[gtranslate] Seeking The Burning Babe Who Sets Our Hearts Aflame - Eglise Catholique Saint James (Saint Jacques)

Seeking The Burning Babe Who Sets Our Hearts Aflame

Seeking The Burning Babe Who Sets Our Hearts Aflame

We are all pilgrims seeking to find the love we are made for. Christmas is a reminder that the one who is Love is already seeking us. He came from the heights of His glory from all eternity to dwell in the utter poverty of a cold cave and the muck of this fallen world. He emptied Himself, so that we could find Him. We do not need to seek lofty heights. To find Him, we often need the smallest of places, like a consecrated host that has become His body, blood, soul, and divinity. We must be willing to walk away from the things of this world to walk the way to the cave where He lay.

The Lord loves best the hidden and unexpected places of the world. We like pomp, prestige, and power, but He seeks us in the lowly places. He knows that our eyes must be turned from those tendencies, so we can find His loving gaze. He wants to set our hearts on fire with His love, but so often we seek to fill our hearts with the things of this world. We all do it, which is why conversion is a moment-by-moment process. We all wound His Sacred Heart by our sins.

St. Robert Southwell wrote a beautiful poem on the burning love of Christ worth reading over the family hearth as we make merry this Christmas celebrating the birth of Our Savior. St. Robert lived 1561-1595 during the Protestant Reformation in England. He went into exile in order to study as a Jesuit priest. He was arrested in 1592 upon which he was imprisoned. He endured three years of brutal torture and was eventually tried and convicted as a priest. He was sentenced to death. On February 21, 1595 he was hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn where he won the martyr’s crown at the holy age of 33. Pope Paul VI canonized St. Robert Southwell with the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales in 1970.

I found St. Robert Southwell’s Christmas poem “The Burning Babe” in Joseph Pearce’s anthology Poems Every Catholic Should Know. It seems fitting for the times we live in. In this age of confusion, division, war, and darkness, we can feel as though we are shivering in the snow with very little heat. The world grows more and more hostile to Christ by the day, even in some quarters of the Church. The poem is a reminder of the Babe who burns with love for each one of us.

Christ’s birth reminds us that Our Savior has come into the very depths of night and the darkness of human sin in order to give us hearts of flesh that burn for love of Him. Perhaps our hearts have grown weary by it all. The Lord simply asks that we come to Him. He is our rest. He only asks that we give Him everything we have, even if it seems very little to us. He wants our hearts freely given. He is the one who will set them aflame.

One of the greatest dangers of our day is that we do not approach the Lord as He is. Too many have made Him in their own image, even within the Church. We often do not want the true demands of love which is the Cross. We prefer counterfeits or sentimental versions of love that cost us very little, except it could very well cost us our souls in the end.

The Lord burns with unquenchable fire. He desires to fill us with His burning sacrificial love. He asks us to come to Him on His terms, not our own.  To surrender the worldly things we are attached to, even relationships that get in the way of Him. He wants metanoia, not enabling sin.  Love is not ultimately love if it is not ordered to heaven.  The Lord has only our salvation in mind. Our freedom, joy, and fulfillment in Him are what matters. He asks us to turn from our false idols, our plans, our desire for comfort, disordered relationships, esteem, and worldly success.

At Christmas, He asks us to walk away from the hustle and bustle of Bethlehem. To walk the quiet road to the cave where Our Blessed Mother and St. Joseph adore the New Born King in awe and wonder. Their hearts aflame with His Sacred Heart. We cannot adore Him if we do not seek Him in silence and without a willingness to step away from the false flames of this world into the cold where only the Lord can keep us warm. The Lord shed His blood to save us. He shed all outward signs of His divinity when He became incarnate. We must ask ourselves if we truly grasp the full weight of what He has done to save us.

St. Robert’s poem reminds us that the Lord is waiting for each one of us to come to Him, but we must leave behind the things of this world and seek the things of heaven. The Lord’s burning heart must refine and purify all that is sinful and disordered within our hearts. His love is not tame nor is it sentimental. It is all consuming. It requires everything from us. This Christmas let us make the pilgrim way in the snow and cold of night begging to be freed from all within us that causes Our Newborn Savior to weep. Upon encountering Him, may our hearts burn with the immensity of His love. May we be reminded that it is truly Christmas Day.

The Burning Babe

As I in hoary winter’s night
Stood shivering in the snow,
Surprised 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
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
Or feel my fire, but I.

‘My faultless breast the furnace is,
The fuel wounding thorns:
Love is the fire, and sighs the
The ashes, shames and scorns;

The fuel Justice layeth on,
And Mercy blows the coals,
The metal in this furnace wrought
Are mends 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 vanished out of sight
And swiftly shrunk away,
And straight I called unto mind
That it was Christmas day.

St. Robert Southwell

Photo by Greyson Joralemon on Unsplash