Tag Archives: Catholic

Vigil of the Immaculate Conception by Maurice Francis Egan

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Vigil of the Immaculate Conception

by Maurice Francis Egan

A sword of silver cuts the fields asunder—
A silver sword to-night, a lake in June—
And plains of snow reflect, the maples under,
The silver arrows of a wintry moon.

The trees are white with moonlight and with ice-pearls;
The trees are white, like ghosts we see in dreams;
The air is still: there are no moaning wind-whirls;
And one sees silence in the quivering beams.

December night, December night, how warming
Is all thy coldness to the Christian soul:
Thy very peace at each true heart is storming
In potent waves of love that surging roll.

December night, December night, how glowing
Thy frozen rains upon our warm hearts lie:
Our God upon this vigil is bestowing
A thousand graces from the silver sky.

O moon, O symbol of our Lady’s whiteness;
O snow, O symbol of our Lady’s heart;
O night, chaste night, bejewelled with argent brightness,
How sweet, how bright, how loving, kind thou art.

O miracle: to-morrow and to-morrow,
In tender reverence shall no praise abate;
For from all seasons shall we new jewels borrow
To deck the Mother born Immaculate.

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The Vigil at Arms by Louise Imogen Guiney

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The Vigil at Arms

by Louise Imogen Guiney

Keep holy watch with silence, prayer, and fasting
Till morning break, and all the bugles play;
Unto the One aware from everlasting
Dear are the winners: thou art more than they.

Forth from this peace on manhood’s way thou goest,
Flushed with resolve, and radiant in mail;
Blessing supreme for men unborn thou sowest,
O knight elect! O soul ordained to fail!

Quivira by Arthur Guiterman

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Quivira

by Arthur Guiterman

FRANCISCO CORONADO rode forth with all his train,
Eight hundred savage bowmen, three hundred spears of Spain,
To seek the rumored glory that pathless deserts hold —
The city of Quivira whose walls are rich with gold.

Oh, gay they rode with plume on crest and gilded spur at heel,
With gonfalon of Aragon and banner of Castile!
While High Emprise and Joyous Youth, twin marshals of the throng,
Awoke Sonora’s mountain peaks with trumpet-note and song.

Beside that brilliant army, beloved of serf and lord,
There walked as brave a soldier as ever smote with sword,
Though nought of knightly harness his russet gown revealed —
The cross he bore as weapon, the missal was his shield.

But rugged oaths were changed to prayers, and angry hearts grew tame,
And fainting spirits waxed in faith where Fray Padilla came;
And brawny spearmen bowed their heads to kiss the helpful hand
Of him who spake the simple truth that brave men understand.

What pen may paint their daring — those doughty cavaliers!
The cities of the Zuni were humbled by their spears.
Wild Arizona’s barrens grew pallid in the glow
Of blades that won Granada and conquered Mexico.

They fared by lofty Acoma; their rally-call was blown
Where Colorado rushes down through God-hewn walls of stone;
Still, North and East, where deserts spread, and treeless
prairies rolled,
A Fairy City lured them on with pinnacles of gold.

Through all their weary marches toward that flitting goal
They turned to Fray Padilla for aid of heart and soul.
He bound the wounds that lance-thrust and flinty arrow made;
He cheered the sick and failing; above the dead he prayed.

Two thousand miles of war and woe behind their banners lay:
And sadly fever, drought and toil had lessened their array,
When came a message fraught with hope to all the steadfast band:
“Good tidings from the northward, friends! Quivira lies at hand!”

How joyously they spurred them! How sadly drew the rein!
There shone no golden palace, there blazed no jewelled fane.
Rude tents of hide of bison, dog-guarded, met their view —
A squalid Indian village; the lodges of the Sioux!

Then Coronado bowed his head. He spake unto his men:
“Our quest is vain, true hearts of Spain! Now ride we home again.
And would to God that I might give that phantom city’s pride
In ransom for the gallant souls that here have sunk and died!”

Back, back to Compostela the wayworn handful bore;
But sturdy Fray Padilla took up the quest once more.
His soul still longed for conquest, though not by lance and sword;
He burned to show the Heathen the pathway to the Lord.

Again he trudged the flinty hills and dazzling desert sands,
And few were they that walked with him, and weaponless their hands —
But and the trusty man-at-arms, Docampo, rode him near
Like Great Heart, guarding Christian’s way through wastes
of Doubt and Fear.

Where still in silken harvests the prairie-lilies toss,
Among the dark Quiviras Padilla reared his cross.
Within its sacred shadow the warriors of the Kaw
In wonder heard the Gospel of Love and Peace and Law.

They gloried in their Brown-robed Priest; and oft in twilight’s gold
The warriors grouped, a silent ring, to hear the tale he told,
While round the gentle man-at-arms their lithe-limbed children played
And shot their arrows at his shield and rode his guarded blade.

When thrice the silver crescent had filled its curving shell,
The Friar rose at dawning and spake his flock farewell:
“– And if your Brothers northward be cruel, as ye say,
My Master bids me seek them — and dare I answer ‘Nay’?”

Again he strode the path of thorns; but ere the evening star
A savage cohort swept the plain in paint and plumes of war.
Then Fray Padilla spake to them whose hearts were most his own:
“My children, bear the tidings home — let me die here alone.”

He knelt upon the prairie, begirt by yelling Sioux. —
“Forgive them, oh, my Father! they know not what they do!”
The twanging bow-strings answered. Before his eyes, unrolled
The City of Quivira whose streets are paved with gold.

The Wild Ride by Louise Imogen Guiney

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The Wild Ride

by Louise Imogen Guiney

I hear in my heart, I hear in its ominous pulses,
All day, on the road, the hoofs of invisible horses,
All night, from their stalls, the importunate pawing and neighing.

Let cowards and laggards fall back! But alert to the saddle
Weatherworn and abreast, go men of our galloping legion,
With a stirrup-cup each to the lily of women that loves him.

The trail is through dolor and dread, over crags and morasses;
There are shapes by the way, there are things that appal or entice us:
What odds? We are Knights of the Grail, we are vowed to the riding.

Thought’s self is a vanishing wing, and joy is a cobweb,
And friendship a flower in the dust, and glory a sunbeam:
Not here is our prize, nor, alas! after these our pursuing.

A dipping of plumes, a tear, a shake of the bridle,
A passing salute to this world and her pitiful beauty;
We hurry with never a word in the track of our fathers.

I hear in my heart, I hear in its ominous pulses,
All day, on the road, the hoofs of invisible horses,
All night, from their stalls, the importunate pawing and neighing.

We spur to a land of no name, outracing the storm-wind;
We leap to the infinite dark like sparks from the anvil.
Thou leadest, O God! All’s well with Thy troopers that follow.

Borderlands by Louise Imogen Guiney

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Borderlands

by Louise Imogen Guiney

Through all the evening,
All the virginal long evening,
Down the blossomed aisle of April it is dread to walk alone;
For there the intangible is nigh, the lost is ever-during;
And who would suffer again beneath a too divine alluring,
Keen as the ancient drift of sleep on dying faces blown?

Yet in the valley,
At a turn of the orchard alley,
When a wild aroma touched me in the moist and moveless air,
Like breath indeed from out Thee, or as airy vesture round
Thee,
Then was it I went faintly, for fear I had nearly found Thee,
O Hidden, O Perfect, O Desired! O first and final Fair!

Prayer to the Virgin of Chartres by Henry Adams

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Prayer to the Virgin of Chartres

by Henry Adams

Gracious Lady:–

Simple as when I asked your aid before;
Humble as when I prayed for grace in vain
Seven hundred years ago; weak, weary, sore
In heart and hope, I ask your help again.

You, who remember all, remember me;
An English scholar of a Norman name,
I was a thousand who then crossed the sea
To wrangle in the Paris schools for fame.

When your Byzantine portal was still young
I prayed there with my master Abailard;
When Ave Maris Stella was first sung,
I helped to sing it here with Saint Bernard.

When Blanche set up your gorgeous Rose of France
I stood among the servants of the Queen;
And when Saint Louis made his penitence,
I followed barefoot where the King had been.

For centuries I brought you all my cares,
And vexed you with the murmurs of a child;
You heard the tedious burden of my prayers;
You could not grant them, but at least you smiled

If then I left you, it was not my crime,
Or if a crime, it was not mine alone.
All children wander with the truant Time.
Pardon me too! You pardoned once your Son!

For He said to you:–“Wist ye not that I
Must be about my Father’s business?” So,
Seeking his Father he pursued his way
Straight to the Cross towards which we all must go.

So I too wandered off among the host
That racked the earth to find the father’s clue.
I did not find the Father, but I lost
What now I value more, the Mother,–You!

I thought the fault was yours that foiled my search;
I turned and broke your image on its throne,
Cast down my idol, and resumed my march
To claim the father’s empire for my own.

Crossing the hostile sea, our greedy band
Saw rising hills and forests in the blue;
Our father’s kingdom in the promised land!
–We seized it, and dethroned the father too.

And now we are the Father, with our brood,
Ruling the Infinite, not Three but One;
We made our world and saw that it was good;
Ourselves we worship, and we have no Son.

Yet we have Gods, for even our strong nerve
Falters before the Energy we own.
Which shall be master? Which of us shall serve?
Which wears the fetters? Which shall bear the crown?

Brave though we be, we dread to face the Sphinx,
Or answer the old riddle she still asks.
Strong as we are, our reckless courage shrinks
To look beyond the piece-work of our tasks.

But when we must, we pray, as in the past
Before the Cross on which your Son was nailed.
Listen, dear lady! You shall hear the last
Of the strange prayers Humanity has wailed.

THE AMERICAN FLAG by Fr. Charles Constantine Pise

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THE AMERICAN FLAG

This poem was written by the accomplished Rev. Charles Constantine Pise, the only Catholic priest who ever had the distinction of being chaplain to the United States Senate. He held the office with credit and dignity from 1830 to 1833. The poem was written during the exciting times of Knownothingism that preceded the Civil War, when Catholics were on all sides accused of being enemies of the Government. It is said that it was inspired by the flag waving from the national capitol, as the author saw it while walking up Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington.

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, best flag, to trample.

They say that bolts of thunder,

Cast in the forge of Rome,

May rise and bring thee under,

Flag of my native home,

And with one blow dissever

My heart from thee forever.

False are the words they utter,

Ungenerous their brand;

And rash the oaths they mutter,

Flag of my native land;

Whilst still, in hope above me,

Thou wavest—and I love thee!

God 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, my second.

Woe to the foe or the stranger,

Whose sacrilegious hand

Would touch thee, or endanger,

Flag of my native land!

Though some would fain discard thee,

Mine should be raised to guard thee.

Then wave, thou first of banners!

And in thy gentle shade

Let all opinions, manners,

Promiscuously 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 generous chorus

Our vows to thee we plight;

Unfaithful to thee—never !

My native land forever!