A Sermon for the Eve of the Nativity

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux had such a deep love for the Holy Family; it was said that as a child he had been blessed with an apparition of the Nativity of Jesus and loved to speak of Christmas night and the birth of Christ.

One Christmas Eve, the reader of the Martyrology in the chapter hall proclaimed the birth of Christ:

“Jesus Christus, Filius Dei, nascitur in Bethlehem Judae”,

At which Saint Bernard exclaimed:

“Hearken, O heavens, and thou, O earth, give ear! Admire and sing praises, O universe, but chiefly thou, O man! Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is born in Bethlehem of Juda.”

On this, the Eve of Christmas, we offer a few excerpts from Saint Bernard’s Sermon for the Eve of Christmas:

On the Miraculous Nature of the Nativity”

The custom of our Order does not demand a sermon to-day; but as tomorrow we shall be engaged longer than usual in the celebration of the Masses, and the short remaining time will not allow of a long sermon, I thought it would not be out of place to prepare your hearts today for so great a festival. It is the more permissible as the mystery of this day is so profound and so incomprehensible.

It is a fountain of life whose waters can never be exhausted—waters that flow the more plentifully the more freely they are drawn. I know, too, how great are your sufferings and tribulations for Christ’s sake, and glad should I be that your comfort might also abound through Him.

Worldly consolation is what I am neither willing nor permitted to offer. Such a consolation is both useless and valueless—yea, it is a thing to be dreaded, for it is a true hindrance to the consolation which is from heaven. For this reason He Who is the delight and glory of the angels is become the salvation and the consolation of all who suffer.

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