Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Intercessions ~ Twenty Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

We pray for the many millions of people suffering heartache this week/ following earthquakes,/ repeated hurricanes,/ floods,/ fires,/ wars and terrible violence./ We pray to the Lord.

The political scene in our country is troubling:/ self-veneration,/ the seeking of power and fame,/ hyper-partisanship,/ the blatant despising of others,/ narcissism and menace./ We pray for a national conversion./ We pray to the Lord.

Autumn has begun,/ and the trees will drop many thousands of leaves./ May we drop resentment,/ willful ignorance,/ selfishness and superficiality./ We pray to the Lord.

May we be freed  from the spirit of guilt,/ which freezes past moments of regret,/ which easily becomes our point of self-identification/ and keeps us weak in serving Christ./ We pray to the Lord

We pray for the healing of those who are raised in humiliation and shame./ For families where old wounds are kept alive,/ where there is bitterness,/ sickness or dysfunction./ For those who are loved by no one./ We pray to the Lord.

Wednesday is the Feast of  Saint Vincent de Paul,/ the 17th century priest-patron of charity./ Bless us with generous hearts,/ may we be a church that welcomes all,/ that refuses no one./ We pray to the Lord.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Psalm 65 ~ A Psalm of Worship and Wonder

Gathered around the glorious temple with their fields and flocks, this psalm suggests that Israel has settled into an agricultural way of life. We can also hear the psalmist taking delight in God while standing in the midst of wonder and seasonal beauty.

Verse 1: The psalm begins with praise: "God, you are God!" Then the psalmist immediately references vows. We're not sure what he has in mind - perhaps just the keeping of commandments and the heart-to-heart covenant relationship Israel has with God. Catholics talk a lot about vows: wedding vows, priest vows, nun and monk vows, private vows...But before any of that, there are our Baptismal vows. Do we even know what they are?! 

Do you renounce Satan?
I do.
And all his works?
I do.
And all his empty show?
I do.
Do you believe in God...
Do you believe in Jesus Christ...
Do you believe in the Holy Spirit...
I do.

Verses 2 and 3: The psalmist seems to think that the reason we go to God is to get freed of sin. There's so much talk about sin. I grew up being taught that sin was around every corner. African Americans believe that a miracle is around every corner. Their discipleship is full of expectation and delight.

Verse 4: "Happy are they whom you choose." People will ask a priest or nun, "When did you get the call?" God calls or chooses all of us, not just those in "religious life." We're all called to a life of soulful spiritual awake-ness and faith in action. And this God-call is very satisfying, the psalmist says.

Verse 5: Now there is shift and the psalmist starts to sing of God's wonders. How God delights us - right up to the edges of the earth. He likely thought the earth was flat and had margins.

Verse 6: And God has made the strong mountains, putting them in place. Now, it's easy to take a mountain down. Instead of mining into the ground beneath the mountain, we blow it up and take what we want. A mining company claims to be able to destroy and remove a mountain in two years. Gone forever.

Verse 7: The translation we've heard here refers to the clamor of the people. The Coverdale translation speaks of the chaos of the people. Take your pick. But whichever word we prefer, we need God to fill us with peace, inside and out, and to heal the deep fractures and hurts.

Verse 8: Dawn and dusk, sunrise and sunset are given happy voices! And God's people tremble before God's signs, not for fear but for wonder. Lots of people in our fast-paced, hectic, techno-world have forgotten wonder

Verse 9: Here is a whole verse just about the plentiful gift of water. But some nations are greedy and they dam up and exploit the rivers, polluting them and deflecting the greater volume of water for themselves, ignoring the needs of those down stream. Or we rollback water protections, leaving communities vulnerable to every kind of water-bearing waste. A Buddhist mountain-top monastery doesn't use chemicals for cleaning because they know those chemicals will wind up in the water supply the people depend upon at the base of the mountain. Think of the people in Flint, Michigan.

Verse 10: God is called a provider in this verse. God provides, but human greed causes sickness, weakness and death. Justice is needed more than charity. Justice realizes and acts out of the deep awareness that on planet earth, we are all in it together. 

Verse 11: God drenches, smooths, softens, blesses. How attentive God is to his creation. How tender!

Verse 12: The psalmist sings of God's goodness. When I was a boy I was made aware of God righteous anger, God's punishing justice, God's sadness, God's disapproval and indignation. But in Christ we see God's goodness: God's patient kindness, God's reach, God's compassionate eyes, God's maternal, inviting and life-awakening voice. 

Verse 13: God is even aware of the animals grazing on the wild fields. But we have chopped down the forests and destroyed the habitats where the animals live. The orange and black Monarch butterfly was abundant when I was a boy. Now it is near extinction because the fields of milkweed, off of which it feeds on its long annual migration to Mexico and back, have been paved over with cement, blacktop and malls.  Then the psalmist says the hills are clothed with joy. And he says this without ever having seen the magnificent autumn-colored hills of this country's north east.

Verse 14: The psalmist has used the word joy three times in his psalm. Creation is so alive it seems to express emotion. The Coverdale translation says the hills laugh and shout. And if the hills and meadows can be joyful, how much more might we. A young African-American woman, who had lost everything in Hurricane Harvey, was having her hair done by a volunteer beautician in the shelter where she had found safety. When the beautician twirled her around in the chair at the end to face the mirror, the girl beamed ear to ear and said to the camera, "This has made my day." 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Mother of God Who Dries Tears

Forgive us, O Lady
for seating you on a throne
when you'd more likely prefer
the simplicity of your Nazareth home,
where you'd sing songs to your Golden Boy
and bounce him on your knee. 
You know, we're always looking for some new way
to express our affection for the two of you. 
But I notice  as well you hold the tear-drying napkin,
the final swipe at
the guilt we bear -
frozen past moments,
which your son wipes away.

Father Stephen Morris

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Intercessions ~ Twenty Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Florida Flamingo Rescue

Pope Francis has said this week that DACA is a pro-life issue./ May we understand and embrace with increasing depth/ the meaning of the words pro-life,/ and so share the mission of Jesus./ We pray to the Lord.

In todays' Gospel,/ Jesus calls us to the radical forgiveness of others/ as the distinguishing mark of discipleship,/ and the principal work of all humankind./ May we learn his lesson well./ We pray to the Lord. 

We pray for the millions of people impacted by hurricanes throughout the Caribbean Islands,/ Texas,/ Florida and beyond./ For those who rescue and help,/ for those who work to preserve community in these damaged areas./ We pray to the Lord.

As there is a new moon this Wednesday,/ may we discover something new about ourselves,/ about God,/ other people,/ about the care of our planet./ We pray to the Lord.

Thursday is the Feast of Saint Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist./ May we love his Gospel and live Christ's Sermon on the Mount/ which Matthew has preserved for us./ We pray to the Lord.

The Jewish New Year Feast of Rosh Hashanah is celebrated this week,/ beginning a ten day period of prayer/ introspection and repentance./ May we live self-examined lives/ embracing of change/ as God invites./ We pray to the Lord.