Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Feast of Mary's Crowning

A Catholic would say that Mary is the first disciple because she was the first to say yes to Jesus at the Annunciation. Maybe we know this verse from the Letter of Saint James 1:12
The man who patiently endures the temptations and trials that come to him is the truly happy man. For once his testing is complete he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to all who love him.

So there's a crown reserved for each of  us, and Mary has gone ahead to receive her own: promised to those who love God

While heaven may be a place, "In my Father's house there are many dwelling places," (John 14:2) more importantly it is the enjoyment of the full presence of God. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux writes that the joy of heaven increased, when in the Assumption, souls heard Mary's voice as she stepped over into that full presence of God.

Someone might dismissively say: Oh that's so naive. Maybe. But that's because we usually think of naivete negatively, as lacking intelligence, seasoned wisdom and good judgment, being unrealistic and needing to get real. But the French word naive really means: innocence, unworldliness, trustfulness, just born, uncritical, natural and without guile.

The meaning of the word is very beautiful, such that, yes, we might rightly apply it to St. Bernard's vision of heaven: joy increasing at the sound of Mary's voice. Just delight!


  1. I hope to receive the crown one day. I do wonder if loving God is enough. At mass this weekend we heard about how hard it is to get into heaven and that hell is real and easier to fall into than we think. As a sinner, this is worrisome. I do love God, but I know that I am not pure of heart or mind. How can we be? These thoughts of hell make me stop and wonder what is enough? How can we be sure to be on the path to receive the crown in heaven?

  2. When I was a much younger priest I used to preach that way. A parishioner came up to me after Mass one day and said, "It's never enough for you, is it?" I probably was indignant then, but now I'm grateful because he helped me to realize I'd not been preaching, "Good News" and that's what our religion is supposed to be about. Sometimes religion presses down so hard the joy is sucked out of it. I'm sorry for all of that. Let's stop worrying. That's not the same as being indifferent. Jesus doesn't want us filled with anxieties. Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote: "I would have considered a vocation to the ministry except that so many of them resembled more the undertaker." Saint James doesn't give us a checklist but a promise: "There's a crown for those who love God." I love God and I want to love God more. I expect you do too. Enjoy this late summer day!

    1. This is more reassuring. I guess more priests might think about focusing on the Good News rather than scaring us with stories of hell and how our sins will surely get us there. I no longer worry about these things, but I see how it can be a big turn off for people. I tell myself that each priest is a man with his own views that don't always match up with my own and we are all entitled to our own thoughts. I focus on the Body of Christ and Jesus' sacrifice for us. This is why I still attend Mass. Not to hear what preaching the day will bring. I look here for my inspiration instead.

  3. On my way home from work and I see this lovely post waiting for me. I think we have to be a bit more naive at times. The world would be a more peaceful place. It is hard not to be jaded by the trials and tribulations of life. Thank you for guiding us.