Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Soon It Will Be Pentecost IV

Here are reflections on verses seven and eight of the Pentecost Sequence: Veni, Sancte Spiritus.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew,
On our dryness pour Thy dew,
Wash the stains of guilt away.

Whoever composed the Pentecost sequence certainly understood what it is to be human and to live on this planet. We all carry wounds, some of which are very old and well-kept secrets. So the prayer asks for healing and renewal as the wounds impact on how we are today - no matter how many people have told us to get over it or move on.

The wounds may keep us from relating well, loving well or knowing how to receive graciously. Old wounds can prevent us from expressing ourselves effectively. They can cause us to be needy for things, for compliments, permissions and approval. We might live in anxieties, hidden-ness and fearful imaginings. We're not free if we're living in wounded secrecy. Maybe Pentecost invites us to come up and out of that place. 

Wash the stains of guilt away.  It used to be said of Catholics that they had a lesser incidence of craziness because they had built into their religious system a way of getting out what's troubling or guilt-carrying.

Guilt is a terrible burden to carry. It distracts, steals away sleep and energy. Some people want to hold onto guilt because they're convinced they need to be punished. But God doesn't want that. 

So confess it. Get rid of it. Then you need never think of it or speak of it again. It is lost in the abyss of Jesus' Heart.

~ ~ ~

Bend the stubborn heart and will,
Melt the frozen, warm the chill,
Guide the steps that go astray.

What's this? Perhaps where we get stuck in racism, hatred, opinion-ating, party politics and zealotry. But this verse doesn't apply only to individuals, but a nation can be frozen, chilled and gone astray.

Pope Francis recently called out the nations of the world which make billions upon billions of dollars selling weapons of war. He called it the Industry of Death. I expect he had in mind the United States, China, Russia, France - the weapons cafeterias of the world. He said the devil has gotten into our wallets. He said these things sitting in the midst of children, who suffer so profoundly in every war. 

Some people reacted immediately telling the pope that he should stay out of politics and stick to birth control and who-can-marry morality. But a pope is the voice of conscience in a world that tends to forget quickly - like the Chosen People who forgot and complained against God soon after God had led them from Egyptian slavery. 

And God spoke to Moses and said: "Speak to the whole community of Israelites and say: 'Be holy, for I , Yahweh your God, am holy. Each of you will respect father and mother, and you will keep my Sabbaths; I am Yahweh your God. Do not turn to idols and do not cast metal gods for yourselves. I am Yahweh your God.'" (Leviticus 19:4)

Well of course, God wasn't talking just to ancient Israel but to us today.  Some people will resent the suggestion that God would have something to say about our own national inclination to create gods and how we arrive at our prosperity. 

Religion (stubborn and frozen) can be very late in addressing these contemporary things. There were American Catholic prelates who blessed bombs and bombers during the Second World War, and today there are Russian priests who bless automatic rifles that will be used to kill fellow Christians in Ukraine. Sometimes religion gets stuck in the Bronze Age. And so: Holy Spirit, guide the feet that go astray.


  1. Your message here runs deep. Down to my core, penetrating with those rays of light.

  2. Who would tell the Pope he should not have an opinion on world affairs? He is a shepherd for all. He would be derelict in his duties if he remained silent.

    1. I check "Latest Pope Francis News" each day. The comments which follow are usually hateful. It's strange that people who hate the pope follow him so closely. What a world, heh?

  3. What an amazing way to get ready for Pentecost. Too often we let the importance of these Feasts pass us by without a thought.Than you for preparing us properly with thoughts of the Spirit renewing us and our own self reflections. Amen to it all.

  4. Wounds can be deep. No matter how deep or healed you think they are, hidden away, they can surface at any time. One my argue that a wound is not a sin that needs to be confessed. Yet I recommend getting it out into the open so that a true healing may begin.

    1. The author of the sequence has two thoughts going on in the verse we're speaking of: line one - Heal our wounds and then the third line: wash the stains of guilt. I have no proof of this - I can't get in his head - but I see them as two different aspects of what the Spirit does. Heal and Wash. I don't think he's saying that our wounds are sins or sinful. Surely, even if the author didn't know that - we do. There's no argument.

    2. I misread what you said above. It wasn't the prayer, I missed a paragraph as I was bumping along on the bus ride to work. Thank you for your patient clarification Father. As always, grateful for your thoughts and am quite thorough enjoying your lead into Pentecost. From Carol

    3. And thank you for following the posts. A blessed Pentecost. And peace and safety to all the folks who travel on buses and trains!

    4. And thank you for following the posts. A blessed Pentecost. And peace and safety to all the folks who travel on buses and trains!

  5. God Bless you this Pentecost Father Morris. Thank you so much for these posts.

    1. I enjoy these spiritual countdowns. I think we did one for Mary's Assumption a year or two ago. They allow us to place ourselves in the mystery for a week or so - before or after - instead of just landing for the day and then back off in a hurry. That's the wisdom of a liturgical octave.