Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Bless you!




I HEARD ON THE RADIO that a young woman, a senior in high school, said, "Bless you!' when a classmate sneezed. The teacher instructed her, "Save that for church," then reminding her of the list of  forbidden classroom words such as dumb, stupid, boring, whatever, bless you. Some argument may have ensued about First Amendment rights before the girl was sent to the in-school suspension room. 

As a third grader in public school I remember in the late 1950's the day the live Christmas tree was brought to our classroom and our making colored paper chains to hang on it. There was a manger and a menorah on a little table up front. The school day started with a communal prayer and we learned the Ten Commandments. Public school! 

My friend, now deceased, Camaldolese Benedictine Sister Mary Placide Deliard, told me that when she was a girl in France in the 1920's, there was a man who as evening approached, went around her coastal village lighting the gas lamps. What was most memorable however, was that as he lit up the streets he sang a French song thanking God for the day's blessings; asking peace and safety for the evening and night time. When he died, either electric lights or a non-singing version of the lamplighter took his place. Different world.

But rather than lament the passing of that time we might memorize the lyrics to an evening hymn, and even if we don't have a melody - though we could easily hear a variety of tunes online, turn our thoughts to gratitude. Here's the lyrics to an evening hymn written by Samuel Longfellow 1819-1892. But how blessed would it be for a family to know several evening hymns with which to begin dinner.

Now, on Land and Sea Descending

Now, on land and sea descending,
Brings the night its peace profound;
Let our vesper hymn be blending
With the holy calm around.
Jubilate! Jubilate! Jubilate! Amen!
Let our vesper hymn be blending
With the holy calm around.

Soon as dies the sunset glory,
Stars of heav'n shine out above,
Telling still the ancient story
Their Creator's changeless love.
Jubilate! Jubilate! Jubilate! Amen!
Telling still the ancient story
Their Creator's changeless love.

Now, our wants and burdens leaving
To his care who cares for all,
Cease we fearing, cease we grieving:
At his touch our burdens fall.
Jubilate! Jubilate! Jubilate! Amen!
Cease we fearing, cease we grieving:
At his touch our burdens fall.

As the darkness deepens o'er us,
Lo! eternal stars arise;
Hope and faith and love rise glorious,
Shining in the spirit's skies.
Jubilate! Jubilate! Jubilate! Amen!
Hope and faith and love rise glorious,
Shining in the spirit's skies.

Jubilate: rejoice or be joyful in a shouting kind of way. Perhaps the closest we can come to it is the sound people make when their team wins!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Intercessions ~ Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Christ the Pearl of Great Price ~ Syria

We pray for Pope Francis/ who extends the ministry of St. Peter in our own time,/ asking for his work to be graced,/ and for his safety and good health./ We pray to the Lord.

Christian and other minority communities are severely tested by militant Islamic attacks throughout the Middle East./ We pray for these communities and for the safety and success of those who are trying to live by the peaceful principles of the gospel./ We pray to the Lord.

We pray for those who are returning from wars,/ wounded or damaged./ We pray for peaceful  days/ when soldiers and sailors all around the world will return to their families in safety,/ tranquility and security./ We pray to the Lord.

We stand in a prayerful solidarity with the suffering community of Ferguson, Missouri and wherever there are racial tensions that divide and weaken./ For  gifts of peace and healing./ We pray to the Lord.

Among our relatives and acquaintances there are many whose lives beg for healing./ We remember them where there is depression,/ addiction,/ sickness,/ bankruptcy or family breakdown./ We pray to the Lord.

The world can seem to be descending into chaos./ We pray to remain vigilant,/ faithful and prayerful,/ asking for the conversion of those who do destructive,/ hateful and deadly things./ We pray to the Lord.

We pray for the many people around the world who have died this week,/ calling to mind that among them are many children./ We pray as well for those who are grieved at the loss of loved ones./ We pray to the Lord


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Mother of God ~ Rescuer of the Drowning




ON THE RIVER DEVNO there was a dangerous and deadly whirlpool which even the most experienced sailors found difficult to navigate. Quite often large barges would become victims to the treacherous waters which carried under crew and cargo.

It was at that dangerous site that the icon of the Mother of God appeared. Subsequent to the icon being brought to the nearby church facing the whirlpool, the Devno became calm and safe. Proclaimed Wonder-Working and Rescuer of the Drowning, large numbers of pilgrims visited the church which housed the icon - patroness of those in need including many who were undertaking dangerous journeys.

In the 18th century the icon was transferred to the Monastery of the Savior's Transfiguration, remaining there until the 1917 Russian Revolution, during which time it disappeared. In 2003 the Monastic Church of the Mother of God, Unexpected Joy was consecrated whereupon a  pious Christian gave an exact copy of the icon to the monastery.

But there must be more. To live on this planet is to have set out on a dangerous journey. Frightful dangers seem poised to take us under. In our prayer we might entrust the whole of humankind to the protective care of the Mother of God and Her Divine Son, while at the same time reflecting, Is there some way that I might change my own thinking or become involved in an organization or group that proposes to address some life-threatening human problem?

Drowning in
discrimination,
global disease,
greed,
hunger and poverty.

Drowning in 
the militarization of our planet,
the enslavement of persons for sex-work and soldiering,
guns which take the children away.

Drowning in
the blood of innocence,
truth-speakers 
protesters 
and prophets.

Drowning in
garbage,
toxins which poison
the land, the water, the air ~
the plants,
the animals,
the people.

Drowning in
deceptions,
protections,
false promises,
ads and proposals,
secrets and deals.

Drowning in
fears,
addictions,
loneliness, 
hatred,
egoism,
ignorance and disbelief.

The River Devno was calmed
at the appearance of Your icon, O Lady.
So now, Rescuer of the Drowning,
still the swirling death-menace of our minds,
You, who with us glorify God,
Creator and Sustainer of all life.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Prayer to the Mother of God in a Time of Distress




THIS ICON OF THE MOTHER OF GOD is found painted on a cement wall of separation at Bethlehem. It's symbolic of the profound struggle Christians and other minorities are suffering in the Middle East these days (and in parts of Africa and Asia).

Below is a prayer written by Father Arseny, an Orthodox priest who was held prisoner in a Soviet Gulag. Someone wrote suggesting the readers of this blog might enter into a nine day disciple of prayer (a novena) holding this Christian crisis before heaven. I have adapted Father Arseny's prayer slightly (he'd approve) to reflect the communal dimension ~ the solidarity we feel with Christians whose suffering is indescribable. 


O our beloved Queen, our hope, O Mother of God, protector of orphans and of those who are hurt, helper of those who perish and consolation of all who are in distress ~ you see our misery, our sorrow and loneliness. Help us who are powerless, give us strength. You know what we suffer, you know our grief. Lend us your hand, for who else can be our hope but you, protector and intercessor before God? The world has sinned before your Son, and before all people. Be our Mother, our consoler, our aid. Soften hearts that are hardened in deadly hatred. Protect and save us, chase away grief and despondency. Help us, O Mother of God.


CNEWA is the papal humanitarian assistance agency to Christians in the Middle East. It does important work.