Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

"I like your Christ, but..."

This is Pauca Verba's 500th post!
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Thanks to followers everywhere!

This 13th or 14th century Byzantine icon of the Mother of God is of the Eleousa type, which means Mother of God ~ Tenderness. Of course, the angels (top left and right) carry the tools which foreshadow his passion, and so we might say the Infant has fled to his Mother in fear.

That fear is often quite evident in icons of this type, but not here - the Mother of God is smiling softly and lacks the pensive, faraway look exhibited in other Eleousa icons. The Holy Child isn't looking skyward in fear of the cross and nail-bearing angels but is clearly fixed on his Mother's face in a very deep and affectionate intimacy.

Mary hugs Jesus dearly to herself. The Holy Child is comfortable in his mother's arms, perhaps pulling himself close before kissing her cheek. To be sure, the icon expresses the intensity of relationship between the Mother and Christ child. 

~ ~ ~

But there is more, as Mary is not divine but she is one of us. And in this marvelous and en-spirited icon, we see God-in-Christ looking into humanity's eyes while dancing in our arms, cheek to cheek, covering us with kisses and embraces, though the worst we can do appears in the sky. 

This is the heart of our believing - the enduring and unchanging dogma. How then could Gandhi have said this of us: "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

Gandhi said this because the Christians he encountered were the Christians of a ruling empire. And empire, as with any institution, has as its first purpose the preservation of itself at all costs. Often the themes of empire are: disrespect, disregard, plunder, murder and massacre, oppression, condescension, exploitation, superiority and subservience. The shame of Christ's Church is very great indeed.

O Christ our Light,
let us begin again,
with you,
only you ~
who, dancing in our arms,
covers us with
kisses and caresses.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Cutleaf Toothwort

This lovely, spring-flowering, native plant, nicely protected by rocks, has the curious name, Cutleaf Toothwort. The word cutleaf  speaks for itself - the leaves sharply delineated - but the toothwort part of the name? 

The roots of this plant  can be used as a treatment for toothache. Little knobs, suggesting teeth, grow along the edge of the fleshy roots. Paracelsus, a 16th century professor at the University of Basel named this plant and taught that when God put plants on the earth he graced each of them in appearance with some hint of how they might be useful to humans. 

From the start God has had us in mind and wants only what is best for us. Plants serve as companions to us on this planet where a lot can go wrong - like toothache! It seems that God has planted among us remedies for what can ail us. We ought to be more careful and considerate of the gifts.

And when I see a growing thing that is as lovely as Toothwort I think that God not only has our best interests in mind, but that God has carpeted the earth with loveliness and delicacy because God always knew that Jesus would walk here with us. 

For the gift of Toothwort 
and every green-growing and flowering thing ~
 thank you.
And where Toothwort might come up short ~ 
for the skills of my techno-armed dentist,
who preserves these aging teeth of mine. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Intercessions ~ Good Shepherd Sunday

On Good Shepherd Sunday/ we pray to know the tenderness of Jesus,/ and for our own lives to be characterized by compassion,/ awareness,/ gentle and patient love./ We pray to the Lord.

Pope Francis has trips pending to Sarajevo,/ Ecuador,/ Bolivia,/ Paraguay,/ Uganda,/ Central African Republic,/ Cuba and the United States./ We pray for his safe-keeping and good health./ We pray to the Lord.

Last week/ seven hundred Libyan migrants drowned while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Italy./ We pray for the troubled African continent/ and for the conversion for those who by greed/ cause suffering and sorrow./ We pray to the Lord.

Spiritual tensions beset us each day as we set out in prayer./ We pray to keep our hearts and minds fixed on Jesus/ and to be upheld in our love for him./ We pray to the Lord.

We remember in our prayer prisoners and for their reform./ We pray too for refugees/ and those who help people trapped in poverty,/ disaster/ and global conflicts./ We pray to the Lord.

Always we pray for the world's children,/ asking blessings for the littlest who are waiting to be born,/ sick children,/ child soldiers,/ young girls and boys who are sexually exploited or trafficked./ For those who do evil things which frighten and harm children./ We pray to the Lord.

We pray for those who have died,/ asking for them to experience an eternity of gladness before the face of Jesus-Risen./ We pray to the Lord.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Prayer in Difficult Times

Save us who are perishing
O Most Holy Virgin,
chasten us not according to our sins,
but as you are merciful in your
love for humankind, have pity,
deliver us from eternal loss,
sickness and necessity
and save us.

Some Christians, by choice, receive only a very little news of what is happening in the world. Some have no knowledge of what's happening at all. They say knowledge of the world's suffering steals their peace. I would say this ignorance is a luxury we cannot afford. 

I cannot imagine Jesus saying: It's best not to know about the seven hundred drowned migrants fleeing Libya for Africa. And best not to know about the raping of the Yazidi twelve year old girls and their grandmothers. You're right, be at peace and maintain your generic prayer - ignorant of the murder of the Ethiopian Christians and the wars being fought to safeguard the mines of precious metals needed for your future computer use.

This kind of ignorance makes for narcissistic religion. If Jesus went to the mountains, it was never for long. He was always with people in their pain. His expanded heart wasn't directed to the beauties of the desert or the wilderness but for the people right in front of him and those he went out of his way to find.

We might print the little Korsun icon of the Mother of God at the top of the post here and the prayer - setting it where we are sure to find it each morning. Or better yet, tape it to the television or radio dial.