Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Doors Wide Open And The 800th Post

Today marks the 800th post for the Pauca Verba blog. And here is a photo of the monastery chapel in Cyprus dedicated to the Mother of God Trooditissa. The doors are wide open, inviting us to enter our own inner room, our secret place, to pray. Like open doors, that's all these 800 posts have hoped to do. 

After the shepherds visited the cave of Bethlehem and returned home praising God, Saint Luke tells us: But Mary treasured up all these sayings and reflected on them in her heart. Luke 2:19

To treasure. To reflect. To ponder. To turn the things of God over and over in our hearts. Thanks to all who enter here with me. I send good wishes and a blessing.


Here is the icon of the Trooditissa Mother of God found in the high-altitude Cyprus monastery bearing her name. The monk who painted the icon spared no effort, enfolding the Holy Mother and Her Christ-Child in great folds of embroidered fabric. Angels burst through the clouds placing heaven's crown; the Child sits in the crook of his Mother's arm as if on a throne. Mary seems to stand at heaven's window looking out at us happily, while Jesus wondrously reads his open book. Maybe he is reading the ancient prophecies which tell of his birth or maybe his favorite psalm. 

But the Trooditissa icon has a specialty. Under this title, Mary is invoked by women who can't conceive. "Women who are infertile," the tradition says. And while this is notable and many couples will give testimony about the wonder-working icon, I'd suggest the Trooditisssa might understand fertility as a matter of the heart even more than obstetrics.

So to explore this larger sense, I looked up the word fertile, discovering many synonyms and other beautifully related words that can deepen our prayer and help us to advance in spiritual understanding.

From the infertility of so much arguing - deliver us, O Lady.
From the sterility of cynicism and complacency - deliver us, O Lady.
From the barren inner world of suspicion - deliver us, O Lady.
From fruitless opinion-ating and arrogance - deliver us, O Lady.

From the unproductive rehearsing of resentments - deliver us, O Lady.
From the  impoverishment of harboring old wounds - deliver us, O Lady.
From the fallow mind of fevered imaginings - deliver us, O Lady.
From the death of ingratitude - deliver us, O Lady. 

O Lady, make us bountiful in love,
   and rich in mercy.
O Lady, give us a high yield of hope;
   bring forth goodness in us.
O Lady, guide us to plentiful rejoicing,
   generative of trust in God
   and the child-ing of kindness.

O Lady, that we would flower compassion,
   and be fruitful in good deeds.
O Lady, that we would be birth-ers of love,
   our minds teeming with good thoughts of others,
   our words bearers of peace.
O Lady, mother something new of Jesus in us;
   smile into us an abundance of joy-carrying faith.


  1. I have followed your blog for a long time now and am deeply moved by many of your posts. I commend you for your good work here and pray that you continue to fortify our faith with your charitable heart which is anything but infertile. Thank you many times over.

  2. May we continue to reap the fruits of your labor here. Congratulations on and thank you for your 800 posts. They have enriched my life in many ways.

  3. And I thank YOU and all the others who join here to ponder "the unsearchable riches of Jesus."

  4. Thank you for the beautiful prayer and your continued spiritual nourishment Father. I will pray for you as you continue to minister to all of us near and far in this way. The net is cast wide.

  5. Remember that gospel scene where the apostles have been fishing all night and caught nothing and Jesus instructs them, "Put out into the deep and you will find a catch." Priests are able to "put out into the deep" (if they care to) with this technology. It very wonderful and I'm grateful.

  6. You have a way of making a connection with your audience Fr. Stephen. I can feel it even in the written word. Sometimes I come to this page and look at the picture of the inside of your chapel and imagine that I am sitting with your congregation as you deliver your homily or offer Mass. I, for one, am glad that you use this modern net casting. I am grateful to you for maintaining the connection. Your net is strong and I am beholden to be held in.

  7. I treasure, reflect and ponder. All because of you Father. You are the first person to make me stop and think about my faith through the eyes of Jesus. In school we are taught the phrase "WWJD", What would Jesus Do? But I never really thought about it much until I started to read your perspective on the gospels and your explanation of religious pictures. It's a nice change to be able to say. I believe. I really believe.

  8. You might have 800 posts Father Stephen, but I have a few favorites printed out that I have read several hundreds of times. Blessings to you as you take us on a spiritual faith filled journey to Jesus. The Lord must be please with your priestly work, I feel the warmth of his smile upon me. I hope you feel it too.

  9. "Lord, take me where you want me to go. Let me meet who You want me to meet. Tell me what You me to say, and keep me out of Your way." (Fr. Mychal Judge) This priest, like yourself Father, knew the people he served and served them well. Amen.

  10. Pauca Verba (a few words) started ten years ago or so as a hardcopy Sunday bulletin for a school-community of young people who'd lost their way. Then when I was an associate priest on Long Island the secretary was helpful in carving out space in the weekend bulletin for a Pauca Verba column. Then as a pastor a parishioner-friend said, "You're not reaching your audience; get this online." Good friends hooked me up and here we are. When it went techno I placed the blog under the Guadalupe's patronage. It's been an exciting journey.

    1. We are glad to be along for this leg of your journey Father. It appears that Pauca Verba has undergone quite an evolution, but I have a feeling that your message over time has consistently reached deeply into the hearts of those fortunate enough to read it. I am glad that you have forged ahead into the modern times. It is hard to learn new things and embrace change. This is a lesson for us all not to give up or to become complacent.

  11. "It is hard to learn new things and embrace change>" Yes! I was content with the hardcopy paper bulletin. My only longing was to be able to present the pictures in color instead of just black and white. Then color printers were available but expensive. When the online idea was presented to me, I was terrified of not being able to learn it. But truly, God has his way and God gives us what we need to "make it happen." And as many times as this has been made clear to me (that's grace) I still don't have a knew-jerk reaction of confident trust - fear and hesitation always finds a way in. Perhaps I'll "get it" before I die. If I am confident in one thing, it is God's patience and sense of humor with me.

  12. I was pretty satisfied with my place of spirituality until I began reading your posts. I began to realize how mediocre I was in my prayer life. Now, I see there are no limitations in prayer with Jesus. These creative posts are a joy. God Bless and Carry On.

  13. Thomas Watson wrote: "Prayer delights God's ears; it melts His heart; and opens His hand. God cannot deny a praying soul." So let's carry on!

  14. God cannot deny a praying soul! I love that! Who has denied me, and then as always I have to turn that inside out, who have I denied? Congratulations Fr Stephen for your perseverance all these years. God is good!

  15. "Perseverance" - I'm surprised too. And just when I think, "Uh oh, I'm running out of ideas" ten more things come to mind. God is very good!

  16. Also, surprised at your perseverance. By now one would have thought you'd have become bored and moved on to something else.

  17. I'm as capable of becoming bored as the next person. We shouldn't think priests stay exhilarated just because the issue is religion. Indeed some priests clearly are bored with what they have to do: the priest who leaves out big pieces of the Baptism ritual, or who speeds through the Eucharistic Prayer, or whose homily rambles about church topics but seldom steps up to helping folks to understand Jesus in the Gospel. But I feel engaged here in a very creative way. God's gift to me.

  18. I am delighted to have found this. Excellent writing. I know I will find inspiration here. Thank you for posting this.

  19. Greetings, Julia! I'm glad you've found the blog. Pauca Verba means A Few Words. I know folks are busy and the sociologist says on average a human being has an attention span of 8 seconds. So I don't write long posts. Each, I hope, just a pointer to something beautiful, good and true - trusting God is there.

  20. I always check the Convert Journal at the end of each month and your blog is by far my favorite one to read. You have an knack for inspiring my thoughts to reach new levels. Congratulations on your 800th post here. In my spare time I sometimes go back and read your posts from previous years. Food for my soul.

  21. Thanks for following the posts. Bless you!