By Fr. JAMES WALSH, S.J.
"And straight I called unto ntind that it was Christmas day. — Blessed Robert Southwell ("The Burning Babe").
ON May 4th of this year the Hierarchy announced that the cause of canonisation of forty English and Welsh martyrs was to be re-opened.
In a few short months these martyrs have won for the Catholics of this country a remarkable increase of faith and devotion. Suddenly we have been filled with a new conscio-usncss of the great debt that we owe to them. The relationship which we have always recog nised as existing between the martyrs and ourselves has taken on a deeper, dearer meaning.
We see that the words of St. Paul to the Hebrews are also spoken to us of our own martyrs: "One and all gave proof of their faith . . we were needed to make the hieton of their lives com.plete," (I I. 40i.
IT should therefore come as no surprise to us that our martyrs should have the traditional Iove of Christmas and. that true and tender devotion to the Holy Child 'which characterised the people of England and Wales in the ages of faith.
Their spokesman is Blessed Robert Southwell. It is true that he speaks of love in the elegant accents of a new age of poetry, and God is my gift. Himself He freely
gave me God's gift am 1. and none but God shall have me.
The Nativity of Christ. " yESTERDAY we kept the 'birthday of our everlasting King. Today we celebrate the triumphant -passion of a soldier", said S. Fulgentius, many hundreds of years ago, in a sermon preached "on the feast of Stephen." The words remind us that the Church has always associated the birthday of Our Lord with the feasts of the Martyrs: Stephen first, then the Holy Innocents, and finally our own S. Thomas of -have become Canterbury.ovteerrbuthreee years we familiar with the slogan "Put Christ back into Christmas". But our new knowledge and love of forty Martyrs gives a feesh emphasis to the old English meaning of the word Christmas: Christ's Mass.
The Crib. no matter how we glamourise it or sentimentalise over it. is linked inseparably with the Cross. The deprivations and sufferings with which Christ surrounded