20 April 1955
I received your letter and you asked me to write to you about the Incarnation of the Son of God. I have long been thinking of writing this for myself as a reminder, but I somehow could not get started, and now you have given me the impetus.
I venture to enter upon this great task and my soul trembles: how can'I write about such a great Secret? Even the holy angels cannot comprehend this great Mystery. Yet, with God's help, I shall write, as far as a man with his limited little mind can grasp this Great Secret of the Incarnation of God the Word. I base my writing on the Holy Church and the teaching of the Holy Fathers, not on my own philosophizing. But my "heart trembles: "now can the Holy Trinity be consubstantial and undivided; how is the Son of God, who cannot be comprehended, contained in the human womb of the Ever-Virgin Mary; and how did He receive from her a soul and a human body and become perfect God and perfect man, without sin; how did He have the will of God and of man, though his human will was surrendered to God's will? My heart trembles: how can I go on writing about such a mystery?
God is invisible and incomprehensible; even the angels cannot gaze upon Him. But the Lord comes down to mankind by his Incarnation. Oh, miracle of miracles! God uncontainable was contained in the womb of the Ever-Virgin, and according to the law of human nature was carried for nine months in the womb of the Ever-Virgin Mary and was born as man, but his birth was painless, for the conception was not of the flesh but from the Holy Spirit. And the Divine Child was laid in a manger and fed with his mother's milk as a human being. 'And the child grew and was strengthened by the Spirit, being filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.' Oh, what a great marvel: He lived, was brought up and obeyed the holy Joseph until the age of thirty and worked at the carpenter's trade. He sawed, hewed, planed and in general did the work of a carpenter. As a twelve-year-old boy in Jerusalem in the Hebrew synagogue He astonished the Pharisees with his questions and answers, and nothing more is known until He is thirty years old, for God concealed his own Divinity. Oh, the depth of Divine wisdom and humility!
When He was thirty He was led up by the Holy Spirit into the desert and lived there with the wild animals. As a man He endured hunger for forty days and was tempted by the devil [Matt. ch. 4]. He went about teaching mankind as it pleased Him for three and a half years. He acted as God and as man. When He was in a boat with his disciples He slept in the stern like a man; a storm arose and their boat began to fill up. His disciples in fright awakened Him: 'Master, we are perishing' [Luke 8:24]. The Lord rebuked the waves and the wind - as God. When the Lord came to the grave of the dead Lazarus, He wept as a man, but He raised him as God, saying to him who already stank of death: 'Lazarus, come out' [John 11:43]. As a man He walked, got tired, drank, ate and wept as men do, but as God He performed miracles, healed the sick, raised the dead. The learned Pharisees knew Holy Scripture inside out, but they did not live according to the law and could not understand the holy truth. They persecuted the Saviour of the world at every step and carried their animosity so far as to crucify the Lord.
Marvellous are thy works, O Lord. As a man You endured all kinds of abuses from the evil Pharisees. They said: 'He heals the sick, raises the dead and performs other miracles by the power of the demons'. And the Lord for our salvation endured all this as a man. Wonderful is the humility of the Son of Man. He rode on an ass as a man and at his festive entry into Jerusalem the people spread their garments on the road and with loud rejoicing shouted: 'Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven and glory in the highest' [Luke 19:38]. After the festive entry into Jerusalem the Lord at the Last Supper instituted the sacrament of Holy Communion, and even Judas received Communion of the Body and Blood of the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Lord as a man grieved and mourned: 'My soul is very sorrowful, even to death' [Mark 14:34] and he prayed, saying: 'My Father, if it is possible, remove this cup from me; yet not what I will but what Thou wilt' [Luke 22:44]. And his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. And as a man He suffered insult, derision, blows on the cheeks, and being struck on the head with a stick. And they put a crown of thorns on his head, and blood poured over his clothing and they mocked Him and said: 'Hail, King of the Jews' [Matt. 27:30]. And the wicked Pharisees led the Lord - the Creator of the whole universe and all creatures — to his crucifixion. They nailed his all-pure Body to the Cross. Lord, forgive my impiety in daring to describe thy honourable sufferings. I write not in learned language, for I have not been through school, but as I felt so I have written. I copy the following from the book Sacred History.
Crucifixion was a most horrible execution. It included everything that is agonizing in tortures and death: giddiness, cramp, exhaustion of powers, feverishness, being stunned, gangrene in the wounds - all this together and in the highest degree, and without loss of consciousness. The nailing to the cross in a hanging position made the slightest movement agonizing, and the burning, swollen and ever widening wounds from the nails were attacked by gangrene. The veins, particularly in the head and body, were strained from the rush of blood and burst. To all these tortures were added the unendurable heat and unquenchable thirst. All these tortures produced such unbearable pain that those being crucified entreated as the greatest mercy that their lives be ended. Lord, have mercy! And all these horrible sufferings our Lord Jesus Christ endured as a man for our salvation, and the Divinity in Him suffered too. Oh wonder of wonders! Man, does not your hardened heart shudder when you recall these sufferings of Jesus Christ?
Now, as you wished, I have written briefly to you. I advise you to read the Holy Gospel every day. If you do not have time for a whole chapter, read even a few verses. "
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