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