Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Intercessions ~ Fourth Sunday in Easter

Today is Earth Day./ We pray for the healing of our planet where it is poisoned,/ trashed and exploited./ May we each find our way to help in the rescue of the great gift God has give for our pleasure and God's glory./ We pray to the Lord.

Pope Francis travels to Egypt this coming weekend./ We pray for his safety/ and ask that his visit would bring about new peace efforts,/ understanding and reconciliation./ We pray to the Lord.

Racism is the original sin of our country./ We pray boldly for our cure,/ asking for the forgiveness of this national sin./ May we learn  to love other people well./ We pray to the Lord.

All the world longs for good government./ We pray for leaders who are not corrupted,/ but moral people,/ intelligent,/ humble of heart,/ compassionate/ and generous servants./ We pray to the Lord.

In the Easter time/ grant that we would not lose our joy./ Protect us from anxiety/ and the angry cynicism which steals our energies/ and keeps us from the heart-awareness that leads to service./ We pray to the Lord.

We pray for prisoners,/ the sick and the dying,/ those with special needs,/ their families and any who help./ For the people who are victimized,/ abused,/ cheated,/ or left without support and friendship./ We pray to the Lord.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Have I lost exuberance?

Someone sent this photo taken during the Easter Liturgy in a Russian church. The congregation is very serious. Maybe they have been taught to look emotionless (or even gloomy) during prayer. Or maybe they have worked hard all day and have only their fatigue and their troubles to bring to the night-time liturgy. Maybe the picture was taken during a tedious and too long sermon.

Anyway, some dad has put his delightful three year old up on his shoulders so she can see above the rows of adults, and she has broken out into Easter Joy. Here is the Collect (opening prayer) for Mass this past Sunday.

May your people exult for ever, O God; in renewed youthfulness of spirit, so that, rejoicing now in the restored glory of our adoption, we may look forward in confident hope to the rejoicing of the day of resurrection.

I remember the catechism lessons preparing me for my First Holy Communion in the 1950's. The story of creation - the beauty, the wonder. But then the story took a sad turn and we were taught about Original Sin and the personal sin which follows and verifies the original big one. Then the religion became morose and the word sin and its near occasions started to appear everywhere, and the soul-desire to live in God's beauty, imagination and wonder was left uncultivated.

This little girl really gets it. No one has had to teach her. Her religion hasn't become cerebral-ized. (I made up a word). She clearly isn't mimicking the congregation. Her soul (inner person) is clean and clear. She might see things we no longer see: Does she see the light of Christ's Resurrection? Does she see the angels who announced, "He is not here" to the Myrrh-Bearing women? Does she feel the original joy and wonder of the Easter Witnesses? 

Her arms are like wings carrying her off. She's assumed a liturgical posture called an orans - like a priest standing at the altar. Her eyes, hands and mouth are wide open in receptivity: "Feed me, O Christ, Death-Trampler; Life-Restorer." She's all spontaneity and freedom. Will a day come soon when she's told, "Shhh. Stand with your hands at your side." 

And we might ask ourselves: Is there any exuberance for God in my life? When did I feel it last? Was it a very long time ago? What has happened to it? We might ask the little girl to help us feel this psalm (67)

O God, be gracious and bless us
and let your face shed its light upon us. 
So will your ways be known upon earth
and all nations learn your saving help.

Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.

Let the nations be glad and exult
for you rule the world with justice.
With fairness you rule the peoples,
you guide the nations on earth.

Let the people's praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.

The earth has yielded its fruit
for God, our God has blessed us.
May God still give us his blessing
till the ends of the earth revere him.

Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Convallaria ~ Tears of Our Lady

This is Convallaria Majalis Rosea (Lily-of-the-Valley) a light pink, fragrant version which blooms in late spring. Lily-of-the-Valley grows from pips - (a thin, fleshy root that's planted horizontally an inch or so below the soil surface). A box of ten arrived yesterday, prematurely I'd say. Of course, printed on the box, and again on the invoice, and again on the plastic package, instructions: PLANT IMMEDIATELY. 

Today was a raw day, less than ten degrees above freezing. There was spring sun for about three minutes, but the weather lady says it's going to warm through the weekend. So I went out to turn over the soil along the woods where I hope the pips will settle in. I told a friend that the the little roots won't bloom this year, but that's okay; I like the gradual steps on the way to their blooming. A wooden marker will remind me of where to look for them next spring. God willing.

Lily of the Valley grow close to the ground, no more than 6 to 8 inches. In the Mary Garden they are called, Tears of Our Lady. The legend goes that as Mary wept at the foot of the cross on Calvary, her tears fell to the ground and Lily-of-the-Valley wondrously sprouted up and bloomed.* It's too beautiful to suggest it didn't really happen. This is a religion that honors human tears and the love that  prompts them. 

But I don't want simply to admire Mary in her sorrowing from a distance. I don't want simply to feel for Mary in her loss. But tears are part of human life. Some people grew up being told not to cry: "Big boys don't cry." "What are you getting so emotional about?" Tiresome really

"Mourning and weeping in this valley of tears," the Salve Regina prayer says. Sitting in a waiting room recently I saw an episode of Dr. Phil where a step-father appalled the audience with the way he degraded and insulted his step-daughter and the girl's mother not standing up for her. Who wouldn't feel the need for tears?

Some tears are shed for reasons not too serious: crying over a fender-bender, a wedding day snag, a dish broke. But then we see the television pictures of Syria's children suffocating and burning from another chemical gas attack; their cities turned to dust.  

Remember the first lesson from the Ash Wednesday Mass: "Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep..." Joel 2:17 Tears have a place in church: before the altar, on the Communion line, before the icon or the tabernacle. And the words "priest" and "minister" don't only refer to the ones who wear vestments - we're all a priestly people. Lily-of-the-Valley: Our Lady's Tears; your tears and mine.

*Another legend says that Eve wept when the couple were expelled from the Garden of Eden, that her tears fell to the ground and Lily-of-the-Valley bloomed. Hey, what about Adam's tears? I hope he cried too. Crying isn't just for women.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Intercessions ~ Third Sunday of Easter

We pray for the poor country of Syria./ For its children,/ the elderly,/ the weak,/ the displaced./ For those who perpetrate great evil in the gassing and bombing of towns and cities,/ schools,/ homes,/ hospitals,/ churches and mosques./ We pray to the Lord.

As we pray for the child in the womb,/ we pray too for those already born,/ for the poorest,/ the destitute,/ the abandoned and rejected,/ the under-privileged,/ the vulnerable-infirm,/ the euthanized,/ the victims of human trafficking/ and the new forms of slavery./ We pray to the Lord.

Next Sunday is Earth Day./ May we learn to love and protect the gift of our planet-home./ That we would not be greedy or thoughtless consumers./ For the conversion of exploiters and destroyers./ We pray to the Lord.

We pray for those who in the month of April celebrate birthdays,/ anniversaries and other days of remembrance,/ asking for good health,/ safety and peace./ We pray to the Lord.

In the Springtime,/ as light and warmth increase in our hemisphere,/ we ask for hearts that are warmly disposed towards others./ May we hate no one,/ and grow in the ability to forgive and reconcile./ We pray to the Lord.

For the members of our families and for our friends./ We pray for those who are having a hard time of it,/ who might be depressed or not feeling well,/ who are weak or stressed with losses and challenges./ We pray to the Lord.