After our Advent of solemn preparation, waiting with a holy impatience, and petitioning daily with the "Hail and Blessed" prayer since the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, finally Christmas is nigh! As we rejoice in His threefold coming, kneeling before our Nativity scenes, on this holiest night of Our Saviour's Birth, we can bring the following devotion into our homes - and make this beautiful offering:
Exhortation During The Kissing of The Feet of The Holy Infant
Which is a Practice Observed In Some Churches
by St. Alphonsus Liguori
O all ye devout souls, now does Jesus invite you to come and kiss His feet this night. The shepherds who came to visit Him in the stable of Bethlehem brought their gifts; you must also bring your gifts. What will you bring Him? Listen to me; the most acceptable present you can bring Him is that of a contrite and loving heart. Let each one then say to Him before He comes: Lord, seeing myself so deformed by my sins, I should not have dared to approach Thee; but since You, my Jesus, do invite me so courteously, and do call me so lovingly, I will not refuse. After having so many times turned my back upon You, I will not add this fresh insult, namely, refusing this affectionate and loving invitation, out of distrust.
Say to Him: You must know that I am poor, and that I have nothing to give Thee. I have nothing but this heart; this I now offer to Thee. It is true that this my heart offended Thee at one time; but now it is penitent, and I bring it to Thee penitent. Yes, O Infant! I repent of having offended Thee. I confess that I have been a traitor, cruel and ungrateful; that it is I who have caused Thee to suffer so much, and who have made Thee shed so many tears in the stable of Bethlehem; but Your tears are my hope. I am a sinner, it is true, and I do not deserve to be pardoned; but I come before You, Who, being God, have become a little Child to obtain pardon for me.
Eternal Father, if I merit hell, look at the tears of Your innocent Son ; they invoke Your pardon on my behalf. You deny nothing to the prayers of Thy Son. So, then, listen to Him, now that He asks Thee to pardon me on this night, the night of joy, the night of salvation, the night of pardon. Ah, my Infant Jesus, I hope for pardon from Thee; but the forgiveness of my sins alone is not sufficient for me. On this night you do grant great spiritual graces; so I also desire that You would bestow a great grace on me, it is the grace to love Thee. Now that I am about to approach Thy feet, inflame me wholly with Thy holy love, and bind me to Thee; but bind me so effectually that I may nevermore be separated from Thee. I love Thee, O my God, who didst become a little Child for my sake; but I love Thee very little; I desire to love Thee very much, and You have to enable me to do it. I come, then, to kiss Thy feet, and to offer Thee my heart; I leave it in Your hands; I will have it no longer; do Thou change it, and keep it forever; do not give it back to me again; for if you do, I fear lest it should betray You afresh.
Most holy Mary, you who are the Mother of this great Son, but who are also my Mother, it is to you that I consecrate my poor heart; present it to Jesus; and He will not refuse to receive it, when presented by thee. Do thou, then, present it, and beg Him to accept it.