Tree wise men

christmas tree 1

Our Christmas tree arrived today.  A lovely man delivered it, helped by two lovely men who happened to be working in the church this week mending some pews.

Chrsitmas tree 2

They knew what they were doing.  Going up.

christmas tree 4

But no picture yet of the tree up and decorated.  We have three sets of lights for the tree and one set didn’t work despite me tweaking all of the bulbs to make sure they hadn’t come loose.  A quick trip into town late this afternoon for another set of lights sorted that out.  The plan is to add them to the tree before Mass tomorrow morning – if I manage to get up early on a dark and cold winter morning.

Still, it could be worse.

christmas tree stuck in church door

In the meantime, here’s a jolly picture of a Christmas tree in a church . . . a singing Christmas tree.

living christmas tree

The singing Christmas tree is at Highland Baptist Church in Meridian, Mississippi, USA.  The 35 foot high tree “contains” anything from 65 to 100 singers.  And why not . . .  Hmmm.

A four rose parish

gaudete 3

We are a four rose parish!  We are lucky enough to have four rose chasubles and stoles.  Although, as you can see, there is ‘rose’ and there is ‘rose.’ Furthest away, a pale pink, then a dusky pink, then a salmon pink, and then, in the foreground, my favourite one, the raw silk one.  That’s the one I’m calling rose.

gaudete 2

Beautiful.  But worn on only two days a year.  Boohoo.

gaudete 1

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.  Let all men know your forbearance.  The Lord is at hand.” (Philippians 4: 4-5)

Lux æterna luceat eis, Domine: cum sanctis tuis in æternum, quia pius est

requiem mass 3

We had a Requiem Mass according to the Extraordinary Form today.

requiem mass 1

requiem mass 2

Lux æterna luceat eis, Domine: cum sanctis tuis in æternum, quia pius est.

May eternal light shine upon them, O Lord, with thy saints forever, because Thou art merciful.  (Mass for the Dead: Communion antiphon)

I lament the passing of priests on horseback

Priest carrying the Eucharist

Source: Bridgeman Images

Priest carrying the Eucharist to a dying person (before 1630), by the Flemish Baroque painter, Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), oil on canvas.

“Detail from Rubens’ portrayal of the deed of devotion made by Rudolph I (1218-91) King of the Romans and founder of the Habsburg dynasty; in this story, Rudolph, while out hunting, met a a priest and sacristan taking the eucharist to a dying man but unable to cross a swift flowing river; as an act of devotion and piety the king and his page gave their horses to the priest and sacristan so that they could reach the dying man; in 1630 the picture was in the collection of the great art collector, Marquis de Leganes, who acquired many works by Flemish artists during his service in the Spanish Netherlands, and later passed to the Spanish royal collection; the figures in this painting were by Rubens but the background landscapes were by Jan Wildens (1586-1653).”  (Bridgeman Images)

Priests on horseback.  Those were the days.  I lament the passing of priests on horseback.

Morača Monastery complex in Montenegro

Monastery Moraca

Today is the feast day of Father Christmas, I mean St Nicholas!  The sacristy of the Church of the Dormition of the Mother of God is absolutely covered in frescoes.  The church, along with the little Church of St Nicholas, is part of the 13th century Morača Monastery complex in Montenegro in south east Europe.

St Nicholas, pray for us

Punching and peace!

Pat Gaffney, General Secretary of Pax Christi, gave a talk in our parish hall this evening called “War . . . conflict . . . the degradation of our planet”.  Lots of food for thought.  And one funny moment when someone said “Pax Christi punches above its weight” to describe the good work the organisation does with only 3 paid members of staff.  Punching and peace?  Mmmm!

pax christi

Pax Christi works for:-

  • Peace – based on justice.  A world where human rights are respected, basic needs are met and people feel safe and valued in their communities.
  • Reconciliation – a process which begins when people try to mend relationships – between individuals or whole countries after times of violence or dispute.
  • Nonviolence – a way of living and making choices that respects others and offers alternatives to violence and war.

To find out more, to donate or to become a member, visit Pax Christi.

Peace Sunday 2015 will be celebrated on the 18th January, 2015.  The theme is ‘Slaves no more, but brothers and sisters’.  Pax Christi resource materials for Peace Sunday are available online or from the Pax Christi office.

Ambrogio sacristy balcony

Opposite the altar in the sacristy of Sant’Ambrogio della Massima (Church of St Ambrose of Maximum), the 17th century monastic church in Rome dedicated to St Ambrose, the 4th century Archbishop of Milan, is the nuns’ balcony.  Above the balcony is a representation of the Benedictine crest which has a cross on three mountains with the word pax across it.  It’s quite difficult to see but it is there!  It’s above what looks like a cardinal’s hat with tassels but in green. This is an abbot’s hat.

Great picture frames too

sao goncalo

The sacristy at São Gonçalo Monastery, in Amarante, Portugal.  Great Portuguese wall tiles and great paintings.  Great picture frames too!  Always a bit odd to see in such lovely sacristies as this one that the chasubles are just hanging on a clothes rail in the corner.  It seems to happen all the time.  The only reason I can think of is that these are “everyday” chasubles  that are used all the time and / or the sacristy drawers and cupboards are full of lots more vestments!

St Gonçalo, pray for us

Frescoes and chandeliers? I must be in Italy

Brixen Cathedral

Frescoes and chandeliers?  I must be in Italy.  Inside the sacristy of the Cathedral of Brixen, in South Tyrol, northern Italy.  Also known as the Cathedral of the Assumption, the cathedral dates back to the 10th century when it was dedicated to Mary Assumption into Heaven.  The cathedral was rebuilt in the 13th century and again in 1745–54.

Over-life-sized statue

Yesterday was the feast day of St Andrew, the apostle, almost forgotten though as it was trumped by the Sunday liturgy.  But I remembered earlier today that I took some pictures of an over-life-sized statue of him that stands in the sacristy corridor in St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City.

st andrew 1

The statue was commissioned in 1570 by Francesco Bandini Piccolomini, the Archbishop of Siena and grandnephew of Pope Pius III.  The statue is sculpted by Niccolo Longhi da Viggiu who was best known as a restorer of ancient sculptures.

st andrew 5

The statue is next to an engraved list of all the popes buried in St Peter’s Basilica.

st andrew 2

The last one listed is, of course, Pope St John Paul II.

st andrew 3

The statue of St Andrew in the background.  The list of popes (not seen in the picture) is just to the right.

st andrew 7

It’s ‘just’ a sacristy corridor.

St Andrew, apostle, pray for us

Ancient expectancy of the Messiah

“When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Saviour’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming.  By celebrating the precursor’s birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to his desire: ‘He must increase, but I must decrease.'” (CCC 524).

advent wreaths

“Let us keep the flame of faith alive through prayer and the sacraments; let us make sure we do not forget God.” (Pope Francis)

Madonna of Souls

madonna of souls

The Madonna of Souls

The Madonna of Souls (Madonna delle Anime) in the sacristy of the Church of Our Lady of the Souls in Purgatory (Santa Maria delle Anime del Purgatorio ad Arco), in Naples, Italy.

The 17th century baroque church was originally built for the purpose of worshipping souls in purgatory.  The church consists of an upper and lower space, with the underground chamber (called a hypogeum) designed to create an impression of purgatory for those still living.

purgatory 1

Stairs from the lower church leading up to the upper church

Up until 1969 it was quite common for people to adopt a skull and pray for the soul in purgatory with the hope that once the soul had reached paradise, that they would return the favour.  The Catholic Church banned the practice of worshipping souls in 1969.

purgatory 2

Graves in the lower church

At the lower level, the cemetery with graves from the 17th to the 19th century.

purgatory 3

Tradition says, the skull covered with a bridal veil and laid on a pillow belongs to a girl called Lucia.  Flowers and holy pictures of saints are placed there by those who come to pray with devotion to Lucia, asking her for healing or a release from the pains of love.

Our Lady of the Souls in Purgatory, pray for us

Home is where the heart is

St Catherine of Alexandria

On the feast day of St Catherine of Alexandria, a picture of the quite homely looking sacristy of the Parish Church of St Catherine of Alexandria, in Gmina Jaśliska, in south-east Poland.  The sanctuary is through the open door.  It’s got the look and feel of a contemporary French farmhouse kitchen to me.

St Catherine of Alexandria, pray for us

Divine Justice and the Room of Tears

“For we shall all stand before the judgement seat of God . . . So each of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14: 10,12)

Sistine 4

The Last Judgement, a fresco by Michelangelo, on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City.  It illustrates the Second Coming of Christ and Divine Justice – the Last Judgement of Christ the King – a judgement no one shall escape from.  I had forgotten how beautiful and imposing it is.  I definitely wasn’t thinking “another day, another fresco.”

room of tears 1 (2013)

Just off the Sistine Chapel, behind Michelangelo’s Last Judgement, is a small robing room known as the Room of Tears.  Moments after a new pope is elected he goes into this sacristy to change into the white papal vestments, and that is when he feels the weight of the papacy and may shed a tear.  Daunting is an understatement.

room of tears 2 (2013)

Well, I haven’t made it into the Sistine Chapel sacristy.  No tears.  But it is nice to see a couple of pictures taken by people who have seen it.