O God who are the only source of health and healing, the spirit of calm and the central peace of this universe, grant to your servants such a consciousness of your indwelling and surrounding presence that we may permit you to give us health and strength and peace, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
I BEHOLD a new and wondrous mystery. My ears resound to the Shepherd’s song, piping no soft melody, but chanting full forth a heavenly hymn. The Angels sing. The Archangels blend their voice in harmony. The Cherubim hymn their joyful praise. The Seraphim exalt His glory. All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead here on earth, and man in heaven. He Who is above, now for our redemption dwells here below; and he that was lowly is by divine mercy raised.
Bethlehem this day resembles heaven; hearing from the stars the singing of angelic voices; and in place of the sun, enfolds within itself on every side, the Sun of justice. And ask not how: for where God wills, the order of nature yields. For He willed, He had the power, He descended, He redeemed; all things yielded in obedience to God. This day He Who is, is Born; and He Who is, becomes what He was not. For when He was God, He became man; yet not departing from the Godhead that is His. Nor yet by any loss of divinity became He man, nor through increase became He God from man; but being the Word He became flesh, His nature, because of impassability, remaining unchanged.
And so the kings have come, and they have seen the heavenly King that has come upon the earth, not bringing with Him Angels, nor Archangels, nor Thrones, nor Dominations, nor Powers, nor Principalities, but, treading a new and solitary path, He has come forth from a spotless womb.
Since this heavenly birth cannot be described, neither does His coming amongst us in these days permit of too curious scrutiny. Though I know that a Virgin this day gave birth, and I believe that God was begotten before all time, yet the manner of this generation I have learned to venerate in silence and I accept that this is not to be probed too curiously with wordy speech. For with God we look not for the order of nature, but rest our faith in the power of Him who works.
What shall I say to you; what shall I tell you? I behold a Mother who has brought forth; I see a Child come to this light by birth. The manner of His conception I cannot comprehend.
Nature here rested, while the Will of God labored. O ineffable grace! The Only Begotten, Who is before all ages, Who cannot be touched or be perceived, Who is simple, without body, has now put on my body, that is visible and liable to corruption. For what reason? That coming amongst us he may teach us, and teaching, lead us by the hand to the things that men cannot see. For since men believe that the eyes are more trustworthy than the ears, they doubt of that which they do not see, and so He has deigned to show Himself in bodily presence, that He may remove all doubt.
Christ, finding the holy body and soul of the Virgin, builds for Himself a living temple, and as He had willed, formed there a man from the Virgin; and, putting Him on, this day came forth; unashamed of the lowliness of our nature’. For it was to Him no lowering to put on what He Himself had made. Let that handiwork be forever glorified, which became the cloak of its own Creator. For as in the first creation of flesh, man could not be made before the clay had come into His hand, so neither could this corruptible body be glorified, until it had first become the garment of its Maker.
What shall I say! And how shall I describe this Birth to you? For this wonder fills me with astonishment. The Ancient of days has become an infant. He Who sits upon the sublime and heavenly Throne, now lies in a manger. And He Who cannot be touched, Who is simple, without complexity, and incorporeal, now lies subject to the hands of men. He Who has broken the bonds of sinners, is now bound by an infants bands. But He has decreed that ignominy shall become honor, infamy be clothed with glory, and total humiliation the measure of His Goodness.
For this He assumed my body, that I may become capable of His Word; taking my flesh, He gives me His spirit; and so He bestowing and I receiving, He prepares for me the treasure of Life. He takes my flesh, to sanctify me; He gives me His Spirit, that He may save me.
Come, then, let us observe the Feast. Truly wondrous is the whole chronicle of the Nativity. For this day the ancient slavery is ended, the devil confounded, the demons take to flight, the power of death is broken, paradise is unlocked, the curse is taken away, sin is removed from us, error driven out, truth has been brought back, the speech of kindliness diffused, and spreads on every side, a heavenly way of life has been ‘in planted on the earth, angels communicate with men without fear, and men now hold speech with angels.
Why is this? Because God is now on earth, and man in heaven; on every side all things commingle. He became Flesh. He did not become God. He was God. Wherefore He became flesh, so that He Whom heaven did not contain, a manger would this day receive. He was placed in a manger, so that He, by whom all things arc nourished, may receive an infant’s food from His Virgin Mother. So, the Father of all ages, as an infant at the breast, nestles in the virginal arms, that the Magi may more easily see Him. Since this day the Magi too have come, and made a beginning of withstanding tyranny; and the heavens give glory, as the Lord is revealed by a star.
To Him, then, Who out of confusion has wrought a clear path, to Christ, to the Father, and to the Holy Ghost, we offer all praise, now and for ever. Amen.
And they, the people of that time, they preferred to take refuge in a more elaborate religion: in the moral precepts, like that group of Pharisees; in political compromise, like the Sadducees; in social revolution, like the zealots; in gnostic spirituality, like the Essenes. They were happy with their clean, well-made system. But not the preacher, no. Even Jesus reminds them: ’ Your fathers did the same with the prophets’. The people of God have a certain allergy for preachers of the Word : the prophets, they persecuted them, they killed them.
(These people say they accept the truth of revelation) but the preacher, his preaching, no. They prefer a life caged in their precepts, in their compromises, in their revolutionary plans or in their disembodied spirituality. Those Christians are always discontent with what preachers say.
These Christians are closed, they are trapped, sad … these Christians are not free. Why? Because they are afraid of freedom of the Holy Spirit, which comes through preaching. And this is the scandal of preaching, of which St. Paul spoke: the scandal of preaching that ends up in the scandal of the Cross. It is shocking that God speaks to us through men with limits, sinful men: shocking! And more shocking that God speaks to us and saves us through a man who says he is the Son of God but ends up like a criminal. That is shocking.
These sad Christians do not believe in the Holy Spirit , do not believe in the freedom that comes from preaching, which cautions you, teaches you, even slaps you; but it is the very freedom that makes the Church grow.
Seeing these children who are afraid to dance, to cry, afraid of everything, who seek certainty in everything, I think of these sad Christians who always criticize the preachers of the truth because they are afraid to open the door to the Holy Spirit. Let us pray for them, and pray also for us, that we do not become sad Christians, cutting off the Holy Spirit and the freedom that comes to us through the scandal of preaching.
I swear to god I will lose my mind if I hear the “sex sells” fallacy one more time. Sex does not sell. If sex sold, we would see penises where we see boobs. Naked men would be on everything that naked women are on. Sex isn’t what they’re selling you. They’re selling you an impossible, pornographically fueled misogynistic idea of the perfect woman.
With chaste heart, and pure
I celebrate you, my beauty,
Holding the leash of blood
So that it might leap out and trace your outline
Where you lie down in my Ode
as in woodland, or wave-spume:
Equally beautiful your feet
Arched by primeval tap of wind or sound
Your ears, small shells
Of the splendid American sea
Your breasts of level plentitude
Fulfilled by living light
Your flying eyelids of wheat
Revealing or enclosing
The two deep countries of your eyes
The line your shoulders have divided into pale regions
Loses itself and blends into the compact halves of an apple
Continues separating your beauty down into two columns of
To sink into the two grapes of your feet
Where your twin symmetrical tree burns again and rises
A swelling fruit
Over the pact of sea and earth
From what materials
did it flow, was it gathered?
Swelling like baking bread to signal silvered hills
The cleavage of one petal
Sweet fruits of a deep velvet
Until alone remained
The fine and firm feminine form
It is not only light that falls over the world spreading inside your body
Yet suffocate itself
So much is clarity
Taking its leave of you
As if you were on fire within
The moon lives in the lining of your skin.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life. I have hurt many people who are very close to me. I have made choices,...