Flowers For Our Lady's Altar on Candlemas Day
by Sister P.
THERE are ways, our Lady knows them.
And her children all should know
How to find a flower for Mary
Underneath the deepest snow.
How to weave a lovely garland.
Winter though it be, and cold.
How to buy the rarest offering
Costing something, but not gold.
How to buy, and buy them dearly.
Gifts that she will love to take.
Nor to grudge the cost but give it
Cheerfully for Mary's sake.
Does this seem so strange an offering.
Nay, indeed, 'tis something new:
All can give her noble presents.
Shall I tell you of a few?
What were those the Magi offered.
Gold and myrrh and frankincense ?
They, you say, were saints and monarchs.
That makes quite a difference.
Well, 'tis sometimes hard to listen
To a word unkind or cold,
And to smile a loving answer:
Do it, and you give her gold.
Thoughts of her in work or study
Are small grains of incense rare:
Cast upon a burning censer.
Rise in perfumed clouds of prayer.
Here are sometimes bitter fancies.
Little murmurs that will stir
Even a loving heart -- but crush them.
And you give our Lady myrrh.
Give your little crosses to her,
Which each day, each hour, befall;
They remind her of her Jesus,
So ghe loves them best of all.
Some seem very poor and worthless,
Yet, however small and slight,
Given to her by one who loves her
They are precious in her sight.
One may be so hard to carry
That your hands will bleed and smart
Go and take it to her altar,
Go and place it in her heart.
Check your tears, and try to love it,
Love it as His sacred will;
Thus you set your crown with jewels,
Make your gift more precious still.
There are souls, alas too many,
Who forgot that Jesus died.
Who forgot that sin forever
Is the lance to pierce His side.
Ah! poor sinners, Mary loves them,
And she knows no royal gem
Half so noble, or so precious,
As the prayers you say for them.
Then resign some little pleasure,
Give it her instead to win
Help for some poor heart in peril,
Grace for some poor soul in sin.
Flowers! I should never finish
If I tried to count them too,
If I told you how to know them,
In what garden plot they grew.
Yet I think that each one guesses
They are emblems, and we trace
In the loveliest and the rarest,
Acts of love and gifts of grace.
And such flowers will never wither,
They are not of mortal birth,
And such garlands given to Mary
Die not like the gifts of earth.
Surely now you cannot tell me
That you have no gift to lay
At the feet of our dear mother,
Any hour, any day.
Give her now, to-day, forever,
One great gift, the first and best;
Give your heart to her and ask her
How to give her all the rest.