Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Saint Dominic's Eighth Way of Prayer



Here is the first time Saint Dominic invites us to sit down, not to put our feet up but to study scripture. I would nuance that a bit: study the Holy Gospels. When I was a pastor in a small rural town the local Methodist minister said at a Ladies Ecumenical Tea, "The Catholics around town know the scriptures better than the Protestants."

What a nice compliment! Still, we mustn't get swelled heads as often knowledge of the gospels among Catholics is abysmal Sad to tell, but I've met young people who can't tell the Christmas story. I met a priest who could pick up a Gospel account at any point and tell the whole story verse by verse by heart. But why not? - some people know all the lines to complicated plays or scenes from a movie, or people who can rattle off team scores and player stats, or the kids who know long rapper lyrics.

My goodness, how can I know Jesus without knowing his words and wonderful deeds. Imagine how much more we could love him if we were even more familiar with the Gospels (which means: A good, life-changing and liberating message). Every once in awhile I am struck by a gospel verse and I say, "After all these years I have no recollection of ever having heard that line before." Of course I have, but by heaven's prompting I am seeing it or hearing it with a new urgency and clarity - a call to decide anew.

Saint Dominic says to sit with God's Word and physically to lean into or over the text. To read the Word slowly, and when I am seized by it to make the Sign of the Cross, and then (get this!) even to allow the Words of Jesus to move me to tears. Words like these;

I have come that you may have joy. Jn 19:22
He loved them to the end.  Jn 13:1
Do not be anxious.  Mt 6:34

A new commandment I give you; love one another.  Jn 13:34,35
Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Jn 14:1
Know that I am with you always, yes to the end of time.  Mt 28:20

As the Father has loved me so I have loved you.  Jn 15:9
Blessed are the merciful, they shall be shown mercy.  Mt 5:7
These words that I speak to you are spirit and life.  Jn 6:63

10 comments:

  1. Thank you. The 9 quotations are very timely and some very pertinent to me right now.

    God bless.

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    1. And those are just the Jesus quotes that most readily come to my mind. Let's find the rest!

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  2. Several weeks ago my friend and I were talking about our faith. She told me to check out Pauca Verba and I am so glad for the recommendation. I thought I had lost my faith beliefs but from reading things here, I see that I really haven't. I had just lost perspective on how to approach my spirituality. I have shared my thanks with my friend and now I say thanks to you Father Morris for your kind Christian words of love, peace and strength.

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    1. Sounds much more like you've come to a new (and maybe more adult) spiritual place than that you've "lost faith beliefs..." And I say, thanks to you for now following the posts. I send good wishes and a blessing.

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  3. This eighth way is difficult for many who are not used to spending time in contemplation. People hardly spend time even reading books anymore, lest they even think of picking up a Bible.

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  4. Yes indeed. I've heard that now when someone takes a job in a bank they are given a comic book which describes the history of banking. My goodness. But "hope springs eternal."

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    1. They should think about putting the Gospel readings into video format. Then the younger generation might be more interested. Sad to say that this is what our society has become. Nobody reads for enjoyment, or takes the time to sit and do something quiet and useful. In the old days we would sit as a family and read, knit, do puzzles, sew, and talk. Now all eyes are glued to the TV. I hope St. Dominic's lesson here reaches a few people.

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  5. The Gospels are already in every kind of format, but there are no explosions, no sex, Jesus isn't rich and famous, he's not aggressive - so his popularity wanes. It's said that more American youngsters recognize Big Bird and Ronald McDonald than the face of Jesus. And the contrast of family life years ago: knitting, puzzles, sewing, talking with the media glued world of today - that's part of what prompted the old French nun to say to me that it was easier to live through Nazi occupied France than to live today - "at least then we had each other; you can't count on that today." She lived through it and so has a right to make that contrast. So what are we to do? "Carry on" an Austrian friend said who was always one step ahead of Hitler during the war - carry on with your study and prayer, carry on with the garden and the friendships, carry on with the works of mercy, carry on living your own unique life mindfully, truthfully, beautifully as Jesus lived his.

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  6. The Gospels are already in every kind of format, but there are no explosions, no sex, Jesus isn't rich and famous, he's not aggressive - so his popularity wanes. It's said that more American youngsters recognize Big Bird and Ronald McDonald than the face of Jesus. And the contrast of family life years ago: knitting, puzzles, sewing, talking with the media glued world of today - that's part of what prompted the old French nun to say to me that it was easier to live through Nazi occupied France than to live today - "at least then we had each other; you can't count on that today." She lived through it and so has a right to make that contrast. So what are we to do? "Carry on" an Austrian friend said who was always one step ahead of Hitler during the war - carry on with your study and prayer, carry on with the garden and the friendships, carry on with the works of mercy, carry on living your own unique life mindfully, truthfully, beautifully as Jesus lived his.

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  7. You have encouraged me to look in the bible for some loving words from Jesus. There are so many. "Let the children come to me, for such belongs the kingdom of God". Your Austrian friend gave great advise. Thanks for sharing that.

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