Tuesday, 25 December 2012

A Blessed Christmastide - floods notwithstanding

May I offer each and every one of you my heartfelt prayers and a layman's blessing on this the day we celebrate the birth of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God the Father.
Here in the village we were almost without our Masses.  On Sunday morning I was en-route to church where I usually sing Lauds in the morning when I came upon a number of fire engines, police cars, marine rescue personnel and even a decontamination unit.  It quickly became apparent that a major flood had occurred - the second in two weeks.  The previous week we had experienced exceptionally severe storms with winds over 80mph and waves the size of any self respecting tsunami.  A number of homes were evacuated and the local supermarket shut due to sea-water ingress.  Fortunately no-one was hurt and emergency serves were very quick o respond.
This Sunday it was the turn of the torrential rain which broke the banks of a tributary of the Carron river (we have two rivers running through the village; the Cowie to the north and the Carron to the south).  Readers in the UK will have seen video and picture footage of our flooded streets on the national news.
One of the casualties was our Church which, for the second time in three years, was surrounded by a lake of water as was Father's Gerry's presbytery.  At it's worst the water was chest high which fortunately was just below the floorboards of the church but not that of the house.  Mud, effluent, and worse meant that we had to be diligent about hygiene as we worked.  The water did subside quickly as the sea, a major flood influencing factor, receded leaving behind a few inches of glutenous mud.

View from Fr's back door with the Church in the background
(this taken as the water had already begun to subside)

By 6pm on Christmas eve we were satisfied that all that could be done was done and Fr Gerry could at least "make do" in his house.  The insurance assessor had been, mud cleared from the path between the house and the church and from the church to the road, environmental health feedback okayed the church for use, electrician checked the wiring, gas supply had been reconnected and the chapel carpets cleaned.  Even the tow truck had been and taken Father's car, which had been semi-submerged during the flood, away to the garage.

Unfortunately the decision had already been taken that there would be no Midnight Mass but at least we would have our two morning Masses which, I am very happy to recount, had parishioners standing in all the nooks and crannies as every pew was full; even though the sound system and organ were not working due to wet circuits.  Equally pleasing was that a local Church of Scotland minister had offered us one of their churches for our use on Christmas day should our chapel be unusable.

We are now restricted to Sunday Masses only until the solum (the space between the foundations and the floor) has been dried out using industrial blowers and the void sanitised against microscopic bugs etc. to prevent health problems.

In your charity I ask you to please pray for Father Gerry whose health, which is never too robust, has suffered greatly during this time.


Sunday, 9 December 2012

Saint Benedict's Jubilee Medal

I quote a further passage from the Lay Oblates Manual found during my stay at Prinknash in early November.

There are two different medals of Saint Benedict, the ordinary and the Jubilee medals.  The Jubilee Medal is so called because it was struck in 1880 on the fourteen centenary of the birth of Saint Benedict.  This medal has all the indulgencies which have been conferred in the past on the ordinary medal by Sovereign Pontiffs, and especially by Benedict XIV; but, besides these, it has been enriched by Popes Pius IX and X with special spiritual favours.  Amongst others it may be mentioned the plenary indulgencies for the 2nd of November.  This indulgence, commonly known as the Benedictine Portiuncula, because of its resemblance to the indulgence of the 2nd of August, begins at midday of All Saints’ Day, and ends the day after, 2nd November, at midnight.  The conditions necessary for the gaining of this indulgence are: confession, communion and a visit to a church or public chapel to pray for the intentions of the Pope.  A special feature of this indulgence consists of the fact that it may be gained as often as a visit is made to the church.  Numerous other plenary indulgencies are granted during the year to the faithful who wear the Jubilee Medal.


On the face of the medal is the image of Saint Benedict.

In his left hand is his 'Rule'.
In his right hand he holds the cross, the symbol of salvation.  In this instance the cross is a reminder of the evangelisation of Europe carried out in the main by the Benedictine monks and nuns, especially during the latter half of the first millennium.
To the left can be seen a raven ready to fly off with a loaf of bread poisoned by a jealous enemy and sent to St. Benedict.  To the right is the poisoned cup, which shattered when he made the sign of the cross over it.  
Above the cup and the raven are the Latin words:  Crux s. patris Benedicti.  The Cross of our holy father Benedict.
Around the outer edges:  Eius in obitu nostro praesentia muniamur.  May we be strengthened by his presence in the hour of our death.

Explanation of Letters on the Cross

In the Intersections:
C. S. P. B.
Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti
Cross of Saint Benedict
On the horizontal line:
N. D. S. M. D.
Non Draco Sit Mihi Dux
May the dragon not be my guide

On the Vertical Line:

C. S. S. M. L.

Crux Sacra Sit Mihi Lux
    May the Holy Cross by my light


From the word PAX around the edge (clockwise):

V. R. S.
Vade Retro Satana
Get thee behind me Satan
N. S. M. V.
Nunquam Suade Mihi Vana
Never teach me vanity
S. M. Q. L.
Sunt Mala Quæ Libas
Thou pourest out evil
I. V. B.
Ipse Venena Bibas
Drink thine own poison