Our Lord’s expectation of his Nativity, Part II – Fr H.J. Coleridge, 1885

“The Sacred Heart was burning with His own intense but tranquil fire of love for God and man.”

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The Nine Months
The Life of Our Lord in the Womb
Fr Henry James Coleridge
Part IPart II

Completion of the work in the womb

The obedience and humiliation of the Nine Months were on the eve of their accomplishment. His Sacred Body was formed perfect from the very beginning, and the glorious existence to which it had a right, had already been laid aside for the time, in order that it might be the fitting Body of Him Who was to be like us in all things, sin only excepted, and Who was to suffer on the Cross, for the salvation of the world.

The Life which He had led in the womb was a Life of intense self-abasement. This had enabled Him to make Himself more completely nothing in the presence of His God and Creator, and thus had added a new beauty to the homage which He had paid to Him. It was this worship of God on the part of the Sacred Humanity which had added a fresh dignity to the whole creation from the first moment of His Incarnation. God had at last been honoured by a worship perfect in its kind, worthy of Himself, and rendered to Him by a created Human Nature.

A Human Mind had received all that could be known of God. All His revelation of Himself in the universe, in the several natures whose marvellous harmony and order added its beauty as a whole to its beauty in every part, His teaching concerning Himself in His own Providence and in the inspired books, all had been adequately grasped and appreciated and understood, and a Human Heart had given back to the Creator the homage of a perfect love and a gratitude equal to His gifts, honouring Him as He deserved to be honoured, praising Him as He deserved to be praised, and making to Him the joyful sacrifice of the perfect surrender and oblation of Itself to His glory, and for the accomplishment of His particular decree and will in whatever He should ask of it.

All the great attributes of the Creator were now severally and fully honoured, His Power, His Goodness, His Beneficence, His Holiness, His Justice, His Mercy. The intelligent worship of God is the highest and noblest occupation of creatures capable thereof, and to those who know what it is it is the most perfect joy of which, their nature can partake. This had now begun in the Sacred Heart, and it was never to cease. It was to spread, from Him all over the human race, heart after heart was to catch the flame, which was to fill the whole universe for ever.

The Redemption

The Sacred Heart had now been filled with another great and overwhelming passion.

The eternal counsel of God for the redemption of the world by His own sufferings had been presented to Him at the first and accepted, as has been said, most willingly and obediently. All the details and particulars enfolded in this counsel and this commission had been made the daily food of the contemplations of the Sacred Humanity.

The offence to God, the mischief to man, the triumph to Hell involved in sin, not only in general, but in each particular transgression of. all that ever were to be, had been fully counted up. So also it was, with the particular sufferings, interior and exterior, by which all were to be expiated. So also it was with the provisions of grace, the methods of carrying home reconciliation to one soul after another, the ways of winning the perverse, of arousing the languid, of overcoming the obstinate, of fortifying the weak, how to save even the bruised reed, how to keep alive the sleeping fire in the smoking flax.

All the arrangements of the Church were rehearsed in the Sacred Heart in its retirement with God, her government, her administration, her ways of dealing with the world, nation after nation, generation after generation, her hierarchy, her Sacraments, her weapons of preaching, of catechising, of prayer, her religious rules, her devices of piety and inventions of devotion, the throne of Peter, the queenly reign of Mary.

Our Lord was to come forth, when He did come forth, with His work and its instruments all prepared in His Heart beforehand, all steeped, if so we may speak, in the prayers of the Nine Months.

Work in the souls of Mary and Joseph

Nor had He left Himself without a work of most intense actual perfection in the souls most near to Him. The Baptist leaping in the womb of St. Elisabeth witnesses to the truth and efficacy of this activity of our Lord. This opens to us a whole world of the operations of grace which followed on His Presence in the womb of Mary.

She herself was of course the greatest recipient of His grace, the most intelligent and faithful in her correspondence to the mighty blessings which that Presence brought home to her in an ever-increasing stream, and her sanctification during this time was a work of His which had no parallel in all that He had done in heaven or on earth. He had perfectly fitted her for her great office, as far as its duties had yet come into play, and prepared her for all that was yet to be.

In the same way, He had brought about the sanctifications next to hers in their magnificence and beauty, of St. Joseph and St. John, and all around, on those who had had any contact with Him in any way, any communication with His Mother, any intelligence of or share in the mystery, He had shed profusely and lovingly the gifts of grace which fitted them for the work they might have to do.

Who, indeed, can tell how large His bounty may have been in the preparation and sanctification of souls during this sacred time?

All now ready

And now all was prepared. The Sacred Heart was burning with His own intense but tranquil fire of love for God and man, and for the next onward step in the advance of His work. The appointed days were drawing to their close.

He had breathed into the heart of His Mother a longing, even more forcible than before, for the moment of the Nativity, and her prayers had long been rising up to Heaven for the accomplishment of the mystery.

The world was at peace. The hearts most dear to God were full of unwonted cravings, inspired by the Holy Ghost, the great master of prayer.

In the far East, the pious Kings, if the Star had not appeared to them at the date of the Incarnation itself, were watching the Heavens for some sign of what they had so much reason to expect.

Bethlehem, indeed, was not ready. Its people had no thought of who the strangers were who were drawing near its gates. But the place of which “the Lord had need” was ready, for no one would have thought of disputing with St. Joseph for the tenancy of the cave and the stable.

Our Lord lay tranquil and obedient in the womb of Mary, waiting only for the moment appointed by the will of His Father, to step forth into the world of which He was the King, leaving to her, as a parting gift of His Power, the unsullied and untouched Virginity which His Presence had consecrated for ever.

From Fr Henry James Coleridge, The Nine Months: The Life of Our Lord in the Womb, Burns and Oates, London, 1885, pp 359-62

Fr Henry James Coleridge SJ

What are the warnings that the final storm approaches?
The Church in the Last Days – Part I: How will we see her?
The Church in the Last Days – Part II: How will we know her?
One of the greatest pains of Purgatory and how to avoid it
What might Jairus’s Daughter tell us about the pains of Purgatory?
Our Lady, the Rosary and the Holy Souls
The Cleansing of the Temple – How Our Lord will come and purge our souls
The price of delay in relieving the souls in Purgatory
Our Lord’s expectation of his Nativity – Part I
Our Lord’s expectation of his Nativity – Part II
The Presentation of Christ – Candlemas, Passover and the buying-back of the firstborn
Persecution – What are its effects?
St Joseph – do the Gospels tell us more about him than we realise?


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