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The Pope and the Child Jesus in Prague [Infant of Prague]
CatholicExchange.com ^ | September 22nd, 2009 | ACN-USA News

Posted on 09/21/2009 10:53:57 PM PDT by Salvation

The Pope and the Child Jesus in Prague

September 22nd, 2009 by ACN-USA News

Pope Benedict XVI’s upcoming trip to the Czech Republic will include a special visit to the image of the Holy Child Jesus in Prague — one of the most venerated and visited religious images in the country – on September 26, 2009.

The Prior of the Carmelite monastery of the Holy Infant of Prague, Father Petr Sleich, spoke last week to international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) about the Pope’s forthcoming visit to the Czech Republic. Its aim, he said, is to focus people’s hearts and minds on Christ again.

The fact that the first stop on his scheduled program for his trip to the Czech Republic is the Shrine of Our Lady of Victories in the Mala Strana district of Prague, where the image of the Holy Infant Jesus has been venerated ever since the 17th century, is “the most powerful expression of this intention,” he added.

During his visit Pope Benedict XVI will solemnly crown the image of the Holy Infant Jesus, which is revered by Catholic faithful from all over the world and to which numerous miracles and answers to prayers have been attributed. This is the highest honor that Western Christianity can accord such an image of Jesus Christ or the Blessed Virgin Mary, the 41-year-old Carmelite explained.

A Genuine Encounter with Christ and a Symbol Everyone Can Understand

Father Sleich emphasized the longing that people have for a tangible and visible image of Christ. Images such as that of the Infant Jesus were a great help, he said, comparing them with family photos that help us to feel close to those we love. However, the difference between such family photos and religious pictures and images lies in the fact that the representation of Jesus Christ can lead to a “real encounter,” he emphasized.

The Infant Jesus of Prague is at once both King and Child, he explained, adding that the human heart is responsive to the image of the Christ Child. Even in the Czech Republic, which is regarded as the most atheistic country in Europe, Christmas is still held dear among people who in other respects show little sign of faith.

“When people come here to our church and see God as a Child, they have no fear of him. On the contrary, he is a child who needs our love, our hearts, our hands, our help,” Father Sleich stressed.

At the same time, this Child is also portrayed as a King. The orb held in his left hand symbolizes the entire universe, which stands beneath the symbol of the Cross and rests in the hand of the Child Jesus. Father Petr said, “I sometimes say, half jokingly, that the left hand of the Child Jesus is enough to sustain the entire universe. But of course it is no joke, but the truth. Meanwhile, with his right hand, the Divine Child blesses mankind.”

This is a symbol, the priest added, that is easily intelligible to people without a great deal of reflection, and “the most effective symbols are precisely those that do not require us to think long and hard about them.”

The fact that the Christ Child is represented as a King goes back directly to the Gospel. Matthew’s Gospel begins with a genealogy, tracing Jesus back to the tribe of King David, and only shortly after his birth, men came from afar to pay homage to the newborn King, said Father Sleich.

Near the end of his life, when Jesus enters the city of Jerusalem on a “little donkey,” he is acclaimed as King by the multitude, and he is likewise crucified as a King, for the sign that Pilate has affixed to his cross has the letters “INRI” engraved on it, meaning “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” In these ways the motif of royal kingship stands both at the beginning and at the end of the Gospel, forming as it were, a frame, the Carmelite Prior explains.

The Infant Jesus of Prague Inspired the Book The Little Prince

Not infrequently, groups of French schoolchildren come to visit the church. Father Petr finds that they quickly grasp the message of the Infant Jesus, even though France — just like the Czech Republic — is a highly secularized land. All these children know the book, The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. But “only a few people know that Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was very familiar with the veneration of the Infant Jesus of Prague.”

Father Petr continued, saying, “The book is read in schools because it is not a religious book, and yet at the same time it is highly religious. It was directly inspired by the Infant Jesus of Prague. A child comes from Heaven, offers his friendship, dies and returns to Heaven again –– Jesus would say, to the Father, but Saint-Exupéry was not quite sure enough of his faith. The children who visit the Infant Jesus appreciate that the Christ Child is not merely some kind of strange Catholic custom; rather they understand the true message!”

Hope for an Atheistic Country

Although, according to the statistics, barely a quarter of the Czech population describe themselves as “believers,” the Prior of the Carmelite monastery in Prague is remaining optimistic. Jesus himself started with only a handful of disciples, he observed. One of these betrayed his Lord and hanged himself, yet with the remaining handful a great part of the world has been converted.

Father Sleich himself was only baptized at the age of 20 after having found his way to faith through friends while a student of mathematics. Today almost his entire family is Catholic. His decision to become a priest was “not easy,” he acknowledges, yet he was “very happy” once he had taken this decision.

He conceded that there continue to be few vocations in the Czech Republic, but, he added, things can change very quickly, as we all saw 20 years ago with our own eyes, when the Iron Curtain fell.” Father Petr regrets the fact that “we do not read the Gospels attentively enough.”

The priest also said that he is not sure it is even true that as many people in the Czech Republic are nonbelievers as is claimed. He pointed out, “Many people are uncertain when it comes to God, but I wouldn’t say that they have no faith. And incidentally, even many Czechs who describe themselves as nonbelievers still love the Infant Jesus of Prague. I am certain that many of them will yet become his friends!”

The Turbulent History of the “Little King”

The image has suffered a turbulent history through the centuries. It is believed to have been a gift from St. Teresa of Avila to a Spanish noblewoman that found its way to Prague as a wedding gift for her daughter. Since 1628 it has been venerated in the Carmelite church.

During the Thirty Years War it was desecrated by German Protestants from Saxony, who hacked off its hands and threw the image onto a pile of rubbish behind the altar. The Carmelite Fathers were also expelled from their monastery. Some years later the image was rediscovered by Father Cyrillus a Matre Dei, a Carmelite priest from Luxembourg who had a particular veneration for the Infant Jesus of Prague.

According to the legend, the Child Jesus pleaded with him to repair his hands, promising, “The more you honor me, the more I will bless you!” Subsequently the veneration for the Infant Jesus of Prague began to flourish anew and eventually spread around the world.

There are now many shrines to the Infant Jesus of Prague in India, another is in the Italian town of Arenzano, near Genoa, and there are many others on almost every continent. Over the course of the centuries millions of the faithful all over the world have found consolation and help through this Little King.

The Carmelite Fathers of Prague were later forced once more to leave their monastery around the beginning of the 19th century in the wake of the secularization by Kaiser Joseph II. It was not until 1993, after the collapse of communism in Central and Eastern Europe, that they were able to return once more to the Mala Strana in Prague. Today there are five Carmelite Fathers caring for the shrine. Two are Czechs, two are from India and one is Italian.

The image of the Infant Jesus of Prague in the Church of Our Lady of Victories in Prague’s Mala Strana is visited by up to a million pilgrims from all over the world every year. Many come from America or from the Philippines, where the veneration of the Infant Jesus is especially vibrant.

Among those who had a great devotion to the Infant Jesus of Prague were St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Edith Stein. The famous French poet Paul Claudel devoted a well-known poem to the Infant Jesus. Just recently the Archbishop of Prague, Cardinal Miroslav Vlk, declared the pilgrim church of the Infant Jesus of Prague as the second most important shrine in the Czech Republic, after the St. Vitus Cathedral.

A Prayer that has Traveled the Globe

The following prayer, written by Father Cyrillus a Matre Dei, has since become famous around the world:

O Infant Jesus, I run to You,
begging You through Your Holy Mother
to save me in this need
(name your intention here),
for I truly and firmly believe
that Your Divinity can defend me.
Full of trust I hope in You
to obtain Your holy grace.
I love You with all my heart,
I am painfully sorry for my sins
and on my knees I beg You,
O Little Jesus, to free me from them.
My resolution is to improve
and never more to offend You.
Therefore I offer myself to You,
ready to suffer everything for You
and to serve You faithfully.
I will love my neighbor as myself
from my heart for the love of You.
O Little Jesus, I adore You,
O Mighty Child, I implore You,
save me in this need
(name your intention here),
that I may enjoy You eternally,
with Mary and Joseph see You
and with all the angels adore You.

Amen.

 

 
(Contact information at the site.)


TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events; History; Ministry/Outreach; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: catholic; czechrepublic; prague; saints
**The fact that the first stop on his scheduled program for his trip to the Czech Republic is the Shrine of Our Lady of Victories in the Mala Strana district of Prague, where the image of the Holy Infant Jesus has been venerated ever since the 17th century, is “the most powerful expression of this intention,” he added.**

Beautiful Church -- saw it with my own eyes!

1 posted on 09/21/2009 10:53:58 PM PDT by Salvation
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To: All
Welcome back, freeper Salvation! (Vanity)
2 posted on 09/21/2009 10:55:26 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

True story:

An old man, who was nearing death, came back to the Church. The old man had an Infant of Prague on his dresser, which he had always had there, even when he was away from the Church. He told the priest: “You know, Father, I would never have come back to the Church if it wasn’t for that little girl right there.”


3 posted on 09/21/2009 11:30:17 PM PDT by Arthur McGowan (In Edward Kennedy’s America, federal funding of brothels is a right, not a privilege.)
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To: Salvation
All these children know the book, The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. But “only a few people know that Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was very familiar with the veneration of the Infant Jesus of Prague.”

I did not know that link to the Little Prince stories. Very interesting and allegorical stories.

4 posted on 09/22/2009 5:36:17 AM PDT by BlackVeil
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To: Salvation

There’s a replica in Prague, Oklahoma. Like Spain’s Santo Nino de Atocha, the devotion to the Infant of Prague is very sweet and humble, in my opinion.


5 posted on 09/22/2009 6:18:08 AM PDT by Tax-chick ("USAF fighters are the sound of freedom; children are the sound of the future of the Church.")
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To: BlackVeil; Salvation

I didn’t know this, either. I love St-Exupery’s books on aviation, but never really dug “The Little Prince.” I guess I should check it out again; I’m finally about to finish “The Wind in the Willows” after trying several times!


6 posted on 09/22/2009 6:19:43 AM PDT by Tax-chick ("USAF fighters are the sound of freedom; children are the sound of the future of the Church.")
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To: Arthur McGowan

LOL!


7 posted on 09/22/2009 7:59:34 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Tax-chick; BlackVeil

When I saw that connection last night, I knew I was going to buy “The Little Prince” and read it.

BTW, seeing the Infant of Prague in Czech Republic was one of the most awesome moments on my pilgrimage three summers ago.


8 posted on 09/22/2009 8:01:48 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

I’ll go to the library ;-).

My mom visited the Czech Republic on one of her river cruises, but I don’t think she went to the shrine. I’d love to see it, and the country is supposed to have more castles per square mile than any other in Europe, and great running trails.

Probably DP and Bill will go, while I stay home ... but at least there are plenty of travel documentaries on TV.


9 posted on 09/22/2009 8:19:26 AM PDT by Tax-chick ("USAF fighters are the sound of freedom; children are the sound of the future of the Church.")
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To: Tax-chick

We did four countries: Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Austria. No curises — on the bus. LOL!


10 posted on 09/22/2009 4:49:49 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

I’m not sure Mom and her friends have been to Poland, but they’ve been just about everywhere else in Europe. They’ve decided that river cruises are their favorite thing: they done the Nile, the Volga, the Rhine, the upper Danube, the Lower Danube ... and Joan and Margarita did one in China, but Mom wouldn’t go!

My parents will move into their somewhat-assisted-living condo next month, so Mom should be able to take a big trip in the Spring, knowing that Dad is secure.


11 posted on 09/22/2009 4:53:34 PM PDT by Tax-chick ("USAF fighters are the sound of freedom; children are the sound of the future of the Church.")
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To: All
Vespers at Holy Family Cathedral (and the Infant of Prague)

Vespers at Holy Family Cathedral

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1001 Therese Child Jesus.jpg

Twenty-Sixth Sunday of the Year B
27 September 2009
Holy Family Cathedral
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Pope Benedict in Czech Republic

This weekend, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI is in the Czech Republic. He is visiting a nation wounded by 40 years of Communism, where two out of three individuals say they believe in nothing, and where the encroaching forces of secularism are allied to erase even the memory of a Christian culture from the hearts of rising generations. For all of that, our Holy Father is not intimidated.

The Little Jesus

Yesterday morning he accomplished an amazing gesture -- a prophetic one. The Supreme Pontiff and, quite apart from that, one of the greatest theologians of modern times, went in pilgrimage to the Little Jesus, to the Infant Jesus of Prague. Bareheaded, and with a look of indescribable tenderness and affection, the Pope approached the little statue known and loved around the world and left a golden crown at the feet of the Infant Jesus, as a token of his devotion.

Vespers and Benediction

What, you may ask, has this to do with Vespers of this Twenty-Sixth Sunday of the Year? In a certain sense, everything. Catholic tradition has, for centuries now, coupled the celebration of Sunday Vespers with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Vespers, being a Liturgy of the Word, recalls the Liturgy of the Word at this morning's Mass. Mother Church frames the Magnificat with a fragment of the Gospel proclaimed at Mass. A grace remembered is a grace renewed. At Vespers, the Holy Spirit quickens the very Word we heard at Mass, and in that mystical quickening, we experience its power all over again.

Word to Sacrament

Mother Church's liturgy is all of a piece. The Magnificat Antiphon, a mere fragment of this morning's Gospel, brings back the divine energy that compelled us at Holy Mass to go from the ambo to the altar.

The same thing happens at Vespers: the Word remembered, repeated, and prayed, drives us to the altar, just as Our Lord's explanation of the Scriptures to the disciples on the road to Emmaus compelled them to say, "Stay with us, Lord, for it is towards evening, and the day is now far spent." (Lk 24:29).

Every time we hear the Word, receiving it with hearts that are childlike and humble, it causes us to say over and over again, "Stay with us, Lord." At Holy Mass, He answers that prayer of ours by giving us bread changed into His Body and wine mixed with water changed into His Blood. At Benediction, that same adorable Mystery is withdrawn from the tabernacle and exposed to our gaze so that we, by looking, and adoring, and bowing low might be blessed, and so experience again, at the close of Sunday, the miracle of His Real Presence. The movement, at Holy Mass as at Vespers, is always from Word to Sacramental Presence.

Power to Convert the World

In this morning's Gospel -- at least as it is laid out in my lectionary -- there were 28 lines. Each one of those 28 lines, and every word of them, contains enough power to convert the world . . . only the hardness of our hearts keeps us from experiencing the power of the Word of God.

The Child Jesus and the Little Ones

I prayed over today's Gospel last evening while the Pope's pilgrimage to Prague was very much on my mind. I came to the verse where Our Lord says, "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung round his neck and he were thrown into the sea" (Mk 9:41). He who speaks these terrible words was Himself a little one. Only the Child Jesus grasps the immensity of crimes against the innocence of little ones, and only the Child Jesus can heal the effects of such sins.

The Divine Infant desires to heal the wounds of scandal because His Name is Jesus: Saviour. He has the power to heal the wounds of scandal because He is our almighty King. There is no sin that He is unwilling to forgive, and no sin that He cannot forgive. There is no wound that He is unwilling to heal, and no wound that He cannot heal.

In going on pilgrimage to the Infant Jesus of Prague, the Holy Father was showing us the way to wholeness and to holiness all at once. May I suggest that we find our way to a statue of the Infant Jesus of Prague, the Restorer of Innocence and the Healer of hearts rent asunder by sin? You may not be able to leave Him a crown as did the Pope, but you can, at least, leave Him a kiss.

Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus

Even after these Second Vespers of Sunday, the liturgy will go on. This Thursday will bring us the feast of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus -- yes, of the Child Jesus -- and of the Holy Face. Thérèse will teach you all you need to know about recovering the childhood of the soul without which no one can enter the Kingdom of Heaven. "If anyone is little," she heard the Divine King say, "let him come to me." Not if anyone is virtuous; not, if anyone is perfect; not if anyone is sinless; not, if anyone is learned in the mysteries of the faith -- but only this: if anyone is little. Thérèse considered that she qualified. So too, I think, do I, and so too do most of us here, including Bishop Slattery! We are all little, and because we are little, we have every reason to be full of hope.

The Blessing of the Infant Christ

The terrible words of Jesus in today's Gospel are, when we ponder them carefully, a passionate expression of His solicitude for all of us who are little, and weak, and who easily fall prey to the things that rob us of our innocence and cause our hearts to grow old and hard.

When, in just a few minutes, the Sacred Host is raised over you in blessing, know that the Hidden God of the Eucharist is the Little One, the treasured Infant Christ of the Virgin who desires nothing so much as to restore innocence where it has been lost, and to heal every bruised and battered heart.


12 posted on 09/28/2009 5:20:13 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
Holy Infant of Prague
13 posted on 09/28/2009 5:22:11 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Tax-chick

One of my all time favorite stories.
You might try the audio book of The Little Prince.
The DVD is also very moving.


14 posted on 10/01/2009 5:20:36 AM PDT by maica (Freedom consists not in doing what we like,but in having the right to do what we ought. John Paul II)
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To: All

I just found this fantastic panorama of Our Lady of Victory in Prague. You will see the Infant of Prague as the picture rotates. It was so beautiful to be in this church, and if I remember correctly, I also lectored that day.

http://www.pragjesu.info/en/panorama/child-jesus-church.htm


15 posted on 05/28/2011 12:48:10 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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