Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Intercessions ~ Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

July is Lily Month

Thursday is the Feast of Sts Joachim and Anna/ parents of the Virgin Mary./ We pray for parents and grandparents around the world/ mindful of those who are raising young children./ For parents who are fearful/ or feeling as if they have failed./ We pray to the Lord.

This Saturday marks the start of the First World War in 1914:/ one of the deadliest conflicts in all of human history./ Bless the world with peaceful leaders,/ and us,/ with peace-loving hearts./ We pray to the Lord.

These are disturbing,/ challenging,/ unsettling days./ Grant that we would be a nation of clarity,/ with our unity restored and our inclusive ideal strong./ We pray to the Lord.

A month from now,/ Pope Francis will pay a pastoral visit to Dublin, Ireland,/ for the World Meeting of Families./ We ask for the pope's safety/ and blessings for the families of the world in their great variety and need./ We pray to the Lord.

More than forty vast wildfires are burning in Western states./ We pray for firefighters,/ helpers and rescuers./ For the consolation of those who have lost property,/ or who have been displaced./ We pray to the Lord.

May we be honest with ourselves./ May our prayer deepen and evolve./ And may our good deeds issue from genuinely clean hearts./ We pray to the Lord.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Mother Placid ~ Black Currants and Transformation

This lovely photo is of Sister Mary Placid, who was born in Capbreton, France in 1924. She entered the Benedictine monastery of  Poyanne in 1940 before co-founding Transfiguration Monastery in Windsor, N.Y. in 1979. That's where Placid and I met and became friends. 

She told me that during the Second World War, when Hitler's Black Shirts took over the monastery guest house, the nuns had to slip out at night asking nearby villagers for something to eat. When a farmer gave Placid a case of apricots, instead of the community eating them, she taught herself some chemistry and turned the fruit into apricot brandy. 

One summer day Placid appeared at my home carrying eight dirty "sticks" claiming: "Etienne, these are currant bushes; six red and two black." She stuck them in the ground (carelessly, I thought), said a blessing prayer and within a few days the sticks produced not only leaf buds but flowers which quickly morphed into tiny currants. 

She had added that perhaps in a year or so I'd be able to produce Creme de Cassis, a blackcurrant liqueur. When I moved to the retreat house, I dug up the currants and transplanted them here. Every year the robins have gotten the currants before I'm able to get to them. Fussy birds, they consume the red ones first and when they're gone, the black. So now for the first time, down in the cool and dark basement here, there is a large sealed jar of almost two pounds of fermenting black currants. After about ten days I gave the jar a first swirl; the liquid now the consistency of syrup. 

While Placid specialized in the fermentation-transformation of all kinds of fruit into wine, she knew we all need (indeed the world needs) transformation, and that the Holy Spirit is the agent of that personal change. Giovanni Papini speaks of this in his 1923 book, Life of Christ.

The first words of Jesus are few and simple, very much like those of St. John, "The time is accomplished; the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the Gospel." Bare words, incomprehensible to moderns by their very sobriety...It is true that Jesus added "repent," but the old Greek word has been distorted from its true and magnificent meaning. The word of Mark should not be translated "repent"; but rather the changing of the mind, the transformation of the soul. Metamorphosis is a change of form; "metanoia," a changing of the spirit. It ought rather to be translated "conversion," that is, the renewing of the inner life of man (and woman).
As one of the conditions of the arrival of the Kingdom of God and at the same  time as the very substance of the new order, Jesus demands complete conversion, a revolution of life and of the common values of life, a transmutation of feelings, of opinions, of intentions. This he called, speaking to Nicodemus, "the second birth." Little by little He was to explain in what way this total transformation of the ordinary human soul is to be effected..."Believe in the Gospel."

A Prayer for Transformation

O Jesus, may I follow you along the Way of Transformation:
learning to feast,
learning your kind of joy.

O Jesus, may I follow you along the Way of Transformation:
not clinging to things,
places and
traditions that have become lifeless.

O Jesus, may I follow you along the Way of Transformation:
learning silence,
solitude and
inner peace,
gratitude to God for every blessing
and the way of spiritual childhood ~
wonder and
even play.

O Jesus, may I follow you along the Way of Transformation:
learning that I am defined not by blood family,
but the family of God's Kingdom-Rule,
that I can be a healer too,
without condemnation and

O Jesus, may I follow you along the Way of Transformation:
learning  empathy by pondering your face ~
the way of generosity and unity ~
unity with God,
unity with others,
unity with myself,
may I accept myself as I am and all the more
as I may become.

O Jesus, may I follow you along the Way of Transformation:
learning that in death I am freed
of my false self ~
my pretend,
controlling self,
and in death my true self emerges and endures ~
that I am God's unique and
dearly loved, no-matter-what, child.

And Jesus, may I follow you along the Way of Transformation:
along that most difficult and seemingly impossible way
of unconditional love ~
that every person is lovable,*
no matter how various,
wrong headed,
badly behaved.

Your mercy, Jesus~!
Grow me up, Jesus!

*Lovable doesn't mean I see them like I see a puppy or newborn baby. It means I am at least to wish them well. Some people are tedious, tiresome, burdensome; others do bad things. I am to see them as God sees them - God's child - as God sees me. It can be a real workout, but there it is. Wish them salvation, which means firstly to be saved from their own worst possibilities. We have our own. There are great saints who did awful things at some point in their lives. There are great saints who would have been very difficult to live with. I'm ruined the moment I think (even secretly) "I'm God's completed project, except for a little tidying up around the edges", It also means I likely don't know myself very well.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Paramythia Mother of God ~ Night Prayer

This is the 8th century Paramythia Icon of the Mother of God -Comforter. She has her own side-chapel in the Vatopedi Monastery on Mt. Athos in Greece.

It is night. The monks have retired for their rest. The priest has left his stole hooked onto the icon's frame. There are a few candles we may light and a chair to the right where we may sit peacefully for awhile at the end of our own day. A small rug has been placed on the floor before the wonder-working icon where we may kneel or even touch our forehead to the floor. We can feel the silence of this inviting space.

O Lady, 
gratitude for this day ~
  its gift of life,
  energy and stamina,
for the food and water that have sustained me,
for the beautiful and the good I have
  seen or heard,
  tasted or touched,
for the clarity and strength to make any right choice,
for every awareness of God's nearness,
for the love of others ~ love given and received,
for any inspiration and movement towards 
  justice and charity,
for the help of others
  in my weakness,
  my loneliness,
  my indecision,
  sorrow or sickness.

And O Lady,
I pray for those who are sleepless,
  who will work through this night,
  who keep us safe,
  who rescue others,
  who work in hospitals,
  who tend to children,
for those whose night is ruined with arguing
  and even violence,
for those who stay awake to watch over the dying,
for the children born tonight,
for those away from loved ones,
for wanderers without home or bed,
for night-travelers,
for mourners and those whose night is tear-filled.

Bless my own night time rest now,
may I have a sweet-dream,
and bring me to tomorrow ready and renewed.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Intercessions ~ Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Call of the Prophet Amos ~ James Smetham 1875

At Mass today we are introduced to the Prophet Amos/ whose ancient message illuminates the present moment in which we live./ May we be more brave in embracing God's alternate way of life,/ strong of conscience and less silent before injustice./ We pray to the Lord.

We pray for our country to turn continually in the direction of its founding principles:/ to be the nation of all colors and kinds,/ choosing to live by love,/ not hatred./ We pray to the Lord.

For those who are chronically sick,/ emotionally troubled,/ recovering from accidents and wounds./ For the inner healing of the war-traumatized./ For those in nursing homes and hospices./ For the strengthening of those who care for the sick./ We pray to the Lord.

May we not judge as naive our prayers for a peaceful world,/ but allow for the heart-possibilities of a world without war,/ and the industries that garner huge profits off the preparation for war./ We pray to the Lord.

For the world's children./ For the children orphaned by war,/ disease and disaster./ For the children separated from their families,/ and for grieving parents./ We pray to the Lord.

Grant safety to summer travelers and vacationers./ For those who get no summer rest or renewal./ For those whose summertime work benefits and blesses us,/ mindful of those who must work in the heat/ or whose pay is insufficient or un-just./ We pray to the Lord.