Very short and painful were the slumbers of the Infant Jesus. A manger was His cradle, straw was His bed, and straw His pillow; so that the sleep of Jesus was often interrupted by the hardness of this rough and painful little bed, and by the severe cold of the cave. Notwithstanding this, overcome by nature, the sweet Babe from time to time slept amidst His sufferings. But the sleep of Jesus differed much from that of other children; the slumbers of other children are useful for the preservation of life, but not for the operations of the soul, because the soul being buried with the senses in sleep, does not then work; but such was not the sleep of Jesus Christ: I sleep, and my heart watcheth (Cant. v. 2). His body was asleep, but His soul was watching, because it was united to the Person of the Word, Who could not slumber, nor be lulled to sleep by the senses. The Holy Infant, therefore, slept; but while He slept He thought of all the sufferings He was to endure for our love during His life and at His death. He thought of the fatigues He was to undergo in Egypt and in Nazareth during His poor and despised life. He thought then, in particular, of the scourges, of the thorns, of the ignominies, of the agonies, and of that desolate death that He was at last to suffer upon the Cross; and whilst He was sleeping He offered all this to His Eternal Father to obtain for us pardon and salvation. So that our Saviour, even while sleeping, was meriting for us and appeasing His Father, and obtaining graces for us.
My beloved and holy Infant, Thou sleepest, and oh, how much do not Thy slumbers enamour me! With others, sleep is the emblem of death; but in Thee it is the sign of eternal life, because whilst Thou art reposing, Thou are meriting for me eternal salvation. Thou sleepest; but Thy Heart sleeps not, it is thinking of Thy suffering and dying for me. Whilst Thou art sleeping Thou art praying for me, and obtaining for me from God the eternal rest of Paradise. But before Thou dost take me to repose with Thee, as I hope, in Heaven, I desire that Thou shouldst repose for ever in my soul.
Let us now beseech the Divine Child, by the merit of His blessed slumbers, to deliver us from the deadly slumber of sinners who unhappily sleep in the death of sin, forgetful of God and of His love; and to give us the blessed sleep of the Sacred Spouse, of which He said: Stir not up, nor make the beloved to awake, till she please (Cant. ii. 7). This is the sleep that God gives to His beloved souls, which is none other, as St. Basil says, “but the most profound oblivion of all things”; and this is when the soul forgets all earthly things, to attend only to God and to the things that concern His glory.
There was a time, O my God, when I drove Thee away from me; but I trust that, by knocking so often at the door of my heart — at one time by making it afraid, at another by enlightening it, then by words of love — Thou hast already obtained an entrance there. This, I say, is my hope; because I feel a great confidence that I have already been forgiven by Thee; I feel a great hatred and repentance for the offences I have committed against Thee — a repentance that gives me a great sorrow; but a sorrow that brings peace, a sorrow that comforts me and makes me hope assuredly for pardon from Thy goodness. I thank Thee, my Jesus, and I pray Thee never again to depart from my soul. I know indeed that Thou wilt not leave me, if I do not drive Thee away; and this is the grace I ask of Thee (and I pray Thee to give me Thy assistance that I may always seek it of Thee), that Thou wouldst not permit me ever to drive Thee from me. Make me forget everything, to think only of Thee Who hast always thought of me and of my welfare. Make me always love Thee in this life, so that, breathing forth my soul in Thy arms, united to Thee, it may repose eternally in Thee without fear of losing Thee again. O Mary, assist me in life and assist me in death, so that Jesus may always repose in me, and that I may always repose in Jesus.