Children of the Magi

“O Mary, keep us from forgetting that we are the children of the Magi, and that Bethlehem is ever open to receive us.” Dom Prosper Gueranger

Since we remain in the octave of the Epiphany, I am posting another meditation by Dom Prosper Gueranger (b. 1805- d. 1875) on the topic of this blessed season. The last paragraph of the meditation is addressed to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and might be seen as a mini-teaching on Total Consecration.

The Dom Prosper meditation begins now:

The Magi were not satisfied with paying their adorations to the great King whom Mary presented to them. After the example of the Queen of Saba who paid her homage to the Prince of Peace in the person of King Solomon, these three Eastern Kings opened their treasures and presented their offerings to Jesus. Our Emmanuel graciously accepted these mystic gifts, and suffered them not to leave Him until He had loaded them with gifts infinitely more precious than those He had vouchsafed to receive. The Magi had given Him of the riches which this Earth produces. Jesus repays them with heavenly gifts. He strengthened in their hearts the virtues of faith, hope and charity. He enriched, in their persons, the Church of which they were the representatives. And the words of the Canticle of Mary were fulfilled in them: “He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent empty away” (Luke i. 53). for the Synagogue refused to follow them in their search after the King of the Jews.

But let us consider the gifts made by the Magi, and let us, together with the Church and the Holy Fathers, acknowledge the Mysteries expressed by them. The gifts were three in number in order to honour the sacred number of the Persons in the divine Essence, as likewise to express the triple character of the Emmanuel. He had come that He might be King over the whole world. It was fitting that men should offer gold to Him, for it is the emblem of sovereign power. He had come to be High Priest and, by His mediation, reconcile Earth to Heaven. Incense, then, was an appropriate gift, for the priest uses it when He offers sacrifice. But, thirdly, it was only by His own death that He was to obtain possession of the throne which was prepared for his glorified Human Nature, and the perpetual Sacrifice of the Divine Lamb was to be inaugurated by this same His death. The gift of Myrrh was expressive of the Death and Burial of an immortal Victim. The Holy Ghost, who inspired the Prophets, had guided the Magi in their selection of these three gifts. Let us listen to Saint Leo, who speaking of this Mystery, says with his usual eloquence:

“O admirable Faith, which leads to Knowledge and perfect Knowledge, and which was not taught in the school of earthly wisdom, but was enlightened by the Holy Ghost Himself! For, whence had they learnt the supernatural beauty of their three Gifts? — they that had come straight from their own country, and had not as yet seen Jesus, nor beheld in His infant face the Light which directed them in the choice of their offerings? While the Star met the gaze of the bodily eye, their hearts were instructed by a stronger light — the ray of Truth. Before setting out on the fatiguing journey they knew Him to whom were due, by gold, the honours of a King; by incense, the worship of God; by myrrh, the faith in His ‘Mortal Nature.”

But these three gifts which so sublimely express the three characters of the Man-God are fraught with instruction for us. They signify three great virtues which the divine infant found in the souls of the Magi, and to which He added increase by His grace. Gold signifies charity, which unites us to God; frankincense, prayer, which brings God into man’s heart, and myrrh self-abnegation, suffering and mortification by which we are delivered from the slavery of corrupt nature. Find a heart that loves God, that raises herself up to Him by prayer, that understands and relishes the power of the cross — and you have in that heart the worthiest offering which can be made to God, and one which He always accepts.

We, too, O Jesus, offer you our treasure and our gifts. We confess you to be God, and Priest, and Man. We beseech you to accept the desire we have of corresponding to the love you show us by giving you our love in return. We love you, dear Saviour! Increase our love. Receive, also, the gift of our prayer for, though of itself it be tepid and poor, yet it is pleasing to you because united with the prayer of your Church: teach us how to make it worthy of you and how to give it the power of obtaining what you desire to grant: form within us the gift of prayer that it may unceasingly ascend up like sweet incense in your sight. And, lastly, receive the homage of our contrite and humble hearts, and the resolution we have formed of restraining and purifying our senses by mortification and penance.

The sublime Mysteries which we are celebrating during this holy season have taught us the greatness of our own misery, and the immensity of your love for us, and we feel more than ever the obligation we are under of fleeing from the world and its concupiscences, and of uniting ourselves to you. The Star will not have shone on us in vain: it has brought us to you, dear King of Bethlehem, and you will be King of our hearts. What have we that we prize and hold dear, which we can hesitate to give you in return for the sweet infinite treasure of yourself which you have given to us?

Dear Mother of our Jesus, we put these our offerings into your hands. The gifts of the Magi were made through you, and they were pleasing to your Son. You must present ours to Him, and He will be pleased with them in spite of their poverty. Our love is deficient. Fill up its measure by uniting it with your own immense love. Second our prayer by your maternal intercession. Encourage us in our warfare against the world and the flesh. Make sure our perseverance by obtaining for us the grace of a continual remembrance of the sweet Mysteries which we are now celebrating. Pray for us that, after your own example, we may keep all these things in our hearts. That must be a hard and depraved heart which could offend Jesus in Bethlehem, or refuse Him anything now that he is seated on your lap, waiting for our offering! O Mary, keep us from forgetting that we are the children of the Magi, and that Bethlehem is ever open to receive us. (end of quotation of Dom Prosper).

May you have a good day, and weekend.


~Image: Adoration of the Magi by Edward Burne-Jones, 1904, source.