Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

What might we learn?

This is Bishop Sebastian of the Romanian Orthodox Church offering the Divine Liturgy, which Roman Catholics call The Mass. He is praying the part of the liturgy called the Epiclesis, the invocation of the Holy Spirit upon the gifts of bread and wine and the words of consecration. I wonder, if we were to go around the altar and peak, would we find he's off the ground?

The word docility comes from the Latin, docere, which means to teach. Docility's sister is humility, which suggests: "I have a lot to learn." Westerners can have real problems with docility and humility. So I invite us to click on the little video above, open it full screen, and listen and watch carefully. Then this question: What do Bishop Sebastian and the singing-praying congregation behind him have, that we don't have here? What might we learn from them?


  1. Why have we lost this joy in the Eucharist? Mass is so uninspiring most of the time. I try to find the joy in the presence of Jesus in of itself which is most important, but I honestly don't feel moved like I should.

  2. I understand. Religion that just gives us dogma and ritual hasn't fulfilled its purpose. Religion is supposed to open to us an experience of God - an epiphany. When religion doesn't do this, it dries up and the people become spiritually small. See the movie Babette's Feast, how the little churchy group has become petty, resentful, bitter, begruding, suspicious, and from which dry place they are transformed. What to do? Perhaps go to the earliest Mass in your parish; it is often the most contemplative. I know a monastery of nuns which hears the next Sunday's gospel read aloud at their common prayer every day the previous week so they have the whole 6 days to think about it, study and reflect upon it. I think that's a very good idea for us too. Maybe show this video of Bishop Sebastian to your priests. The priest sets the spiritual energy of a liturgy.

  3. And how do you keep your congregation spirituality rich? Do you feel as though you help people reach that epiphany? Your writings inspire, but how does one get that energy lifted up during Mass?

  4. No one is asking me to be a spiritual director to seminarians or to teach Liturgy - as if you can "teach" liturgy. Simply, by way of my own experience: priests are essentially taught to be tradesmen, not holy men. We never came anywhere near talking about religion as experience of God. I had more credits in Canon Law than scripture. Father Rahner wrote a long article entitled: The Priest as Poet. The clergy needs a reformation akin to the efforts of Vincent de Paul, Robert Bellarmine and other reforming priest-saints.

  5. Somewhere along the line you learned to be a holy man through your experiences, if not from your seminary days. I am grateful for you interpretations of scripture and your guidance through this blog. I think they should ask you to give spiritual direction to young priests and seminarians. They have much to learn and you have a lot to offer them.

  6. You look no less intense you are consecrating the gifts Father Stephen. It always drew me in to this part of the Mass and made me pay attention.

    1. Well that's the whole thing: paying attention. All of us! But the priest sets the tone, especially for young people and children.