Catholic CornucopiadCheney

Jesus and the Flowers

The Catholic Language of Flowers

Around the leafy brow of Olive’s Mount,
The shades of night had fallen dark and drear,
   When Nature waked her fav’rite flowers
   That slept in Olive’s garden-bowers,
And bade them watch: “For the sad hour is near

When He, whose feet so oft have sanctified
This hallowed spot, shall visit it no more.
   He comes! dear flowers, mourn with your Lord,
   Whose soul is pierced with sorrow’s sword,
And beg His blessing, ere He leaves our shore.”

Thus Nature spoke. Alas! man heard her not;
Man would not listen to her gentle tone;
   And though, by countless arts, she strove
   To win his heart to Jesus’ love,
Man would not hear,—and Jesus was alone .

Alone in that sad hour, the Saviour knelt:
Not one of all the thousands whom His hand
   Had healed, His words of love had cheered,
   Stood by Him; e’en the Apostles feared,
And treason lurked amid the chosen band.

Was no one with Him? At a stone’s throw lay
The favoured three, whom Jesus called to share
   His midnight watch;—alas! they slept!
   And while, with tears of blood, He wept,
They saw Him not, nor heard His plaintive prayer.

Of all His creatures, trees and flowers alone
Were witness to that agony of death;
   And, bending humbly to the ground,
   While fast their dewy tears fell round,
They wafted towards their Lord their fragrant breath

In tender sympathy. Love-bleeding came,
With her pure snowy petals opened wide:
   “Dear Lord, I thirst, I thirst to share
   The grief which Thou dost deign to bear,”
With weeping eyes and loving tones she cried.

A prayer so fervent touched the Saviour’s heart,
And from its depths, a drop of blood there fell,
   Which still upon her petals lies,
   Changing their white to ruby dyes,
And ever thus a tale of grief doth tell.

With modest head downcast, the Snowdrop spoke:
“Let me help mortals in Thy path to tread;
   And though a flow’ret poor and weak,
   Let me, in my mute language, speak
Of Thee, Lord, to Thy children’s hearts,” she said.

The Sens’tive Plant besought our Lord that she
Might live for Him alone; lowly she stands:
   Her sweet petition she receives,—
   The hand of Jesus touched her leaves,
And now she shrinks with dread from mortal hands.

Silent with deepest grief, one gentle flower
Printed His sufferings on her bosom pure;
   And now, when gazing on her face,
   The lovers of the Cross may trace
The pain, the nails, the thorns, He deigned endure.

In low, sweet tones, the fragrant Roses spoke:
“Dear Lord,” they said, “no longer can we bear
   To be but Roses, when we know
   Sharp thorns will soon entwine Thy brow;
Oh! give us, then, the thorns that Thou wilt wear!”

One beauteous Rose bent to the Saviour’s feet:
“My sister-flowers would seek Thy thorns,” she said;
   “A gift more precious, I implore,—
   This sacred blood that trickles o’er,
Oh! let it fall upon my drooping head!”

“Dear Lord, deign to the Lily of the Vale
To give Thy blessing; grant that still, like Thee,
   Unknown and lowly, I may bloom,
   Without bright robes, or rich perfume;
But clothe my flowers in snowy purity.”

With drooping branches bending to the ground,
The Willow came: “My God, Thine agony,
   And Thy loved Mother’s grief, have torn
   My heart;—oh I let me ever mourn,
And call on men to weep and grieve with Thee.”

Hid ’neath the grove, a little modest flower
Presumed not to approach the hallowed spot,
   But softly breathed her loving prayer,
   Which, borne upon the evening air,
Repeated still, “Dear Lord, forget me not.”