Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Miracle at Akona

The Virgin Mary appearing in a dream at Akona

The Miracles of Our Lady Mary is a 12th century series of Mary-miracle accounts from the Egyptian Church. The story here tells of a Greek monastery and church dedicated to Our Holy Lady, the Virgin Mary built some distance from a stream. A certain priest encountered Mary every night in his dreams during which she instructed him to build a church in her honor near the edge of the stream. This dream continued nightly for years, and while the priest dutifully made Our Lady's instruction known to the monastic community, they stubbornly refused to comply.

One night then, while the monks slept in their cells, the monastic church and cells were pulled apart and the whole building moved down to the edge of the stream, the walls being made stable and strong as they had been on the original site. Apparently sound sleepers, the monks knew nothing until the next morning when they went from their beds to the chapel and found the stream running through their courtyard. 

Filled with astonishment (and maybe some guilt over their stubborn disbelief) they sang hymns of praise to Our Lady and spread the news to the folks all around. And of course, they established a feast day in remembrance of the great event. Here is the Theotokian hymn for the feast day.

Your power was mighty and you made manifest 
   your wonderful act,
As you removed the Monastery of Akona
   from its wretched condition and decay,
   O Mary, the daughter of Mati.
Even so remove the glory of my adversary
   by the might of your hand,
For are you not the object of my boasting
   and the object of my commemoration?

Now someone might say, "Oh, Mary did a marvelous miracle!" and leave it at that. The hymn suggests that the movement has to do with the humbling of enemies, (remove the glory of my adversary) but I think that misses the point.

The word monastery can refer to buildings or it can mean the community of monks who live in those buildings. The hymn says the monastery was in a condition of wretchedness and decay. So what was it about these monks: Were they obtuse to God's movement and presence? Were they stubborn and hardened of heart? Had they sunk into indifference, laziness, loss of zeal and the brightness of faith?

But get this ~ Mary lifted them up in their inner sleepiness and dropped them off at the stream, which means a new place of surprise, refreshment, life and delight.  The miracle really isn't about buildings then, is it? If Mary can move monastic buildings, how much more might she move an inner life! 

So I've written here a new Theotokian born of new insights and our condition today.

Having heard of the wonder you performed at Akona:
a monastery moved to a nearby stream
We call upon you, O Lady,
move us now to that inner spring
where life is renewed and 
Christ is glorified in joy.

Move us O Lady,
    to a new personality, healed of old wounds.
Move us O Lady,
    from bitterness to compassion and loving kindness.
Move us O Lady,
    from externalized religion to an inner Christianity.
Move us O Lady,
    to the consciousness of an alive soul.
Move us O Lady,
    to a personal understanding of Jesus' teachings.
Move us O Lady,
    to a creativity un-imagined and waiting to be born.
Move us O Lady,
    to encounter Christ, who invites human wholeness.
Move us O Lady,
    to docility and humility before something that is new.


  1. Thank you Father. We love your prayers as they always inspire us to think beyond ourselves.

  2. I love learning about these lesser known miracles of the Blessed Virgin. Thank you for teaching us.

  3. I pray that I will find a better sense of what it means to find my inner Christianity. I sense that the truer meaning of the word is waiting to be discovered inside of me. You have been showing me a new path and I am happy for the journey. I feel more at peace with myself than ever.

  4. Mary, lift me up in my wretchedness and lead to to the stream to be cleansed and renewed.

  5. Each of these petitions are so meaningful to me a I look to be a better and more productive person for Jesus. Thank You.