On the Catholic Priesthood

Saturday October 12, 2019

The Priest

"And the people were waiting for Zachary." St. Luke, i. 21.

As morning breaks or evening shadows steal,
Duties and thoughts throng round the marble stair,
Waiting for Him who burneth incense there,
Till He shall send to bless them as they kneel.
Greater than Aaron is the mighty Priest
Who in that radiant shrine for ever dwells,
Brighter the stones that stud His glowing vest,
And ravishing the music of His bells,
That tinkle as He moves. The golden air
Is filled with motes of joy that dance and run
Through every court, and make the temple one.
-The lamps are lit; 'tis past the hour of prayer,
And through the windows is there lustre thrown,
Deep in the Holy Place the Priest doth watch alone.

Source: Poems by Fr Frederick W. Faber.

Friday October 11, 2019

The Temple

"Know you not that your members are the Temple of the Holy Ghost?" I Cor. vi. 19

Come, I have found a Temple where to dwell;
Sealed up and watched by Spirits day and night
Behind the Veil there is a crystal Well.
The glorious cedar pillars sparkle bright,
All gemmed with big and glistening drops of dew,
That work their way from out yon hidden flood
By mystic virtue through the fragrant wood,
Making it shed a faint unearthly smell.
And from beneath the curtain, that doth lie
In rich and glossy folds of various hue,
Soft showers of pearly light run streamingly
Over the chequered floor and pavement blue.
Oh! that our eyes might see that Font of Grace,
But none hath entered yet his own heart's Holy Place.

Source: Poems, Fr. Frederick W. Faber

Tuesday September 17, 2019

Hymn of St. Francis Xavier

My God, I love Thee, not because
I hope for Heaven thereby;
Nor because they who love Thee not,
Must burn eternally.

Thou, O my Jesus, Thou didst me
Upon the Cross embrace;
For me didst bear the nails and spear,
And manifold disgrace;

And griefs and torments numberless,
And sweat of agony;
E'en death itself - and all for one
Who was Thine enemy.

Then why, O blessed Jesus Christ!
Should I not love Thee well?
Not for the sake of winning Heaven;
or of escaping Hell;

Not with the hope of gaining aught,
Nor seeking a reward;
But, as Thyself hast loved me,
O ever-loving Lord!

E'en so I love Thee, and will love,
And in Thy praise will sing;
Solely because Thou art my God,
And my eternal King.

Source: Beautiful Pearls of Catholic Truth, 1897

Monday August 19, 2019

In the Chapel

In vain the torch of glimmering flame
Touches you taper's cold unyielding white;
Yet why so feeble? Why so loth to light?
All around thee stand ablaze. Art not the same?

Nor soul, nor taper ventureth to reply,—
"The smoking flax, this dull, reluctant spark,
Enkindle, Lord." Quick answering through the dark,
The taper glows, the soul uplifts its cry.
O parable of Peace from One on high
That poor reluctant candle, Lord, am I.

Sunday August 18, 2019

The Blessed Sacrament

Jesus! my Lord, my God, my All
How can I love Thee as I ought?
And how revere this wondrous gift
So far surpassing hope or thought?
Sweet Sacrament, we Thee adore!
Oh make us love Thee more and more.

Had I but Mary's sinless heart
To love Thee with, my dearest King,
Of with what bursts of fervent praise
Thy goodness, Jesus, would I sing!
Sweet Sacrament, we Thee adore,
Oh make us love Thee more and more.

Oh, see! within a creature's hand
The vast Creator deigns to be,
Reposing infant-like, as though
On Joseph's arm or Mary's knee,
Sweet Sacrament, we Thee adore!
Of make us love Thee more and more.

Thy Body, Soul, and Godhead all!
Oh, mystery of love divine!
I cannot compass all I have;
For all Thou hast and art are mine!
Sweet Sacrament, we Thee adore!
Of make us love Thee more and more. Amen.

Friday August 16, 2019


Before yon earthly shrine, O dearest Lord,
Knelt two whose lives like tapers burn for Thee,
— Thy holy priests now, bearers of Thy Word,
And guardians of Thy Sacred Mystery.
Pure as the lily keep those human hearts,
And spotless as the Host those hallowed souls;
While far above the joy this world imparts,
Be theirs that peace Thy Sacred Word extols.
O make them strong and comfort them in pain,
In hour of trial sorrowing apart;
And lest their life-long sacrifice be vain,
Enclose them in Thy Sacred, Wounded Heart,


Source: The Maine Catholic Historical Magazine, Volume 2
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Portland, Maine, December, 1913

Sunday August 11, 2019

Christ Loved the Church

Treading the Nazareth vale and mountain side,
Growing in age and grace with God and men,
Still to His parents subject; even then
Wedded was Christ's young heart to one fair Bride.

Oft for the mystic nuptial rite He sighed.
Fulfilling years and grace, He filled again
The measure of His love, nor rested when
Of love's excess upon the Cross He died.

Christ loves His Church, throughout all time His Spouse,
The all-fair Mother of an offspring born
And bound to Him in more than carnal ties.

In all things like the Master, may our vows
Of love for Mother Church both night and morn
Arise and mount unbroken to the skies!

Source: The Messenger of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Vol. VIII  Feb, 1893

Wednesday August 07, 2019

Death of a young priest

Oh! to think of him as Priest,
One short moment at the feast
Of the King.
One short season ’mid the vine,
Where the workers prune and twine,
Weep and sing.

It is well, as priest and man
‘Twas a guileless course he ran
Who can say
What sorrow, what deep dole,
Lay in wait for the young soul
Passed away?

Fare thee well; God grant thee rest,
And thy birthright’ mid the blest
May He give:
Thou didst speak His word, and break
The Life-Bread immortals take -
Thou shalt live.

Source: Rev. Dr. Howley, Ave Maria (June 1886)
Lyra Hieratica: poems on the priesthood / collected from many by Fr. Thomas Edward Bridgett,, 1829-1899.

Sunday July 14, 2019

A Bed-Ridden Priesthood

 Oh! it is good to stand each day,
A trembling, happy priest,
And offer up the Victim-God
And taste the heavenly feast.

But it is better yet to lie
Helpless, alone and still,
God’s victim on a bed of pain,
A martyr to His will.

To feed on Jesus is the life
Of all th’angelic host,
To suffer and to sigh for Him
No seraphim can boast.

Source: Rev. Edmund Vaughan, C.SS.R.
Lyra Hieratica: poems on the priesthood / collected from many by Fr. Thomas Edward Bridgett,, 1829-1899.

Thursday July 04, 2019

They Say I Do not Love Thee

They say I do not love thee,
Flag of my native land,
Whose meteor-folds above me
To the free breeze expand;
Thy broad stripes proudly streaming,
And thy stars so brightly gleaming.

They say I would forsake thee,
should some dark crisis lower;
That, recreant, I should make thee
Crouch to a foreign power;
Seduced by license ample,
On thee, blest flag, to trample.

False are the words they utter,
ungenerous their brand,
And rash the oaths they mutter,
Flag of my native land;
While still in hope, above me
Thou wavest - and I love thee.

They say that bolts of thunder,
Hurled by the Pontiff's hand,
May rive and bring thee under,
Flag of my native land,
And with one blow dissever
My heart from thee forever.

God's is my love's first duty,
To whose eternal name
Be praise for all thy beauty,
Thy grandeur, and thy fame;
But ever have I reckoned
Thine, native flag, its second.

Woe to the foe or stranger
Whose sacrilegious hand
Would touch thee or endanger,
Flag of my native land!
Though some would fain discard thee,
Mine should be raise to guard thee.

Then wave, thou first of banners,
And in thy genial shade
Let creeds, opinions, manners
In love and peace be laid;
And there, all discord ended,
Our hearts and souls be blended.

Stream on, stream on before us,
Thou labarum of light,
While in one general chorus
Our vows to thee we plight;
Unfaithful to thee? - Never!
My country's flag forever.

written by Rev. Dr. C.C. Pise, who died in 1866. Fr. Pise was the only priest to act as chaplain of the United States Senate.

 Source: Our Young People Company, 1916

Saturday June 29, 2019

The Sleep of the Eucharist

Let us listen while the Spouse of the holy canticles addresses us these sweet words, and endeavour to comprehend them:

"I sleep," does He say, "and my heart watches."

Ah! if He had stopped at this one word I sleep, far from tasting therein the suavity, that I seek , I should find only disquietude and alarm. Jesus Christ sleeps, and the devil, my enemy, watches and prowls around me like a lion to devour. Jesus Christ sleeps, and my senses, constantly awake, lie in ambush for my soul to enslave it. Jesus Christ sleeps, who will watch for me? My love sleeps, on whom shall I rely, My strength sleeps, who will support me? My hope sleeps, in whom shall I trust?....

But He who is, at once, my love, my hope, my strength, leaves me not long in suspense. I sleep, says He, but my heart watches; and, lo! I am at once reassured. It is no heavy slumber which leaves the heart to watch; it is not a sleep of forgetfulness when the heart keeps vigil. If His heart watches, then He will love me; if His heart watches, then He will come to my aid. His heart will always find secret words to instruct me, and secret delights to charm me; what matters it that all in Him sleeps, if His heart watches? His heart is all. Sleep, Lord Jesus, I am tranquil, Thy heart watches.

Tuesday June 18, 2019

The Priest and the Altar

Enough the blood of victims flowed of old,

The shadows pass, and legal offerings;

Now higher Ministries, Thou, Lord, dost mold,

On which a holier shade Thy Priesthood flings.

Elias from the Heavens called down the flame;

One Greater than Elias, hid from sight,

Is here, obedient to His awful Name;

Of Him we make the dread memorial Rite.

Great Office, the mysterious Cup to bear,

In which the guilty world’s Salvation lies,

And with our trembling hands, full of deep fear,

To offer up the Bloodless Sacrifice.

Oh, more than all to ancient Prophets given,

More than to Angels, if but understood,

That in our trembling hands the God of Heaven

Doth give Himself to be our Spirits’ Food.

Grant, Christ, that we, fulfilling Thy Commands,

Of Thy blest Presence may approach the Seat,

With hearts by Thee made pure, and holy hands;

May love for Thy dread Altars make us meet.

Son of th’Eternal Father, God above,

May all the world beneath Thy Feet adore,

Who sendest down the Spirit, with Thy Love

Thy Priesthood to anoint for evermore.

Source: Lyra Eucharistica : hymns and verses on the Holy Communion, ancient and modern ; with other poems by Shipley, Orby, 1832-1916

Sunday June 09, 2019

The First Mass

                                                                                       (Image Source: GoogleBooks)

Before the altar stands the vested priest,
His face illumined with the spirit's light,
Though conscious, awed by his exalted right
To offer sacrifice.

From sin released through prayer and fast,
His strength by grace increased,
He pours the Wine of love into the chalice bright,
Lifts from the paten Life's Bread pure and white,
Invokes the Presence for the Sacred Feast,
Adores the Lamb of Whom the Saints are fed.
 The heavens part, rejoicing Angels see
Uplifted eyes, anointed hands outspread
O'er silent worshippers, while fervently
 A blessing falls with peace upon each head.
O miracle sublime! O mystery.

Source: by Rev. R.S. Dewey, S.J. The Messenger of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. July, 1891

Tuesday June 04, 2019

Priestly Vocation

A Babe on the breast of his mother

Reclines in the valley of love,

And smiles like a beautiful lily

Caressed by the rays from above.

A child at the knee of his mother

Who is counting her decades of prayer,

Discovers the cross of her chaplet,

And kisses the Sufferer there.

A boy with a rosary kneeling

Alone in the temple of God,

And begging the wonderful favour

To walk where the Crucified trod.

A Student alone in his study,

With pallid and innocent face;

He raises his head from the pages

And lists to the murmur of grace.

A cleric with mortified features,

Studious, humble, and still,

In every motion a meaning,

In every action a will.

A Man at the foot of the altar -

A Christ at the foot of the cross,

Where every loss is a profit,

And every gain is a loss.

A Deified Man on a mountain,

His arms uplifted and spread -

With one he is raising the living,

with one he is loosing the dead.

Source: Rev. D. B. Collins (NewYork), from Irish Monthly (July, 1890)

Lyra Hieratica: poems on the priesthood / collected from many by Fr. Thomas Edward Bridgett,, 1829-1899.

Tuesday May 21, 2019

A Priest’s Prayer to Our Lady

By whose unworthy hands and trembling breath

The Victim-Priest renews His mystic death;

Whose functions bind him to thy highest care,

While conscience cries: “Presumptuous man, beware!”

O Glorious Queen, thy lamp was kindled bright

In thy Conception; yet, through all the night,

Waiting the King of kings, thy prudent toil

Trimmed and replenished it with purest oil:

My priestly lamp burns dim; oh! Pray thy Spouse

Within my sluggish spirit to arouse

The grace the priestly character demands,

Pledged by the Pontiff’s venerable hands.

Source: Lyra Hieratica: poems on the priesthood / collected from many by Fr. Thomas Edward Bridgett, 1829-1899.