It is told of Sir Harry Lauder that while he was in Melbourne, Australia, and had just sustained the loss of his only son, who had fallen at the front, he related the following beautiful incident:
"A man came to my dressing room in a New York theater and told of an experience that had recently befallen him. In American towns any household that had given a son to the war was entitled to place a star on the window pane. Well, a few nights before he came to see me, this man was walking down a street in New York accompanied by his wee little boy. The lad became very interested in the lighted windows of the houses, and clapped his hands when he saw a star. As they passed house after house, he would say, "Oh, look, Daddy, there's another house that has given a son to the war. And there's another. There's one with two stars. And look, there's a house with no star at all." At last they came to a break in the houses. Through the gap could be sen the evening star shining brightly in the sky. The little fellow caught his breath. "Oh, look, Daddy," he cried, "God must have given His Son, for He has a star in His window!" God's star in heaven's window tells of Christmas when God gave His Son to the world. This is the story of God's love in the Incarnation."The soldier who prays before he goes into battle is the man who is conscious of the fact that he goes not alone. He is acutely aware that God is with him and that the Son of God went into the darkness of Calvary when man warred upon divinity in the terrible crucifixion that led to the victory of Easter. God foresaw his death even as he planned His birth at Bethlehem. For Bethlehem and Calvary are cycles. In His birth and in His death is our life and our redemption.
"Today every Christian is a soldier -- soldier of Christ. The least among us is a soldier. Our fathers, like a flood of people, like a flood of armies, invaded the infidel continents. Nowadays, on the contrary, it is a flood of infidelity that holds the seas, the high seas, and continuously assails us from all sides. All our houses are fortresses, in danger of the mighty sea. The holy war is everywhere. It is ever being waged. All of us stand on the breach today. We are stationed at the frontier. The frontier is everywhere..." Thus spoke convert Charles Peguy.*
Blessed Saviour, I know so well the meaning of grace and yet I permit its lesson to escape me. I know full well that grace is best received by a heart humble and contrite and ready to welcome its God. I know, too, that such readiness requires vigilance and prayer -- "watch and pray" are the words of Advent as well as Lent, for Bethlehem and Calvary and Easter are all one great event -- they are but stepping stones to heaven. Teach me to prepare this Advent for an increase of grace and a fuller understanding of the Redemption and Incarnation.
* Basic Verities (New york: Pantheon Books, Inc., 1943).
|And seeing the star they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. (Matthew 2:10)|