Prague: New Years and the Divine Child

Christmas in Krakow. New Years in Prague. That is what I decided, and as expected, the Czech’s know how to party. Dancing and fireworks were the order of the night, with the fireworks (you know the real deal) being lit off throughout the city. The Czech’s are so serious about their pyrotechnics that it is difficult to walk through the streets, each step needing to be navigated as if walking through a land mine. The cityscape with it’s spires explode from every direction making the glittering reflection from the river incredible to behold. I’ve never been so thankful for a new year with all the hope of a new beginning: Prague made it memorable.

Waking up after a big night is always a little difficult to put it mildly, but as I am a pilgrim, I want to attend mass. New Year’s Day mass honors Mary, Mother of God, which makes the rising so early easier, as it is one of my favorite feasts. Do you know that chill vibe you get when you’re singing the Beatles’, Let it Be? Well, that is the feeling I always get during mass on Mary’s solemnity but even more chill; absolute peace seems to settle in my very core.

I always do. And, this year was no exception. I made my way across town to the “lesser quarter” of Prague where the church of Our Lady the Victorious and the Shrine of the Infant of Prague has stood since the mid-1500s. My devotion to the Infant of Prague seems a bit mysterious to me, as if it has not yet come to complete realization. Let me explain:

In my home we were religious at Christmas, and sometimes, Easter. I was the youngest of two children. I did not have any babies around me. Ever. They were really a foreign thing. I thought of them as something like a puppy or kitten but with diapers and crying. Think of the song, The Wheels on the Bus. All the baby did was CRY, CRY, CRY. And the mommy? SHUSH. SHUSH. SHUSH. Not so endearing.

Then came Christmas, and yes, there was Santa Claus. He came with the threat that he knew everything, and if you were bad (and who wasn’t) you’d get nothing, not even coal. There also came Christmas carols. Music filled the house. Some of the songs were about a baby who was loved and was lovable… Away in a Manger, Silent Night; These carols were instrumental in opening my heart to a friendship with this baby. My favorite carol was The Little Drummer Boy. I would pour over the pages of the book by Ezra Jack Keats. The vivid illustrations would hold my gaze while I would sing that song over and over again. This would be my first experience with Mother Mary:

Mary nodded
(Pa rum pum pum pum)
The ox and lamb kept time
(Pa rum pum pum pum)

Then he smiled at me
(Pa rum pum pum pum)
Me and my drum

-Christmas Carol

That is all I needed to feel loved. She said yes to the little poor boy who didn’t have any money to buy a gift for her son. I could relate. I was poor too and couldn’t buy the gifts I wanted to give to the people I loved. As a child, I felt my poverty. God uses every opportunity given Him, to draw us towards His boundless love and His sweet smile, even childish songs.

In addition to the music, the decorations were pulled out of storage and carefully unwrapped. I distinctly remember being given the honor of placing Baby Jesus in the creche and feeling the love of God as a young child being raised in a family ruptured by divorce. God is so good and wants to love on us, like no other can.

So fast forward to adulthood. When I was becoming Catholic, I read a book about Therese of the Child Jesus. The book described an illness that Therese had as a child. Her family thought she was going to die. They prayed for her and through the Child Jesus, she was cured. The image she described was the Infant of Prague; Jesus as a child holding the whole world in his hand. Now that I think of it, that sweet little song, He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands was in my Brownie songbook.

I went through the process of becoming Catholic and eventually, chose Therese as part of my Confirmation name. What drew me to Therese was her little way of trusting the Father’s love for her. Jesus and I; we were good. The Father’s love? That was difficult for me.

When I arrived at Our Lady the Victorious, I was greeted by a small stable with live animals to delight the children. Then came the whimsical wooden nativity outside of the church and finally, upon entering the sanctuary, there was a nativity decorated with handmade paper stars. A most interesting statue of Teresa of Avila that looked as if she was in motion stood below a picture of the saint in ecstacy. Across from the life-size Teresa, was a very small statue of the Infant of Prague dressed in his royal finery.

Although a little groggy from the celebration the night before, I was still present enough to pray. I could not help but be moved by the presence of this tiny little statue. He seemed to radiate a mystique and imbued grace that he wished to pour out on those who had come to his shrine to adore.

Infant of Prague 4

Infant of Prague

Jesus, you decided to become a child, and I’m coming to you full of trust. I believe that your attentive love forestalls all my needs.

Even for the intercession of your holy Mother, you can meet my necessities, spiritual as well as material, if I pray according to your holy will.

I love you with all my heart, all my strength, I beg pardon if my weakness makes me sin. I repeat the Gospel, “Lord if you want you can heal me.”

I leave you to decide how and when. I’m ready to accept suffering, if this is your will. Help me not to become hardened to it but rather to bear fruit.

Help me to be a faithful servant and for your sake, holy Child, to love my neighbor as myself.

Almighty Child, I pray without ceasing to you to support me in my necessities of the present moment which are:

Grant me the grace to remain in you, to be possessed and to possess you entirely, with your parents, Mary and Joseph, in the eternal praise of your holy servants.


-prayer to the Infant of Prague

Having fully prayed that prayer, I knew that my purpose in Prague had been fulfilled. Music filled the sanctuary. The closing hymn was a Christmas carol. The only familiar one I heard while in Europe. Thank ya’, Baby Jesus.

“At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.” -Paul’s Letter to the Church in Corinth

The Infant of Prague was given to the Carmelites of Prague by Princess Polyxena of Lobkowicz. It is believed to have belonged to Teresa of Avila, the Spanish reformer of the Carmelite order. It was promised that as long as the Order honored the Child all their needs would be provided for. Miracles have been attributed to devotion to the Infant of Prague.

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Christmas in Krakow: John Paul II Center, Part 3

Perfection of life,
is the perfection of love.
For love, is the life of the soul.

-francis de sales

Yes, Karol Wojtyla (AKA Pope John Paul II) perfected life by being perfected in Love.

Karol was born into a family. And, like most Poles he was given the gift of baptism by his religious parents. He developed natural talents and interests: in sports, the outdoors, the theater, books, and of course, a captivating raven-haired beauty with a flair for the dramatic(s). Nothing too unusual – except perhaps – for the many languages he was acquiring; nine in all.

…Seriously impressed as I struggle to keep up my Duolingo streak — even during Covid quarantine.

Like the rest of us, he was not immune to suffering. At a young age he lost his mother, Emilia. A few years later, when Karol was twelve, his older brother, Edmund, died serving as a doctor during a Scarlet Fever outbreak.

…Shout out to our Healthcare Heroes! Thank you for saving lives!

His motherland was invaded first by Germans, and then by Russians. With these forces came decrees limiting Catholic worship, freedom of movement and the freedom to gather. Catholic education became a punishable crime. The aim? Destroy the Church by destroying it’s culture.

…No worries here in the States. Life will return to normal. Hopefully soon!

He knew the strain and exhaustion of hard, physical labor on the body, while he worked long days in the rock quarries. He also knew well the pain of injury, having been struck by a German truck, laying him up in the hospital for two excruciating weeks.

…So thankful that the concussion he suffered did not have long term effects – for his thought has formed me; it is a pearl of wisdom- even if it requires much.

Grief soon entered his life again with his father’s passing. Karol was alone at just twenty-one years of age.

Shortly after the loss of his father, his friends and neighbors were rounded up by the foreign invaders, many to disappear permanently; with Karol just narrowly escaping, finding refuge from the fate of his community in the basement of the Archbishop of Krakow.

..Now, that’s a hell’a lot to suffer. Really. It is.

This exile allowed Karol Wojtyla the freedom to become who he was meant to be. With the providential hand of God guiding him, Karol was ordained a priest in secret – and through the grace of the sacrament – now had his soul configured to Christ. His mission had begun and through the loom of Providence, this man born to a humble family, would become Saint Pope John Paul II.


We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures, we are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of His Son Jesus.


As I wandered through the exhibit, full of precious relics of a father of many, I could feel this gentle shepherd’s presence walking with me, as a sweet companion on this part of my journey; One of the many times my spiritual father would walk with me, his child, over the course of my life – for he chose me before I chose him.

This love – this Eternal Love – he shows to me, is proof of his perfection of Life, for it is through this sacrificial Love that I was birthed through prayer. Forgetting himself, John Paul II, danced with grace letting the Spirit take the lead as he travailed for the world and especially, for the little lost lambs. You know, the weak and broken ones.

This Spirit is of the One who is mysterious and old. The One who rose before the Dawn. The One who called forth being from the depths He formed. The One always present to the Father’s Will. The Ancient of Days. Truth and Mercy. Love Incarnate. Jesus.

-Totus Tuus

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