A Poem to St. John Henry Newman
On the Day of His Canonization, October 13, 2019
By Joseph Piper
We ask our Saint that he forgive
What little earthly words can give
To laud him who by now has heard
The angel choirs adore the Word.
Long have we hailed you Oxford’s sage,
Revered each work, and word, and page,
But now our former praise seems faint,
For Mother Church has called you “Saint.”
Through dimness and through faintest sight
You never sinned against the light;
And now that kindly Light does blaze,
As you behold Him face to face.
We dare not ask you lift your eyes
From your hard-fought and well-earned Prize,
Yet we do beg you intercede
for us below, your sons, in need.
We ask you, first, the gift of faith,
To live beneath His loving gaze,
To work, and speak, and pray, and sing,
Before the One who sees all things.
Next, grant that priestly zeal for souls
That burned your heart and lips like coals
And urged you on from door to door
To preach Good News to all the poor.
Then last, we ask prophetic sight
A ray of that eternal light,
To read our times as you read yours,
To guide men to the eternal shores.
And now we ask one final gift:
That you would call across the rift
To speak to us who make our way
To where you dwell in endless day.
“A word, my sons, I will impart,
A word that flows from heart to heart:
Venture something! Do not delay!
For richly does Our Lord repay.
With gen’rous hearts, hold nothing back,
And truly nothing will you lack.
So fix your eyes on your Reward,
Then shod your feet, take up your sword.
For he who fails to join the fight
Will never know his Master’s might.
But he who fights, although he falls,
Will have his place in victors’ halls.
Sons, all does pass and all is vain.
And nothing there below remains.
So tarry not nor doubt to trade
All for a crown that cannot fade.”
O Newman, pray for us below
And bring our cause before His throne,
That we might serve His kingdom well,
And win the place where you now dwell.
John Henry Newman was recently canonized by Pope Francis on October 13, 2019.
Joseph Piper is a seminarian in the Saint John Society, a Society of Apostolic Life founded in Argentina dedicated to the New Evangelization. He studies at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C.