Holy Night

Have you ever been so awed by an event that you find yourself speechless? Such is Christmas.

Saint Bridget once had a vision of the nativity. Of course, a vision is not a news reel. It relates more the spiritual essence of an event rather than what an eyewitness might see. In reality, the spiritual impact of an event is truer than our sense perceptions could ever be. Our senses only see the surface. The spiritual reality expresses its eternal significance. With that in mind, I share her vision here.

“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 woolen 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 splendor 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 honor 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.”

The Desire of Your Heart is Your Greatest Prayer

The desire of your heart is far more important than the words you speak in prayer. If you say all the right words, but in your heart only hold selfish desires, then your prayer is for nothing. But if you cannot think of a single word to say, but in your heart desire God’s presence and authority in your life, then your prayer will resound in heaven. Do not set your heart on what you desire from God, but set your heart on God alone.

He Loved Us First

He Loved Us First

Truly you alone are the Lord. Your dominion is our salvation, for to serve you is nothing else but to be saved by you! O Lord, salvation is your gift and your blessing is upon your people; what else is your salvation but receiving from you the gift of loving you or being loved by you? That, Lord, is why you willed that the Son at your right hand, the One whom you made strong for yourself, should be called Jesus, that is to say, Savior, for he will save his people from their sins, and there is no other in whom there is salvation. He taught us to love him by first loving us, even to death on the cross. By loving us and holding us so dear, he stirred us to love him who had first loved us to the end.

 And this is clearly the reason: you first loved us so that we might love you not because you needed our love, but because we could not be what you created us to be, except by loving you.

 In many ways and on various occasions you spoke to our fathers through the prophets. Now in these last days you have spoken to us in the Son, your Word; by him the heavens were established and all their powers came to be by the breath of his mouth.

 For you to speak thus in your Son was to bring out in the light of day how much and in what way you loved us, for you did not spare your own Son but delivered him up for us all. He also loved us and gave himself up for us.

 This, Lord, is your Word to us, this is your all-powerful message: while all things were in midnight silence (that is, were in the depths of error), he came from his royal throne, the stern conqueror of error and the gentle apostle of love.

 Everything he did and everything he said on earth, even enduring the insults, the spitting, the buffeting the cross and the grave all of this was actually you speaking to us in your Son, appealing to us by your love and stirring up our love for you.

 You know that this disposition could not be forced on our hearts, my God, since you created us; it must rather be elicited. And this, for the further reason that there is no freedom where there is compulsion, and where freedom is lacking, so too is righteousness.

 You wanted us to love you, then, we who could not with justice have been saved had we not loved you, nor could we have loved you except by your gift. So, Lord, as the apostle of your love tells us, and as we have already said, you first loved us: you are first to love all those who love you.

 Thus we hold you dear by the affection you have implanted in us. You are the one supremely good and ultimate goodness. Your love is your goodness, the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son! From the beginning of creation it was he who hovered over the waters that is, over the wavering minds of us all, offering himself to all, drawing all things to himself. By his inspiration and holy breath, by keeping us from harm and providing for our needs, he unites God to us and us to God.

~ William of Saint Thierry

Desiring the Name of God

God revealed his name to Moses at the burning bush.

What does it mean to desire the Name of God?

To the ancient Hebrews, a person’s name was not just something to call someone, it embodied the essence of the person. We see this clearly when individuals experienced life changing events that resulted in the change of their name. Abram receives God’s promise and becomes Abraham. Jacob comes face to face with God and becomes Israel. Simon becomes Peter. Saul becomes Paul. Of course, God never changes but, like a multi-faceted jewel requires many names to describe the essence of his person. In the Bible, God’s name is given as Healer, Deliverer, Comforter, and Victor, to offer a few. In my book I list approximately 200 Biblical names or descriptors of God, and I do not claim the list is comprehensive. It is a great spiritual exercise to reflect on the names of God, and by them to explore God’s essence. When praying the Our Father, and you say, “Hallowed by thy Name,” meditate on 1 or 2. And then, ask yourself the question, “What does it mean to desire the Name of God?” Personally, I see a twofold answer. First, we desire God to be active in our lives. We desire God to be our healer, our deliverer, our comforter and our victor. Secondly, we are called to be the agents of Christ in the world. Therefore, in our daily interactions our words and deeds should bring healing, deliverance, comfort, and victory into the lives of those we interact with. For Christ is not only the one who saves us, he is the one who transforms us. In truth, they are both the same thing.

Click here to read a sample of Ed’s book.