Novena to the Holy Child Jesus of Bethlehem
December 16 to 24
Inspired by the book Bethléem ou l’École de l’Enfant-Jésus (Bethlehem, or the School of the Child Jesus), by Msgr. Jean-Joseph Gaume.
These beautiful prayers are also proper as meditations all through the Christmas season and even all year round.
Day One ◊ December 16
The Eternal Word became man.
O sweet Jesus, Eternal Word made flesh, I give You thanks for becoming incarnate, for adopting our human nature to ennoble and restore it. In the Creation of the universe You manifested Your immense power, but now it is all the tenderness of Your mercy that You display in the redemption of fallen humanity. You become a man, subject to infirmities. You become our brother to lead us back to our Father. Only Your infinite Love could have inspired You to invent such loving follies.
O little Child Jesus, how can I make myself worthy of such a wonder of love and self-abasement? I, a vile sinner, seek to rise above everyone, whereas You annihilate Yourself to the point of taking the last place! Enough, O my God! I want to follow You on the way of Your humiliations by my loving acceptance of all the occasions in which this last place will be offered to me by Your divine Providence. Amen.
Day Two ◊ December 17
The Eternal Word was great and made Himself a little Child.
O sweet Jesus, Eternal Word made flesh, I give You thanks for hiding the greatness of Your Divinity beneath the appearance of a little Child. As the Prince of Peace, You come to effect the mediation between sinful man and an offended God. You make Yourself little to attract our hearts. You obey in order to atone. Fragile swaddling clothes imprison Your almighty power, to clearly show that it is by the power of Your obedience that You accomplish the salvation of the world.
O my dear little Child, I want to imitate You and become a child in my turn, since it is on this condition alone that I can be pleasing to You and enter into Your Kingdom. Wrap up my rebellious will in the swaddling clothes of Your divine Will, for I am resolved to conform my desires to Yours like a docile little child. By the merits of Your holy childhood, may Your holy Will henceforth be the rule of all my desires and all my actions. Amen.
Day Three ◊ December 18
The Eternal Word was mighty and made Himself weak.
O sweet Jesus, Eternal Word made flesh, I give You thanks for becoming weak for my love. You, the mighty God, wanted to experience all the frailty of our human nature. You sleep in a stable, You weep, You are cold. You feel all our infirmities, not only in Bethlehem, but throughout Your entire life; they will change as You grow older, but they will remain Your inseparable companions until death.
O divine Child of Bethlehem, eternity will not suffice for me to thank You for taking every human weakness upon Yourself. By acting in this manner, You opened the way for me. You showed me that despite my own weaknesses, I can attain the sanctity that You expect of me. Your example teaches me: I learn to mistrust myself and my incapacity in order to count solely on the help of the One who strengthens me and in whom I can do all things. Grant me, O Jesus, the grace to be very little in my own eyes and to place my trust in You alone. Amen.
Day Four ◊ 19 décembre
The Eternal Word was rich and made Himself poor.
O sweet Jesus, Eternal Word made flesh, I give You thanks for embracing poverty with all its consequences for love of men. You come down from heaven to rest upon a bit of straw. You exchange the company of Angels for that of two animals. You enkindle the Seraphim, yet You shiver in the cold. You hold up the heavens, yet You must be carried in others’ arms. You give nourishment to all that breathes, yet a little milk is needed to maintain Your life. You make the Saints happy, yet You weep. O my God, how Your examples preach to me! In them I discover the beauty of true poverty, which consists in despising all that is perishable in order to relish that which is eternal.
O little Jesus, veritable Poor Child of Bethlehem, I want to renounce everything in order to find You. Detach my heart from the earth by all the means You will see fit, for I want You to be the unique treasure of my soul here on earth. O Jesus, Eternal Wisdom, be truly my God and my All. Amen.
Day Five ◊ December 20
The Eternal Word was sublime and made Himself lowly.
O sweet Jesus, Eternal Word made flesh, I give You thanks for repairing the disobedience of man by the power of Your humility. Without availing Yourself of Your equality with God, You went from the throne of Your glory to the lowliness of a poor manger. You became an unknown for this world which You were going to redeem. What a lesson You give our hearts so avid for vainglory!
O divine Child! It is by Your humility that You want to be recognized. Your examples make contempt and humiliation lovable and of infinite value. My duty and my treasure is to love them, just as You loved them. Had I loved You, humiliation would have seemed sweet and pleasant to me. But since You promise to forgive a contrite heart, I am sorry for my life so contrary to Yours. I want to amend myself, and out of love for the humiliations of Your manger, I promise You to suffer in peace all the contempt, humiliations and rebuffs to which it shall please You to subject me. Amen.
Day Six ◊ December 21
The Eternal Word was the master and made Himself the servant.
O sweet Jesus, Eternal Word made flesh, I give You thanks because You, being the King of kings, lowered Yourself to the point of taking the condition of a slave. With this wonder of Your love, You released us from the devil’s yoke. You destroyed his empire by confounding the spirit of insubordination which is its foundation. To pride and disobedience, You opposed profound humility and total submission, making Yourself the servant of all.
O Monarch of the world, You became a slave for love of me! I am deeply confounded at the thought of Your manger, the eternal monument of your humiliations. I am ashamed at the thought of my pride, the memory of my follies and my ingratitude. I acknowledge my sin and am sorry for it. Your infinite merits, O my Saviour, enliven my hope. I await my pardon from Your inexhaustible goodness, which will not allow You to despise a contrite and humbled heart. Take the chains of Your love, put them on my hands and feet; may I never be able to break them nor make any movement contrary to Your Will. Amen.
Day Seven ◊ December 22
The Eternal Word was happy and made Himself suffer.
O sweet Jesus, Eternal Word made flesh, I give You thanks for wanting to incarnate in order to suffer. You could have redeemed us without any suffering, but what suited Your justice did not suit Your immense love. Infinitely happy with Your Father, You became a man of sorrows acquainted with suffering. As of the cradle, You embraced all the sorrows and hardships of our exile. You were the first to drink the remedy intended to heal our souls made sick by sin.
O divine Child, the heart that loves desires to share everything with its beloved. I therefore declare to You that I want to be Your disciple, take up my cross each day behind You. I would rather suffer close to You than have pleasure far from You. And if my soul is sometimes weighed down by sorrow, I will draw strength, courage and peace from Your example. O little Child Jesus of the Manger, I accept to suffer and to be scorned in order to resemble You. Amen.
Day Eight ◊ December 23
The Eternal Word was innocent and made Himself guilty.
O sweet Jesus, Eternal Word made flesh, I give You thanks for bringing salvation to the world by clothing Yourself with the guilt of sin. I see You in Your poor stable, condemned to all the sufferings deserved by sinners. In contemplating the abjection to which Your love for me has reduced You, I acknowledge that I am guilty before You and before men. I am alarmed by the number and gravity of my sins, and by my incapacity to pay for them. For this reason, O Holy Child Jesus, ask Your divine Mother to take me in Her arms and offer me with You to the Eternal Father. You paid for me. You intercede for me. You have done my penance. That is why You suffered, why You carried the cross. I want to repair my sins by accepting each one of Your purifying interventions in my life.
O Jesus, Redeemer of the world, and many times Redeemer of my soul, I surrender, You have loved me too much! Make me a prisoner of Your love, so that until my dying breath I may love You even more than I have offended You. Amen.
Day Nine ◊ December 24
The Eternal Word was His Own and made Himself our own.
O sweet Jesus, Eternal Word made flesh, I give You thanks for making Yourself ours. In the manger, You give Yourself to abide in each one of Your disciples as an interior Teacher who explains His lessons, makes them enjoyable and communicates the strength to practice them. You came down on earth to speak with man, become his brother and give Yourself entirely to him.
What am I to do, O my lovable Child, in the presence of the excess of Your gift? I want to give myself in my turn and give You love for love. I place my will in Your hands, since it is the unique obstacle between You and me. I do not want You to have called me in vain. Behold my heart, my body, my soul, my life, my death; I bring You everything. I offer it to You by the most pure hands of Your divine Mother, who is also my Mother, and by the hands of Saint Joseph, Your foster Father and my protector. Receive everything, keep everything until the day of eternity, when I will no longer be able to lose You, but will rejoice eternally over having given myself to You. Amen.