Feast of the Sacred Heart

A poem by Abram Joseph Ryan

Two lights on a lowly altar;
Two snowy cloths for a Feast;
Two vases of dying roses;
The morning comes from the east,
With a gleam for the folds of the vestments
And a grace for the face of the priest.

The sound of a low, sweet whisper
Floats over a little bread,
And trembles around a chalice,
And the priest bows down his head!
O'er a sign of white on the altar --
In the cup -- o'er a sign of red.

As red as the red of roses,
As white as the white of snows!
But the red is a red of a surface
Beneath which a God's blood flows;
And the white is the white of a sunlight
Within which a God's flesh glows.

Ah! words of the olden Thursday!
Ye come from the far-away!
Ye bring us the Friday's victim
In His own love's olden way;
In the hand of the priest at the altar
His Heart finds a home each day.

The sight of a Host uplifted!
The silver-sound of a bell!
The gleam of a golden chalice.
Be glad, sad heart! 'tis well;
He made, and He keeps love's promise,
With thee all days to dwell.

From his hand to his lips that tremble,
From his lips to his heart a-thrill,
Goes the little Host on its love-path,
Still doing the Father's will;
And over the rim of the chalice
The blood flows forth to fill

The heart of the man anointed
With the waves of a wondrous grace;
A silence falls on the altar --
An awe on each bended face --
For the Heart that bled on Calvary
Still beats in the holy place.

The priest comes down to the railing
Where brows are bowed in prayer;
In the tender clasp of his fingers
A Host lies pure and fair,
And the hearts of Christ and the Christian
Meet there -- and only there!

Oh! love that is deep and deathless!
Oh! faith that is strong and grand!
Oh! hope that will shine forever,
O'er the wastes of a weary land!
Christ's Heart finds an earthly heaven
In the palm of the priest's pure hand.

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