The world may seem cold and dark in many ways this year. It has been colder and darker before. Yet, this is the world that the Incarnate Word has chosen to be born into; with a burning love for humanity, He offers us His eternal love. But how cold is the human heart! And how few want to accept and return the love of the Divine Child. One look at His Face can convert the hardest heart. Let us welcome Him, so that the flames of His love may spread and grow throughout the world.
St. Robert Southwell was a young convert to the Catholic Church. Educated in Italy, he became a Catholic priest at a time of persecution in Protestant England. He travelled secretly to England, and there served the underground Church for six years before being captured, tortured, and held in the Tower of London. While he was imprisoned in the Tower he wrote one of the most beautiful Christmas poems ever written, “The Burning Babe.” His trial took place in 1595, and he was executed by being drawn and quartered. St. Robert Southwell was canonized in 1960 by Pope Paul VI.
The Burning Babe by St. Robert Southwell, SJ, Martyr As I in hoary winter's night stood shivering in the snow, Surpris'd I was with sudden heat which made my heart to glow; And lifting up a fearful eye to view what fire was near, A pretty Babe all burning bright did in the air appear; Who, scorched with excessive heat, such floods of tears did shed As though his floods should quench his flames which with his tears were fed. "Alas!" quoth he, "but newly born, in fiery heats I fry, Yet none approach to warm their hearts or feel my fire but I! My faultless breast the furnace is, the fuel wounding thorns, Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke, the ashes shame and scorns; The fuel Justice layeth on, and Mercy blows the coals, The metal in this furnace wrought are men's defiled souls, For which, as now on fire I am to work them to their good, So will I melt into a bath to wash them in my blood." With this he vanish'd out of sight and swiftly shrunk away, And straight I called unto mind that it was Christmas day.