Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Paramythia Mother of God ~ The Comforter

I've snuck in,
drawn near at night,
a cyber visitor,
an online pilgrim,
visiting the chapel-home
your Vatopedi sons have prepared for you.*
Rejoicing in your dignity,
they call you Abbess!

Someone has left two candles behind
I'm presuming to light,
but all the more my inner being lit up - 
so glad for the solitude with you
and your boy in his silver robe.

Oh Paramythia,
loving Mother-Consoler,
who do I know needing comfort tonight?
The UNICEF children of the television plea,
and their brothers and sisters,
withering in squalor,
hidden in fear.
Comfort them.

And their parents...
Oh, the fearful mothers running,
hoping to survive the sail-away
from the hateful menace,
and the panicking who are told to 
turn around,
go back,
You're on the next flight out.
Comfort them.

Console the bent ones
who get no bathroom break,
who pick the lettuce,
the grapes,
the strawberries
and cabbages,
who wear hooded shirts to conceal their faces
for fear of being returned to their fearsome land.
Comfort them.

And the ones who clean the toilets
and change the beds they could never
afford to sleep in
for even a night,
the ones who wash the dishes,
who breathe the demolition dust.
Comfort them.

And Paramythia-Mother,
now I must ask you to do something
against your nature,
but would you dis-comfort us?
Discomfort us in our indifference, 
expectant entitlement.

Discomfort the politicians  and the churchmen,
the ones with so much power,
the clubs of billionaires,
the corporate boards,
the media moguls,
the investors and inventors
and the people we call stars.

Discomfort the men who love to wear decorations
and costumes of distinction and gradation:
buttons and ribbons,
badges and crowns, 
feathers and medals, 
veils and rings.
Discomfort them.

And discomfort
even those who live (they think) 
on the lower rungs of our country.
Discomfort us who have so much,
yet still complain so much.
Discomfort us in our pettiness, 
small thoughts, 
so-smartness and shopping.

And now I'll simply sit here some moments,

near the lamp which holds an eternal flame.
Perhaps the young monk will come in from 
his disturbed sleep
to refresh the oil 
which keeps the flame alive,
and who will no doubt ask you, 
for love to be refreshed in his heart.

* Vatopedi is one of the twenty monasteries on Mount Athos which is a mountainous peninsula in North East Greece. About 2000 monks live on Mount Athos


  1. I would like to be able to pray in a little chapel like this, so lovely and filled with beauty. You can hear the silence and smell the candle wax just by looking at the picture. To say this prayer in that atmosphere would make me feel as though my words were going right through the icon and up to heaven. Father, you stir these deep feelings of spirituality to rise up from inside me.

    1. Good Sunday morning, Elizabeth. "Hear the silence," yes, silence is a sound. And the smell of beeswax. I think in our culture today we value only our thoughts and make short shrift, or even mockery, of our feelings. I don't agree. I'm glad you found this cyber-chapel today.

  2. These monks on Mount Athos have a lot to pray for these days. But I wonder how reading it in the papers translates to their hearts. Living in isolation must make it difficult to truly understand what is happening in foreign lands. Maybe that is why they can pray so fervently, and without distraction. Your prayer shows awareness Father, good thoughts for us in the real world.

  3. Mount Athos monks, like Carthusians and some Carmelites, probably don't see newspapers. The Abbot might tell them about the most serious things happening or they hear bits of news from visitors/guests. They pray in a much more general way - kind of like keeping a big umbrella open over the world.

  4. Your prayer cause me discomfort also. I think about all the ways that I have been displeasing to God, despite all that is given to me. I tend to run away from such displeasing thoughts as I don't want to feel guilty for living a nice life while others suffer. How does one get past these depressing thoughts Father?

  5. C.S. Lewis wrote: "If you're thinking of becoming a Christian, I warn you, you're embarking on something, which will take the whole of you." Wow, what might that might mean for my life and am I ready for that? Remember in our parishes during Lent we meet the catechumens - the novices - the wanna bees - We're all catechumens aren't we? I accept that about myself. But guilt steals joy and energy and creativity, and C.S. Lewis also said, "There is no such thing as a sad Christian." I do what I do because I love God and I love my neighbor, not because I'm told to do it. I hope that's true. Oh, I saw this on a headstone once: "We grow, with God's help."

    1. And I forgot this: Dorothy Day said, "We are always beginning again." Isn't that so?

  6. I am glad you brought up Dorothy Day. Her book PILGRIMAGE is a good book for Lent. Dorothy is all about discomfort and sacrifice for others. An encouraging book for mothers. Its just packed with wonderful ways to serve Christ more. Actually, the name is ON PILGRIMAGE> I always get new ideas, on how to make this difficult journey, more joyful. Grateful!

  7. This is a paraphrase but Dorothy Day also said that we're each given something to share - like the little boy who shared the few loaves and fishes. We're to plant the seed - it's for another generation to reap the harvesting.