Quote/s of the Day – 24 December – The Nativity of the Lord, Mass at Midnight
The Burning Babe
St Robert Southwell SJ (1561-1595)
Priest and Martyr
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, scorchëd 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 vanished, out of sight
and swiftly shrunk away,
And straight I called unto mind
that it was Christmas day.
Verses from the Shepherds’ Hymn
Richard Crashaw (c 1612-1649)
Canon of the Holy House of Loreto
WE saw Thee in Thy balmy nest,
Young Dawn of our eternal day;
We saw Thine eyes break from the East,
And chase the trembling shades away:
We saw Thee and we blest the sight,
We saw Thee by Thine own sweet Light.
Poor world, said I, what wilt thou do
To entertain this starry stranger?
Is this the best thou canst bestow—
A cold and not too cleanly manger?
Contend, the powers of heaven and earth,
To fit a bed for this huge birth.
Proud world, said I, cease your contest,
And let the mighty Babe alone;
The phoenix builds the phoenix’ nest,
Love’s architecture is His own.
The Babe, whose birth embraves this morn,
Made His own bed ere He was born.
I saw the curl’d drops, soft and slow,
Come hovering o’er the place’s head,
Off’ring their whitest sheets of snow,
To furnish the fair Infant’s bed.
Forbear, said I, be not too bold;
Your fleece is white, but ’tis too cold.
I saw th’ obsequious Seraphim
Their rosy fleece of fire bestow,
For well they now can spare their wings,
Since Heaven itself, lies here below.
Well done, said I but are you sure
Your down, so warm, will pass for pure?
No, no, your King ‘s not yet to seek
Where to repose His royal head;
See, see how soon His new-bloom’d cheek
‘Twixt mother’s breasts is gone to bed!
Sweet choice, said we; no way but so,
Not to lie cold, you sleep in snow!
She sings Thy tears asleep and dips
Her kisses in Thy weeping eye;
She spreads the red leaves of Thy lips,
That in their buds yet blushing lie.
She ‘gainst those mother diamonds tries
The points of her young eagle’s eyes.
Welcome—tho’ not to those gay flies,
Gilded i’ th’ beams of earthly kings,
Slippery souls in smiling eyes—
But to poor shepherds, homespun things,
Whose wealth ‘s their flocks, whose wit ‘s to be
Well read in their simplicity.
Yet, when young April’s husband show’rs
Shall bless the fruitful Maia’s bed,
We’ll bring the first-born of her flowers,
To kiss Thy feet and crown Thy head.
To Thee, dread Lamb! whose love must keep
The shepherds, while they feed their sheep.
To Thee, meek Majesty, soft King
Of simple graces and sweet loves!
Each of us his lamb will bring,
Each his pair of silver doves!
At last, in fire of Thy fair eyes,
Ourselves become our own best sacrifice!
The Midnight Hour
(Fr or Br) Frederick M Lynk, SVD
The Virgin Mother kneels upon the floor
And holds her Baby in her arm,
Her heart is gladder than her lips can say,
To keep her newborn Baby snug and warm,
A Babe more sweet and fair and dear
Than any rosebud in the bright sunshine,
Whose little eyes look straight into her own,
O, blessed maid, God’s Son is also thine.
‘Twas holy midnight, when He came to earth:
As pours a sun ray through a limpid glass,
Not leaving any mark upon its face;
A drop of dew upon the fresh green grass,
A little star that fell upon her lap,
A cooing Babe, that seeks her virgin breast.
The hopes of all the sin-cursed world
Upon this Baby’s eyelids rest.
And ever since the midnight hour is holy,
And millions of human hearts are stirred,
To wonderment and love for Him, Who came,
To save the world, God’s own Incarnate Word.
He came in darkness, He who was The Light,
His Godhead shone from clear blue Baby eyes,
The curse of earth’s first sin, was lifted then,
That midnight hour re-opened paradise!