Laudetur Iesus Christus!
Nunc et in Aeternum! Amen.
My great-grandmother (the only great-grandparent I really knew) passed away at the beginning of March at the age of 98 (we rounded it up to 99 since her birthday was less than a month from the day she died). She had been a widow for 40 years and lived on her own until two weeks before God called her back to himself.
When you live for almost a century, you are bound to accumulate many things: clothes, jewelry, etc., etc.. So, for the past couple months, I have been helping my grandmother and her sisters (my aunts) go through all her stuff. I found her stash of holy water bottles (I got a couple of those … you can never have too many of those). I found one of her rosaries that was beyond repair so I took it apart and will use the beads in a future Rosary (the centerpiece and crucifix staunchly resisted my restoration work). I found her class ring from Barbour Intermediate School from when she graduated in 1927 … yes, 1927. I wear it everyday with my high school ring (don’t have a college ring because AQ does not have a Theology side as part of its customization options). She did not go to high school but that was how things were for women back then. I found her diploma from intermediate school (she was one of the first classes to be graduated from the school … I did some research). I found a bunch of beat up envelopes and thought they were trash until I began to look at them. Holy Mother Church, she saved all the family’s ration coupons from World War II. That’s pretty cool. Even cooler is the production award she won as a Rosie the Riveter in the war along with the documentation that was “signed” by President Truman.
Another day, I was digging through cabinets and found a HUGE pile of pictures. Being the lover of history that I am, I began to look through them. The usual pictures of family at special events. The haircuts and fashions that have since (thanks be the God) gone away. Pictures of little girl me with my hair curly and in different dresses. Weddings, baptisms, and a mess of pictures from gatherings of all the Italians (those things are amazing and a whole lotta fun).
Then things got interesting. The paper of the pictures started to get yellowy and thicker (they also smelled delightful). Now, I was really heading back in time to the 1950s and before to about the turn of the century when the famiglia came across the pond to America from Italy. My favorites were the photo-postcards sent from Italy with personal notes written in either illegibly sloppy script or illegibly fancy script and in Italian. When I showed them to my family, they said, “Allie, you know enough Italian, translate them.” So I would to very rough translations. It was really cool to be able to look at and read these little pieces of my family’s history. The men in 1920s suits with the high collars (like Don Cherry’s collars), standing ramrod straight, and with stoic looks on their face. The women in their 1920s dresses with cloche hats. The pictures of the old neighborhood in Detroit that is probably now either an urban prairie or a burned-out war zone with remnants of the 1967 riots (many buildings still have bullets and bullet holes in them from the snipers, etc.) that were once lined with houses with families and streets with kids playing and being kids.
I also inherited my great-grandmother’s HUGE sewing collection. I have a whole mess of different colors, compositions, and thicknesses of thread. I have a mess of different kinds of needles from tiny embroidery needles for detailing to irresponsibly thick quilting needles. I also have a REALLY nice seam ripper that nowadays runs about ten bucks. FREE! I also have a few straight edge razor blades which I use to trim the short tails on my cross-stitch projects. Did I mention I ❤ sewing?
Well, I had not been to the house in a while but my grandmother had been spending time over there going through things. She has found some beautiful holy pictures of Our Lady and saints that are at least fifty years old but still in rather good condition.
But what she gave me yesterday took the cake.
My sister and I went out shopping for a skirt that she needed for work. We decided to stop by our grandparents’ house (three blocks from our house) for ice cream (she always keeps a goodly stash of sweets for us … it’s like we’re five again … it’s nice). We go up to the door and walk in. My grandfather is alone because my grandmother is out at a blood drive for the Red Cross. So we grabbed our popsicles, sat and visited while eating and waiting for her to come home.
She eventually showed up and, being the Italian grandmother she is, put a pot of coffee on and got more desserts out including some new ice cream she had just bought for my sister and me. We are absolutely spoiled rotten. But that’s what grandparents are for … to spoil the grandkids and then send them home sugared up … five or twenty-five.
While we waited for the coffee to brew, my grandmother said she wanted to show me something she had found at my great-grandmother’s house.
We followed her into the bedroom in which she was keeping some of her findings and she pulled out a box that was in pretty good condition. She opened it and pulled out a black book with colored ribbons interspersed in the pages. Is that what i think it is?
Oh yes it is!
An antique 1962 Daily Missal by the Maryknoll Fathers (before they went off the deep-end of religious indifferentism, advocating women priests, and extreme inculturation … and not in the right direction)! YAY!!! Another 1962 hand missal for my collection!
My grandmother knows I collect these things! I have my mother’s First Communion missal, my father’s children’s missal for his First Communion, my maternal grandfather’s dog-eared black paperback pocket missal that was put out before the Reforms of Holy Week enacted by Pius XII. I had a friend in high school who also knew of my affinity for antique prayerbooks so whenever she came upon one, she would give it to me. One of the ones she gave me was a pocket book of Catholic prayers that included an outline of the Mass and a whole lot of prayers and devotions.
When I was in college, my friends and I would frequent two used book stores that were within walking distance of campus. One was redonkulously expensive (you have to know how to haggle) and one was just right but the former always had a nice rare and antique books. Well, I always found the *church geek drool*-worthy books at the expensive store. I found an Italian-Latin Missal that had a snake-skin cover, a padded-leather Polish prayerbook, an old Dominican Tertiaries handbook with prayers and devotions, and an antique Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Latin-English! Oh and the pocket priest ritual book that has the rites for Baptism, Extreme Unction, etc. in different languages including Italian, Spanish, French, Gallic, Latvian, Bohemian, and Polish! You can tell it was well-used because there are sections whose page corners are blackened from the priest turning the page with his index finger. There are even notes penciled into the margins with clarifications or later updates (it’s from 1933).
One of my favorite things about these books is flipping through them to see what I find. When I first look at the book, I flip the pages and get a wiff of that delightful smell of old book that is really the smell of mildew but w/e, it’s intoxicating for a bibliophile (the old Summas in the College library smelled like heaven … Thomas is the Angelic Doctor after all) such as myself.
I then look for special things in these books. Prayerbooks and missals are treasure troves for mementos of their former owners. I have found antique holy cards in prime condition that would probably go for a healthy chunk of change for a holy card. I find little pieces of history that give the book its own identity.
In the Maryknoll Missal my grandmother gave me, I found a beautifully lithographed holy card of the prayer that I always identify with Fulton Sheen that has shiny gold details and the other colors have a metallic shimmer that lends lifelike-ness to the images. I found a well-used prayer card from my grandparents’ home parish in the City (Nativity of Our Lord) that gives the prayers for after Low Mass (Leonine prayers) and a prayer for peace; all complete with the wonderful use of “Thee,” “Thy,” “Thou,” etc.. I found a holy card that must have been put out by some church group to memorialize President Kennedy’s (our one Catholic president) death with a traditional prayer and bold black border.
Then I found it.
An unassuming piece of white parchment-like paper with simple black type on it. Its title: “Prayer to the Holy Ghost For the Ecumenical Council”
It’s a prayercard for the blessings and guidance of the Holy Ghost on Vatican II. Holy Mother Church. Literally. This is pretty cool.
The prayer goes:
O Divine Spirit, sent by the Father in the Name of Jesus,
Who dost infallibly assist and guide the Church,
pour forth the fullness of Thy gifts
upon the Ecumenical Council.
Kind Teacher and comforter,
enlighten the mind of our bishops, who,
responding to the invitation
of the Sovereign Roman Pontiff [don’t you just love that title … so … Papist … so … Roman.],
will gather in solemn assembly.
grant that from this Council
there may come abundant fruits:
that the light and strength of the Gospel
may ever more widely influence human society;
that new vigor may infuse the Catholic religion
and its missionary task;[You mean the Catholic Church is the one true Church of Jesus Christ and there is no other Church but she? Whodathunkit?]
that the Church’s teaching may be better known
and Christian morality more widely practiced. [notice how this says nothing about changing the teachings the Church has always taught]
Sweet Guest of our souls,
confirm our minds in truth, [I thought truth is what your conscience (no matter how poorly formed) tells you is all right? I thought it was subjective.]
and dispose our hearts to obedience, [You mean we have to submit our wills to that of the Church who is led by the Spirit of God Who is Truth Himself?]
so that the decisions of the Council may find in us
generous acceptance and prompt fulfillment. [The Council reiterated what the Church always taught but put it in the context of the modern times without watering it down or altering it to suit this that or another thing.]
We beseech Thee, too,
on behalf of those sheep
who no longer belong to the one fold of Jesus Christ,
that they also,
glorying as they do in the name of Christian,
may finally regain unity under one Shepherd. [Again with the Catholic Church = the one true Church of Jesus Christ thing? I thought you just had to be a good person. W/E that means.]
Renew in our time Thy wondrous works,
as in a new Pentcost,
and grant that Holy Church,
gathered together in unanimous, more intense prayer,
around Mary, the Mother of Jesus, [who was nothing more than a spunky broad who wanted to stick it to the evil oppressive patriarchy (don’t laugh, I have heard her referred to as that).]
and guided by Peter, [but is some pop theologian thinks otherwise, we’re gonna follow him since he’s more enlightened than the Rock on which Christ built His Church … obvsly.]
may spread the kingdom of the Divine Saviour,
which is the kingdom of truth,
of justice, [Doff patriarchy and make the Church a democracy!]
of love, [Let’s make some felt banners about our feelings!]
and of peace. [Ordain womyn or stop dressing like them! (Don’t laugh, I’ve heard that one many times too)]
Please note that some of those comments were sincere while others were layered with sarcasm. I hope you can figure out which is which.
Tell me that is not at least a little bit cool! It is! And it’s a beautiful prayer! You can totally hear the talk of massive and complete reform toward making the Church more hip and in tune with the world (of the world … not in the world)! You can just smell the introduction of new doctrine to change what the Church has always taught! You can just feel the onset of religious indifferentism and all that! Totally.
You can now squeegee the sarcasm off your computer because all of that was not what the Council wanted to happen. The Council was and is hijacked by people whose profound and/or feigned ignorance of what the Council actually taught to suit it to their own agenda. But I won’t get into that.
Well, I wanted to share that all with you because it just goes to show that you never know what you will find in a closet or a nondescript box in the basement.
I still have to pray II Vespers and Compline!
Have a wonderful night!