Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

A Gatha Prayer Under The Third Quarter Moon

Here's a photo of the way the moon appears these days in North East, Pennsylvania: the "shrinking" moon in its Third Quarter Phase. But there's still a lot of light  in that diminishing moon.

Many of us will remember the old definition of prayer from our study of the Baltimore Catechism: Simply - Prayer is the lifting up of my heart and mind to God. I love this definition for its simplicity and that it is so freeing. The definition doesn't say anything about words. It is said of St. Kateri Tekawitha that she prayed more with her eyes than with her lips. And St. Therese of Lisieux's prayer was often a sigh. 

The prayer definition also reveals that prayer is a dynamic thing: the lifting up! And lifting up suggests that energies are involved - the energies of heart and mind. That is to say, the energies of love, of compassion, of kindness, sent out over our near and far worlds. 

So here is a little gatha prayer upon seeing the moon. I like this newly discovered form of prayer because it seems to express that I have some responsibility for this world - that the wishes expressed in the prayer, when packed with love, might actually affect some change in our world that seems to be crumbling. 

We have made a great mess of things. I oughtn't burden God so much to straighten it all out and instead, by the transformation of my own heart, thoughts and senses, even make things better.

And of course,  even if someone doesn't believe in God, these good wishes can be sent out under the moon.

May the children of the world who sleep under moonlight, 
   be safe and at peace.

May those who are dead tired tonight,
   find rest and renewal.

May those whose hearts can bear no more,
   be encouraged and comforted by moonlight.

May those who have gone to bed hungry,
   discover sustaining food and drink tomorrow.

May those who wish there was no moonlight,
   the easier by which to do evil,
   have second and third better thoughts.

And may all who work through the night
   take heart and be blessed in what they do.


  1. I like this form of prayer also. It makes one feel more connected to their thoughts because they come from within. I think that regular prayers do not always work for me because they are someone else's words that have to penetrate inward. I can't always absorb their meaning.

    1. It's good to know by heart a few prayers to jump start us if needed. For me, it is the Hail Holy Queen, The Anima Christi and the Memorare. But prayer-book prayers tend to be written in language that is now obsolete. It's time for us to know how to pray in our own words. It's part of growing up spiritually I think.

  2. I call to mind sitting in a Catholic school classroom reciting prayers, maybe the rosary, with the 40 plus other students in the classroom. Droning on and on and not thinking about what we were saying. Sadly, that is how we grew up. I am embracing these gathas and will offer them up throughout the day to tell God how pleased I am to be in his presence, and thankful for all the gifts he has given me.

  3. I may have been sitting next to you in class wondering that as well. The method was: Just say the words. That seems to have been all that mattered. We memorized our prayers and rattled them off, which of course Jesus forbids in the Gospels. Even the Mass was often rattled off. Our Latin was sloppy as was the priest's as I think back on it. I remember one priest taking off his wrist watch and putting it next to the tabernacle so he could keep an eye on it - speeding alone. It looked like prayer and believing. Prayer on auto-pilot. Archbishop Bloom wrote that we should not pray until we feel something. I hope you'll write your own gatha prayers - and all the folks who tune in here.

  4. The third quarter moon is the time to let go, release, and forgive anything and everyone that you may feel has hurt you in any way. It is a time of emptying self. This will help us make these wishes for others who may need our spiritual help.

  5. Lifting up the mind and heart to God-- thank you Fr.-- I needed to be reminded !!
    Frances Hogan shared-- meeting Jesus on the shore-- accepting His invitation to get into the boat with Him and row out to middle of ocean--- just you and Him-- sharing thoughts of praise, love and gratitude-- the personal relationship-- that's Eucharistic Adoration.
    Love and prayers to you
    Eileen 🙏🙏🙏😀

  6. This blog helps me to pray. More so to lift my heart and mind off of myself. Already this is much better than yesterday. I had to go back to find your initial 'few words' on gay ha prayer. As I read it 'upon entering a room'. Struck me. Even as I write this moment. I will be entering a few different rooms this coming week, initially I thought of words from long ago that, before we arrive, God is there; and when we arrive, God is there and when we depart, God is there. To be mindful of who is there first ad I enter a room instead of I have entered, now what can I do. God , allow me to be with You consciously.

  7. I very much agree that this blog helps me to pray better. In so many ways I feel as if I grow a little bit every time I visit here.

  8. I'm glad. Thanks for coming along. This is a prayer-journey for me too.