You, who are so great and rich, have made Yourself little and poor for us! You chose to be born far from home, in a stable, to be wrapped in swaddling clothes, to be nourished at Your Virgin Mother’s breast, to be laid in a manger between an ox and an ass. Today is the dawn of the new redemption, of the old restoration, of eternal happiness. Today the heavens have distilled honey throughout the whole world. Then, O my soul, kiss this divine manger, press your lips to the Infant’s feet and embrace them. Meditate on the shepherds watching their clocks, contemplate the angelic hosts, prepare to join the heavenly melody, singing with your lips and with your heart: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to men of good will.’
Since your condition obliges you to roll on the tempestuous sea of this world, try never to swallow its waters, but drink rather those of Divine grace, turning in all your needs with a loving, filial trust to the Source of Mercy. Love above all else, and fear to displease, the God of sovereign goodness who alone can make you happy both here and hereafter.
Saint Jane Frances de Chantal
Saint Gerard Majella, whose feast day it is today, is an interesting fellow. He was one of the first generation of Redemptorists, and he always turned heads wherever he went. He was carefree but serious. He was gentle but unflinching. He was a wanderer in an order that was becoming highly organized. And so on.
One of those interesting “contradictions” is his life comes from two different reports of his life, gathered in the first biographies. One report focuses on him being “always suffering” from childhood until adulthood and his death. Another tells us how he was, as he is best known today, “always cheerful” from childhood to adulthood and his death.
Is it impossible?
It would be impossible if pain cancelled out happiness. But in the Gospel, isn’t something special offered to us? Don’t the promises and the demands of the Gospel bring us this strange beatitude that passes above the things of this world and lets us change sadness into joy?
Yes, indeed. And so Gerard teaches us in words; he says:
Courage, suffer for God, because that way your pain will become a second paradise here on earth.
This is just one lesson from the life of Saint Gerard….