Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Intercessions ~ Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

It is Labor Day weekend:/ bless with justice,/ safety and health/ those whose work benefits us/ or whose work is dangerous and difficult./ Give success to those who are looking for work./ We pray to the Lord.

As September 11 approaches,/ we remember that most sad day fourteen years ago,/ offering prayers for all who died in the tremendous violence,/ those who still suffer and mourn/ or or were traumatized by so much destruction and death./ We pray to the Lord.

Grant safety to Pope Francis as he soon makes his journey to Cuba and the United States./ That we would be open and teachable,/ and not just commentators,/ debaters and argue-ers./ We pray to the Lord. 

Bless the families of the world/ in all their variety and complexity./ Heal families that are dysfunctional,/ poor,/ pained,/ divided or addicted./ We pray to the Lord.

We pray for the poor nation of Syria,/ disintegrating by terrorism and war,/ asking blessings for those countries who are taking in refugees fleeing destruction and death./ We pray especially for the children and the most vulnerable./ We pray to the Lord. 

We pray for the world where there is drought,/ fire,/ famine or natural disaster./ We pray for those whose generous hearts offer help where there is suffering./ We pray to be intelligent and honest care-takers of our planet./ We pray to the Lord.

Finally we pray for the forgiveness and enlightenment of those who do terrorist,/ murderous things./ For those who have died and for mourners everywhere who grieve losses./ We pray to the Lord.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Joy Restoring Mary

Do we remember in 2013 Pope Francis wrote an exhortation (a calling forth from within) titled The Joy of the Gospel? I grew up in a Catholic faith that wasn't very joyful. There were the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary alright, but the poor nuns I spent the day with wore headgear made of starched linen boards that prevented them from looking left or right.  I discovered later that this limiting costume was to remind the sister of being in her coffin! You can't very well enjoy being with a classroom of seven-year-olds if you're supposed to be thinking about your coffin all day.

But here is the Virgin Mary in all of her happy beauty. Let's let her cast away sadness and melancholy. Invite her into the inner place where depression lurks, the place of our negativity and futility, our complaining and whining, where we feel victimized, stressed out, defeated, filled with resentment and even cynicism. Ask her to restore joy!

Here's what Pope Francis says about the joyful Mary at the end of the exhortation, paragraph 286.

Mary was able to turn a stable into a home for Jesus, with poor swaddling clothes and an abundance of love. She is the handmaid of the Father who sings his praises. She is the friend who is ever concerned that wine not be lacking in our lives. She is the woman whose heart was pierced by a sword and who understands all our pain. As mother of all, she is a sign of hope for peoples suffering the birth pangs of justice. She is the missionary who draws near to us and accompanies us throughout life, opening our hearts to faith by her maternal love. As a true mother, she walks at our side she shares our struggles and she constantly surrounds us with God's love. Through her many titles, often linked to her shrines, Mary shares the history of each people which has received the Gospel and she becomes a part of their historic identity...There, in these many shrines, we can see how Mary brings together her children who with great effort come as pilgrims to see her and to be seen by her. Here they find strength from God to bear the weariness and the suffering in their lives. As she did with Juan Diego, Mary offers them maternal comfort and love, and whispers in their ear: "Do not let your heart be troubled...Am I not here, who am your Mother?"

Sunday, August 30, 2015

August 30 ~ Feast of Saint Fiacre of Meaux

Newly ordained in the early 1980's, another priest and I traveled to France to visit a number of pilgrimage sites like Paris, Lourdes, Amien, Lisieux and Reims. One tiny village (then a population of just over 300) was Sainte Fiacre ~ Seine-et-Marne, the home of Saint Fiacre of Meaux. I told Fiacre's story here at the start of the growing season (May 26).

My clerical companion was much less devout than I - far more interested in restaurants than shrines. Still, he was a good sport about it all and went along saint-hunting with me. We spent the better part of a morning tracking down the saint's tomb.

Fiacre was an Irish monk but (can you imagine!) he couldn't find adequate reclusion in Ireland and so sailed to France to preach the gospel. He settled at Seine-et-Marne, north of Paris, built a chapel in honor of Our Lady and planted a large vegetable garden (replete with herbs) to feed the many pilgrims who sought  him and to cure their ailments. Fiacre is the Patron Saint of Gardeners and his feast is kept today at Ossory in Ireland and a few places in France.

Now the priest traveling with me joked that if we found the village I might meet the mayor who would say, "Fiacre, who?!" But right here in the middle of the small village was a stone church bearing Fiacre's name and his statue over the door. There was an impressive memorial outside to the soldiers who died in the First World War, but the front door was locked.

My chauffeur and guide, a French-speaking American who worked for the American government hunting down art smugglers, strode across the street and introduced himself to the lady at the door. "Can you help? This priest is from the States and would like to see the interior of the church." She disappeared briefly and returned, kindly handing off a huge and ancient black metal key. 

The priest shortage in France is dire; there are churches in far-flung places where Mass is celebrated only once a year. This poor church felt abandoned: dirty, run down, moldy, musty. But up front to the left of the altar was a very small room containing Fiacre's tomb (the saint in effigy) AND a post-card rack with yellowed, black and white pictures of the church taken in the 1920's or 30's. "Fiacre who?" Indeed!

To the right of the altar was a Medieval-style crystal case containing the relic of Fiacre's arm. I hiked up the circular staircase to see the bells, repeating every step, "Remember this moment. Remember this moment," picked up a souvenir stone from the church yard, returned the key and set out for Lisieux - a happy pilgrim. 

How precious is Your loving-kindness, O God!
Therefore the children of men
put their trust under the
shadow of Your wings.
They are abundantly satisfied
with the fullness of Your house,
And you give them drink from
the river of Your delights.

Psalm 36:7,8

Friday, August 28, 2015

Summer Thank You Before Returning To School

There's some summer weeks left, but as we get ready to return to school, there's reason for giving thanks for the happiest months of July and August! Soooo.....

For the animals I've played with or admired from a distance ~  Thank you God!
For time with my parents, relatives and friends ~ Thank you God!
For the pleasure of sleeping later -  a morning breeze through my window ~ Thank you God!

For the trips I made and for safety in traveling ~ Thank you God!
For the books I've read, the moon and night-time stars ~ Thank you God!
For the music I've heard or made myself ~ Thank you God!

For water's gift  in pools and ponds, ocean and shower-head ~ Thank you God!
For the smell of cut grass and flowers that please ~ Thank you God!
For the food at the barbecue ~ summer storms that clean the air ~ Thank you God!

For new clothes to wear, colored sneakers for my feet ~ Thank you God!
For the energy inside me for running and play ~ Thank you God!
For air-conditioners on hot and humid days ~ Thank you God!

For rainbows, sun, clouds  and sky ~ Thank you God!
For doctors and nurses and even the dentist ~ Thank you God!
For all the signs that I am loved and cared for ~ do I notice? Thank you God!

For mother's patience with noise and mess ~ Thank you God!
For tomatoes and melons, peaches and basil,
  zucchini and string beans, lettuce and corn ~ Thank you God!

My now 6th grade friend, Katie, has said that any prayer-list of summer gratifications ought to include ice cream - preferably in and on a cone. Yes indeed! Thank you God!