Featured card of the day: The Infant ~ Come Let Us Adore Him

Today’s featured card is the Infant Jesus ~ Come Let Us Adore Him (C11).

This is quite a different style than the two cards we have already considered. The very simple, quiet depiction of the baby in the crib takes up less than one third of the card, while the text is centrally positioned.

The baby in the crib is identified as the holy Infant by his halo. He sleeps peacefully – how skillfully his closed eyes are conveyed through one simple line! And what gorgeous eyelashes he has, not to mention that little tuft of uncombed hair at the back of his head. We see the curve of his little knees under the gently hanging blanket… He is a beautiful, sweet baby.

But this is not just a cute baby picture. The text above it hits us with force: Come let us adore Him. We adore God alone. We do not adore Mary or the saints or anyone else, despite misunderstandings or misrepresentations of what Catholics believe – only God is to be adored. This baby is God, the Word made flesh. And our response is not simply to delight in the cuteness evoked by a newborn, but also to adore him as our God.

The invitation Come let us adore Him is found in several Christmas hymns and carols, such as Adeste Fideles… venite, adoremus… (O come, all ye faithful… O come, let us adore him…). It is also found in the first words of the liturgy sung in the monastery every day (or on the lips of anyone who prays the Divine Office), in the invitatory antiphon. During the Octave of Christmas the antiphon text is: Christ has been born for us: come, let us adore him.

In the design, the infant in the crib is at the bottom of the card. He has descended from on high, humbling himself, becoming one of the lowest. As we read the text, laid out with just one word on each line, our eyes are led down to him. The text is not an end in itself; it leads us to the one of whom it speaks.

There are no other figures in this scene; no Mary or Joseph, no angels, shepherds, or magi. Our focus is entirely on the newborn infant. Him alone do we adore, and there is nothing else to take our attention away from him.

The predominant colour here is red, with a little gold. The gold appears in the infant’s halo, a symbol of his divinity. It is also found in the single star at the top of the card, which we can see as also depicting the divinity. The star links the infant to the heavens from which he has come. He has come down, bringing his divinity with him, so to speak, and uniting it with human nature. Ultimately he will return to the heavens, bringing his humanity back there with him, and us also.

Gold also is used to depict the straw which forms the infant’s bed. Though he was God, he had to be laid in a manger in a borrowed stable. He became not just human, but poor. Yet the straw, symbol of that poverty, is the same colour as the halo and the star, for God is not absent from all that is poor and lowly.

We mentioned in an earlier reflection that there is often a cross someplace in Sr Paula’s nativity scenes, a quiet pointer to the link between the incarnation and the death and resurrection of Christ. That cross can be found here in the form of the letter “t” in the word “let”.

The greeting inside the card reads May the Divine Infant bless you at Christmas. It is available only in English.

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