See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

How the creatures served the Lady St. Mary and the Baby Jesus on Christmas Eve...


The extraordinary account of animal behaviour that first Christmas.
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Although it is not recorded in the Bible, the story of how the lesser beasts behaved at the birth of the Infant Jesus has been handed down through generation upon generation in the animal kingdom, and the stories have varied little no matter what country one finds oneself in. Humans only know the story from their pets, the cats and dogs many people consider members of their family. Of course animal behaviourists like to claim that the animals' stories had been adapted from watching their masters set up a creche in their homes, and that they overheard the tale while the family piously read the Christmas story to children.
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Perhaps - but I tend to doubt it, for why would, say a wolf in the forest know the exact same story? Or a country field mouse collect fir needles to festoon his nest with every Christmas Eve, and bring out the pine nuts he had stored up, only to be enjoyed for the twelve days of Christmas? In fact, it is the mice and rabbits who seem to have the most accurate stories of all. Of course the cats never forget a detail, therefore they deserve a great deal of credit as well. The dogs know the story, and tell it to their pups, but otherwise they don't talk about it much, they prefer to lay by the hearth and simply ponder the story quietly.
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Oh I know, I know. People think it is the other way around, that dogs are boisterous and talkative, especially little dogs, that they would yap and yap about the story repeatedly throughout the Christmas season. They will argue that cats are more recollected and contemplative - but that theory doesn't hold up in this case. You see the cats acted in a most peculiar manner that first Christmas, and they are quite proud of it, since they feel their reputation for being ferocious and devious creatures had been redeemed that night. I will tell the cat's version of the story here.
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How the cats took part in the birth of Jesus.
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On that first Christmas eve, when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of the holy Virgin Mary - and before anyone else knew about it, even the shepherds, the stray cats of Bethlehem gathered around the stable. They were hiding in the hay and behind the sleepy ox, one kitty slept on the back of donkey because it was warm, a couple of others cuddled up against St. Joseph who seemed to be asleep - although most mystics insist he was really in ecstasy.
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The holy Virgin was kneeling upon a fleece laid over a bit of fresh straw, off in a pleasant corner of the stable, protected from view by the large sleeping ox and a low wall made of willow. The Blessed Virgin was in ecstasy as well, when suddenly a great light shone, and upon the fleece was a lovely newborn Infant, glistening as if bathed in star dust. No sooner had He appeared than the Blessed Mother swiftly wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in the manger nearby. As if from nowhere, the tiniest angels appeared, about the size of bees, encircling the newborn in the manger, while strains of heavenly music could be heard, along with the gentle singing of heavenly choirs.
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Joseph awakened by the humming of the tiny angels, made his way very slowly into the enclosure, his head bowed, tears streaming down a face made radiant by the light emanating from the Holy Child and his Blessed Mother. He knelt next to his wife, adoring the Holy Infant. The ox noticed and rose partially, although just enough to kneel, facing the Holy Family. The donkey did likewise. The cats, naturally shy and accustomed to being shooed away, kept their distance until they noticed all the other little animals; mice, chipmunks, rabbits, gathering in awe at the foot of the manger, completely unconcerned about any sort of threat the cats posed.
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Now, as you know, stray cats are always hungry and always looking for prey - which is why many people who dislike cats, tolerated them in the first place, since they kept their homes free of pests. Amazingly, albeit unnoticed by all, the cats simply watched all the critters assembling, it seemed to them it was a living banquet being laid out before their eyes. However, grandpa cat whispered that this was not the moment or place for feasting. He proceeded to explain to the other cats that they had all just witnessed a miracle:  Indeed, God Himself, our Creator, had come down that very night to live amongst men; first of all choosing to be with the animals, the least of the creatures of earth. Grandpa nodded to all the little animals who had assembled, particularly the mice, and reminded the other cats of the scriptures which referred to the Christ when it foretold, "In that day the kitty cat will lie down with the mouse." (Grandpa cat knew the scriptures because he sneaked into Temple every Sabbath. He quickly related how the Virgin would be found with Child, that her Child is the Redeemer and Saviour, who brings peace to all the world, renewing nature itself, and so on.)
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With renewed confidence all the cats crept out of their hiding places, their attention rapt upon the Divine Child. The kitties were neither distracted by the mice and other animals, nor were they a bit perturbed when the shepherd's dogs arrived... the atmosphere being so permeated with peace and joy that silent night. A few of the older cats cuddled near the Madonna and the feet of St. Joseph to warm them. As it was a very cold night that first Christmas, Our Lady picked up a very fat mommy cat and another beautiful Siamese cat, placing them gently near the Child Jesus, to help warm Him and console Him by their purring.
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The End

22 comments:

  1. Anonymous11:46 AM

    My Dear Terry -

    That was absolutely lovely. It would make a wonderful children's book, if you would illustrate it.

    Sometimes, the way you write makes you feel like a good friend.

    Advent Blessings from Susan in Akron

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  2. I second that opinion...reading and singing "Jesus our Brother, kind and good" is one of the highlight memories of childhood Christmases...ALL creatio rejoices in his birth.

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  3. Ok was TOO embarassed to mention this in my first comment BUT.....late after midnight Mass or early first thing in this morning I go downt to the tree ans creche and sing it sweetly by myself (still to this day decades after childhood)...Jesus our Brother kind and good, was humbly born in a stable rude, and the kindly beasts around him stood, Jesus our Brother, kind and good..." (man still brings tears to my eyes).....

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  4. michael2:45 PM

    Yes, amen to the suggestion that you should write and illustrate a children book! This is a very lovely story, and deserves illustrations.

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  5. Love it, especially since we've had a Siamese cat for fifteen years! :>

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  6. I love it, and so do my kitties!

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  7. Thanks all! Cath - this was all for you.

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  8. My cat was about to jump into one of my Nativity scenes tonight. I shooed her away telling her that there were no cats in Bethlehem...and now I found out that I am a liar. (hanging head in shame....)

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  9. That was great, Terry.

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  10. I have reposted this at the request of Sodak, Agnes, Celine, MoMo and Max, Patches and Thelma, and cats around the world.

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  11. Anonymous4:18 PM

    On behalf of Smokey, Tux, and Chloe, many thanks for this lovely story! Mrows and head-butts from the critters, and a very Merry Christmas from their proud owner. God bless!

    Regards from the Great white north (aka Canada),

    Patricia Gonzalez

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  12. Missy4:36 PM

    I never tire of hearing this story.

    - LarryD's cat

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  13. +JMJ+

    I just love you, Terry! =)

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  14. I can't wait to get home tonight and read this to Sodak who has been waiting most patiently!!!

    I love this story. It makes me so happy inside.

    Thank you, Ter.

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  15. Thank you...

    ♥(¯`'•.¸*┼*¸.•'´¯)¸.•'` Merry Christmas `'•.¸(¯`'•.¸*┼*¸.•'´¯) ♥

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  16. Terry,
    'Tis a lovely thing when the cats and the dogs are at peace!
    Thank you for this most beautiful meditation.
    The animals got the first glimpse of the Child with our Lady and St. Joseph. Says something, no?

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  17. Cath - Sodak called me today while I was helping set up the Cathedral Nativity and he wanted to ask me to ask you to buy him the new Fancy Feast appetizers - cuz Celine had called him to tell him how delicious they are. I know! Who knew cats had cell phones?

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  18. Enbretheliel - I love you too - really! Merry Christmas!

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  19. When it comes to food, the cunning of Sodak must never be underestimated!

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  20. Austringer12:25 PM

    Terry, on behalf of Batgirl and The Dude, thank you, thank you, thank you!

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  21. Bebop, Tommy and Fiona thank you too!

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