Saturday, 28 July 2012

The Last Supper: The First Eucharist

I loved this woodcut when I came across it -- in an Anglican book no less, published in 1905 as part of the 'Church and Home' annual.

It seemed to be a collation of church newsletters.

The image of Christ instituting the Eucharist is very moving and reminds us that, if we are to attain our eternal reward, we should look to frequent Communion.

The words of Christ Himself are crystal clear on this, and reinforce (naturally!) the belief of all Catholics that the Consecrated Host is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ:

He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day. 

John 6:54

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Prayer Card: St Beatrice and the Cross

This prayer card is beautiful in its simplicity.

It shows the wonderful St Beatrice praying to Our Lord (with His Cross).

In the background we see a Church.

The prayer on the reverse reminds us of what made St Beatrice a great saint and how we can follow in her footsteps. The central theme of the card is embracing the Cross.

I think this card must be pre-WW2 German as the imprint of Breslau (formerly in Silesia, Eastern Germany) is now in Poland and known as Wroclaw. I suppose this should remind us that through war and peace, as empires rise and fall, the Catholic Church and its Communion of Saints stands eternal.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Prayer Card: Our Lady at Pentecost

I love this mass card, not only because it is printed in Germany (and I for one often think of Germany as a cold, protestant country when I should remember that about half of it is Catholic), but also because of the central role of Our Lady at Pentecost.

Of course at Pentecost we remember the Holy Ghost, and His Gifts, and we remember the foundation of the Church with St Peter as the first Pope (yes, these people were Papists!), but we should also remember the central role of the Mother of God, Mary most chaste, now of course the Queen of Heaven.

When I was younger I often wondered why some protestants were so extreme in their hatred of Mary. Surely the human being chosen above all others to be the New Ark of the Covenant, to bring the Son of God into the world is due, deserves our honour and recognition; if only because in so doing we honour the glory of God the Father whose plan of Redemption this was, and Jesus Christ the Son of God whose Redemptive Life came into being through the Blessed Virgin.

It is said that one of the reasons Satan rebelled was that the idea that a mortal woman would be made the Queen of Heaven was anathema to him, his pride in his angelic form rather than submission to the Will of God made him rebel against God Himself.

The hatred, rebellion and iconoclasm of the protestants against the Virgin Mary is surely a human shadow of the hatred and pride of Satan. And we should do well to remember that it is Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, who will 'crush the head of the serpent' and who has been chosen as the Messenger of Heaven to warn mankind to return to God (at Fatima).

So for us Catholics and for anyone with an ounce of sense, the central role of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Christian history is absolute.

Her reaction to the Archangel in being told she was to be the Mother of God -- something we recall every time we say the Hail Mary ("Hail, full of Grace, the Lord is with thee") -- is a lesson for us all:

My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.
For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden,
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm:
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted those of low degree.
He has filled the hungry with good things;
and the rich He has sent empty away.
He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy;
As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to His posterity forever.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen

And in Latin:

Magníficat ánima mea Dóminum,
et exsultávit spíritus meus
in Deo salvatóre meo,
quia respéxit humilitátem
ancíllæ suæ.

Ecce enim ex hoc beátam
me dicent omnes generatiónes,
quia fecit mihi magna,
qui potens est,
et sanctum nomen eius,
et misericórdia eius in progénies
et progénies timéntibus eum.
Fecit poténtiam in bráchio suo,
dispérsit supérbos mente cordis sui;
depósuit poténtes de sede
et exaltávit húmiles.
Esuriéntes implévit bonis
et dívites dimísit inánes.
Suscépit Ísrael púerum suum,
recordátus misericórdiæ,
sicut locútus est ad patres nostros,
Ábraham et sémini eius in sæcula.

Glória Patri et Fílio
et Spirítui Sancto.
Sicut erat in princípio,
et nunc et semper,
et in sæcula sæculórum.


Thursday, 5 July 2012

Prayer Card: Holy Family (with toddler Jesus)

I love this prayer card (printed in Switzerland) as it shows a toddler Jesus, the Blessed Virgin and Saint Joseph.

It reminds us of the daily life of the Holy Family.

Yet it also shows us an angel - perhaps Our Lord's Guardian Angel? or an Archangel? - watching over the Child Jesus, reminding us of His Salvific, Redemptive being, thus bringing to mind not only the joy of the Nativity but also the sadness of The Passion, and also the joy of the Resurrection.

All this in a prayer card that could just as easily be adored and appreciated by a small child for its simplicity.

I find the pose of St Joseph particularly endearing. As well as being responsible for Our Lord, he is clearly also reverential. What a role for mortal man!

Our Lady, of course, takes Our Lord by the hand and is His protection and - in a word! - mother; as doting and loving as any mother could be.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Prayer Card: Little Nellie of Holy God

I came across the charming little card by chance.

I believe it dates from the 1950s - or earlier.

When I saw it my heart leaped as Eleanor (a derivation of Ellen) is a traditional name in our family (through the in-laws) and some years back at a family wedding I met a very old lady that everyone referred to as "Nellie" from my wife's maternal family (who I know have their roots in Redcar and are Catholic).

With a quote from St Pius X on the back promoting 'Little Nellie' as a means to advocate frequent Communion, what could be a better commendation? St Pius X was the greatest Pope of the 20th century and through his Syllabus confronted the kind of burrowing, secretive and insidious errors that would later flourish especially in the 1970s.

And with her connections to Cork, the homeland of my own grandfather, there seems to be so many reasons for me to start a devotion to this bravest and most devout of souls in preparation and thanksgiving for Mass.

When the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist is under attack from so many quarters, it would do us all well to recall the simple devotion of the suffering child Little Nellie of Holy God.

Little Nellie of Holy God

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Private Eye, Ann Gloag and Charity: Specks and Logs?

There's a small piece in the latest Private Eye which smacks of jealousy and spite.

Their columnist on public transport, Dr. B. Ching, had a dig because the founder of Stagecoach, Ann Gloag, gave £50,000 to a church (Protestant I assume) she "attends when at her castle near Inverness."

Dr. Ching (most of these people are well known professionals writing about their speciality) suggests it was mean of her to give 50K and not the full 300K needed given her "windfall payout from Stagecoach last year had been more than £37m..."

Am I the only one to think this smacks of bitterness, dare I say sour grapes? Whatever next? Berating people wearing clothes that total over £200 for putting £1 in a charity collection tin?

Ann Gloag put her neck on the line back in the day (1999/2000?) when she put her name and money to a huge public campaign in Scotland against the repeal of Section 28 which would see homosexuality promoted to school children.

The campaign was very powerful and showed most Scots were in favour of the law being retained. The usually "left wing" leaning Catholics of the Central Belt with their powerful local Labour links joined Protestants and Evangelicals to defend family values and a real, popular, grass roots campaign took off.

It would have been easy for Ann Gloag to keep her head down, keep her money to herself and live a comfortable life. But (unlike many rich people) she put her money where her mouth was, and moreover fought publicly for the Common Good.

If she chooses to give £50K to a church she attends (on hols or regularly) then I say good on her. Let's celebrate generosity rather than 'suck on a lemon' and act all prissy about it, like Dr. B. Ching.

If his real problem is the profits of Stagecoach or the Protestantism (or the family values) of Ann Gloag - then say so! Don't pussyfoot around and cast aspersions in her direction suggesting she is mean for giving a church (albeit not Catholic!) £50K.

Credit where credit is due. We all know about the Widow's Mite versus the rich man's gift, but we should also be careful not to be sucked into envy and petty politics when one person just does a good deed, perchance as a genuine act of Charity (albeit mistakingly to a heretical group). I wonder if Dr. B. Ching has a log he needs to look around?

In the light of The Passion of Our Lord, the writings of 'the wise' can all too often come across as foolish (and luckily for me, vice versa!)

From 1 Corinthians Chapter 1:

18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;     the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”[a]

20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.