Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Monday, May 13, 2013

In a dangerous world...

The collapse of the clothing factory in Bangladesh recently and the explosions at the Boston Marathon have reminded us, yet again, that we live in a dangerous world. That's always been true about life on this planet, whether it's the ancient world, the European Medieval world or Europe in the 1940's.

But this time we live in has its own real and deeply felt threats. Sometimes the dangers are experienced by people far away: a great wave takes people away in Japan and a damaged nuclear reactor displaces people for miles. Or there are fires and floods in other states or other countries. Sometimes the dangers occur within our own communities or in our families: a neighbor or relative becomes deathly ill or there is divorce, bankruptcy, accident or addiction.

And then sometimes there are threats to us personally as we struggle with our own weakness, depression, anxieties, mis-direction or disbelief. There can also be persons in our lives who make trouble for us - who are divisive, dangerous, suspicious, manipulating, dishonest. The threats and dangers can beset us so deeply, and the resolution seem to be so beyond our own capacity and the skills of helpers, that we implore heaven. There are no athiests in a foxhole, the saying goes.

Often when danger is near or life is threatening, we turn to Mother. Good mothers are consolers, protectors, defenders, healers, advocates, helpers. Until the time of the Protestant Reformation, seemingly all Christians shared that there was maternal help from heaven in the Virgin Mary. The earliest known prayer to Mary, originating in the mid 3rd  century asks for her protection:

We fly to your patronage O holy Mother of God,
despise not our petitions in our necessities,
but deliver us always from all dangers,
O Virgin glorious and ever blessed.

And here is a wonderful prayer for each day asking Mary's maternal help. It is called Mary's Breastplate. A breastplate, of course, is a piece of essential armor, guarding our vulnerable and vital hearts. Notice the last line refers to ourselves as Mary's property and possession. We should think of this as an ownership most precious - the loss of the possession as unthinkable, like this sensitive 1960's mom who shares her coat with her little girls on a chilly day. You see, these thoughts or insights about Mary don't come from nowhere - as if from some over reaching or fevered imagination. We learn about heavenly things often by observing the best of what's deeply human.

O Domina Mea

O my Queen! My Mother!
I give myself entirely to you;
and to show my devotion to you,
I consecrate to you this day my eyes,
my ears, my mouth, my heart,
my whole being, without reserve.
Wherefore, good Mother,
as I am your own,
keep me, guard me,
as your property and possession.


  1. Thank you Father, what a beautiful prayer. Many nights I lay awake thinking how I could have been a better mother that day. What better way to begin my day than giving myself to the Blessed Mother. With her help I can be the mother I want to be to my children. I always want to be strong for them...Mama Bear.

  2. I have to agree with the previous comment. As the mother of two school age children, I often lay in bed at night and ask God for the strength and patience I need to be a better mother. To help them to grow up to be good people and to have faith in God and themselves. Maybe I should turn more to the Blessed Mother. I will be using these prayers to guide me.