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O Christ, Word of the Father most high, who wast made flesh to dwell among us, enter Thou into our hearts, we beseech Thee, that we who have been redeemed by the mystery of Thine Incarnation, may remain united in the communion of peace eternal.
Mozarabic Collect

Greetings Dear Ones,

  I write to wish you a particularly blessed Yuletide season, one that illumines for you as never before the mystery of Christ’s Incarnation. To prayerfully meditate on such a profound subject, one that can never be fully plumbed but always leads to new understanding, is to grow in our most holy faith. During the Christmas holidays, I hope to do this very thing as I re-read St. Athanasius, The Incarnation of the Word of God, the edition with an introduction by C. S. Lewis. In it, Lewis writes:

When I first opened his De Incarnatione I soon discovered by a very simple test that I was reading a masterpiece…. only a master mind could, in the fourth century, have written so deeply on such a subject with such classical simplicity ... His approach to the Miracles is badly needed to-day.1

  C. S. Lewis himself, of course, writes on miracles (and all the transcendent real) as no one else in our modern times. When I first started reading him, the term “incarnational reality” kept coming to my mind, and it was so persistent and strong that I was “forced” to write my first book, Real Presence, The Christian Worldview of C. S. Lewis as Incarnational Reality. I am delighted and blessed that this book, long in print, continues to be translated into various languages other than English. This, it seems to me, reveals the depth of the hunger the people of the world have for knowledge of the transcendent real, the presence of God with us. May the Lord most especially bless your Christmas meditations, and in such a way that Christ’s incarnational presence with and in us, will be ever more greatly realized in your lives.

  Because of the apostasy in the Western world, we are living in a time when ignorance of the transcendent--all that is good, beautiful and true--is overwhelming. We as Christians stand appalled at this and fear for our countrymen and our nations. Yesterday, in reading Christ’s question directed to His disciples: “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” [Luke 18:8], I was struck anew by the dread thought of such a loss.2 His question comes at the end of the parable of the widow who received justice because she persisted in asking for it. Our Lord is here encouraging us to persist in prayer and loyalty to Himself, the Incarnate Word, and may the Lord bless all of us as we grow in the knowledge of the glory of this.

  To meditate on the mystery of the Incarnation makes students of all of us, for we can never finish plumbing the depths of such a miracle. Even as Lewis says, all reality is “but a faint image of the Divine Incarnation itself.” Therefore, I trust this Student's Prayer Before Study3, by St. Thomas Aquinas, will be as special a gift to you this Christmastide as it has been to me:

Ineffable Creator,
Who from the treasures of Your wisdom
have established three hierarchies of angels,
have arrayed them in marvelous order above the fiery heavens,
and have marshaled the regions of the universe with such artful skill,

You are proclaimed true font of light and wisdom,
and the primal origin raised high beyond all things.

Pour forth a ray of Your brightness into the darkened places of my mind;
disperse from my soul the twofold darkness into which I was born:
sin and ignorance.

You make eloquent the tongue of infants.
Refine my speech and pour forth upon my lips the goodness of Your blessing.

Grant to me keenness of mind,
capacity to remember,
skill in learning,
subtlety to interpret
and eloquence in my speech.

May you guide the beginning of my work,
direct its progress,
and bring it to completion.

You Who are True God and True Man,
Who live and reign, world without end.

Amen

Most Sincerely,

Leanne Payne



1Athanasius, The Incarnation of the Word of God, with an introduction by C. S. Lewis (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1951), p. 11.
2See 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12.
3 The Aquinas Prayer Book: The Prayers and Hymns of St. Thomas Aquinas, edited by Robert Anderson and Johannes Moser.

 

 


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