The Divine Infancy

Pax Christi! The month of December is dedicated to the “Divine Infancy.” As with so many consecrated phrases in the Religion, that innocent pairing of words touches upon a great mystery that a little child can understand, while the greatest minds of Christendom, past and future, could never completely scale its heights. For a moment, let us situate ourselves somewhere between the little child and the greatest minds — hopefully without ceasing to be childlike.

For there to be a “Divine Infancy,” there must be an Infant who is God. For that Infant to be known as an infant by us, He must be of our own ken — a man like us. In other words, if we do not see a baby, we will not know that Baby; if we do not see a boy, we will not know that Boy. Thus, for there to be the month of the Divine Infancy, there must first have been the Mystery of the Incarnation, the Mystery of the God-made-Man. There is no December 25 without March 25.

Why is it that the Father or the Holy Ghost did not become incarnate in Mary’s blessed womb? Why was it the Son?

Simply speaking, it was more fitting, because the Divine Infancy of Jesus is a created echo of the eternal sonship of the Second Person of the Trinity. God, for all eternity, has a Child, who is the Image (Col. 1:15, 2 Cor. 4:4) and the Wisdom (1 Cor. 1:24) of the Eternal Father.

The words of Psalm 2:7 speak of the eternal day of the conception of the Son: “The Lord hath said to me: Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee.” In the New Testament (Acts 13:33, Hebrews 5:5), this passage is applied to the incarnate Christ.

Compare this to Isaias 9:6 — made so popular by George Frideric Handel,’s “Messiah”: “For a CHILD IS BORN to us, and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace.”

It would not be fitting that the Father become a child in time, for He is not from any other divine Person. He is not a son. Nor would it be fitting for the Holy Ghost to be incarnate, since He is the breath of Love between the Father and the Son. He is not Himself a son.

It is fitting that if Mary would look at a Divine Person and say, “Thou art my son,” it would be that One Person to whom those words are spoken in eternity by the Father.

We have mentioned in the past the “three births” that the three Christmas Masses celebrate: the Word’s birth in eternity (Mass of Christmas Day), Jesus’ birth of Mary (Midnight Mass), and the birth of Christ in our souls by faith and Baptism (Mass at Dawn). These three births are all related, for the unique “Born One” of Eternity is born in time so that we may be “born of God” (1 John 3:9) — that is, made children of the Father.

Since Mary is the Mother of our Head, Jesus Christ, She is also the Mother of His members. Mary is Mother of the “Whole Christ.”

I have summed up these thoughts in a poem, “The Three Births,” which I append to this letter.

Permit me now, please, a two-paragraph tangent. A few letters ago, in considering the “combat against the errors of modernity,” I said that we must prosecute this battle “with or without the help of our clergy.” I received a letter from a priest who took exception to this. In my reply (which I think satisfied him), I wrote that the existence of a crisis in the priesthood, nearly universally acknowledged, could hardly be considered a radical or controversial idea.

Still, the reaction I received from this good priest reminded me that I have never, at least not in writing, collectively thanked all those good priests who support our Crusade in a variety of ways. They are many and diverse, secular and regular, Roman Rite and Eastern. They, along with the seminarians and religious who in any way support us are a source of consolation, encouragement, and help. THANK YOU, GOOD FATHERS!

Now, on behalf of all the brothers and sisters, I say sincerely, “Thank you!” to all our friends and benefactors for your generous support. Without it, we simply could not carry out our apostolate. I also ask for your continued benefactions, which remain truly needed. Your contributions go to the support of such things as:

  • The education and formation of our young religious brothers and sisters.
  • The material support of the priests who minister to us.
  • Our publications.
  • Our IHM School.
  • The expenses associated with our very fruitful Internet apostolate.
  • Maintenance of our physical plant.
  • Vehicle maintenance on the small, hard-driven fleet that shuttles our brothers and sisters far and wide to distribute our books and spread the Faith.

All the thoughts in this letter of Our heavenly Father, our loving Mother, and Divine Sonship, reminds us that Catholicism, dear readers, is a family affair. May your families be blessed by the Holy Family this Christmas, New Years, and Epiphany. God bless and Mary keep you all.

The Three Births

His birth in time transpired thus
At Beth’lem’s midnight manger
Where Joseph’s toil made all things well,
Kept maiden spouse from danger.

He forth from blessed womb did come
As light through crystal streaming,
Sans blight on Virgin’s radiance,
True God, a Baby beaming.

His birth in souls is oft renewed
Where water meets the Spirit,
The soul reborn is born in Him,
And He abides within it.

When Shepherds saw the Swaddling Boy
With Joseph and the Maiden
They understood the angel song,
God’s grace did them enlighten.

The ‘ternal birth ineffable,
Out time, and space, and death-shade,
In bosom of the Father-God,
Begets the Son who’s not made.

God’s Image true, the Selfsame’s Word,
Begot by Mind’s cognition,
With Father Consubstantial, He
Defies man’s comprehension.

Now all three births in one great Feast
We Christians jubilating,
At midnight, dawn, and bright of day
Three Masses celebrating.

And these three Mysteries unite
Round theme of sacred birthing:
The Son of God, the Virgin’s Boy
Makes us the Father’s offspring.

  • LionelAndrades

    The education and formation of our young religious brothers and sisters.
    Vehicle maintenance on the small, hard-driven fleet that shuttles our brothers and sisters far and wide to distribute our books and spread the Faith.
    Tantumblogo on The Blog for Dallas Area Catholics recently met a religious sister from the St.Benedict Center N.H.He seemed impressed that she did not hold the rigorist interpretation of the dogma.He considers the baptism of desire an exception to the dogma.
    Do you’ll still affirm the rigorist interpretation of extra ecclesiam nulla salus and while doing so put aside Vatican Council II ?The Council and extra ecclesiam nulla salus ( rigorist interpretation) are not compatible for Tamtamblogo.
    So how can you say that the St.Benedict Center accepts extra ecclesiam nulla salus?(And there are doctrinal criticisms of Medugorje on the Catholicism.org website!!)
    Do you’ll affirm the dogma as opposed to some parts of Vatican Council II ?
    _________________________
    For me there are no ambigous passages in Vatican Council II which contradict extra ecclesiam nulla salus. There are the orthodox passages. The passages which appear ambigous are those in which 1) the distinction between explicit-implicit , objective-subjective etc are not made and 2) an irrational premise is used because of the explicit-implicit, visible-invisible etc, distinction not being made.
    Try it out. I would ask you to show me an ambigous p assage with respect to extra ecclesiam nulla salus.LG 16,LG 15,LG 8,NA 2,UR 3 etc ? None of them are ambigous for me.Could you use my approach?

  • Mr. Andrades: I have no idea what you are talking about. None of our Sisters have been in the Dallas area in quite some time. Whatever your hearsay anecdote might suggest to you, SBC’s positions in these matters has not changed. It’s all written here on our site; we are not shy about it.

    You have manufactured a supposed position of ours based upon an anecdote related online, then proceeded to hurl a barrage of rhetorical questions founded upon the suspicion you have just raised.

    I am not interested in using your empiricist approach to theology.

  • schmenz

    You mean you don’t hang on his every word like the rest of us, as we whimper like hungry dogs before dinner time, awaiting the pearls that drop from his poor, overworked keyboard??

  • Joanie

    I say put the kibosh on Lionel. He is confused and confusing – and sooo tiresome. Just l’il ole me!

  • Italy’s most popular Christmas carol, written by St. Alphonsus de’Liguori, is not, I don’t think, out of place here.
    http://www.feastofsaints.com/stachristmas.htm

  • Thank you, Astrid! Leave it to an Estonian-Canadian convert to our holy Faith to post the most sensible Mediterranean response to all this.

    If you’ve never heard TU SCENDI DALLE STELLE sung all out of tune but CON GUSTO by well-meaning Italian ladies in Italian Harlem, you’d not know how you’ve struck a certain sentimental streak in your your humble webmaster, who has mysterious connections to Italian Harlem.

    http://legacy.fordham.edu/halsall/medny/rocchio.html

  • LionelAndrades

    Brother Andre Marie,

    Do you’ll still affirm the rigorist interpretation of extra ecclesiam nulla salus and while doing so put aside Vatican Council II ?The Council and extra ecclesiam nulla salus ( rigorist interpretation) are not compatible.

    So how can you say that the St.Benedict Center accepts extra ecclesiam nulla salus on your site?

    You will not use my ’empiricist approach to theology’ but will use a non empiricist approach, in which Lumen Gentium 16 etc are empirical exceptions to the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus ?

  • LionelAndrades

    Joanie,
    I consider myself a friend of the St.Benedict Centers,( with friends like these who needs enemies!!?? You must be thinking).
    I just want them to understand that Vatican Council II supports their ( our) traditional position on extra ecclesiam nulla salus.So it does not have to be either Fr.Loenard Feeney or Vatican Council II.
    However there would be tension with their bishops and others for whom the Council is a break with the dogma.I understand this.

  • LionelAndrades
  • Our position on Vatican II and the dogma is stated here, where you and I already went back-and-forth on it:

    http://catholicism.org/ad-rem-no-239.html#comment-1745003072

    Your questions strike me as rhetorical, as well as leading. Further, they are based on unsound premises. Whatever in them is worth replying to has been answered.

  • Your apology is accepted.

    I hope that you also realize that the round of questions you crafted for me was based upon a suspicion that was founded upon Internet hearsay that it now turns out you misread.

  • LionelAndrades

    Here are Catholics who do not interpret Vatican Council II with the false premise and so do not come to the false conclusion.
    Brother Andre Marie are you saying that they are wrong?

    Archbishop Thomas E.Gullickson says Vatican Council II does not contradict the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus and the Syllabus of Errors
    http://eucharistandmission.blogspot.it/2012/11/archbishop-thomas-egullickson-says.html#links

    DEAN OF THEOLOGY AT ST. ANSELM SAYS THERE ARE NO KNOWN EXCEPTIONS TO THE DOGMA EXTRA ECCLESIAM NULLA SALUS
    http://eucharistandmission.blogspot.it/2013/10/dean-of-theology-at-st-anselm-says.html

    CATHOLIC PRIESTS IN ROME AGREE WITH FR.LEONARD FEENEY: THERE IS NO BAPTISM OF DESIRE THAT WE CAN KNOW OF
    http://eucharistandmission.blogspot.com/2011/08/catholic-priests-in-rome-agree-with.html#links

    How can zero cases of something be considered exceptions ?- John Martigioni
    http://eucharistandmission.blogspot.it/2012/11/sspx-only-way-out-now.html#links
    Implicit intention, invincible ignorance and a good conscience (LG 16) in Vatican Council II do not contradict extra ecclesiam nulla salus –John Martigioni
    http://eucharistandmission.blogspot.it/2012/11/implicit-intention-invincible-ignorance.html#links
    ______________________________________________________________

  • LionelAndrades

    This still does not preclude you answering the basis questions on Vatican Council II and extra ecclesiam nulla salus. Or are you holding on to this as sinking swimmer clutching on to a straw.

  • Brian Kelly mentioned, in his talk at the 2008 annual conference, an Italian parish where the Bambino is lowered from the ceiling at Christmas. Hopefully he will comment on that here.

  • GeneDe

    Hello, Brother… as you know, I think, my memories of E. 116 St., Harlem, include the celebration/feasts of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel back in the early- to mid-fifties; my grandparents lived there; my dad survived the 20’s and 30’s after seeing some of his compatriots end up in prison or worse. He joined the CCC in the early 30’s and “escaped” the not-so-good elements in Harlem to become an orderly to a captain (para-military) in Wyoming/Montana, riding a horse. Not bad for a city-slicker!

  • Astrid: Brian is out for a few days. I, too, recall his relating this story.

    Yes, Our Lady of Mount Carmel is a special place, a holy place. I have not been there in years. I wonder what it’s like now.

  • I recall your dear Mom telling me about growing up there, GeneDe. There were surely not-so-good elements in the neighborhood: mostly the Mob, which was very present. Yet, Our Lady of Mount Carmel was graced by numerous miracles over a long time.

    It makes me think of St. Paul to the Romans: “And where sin abounded, grace did more abound” (Romans 5:20).

  • GeneDe

    Dear Brother, you are so right…
    This past Dec. 26th, the feast of St. Stephen, was the seventh anniversary of my Mom’s passing…

  • LionelAndrades

    For a practising Catholic in 2015 to suggest that the baptism of desire is an exception to the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus is a lost cause, a sinking ship.
    Wishing you all a Happy and Holy New Year, in the Church, outside of which there is no salvation.

  • LionelAndrades

    There was no apoology.Tantumblogo’s initial report referred to your center.That’s why you had to correct him.
    Later he corrected himself.This is what I have mentioned.
    You have not answerede questions related to your apolstolate and have removed many posts of mine.

  • You said “Sorry.” I took that as an apology.

    Yes, two of your postings were removed for inappropriate content. In one of them, you attacked not only our community, but one of the other houses of the MICM in Still River.

    I have entertained your questions, Mr. Andrades. At some length, we “dialogued” regarding your opinion regarding theories of baptism of desire and invincible ignorance not being exceptions to extra ecclesiam nulla salus for the single unconvincing reason that we cannot see dead people. You admitted that there is no philosophical or theological principle underlying your excogitations on the matter. I politely stated that I did not accept your empiricism, and illustrated why it is not appropriate in Catholic theology.

    You now persist not only in re-asking the same questions of me in different words, but in slanderous talk of more than one MICM house.

    I do not frequently blacklist people on this site, but I will do so if you continue.