Consecrate your child to the Infant Jesus
by Father Joseph, MIC
Jesus knows what it means to be a child. Weak. Vulnerable. Small.
He no doubt cried in His parents' arms. He relied on Mary and Joseph's loving protection when the family fled into Egypt because of King Herod's desire to kill Him. In His humanity, Jesus sought to identify Himself with us.
One beautiful and traditional way of identifying ourselves with Him is through devotion to the Infant Jesus. Knowing what Jesus must have experienced as a child, we can entrust to Him the protection of our own children and grandchildren. (See accompanying story on devotion to the Infant of Prague.)
In fact, we Marians have had a longstanding tradition of honoring the Infant Jesus during the Christmas season. In 1944, the first year the Marians settled in Stockbridge, MA, they began an annual tradition of praying to the Infant Jesus in the week leading up to Christmas. That first winter as today, the novena is prayed specifically for our benefactors and their children and grandchildren.
Father Walter Pelczynski, MIC, who founded the Association of Marian Helpers, was so devoted to the Child Jesus that he had a statue of the Child Jesus placed near the altar in the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge. It was given in memory of Fr. Walter's nephew who had died of a brain tumor as a very young boy.
Indeed, Christmas is an ideal time for parents, grandparents, godparents, aunts, and uncles to honor Jesus by helping to bring their children closer to Him. Why not consecrate them anew this Christmas, giving them into His care for the coming New Year? Through this consecration to the Infant Jesus, we share in the mystery of His love for us -- love that we find and celebrate especially in the Christmas season.
And as you carry out your holiday routines and traditions, remember to keep the Christ Child at the center. This Christmas, in these troubled times, we want so much to bestow gifts that last a lifetime. And spiritual gifts are more precious than material ones.
So, instead of thinking only about what material gifts you can give your children, I suggest you think of what you can give them spiritually. Pray for them. Consecrate them to the care of the Infant Jesus. And join us in our novena of prayer to the Infant Jesus Dec. 16 to 24. Prayer really does make a difference!
A Prayer of Consecration
O Infant Jesus, our beloved King,
through the hands of Your loving Mother,
I consecrate (name),
my child (godchild, nephew, niece) to You.
Place him/her under Your protection,
save him/her from illness
and all harmful influence.
Keep him/her pure
and permit that he/she may grow,
like You, in grace and virtue
before God and men.
Bless (name), Infant Jesus. Amen.
A fascinating look at the Infant of Prague devotion
Though devotions to the Infant Jesus have been a longstanding tradition in the Church, they took on even stronger meaning in the 17th century after several miracles were associated with an Infant Jesus statue in the city of Prague.
Carved of wood, covered with wax, and 18 inches high, the statue was a wedding gift to Princess Polyxenia of Lobkowitz. In 1628, when war broke out in the region and brought poverty to the Carmelite monastery in Prague, Polyxenia gave her cherished statue to the Carmelites. Honor and respect the Child Jesus, she told them, and you shall never be in want.
Indeed, the Carmelites prospered as they maintained their devotion to the Child Jesus. Then, when the Saxons plundered Prague in 1631 during the Thirty Years' War, the Carmelites were forced to flee, and the statue was left behind. The statue ended up being damaged. Then it was thrown in the garbage.
A devotee to the Infant of Prague, Father Cyril, a Carmelite Monk, retrieved the statue in 1637. It was in poor condition, and its hands were missing.
One day, while praying before the statue, Fr. Cyril heard Jesus say, "Have mercy on Me, and I will have mercy on you. Return My hands to Me, and I shall give you peace. The more you honor Me, the more I shall bless you."
With the help of generous benefactors, the statue was soon restored and placed back in the monastery where it became the center of devotion for the monks. Up until that time, the monastery had been impoverished. But, when the devotion was reestablished, the financial crisis of the monastery was resolved, sick people were cured, and peace was restored.
Following Jesus' directive to "honor Me," the devotion to the Infant Jesus of Prague has spread throughout the world. To this day, many have received special favors while praying to the Infant of Prague.
Today the statue is in the Church of Our Lady of Victory in Prague. The Infant's left hand grasps a miniature globe capped by a cross, and His right hand is extended in blessing. Atop His head is a special crown called a tiara. The statue symbolizes the Kingship of Christ and His Holy Childhood. It reminds us that Jesus embraces the whole world in His loving hands.
To remember a child in our Infant of Prague Novena, please e-mail your intention to me so we can place it near the altar at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy during the Novena. Please be sure to mention Infant of Prague Novena Code EXI
Sincerely in Mary Immaculate,
Father Joseph, MIC
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