Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

"How I wish it were kindled..."

THIS IS THE SWEET RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CEMETERY-CHAPEL of Sainte Genevieve-des-Bois outside Paris. Like all Russian churches, large or small, it has at least one onion shaped dome called a cupola. Some cupolas are golden, others blue or blue with stars or are formed of wooden shingles, laid out like fish scales and which turn silvery over time. The cupola likely is a descendant of the domes of ancient Byzantium, perfected to shed the snow of Russia's winter.

But there is more, because the cupola is a stylized flame symbolizing the Church - the disciples of Jesus down through the millennia, on fire for Christ. Here's the little verse from Saint Luke's Gospel (12:49) And Jesus said, "I have come to bring fire down to the earth, and how I wish it were kindled already!" 

So what's the fire? It isn't the hell-fire some Christians love to wield. But what about this, "Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love."  The fire of loving-kindness, comfort giving  and mercy. 

Abba Lot went to see Abba Joseph and said to him, "Abba, as far as I can, I say my little office I fast a little, I pray and meditate, I live in peace and as far as I can, I purify my thoughts. What else can I do?" Then the old man stood up and stretched out his hands towards heaven. His fingers became like ten lamps of fire and he said to him, "If you will, you can become all flame." (From The Sayings of the Desert Fathers)

And there is the fire of compassion. Albert Schweitzer said: "Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man himself will not find peace." This means the animals and plants too - and the water and the soil, which are alive. Doesn't this echo the words of Jesus at the end of Saint Mark's Gospel: "Go out to all the world and proclaim the good news to every creature." 

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