Retreat with St. Paul of the Cross – Day 32, December 24,1720

     On Christmas Eve, 1720 Paul Daneo wrote: “I was more deeply recollected with tears especially at holy Communion. On this holy night I was also recollected but not to the same extent. I also felt much tenderness especially in remembering the infinite love of our dear God in becoming man, in being born amid such lack of comfort and in such poverty; and then I took my rest in God.”

     Orlando’s entry: On this blessed day our Lord gives Paolo wonderful “Christmas gifts” of recollection, tenderness, Divine Love, and, so importantly, Spiritual Poverty. Later in life, Paul of the Cross wrote this: “ During the season of Advent, humble yourself even more than usual as you consider the Infinite Goodness of God, who wanted to become so little with a human nature like ours. He hid Himself in the womb of the Immaculate Virgin. Love this Infinite Good with the most gentle Heart of that great Lady, Mary Most Holy. God will teach you how.”     He also wrote: “ I desire that in these days especially your soul should be raised to the contemplation of the unspeakable mystery of mysteries: the Incarnation of the divine Word. I desire that you let your spirit take flight to visit Mary Immaculate, pregnant with the Son of God. There let your soul be absorbed in deepest amazement and loving wonder at one so immense becoming so little; at infinite grandeur becoming so small for us.” Here is another insight on how he might have felt that night: “Concerning the Most Holy Night of Christmas Eve, I do not give you any practices of devotion. But often caress The Holy Babe. Be little and humble, so that Mary most holy, when she sees your heart so little and childlike through humility, will let you embrace the Divine Infant.”      Near the end of his life, in the company of one of his disciples, Rosa Calabresa, Paolo was actually given this incredible gift from God through the Blessed Mother, in a powerful vision where he was allowed to hold the Baby Jesus in his arms.

     Berta’s entry: Dear Lord Jesus, as I read Paolo’s entry today on Christmas Eve, it immediately took me to all the children in the world today that are born “amid such lack of comfort and in such poverty”. My God, do You have a special place in Your heart for them? We celebrate Your birth into such poverty because You chose to come to earth in all humility and vulnerability. You wanted us to understand that You came for the poor and the downtrodden. But, my Jesus, I’m sure these parents would have liked a better environment for their children to be born in. They also said “Yes” to the call of parenthood, and I’m sure they love their children as much as Mary and Joseph loved You. These children, born to poverty, war, and suffering, deserve our love and attention also. Help us love them as much as You do, my Lord. Help us not to turn our eyes away and change the channel. They are our neighbors. They are to be loved by us because You asked us to.     My Lord Jesus, on this night of celebration for Your birth, let us not forget the poor, the refugee, the mentally ill, the children born to war and hunger. Let us reach out to them like we do to You. They reflect You, my Jesus. Give us the gift of empathy and compassion so we can really see!  

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