Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Like the dew fall...




ONE OF THE CHANGES IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH during the mid 1960's was that the Mass prayers could be celebrated in the vernacular - the language of the people. And so the Latin prayers were rather quickly translated into English in the United States. Those translations were often rather bland and lacking in nuance and poetic sense. So about two and a half years ago, a new translation of the missal went into effect which offered a more authentic translation of the Latin. But before the new book appeared, there was for a variety of reasons, tremendous speculation about the translation, with many priests taking a cynical view of the project.

All of the priests I spoke with said that the translation was out of touch with ordinary people - honing in on one line that appears early on in the Second Eucharistic Prayer:

"Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray,
by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dew fall, 
so that they may become for us the Body and Blood
of our Lord, Jesus Christ."

Rather than seizing the teachable moment - how and why we may liken the Spirit's descent to dew fall - the clergy regrettably landed firmly in the bitter place, recent polls indicating their continued dissatisfaction. But there's a lot to learn spiritually from this dew fall image, which I personally think is quite lovely. But before exploring how the image is a spiritually rich one, I've invited an Earth Science teacher-friend to offer  a reminder of what dew is and how it's wonderfully formed. Read on!

During the day, water evaporates into the air. From lakes, ponds, rivers, etc. Warm air can hold more water vapor (water as an invisible gas) than cooler air. During the night, the air temperature goes down as heat is lost. Air also cools as it rises to higher elevations, but through a different process. The cooler air no longer has the capacity to hold this water vapor. When air is cooled to a certain temperature, the water vapor is released as tiny water droplets. This is called condensation. It is why we get clouds high in the sky. It is why we get fog early in the morning. The temperature at which all this happens is called the dew point temperature.
Think of the air like a sponge. You can only add so many drops of water to a sponge before it is saturated and cannot hold another drop. The it drips. Same with air. It can only hold so many molecules of water vapor before it is fully saturated.Then the water vapor has to go somewhere, so it comes out of the air as water droplets. The temperature of the air determines how much it can hold. 
So when objects, such as the windshield of a car, or blades of grass cool faster than the surrounding air, the air that comes into contact with them is cooled to its dew point temperature and condensation occurs so that the water droplets form on them. We call this water dew. And the formation of dew is called dew fall. Dew has to form on something. This is the same reason that a glass of ice water "sweats" on a hot summer day. The cold glass is cooling the surrounding air and the water from the air is condensing on the outside of the glass. This is the same as dew fall.  If condensation occurs when the temperature is below freezing, the water vapor becomes frost instead of dew.





Clearly, in inviting the Spirit to descend like dew fall,  so to change the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, the Spirit is being invoked and celebrated as the agent of change. A Jungian analyst told me that the Catholic Church must never abandon the Eucharistic understanding of Transubstantiation, as there is nothing in our culture any longer which invites transformation in people. Transubstantiation is the teaching that the bread and wine become the substance of the Body and Blood of Christ.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 


What may strike us at once is that the dew is very beautiful . Indeed, it makes what is already beautiful, even more so. We might say then that the Spirit of God, descending like dew fall, comes to us as beautifier.





Spirit of God, beautifying dew fall - compassion-ate our thoughts.
Spirit of God, beautifying dew fall - soften our souls with mercy.
Spirit of God, beautifying dew fall - refresh our nation with new welcoming energies.
Spirit of God, beautifying dew fall - descend with your gift of peace.
Spirit of God, beautifying dew fall - make us glad.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


See how the clear drops of dew act as little magnifying lenses on the leaf's surface. We might say then, that the Spirit of God, descending like dew fall, comes to us as magnifier.





Spirit of God, magnifying dew fall - increase our sense of solidarity with the rest of the world.
Spirit of God, magnifying dew fall - amplify our desire to learn.
Spirit of God, magnifying dew fall - expand consciousness in us.
Spirit of God, magnifying dew fall - descend to grow praise and gratitude here.
Spirit of God, magnifying dew fall - please, the gift of laughter born of joyful hearts.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


See how the dew collects and refracts light. We might say then, that the Spirit of God, descending like the dew fall, comes to us as a refractor - the one who displays and distributes light.
   




Spirit of God, light-refracting dew fall - shed your light upon my path.
Spirit of God, light-refracting dew fall - enlighten our innermost being.
Spirit of God, light-refracting dew fall - that we would see the others rightly.
Spirit of God, light-refracting dew fall - dispel our dark suspicions.
Spirit of God, light-refracting dew fall - make us to walk as children of the light.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Dew is the drink of insects and small animals. Rabbits obtain much of their water by licking the dew off of the morning grass. We might say then, that the Spirit of God, descending like the dew fall, comes to us as a life initiator and sustainer.





Spirit of God, life-sustaining dew fall - that I may live an authentic human life to your glory.
Spirit of God, life-sustaining dew fall - initiate growth where I am inwardly dry.
Spirit of God, life-sustaining dew fall - reminder of my origins in the womb.
Spirit of God, life-sustaining dew fall - refreshing touch of my Baptism.
Spirit of God, life-sustaining dew fall - nourish the new Christ-person in me.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Dew is a reflector. Here in this photo, the little universe of the garden where the dew formed is reflected. We can imagine the whole of the universe is somehow wondrously reflected in dew fall. We might say, that the Spirit of God, descending like dew fall, comes to us as reflector of divine and human things.






Spirit of God, reflecting dew fall - so we would reveal the divine image that is ours.
Spirit of God, reflecting dew fall - come down for our right-seeing.
Spirit of God, reflecting dew fall - I want to reflect goodness.
Spirit of God, reflecting dew fall - inviting discovery again and again.
Spirit of God, reflecting dew fall - Awaken-er!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 


8 comments:

  1. How many people relate the imagery of dew fall to the Holy Spirit when we hear it at mass? This description of what dew fall is and how it can relate to the Spirit of God makes so much sense. What beauty and meaning in the image of a simple drop of water! - Ashley

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  2. "Earth's crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God. But only he who sees takes off his shoes; the rest sit round and pluck blackberries. Elizabeth Barrett Browning

    I hope the blog helps us to "see" and to "take off our shoes.'

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  3. I now see the relationship between the science of the formation and the religious imagery in a single drop of water. Dew fall is not a common term. I ignorantly thought it was a biblical reference. Yes, this helps us to see and understand things we normally would not.

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  4. You're a humble person. Humble comes from the Latin word humus - which means good earth - as in "down to earth" about yourself. It manifests in three ways: 1) I can take correction. 2) I can admit I've made a mistake. 3) I know I have a lot of learning to do.

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  5. Extraordinary use of imagery to open our minds to how powerful the Spirit of God is in our every day ordinary lives. Dew fall is an every day occurence, but no less beautiful. Thank you for giving meaning to what this gift of water is both in its natural and spiritual states.

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  6. The Catholic Church clearly know about alchemy and the Great Work, but they are covering it up. Soon, this cover up will be exposed.

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  7. I'm not sure I understand what you're referring to here. You're invited to nuance your thoughts. I'd be pleased to publish it and even enter into a conversation so long as the thing doesn't become contentious and hateful. There are other blogs that are happy for "throw a bomb and then run away," comments. That you sign your name may indicate you're not that way. Welcome.

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  8. I'm not sure I understand what you're referring to here. You're invited to nuance your thoughts. I'd be pleased to publish it and even enter into a conversation so long as the thing doesn't become contentious and hateful. There are other blogs that are happy for "throw a bomb and then run away," comments. That you sign your name may indicate you're not that way. Welcome.

    ReplyDelete