I appreciate that our nation dedicates the entire month of April to celebrating poetry. Every spring when April rolls around, I relish in reading my favorite poems, most of which are secular. This year, however, I wanted to go a little deeper and explore the works of Catholic poets. I did some reconnaissance and discovered that a lot of Saints were actually poets too, and I found a world of incredible Catholic poetry.
Celebrating National Poetry Month with the Saints
These five deeply spiritual poems by Catholic saints are refreshing, joyful, sacred, and capture the essence of our Faith.
“Do It Anyway” by St. Teresa of Calcutta
This is a beautiful poem to read when we are tempted to feel annoyed, bitter, or defeated. I love how St. Teresa advises us to take the high road and to live virtuously regardless of how others might perceive us.
People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.
“Let Nothing Disturb You” by St. Teresa of Avila
St. Teresa of Avila’s words recall the unconditional comfort that God offers us. Her poem reminds us not to be afraid, for God triumphs over evil. While things of the earthly world shall pass, He endures forever.
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.
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“I Won’t Take No for An Answer” by St. Catherine of Siena
This short, concise poem by St. Catherine of Siena makes me smile. I absolutely adore the imagery of God opening His arms to dance with us and refusing to take no for an answer. This is the perfect poem to read when needing a reminder that God is always ready to embrace us.
“I won’t take no for an answer,”
God began to say
when He opened His arms each night
wanting us to
“Our Need for Thee” by St. Francis of Assisi
This deeply passionate poem by St. Francis examines our need for God. St. Francis reminds us that when we are sweet and kind, when we forgive and love, God draws closer to us and we experience His peace and love.
In our ever present need for thee: Beloved, let us know your peace.
Let us be your instruments that break every shackle,
for do not the caged ones weep.
And give us our inheritance of divine love so that we can forgive
like you. And let us be wise, so that we do not wed another’s
madness and then make them in debt to us for the deep gash their
helpless raging lance will cause.
Darkness is an unlit wick; it just needs your touch, Beloved, to
become a sacred flame. And what sadness in this world could
endure if it looked into your eyes?
God is like a honeybee. He doesn’t mind me calling Him that; for
when you are kind—sweet—He nears, and can draw you into
What is there to understand of each other: if a wand turned the
sun into a moon would not the moon mourn the ecstatic
effulgence it once was. We are all in mourning for the experience
of our essence we knew and now miss. Light is the cure, all
else a placebo.
Yes, I will console any creature before me that is not laughing or
full of passion for their art or life; for laughing and passion—
beauty and joy—is our heart’s truth, all else is labor and foreign to
I have stood in His rain and now fill granaries as do the fertile
plains; giving is as natural to love as sound from the mouth.
There is a courageous dying, it is called effacement. That holy
death unfurls our spirit’s wings and allows us to embrace God even
as we stand on the earth.
“Late Have I Loved You” by St. Augustine of Hippo
An excerpt from his Confessions, in this poem St. Augustine expresses his categorical love for God. His urgent, descriptive account of how God emphatically persisted in calling St. Augustine back to Him calls us to remember that God is always seeking to be in communion with us.
Late have I loved you, Beauty so ancient and so new, late have I loved you!
Lo, you were within,
but I outside, seeking there for you,
and upon the shapely things you have made
I rushed headlong – I, misshapen.
You were with me, but I was not with you.
They held me back far from you,
those things which would have no being,
were they not in you.
You called, shouted, broke through my deafness;
you flared, blazed, banished my blindness;
you lavished your fragrance, I gasped; and now I pant for you;
I tasted you, and now I hunger and thirst;
you touched me, and I burned for your peace.
Poems by Saints Become Our Prayers
I enjoy reading these Catholic poems, because unlike other poems I like to read, these are prayers, these nourish my soul and bring me back to God. This April may we grow in faith and draw nigh to God as we celebrate the saints and their beautiful poetry.
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Mercedes Shirts lives in Idaho, land of the potatoes, with her husband, bulldog and cat. When not indulging in a good read and black coffee, she enjoys cooking, running and sipping red wine. You can find more about her here.