drew off the white mantle that enveloped her, removed the veil from her head laying it beside her, thus remaining only in her tunic with her beautiful golden hair falling loosely over her shoulders. Then she produced two small linen cloths, and two woollen ones of exquisite purity and fineness which she had brought to wrap round the Child to be born, and two other small cloths to cover His head, and these too she put beside her. When all was thus prepared the Virgin knelt with great veneration in an attitude of prayer; her back was to the manger, her face uplifted to heaven and turned toward the East.

"Then, her hands extended and her eyes fixed on the sky she stood as in an ecstasy, lost in contemplation, in a rapture of divine sweetness. And while she stood thus in prayer I saw the Child in her womb move; suddenly in a moment she gave birth to her own Son from whom radiated such ineffable light and splendour that the sun was not comparable to it while the divine light totally annihilated the material light of St. Joseph's candle. So sudden and instantaneous was this birth that I could neither discover nor discern by what means it had occurred. All of a sudden I saw the glorious Infant lying on the ground naked and shining, His body pure from any soil or impurity. Then I heard the singing of the angels of miraculous sweetness and beauty. When the Virgin felt she had borne her Child immediately she worshipped Him, her hands clasped in honour and reverence saying: 'Be welcome my God, my Lord, my Son.'
"Then, as the Child was whining and trembling from the cold and hardness of the floor where He was lying, He stretched out His arms imploring her to raise Him to the warmth of her maternal love. So His Mother took Him in her arms, pressed Him to her breast and cheek, and warmed Him with great joy and tender compassion. She then sat down on the ground laying the Child on her lap and at once began to bestow on Him much care tying up His small body, His legs and arms in long cloths, and enveloped His head in the linen garments, and when this was done the old man entered, and prostrating himself on the floor he wept for joy. And in no way was the Virgin changed by giving birth, the color of her face remained the same nor did her strength decline. She and Joseph put the Child in the manger, and worshipped Him on their knees with immense joy until the arrival of the Kings who recognized the Son from the likeness to His Mother."
Notice a couple things about the account:
1) The sanctity and mystery of the Birth – St. Joseph does not even remain, for no man will ever understand the generation of the Son.
2) The purity of the Birth – The Blessed Virgin Mary, without loss to her virginity, gives birth to the Child in a manner which is ineffable. Mary suffered no pains in childbirth. The Nativity did not harm the virginity of the Mother of God, but consecrated it.
3) The Light has come into the world and it greatly outshines all worldly light – So great is the gift of God, redemption is even more wondrous than creation!
4) The Christ Child is true God – He is worshiped by the Virgin, his glory is manifest.
5) The Christ Child is true man – Just when you might be tempted to think that St. Bridget is getting carried away or over-emphasizing the Divinity of Christ, she tells us that the Child was cold, shivered and yearned for the comfort of his Mother. He who holds all creation in existence, deigned to be held and nurtured by Mary and Joseph.
6) St. Bridget’s revelation is a bit different from the account generally accepted in the West – She sees St. Joseph as an old man, but many Western writers claim that Joseph was young. She seems to have the Wise Men come on the very night of Christmas, whereas we in the West generally hold that they arrived thirteen days later. In these matters there is much room for diversity, let us not miss the forest for the trees.


Nick said...

Private revelation is no means an obligation to believe, no means a necessity to salvation, and no means part of the Apostolic Faith. Hence, no one is guilty of sin or in danger of Hell for rejecting any revelation he or anyone else received. In addition, private revelation is defined as a prophecy which the Church has approved: Therefore unapproved prophecies and condemned prophecies are not private revelations. As private revelation is not an obligation, necessity, or faith, unapproved and condemned prophecies are less so, and in the case of condemned prophecies are to be rejected by the faithful.

Having said, private revelations can help us better understand Public Revelation. To better understand this, it is necessary to understand the gift of prophecy and the role of the Holy Spirit in the Church, for the Spirit is the giver of prophecy and prophecies: Ergo there can be contradiction between what He tells us in Revelation and what He tells us in private revelation. Thus, it is not the minor details - like the color of Mary's hair, which are the product of the prophet's imagination - but rather the full revelation - the scene of the Nativity and actions of the individuals therein - which shows how revelations are oriented to Public Revelation.

Merry Christmas and thank you for sharing the glad tidings today :)

Anonymous said...

Although we are under no obligation to believe private revelation, we need such revelations to help the Holy Spirit in all ages which reject God and His loving care and teachings. This, indeed, includes *all* ages. The present article underscores the beauty and truth of the greatest gift that God has ever bestowed upon man - Salvation. We can *see* the Virgin, St. Joseph, the Child, and, yes, the animals all of whom lived up to the part they were assigned by a living and loving God.

This article should be kept, valued, read and reread at this time of great assault upon Faith and its place in our sad and sorrowful world. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the presentation of this lovely Christmas Gift.

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@Nick, I agree with your clarifications...private revelations are not necessary absolutely, but they are extremely helpful and generally "necessary" in a secondary sense (as helping us to reach heaven in a most fitting manner).

@Anonymous (10:31pm), Bless you! Let's spend some extra time in prayer this week, hidden away with Jesus, Mary and Joseph -- St. Bridget helps us so much in this effort, bringing us into the mystery.
Many Christmas blessings to you!

Nick said...

This is true, in the secondary sense. Don't wanna throw out one side of the truth (their secondary sense of necessity) for the other side of the truth (their not being necessary absolutely). Or as Saint Chry. said, "Christ cannot speak one thing out of side of His Mouth and another thing out of the other side of His Mouth" (paraphrasing)

Kaylan said...

Also, is it possible that God allowed St. Bridget to see what would be most comfortable to her time period and culture? In other words, the vision was affected by her own life story and told to her in such a way that she could understand or express. I still wonder if Mary felt pain at birth because in Jesus Passion, He experienced pain despite being sinless. Mary was free from original sin, but it does not mean she was spared the consequences of it. It would seem more practical if women were able to look up to Mary and know she endured the same trials that they endure in motherhood. This does not decrease any respect for our Lady nor does it decrease her holy and magnificent person. If anything, I would think it makes her understand humanity better and what the rest of us have to suffer??

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Kaylan, John Chrysostom writes most eloquently of Mary's suffering, saying that the pains she was spared in childbirth, she underwent in the Passion.

Absolutely speaking, there is no reason to say that Mary could not have suffered pains in childbirth. The whole Tradition, however, is unanimous in affirming that Mary was spared these sufferings. Moreover, St. Luke hints to this when he tells us that Mary, immediately after giving birth, wrapped the Child in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger -- I don't know about you, but I don't know of too many women who are capable of doing all that immediately after suffering the pains of childbirth! :-)

Finally, it would seem most unbecoming of Christ to harm his Mother upon his coming into our world...and there are many other reasons besides.
She who conceived a virgin, gives birth a virgin, and a virgin remains forever!

Blessings to you, and a Merry Christmas!

Nick said...

"Also, is it possible that God allowed St. Bridget to see what would be most comfortable to her time period and culture?"

Yes, private revelation is private: It is affected by the prophet's imagination, which in turn is affected by the times and culture.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting, this is beautiful. Interestingly, on point #6, the Orthodox Church as always held the belief that Joseph was an older man, that he was betrothed to the Virgin Mary as her guardian. He is always depicted in iconography as an old man.

In doing some additional research, I also found there was unanimous agreement on the question of Mary's ever-virgin state. Here is what I found: Of special note: The Early Church fathers all unanimously proclaimed that the blessed Theotokos was ever-virgin. This is continues to be the teaching of the Orthodox Church. However starting In 1883 and continuing to the 1920s, a group of protestant bible scholars met for the first time at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, near Niagara Falls and established the principles of Christian fundamentalism. Out of this conference movement came many of the new evangelical doctrines that we hear about like premilleniallism, the "Rapture", etc. It should be noted that under the leadership of American evangelical leaders of the Niagara Bible Conference the founding fathers of Fundamentalism] W.E. Blackstone, Charles Erdman, James H. Brookes, William Moorehead, A.J. Gordon, A.C. Dixon, C.I. Scofield, and J. Hudson Taylor, a teaching developed that was new to Christianity. They began to teach that there were additional children given to Mary by her husband Joseph and that while she was a Virgin at the time of the birth of Jesus, she was not ever-virgin. This Revisionist look at the scriptures changed a precious teaching 1900 years after the fact. The American evangelical movement began to teach something that was different from traditional Christianity. One should note that neither the Roman Catholic Church or the Protestant Reformers (Luther, John and Charles Wesley, and John Knox) taught this heresy, no indeed these Roman Catholic and Reform Churches actually agreed with the Orthodox Church in proclaiming this ancient teaching and belief/dogma that Mary was ever-virgin. It was in the American evangelical movement that false teaching about the Virginity of Mary began to be taught.

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@Anonymous (12:44am),
Thanks for the info regarding the root of the modern denial of Mary's perpetual virginity.

The Eastern Catholic Church has long been a great defender of orthodoxy...we can only pray that all those separated from the true doctrine which Christ has entrusted to St. Peter and his successors (as well as to the other Apostles and their successors, in union with the successor of the Prince of the Apostles) will one day be drawn into the full unity of the faith.


Nirmal said...

Thank you for the add research on point #6 I am surprised by the research done by the NBC see every one needs a reason to be recognized and to be come famous under the limelight. But why on the faith of the Catholic's. by saying Mother Mary is not ever virgin what do they gain nothing but mere attention The Catholic Church has stayed for ever and it will stay for ever because its foundation is on The Christ as St Paul say In 1st Corinthians 3:11 he never said that no one should but he says no one Could so no foundation is true compared to the one which is the foundation of the Holy Catholic Church who ever it may be who teach this false is to realize the verse Mathew 12:32 "He who says something against the Son of Man, will be forgiven,but he who says something against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven either in the age or in the ages to come". ones who do not believe in Gods Judgment will always be against him Faith is the only way to understand God and God's will and plan in simple terms no one would ever tolerate speaking ill about his mother why would or should God will His mercy should not be misunderstood that all whats said under the sky will be forgiven Rev Reginaldus i am to see your website for the 1st time in my 15 year ministry to the catholic church in india I wish to write to you to have many mysteries cleared God be with you and will pray for his wisdom to serve the catholic church

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