Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Mother of God Merciful and of the Dawn

THIS ICON FROM CYPRUS is titled Mother of God, Merciful. It is of the Hodegetria type: The Infant Christ looking like a little man (he is always the Lord), is seated on his Mother's throne-like left arm. His feet suspended, with one arm he cradles his Word from heaven while blessing us.

With her right hand the Holy Mother indicates or points not to herself, but to him. Hodegetria is sometimes translated Shower of the Way.  Both the Christ and his Mother look, not at each other, but at us. They wish us all-good.

But Mary's great gold-trimmed Maphorion is lovely shades of pink - color taken from the dawn sky - color which signifies the new day. But spiritually new day means renewal, restoration, beginning again and transformation. Color psychology indicates that rose and pink have anti-depressant energies. That's interesting, as one of the first things a depressed person says about his or her symptoms is I have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning.

We might print small copies of this soft-smiling Mother and her Son - wrapped in the warm tones of  new beginning, the new day and persevering attempts at growth and change. Tape the Mother and Child up everywhere.

Having said that, I'd like to offer the icon and prayer here to priests all around the world. The clergy is/are in need of a new day. Fathers, let's put her on our shaving mirror.

More than a few of us need help with our depression ~ pray God a new day.
Many of us suffer untreated addictions ~ pray God a new day.
Some priests have lost their interior Christ-life  ~ pray God a new day.
There are rectory tables where Church things are talked about but not Jesus ~ pray God a new day.
Some of us burden and sadden the people with our moodiness ~ pray God a new day.

Some priests think more about money and time-off than anything else ~ pray God a new day.
Some priests make it clear they don't want to be bothered ~ pray God  a new day.
While priests claim high job satisfaction, many don't do very much that's priestly ~ pray God a new day.
Some priests have become liturgical fashion plates and interior decorators ~ pray God a new day.
There's  the expression: From the bed linen, to the altar linen, to the table linen ~ pray God a new day.

There are priests who work only on their duty day ~ pray God a new day.
Some priests preach everything but Jesus ~ pray God a new day.
Not a few priests live in their offices or in living rooms watching daytime TV ~ pray God a new day.
Some rectories are effectively hotels ~ we talk secretly about the sick men we live with ~ pray God a new day.
Some of us are kingdom builders and power-abusers ~ pray God  a new day.

Too many of us are waiting for the people to come to us ~ pray God a new day.
Many of us would rather bury the dead than work creatively with the engaged ~ pray God a new day.
Some priests live in sarcasm, bitter and low-end humor ~ pray God a new day.
Lots of us don't know who we are when we're not wearing specialized clothing ~ pray God a new day.
Some priests don't believe anymore and have become dispensers of piety, cliche and dead religion ~ pray God a new day.

Many pastors act like General Managers instead spiritual guides ~ pray God a new day.
Priests often do nothing to heal their loneliness ~ pray God a new day.
Priests often feel entitled and have become pompous ~ pray God a new day.
Some priests live with deep resentments ~ pray God a new day.
Older priests and younger priests sometimes think they've got it over the other ~ pray God a new day.

O Lady, grant me compunction and contrition of heart,
humility in my thoughts,
a healing remedy for what ails me,
release from the slavery of my own reasonings
and the light of a new day.


  1. For priests that are unhappy and run from their troubles, leaving their flock who need them; pray God a new day.

    1. As in marriages it isn't unusual for priests to become demoralized and broken. This often occurs within the first five years of ordination. Indeed, there is a book called The First Five Years by Dean Hoge. Some of us might find it an interesting study of priests in the first five years of ordination. In my estimation priests are unaccountable and so a man's problems can get the better of him before he becomes a scandal or a major problem and needs to be dealt with. I also believe that many priests are psycho-sexually unevolved and over time they becomes unhappy and either hunkers down in a system that leaves him alone, or is he starts to grow up he's unprepared and leaves.

    2. Let us not lose sight of what you are saying. There are many priests that are living in darkness and dealing with afflictions and bitterness. It seems as though you would discourage men from being priests when this is what they might have to look forward to, mostly left alone in their vocation. How should they become psycho-sexually evolved when living a celibate life? Pray God a new day, a healthier evolution for these men who intended to dedicate their lives to you.

  2. This icon will be printed and put up on my bedroom mirror. I will remember to pray for our priests. For those that are good spiritual guides leading us towards a stronger faith in God, that they will continue to be pillars of our parishes. And not to forget those that you mention also in need of our prayer. Those that feel alone and isolated, or turn to their darker sides as their faith is weak. I pray for them to find peace and divine growth.

    1. Someone asks: "How is the priest to become a psycho-sexually evolved person as a celibate? It is a good question. I believe it is only by his being willing to do a great deal of difficult interior work. I met a young priest assigned to the "North Country" of New York State. He said he could go three days without the phone ringing. I asked how he spent his days? He told me he watched the birds at his feeder. This is a disaster waiting to happen.

    2. I found this while searching for a prayer for priests. It is one of the most realistic things I have seen regarding the life of a priest. I would imagine that is because you have lived this life in the first person. I pray that with the good work you do, that you do not fall prey to these feelings often, but rather offer them for your brother priests. I take it that you consider yourself among the more evolved by your comment above. I will pray for you and all those who shepherd us as men of God.

    3. Well, I don't know how evolved I am but I have been saved. I have lived with over 20 priests in my years. Let me simply say that priests are in deep need of healing. Henri Nouwen has a book, "Wounded Healer". I understand what he is saying, but that does not absolve the Church from making the healing of priests a major priority Priests are among the most unaccountable men on the planet. Prayer - absolutely. But I would also say that the entire priesthood needs to be "on the couch" if you will. Bishops too.

  3. Dear Lord, please give strength to our priests when they are in doubt of their faith and their worthiness to shepherd your flock. That we remember that they are men with flaws like the rest of us. And that they may be examples for us and guide us always on the path to you.