Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

In the Easter time ~ Our Lady of Girkalnis

Lithuanian Icon: Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn

BISHOP VIRGILIO NOE has edited a little book of prayers to Mary in which he included this one to the Virgin of Girkalis. Having been deported to Siberia in the Stalin years, a nameless young Lithuanian woman wrote this prayer entrusting herself and her fellow Lithuanians to the care of Mary's intercession. Half of all those deported to Siberia in 1948 were Lithuanians. Thousands upon thousands.

We are lost,
we are tired and frozen...
But you have not abandoned us,
O Mother of Mercy,
in the days of sorrow and misfortune.

O Mother,
to whom shall we have recourse,
upon whom shall we call,
in this hour of great misfortune?

Cast your glance, O Mother,
upon our hearts racked
with anguish and nostalgia,
see our lips discolored
by cold and hunger.

Return us to the land
that Heaven itself has given us,
the land of crosses and churches,
the land that you have loved for centuries.
Enable us us to see once more
the images that are famous for their graces,
your sanctuaries.

Grant us
to be able to sing together once again
hymns of gratitude and love
to the Merciful Jesus and to you,
O Mother of Mercy,
who have promised to obtain
the pardon of all faults.

But we are not simply to read the prayer from the distance of time and geography: a Siberian camp in the Stalin years. But the young believer uses words that every human person can identify personally:

loss, frozen, sorrow, great misfortune, hour of misfortune, hearts racked, anguish, nostalgia, cold and hunger, pardon and gratitude.

It's of no help to think, "Oh, what could be worse than what this tragic young woman experienced." This is not to minimize her long-suffering, but to be human is to suffer terrible losses, regrets, oppression, struggle, defeat and pain.

Perhaps then the Siberian prayer may serve as a catalyst for us to write our own prayer of longing and confidence in God's Motherly face turned to us in the loving Mother of Jesus who stood beneath the cross and heard the news of Christ's Easter Rising.

And in our prayer we might remember as well the millions who are displaced today because of power abuses and wars. The principal icon of Lithuania (shown above) is Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn. Doesn't the world need a new dawning?


  1. Thank you for bringing this prayer to us. Yes the world needs a new dawn. But even if we have our own little dawning, we should be pleased.

  2. For sure, and that's why we have expressions, "And then came the light," or "And all of a sudden it dawned on me."