Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Opie's Lesson

Some of us will remember Opie who was the young son of Sheriff Andy Taylor in the 1960's TV series, The Andy Griffith show. Here Opie is saying his bedtime prayers and Aunt Bea is listening in. Rose, the family housekeeper has left to get married and Opie's not happy about it. Here's the prayer:
God bless my Pa, my bird Dickey and my dog Gulliver and my lizard, also wherever it is he ran away to, and Barney Fife and my white mouse and Jerry, Tommy and Billy and my snake. Amen. I forgot somebody very important. God bless Rose even thought she ran off and got married.
This God bless formula served as the doorway to prayer for many of us when we were children. It comes up short in that it doesn't praise God, doesn't thank God and offers no repentance for the errors of the day, but otherwise it's a good prayer, growing out of relationships and  love - even for the creatures. 

We might now and again refresh this old prayer technique, but of course now we must pray from a grown-up place.

God bless my family and friends - especially the sick, the ones who are in trouble or who are troubled, the angry ones, the wrong-headed ones, the sad ones, the ones who are difficult or annoying.

God bless the world leaders - may they dream of making peace for our world.

God bless Pope Francis and all the patriarchs, bishops, priests and deacons and  the people in my parish.

God bless all the people who are away from home - the soldiers and sailors, the missionaries, diplomats and anyone whose work takes them far away.

God bless the people whose lives have become unbearable because of disease, storm, fire, earthquake, war, poverty or injustice.

God bless the children of the world: the littlest, the most vulnerable, the exploited, enslaved, ignored, abused. May all the children of the world be loved.

God bless the earth itself: the ground, the air, the water, the plants and the animals. Give us new hearts to restore our planet where it is spoiled by greed and carelessness.

God bless the Christians, the Jews, the Muslims, the Buddhists and the Hindus. That we would live like God's children.

God bless the atheists and the agnostics - and instead of arguing, give us good deeds to accomplish together.

God bless the police, the fire-fighters, the rescuers and first responders, the blood donors, the doctors and nurses and all the people who watch, even at night, to keep us safe.

God bless the people I do not love rightly or do not love at all, anyone I've wronged, anyone I need to forgive or ask to be forgiven.

And God bless me - that I would have more religion in me than on me. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Surviving Difficult Days

Reliquary holding the Crib of Bethlehem ~ Santa Maria Maggiore ~ Rome

These are difficult days. One television commentator said, "It seems as if the nation has veered off into shadow".  After the murder of five police officers in Baton Rouge, a mother broke down before the cameras and said, "Our children have lost the right to be safe on the street". And the host of a radio call-in show used the term "ammo-sexual" referring to the intense intimacy the nation shares with guns. 

Saint Paul tells us in the Letter to the Philippians that there is a Christian response to the world where it is warped and diseased:

Delight yourselves in the Lord, yes, find your joy in him at all times. Have a reputation for being reasonable, and never forget the nearness of your Lord. Don't worry over anything whatever; whenever you pray tell God every detail of your needs in thankful prayer, and the peace of God, which surpasses human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus. My brothers and sisters I need only add this. If you believe in goodness and if you value the approval of God, fix your minds on whatever is true and honorable and just and pure and lovely and admirable." Philippians 4:6-8 

Recently while in Rome during the Jubilee Year of Mercy, my twelve year old friend Katie, made a visit to the chapel at Santa Maria Maggiore which houses the relic-crib of Bethlehem. We can see the boards of the crib through the glass "egg" in the photo here. In anticipation of her pilgrimage I asked her to write a poem-prayer as she sat in the chapel. Her poem is a true, honorable, just, pure, lovely and admirable stream of consciousness, where in an awake and attentive silence she allowed her mind to roam. 

A stable
  filled with hay
  with oxen and sheep
  with cows
  a donkey
  and mice by your feet.

There was a mother who gave birth to a king,
  a king in a stable, not a grand palace.
The animals knew of his power and love,
  and gave their manger,
  a king's crib made of wood.

The stable had sheep
The stable had hay
The stable had love
The love of  a king who would die for his people
The love of parents who would guide and protect
The love of a God who would save creation
  even if it meant he would die on a cross.

The manger is here
  still made of wood
  placed in a church
  in a case of glass and gold.

People come, who kneel
  and say their prayers to the king.
The stable and the manger
  not fit for an earthly king
  were all you needed on the day of your birth.

People come to admire your humility
  as shepherds and wise men did on that day
People still flock to what once was your crib
  to see the place where you laid your head.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Intercessions ~ Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sts. Joachim & Anna ~ Parents of Mary

In today's Gospel/ Jesus attends to the quality of our prayer./ We ask to be blessed as people of prayer,/ in the elements of praise,/ contrition,/ thanks and supplication./ We pray to the Lord.

We pray again for Pope Francis and the thousands who will travel to Poland soon for World Youth Day./ For safety,/ joy and growth in Christ./ We pray to the Lord.

Tuesday is the Feast of Sts. Joachim and Anna/ the parents of the Virgin Mary./ We pray for parents and grandparents,/ and the health of families living in despair,/ and even incomprehensible suffering./ We pray to the Lord.

Wednesday is the Feast of the wonder-worker/ healer-physicain and martyr,/ Saint Panteleon./ We pray for doctors,/ nurses,/ researchers and technicians./ For those who ask for gifts of health,/ strength or recovery./ We pray to the Lord.

In this election season/ we ask to be a more kind people,/ more polite,/ tolerant,/ intelligent and peaceable./ We intercede for those who seek public office to be humble,/ genuine servants,/ skilled in uniting people./ We pray to the Lord.

Our suffering-nation needs a very deep healing/ afflicted with so much gun violence and death./ We ask heaven for that remedy,/ and entrust the sick,/ the wounded and disturbed to God's care,/ mindful of soldiers returning home./ We pray to the Lord.

We pray for the police officers and others recently murdered in gun-madness./ We pray too for their mournful families,/ friends and colleagues./ For the salvation of all./ We pray to the Lord.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

"I believe in God" - Who plays and delights

Can you see it? These are tern eggs camouflaged on beach pebbles. We can say God protects, yes, but God also plays. God delights! Remember the astronomer who began a presentation to his colleagues by asking, "What imagination thought of the trillion, trillion galaxies?" Maybe that's who God is: God is all-imagination.

And the Genesis story recounts that we have God breath in us - sharing God's creative imagination, indeed, that we are an expression of this Imagination. It's very wonderful: that we are this close to God!

But we forget this very quickly, expecting the others will be just like me in beliefs and values, even faith. We're not exact copies of some original master piece, but God's grace (which is God's shared energies) evolves and grows us each uniquely. It would be a peaceful world, you know, if we really believed and lived that.

It's a disaster when that personal evolution is thwarted or denied. I'm thinking of friends who went to Romania where orphanages are filled with infants and toddlers born to drug addicted women. And these children can't let go of the kind people who've traveled  just to lift and hold them, so the baby can experience and be grown by human touch. 

I was talking with a newly ordained Orthodox priest yesterday whose four year old child happily attends a Montessori school. The Montessori method is not to pack in but to draw out the divinely imagined and God-sparked person within each of us. But truth be told, things can go very wrong. What's happened along the life-way to the white-supremacists who recently came with knives expecting to meet protesters at their rally?

Miss Gaunt played by Georgine Anderson

There are Christians who see it as their mission to detect sin, like Miss Gaunt, played by Georgine Anderson, in the 1978 Geraldine McEwan TV series, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. They miss sharing the play and delighted imagination of God, who takes a moment in creating each human person, and who Christ loves in his Resurrection breathing. 

"And with that he breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.'" John 20:22