Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Intercessions ~ Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Septuagesima):

Sts Primus & Felician ~ Slovenia

We pray for Pope Francis and religious leaders around the world,/ asking for them to be upheld and strengthened in their efforts of religious understanding and reconciliation./ We pray to the Lord.

There are traumatized cultures in the world where people have not known security and peace for generations./ We pray for them and for the turning of violent,/ hateful hearts./ We pray to the Lord.

We pray for the world's children where they are starving,/ diseased,/ un-educated,/ displaced./ We pray to the Lord.

We call to mind those who live in prisons and for their renewal,/ those struggling with or lost to addictions,/ for family and friends overwhelmed by troubles,/ depression or anger./ We pray to the Lord.

For those we need to forgive/ and for the healing of old memories and wounds./ We pray to the Lord.

We ask for gifts of patience,/ a generous spirit,/ and a new awareness of God's presence in our lives./ We pray for those who are unhappy with themselves/ and those who have made themselves sick with worry./ We pray to the Lord.

We pray for those who have died this week: asking for them/ the gifts of God's light and life./ And for those who mourn and bury the dead throughout the world./ We pray to the Lord.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Oh, that we would care...

Oh, that we would care about the world's children as much as we care about deflated footballs:

The naked children
The starving children
The war-traumatized children

The sexualized children
The violated children
The uneducated children

The war-orphaned children
The kidnapped children
The sick children

The unwanted children
The handicapped children
The death-threatened children

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The New Creation

THIS YOUNG FELLOW is a Russian monk. The bear is wild: not a circus bear, not a photo-shopped bear, not an orphaned bear domesticated from birth, not a drugged bear, not a stuffed bear. We might think of the story of Saint Seraphim of Sarov who be-friended wild animals in the forest and Saint Francis of Assisi who calmed the wild wolf at Gubbio. 

I can't explain how this happens, but we can wonder. Perhaps the monk is inwardly so reconciled with God, himself, other people, animate and inanimate things that he lives in something of the original creation of Genesis. 

Psalm 51:10 says, Create for me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. I suppose if one prays that prayer often, and desires that renewed heart, the results shouldn't surprise us. 

I imagine this monk has a de-militarized heart, that he doesn't wear masks and has no hidden agenda. I imagine he is a reconciler, free of greed and selfish preoccupations. I imagine he isn't a hater, is humble enough to say I'm sorry and has the desires of God as his priority. He clearly is a happy man.

I'm looking at this monk sharing a hug with a wild bear and imagining a world without guns, rockets, bombs and grenades.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Jesus Pantocrator and the Antichrist

HERE IS THE ICON of Christ-Pantocrator dating to the 6th century and kept at Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai, Egypt. Pantocrator means - Who rules over all. But this Christ rules with a gentle face, his blessing hand and life-promising Gospel Word. 

Kathleen Norris in her book, Amazing Grace, writes about the word Antichrist. Religious people often use Antichrist as a dramatic shock word. I met some lean-right Catholics once who within two minutes of our introduction pronounced Barack Obama to be the Antichrist in league with Hitler and Stalin. 

Stupidity and ignorance (along with power and fear) are the prime spiritual enemies of the Christian, turning us into demonizing finger-pointers. This kind of religious person keeps the spotlight on others. They don't see themselves. Remember Michael Jackson's song, Man in the Mirror.

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change.

Kathleen Norris tells of asking a preacher man the meaning of Antichrist. He told her that the Antichrist is ME and YOU - when we hear the gospel word of Jesus and then don't do it. Talk about keeping things simple. It's much easier to blame someone else - to take an interest in every other kind of religious person, place or thing, but keep the Gospel at bay.

So here in the icon we see that Jesus' gospel book is closed. Forcing nothing, he waits to see if we will open it. If we were to open Jesus' golden, jeweled and illumined book our eyes might fall on this passage:
Jesus also said to them, "Is a lamp brought in to be put under a tub or under the bed? Surely to be put on the lamp-stand? For there is nothing hidden, but it must be disclosed, nothing kept secret except to be brought to light. Anyone who has ears for listening should listen?" (Mark 4: 21-23)

Each of us is the lamp, having received the Lord's teaching and inspiration. Jesus wants us living in light - bright inner light: faithful, repentant, attentive to and aware of spiritual things, true, just, teachable, unfettered and glad.

We're illumined, so to shine where we go. That little interior lamp, easily extinguished, needs to be protected. When I was a boy, after each Sunday Mass, the county police kindly directed traffic onto the main road at the exit of the large parish parking lot. At some point the police stop showing up, having been worn down by the abusive curses of parishioners who felt they were not being exit-ed fast enough. 

This little light of mine...let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!