"Beloved Kate, I will take you then, for my pattern, and try to please Him as you please me. To grieve with a like tenderness when I displease Him, to obey and mind His voice as you do mine. To do my works neatly and exactly as you do yours, grieve to lose sight of Him for a moment, fly with joy to meet Him, fear He should go and leave me even when I sleep - this is the lesson of love you set me. And when I have seemed to be angry, without petulance or obstinacy you silently and steadily try to accomplish my wish. I will say,'Dearest Lord, give me grace to copy well this lovely image of my duty to Thee.'
(St. Elizabeth Ann Seton writing about her daughter, Katherine)In meditating on the Nativity scene, one is struck by many beautiful thoughts: above all, that God would not only become man to save us, but that He would enter the world as a helpless infant in doing so. Less we should ignore this essential lesson, Our Lord constantly reminds us in the Gospels that "unless [we] become as little children, we cannot enter the Kingdom of God."
We are all born with concupiscence, the tendency to sin, and any person who has been around a two year old will certainly not exempt children from this state. Yet, though a child is not born a saint, he does possess a radiant innocence that provokes awe. It is this innocence, if guarded properly, that allows a child to have the virtues that men should desire most: humility, mercy, patience, simplicity, sincerity, honesty, obedience, generosity and joyfulness.
Most men have in some harsh way been tainted by the world and have lost their earlier innocence. Their speech is no longer sweet but now laced with the bitterness of cynicism and gossip. Their self, so often indulged quickly, bristles at the suggestion of patience. Their heart, hurt and wounded, holds tightly to grudges. Fears and anxieties prevent the trustfulness they once had in God and others. Difficulties and drudgery drown their joy.
Yet, all is not lost, we can become little once more! Christ comes to rejuvenate our hearts, to lift the burden from our souls! He does not wait to grow to be a man to teach us how to become saints. He begins His Father's work immediately in the manger in Bethlehem, revealing that these childlike virtues are not just a lovely ideal, but a reachable reality. Let us pray for the perseverance and patience to become like children again.