What’s Wrong with the World

The men signed of the cross of Christ go gaily in the dark.


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Merry Christmas--quotation miscellany


We, the contributors of What's Wrong with the World, wish a joyous Feast of the Nativity to all our readers. Having decided that we could not better the words of the men of Christendom's past on this great festival, we have decided to give you a series of quotations for enjoyment and meditation. Merry Christmas!

Awake, mankind! For your sake God has become man. Awake, you who sleep, rise up from the dead, and Christ will enlighten you. I tell you again: for your sake, God became man.

Let us then joyfully celebrate the coming of our salvation and redemption. Let us celebrate the festive day on which he who is the great and eternal day came from the great and endless day of eternity into our own short day of time.

He has become our justice, our sanctification, our redemption, so that, as it is written: Let him who glories glory in the Lord.

Truth, then, has arisen from the earth: Christ who said, I am the Truth, was born of the Virgin. And justice looked down from heaven: because believing in this new-born child, man is justified not by himself but by God.

St. Augustine, Sermon on the Incarnation

The Word without a word, the Word within
The world and for the world;
And the light shone in darkness and
Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled
About the centre of the silent Word.

T.S. Eliot, "Ash Wednesday"

Verbum infans, the Word without a word; the eternal Word not able to speak a word; ... a wonder sure....And... swaddled; and that a wonder too. He, that (as in the thirty-eighth of Job he saith) taketh the vast body of the main sea, turns it to and fro, as a little child, and rolls it about with the swaddling bands of darkness; He to come thus into clouts, Himself! ... But yet, all this is well; all children are so. But [in a manger] that is it, there is the wonder. Children lie not there; He doth. There lieth He, the Lord of glory without glory. Instead of a palace, a poor stable, of a cradle of state, a beast's cratch; no pillow but a lock of hay; no hangings but dust and cobwebs; no attendants, but in medio animalium ...For if the inn were full, the stable was not empty we may be sure. A sign this, nay three in one, able to amaze any.

Lancelot Andrewes, Sermon preached on Christmas Day, 1618

Any agnostic or atheist whose childhood has known a real Christmas has ever afterwards, whether he likes it or not, an association in his mind between two ideas that most of mankind must regard as remote from each other; the idea of a baby and the idea of the unknown strength that sustains the stars. His instincts and imagination can still connect them, when his reason can no longer see the need of the connection; for him there will always be some savour of religion about the mere picture of a mother and a baby; some hint of mercy and softening about the mere mention of the dreadful name of God.

G. K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man

Thou dost bear the form of Adam, yet Thou art all-perfect, being in the form of God. Of Thine own will, Thou art held in human hands, who in Thy might upholdest all things with Thine hand. To Thee the pure and undefiled Virgin spake aloud: 'How shall I wrap Thee in swaddling clothes like a child, how shall I give thee suck who givest nourishment to all the world? How shall I not wonder in amazement at Thy poverty beyond understanding! How shall I, who am Thy handmaiden, call Thee my Son? I sing Thy praises and I bless Thee, who does grant the world great mercy.'

Vespers for the Forefeast of the Nativity

Before Thy birth, O Lord, the angelic hosts looked with trembling on this mystery and were struck with wonder: for Thou who hast adorned the vault of heaven with stars hast been well pleased to be born as a babe; and Thou who holdest all the ends of the earth in the hollow of Thy hand art laid in a manger of dumb beasts. For by such a dispensation has Thy compassion been made known, O Christ, and Thy great mercy: glory to Thee

Hours of the Nativity of Christ

Come, let us greatly rejoice in the Lord as we tell of this present mystery. The middle wall of partition has been destroyed; the flaming sword turns back, the cherubim withdraw from the tree of life, and I partake of the delight of Paradise from which I was cast out through disobedience. For the express Image of the Father, the Imprint of His eternity, takes the form of a servant, and without undergoing change He comes forth from a Mother who knew not wedlock. For what He was, He has remained, true God: and what He was not, He has taken upon Himself, becoming man through love for mankind. Unto Him let us cry aloud: God born of a Virgin, have mercy upon us.

Vespers of the Nativity of Christ

Thy Nativity, O Christ our God, hath given rise to the light of knowledge in the world, for they who did worship the stars, did learn from a star to worship Thee, O Sun of Justice, and to know that Thou didst come from the East of the Highest. Glory to Thee, O Lord.

Troparion of the Feast of the Nativity

Comments (8)

I love them. Thanks for posting these. Merry Christmas!

Thanks, Robert, and Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Thank you, thank you! I look forward to sharing this with the family this evening!

A lovely and blessed Christmas to all you at WWWtW and your loved ones.

There is a late poem by Eliot worth recalling here:

The Cultivation of Christmas Trees (1954)

There are several attitudes towards Christmas,
Some of which we may disregard:
The social, the torpid, the patently commercial,
The rowdy (the pubs being open till midnight),
And the childish - which is not that of the child
For whom the candle is a star, and the gilded angel
Spreading its wings at the summit of the tree
Is not only a decoration, but an angel.

The child wonders at the Christmas Tree:
Let him continue in the spirit of wonder
At the Feast as an event not accepted as a pretext;
So that the glittering rapture, the amazement
Of the first-remembered Christmas Tree,
So that the surprises, delight in new possessions
(Each one with its peculiar and exciting smell),
The expectation of the goose or turkey
And the expected awe on its appearance,

So that the reverence and the gaiety
May not be forgotten in later experience,
In the bored habituation, the fatigue, the tedium,
The awareness of death, the consciousness of failure,
Or in the piety of the convert
Which may be tainted with a self-conceit
Displeasing to God and disrespectful to children
(And here I remember also with gratitude
St.Lucy, her carol, and her crown of fire):

So that before the end, the eightieth Christmas
(By "eightieth" meaning whichever is last)
The accumulated memories of annual emotion
May be concentrated into a great joy
Which shall be also a great fear, as on the occasion
When fear came upon every soul:
Because the beginning shall remind us of the end
And the first coming of the second coming.

Thanks, Steve. It makes me think a bit of "Animula." Good connection to Advent, too.

And may the awful presence of the Savior weigh on us, his birth remind us of our insignificance, His death of our salvation, His word of our hope.
Thank you for the refuge, the reminder, of what civilization is and and what,at least, the Remnant will always be.
Merry Christmas.

A happy and blessed Christmas to all!

A wonderful blessing this post. Thank you very much.

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