Christmas Stories to Welcome Jesus Ignatius

Translated by Janet Chevrier Cover illustration by Éric Puybaret Layout by Bambook Original French edition: 24 Histoires de Noël pour attendre Jésus © 2007 by Mame, Paris © 2011 by Ignatius Press, San Francisco • Magnificat USA LLC, New York All rights reserved. ISBN Ignatius Press 978-1-58617-648-8 • ISBN Magnificat 978-1-936260-28-7 The trademark MAGNIFICAT depicted in this publication is used under license from and is the exclusive property of Magnificat Central Service Team, Inc., AMinistry to Catholic Women, and may not be used without its written consent. Printed by Tien Wah Press, Malaysia Printed on June 15, 2011 Job Number MGN 11007 Printed in Malaysia in compliance with the Consumer Protection Safety Act, 2008.

Ignatius to Welcome Christmas Stories

December 1 Timothy’s Nativity Figurine Story: Fleur Nabert Illustrations: Chantal Cazin December 2 The Annunciation to Mary Story: Sophie Maraval-Hutin Illustrations: Éric Puybaret December 3 An Unexpected Early Christmas Gift Story: Sophie Maraval-Hutin Illustrations: Pascal Vilcollet December 4 The First Living Nativity Scene Story: Sophie de Mullenheim Illustrations: Maïte Roche December 5 If Paul Had Never Existed . . . Story: Charlotte Grossetête Illustrations: Éric Puybaret December 6 The Night of Saint Nicholas Story: Sophie Maraval-Hutin Illustrations: Chantal Cazin December 7 The Meeting of the Wise Men Story: Charlotte Grossetête Illustrations: Maïte Roche December 8 The Christmas Truce Story: Sophie de Mullenheim Illustrations: Pascal Vilcollet December 9 The Visitation Story: Karine-Marie Amiot Illustrations: Éric Puybaret December 10 God’s Surprise Story: Karine-Marie Amiot Illustrations: Chantal Cazin December 11 The Fourth Wise King Story: Sophie de Mullenheim Illustrations: Maïte Roche December 12 A Nurse Like No Other Story: Charlotte Grossetête Illustrations: Pascal Vilcollet Contents

December 13 Saint Lucy’s Day Story: Karine-Marie Amiot Illustrations: Chantal Cazin December 14 The Canticle of Giacomo Story: Sophie de Mullenheim Illustrations: Maïte Roche December 15 A Generous Pirate Story: Charlotte Grossetête Illustrations: Pascal Vilcollet December 16 The Littlest of the Empire Story: Charlotte Grossetête Illustrations: Éric Puybaret December 17 The Old Gray Wolf and the White Sheep Story: Karine-Marie Amiot Illustrations: Pascal Vilcollet December 18 Christmas in the Museum Story: Sophie de Mullenheim Illustrations: Éric Puybaret December 19 The Old Ox of Bethlehem Story: Sophie Maraval-Hutin Illustrations: Maïte Roche December 20 A Christmas Dinner without Borders Story: Charlotte Grossetête Illustrations: Chantal Cazin December 21 The Christmas Eve Visitors Story: Sophie de Mullenheim Illustrations: Pascal Vilcollet December 22 The Angels’ Christmas Story: Sophie Maraval-Hutin Illustrations: Maïte Roche December 23 The Announcement to Herod Story: Sophie Maraval-Hutin Illustrations: Éric Puybaret December 24 The Nativity Story: Karine-Marie Amiot Illustrations: Chantal Cazin

8 That day, Timothy woke up early. A north wind had been blowing all night, and the sky looked brand new. The leaves glistened, and the birds were huddled up together in a ball to protect themselves from the winter chill. It was nice and warm in bed, and Zoe, his stuffed toy mouse with her big furry nose, did not look like she wanted to get up. But this was the big day! Timothy burst into the kitchen. His hot chocolate was steaming on the table. “Good morning, sweetheart”, said his mom. “I can guess why you’re up so early this morning! Timothy’s Nativity Figurine December 1

9 “It’s the first Sunday in Advent: we’re going to start setting up the Nativity scene. And this year, you can choose your own special figurine. That way, it will be as though you’re at the manger yourself, waiting for the birth of Jesus!” Timothy gulped down his breakfast. The big box was ready for him on the living-room table. He lifted the cover—it was like a fluffy cloud inside. He gently dipped his fingers into it: it was so soft. Each figurine was carefully wrapped in cotton and had to be taken out one by one. He felt he was meeting old friends again. And he could choose whichever one he wanted! His mom had prepared the scene with cardboard rocks and stars. Timothy began: the first was a figurine carrying loaves of bread over his shoulder. “That’s the baker”, Mom said. “He gets up very early to bake the bread for everyone in the village. But here he is, stopping everything to go see Jesus. He’s bringing nice white bread, fresh from the oven, as his gift.”

10 Timothy did not like the idea of getting up very early, so he placed it in the stable, reached back in the box, and found the old shepherd with a black goat. He was carrying a woolen blanket for the Baby Jesus. “He’s a bit of a loner”, Mom said. “But even he has come, too, all the way down from the hills, just to see Jesus.” Once again, Timothy hesitated and then put it back down: “I don’t want to be an old figurine; and that goat doesn’t look very friendly . . . I know that one! She’s the woman who sells fish! But Jesus is just a baby. Would he really be happy to get fish as a present?” “What is important for these figurines, Timothy, is that they offer the best they have to give . . . and, then, Jesus accepts any gift!” There were a lot of figurines around the manger now. But Timothy still had not found his special one. There was one last figurine in the bottom of the box: it was a tiny little lamb. It had big ears and looked very gentle. “Do you think I could choose this lamb, Mom? I really like him, but he doesn’t have any gift!” “That’s not what matters most”, Mom reassured him. “The one who waits for Jesus with all his heart until Christmas gives him the most beautiful gift of all!”

11 In her house in Nazareth, Mary is humming. The day of her marriage to Joseph is approaching. Joseph is the carpenter in Nazareth. He is very handsome and very kind. Like Mary’s, his faith in God is very strong. Together, what a family they will have! Ever since she woke up, Mary has had a beautiful prayer on her lips: “I thank you, Lord, with all my heart. I rejoice when I think of all your wonders! I sing for you, my God!” December 2 The Annunciation to Mary

12 Suddenly, a light, gentle wind caresses Mary’s face. Where is it coming from? Astonished, she raises her eyes and sees a man, dressed all in white, smiling at her. Mary is so startled, she drops the plate she has been carrying. But the man looks at her very kindly: “Don’t be afraid, Mary, full of grace. My name is Gabriel, and I am an angel of God. He has sent me. I don’t want to frighten you; I just want to bring you great news.” Mary does not know what to say. She is stunned. An angel? In her house? What news could he have to announce to her, Mary? The angel Gabriel continues, smiling at her. “Mary, you are going to have a baby. You will name him Jesus. He will be a king for all men, a king unlike any other. His reign will have no end, and his kingdom will be immense. He will have the power of God.”

13 “A baby?” asks Mary with astonishment. “But how can I have a baby? I’m not even married to Joseph yet!” The angel Gabriel smiles again. “Nothing is impossible for God, Mary. Listen: your cousin Elizabeth is also expecting a baby, even though she is very old! Everyone thought she would never have a child, and yet, her baby will be born in three months.” Elizabeth, pregnant! What wonderful news for her cousin and her husband, Zechariah! The angel goes on: “Mary, your baby will come from God. He will be the Son of God, the Savior for whom everyone is waiting.” Mary believes what the angel tells her, and, above all, she wishes for it to be so! She replies with joy: “I am the servant of the Lord!” At these words, the angel departs. Overwhelmed by this visit, Mary sits down and, in prayer, thinks over the words that God’s messenger has spoken to her. She will keep them deep within her heart, like a hidden treasure, a treasure of great joy.

What a multitude of people in Bethlehem! Joseph and his wife, Mary, who is pregnant, try to weave their way through the crowds. It has already been several days since they set out from their home in Nazareth, in Galilee, to come to the town of Bethlehem, in Judea. They have come to be enrolled in the census in the city of the family of Joseph, because Emperor Augustus has ordered the counting of all the inhabitants of the empire. Exhausted from the journey, Mary is riding on a donkey. The time for the birth of her baby has almost arrived. Joseph has knocked on every door, trying to find somewhere to stay. His face is grave andworried. “Our baby can’t be born in the street . . . But, there’s no place for us anywhere in Bethlehem, even at the inn . . .” The Nativity 75 December 24

Night is falling. Joseph pushes open a stable door. Mary gets down off the donkey and smiles. “We’ll be fine here, Joseph, far from the noise of the crowd. The ox and the donkey surely won’t mind making a little room for us!” Joseph and Mary unload their bags and settle into the fresh hay. It is almost midnight. Mary’s baby is born. She wraps him in swaddling clothes and lays him in the hay in the animals’ manger. Joseph does not know what to do or say. He grips his walking-stick and prays for the infant and his mother. He sings praises to God for this baby whom God has entrusted to him and promises to look after him always. Not far from there, outside Bethlehem, shepherds are in the fields, watching over their flocks through the night. Suddenly, an angel appears to them, saying, “Do not be afraid! I come to announce to you the good news of great joy for all people! This night a Savior has been born for you. 76

“He is the Messiah, the Lord. He comes to bring you light, peace, and joy. You will find him wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” All of a sudden, thousands of angels appear in the sky, praising God and singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to those he loves.” “Let’s go to Bethlehem!” the shepherds say to one another. “Quick! Let’s hurry to go find this good news from God.” They set off with their flocks. When they arrive at the stable, they find Mary, Joseph, and the newborn lying in a manger, just as the angel told them. They do not dare say a word. They fall to their knees in wonder, praising God for this child who has come to bring them light and joy. All is calm in the stable. Mary contemplates her child and adores him. She does not understand it all, but she keeps everything that has happened in her heart. Joseph has fallen asleep, exhausted, leaning on his cane. The ox and the gray donkey keep watch through the night, breathing on the baby to keep him nice and warm. 77

24 wonderful stories for children to read every evening from December 1 to 24 as they await the birth of Jesus during the Holy Season of Advent 9 781586 176488