Child Jesus: January 2012 Archives

The Triumph of Grace

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A few years ago, while in France I read a biography of Dom Vital Léhodey, entitled Frère Vital, ou le triomphe de la grâce, written by Father Michel Niassaut, a Trappist monk of the Abbey of Briquebec.

I decided to devote some time to translating part of the book for the readers of Vultus Christi. Here is Dom Léhodey's account of the Child Jesus in his life:

“I hasten to leave the account of my exterior life and come to the great devotion, I should say the grace of graces, which has been the charm and the fecundity of my existence. I attach great price to my priesthood, even more to my monastic vocation added to my priesthood. But for me, the grace par excellence was the entrance of my Beloved Little Jesus into my life. It has lasted for forty years; far from having lost its value with the passing of time, it is to me dearer and more precious than ever.

Up until the approach of my solemn profession, I had no special devotion to Our Lord the Child; I am astonished when I remember how many graces for me are attached to the feasts of Christmas. It was between a retreat that I made at Melleray in January 1895 and my solemn profession (7 July of the same year), that my adored Little Jesus made His entrance into my soul, very softly, without the noise of words, in attracting me by His love and His sweetness. Since then, His hold on me became ever greater; at the moment of my profession, it was already preponderant; very soon thereafter, the dear Little Jesus had taken all the place. Alas! I had great need of this in order to detach myself from all things; but I was far from having merited this inestimable favour.

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Personally, I have neither seen Him nor heard Him. Everything between us happens in the order of faith. From time to time, He makes me feel His presence and His action in more lively a way. The veil that hides Him becomes transparent. Certainly, it is not yet the clear vision, nor is it entirely the obscurity of pure faith. He doesn’t let Himself be seen; He lets me almost glimpse Him and it is so evident that He is there that I converse with my Most Holy Little Beloved as if I were seeing Him. But that is a rare exception; ordinarily He contents Himself with attracting the heart and by the heart, the mind and the will, but He hides Himself.

My life is occupied with offering Him multiple acts of love, of confidence, and of abandonment, of love especially, often touched with humility, profound adoration, and filial submission. The heart pours itself out in very simple acts, without looking for phrases nor feelings, saying the same things to Him over and over again, without growing weary. I think that He never wearies of hearing them, since He gives me the grace to continue. This exercise becomes a real work; it remains all the same a need of the heart. To sustain and stimulate my good will, I count my little acts on our rosary beads, so as not to fall below the measure that I fixed for myself and which is always increasing. At present, in order to fulfill it I have to begin straightaway at the earliest hour of the day and not lose a single of my free moments. I would not counsel this method to others if it does not suit them; for me it has been immensely helpful.

My Little Jesus draws me to Himself at about the age of five years, or at about the age three or four. In the beginning, there was a little bit of imagination and a fair amount of emotion. It has been a long time now that the emotional has disappeared almost entirely; very often, it is desert, bleak and arid. What holds me in this way is the Word of God become a child, out of love for His Father and for us; or else it is the Saviour and Physician of souls; it is the God of my heart, the Friend, the Spouse and above all the adorable Little Brother. But it is always the Holy Humanity united to the Word, and so my worship goes to the Word become a child. When He presents to my spirit His infinite grandeurs and my nothingness, His holiness, my faults and my miseries, I adore Him in making myself very small. If He allows me to glimpse the charms of His childhood, His heart so humble and so meek, His infinitely touching holy littleness, the astonishing simplicity of a little brother (and so He does ordinarily), it is the heart that responds to Him, saying to Him the same protestations of love endlessly again and again, and from time to time, making itself very little before Him who is so great. This has lasted lo all these forty years and I never weary of always repeating to Him the same things. Since then, I have never aspired after another way; my Beloved Little Jesus is enough for me. And why would I have sought anything else, since, “all good things came to me along with Him” (Wis 7:11). I should never how to retell Him my gratitude enough.

And, first of all, He taught me better to know Him, and by that very means, better to know His Father. Like so many others, before that, I was inclined to see in God the Master and the Dispenser of Justice, rather than the Father and the Saviour. He veiled the grandeurs that would have dazzled me; He very nearly hid from me His Passion, which would have frightened me. He made Himself so very little, so that I would not be afraid of living with Him. It pleased Him to show me the goodness of His heart, His love and His tenderness, His mercies and His mildness, His patience in bearing with me, His quickness to lift me up. Truly, He has a Saviour’s heart, a heart that doesn’t know how to become angry, that never tires of pardoning, of healing, and of loving, a heart that loves extremely His mission as Saviour and physician of souls. In truth, He also has the heart of a friend. How many times has He not come to console me in my sorrows, to rejoice with me on my anniversaries by His loving visits. Now it pleases Him to remind me that He has the heart of a man, which heart needs to love men and to be loved by men, the heart of a Child God, who loves candidly and is candidly happy to be loved. He reminds me too that I also have a heart that needs to love and to be loved, and that our hearts are made one for the other. Let us then love one another and never cease loving one another.

In thus making known to me the goodness of His heart, His and His tenderness, His mercy and His mildness, His astonishing simplicity, all things that make Him so lovable and so attractive in His Holy Humanity, He, by that very means, makes His divinity known to me. His Holy Humanity is, in fact, the most faithful mirror of His Divinity. All that is found in miniature, as it were, in his sweet Childhood, is found infinitely in the Word. And, since the Word is the Splendour of the Father and the image of His Goodness, in learning of my Little Jesus, I learn also of the Father and the Holy Spirit. They are, all Three, one and the same infinite Charity. The sweet Childhood of my Little Jesus has, therefore, been for me like the “Gate which is called Beautiful” (Ac 3:2), through which He introduces me just a little bit, so little, alas, into the sanctuary of the Divinity."

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"The Little Jesus also taught me to know myself. I have but too many reasons to make myself little: my past faults, my present miseries, temptations. All these things recall me ceaselessly to humility. My Little Jesus does not permit that I should forget them; He takes care to recall them to me, but bathed, as it were, in His mercy.

Nothing, however, preaches effacement, and nothing makes humility sweet and amiable to me as does my Little Jesus at the age at which I love to contemplate Him. He is infinitely great, infinitely holy as is His Father, by reason of His divine nature, and His Sacred Humanity is adorned with the most marvelous gifts of nature and of grace. But, in order to teach us to make ourselves little, He received the counsel to hide His Divinity and let let appear in His Sacred Humanity only what befits a perfect child of His age. So well does He observe this counsel that, with the exception of His Most Holy Mother and of Saint Joseph, forewarned by revelation, no one knew who He was, so simply did He make Himself the very little One! And I, who amount to so little, should I not be ashamed to make myself great, when He who is so great makes Himself so little? And since I love Him and I want to be loved by Him, is it not in becoming like Him that I will please Him, in shrinking myself, in making nothing of myself, as it were, so as to be His size and so as to be able to walk with Him, hand in hand?

He gives me the same teachings in the Holy Eucharist where He makes Himself so small, to the point of hiding even His Sacred Humanity. But, beneath the veils of the Sacrament, it is always my Child Jesus that I delight in contemplating in His holy littleness.

He shows me His lessons and His examples realized to perfection in His Most Holy Mother. The Mother resembles her Divine Son so perfectly. Their hearts are so united by the bonds of love that they will not to be separated. One cannot better win the Heart of the Son than by loving with Him His Mother who is so loving and so loved. It is by her that He entered into the world; even now one must ask her where He is when He hides Himself. And the role of the Mother, her great joy, is to lead us to her Son, in such wise that in going to Mary, I do not leave her Little Jesus. Nor do I leave Him when He draws me to honour Him in His Passion, so sorrowful for Him and so blessed for us: “tam beatae Passionis”, as we say in the Canon of the Holy Mass.

Since the death of my youngest brother, He draws me to make the Way of the Cross every day, except when it is impossible; and I find there so much comfort. But I must admit that even in contemplating His humiliations as our Victim of Love, and even as I find Him so great in His generous sacrifice, I need not to forget His sweet Childhood and I hasten to return to my Beloved Little Jesus.

He has taught me many other things; because His Heart, as we say in the litanies, contains all the treasures of knowledge and of wisdom. It is the “abyss of all the virtues”. But He was most especially my light and my guide in the Ways of Mental Prayer and in Holy Abandonment."

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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