Editor’s note: Poetry often best conveys the mystery of God’s call. In this poem, Fr. Gerrard Lessard, OP, represents the priestly vocation of one man: his calling, beholding a painting of Saint Dominic by Fra Angelico, learning the Rosary from Saint Louis de Montfort, the serious need for God’s Word today, study, religious life, ordination, troubles, assigned ministry, homiletics, more or less success, and the eschatological summary.

A Preacher

Swept away he was by angels’ wings
To mystic clouds to hear God’s Voice.
These whisperings of subtle things
Compelled him to a crucial choice.
“Freely give yourself in love of all.
My Church will be your family.”
Discerning still this muted call,
A blessed book revealed his destiny.

A pensive friar frocked in black and white,
The Father of Preachers, where Romans mock,
Invited him to Truth and Right.
He did not stall nor fear the watchful walk.
A Breton, then, extolled the Lady’s gift:
Prayers like roses, yet weapons for Good,
A woven cord or burnished chain to lift,
A rhythm for joys and sorrows withstood.

Ah, but creeping chaos causes doubt,
While even loved ones lose their way,
Caught in the fray hovering about.
What eloquence could save the stray?
Our feral culture festers, lies,
To gratify its facile decadence,
As the bog of fetal blood belies
Humanity’s pervasive loss of innocence.

Yet, wisdom from above and ages past
Breathes on in Sacred Script and speech.
As from the sky, its brilliant beam is cast
Through men inspired and qualified to teach.
Assiduous study both day and night
Of doctors of doctrine in concord divine
Changing chaos to order and darkness to light,
Yet more is required for hearts to refine.

Dying to self and rising for all
Takes vigilant practice and support.
The Atonement of Christ redeems our fall,
So to His Sacraments the faithful resort.
Safeguarded by vows in community,
Humble friars adjust, submitting their wills.
The Hours and Seasons of the Liturgy
Carry them along, polishing their skills.

Under sacred hands, the Lord bestowed
A prophetic light and honored state.
The potent Word the Spirit showed,
Yet not his rocky path and fate.
The potholes and pitfalls of sinners and sin
Disrupt his sowing, his reaping as well,
But troubles without and sorrows within
Teach him lessons for living and stories to tell.

As a fisherman trained to hurl a net,
Yet bounded by sheep to feed and tend,
The thankful priest has no regret
At this juncture to meet his purpose and end.
Each day the Word lays bare old mysteries
That prayer enlightens his mind to see.
His joy in garnering homilies
Might well up to tears in delivery.

Faith and reason, gifts and erudition,
Combine with toil to sculpt his speech.
An oration by grammar, syntax, inspiration,
Apt gestures, duration, with poetry to preach,
Editions, quotations, astute apologetic,
Leave silence for voice with breath and pitch.
Intuition and logic, to be ecumenic,
Drive rhythm and plot to resolve and enrich.

His feet on high, the friendly Father sees
Famished souls with heedful eyes.
The sway of the Spirit empowers with ease,
As talents combine concertedly wise,
But at times, he admits, his due portion was poor,
While wielding a blade too blunt to convey.
To incite and induce, not to tire like a chore,
He deigns yet again on his knees to pray.

From season to season and field to field,
Itinerant planters leave their mark.
Yet, who but God foresees the final yield,
The figure of souls who heed and hark?
The caster seldom sees the crops that grow,
Yet trusting his brethren and the One who prunes,
He performs his part among many who sow,
Until the dawn of sheaves and playful tunes!

Saint Dominic

Saint Dominic by Fra Angelico