The Joyful Mysteries

The Third Mystery: The Nativity
The Fruit: Detachment from the World


1. The Most Pure Mary and the Glorious St. Joseph departed from Nazareth for Bethlehem alone, poor and humble in the eyes of the world. None of the mortals thought more of Them than what was warranted by Their poverty and humility. They did not walk alone, poor or despised, but prosperous, rich and in magnificence, for They were most worthy of the immense love of the Eternal Father and most estimable in His Eyes. They carried with Them the Treasure of Heaven, the Divine Saviour Himself. The whole court of the celestial ministers venerated Them.

2. They knocked at the doors of their acquaintances . . . but They were admitted nowhere and in many places they were met with harsh words and insults. The most modest Queen followed Her spouse through the crowds of people, while he went from house to house and from door to door.

3. The most faithful Joseph, said: "My Sweetest Lady, my heart is broken with sorrow at the thought of not only being able to shelter Thee as Thou deservest and as I desire . . . No doubt Heaven, in thus allowing the hearts of men to be so unmoved as to refuse us a night-lodging, conceals some mystery. I now remember outside the city walls there is a cave, which serves as a shelter for the shepherds and their flocks. Let us seek it out . . . The most prudent Virgin answered: "My spouse and My master, let not thy kindest heart be afflicted because the ardent wishes which the love of Thy Lord excites in thee cannot be fulfilled. Since I bear Him in My womb, let us give thanks for having disposed events in this way. The place of which Thou speakest shall be most satisfactory to me. Let Thy tears of sorrow be turned to tears of joy, and let Us lovingly embrace poverty, which is the inestimable and precious treasure of My Most Holy Son. He came from Heaven in order to seek it, let Us then afford Him an occasion to practice it in the joy of Our Souls; certainly I cannot be better delighted than to see Thee procure it for me." The holy Angels accompanied Them and when they arrived at the city gate They saw that the cave was unoccupied.

4. They entered lodging thus provided for Them and by the effulgence of the Angels They could easily ascertain its poverty and loneliness, which they esteemed as favors and welcomed with tears of consolation and joy. Without delay They fell on Their knees and praised the Lord, giving Him thanks for His benefit, which They knew had been provided by His wisdom for His Own hidden designs. Of this mystery the Heavenly Princess Mary had a better insight; for as soon as She sanctified the interior of the cave by Her sacred footsteps She felt a fullness of joy which entirely elevated and vivified Her.

5. After their supper they gave thanks to the Lord as was their custom. Having spent a short time in this prayer and conferring about the mysteries of the Incarnate Word, the Most Prudent Virgin felt the approach of the Most Blessed Birth. She requested Her spouse St. Joseph to betake Himself to rest and sleep as the night was already far advanced. The man of God yielded to the request of His Spouse . . .

6. "And She brought forth Her first born Son and wrapped Him up in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger . . ." [St. Luke 2:7]

The Infant God was brought forth from the virginal chamber unencumbered by any corporeal or material substance foreign to Himself. But He came forth glorious and transfigured for the Divine and Infinite Wisdom decreed and ordained that the Glory of His Most Holy Soul should in His Birth overflow and communicate itself to His body, participating in the gifts of glory in the same way as happened afterwards in His Transfiguration on Mount Tabor in the presence of the Apostles [St. Matth. 17:2].

7. The shepherds of the region watching their flocks were especially blessed [St. Luke 2:8]; not only because they accepted the labor and inconvenience of their calling by the Archangel Gabriel with resignation at the hands of God, but also because, being poor and humble, and despised by the world, they belonged in sincerity and uprightness of heart to those Israelites, who fervently hoped and longed for the coming of the Messias. They exhibited in the circumstances of their calling the office, which the good Shepherd had come to fulfill in knowing His Sheep and being known to them. Hence they merited to be called and invited, as the first fruits of the Saints by the Savior Himself, to be the very first ones, to whom the Eternal and Incarnate Word manifested Himself and by whom He wished to be praised, served and adored.

"Ye upright men, be not afraid: for I announce to you tidings of great joy, which is, that for you is born today the Redeemer Christ, Our Lord, in the City of David. And as a sign of this troth, I announce to you, that you shall find the Infant wrapped in swaddling-clothes and placed in a manger" [St. Luke 2:10, 12]. At these words of the angel, suddenly appeared a great multitude of the celestial army, who in voices of sweet harmony sang to the Most High these words: "Glory to God in the highest and earth peace to men of good will."

Prostrating themselves on the earth they adored the Word made Flesh, not any more as ignorant rustics, but as wise and prudent men . . .

8. Bethlehem had its own synagogue, but no sacrifices were offered; this was reserved for the temple of Jerusalem, except when the Lord commanded otherwise. But the priest, who was the teacher of the law was usually also charged with administering the circumcision; in order to show as much exterior reverence for the sacred rite of circumcision as was possible, St. Joseph lighted two wax candles. The priest requested the Virgin Mother to consign the Child to the arms of the two assistants and withdraw for a little while in order not to be obliged to witness the sacrifice. This command caused some hesitation in the Great Lady; for Her humility and spirit of obedience inclined Her to obey the priest, while on the other hand She was withheld by the love and reverence for Her Only Begotten. In order not to fail against either of these virtues, She humbly requested to be allowed to remain, saying that She desired to be present at the performance of this rite, since She held it in great esteem, and that She would have courage to hold Her Son in Her arms, as She wished not to leave Him alone on such an occasion. All that She would ask would be that the circumcision be performed with as much tenderness as possible on account of the delicacy of the Child. The priest promised to fulfill Her request, and permitted the Child to be held in the arms of His Mother for fulfilling the mystery. He was given the name, Jesus.

9. The three Magi Kings, who came to find the Divine Infant after His Birth, were natives of Persia, Arabia, and Sabba [Ps. 71:10]. By their knowledge of Scripture, and by conferring with some of the Jews, they were imbued with a belief in the coming of the Messias expected by the people. They were, moreover, upright men, truthful and very just in the government of their countries. In the same night in which the Incarnate Word was born, they were informed of His Birth by the ministry of the Holy Angels.

The Three Kings prepared gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh in equal quantities, and at the same time the Holy Angel, who had brought the news from Bethlehem to the Kings, formed of the material air a most resplendent star, although not so large as those of the firmament; for it was not to ascend higher than was necessary for the purpose of its formation: to guide the Holy Kings to the cave, where the Child awaited them. Its splendor was of a different kind from that of the sun and the other stars; with its most beautiful light it illumined the night like a brilliant torch, and it mingled its own most active brilliancy with that of the sun by day. On coming out of their palaces each one of the kings saw this new star [St. Matth. 2:2] although each from a different standpoint . . .

The Magi pursued their journey under the guidance of the star without losing sight of it until they arrived at Jerusalem. As well on this account as also because this city was the capital and metropolis of the Jews, they suspected that this was the birthplace of Their Legitimate and True King. They entered into the city and openly inquired after Him, saying [St. Matth. 2:8]: "Where is the King of the Jews, Who is born? For we have seen His star in the East, announcing to us His Birth and we have come to see Him and adore Him." Their inquiry came to the ears of Herod, who at that time unjustly reigned in Judea and lived in Jerusalem. The wicked king, panic-stricken at the thought that a more legitimate claimant to the throne, asked the Magi to tell him when and where they found this new King.

10. On leaving Jerusalem the Magi again found the star, which at their entrance they had lost from view. By its light they were conducted to Bethlehem and to the cave of the Nativity. The Three Kings of the East entered and at the first sight of the Son and Mother they were for a considerable space of time overwhelmed with wonder. They prostrated themselves upon the earth, and in this position they worshiped and adored the Infant, acknowledging Him as the True God and man, and as the Savior of the human race.

With the blessing of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, they departed, so moved by tenderest affection that it seemed to them they had left their hearts all melted into sighs and tears in that place. They chose another way for their return journey, in order not to meet Herod in Jerusalem; for thus they had been instructed by the Angel on the preceding night. On their departure from Bethlehem the same or a similar star appeared in order to guide them home, conducting them on their new route to the place where they had first met, whence each one separated to reach his own country.


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