Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

She Who Renders Hardened Hearts Soft





THIS UNUSUAL ICON IS TITLED: MOTHER OF GOD WHO RENDERS WICKED HEARTS SOFT. But I've taken the liberty of changing it to Mother of God Who Renders Hardened Hearts Soft because I suspect the title is an inadequate translation from perhaps Russian or Greek and because it better reflects the verse in Psalm 95:  If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

The icon is not ancient, but contemporary, and there is nothing written that I can find which presents the theology of the image. That leaves us a certain freedom in speaking about it. As there are seven swords surrounding Mary's heart, it isn't likely that it is intended to be a simple and too literal reflection of Simeon's Prophecy to Mary, "And a sword shall pierce your heart..." 

Rather we might call to mind that the Western Church speaks of the Seven Sorrows of Mary. That blending of Eastern and Western themes will displease icon-purists.

I think the image reminds us symbolically that Mary's heart knows sorrow deeply (the swords are double edged). And it is out of that wounded and sensitized place that she seeks to soften hearts: the heart of the world, the nation, the church, our families, each of us personally.



Ohio church burning, having welcomed the gay and lesbian community

A great hatred has seized our country,
but which we disquise
with language
righteous,
patriotic,
virtuous,
honorable,
noble,
godly,
funny.

O Lady, render hardened hearts soft.

Where government fails
life
courtesy
charity
justice
the common good
the children
the needs of the poor
the water
the land
the air.

O Lady, render hardened hearts soft.

The nation covered
by a
great wave
of discourteous
media pandering.

O Lady, render hardened hearts soft.

Lies raging more
destructively,
than the wild fires
that have plagued the
nation this summer:
advertising lies,
government and
military lies,
pharmaceutical and
corporate lies,
Church lies,
news-entertainment lies,
court room lies,
business lies...

O Lady, render hardened hearts soft.

The country is infected;
decay has set in
through the wounds of
disbelief
entitlement
resistant prejudice
ignorance
addictions
the loss of character and
the love of violence
the desire for things and
the celebration of  power,
that we have failed our children
even from the womb.

O Lady, render hardened hearts soft.

"In this town
if you're different,
you're in trouble,"
a school teacher
told me.

O Lady, render hardened hearts soft.

At a summer state fair
the president was
reviled
and mocked.
It felt 
like a Klan rally,
an observer reported.

O Lady, render hardened hearts soft.

"We didn't start paying 
attention to the Vietnam War
until there were
50,000 
dead American soldiers,"
the History professor said.

O Lady, render hardened hearts soft.

The church-lady
boasted around town
of how she got so much
hillside brush cleared
on the cheap -
the desperate Eastern European workers
ignorant of the value of a dollar
and needing ticket money home.

O Lady, render hardened hearts soft.


This one-line prayer is called an aspiration: The lifting up of spirit-soul, as on an exhale.


O Lady, render hardened hearts soft.











1 comment:

  1. Powerful words, powerful thoughts. Let us pray that hearts will not only soften, but will recognize the need for humanity to take action to protect against the atrocities going on in the world today.

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