Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Saint Dominic's Second Way of Prayer

Saint Dominic's second posture or attitude of prayer is to lie face down before the altar and there to shed tears for my own sins. But (and actually I think this is even more important in some respects) if there are no tears for my own sins, then tears for the sins of the world.

But we have forgotten tears before God. Every five years or so all bishops go to Rome in national groups to talk with the pope. The visit is called an ad limina. I would like to see every bishop walk the Scala Sancta on his knees each time he comes to see the pope. These are the 28 white marble stairs of Pontius Pilate's court which Jesus ascended and descended the day of his trial and execution. A bishop could climb these stairs in humility and tears for the sins of power, vanity, pride, money and sex abuse cover-up and whatever else might trouble and grieve his conscience. We need to re-discover tears as a Church. Bishops might model this for us.

But here in his prone position, Saint Dominic is telling us: Like a boxer, humanity is defeated and  face down for the count:

  • Three million gallons of spilled toxic poison has turned the Animas River in Colorado a sickly shade of orange ~ the damage to living things is beyond assessing
  • We're drowning in gun violence and for fear are un-willing to do anything about it 
  • No paid maternity leave for moms with newborns, but always   money for a new war
  • The world watches our cultural degradation: our political boorishness, the vulgarity of our entertainments, the sexual-izing of our children, our greed and waste
  • We harvest and sell fetal tissue and body parts (and it ain't just Planned Parenthood) and we call it "helping science..."

Remember the commercial for Life Alert: the elderly woman is on the ground and in a desperate frenzy calls out, "Help, I've fallen and can't get up." That's a prayer the whole human race can pray - with tears.


  1. If we would weep for the sins of the world, there would be an endless river of tears.

  2. When we prostrate ourselves before God we can feel open vulnerability which helps us to listen better to what He is telling us. Weep for the world as it is today, as it was and as it will seemingly be.

  3. Putting face to the ground, in the dust and dirt, also reminds us of where our earthly bodies will return. This humbling reminder that our time here is short and we must atone for our sins while we can. Before God calls us home.