By Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
On the Dignity of the Child Jesus and His Most Holy Mother
Approach with me the crib of the Child God.
As we consider the infinite greatness of His birthplace, we will imagine a spacious grotto as high as a cathedral, with some of the stones arranged, as if by angels, in such a way as to remind us of the arches of the gothic Cathedrals of the Middle Ages.
We can also imagine the manger that served as a cradle for the Child God, the roughness of the wood sanctified by His Divine Presence. It is placed at a majestic point of the grotto; and a heavenly, golden light hovers over Him at that moment.
While still a newborn, the Divine Child lay in His crib with the majesty of a true King: King of all majesty and all glory; Creator of Heaven and Earth; God incarnate made man. From the first moment of His being, while “cloistered” away in His Mother’s womb, He had more majesty, grandeur, strength and power than all men throughout the history of mankind.
Imagine we are seeing all this mysteriously expressed on that Boy’s face. At times, as He moves, that movement reveals His kingly bearing. When He opens His eyes, we know we are in the presence of the Wisdom of the Ages.
A whole atmosphere of holiness surrounds those who approach Him. The very air one breathes has such purity that people do not even approach the place without asking forgiveness for their sins; but at the same time, the holiness emanating from the manger makes them want to amend their lives.
Also imagine Our Lady at the foot of the Child Jesus. She is truly a Queen. Her dignity and grandeur are so naturally a part of her being that even without wearing noble-looking garments, her dignity shines throughout the grotto.
Majesty Exuding from Sanctity
From where does all this majesty come? Sanctity.
Let us shift our meditation momentarily to consider a more recent example of this type of majesty. We will turn to Saint Therese, the Little Flower. It is written that even as a child she was so dear and imposing that her father called her “my little queen.”
During the process of her canonization, the gardener of the Carmel of Lisieux reported that he once saw a nun working with her back to him: she was Saint Therese. The devil’s advocate* then asked, “How could you know she was Sister Therese when she had her back to you?” The gardener’s response was very significant: “I knew it through the majesty of her bearing, for no other nun had such majesty.”
If Saint Therese was like that, what would Our Lady be like?
Imagine the Mother of God kneeling before her Child’s crib. She is so majestic, transcendent and pure, praying to the Child God. Invisibly, angels sing songs of glory and the whole atmosphere is permeated with so much sanctity as to transform the poverty of the stable into a royal court.
Now we approach the manger, feeling the greatness of the Divine Child. As Catholics, we are worshiping all that is noble, pure, holy and steadfast, to fight and sacrifice all for the glory of God. The Boy before us mysteriously draws to Him all the goodness and grandeur that flow from Him and yet are but reflections of Him. For is it not true that all forms of purity, all forms of holiness, only exist because of His holiness?
Thus, fending away from us sin, error, disorder and chaos, we do not even dare to raise our eyes to that magnificent scene of the Nativity in which order, hierarchy and splendor permeate everything.
*The term “devil’s advocate” refers to the popular title of the person appointed by the Roman Catholic Church to challenge a proposed beatification or canonization, according to the process used at the time of this writing.