Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

O Key ~ December 20

O Key of David and scepter of Israel, what you open no one else can close again; what you close no one can open. O come to lead the captive from prison; free those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

I had an aunt who for years suffered the most ruinous alcoholism, but once she found sobriety she became a translucent, beautiful and joyful person. One night, so struck by her brightness that I could feel it through the phone, I asked her, "How'd it happen? What's the key?" and she answered, "Two things: AA and daily Mass." 

So calling Jesus, KEY, is asking to have something new opened to us. That we would discover what we need to know, so to become inwardly free, released, brought out and forward into some new possibility. Isn't this what happens in all the healing miracles of Jesus - people are brought forward into new possibilities? Many people never come to this.

Individuation: The process by which the individual in the course of his life is pressed to realize his innate capacities to the full and become what he has it in him to become. This ought to be a goal of the spiritual life. Religion that leaves us unaware, unconscious, un-evolved, even unhappy, has failed us.

The antiphon says, "free those who sit in darkness." Does that mean all who aren't like me, who don't believe as I do, who aren't moral or politically bent as I? We know people who think this way. "Free those who sit in darkness," - think close to home. 

Darkness can be my ignorance. Very few people cop to that. And you know, the place where Christians sit in the deepest darkness, where we still don't have the key to right understanding, is in our relationship with Jews. It is perhaps where we carry our deepest historical shame - that - and the sex abuse story of our own time.

We should have been the closest of brothers and sisters, but instead there has been enmity and persecution. That the Church of the persecuted, crucified Christ could have become the persecuter and crucifier is a great sadness. The bloody history is too much to bear. Marc Chagall

We might return to the photo up top and pause to feel the awe and joy of the Jewish children lighting the candles of the menorah. Truth be told, some Christians are sick of their Holocaust story, hate the Jewish Israel, call them names, still have them stereotyped, and like nothing about them.

More than a few Christians need Jesus the KEY to lead out the captive from his prison; the darkness-sitter to light. We're given these antiphons by the Church to feel something deeply. Some folks don't feel Christmas any deeper than the cheery warmth of their eggnog and the Duraflame log.

We might turn this into prayer these last few darkest days in the calendar, before the light-returning solstice and Christmas!


  1. We can also detox our lives by freeing ourselves of the people who lie to us, disrespect us, puts us down and who use us.

    1. In the book, The Artist's Way, the author describes a kind of person who is to be avoided at all costs, who utterly frustrates and thwarts. This person is called a "crazy maker." I understand.