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Bear thy Creator

December 31

Eve of the Feast of Mary, Mother of God

Mother benign of our redeeming Lord,

Star of the sea and portal of the skies,

Unto thy fallen people help afford –

Fallen, but striving still anew to rise.

Thou who dids’t once, while wond’ring

worlds adored,

Bear thy Creator, Virgin then as now,

O by thy holy joy at Gabriel’s word,

Pity the sinners who before thee bow.

-Roman Breviary, Antiphon of the Blessed Virgin

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Example of all Womanhood

December 26

Her Feet Shod with Holiness

And, if our faith had given us nothing more

Than this Example, of all Womanhood,

So mild, so merciful, so strong, so good,

So patient, so peaceful, loyal, loving pure –

This were enough to prove it higher and truer

Than all the creeds the world had known before.

Virgin, who lovest the poor and lonely,

If the loud cry of a mother’s heart

Can ever ascend to where thou art,

Into thy blessed hands and holy

Receive my prayer of praise and thanksgiving.

Let the hands that bore our Savior bear it

Into the awful presence of God;

For thy feet with holiness are shod,

And, if thou bearest it, he will hear it.

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Glory to God in the highest!

December 25

Tall men were these, the shepherds come from flocks

And wearing sheephides with the dew still wet

Upon the wool…

No further movement

Till the youngest, kneeling still, moved on

From out the rest, and when his eyes had marked

The swaddling bands… and did not shrink at what he saw.

The full words spilled out to her in eagerness

Of quiet flocks, the brightness of the sky…

The music that had sifted

Down, more fragile than the light of stars…

The upswept choirs and surge and flight of wings:

I bring you tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people: for this day is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger…Glory to God in the highest: and on earth peace to men of goodwill.

(Excerpted from A Woman Wrapped in Silence By John W. Lynch)

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Close against her heart

December 24

A little girl

Had wandered in the night, and now within

The shadows of a broken stall, was waiting,

While the night winds and the breath of time

Were moving over her.

The beat of pulses and the hush of heat

Had made a silence more intent within

Surrounding silence. Deepening of night.

…And then a moment’s fall,

…A sigh, unheard within the dark, and then…

She…wrapped him up in swaddling clothes, and laid

Him in a manger.

She knelt and held Him close against her heart,

And in the midnight, adoration fused

With human love, and was not separate.

And very near, the man named Joseph came.

He was the first

To find her thus, the first of all the world.

And when her faint smile called for him to take

Him for a breathless moment, he was first

To know there is no other blessedness.

(Excerpted from A Woman Wrapped in Silence By John W. Lynch)

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Joseph knew

December 23

There was no room for them within the inn.

And Joseph turned away.

To find again,

A woman wrapped in silence. Had she heard?

No sign appeared, nor stir of tranquil veil

To tell of it.

But Joseph knew. And silence and the glance

That smiled at him could not shut out the need

   For shelter that was yet unsaid. He knew!

And suddenly it rose in him again

What it was he knew, and what was here

Beseeching in the night. An innocence

That had been burnished flawless to return

All brightness, till the Inexhaustible

Had searched for her this last and utter grace

That left no more to give.

…Like blessedness that had not been before…

And he was guardian. Guardian!

Whose task to fear not, but to throw his life

About her as a cloak. To be a strength

Between her and the world’s uncertainties.

To fend, and guard, and break the fall of harsh

Rejection…

He had not thought refusal was a word

Remaining in a language that had held

Her name.

(Excerpted from A Woman Wrapped in Silence By John W. Lynch)

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