Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Praying Before the Mother of God ~ All Perceiving

O Lady,
your portrait
has found its way -
all the way
from Russia
to my hands.
How has this happened so wonderfully:
that your icon should come to me
who has touched
and held
unworthy of one
thought of
and created in a

O Lady,
your veil is dark and of the earth.
And I am of the earth too.
And I want to know myself
by the illumination of my mind,
to my own short-comings
and the life of holy perfection
God has prepared for me
and to which God calls.

O Lady,
your face is pressed against the forehead of your Son.
Do you see the danger which already surrounds your Child?
See the dangers that surround me too, Holy Mother,
and protect me from everything
that could steal goodness

O Lady,
Your eyes - wide awake;
you have nothing to hide.
Wake me up to faith,
that God has a plan and purpose for me,
wants me to be happy,
holds no grudges against me,
but wants me healed and whole
and full of life that will last
even forever.

O Lady,
Your mouth is small,
and inviting:
To be a listener,
to the drip of rain,
the music of morning birds
and evening insects,
to the sighs of my heart
and the tears of those who weep.

O Lady,
Your Son's forehead
so strangely
But he holds my name
and the names of all the others
in his mind,
and all our stories with their
twists and turns,
advances and set backs,
even deadly choices,
and still
good hope.
His mind, large and filled
with the events of human history,
even the barriers against Jesus
not yet in place -
who only carries a heart of love
and the invitation of his eyes
to come in close to his
warmth and light.

O Lady,
Your Son's robe is filled
with sparks
from heaven
that dart about,
that can set my heart

And finally, O Lady,
framed in silver,
reflecting light,
holding you and your Son,
and all the more
my heart,
O Mother,
shining and
embracing and
with love for you
and all the good
of heaven
and here,
this earth-paradise.

Father Stephen P. Morris


  1. This is a most magnificent prayer to the Blessed Mother. I kept scrolling back up while reading to consider the words as relating to the picture. My heart is glowing!

    1. If you haven't seen it already, be sure to see last Sunday's post where the icon itself is introduced. I have been looking at icons since I was a boy, and this icon of the Mother of God I find to be most alluring. She deserves our attentions.

  2. I am glad to learn more about icons. I cannot say that this one in particular is the most beautiful or capturing. I do prefer the rich colors that most icons have. However, your prayer brings out the details that might be missed at a quick glance. I must remember the deep meaning in these icons that go beyond being a pretty picture. They bring messages from beyond our Earthly being.

    1. No icon is painted in black and white. When my friend, Yuri, gave me the print to scan it was clearly taken from an old book or collection printed before icon books were published in color. The frame is clearly silver and the maphorion of the Mother of God would be deep-rust-purple. The Infant Christ would be essentially golden. I like that we have to use our imagination in thinking of the icon in color - it causes us to pause. And how fortunate we are today to have the technologies that deliver these things to us in color. I don't know where the original icon is today. We can hope it was in safe-keeping through the Soviet years.

  3. I didn't realize it was a print. It looks like a picture of one of those metal icons which are also beautiful in their own rite. I am gaining a new appreciation for the meaning behind these special pictures and the iconographers who write them. For their sense of capturing the spirituality of it all for us to absorb.

    1. The decorative case that an icon is sometimes placed in is called a riza. They are not essential of course, and many iconographers consider them a superfluous distraction or obstruction. I understand. Here, the scanner picked up the metallic quality of the riza despite the fact that the print is old, flat and black and white. It's by no means a miracle, but pretty neat. I've seen other icon prints that are washed out very much intensified by scanners.

  4. O Holy Lady who has found your way to us through unconventional means. Now when I gaze upon your face, I feel a part of something greater than this world I live in. I can feel your love and I know that your Son who you held lovingly in your arms is carrying me now and always.

  5. I read this prayer yesterday and thought it was such a perfect way to pray using the icon as a source of strength. It stayed with me. Today I had to go back and look at it again. realizing that it has touched my soul. I will print it out and keep it near. Your prayers have changed the way I look at things and I cannot really put into words how meaningful that is to me.

    1. A changed way of looking at things! That's how we know we're growing in the spiritual life. The Lord bring to completion the good he has begun in you!

  6. I am not someone who you would consider overly religious, but I try not to miss your blog entries. Thanks for the reminders. I enjoy being able to read while on the train to work. This brings me great peace and serenity before the rigors of work set in. When a prayer like this comes along, I bookmark it so I can go back and read it when I have a need to step back and reground myself. Bless you Father!

    1. I'm glad you found the prayer and that it won't just get lost in the archive. God bless you too, and your family - and your travels to and from work everyday. When I was a young man my dad would say when I was going off somewhere, "Keep the faith." Probably an old Irish-ism.

  7. So beautiful and inspiring of my prayer. Thank you.

  8. Oh that the sparks will rain down on me and make me feel alive! I am glad that this portrait found its way to me too.

  9. I'm glad we share the icon together now. Print it out and keep it nearby. Look at it often - in its details. Bless your Sunday!

  10. Father, I have read some of your beautiful prayers since subscribing, but this was published much earlier on. It is a very lovely tribute to the Blessed Mother and I must admit that I am captivated by its lyrical study of the icon and all that the Mother of God does for us. You bring the icon to life for us, radiating the love from heaven.

  11. I'm glad you've found the icon and the reflection. Notice His head is pressed against Her cheek. Heaven has us in mind. All of us!