Saturday, June 27, 2020



Tutored by care and weariness and dearth,
we kneel beside
you, Mary, more understandingly[1]
this Christmas-tide.

A longer time we brook the stable floor,
rock-hewn and cold,
mindful a little less of things of sense
now than of old.

We have not asked a blissful cry of stars
blending with wave
on wave of nine-voiced angel chant
above the cave.

Lady of Single Desire, more than fulfilled
one holy night,
teach us to seek, also, only the Child
for our delight.

Sister M Paulinus
America.  26 December 1942

[1] The growth in understanding referred to by the poet arose when America joined World War II on 7 December 1941. 


    ‘But the son of man hath not where to lay his head.”                   Matthew VIII:20

                                                                    We do not find Christ claiming
His world, His sky, His sun.
of myriads of creatures
He said He had but one.

And all that earth could proffer
He never called His own,
Who only had a Mother
as dwelling place and throne

  She was His sole possession           And here His dear head rested             A little Babe contented
   those nine months set apart                (Who was the Lord of earth)                fed at a Mother’s breast,
when He had asked permission              until she found a manger               Who had designed creation
     to live beneath her heart.                  the night she gave Him birth.               and chosen this as best.

The years the Child was growing
in grace and wisdom’s ken
were years of His dependence,
most rich to God and men.

We sense the Man’s nostalgia
for home and hearth and bed:
the Son of Mary has not
whereon to lay His head.

The Gospel tells us plainly
that angry billows swept,
while a very tired Jesus
on a borrowed pillow slept.

With head in thorny helment
He sighed His life’s last breath.
Et inclinato capite ...[2]
He turned toward her in death.

The Friday dark descended
on sin’s most woeful art:
the wounded head was lying
upon the sword-pierced heart.

In borrowed tomb she laid Him
in His last poverty,
till rising He would bring her
His bright humanity.

Who hope to share His glory
for Whom there was no room,
are fashioned as his members
within her spirit’s womb.

The truly poor and lowly
who know this residence
shall live the way of Jesus
     in Mary’s providence.   

Sister Sada Marie.  In: Carmel Bride. 1957.

[1] Where the head rested
[2] And, head bowed,



Dear Mary walked along the rugged way
that led to her fond cousin’s humble home,
‘twas not her wish for pleasure’s sake to roam
she went serenely and without delay
her acts of love to do.  What she would say
had never yet been writ in any tome
on earth’s wide plains, across the ocean foam.
Sweet Mary raised her voice to sing and pray.

When Mary sang, the angels stooped to hear
grand words that angels ne’er had heard before.
The canticle that rose from earth below
was filled with joy so pure and crystal clear,
they knew that one on earth did God adore
whose soul was white as freshly fallen snow.

Sister St Stanislas CDP
In: Robert.  1944



The purest of all virgins fair,
that ever trod the earth,
perused the ancient prophecies
of the Messiah’s birth.

An angel came to visit her,
he called her full of grace,
the humble maid was sore perplexed;
distress suffused her face.

The messenger announced to her
the heavenly Father’s Word.
Then Mary humbly said to him:
“Behold the handmaid of the Lord.”

Sister St Stanislas CDP
In: Robert.  1946



Now are days of ineffable waiting,
splendorous past surmise –
Oh the feel of a babe’s soft fingers!
Oh the star-pools in its eyes!

For the bud which the Spirit grafted
to the stainless, mystic rose,
is full to break to blossom
amid the lonely snows.

Sister M Thérèse SDS
Now there is Beauty.  MacMillan.  1940                                              
Used with permission                                                                           


I carol a song of a night of stars -                                   
and of skies a midnight blue
of fragile music of young, sweet winds                                                        
that chant the long night through.                                     
Of homely shepherds and sheep I sing,
and of lambs lain down with them;
none on the wide earth glad as these
hillfold of Bethlehem.

And I sing again of the silver snow
on a roadway far and calm,
that laid a white carpet for Joseph grave
and his maid-wife Miriam.

Whose swift young feet knew a rhythmic bliss
to a rapture sudden - near
to miracle-music – a small heart’s beat
which only her heart could hear.

And her sweet lips tense with a sudden joy
lend theme to my carolling,
for only the Spirit’s utter own
dared guess what the night would bring.

And weary of song, when the dawn is up
and the stars have slipped the skies,
well do I know I shall lose my heart
to a Babe with its mother’s eyes.

Sister M Thérèse SDS
Now there is Beauty.  MacMillan.  1940
Used with permission


                                                                       A FOUNTAIN SEALED

One brief phrase out of scripture I prefer
to other praise of her –

She was a woman who had learned the art
of pondering in her heart.

Of inner cherishing, keeping the word
by which her soul was stirred.

Beneath the literal integument
she sweetly bent

to inner meanings, limpid and profound,
that held her bound

to them for all the years that she should be,
tasting their ecstasy

much as the fleeting colour of a wing
might hold one pondering,

or poignant words of lovers, told apart
still rend the heart.

This is the woman I would stand before
at Nazareth’s unlatched door.

This is the radiant woman I would meet
on Bethlehem’s narrow street,

Serenely poised and beautifully wise,
whose soul burns in her eyes

Holding its secret wisdom, love-annealed,
as a fountain sealed.

Sister M Thérèse SDS
In: Give Joan a Sword.  MacMillan 1945



Brief, blissful memory : the winter world,
the pangful journey through Judean cold,
and far-off Bethlehem, a radiant blur
of Orient gold, and frankincense, and myrrh,
now is the dream come true : In exquisite rest,
His cheek a loving flame against her breast,
nestles the Babe, as Mary’s love-winged feet
draw to Jerusalem.  O gracious, sweet!
Hastening with infinite burden through the snow,
gladden the path my hesitant feet shall go
under the windswept heaven and mutable skies;
light to my way the taper of your eyes
while in joy-tremulous accents you whisper me
                                                                     Bittersweet word of Simeon’s prophecy,
Swift through the dusk, and prescient gloom shall start,
Tremble to flame the candle of my  heart.
                                                        Sister M Thérèse SDS
                                   Now there is Beauty.  MacMillan.  1940
                 Used with permission

[1] The Feast of the Purification of Mary (and Christ’s Presentation in the Temple).



A myriad mirthful cherubs
struck haunting harps till morn
on a lonely Bethlehem hillside
when the little Christ was born.

What matter the midnight darkness,
or a witching wind run wild?
The fragile maiden Mary
bowed her head and smiled

to eyes that had looked down ages
with a pathos none can speak;
to lips that had uttered judgement,
small lips that would brush her cheek.

All the gathered loves of heaven
one joy-stricken heart could fill
        were hers in a brief night’s rapture,
when grief and the stars stood still.

O lovely, wistful Mary,
from His simple bed of hay
lift up your Child to bless
this holy Christmas day.

Sister M Thérèse SDS
Now there is Beauty. MacMillan. 1940
Used with permission


GALILEAN MAY                                                                                  
Into the hills of Galilee                                                                      
Our Lady went one day,                                                                       
lured by the wonder-woven bloom
dropped from the looms of May.                                                                        
Slim lilies leaned to touch her gown,                                                     
curving through delicate air,
a fledgling thrush flew to her hand,
butterflies to her hair.

She told a secret to the winds
that brushed her garment hem –
the tear-wet, pitying winds that blew
up from Jerusalem.

And as she spoke a little Name,
whispering low and sweet,
a golden surf of buttercups
broke against her feet.

The winds and flowers of Galilee,
grown wistful of her face,
still wait her footfall at the May –
gentle and full of grace.

Sister M Thérèse
Give Joan a Sword.  1945
Used with permission