The Burning Babe–Robert Southwell

FROM St. Peter’s Complaint, 1595
By Robert Southwell

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 defilëd 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 callëd unto mind that it was Christmas day.


One Response to The Burning Babe–Robert Southwell

  1. Carol says:

    Dear Friends:

    The homily for Christmas Mass, December 24, 2011.

    “Christmas Eve Dreams” from Fr. John Surette


    The Well Staff


    A Center for our Sacred Unity with God, Earth, and One Another

    1515 West Ogden Avenue

    La Grange Park, IL 60526-1721


    December 24, 2011

    Christmas Eve


    Reflection from John Surette, SJ

    “…I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10).

    In my reflections this Christmas 2011, I choose to share with you some thoughts about our dreams for the future. Dreams are important because our dreams drive our actions.

    Let’s begin at the beginning. Those of us gathered here are among the first generations of humans ever to know that our Universe came into existence some 13.7 billion years ago. Most likely our parents didn’t know this, and certainly our grandparents didn’t know this.

    That original flaring forth (the so-called “Big Bang”) contained God’s dream for everything that would follow over eons of deep time. It contained the dream for galaxies and so it didn’t take long before galaxies, billions of them, foamed into existence.

    The galaxies carried the dream for stars, and soon stars, millions of them in each galaxy, fluttered into being. The Divine dream was contained in the dream of the galaxies.

    One of those stars exploded several billion years ago. It was a supernova explosion that contained the dream for our solar system. And so it happened that over time the stardust from that explosion was drawn together to form our Sun and our beautiful planet Earth and eventually all of us here who are made of that stardust. The Divine dream was embedded in the dream of that exploding star.

    The early Earth carried the dream for life, an unimaginable diversity of life, and so it happened that life emerged within Earth’s ocean, and eventually humankind, that most creative and unpredictable of creatures, appeared. The Divine dream was embedded in Earth’s dream.

    Thousands of years ago within Earth’s human community there was the dream for a Messiah. It was the dream of the Hebrew people. It was a human dream that contained the Divine dream. And so it happened that Jesus of Nazareth came forth, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. It is important for us that we celebrate that event today in solidarity with all believers who have celebrated it over the centuries.

    I wonder what dreams Mary and Joseph had for their baby as they gazed upon him with love. Could they have imagined how his life would unfold? I like to think that they had had some intuition, some inkling, about his future contained in their dreams for him. Their dreams for Jesus contained part of the Divine dream for him.

    What about your parents and grandparents and mine? When they looked upon you and me for the first time, what dreams did they have for us? What future possibilities for us were contained in their dreams? Could they have imagined how our lives would unfold? I like to think that they had had some intuition, some inkling, of our futures contained in their dreams for us, dreams that contained part of the Divine dream for us.

    So here we are on this Christmas 2011. What dreams do we have at the beginning of this 21st century for ourselves, our families and friends, and for humans everywhere who are dealing with so much stress and adversity? I suspect that our dreams are dreams of more justice, peace, and love within our human community. It is very important that we shepherd these dreams for they lead to actions of justice, peace, and love.

    What dreams do we have for Earth at this time when its life systems are under great stress, stress caused to a significant extent by our human activity? I suspect that many of us dream of a better relationship between Earth and its human community, a relationship that is mutually enhancing rather than mutually destructive. It is very important that we shepherd these dreams for they will lead us into a more vital future here on Earth.

    We can take seriously the dreams embedded in our precious present moment and we can nurture the hope that these dreams will be actualized in future moments because God is involved in them.

    All the dreams are dreams of something more… more beauty, more abundance, more life, more enrichment, more justice, peace, and love. Can we hope for this more? Jesus hoped for it. This more is what the Christ is about. Our dreaming for and hoping for this more is evidence of the Christ consciousness unfolding within each of us.

    On this Christmas we find all the dreams – God’s, Jesus’s, Earth’s, and our own – under our tree. They are Christmas gifts for us. These dreams carry good news of great joy for all the people and for Earth itself.

    Let us unwrap these gifts and be thankful for them!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: