Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Alchemical Milk-Giving Mother of God

ALCHEMY IS MEDIEVAL CHEMISTRY which proposed to change base metals into gold or silver. One of the ingredients used in the alchemical process was milk. And so once again, the icon of the Milk-Giving Mother of God offers us new direction.

But of course, in her nursing the Infant Christ, she is pointing to an internal change: from baseness to something higher, from earth time-space to a spiritual place. And what is that? Often Christianity is reduced to being an ethical system, a battle between good and evil, but really it  is much more an invitation to "put on the mind of Christ." 1 Corinthians 2:16

Colm Toibin writes in his book, The Sign of the Cross about growing up in Catholic Ireland in the late 50's and early 60's.

At the cathedral at Enniscorthy the names of the bishops from the beginning of time were written on a painted scroll which stretched down the high walls on each side of the altar. There was benediction after the boys' confraternity when the priest's voice would boom down the huge, half empty, almost dark church, "death comes soon," he would say, "judgement will follow, so now dear children, examine your conscience and find out your sins."

"Find out your sins" is a rather low-level work of conscience while putting on the mind of Christ has more to do with the new consciousness of the Christ-mind. This is why Jesus so often speaks of hearing and seeing. His miracles performed for the blind and the deaf reveal his desire for us to see and hear spiritually. Have we ever explored the idea of an Examination of Consciousness and not just an Examination of Conscience? 

Icons of Christ always show him with an enlarged head and emphasized forehead because he is thinking thoughts that transcend earth-thoughts. And this Christ-mind, which can be our own minds, is a first step into the Kingdom of Heaven. 

The old ways of thinking are no longer adequate or even real! We fill our earth space/time minds with things that are too small.

Christ consciousness thinks outside the box. St. Therese of Lisieux was on-to-it when she said she'd spend her eternity doing good on earth. I asked a dying woman what she thought heaven would be and she answered, "I think I'll fly around and help people." 

  • Some people vote only for the candidates who will safeguard their comfort, security or way of life.
  • Some people have as their first thought: "What's in it for me?"
  • Some people think only their way is truthful or righteous.

The consciousness of a Christ-mind transcends nationalism and sees himself/herself as one of the more than six billion people on this earth - created and loved by God who knows nothing of favorites. The word exceptional is reserved not for a nation but for God and God's messengers and saints.

Notice Saint Paul doesn't speak of  the mind of Jesus, but the mind of the Lord or the mind of Christ. This is the Resurrected-Ascended one, a Cosmic Christ or Pantocrator (Ruler of All). 

An earthbound mind is reduced to suspicion, paranoia and phobias. I know someone who spends every waking minute sniffing out Masons, heretics, homosexuals, satanists, political/religious liberals, feminists and Islamists. But when we have experienced the complete renewal of our minds (Romans 12:2) then the joy-stealing separations fall away with the bitter distinctions that create hate, violence and war. 

How do I get the Mind of Christ? 
  • Participate in the Mass, receiving the Eucharist.
  • Know the Gospels, even by heart.
  • Plant and take care of a garden.
  • Look long at icons.
  • Wander around museums.
  • Steer a wide circle around contentious people.
  • Avoid contentious TV/radio news.
  • Go for outdoor walks: parks, beaches, woods, nature trails.
  • Stop: inhale, gaze, shhhhh!
  • Read poems. Write poems.
  • Learn to identify trees, wildflowers, birds and clouds.
  • Challenge self-pity and resentment.
  • "Water" the seeds of everything good in you.
  • Listen to Bach, Handel, Haydn and Mozart. 

Before the Icon of the Milk-Giving Mother of God

O alchemical Mother of God,
Milk-bearing Nourisher
of your Child ~
take us up to the higher places
where sun and moon admire 
your transformational gift ~
your feeding us to expanded awareness,
seeing and hearing ~
the renewal of minds.


  1. Have a blessed day Father!
    God bless you, protect you. provide for you, prosper you, and heal you. May He give you His peace, grace, and wisdom.

    1. Thank you. I send a blessing from the altar today.

  2. Thank you for your thoughts and for giving us some examples on how we might be more Christ minded. I will try and follow some of these. You have wonderful insights.

  3. Christ-consciousness. Think of what expands the heart-mind, what helps us to become more inclusive.

  4. I hope to open my mind and be more inclusive. Although I want to love all people equally, I find it hard to deny that I have disparaging thoughts about others that have different life paths than what I consider traditional. I have a hard time renewing my mind to these thoughts. I pray for guidance.

    1. To every negative, disparaging, condemning thought, say: "Jesus, give us what we need for salvation." Notice the prayer says, "us".

    2. After I hit "publish" I remembered that there is a hymn titled: Help Us To Love Each Other. One verse asks that we would love others "as we find them, or as they may become."

  5. Father, you are a blessing to me. I belong to several groups of Catholics who gather online and we share our many thoughts. I can see that you are a good and loving priest and I thank you for your prayerful words of wisdom. I do feel a sense of renewal in the Church and a more forward thinking. It is a rebirth of Catholicism and there are many of us that are excited for a change in the oppressive climate.

    1. The first thing that needs to happen is a renewal of the clergy.

  6. I love this Post!

  7. Love one another. So simple in theory. Too bad everyone doesn't think this way. I love this post and many of the others I have read here.