Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Feeling Adrift? Hail, Bright Star of Ocean!


Do we remember this gospel verse
"Therefore," Jesus said, "remember that every scribe well-trained for the Kingdom of the Heavens, is like a householder, who brings out of his storehouse new things and old."  Matthew 13:52

Perhaps this means we need to be continually reminded of the things Jesus teaches us because our minds are distracted and over-loaded. And it also might mean that in the tradition there are lovely and important things we need to bring out again and again and even look at in a new way as the world changes. It's also said that in the future, churches will only be successful with new and younger members who take environmental things very seriously. Green Churches, we might say. I get it!


So here is a charming antique holy card of the Virgin Mary under the title: Stella Maris ~ Star of the Sea. Mary stands prayerfully over the world's waters. And these waters are troubled: the coral reefs are dying as the oceans warm, where wars have been fought, where great ships and countless lives have been lost, where human greed is stressing fish populations to extinction, the waters of drilling disasters. Mary stands prayerfully over the paradise world we are spoiling. She hopes for us to act.

And our human lives are sometimes likened to a sea crossing - especially as life can be tumultuous with sickness, heart-ache, losses and suffering. The artist who painted this dear card seems to understand this: Look, the waves are white-capped! This means the sea is tempestuous, and the little boat of my life seems to have lost at least one of its sails, indicating it is in trouble and adrift. 

And the millions of refugees are adrift, the children who are lost and looking for home are adrift, the people who have visited all the doctors and tried everything unsuccessfully are adrift. Or adrift might mean the inner, fearful, pained-wandering of depression. Heaven knows.

Here is a choir of monks singing the medieval vesper hymn to Mary: Ave Maris Stella. An English translation runs under the Latin. It is said that perhaps the hymn was composed by St. Bernard of Clairvaux (called the Harp of Mary) who lived in the 12th century. So then, people have been singing this hymn for a very long time. 

I'd suggest that like that other great Marian hymn, Salve Regina, these sung verses have the power to re-orient, balance and calm us.







13 comments:

  1. Balance and calm. Such beautiful settings and background. There's a site that different types of tones create healing to the body and soul. I think all we need is to revisit our hymnal roots.

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  2. We live in tumultuous times. The stormy seas are not calming down. I see myself as that one sailed ship, trying to stay alfoat. But, isn't there a figure coming towards me? Is it Jesus approaching over the dark waves to save me from drowning? I'd like to believe it is.

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    1. This hymn is sung at Vespers, evening prayer, going into the dark time. The monks understand. Notice the image in the post here of the Virgin Mary at Amien - a French cathedral built during what are called the Dark Ages: wars, plague, poverty, illiteracy, infant mortality. Yet the Virgin is smiling!

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    2. I did notice that smile! At Mass last night I also noticed a little line that said make our glory praising God! I thought how I have forgotten to do that. I've gone through the motions unaware of what I was doing. Today I read this from the Church's prayer written by St. Ignatius and it opened my eyes!

      " I celebrate the glory of Jesus Christ as God, because he is responsible for your wisdom, well aware as I am of the perfection of your unshakeable faith. You are like men who have been nailed body and soul to the cross of Jesus Christ, confirmed in love by his blood."
      I thank all of you for your work especially you Fr. Stephen! Maybe this will all be put in book form one day like st. Pope John Paul II's Wednesday addresses which became Theology of the Body! This will be Theology of the Soul! I am slowly returning because of this work! She's smiling! Our Lady IS smiling!

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  3. In every glass of water we drink, drops of the water has already passed through fishes in the see, plants on the land, worms in the soil, and other human beings. Between the heavens and the earth, the amount of water remains constant. There is never a drop more, never a drop less. This is a story of circular infinity. Water is everything to the earth and to us in actuality and figuratively. The earth can hide nothing from water, as we can hide nothing from God.

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  4. And in his Jordan River Baptism Christ begins to re-claim all of creation for God - beginning with the waters. And WE'RE made essentially of water. My goodness!

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  5. Thanks for putting the translated prayer for us. Loosen the chains of the guilty. Send forth light to the blind and dispel our evil. We ask so much and give so little. Our worldly burdens are heavy at times, but Jesus died to offer us salvation. It is up to us to keep ourselves afloat in the choppy waters. The hymn and chosen pictures are soothing and reassuring. Thanks for just being there for us Father.

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    1. The little phrases are very powerful, aren't they?

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  6. Beautifully done Father Stephen, as always. Your talents are multifaceted. You have an eye for beautiful images, an ear for hymns that draw us in, and a talent for writing in such a way as to make us take pause and think about what God really wants from us. And then you wrap it all together in a tidy gift to us. Amen!

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    1. What you get as a gift, gift as a gift. All my life people have gift-ed me. I am so grateful!

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  7. I hope the younger generation does take things seriously. All thin gs green and all things holy and their faith most of all. We won't get far without them taking the helm at some point and getting us through these stormy times. Let us not fail them in our guidance or lose sight of their importance.

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    1. We really need to keep young people in mind all the time. This is a very difficult time for young people. There is so much that wants them un-done. I saw a commercial today that really was teaching young people to be manipulative and lying. And then I thought of Oppie on the Andy Griffith Show which I watched regularly as a young boy in the late 50's. That show was always teaching young people to be honest and good.

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  8. The music is so beautiful. It releases tears which do seem to bring relief and balance. I appreciate all your remedies for peace of mind and the awareness for continued prayer.

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