Heavy and sad the Church must go:
Full weary are her latter days,
And she must hush the voice of praise
While tears of penance flow.
And she must fast, though by her side
The Bridegroom yet on earth doth move;
And fear must be instead of love
For her own children's pride.
Yet, holy Mother! Lent is past:
And long ago the Easter sun
Into the middle sky hath run;--
Wherefore this second fast?
Mother! with us the Lord doth bide;
Yet but a little while He stays,--
Then for three dim and lonely days
Why keep us from His side?
He said we should not fast when He
Came down to live with us below:
Then, holy Mother! why forego
Our ancient liberty?
When thou wert in thy virgin prime,
Those forty days through all the earth
Thy heart did swell with festal mirth--
It was thy bridal time.
Talk not, my son, of early days:
My precious stones were passing fair,
My life was Sacrament and prayer,
My unity was praise.
These glories now are well-nigh past:
My son! the world is waxing strong;
The day is hot; the fight is long,
And therefore do I fast.
And ye are weak, and cannot bear
Full forty days of Easter mirth:
And nought is left unstained of earth,
But penance, fast, and prayer.
Oh! weary is my stay below;
And thus with strong and earnest cry,
As each Ascension-day glides by,
I fain with Him would go.
Then watch and fast, like saints of yore;
These three new days perchance may bring
The earlier advent of our King,
And we shall fast no more!
Frederick Faber, Cong. Orat., 1814-1863
Fr Lee Kenyon
Priest, Husband, Father, Lancastrian, Mancunian