Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Day Five ~ Washington D.C.

I FIRST VISITED THIS CHAPEL in the late 1960's having joined a Franciscan Pilgrimage out of New York City to Washington, D.C. It is a side chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe in the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. At that time, this National Shrine was the seventh largest church in the world! I don't remember being taken on a tour of the great building but rather coming across this delightfully intimate chapel on my own. Everything about it said, "Don't stand on the threshold; come inside." 

In returning to D.C. a few weeks ago I had arranged to offer Mass here, fulfilling a boyhood dream. My sister accompanied me as we had both participated in the Shared Hope International conference on the Sex Trafficking of Minors. How fitting that these two events should have come together here as in the story of the Guadalupe appearances to Juan Diego, he addresses her as "my little girl." America's children, mostly girls, are being kidnapped, groomed and prostituted by the many thousands, and as a national people we are too often ignoring it, believing the problem exists on other continents. It is reported that girls as young as 3,4 and 5 are caught in this new form of slavery.

In preparation for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Feast of the Child of Bethlehem we might visit this site: Shared Hope International . Let's invite our believing to be turned into new knowledge and some kind of response-action. 

While my sister waited in the chapel for me to return from the sacristy after the Mass she sat on the side bench over which is a long line of candle bearing mosaic-pilgrims on their way to venerate the Guadalupe. She composed this strong poem there.

In the third stanza could the "armies of the dead" be the clergy who, and the self-protective policies which have so offended and failed the children of the Church?

Guadalupe Roses

See the Aztec Goddess, in so few words,
rise like maize above the frozen Tepeyec hills,
glow in mosaic, red yellow pink blue,
the arc of spectrum we all know, but that
had never been seen before in Mexico──
until she showered down upon Juan Dieguito
love in the form of Castilian roses.

See the beautiful women of so few words,
their handsome men and children, of fewer still,
with lowered eyes, whisper among themselves,
the breath of roses never forgotten.
For those who scope upon them in subways and hotels,
where they change our bedding, serve us food,
or in our homes where they cut our lawns,
see only the utility of forms, blind to the stamina of roses.

See the black demon of empty words
run back into its hole down the hill,
by the cathedral facing the northern shore
limned with corpses, guns, death by alcohol,
drugs, rape, forced servitude and prostitution,
where the churches are full of the armies of the dead
who cannot inhale the sweet breath of roses.

See the beauty of the bud, glow with life interior,
yet, there are those who seek to disturb
the peaceful minds of others, whose envy
fails to penetrate, their longing still unheard──
to become the lord's of unspeakable things,
everything that's ever wished for, won,
except for those heart-minds, like tilmas worn,
blanketed in the multi-colored flame of roses.

                                                            Karen Morris─
                                                            Chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe,
                                                            Basilica of the National Shrine, Washington, DC
                                                            November 10, 2013

Castilian Rose


  1. This is a moving poem filled with powerful imagery. I keep reading it to find new meanings within each stanza. Thank you for sharing this personal piece. How blessed you are to be able to share your faith with your sister.

  2. I am following this novena that I found here. Day 5 and anticipating the wonderful Feast of Guadalupe.

    1. Ah, what a wonderful day that was - Mass in the Guadalupe shrine I knew from my young teen years. I send a blessing in the Advent time!