The priest is like a bell
Tolled by the Holy Spirit
To call the human race to Jesus.
The priest is like a shining light;
When the altar is deserted, the candles out,
Always, for all, and close to Him he burns.
The priest is like the peak in its purity
Bestowing height upon the Christian’s mount:
Nearer to heaven, yet dwelling in solitude.
The priest is like a root
Squeezing and dripping out the hidden sap
So that the blessed plant may bring forth fruit.
The priest is like the shade is to the sun,
Signing and following the motion of the light,
The light which is Christ in His works and words.
The priest is like a nightingale
That the earth, resurrected in the spring,
Invites to raise itself to praise in light.
The priest is like a river, on the move
To its outlet, or death, whence comes eternity,
Because the earth is only passage and trials.
The priest is like a waterfall:
The water enlivens him, while he is engulfed,
Confused in humbleness by such a calling.
The priest is like the canvas in the wind
Which, stayed by the mast, is powerful;
By himself a rag, with Jesus formidable.
The priest is both a harbor and defense
Against the groundswell contrary to Christ:
Extending wide the arms of Mother Church.
The priest’s a teacher, telling a true story
To the deluded world, speeding to its end:
The story of God’s will and of his glory.
The priest is the essential Christ
Who through the Cross saves the lost human race
With grace ineffable and his own Vicar.
The priest has wisdom, such that is the light
Of sanctity: wisdom which, gaining Christ
In time invaluable, yet does not presume.
The priest is standing like a separation
’Twixt Heaven and earth; while caring for the world,
He invokes the Saints in assaults on Paradise.
The priest uplifts the innocence
Of Baptism, is guardian of the pure;
Yet where stain is, he groans in penitence.
The priest, in his whole being, is a prayer
Rising unseen in sacrifice to God:
Thus he unnerves the devil and his hosts.
The priest unendingly beseeches
Pardon, offers thanksgiving to his Lord:
Receives from Him all he believes and loves.
The priest is ever the most faithful friend
Of Jesus Christ in whom he yearns and suffers;
And where he finds gall, Jesus gives him honey.
The priest is charity which in the midst
Of war gives peace to everyone:
In Christ he brings together all the peoples.
The priest is the first dear acquisition
Of the Divine Blood: he makes true the royal
Priesthood which the people have from Christ.
The priest is the Sacred Heart which drains away
The tainted blood from out our veins,
Imbuing our arteries with His spotless blood.
The priest is like Christ at the wedding at Cana:
He renders thanks to God, blesses and gives
Eternal life; be bears the sins of all.
The priest knows neither what he can nor is;
How can he dare to fashion from his God
The food for souls? Oh, Holy Eucharist.
The priest is one who, shattered, goes his way
Adoring God; and self-bewailing says:
“I am worth nothing, Jesus is all.”
The priest is glorious in the Mass:
Offering to the Father the Son of pardon, sacrificing
Himself with Him, and in Him, gift and promise.
The priest was given by the Lord:
The priest comes from the Madonna:
The priest brings forth the Savior.
Praise be to the exalted Trinity,
In Jesus and with Joseph and through Mary.
CLEMENTE REBORA, Poesie Religiose (1936-1947); translation © Pamela Hawker 2003.