Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Mother of God ~ Quick to Hear

This 11th century icon of the Mother of God ~ Who is Quick to Hear is found outside the refectory (dining room) of the Docheiariou Monastery on Mount Athos, Greece. The story goes: the monk in charge of the refectory was in the habit of carrying a torch at night while walking through the entrance tunnel where the icon (rather unnoticed) is painted on the wall. On two separate occasions he heard a voice that said, "Do not come this way with a torch again, darkening my icon with soot." Thinking a fellow monk was playing a joke on him he shrugged it off. Soon after he heard the voice again, this time saying, "Un-monastic monk, how long will you irreverently defile my image with smoke?"

The story continues with the monks repenting and crowds starting to visit the icon which rendered healings of many kinds. My own first thoughts are that of the icon calling us to attention: that we would be more aware as we walk through life. But also that we would keep human beings, who are made in the image and likeness of God, from being covered in smoke: the smoke of hatred, prejudice, racism, exploitation, destruction and that kind of poverty which crushes and grinds up people. 

In time the monks bestowed upon the icon the beautiful title Quick to Hear. Americans love things that are quick or instant. Growing up in the 1950's, America's favorite chocolate powder drink was called Nestle's Quick. Quick forms the basis of our advertising: Restore the shine on this floor or furniture with one easy and quick application. This cream reduces facial lines quickly. This drink promises weight loss quickly. These pills will reduce aches and pains quickly. Use this machine and you'll quickly muscle-up and be sexy again. Buy these prepared ingredients in a box and you've got a quick dinner. 

But here the Mother of God is called Quick - quick to hear us in our necessities like the mother who is quick to hear the child's disturbed sleep, or quick to discern the child's feelings of loneliness, boredom, failure or fatigue.

So here are some prayers to the Mother of God from what is called The Supplicatory Canon to Our Lady Quick to Hear. Maybe we could mark the post as a favorite and so easily return to it when people ask to be remembered prayerfully and we promise we will. There are many prayers here, but don't be burdened, they can be used any way you want: all at once, once in awhile or broken up little by little over many days. All that matters is that they issue from a heart of felt need. 

Compassed with perils,
let us fly to the icon
of God's pure Mother
and her infinite goodness,
while crying from the depths with grief and pain of soul:
Swiftly hear our prayers,
O immaculate Virgin,
for you are rightly called
Quick to Hear for your mercies;
your defense in all our need,
our ready helper in every adversity.

O Theotokos, we shall not cease from speaking
of all your mighty acts,
all we the unworthy ones;
for if you had not stood to intercede for us,
who would have delivered us
from such numerous dangers?
Who would have preserved us all
until now in true freedom?
O Lady, we shall not turn away from you;
for you always save your servants from all manner of grief.

With what beauty your icon is wondrously adorned!
Brighter than the rays of the sun,
it enlightens all.
The heavenly angels extol you,
flying about and trembling with love, 
O all-pure Virgin Quick to Hear.

O Quick to Hear,
O Virgin Mother of God,
hear your servants,
who in painful sickness and sorrows cry out to you,
and save us from all kinds of danger.

Drive off the clouds of dark despondency
far from my soul, O Lady,
and grant joy of heart to me, O Mother most pure;
for you are the vessel of gladness.

Encompassed about with strife and wars on every side
from visible foes and those that are invisible,
we cry out with fervour to you:
O Lady, who are Quick to Hear,
break their darts with your mighty strength
and grant us your supplicants a peaceful life.

To the four quarters of the earth
is your wondrous icon made famous for its signs;
and all people with heart and mouth and mind
sing the praise of her who is so Quick to Hear.

Who has ever invoked your name
when in any danger, affliction or distress,
and has not been swiftly heard by you,
since you are the Quick to Hear, O Mother most pure?

From sea storm and swelling waves of certain death
you have saved them that invoked your heavenly name:
preserve us also from outward destruction
and from the shipwreck of soul in eternal deeps,
and bring us to the tranquil port of salvation, 
O Mother of God Most High.

All the world has found salvation in you 
and a swift and fervent help in temptations;
and so, O Virgin, from all the four quarters,
people flee to your holy icon, O Quick to Hear,
and all find you to be in truth
refuge, comfort and certain deliverance.

Most grievously tossed
upon the stormy sea of life,
and all-overwhelmed 
with swelling waves of sufferings,
we take flight, O Virgin, to your blessed icon
as to a tranquil port;
wherefore, stretch forth your hand to us,
and save us from tempests as your Son saved Peter.

Come, let us all praise in song
the icon of the Mother of God
rightly famed as Quick to Hear,
which shines majestically
like a brilliant moon,
sending forth shining rays
lighting earth and heaven;
Mary, that bright star whereby we set our course
towards the God of all
who is rresplendent and blazing forth
with mercies as with many stars.

Kindly hear and fulfill 
all the requests of your servants,
who in faith hurry to you 
and invoke your mighty help
and your swift deliverance,
O pure Mother of God, Quick to hear;
spotless Lady Virgin,
you whose  praise is sung around the world.
come and deliver us
from all tribulation, from all disease,
from sufferings and misery
both of soul and body, O Bride of God;
that we might extol you
while glorifying Christ your Son and God.

From all plague, pest and ruin
you have delivered all those who have fled to you;
so rescue us now also
from every harm and evil,
that we also might sing the praise 
of all your wonderful works.

From every sickness,
O Virgin, keep us safe and sound,
through your fervent and unceasing protection,
saving us as you have saved so many through the ages.

Your holy icon,
O Lady Quick to Hear,
has been shown to be a well-spring of wonders,
from which many draw relief of their afflictions.

O Theotokos,
you reveal what has been lost,
and you give joy of heart to the finder;
for the grace is great that you show forth in your icon.

Now the time of need is upon us all;
now a day of darkness
falls over our hearts and souls;
now we need your help:
O Virgin, quell the peril,
stretch forth your hand and save us,
who seek your certain help.

You are joy to all who sorrow
and of the oppressed a protection,
and the nurturer of the poor,
comfort to the estranged,
a staff to the blind,
visitation of all the sick,
a shelter and hope to those brought down by pain,
helper of the orphaned,
Mother of God in the highest
hasten, we beseech you, to assist your servants.

Lady, receive the prayers of your servants,
and deliver us from afflictions and necessities.

To you I commit my every hope, O Mother of God;
guard me under your shelter.

*A note about using the word "salvation" with regard to Mary: Christ our Salvation comes into the world through Mary, and in his passion and death she stood nearby in a close association with his work on our behalf. Do you remember in the film The Passion of the Christ: Mary wanders into a courtyard over the underground prison where Jesus is being held. She presses her face to the stone floor directly over the chained Jesus who looks up, knowing she is there. Two drops of water are heard falling from the ceiling. It's not a biblical image but spiritually powerful. 

Docheiariou Monastery ~ Mount Athos


  1. Great story and connection to today. You keep things relative to our lives.

    1. "What does this mean for our lives today?" That's an essential priest-question. When we stop asking it we become irrelevant; a museum piece.

  2. Mother of God who is quick to hear, but not quick to judge, I mistake we often make. Instead of offering our merciful prayers, we are quick to give our opinion or to turn away in distaste. Mary must shed many tears over us.

  3. And WE need to shed many tears over ourselves: over the destruction, greed, waste, hatred, the injustice which throws people away... Tears (Penthos) reveals the contrite heart of the psalms. And if the world won't shed tears over it all - you will - I will.

  4. Soot: a good metaphor. Also good thoughts. And prayers.