By John Lancaster Spalding
THE COUNTLESS stars, which to our human eye
Are fixed and steadfast, each in proper place,
Forever bound to changeless points in space,
Rush with our sun and planets through the sky,
And like a flock of birds still onward fly;
Returning never whence began their race,
They speed their ceaseless way with gleaming face
As though God bade them win Infinity.
Ah whither, whither is their forward flight
Through endless time and limitless expanse?
What power with unimaginable might
First hurled them forth to spin in tireless dance?
What beauty lures them on through primal night,
So that for them to be is to advance?
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed., An American Anthology, 1787–1900 (1900).
John Lancaster Spalding (1840-1916) was from a distinguished Catholic family that produced several important Church leaders. He was Bishop of Peoria, Illinois, from 1877 until his death. He was also the driving force behind the creation of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. In his later years, after a young Fulton Sheen served his Mass, he predicted that the boy would one day attend the University of Louvain