The other day a member of my Jesuit community asked me if I was familiar with a poem by Christina Rosseti which she wrote in 1872 in response to a request for a Christmas poem from the magazine "Scribner's Monthly." I said "no" and he not only sent me a copy of the poem but also the link to a beautiful rendition of the poem by the composer Gustov T. Holst. So, as my Christmas present to all the followers of this blog and others, here is the poem and the link, embedded in the title:
"In the Bleak Midwinter"
In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.
Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.
Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.
Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.
What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.
This is the spirituality of the Apostleship of Prayer and "offering it up." Jesus is the Son of God who took flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mother. He loves us with a Heart that is human and divine. Having given His Heart to us, He asks one thing, whether we are rich or poor. He asks for our hearts in return.
As we celebrate His birthday, let us give Him the best present, the one that He desires most. Let us give Him our hearts.
Blessed and Merry Christmas to all!