Carrying Jesus as a Little Child

“As long as Ella has a throw blanket and her doll and a Rosary, she is so at peace.”

By Marian Friedrichs

At Midnight Mass one Christmas, St. Faustina experienced a vision of the Holy Family in the stable at Bethlehem. “After a while,” she relates, “I was left alone with the Infant Jesus who stretched out His little hands to me, and I understood that I was to take Him in my arms. Jesus pressed His head against my heart and gave me to know, by His profound gaze, how good He found it to be next to my heart” (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 1442).

He finds it good to be next to the hearts of all who are His own. Through the Sacraments, Jesus not only dispenses grace but captures the senses, reassuring souls of His nearness. He makes use of other material things as well — things which, while not conferring sanctifying grace perhaps, enter through the door of the senses to remind the soul of the Divine Presence — such as sacramentals, sacred art, or even a child’s doll.

It's a timely message to keep in mind when choosing a Christmas gift for a child. 

Jesus in her arms
Five-year-old Ella Cornmire (shown above) has not received her First Holy Communion yet, nor does she experience visions of the Baby Jesus resting His head against her heart. But, every day, Ella reaches for Jesus and finds Him, not only in her baptized soul, but in her arms. 

Years ago, Ella’s great-grandmother, Connie Mulvihill, presented each of her newborn grandchildren with a plush doll of Jesus or Mary. Connie’s daughter, Donna Reilly, remembers the dolls her own children received. “They slept with them. The dolls gave them peace.” Her son and daughter still have them.

The tradition continued, as some of Connie’s grandchildren passed their dolls on to their own children, and new dolls were purchased as more babies entered the family. Connie bought Ella’s doll for her when she was born, and rarely has the little girl been seen without it.

“It’s a wonderful security for her,” Donna says. “As long as she has a throw blanket and her doll and a Rosary, she is so at peace.” 

When her doll is missing, Ella is distressed. Once, Donna remembers, at a family party, despite the celebration happening around her, Ella “was not in good spirits because Jesus wasn’t there.” 

Ella is so attached to her Jesus that Donna doubts she could find a picture of her small granddaughter without the doll. Still, Ella is quick to lend her doll when she believes someone else needs it more. “If I’m upset about something, she hands the doll to me,” Donna says. “Jesus is a comfort to all of us.”

Ella’s two older sisters, Emma, 10, and Madison, 7, love their own dolls, but are as ready as Ella to share them. If Ella cannot find her Jesus at bedtime, Madison lets her little sister sleep with hers.

Good reminder
When God uses material objects to remind souls of His presence, He does not want the soul’s love to remain fixed on the object itself, but to reach beyond it to the Heavenly Provider. As tenderly as Ella cherishes her doll, she does not treasure it simply as a toy, but as a reminder of Jesus.

Ella enjoys going to Mass and to Eucharistic Adoration, and when she visits her great-grandmother Connie, the pair will often sit together with their Rosaries, the little girl hugging her doll and quietly fingering the beads as the older woman prays along with a Rosary on television.

Saint Faustina saw the Child Jesus again at another Mass: 

He appeared to be about one year old, and He asked me to take Him in my arms. When I did … He cuddled up close … and said, “It is good for Me to be close to your heart... I want you to be very little, because when you are little, I carry you close to My Heart, just as you are holding Me close to your heart right now” (Diary, 1481). 

Disguised as Bread, depicted in a painted Image, or stitched into the face of a doll, the Lord uses His own created objects to invite souls to hold Him close. When they accept the invitation and take Him in their arms, He draws them into His Merciful Heart, where He carries to Heaven the ones who have lovingly carried Him on earth. 


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