Ad Matrem 1904


Our blessed Mother, who is full of grace,
While she was yet of very tender years,
Turned from her parents without grief or tears,
And made her dwelling in the holy place,

Obedient to the summons in her heart;
Blind to the world, and deaf to all its praise,
To work for God, and pray, and pass her days
With those who choose the good, the better, part.

The priest and Temple servants welcome her
With open arms, who gives herself to God.
Others remain below to toil and plod;
She mounts to heights of goodness, as it were.

As God has called her, gladly she will go.
Never a thought will cross her earnest mind
Of things which she has lost and left behind.
God is her end; 'tis all she cares to know.

O happy parents! Happy Joachim,
And happy Ann, to give so sweet a prize
To God who asks it of you; in your eyes
The tears are tears of joy which make them dim.


So Mary in the Temple takes her place
With joy to serve the holy God; apart
From evil; and the rapture in her heart
Is greater than the rapture in her face.

She scrubs and dusts; she sweeps the marble floor
She makes the linen things as white as snow;
Not whiter than her pure heart, all aglow
With love for God, even to its very core.

Before the sunrise, she is still the light
Of all the holy place. Before the hour
Of sacrifice her prayers ascend with power
Before God's throne, like incense in his sight.

And when her work is done she gives her soul
Again to spoken prayers. And through the deep
Night-watches, whether waking or asleep.
She is still God's, immaculate and whole.

Until, for reasons which we cannot tell,
The time has come when she must be espoused
To Joseph. This new call of God aroused
Her tranquil mind to do His holy will.

God calls and she obeys; still calm and meek,
She lays her white hand in Saint Joseph's hands,
She plights her troth to God, who understands
Her vow, accepting it; why should she seek.

To know what God has not as yet revealed?
God's Lily; God's sweet Rose; His House of gold;
His tower of ivory long ago foretold;
The Garden of the Lord; the Fountain sealed.


Mary is praying in her humble home,
No carriage wheels are ever heard before
Her house. No pomp has ever crossed her door,
Nor any splendour of the court of Rome.

Yet who is this who comes splendidly
In his robes and jewels of another world,
With shimmering wings all crisp and softly curled
In heaven's highest air? What can it be?

Hail, full of grace, he says; his voice is sweet
Just as his clothes are splendid, and his face
Is all alight with heaven. Full of grace!
Strange words! strange posture, kneeling at her feet!

Mary has never known the noise and crush
Of crowded courts. The courtier's flattering tongue
Has never lied to her, who lived among
The humble and poor; but in the hush

Of her still chamber she has prayed alone
To God so much, that now she has no fear
To face a shining angel, or to hear
The gracious message sent from God's high throne.

She says: Behold the handmaid of the Lord;
And be it done to me as thou hast said
Strong in her faith, she bows her lowly head;
Heaven breaks forth in song with one accord.


Great Gabriel, when he knelt before his queen,
Told her of great things which the Lord had done,
And how Elizabeth should bear a son
His message given, he was no more seen.

Then rising up (for Mary gave no time
To gossip or to dreams) she cast her cloak
About her shoulders, took her staff, and spoke
To no one, but set out at once to climb.

The rough steep road before her. She must go
To see Elizabeth without delay.
Her charitable errand made the way
Seem short; what hesitation could she know?

And soon her light step meets her cousin's ear.
Her voice is ringing like a silver bell.
Gladness and peace and purity as well
Breathe upon everyone when she comes near.

And whence is this to me, her cousin cries,
That my Lord's mother thus should come to me?
Blessed among all women! Zachary
Approaches at the sound with wondering eyes.

O what a contrast! Zachary cannot speak
Through wanting faith, while Mary sings her song
Of praise. O were our faith but half so strong
As thine is! Help us, Mother, who are weak.


About the time when Jesus should be born,
Wise men in distant countries saw a star
New-set in heaven; and followed it afar
Night after night, untired from dusk till morn.

They rode their camels hard, and hurried them
Across the waste and through the wilderness;
The star went still in front, and shone no less
Until at length they reached Jerusalem.

It did not cross their minds to hope to find
The king except in Herod's palace; since
They only knew the star foretold a prince,
And not the meek Redeemer of mankind.

Herod's dark mind grew darker as he heard
Their tale. He smiled and scoffed, and smiled again.
But while he seemed to treat it with disdain,
He gave attentive heed to every word.

What new king can it be when I am king?
I am the king whose kingdom has no end.
Thus Herod's vain thoughts mocked him. I will send
And slaughter every new-born Caesarling.

These three wise kings are fools, he thought; and I
Should be a greater fool if men adore
Another king while I am king. Before
That happens, though, the new-born king shall die.

His wicked thought was prophecy; but still,
Though the king died, it was not to be yet.
Men plan and work their crime; but they forget
All things are subject to the Almighty will.


Now certain shepherds watched their flocks by night
Over by Bethlehem, all dark and still.
They played upon their rustic pipes until
Another morning brought return of light.

And as the star had told the kings a king
Was to be born in Israel, so now
The angel comes to tell the shepherds how
Almighty God has done a wondrous thing.

He tells the glory of the new-born Child,
The heavenly Shepherd, who will lead His folk
Away from Satan's kingdom, and the yoke
Of sin; not rough and course, but kind and mild.

And as the angel left them, hark, the song
Of angels is resounding in the sky,
Singing: All glory be to God on high,
Come, said the shepherds: let us go along.

And see the Infant born in Bethlehem
I long to see Him as He lies asleep
In Mary's arms. And never mind the sheep;
The hosts of angels will look after them.


They came with haste, and found the gloomy cave
Made light and lovely by the Babe. They tapped
Upon the door. They saw the Baby wrapped
In swaddling clothes, the Shepherd who should save.

His people from their sins. O happy sight!
Sweet Mother, said they, we would see thy Son,
Show us the Lamb of God, the Holy One
Of God. We would adore Him if we might.

Then graciously she drew aside the veil
And showed these lowly men the Infant's face,
The face of God. O Mary, full of Grace,
Blessed by God who blesseth thee, all hail!

And falling on their knees they each adored
Sweet Mary's holy Baby. And again
They called themselves the happiest of men.
And Mary took their praise without a word.


And while the shepherds loitered, suddenly
The kings arrive, with all their numerous train;
Those who had come with so much toil and pain
Following the kindly star, that they might see.

The new-born King. The shepherds were afraid
At such a sight; but Mary had no fear.
Saint Joseph bade the visitors come near,
Beside the Infant and the spotless maid,

His holy Mother. While the happy kings,
To whom men knelt, themselves knelt humbly down,
Each offered Him his kingdom and his crown,
And frankincense and myrrh and costly things.

God gave the kings such faith that, while they saw
The misery of the stable, and the poor
Weak Babe, they knew that. He would give them more
Than they gave Him. They knew His mighty law.

Is that which guides the stars, and turns the heart,
The wicked heart of man, and makes it clean.
They offer Him their hearts, they beg the Queen
To intercede for them; and they depart.

As softly as they came. When they were gone
No flush of pride appeared on Mary's cheek;
But to the Child she said, in accents meek:
Thou art my King, my Kingdom; Thou alone.

Art all my Riches, Saviour of all men.
Let kings bow low before Thee; deeper still
My heart bows down to Thee, my God; until
Thou crown me in Thy glory, Child. Amen.


Obedient to the law, the Child is brought
By Mary to the Temple to be shown,
And offered to Jehovah, who alone
Is Lord of all; and then He must be bought.

With a small offering back to Mary's care.
Just for one dreadful moment, all she loves
Is lifted from her arms. She takes the doves
And offers them at once; she cannot bear.

To be without Him. But a new delay.
Makes her poor heart beat faster still; her eyes
Are fixed upon the Infant as He lies
In Simeon's arms. Now many a long day.

And many a year of hope and prayer had passed
Since God had promised Him he should not die
Until he saw God's kingdom coming nigh.
Inspired by God, he knows it come at last.

And now thou dost dismiss thy servant, Lord,
According to thy word in peace, he prayed.
And then he gave his blessing, as he laid
The Child in Mary's arms. One day a sword.

Shall pierce thy soul, he said. O Mother, filled
With sorrow and with grace, console our grief;
In all necessity be our relief,
Our strength to do all things as God has willed.


God took upon Himself our human form,
And Mary bore him in this world of sin.
Joseph protected both from all the din
Of men; and got them food, and kept them warm.

What thoughts he had he kept in his own heart
God's silent instrument he wished to be.
To see one we must look at all the three.
What God has joined let no man tear apart.

In Jesus Love of God and men is shown.
Incarnate Faith in Mary's form and face.
Hope undismayed in Joseph. And his place
Is not so very far from Mary's throne.


They came with others to Jerusalem
From distant Galilee, to keep the feast.
As long as they were there they never ceased
To pray that God would do His will in them.

The Blessed Mother Mary did not know
How soon so sharp a trial would be laid
Upon her. She has lost her Son. Dismayed,
And full of grief, she hurries to and fro.

Among her kinsmen through the caravan.
Where is my Boy? Where was He? Have you seen
My Son? Where is my Son? He should have been
Among us. No one knew. She wept, and ran.

Along the road, and called His holy name
Into the starry night; again; again.
Her lips were cold; her heart was numb with pain;
She called and wept and prayed; no answer came.

Day followed night; night followed day; the sun
Rose as she reached the city. With quick pace,
She reached the Temple in a little space,
And found Him with the doctors. O my Son!


Next to the house in Nazareth, a shed
Contained a bench, a vice, and workman's tools;
Saws, planes and adzes, chisels, squares and rules.
And here Saint Joseph toiled for each day's bread.

Mary is busy sewing. Jesus stands
Beside Saint Joseph, working through the day.
He did not come into the world to play
At being man, but worked with both His hands.

Joseph has taught Him how to use the plumb
And spirit-level; bradawls, bits and brace;
He does not let Him use the axe, in case
He might chop off a finger or a thumb.

Thus He who built the world now condescends
To learn the joiner's trade, and handle saws
And chisels for His bread, who made the laws
Which guide a million planets to their ends.


Jesus is dead, and the disciples flee.
Mother if ever, now thy faith is tried.
The sword foretold has pierced thy soul, beside
The cross. Who now on earth can comfort thee?

What tongue can ever tell the bitterness
Which overwhelmed thee? We may be assured
Only the anguish which thy Son endured
Surpassed thy soul's unutterable distress.

Before He died, Our Lord said to Saint John,
Whose head had rested on His breast: Behold
Thy Mother, Son. And from that hour, we are told,
The loved disciple took her to his own.

O mighty Mother of all sorrow, lean
On him whom Jesus taught to be thy son,
When He Himself was gone. Teach everyone
Of us to be thy child as John has been.


We saw the blessed Mother as a child
Humble and strong, mounting the Temple stair;
The road she took to God, all unaware
Of any wickedness, and unbeguiled.

By any wonder of this passing earth.
Not men, but God she sought to please. Her eyes
Were firmly fixed upon a distant prize.
She looked for peace, not pleasure; joy, not mirth;

Eternal blessedness was what she sought.
She bore God's son; she loved Him; and she gave
Him up to bitterest death, that He might save
All men for God, for God was all her thought.

And then she waited till the time was come
That God should call her to her glittering place
Beside Himself in Glory. Full of grace
And confidence she entered in her home.

Archangels, angels, prophets, martyrs, all
The host of heaven, in infinite array,
Stand back for her; and line her shining way
To God; and, at His holy bidding, fall.

Before their Queen, the chosen of the Lord.
The pierced hands shape, from heaven's purest rays
And gems unspeakable, a crown of praise
For her. O Mary, Great is thy reward!
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