I love this photograph of Fr. Abram J. Ryan. Maybe it’s his hair, or perhaps it’s his stare. He has that look about him that says “I don’t care who you are, here comes the goods.” Last summer I shared his Song of the Mystic, and his background information, in this space. There’s a connection between him and me because (for a time) he was the pastor of the parish where I attend daily Mass. I bet he was a great preacher too.
I can imagine hearing him raise his voice at times, opening his eyes wide to make a point, sweeping his mane aside and raising his hands to heaven. And within a moment, dropping his voice fall into a whisper that leaves you on the edge of your seat hungering for the nectar he has teased from the readings. A priest who had seen war in both the heights of it’s glory and the depths of it’s desolation, and then applied what he saw to the Word. I bet it was something to behold.
But he was a poet, see, not just some hell fire and brimstone preacher. He was a mystic, a man of prayer. As well as a thinker and a doer. He was no poseur, as a poet either, as a reading of the following verses will make clear.
Thoughts, by Fr. Abram J. Ryan
By sound of name, and touch of hand,
Thro’ ears that hear, and eyes that see,
We know each other in this land,
How little must that knowledge be?
How souls are all the time alone,
No spirit can another reach;
They hide away in realms unknown,
Like waves that never touch a beach.
We never know each other here,
To know, we need a light as clear
As that which fills eternity.
For here we walk by human light,
But there the light of God is ours,
Each day, on earth, is but a night;
Heaven alone hath clear-faced hours.
I call you thus — you call me thus —
Our mortal is the very bar
That parts forever each of us,
As skies, on high, part star from star.
A name is nothing but a name
For that which, else, would nameless be;
Until our souls, in rapture, claim
Full knowledge in eternity.
See what I mean? Maybe you have to be Irish, but…this guy is good!