Posted in ART DEI, EUCHARISTIC Adoration

“Art Dei” Series “The Defenders of the Eucharist” by Peter Paul Rubens, Flemish 1577-1640 Issue 1 – 6 June 2017

Art Dei Series

The Defenders of the Eucharist
by Peter Paul Rubens, Flemish 1577-1640
SN 214 Oil on Canvas c1625

Artist:
Peter Paul Rubens, along with the Italian sculptor Gianlorenzo Bernini, was one of the greatest artists of the 17th century.   His canvases can be said to define the scope and style of high baroque painting through their energy, earthy humanity and inventiveness. A devoutly religious man, a man of learning and a connoisseur of art and antiquities, he was also a man of the world who succeeded not only as an artist but as a respected diplomat in the service of Isabella and Albrecht of the Spanish Netherlands.

Travels to Venice where he studied Titian, Veronese & Tintoretto freed his artistic talent from rigid classicism.   While he did incorporate copies of classical statues in his paintings he always avoided the appearance and coldness of stone.   To the contrary, his nudes, for which he became famous, always depicted an ample female form of vitality and good health as well as of sensuousness.   His mastery of color along with his knowledge of antiquity is seen particularly in his mythological paintings.

As court painter and confidant to the Archduchess Isabella Clara Eugenia, Rubens recognized the role art was to play in the Counter Reformation.   His genius found expression in his designs for the Triumph of the Eucharist tapestries which he and his assistants completed between 1625 and 1628.

Knighted by two monarchs and master of a successful workshop, Rubens became rich and famous in his own time. Having executed over 3,000 paintings, woodcuts and engravings of all types, he died the most respected artist of his time in 1640.

Norbert of Xanten, defender of the Holy Eucharist
The Defenders of the Eucharist
by Peter Paul Rubens, Flemish 1577-1640 Including Sts Jerome, Norbert, Thomas Aquinas, Clare, Gregory the Great, Ambrose, Augustine

Subject:
This painting shows seven saints, all of whom were considered to be defenders of the doctrine of Transubstantiation an integral tenet of the Catholic Church.   From the right the figures represent –

(1) St Jerome, (Feast Day 3 September) noted for his translation of the bible from Hebrew into Latin;  

(2) St Norbert, (Feast Day 6 June) a German archbishop and saint, who preached against dissenters who attacked the Christian sacraments and official clergy;  

(3) St Thomas Aquinas, (Feast Day 28 January) a medieval theologian of the Dominican order, whose writings became the basis for much of the doctrine of the Catholic Church;  

(4) St Clare, (Feast Day 11 August) the founder of the Poor Clares, was a Franciscan heroine who repulsed the Saracens at Assisi by confronting them holding the Host in her hands;

(5) Gregory the Great, (Feast Day 3 September) who established, as Pope, the form of the Roman liturgy;

(6) St Ambrose, (Feast Day 7 December) renowned as both theologian and statesman of the Church, who in an age of controversy, was instrumental in crushing Arianism, a doctrine concerning the relationship of God the Father to Christ which was considered heresy and in direct opposition to orthodox teaching about the Trinity; and

(7) St Augustine, (Feast Day 28 August) perhaps the Church’s most celebrated and influential theologian.

Painting:
Seven Saints, including the four Latin Doctors of the Church, progress with great dignity from right to left, their heads seen in different views in a fashion similar to the heads of the Four Evangelists.   The Dove of the Holy Ghost hovers protectively over the saints in the very center of the composition emitting golden light that illuminates the procession. Above the dove, a putti holds two trumpets to herald the message of the Church Fathers.

Leading the procession are Sts. Ambrose, Augustine and Gregory the Great, all wearing elaborate gold copes.   The first two are crowned with bishop’s mitres, while the third wears the papal tiara.   In the center of the procession, St. Clare carries a monstrance and looks directly out at the viewer. Rubens has shown his patroness, the Archduchess Isabella as St. Clare garbed in the black and white habit of the Discalced Carmalites, clothes she wore at the Convent of the Discalzas Reales in Madrid when she was a girl and later as a widow after her husband the Archduke Albert had died in 1621.

St. Thomas Aquinas follows, a large book under his arm wearing a gold chain from which is hung a blazing sun.   Behind Aquinas is a monk in a white habit who is St. Norbert.   Last in line is St. Jerome the fourth Doctor of the Church dressed in red as a cardinal, intensely reading from a large book.   In the centre of the bottom of the composition, below the apron of the “stage” is a burning lamp (the lamp of truth), open books and writing supplies of ink pots and quill pens, all in reference to the writings of the Church Fathers.

All seven saints were known as defenders of the Eucharist, particularly the Four Doctors of the Church who developed the doctrine of transubstantiation and defended it against heretics.

Historical Context:
The cycle of eleven paintings of The Triumph of the Eucharist was commissioned by the Archduchess Isabella who was the daughter of Philip II of Spain and the Governor of the Spanish Netherlands.  It was planned as a gift for the convent of the Descalzas Reales in Madrid in 1625 where it still hangs today.   This Franciscan Order of Poor Clares was one with which Isabella was closely associated.

The series is a mixture of allegory and religious evangelisation intended to promote the worship of the Eucharist, the bread and wine consecrated as the body and blood of Christ and distributed at communion which had been strengthened recently by the Council of Trent and which constituted an important element in Counter Reformation Catholicism.

This was a time of great concern on the part of the Catholic church as it attempted to correct not only the abuses of the clergy but also to reaffirm its tenets / dogma in the face.

 

Posted in MORNING Prayers, NOVENAS

St Anthony of Padua Novena for all our needs – Day Three 6 June

St Anthony of Padua Novena for all our needs – Day Three 6 June

day three-st anthony novena

DAY THREE

O purest St. Anthony,
who through your angelic virtue
was made worthy to be caressed by the Divine Child Jesus,
to hold him in your arms and press him to your heart.
I entreat you to cast a benevolent glance upon me.
O glorious St. Anthony,
born under the protection of Mary Immaculate,
on the Feast of her Assumption into Heaven
and consecrated to her and now so powerful an intercessor in Heaven,
I beseech you to obtain for me the favour I ask in this novena
(State your intention).
O great wonder-worker, intercede for me that God may grant my request.

One Our Father, one Hail Mary, and Glory Be to the Father, in honour of Saint Anthony.

Saint Anthony, pray for us!

Posted in MORNING Prayers, PRAYERS for our HOLY FATHER and all PRIESTS, QUOTES of the SAINTS, SAINT of the DAY

Quote of the Day – 6 June

Quote of the Day – 6 June

On the day of his ordination, St Norbert said:

“O Priest! You are not of yourself because you are of God.   You are not of yourself because you are the servant and minister of Christ.
You are not your own because you are the spouse of the Church.
You are not yourself because you are the mediator between God and man.
You are not from yourself because you are nothing.
What then are you? Nothing and everything.
O Priest!   Take care, lest what was said to Christ on the cross be said to you:
‘He saved others, himself he cannot save!”

O Priest! - St Norbert

Posted in MORNING Prayers, SAINT of the DAY

Thought for the Day – 6 June

Thought for the Day – 6 June

The name of St Norbert’s order is unfamiliar to most but the Premonstratensians are an ancient order, founded in 1121.   His Canons Regular of Premontre made a huge contribution to the religious culture of Europe and athe world and are as active today as they were when they were founded.    One of it’s members, founded and directs the “Church in Need”, which works quietly to assist Catholics in those countries where the faith is suppressed.
St Norbert showed himself to be a forceful reformer and was almost assassinated several times.   He was a friend of, and highly regarded by St Bernard of Clairvaux, who assisted him wherever he could.   Even with the aid of a goodly number of men who joined his Order, he realised that nothing could be effectively done without God’s power.   Finding this help especially in devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, he and his Norbertines praised God for success in converting heretics, reconciling numerous enemies and rebuilding faith in indifferent believers.
St Norbert was 33 years old before he took God seriously and during the next 20 years he made up for lost time.   He did not stop to bewail lost years but gave everything he had to God.   It is never too late to begin and God is always waiting for our service. We do not need a bolt of lightening to get started.
Unswerving loyalty to the Church and fervent devotion to the Eucharist, as practiced by Norbert, will continue immeasurably toward maintaining the people of God in accord with the heart of Christ.

Let us get going!

St Norbert, pray for us.

st norbert pray for us

Posted in MORNING Prayers, QUOTES of the SAINTS, SAINT of the DAY, The WORD

One Minute Reflection – 6 June

One Minute Reflection – 6 June

When you have done all you have been commanded to do, say “We are useless servants. We have done no more than our duty.”…………Luke 17:9-10

luke 17 9-10

REFLECTION – “Lord, what do you want me to do?” ……St Norbert

lord what do you want me to do - st norbert

PRAYER – Holy Father, you made the Bishop St Norbert, an outstanding minister of Your Church,
renowned for his preaching and pastoral zeal. for his love of the Blessed Sacrament and for his love of the priesthood. Grant to Your Church faithful shepherds to lead your people to eternal salvation.
St Norbert, help us hear the answer to our prayer “Lord what do you want me to do?” and please pray for us and for the whole Church of our Lord Jesus Christ,amen.

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Posted in CONSECRATION Prayers, MORNING Prayers, PRAYERS of the CHURCH

Our Morning Offering – 6 June

Our Morning Offering – 6 June

Prayer of Consecration to the Holy Spirit

On my knees before the multitude of heavenly witnesses,
I offer myself, soul and body, to You, eternal Spirit of God.
I adore the brightness of Your purity,
the unerring keeness of Your justice,
and the power of Your love.
You are the strength and light of my soul,
In You I live and move and have my being.
I desire never to grieve You by infidelity to Your grace,
and I pray wholeheartedly to be preserved
from the slightest sin against You.
Make me faithful in my every thought,
and grant that I may always listen to Your voice,
watch for Your light
and follow Your gracious inspirations.
I cling to You
and beg You, in Your compassion,
to watch over me in my weakness.
Holding the pierced feet of Jesus,
gazing as His five wounds,
trusting to His Precious Blood
and adoring His open side and stricken Heart,
I implore You, adorable Spirit,
so to keep me in Your grace
that I may never sin against You.
Grant me the grace,
O Holy Spirit of the Father and the Son,
to say to You always and everywhere:
“Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.”
Amen.

consecration to the holy spirit

 

Posted in EUCHARISTIC Adoration, PRAYERS for VARIOUS NEEDS, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 6 June – St Norbert

Saint of the Day – 6 June – St Norbert – also known as St Norbert of Xanten – Bishop, Confessor, Founder, “Defender of the Eucharist” and “Apostle of the Eucharist”, Exorcist, Reformer, Preacher – (c1080 at Xanten, Germany – 6 June 1134 at Magdeburg, Germany,  relics in Prague) – Patron for peace, invoked during childbirth for safe delivery, of infertile married couples, Bohemia (Czech Republic), Archdiocese of Magdeburg, Germany – Attributes – monstrance, cross with two cross-bars.

St Norbert was a German from illustrious Frankish and Salic German stock.   Offered as a youth to the collegiate church of St. Victor in Xanten, he was educated both in literature and the ways of the court and the world.   At Xanten, he became a Subdeacon and at this period of his life, showed no inclination to pursue the dignity of the Priesthood.   Rather, St. Norbert, who was wealthy, handsome, thin and somewhat tall, sought approval in the courts of the great and of the emperor. Known to be an eloquent speaker and possessed of an affability that won him admiration and friendships, St. Norbert used these natural gifts, not to seek the glory of God but to gain the love and esteem of men.   His biographer describes him at this period before his conversion as one who “had no time for piety and quiet” and that he “lived his life according to his own desires.”

st norbert 6

But soon life became one of interior strife for St Norbert.   He had witnessed Emperor Henry V’s mistreatment of Pope Paschal II in Rome in 1111, when he traveled there in Frederick of Cologne’s retinue.   These events left St. Norbert with a sense of uneasiness he could not dispel.   The man who had been so happy to live at court no longer felt comfortable in that atmosphere of intrigue, where the emperor’s arrogance took the place of law.   He left the court and returned to Xanten, where we find him in 1115.   In late spring of this year, St. Norbert, accompanied by a single servant, was traveling on the road to Freden when a storm suddenly came up.   A bolt of lightning struck the ground before his horse’s feet and he was thrown to the ground.   Shaken, he asked, “Lord what do you want me to do?”   In response, he seemed to hear these words from Psalm 34, “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”   St. Norbert underwent a profound conversion.   Under the influence of grace and led by the Gospel, he became sure of one thing:  he wanted to put on the new man (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10) and live a life of perfection in the service of the Church, according to the Gospel of Christ and in the footsteps of the Apostles.

From the beginning of his conversion, St Norbert aimed at a life of priestly perfection through imitation of the Apostles.   He sought ordination to the priesthood and gave his considerable wealth to the poor, in order “that he may follow the naked cross naked”  ( Vita Norberti B, IX 22).   Inflamed with the zeal of divine fervour, St. Norbert went about with “no purse, no sandals nor two tunics,” (Mk. 6:8) proclaiming by his words and example the necessity of poverty of spirit in order to enter the kingdom of God.   As Christ had sent out his Apostles not only “to proclaim the message,” but also “to have authority to cast out demons,” (Mk. 3:15)   St Norbert was well known as an exorcist and his biographer records many instances when he was called upon to exercise this office. Regarded as a “minister of peace and concord,” he had the gift of reconciling people and establishing peace between feuding parties.   At the center of St Norbert’s spiritual life and ministry was the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.   Contrary to custom of his times, he celebrated Mass every day and it was after offering the Eucharistic sacrifice that he loved to preach, while his heart was overflowing with the love he had drawn from intimate contact with Christ.   The Acts of the Apostles record how the first Christians “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers,” (2:42) and that “the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul” (4:32).   St Norbert sought to realise the fullness of this Apostolic ideal in the founding of a new religious family.

st norbert 7

In 1121, St Norbert established the first monastery of our Order in Prémontré, France.   He had a great talent to speak to people, to fill people with enthusiasm for the kingdom of God, so much so that in a short period of time he was able to attract many men and women to the Apostolic Life and to start many foundations of religious communities of this “ordo novus”.   Liturgical prayer held a central place in the life of Norbert and his first companions.   The Eucharist, the heart of liturgical prayer occupied such a place at Prémontré and in the life of St. Norbert that later tradition made Norbert the Apostle of the Eucharist.   His order, the Premonstratensian or Norbertine Canons and Sisters are today in Europe, the US, Canada, South America, Zaire, South Africa, India and Australia are involved in education, parochial ministry, university chaplaincy and youth work.

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In 1126, St Norbert was elected archbishop of Magdeburg, Germany.   He worked for the kingdom of God on all levels and ready to commit himself to peace and justice, did not shy away from arguments and conflicts, neither in his own diocese nor in the conflict between emperor and pope, as he courageously defended the rights of the Church.

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St Norbert died on June 6th 1134, the Wednesday after Pentecost.   By order of the emperor, his body was laid at rest in Abbey Church of St. Mary’s at Magdeburg, where he had installed the confreres of his Order.   St. Norbert’s body was transferred to the Norbertine Abbey of Strahov in Prague in 1627 after numerous attempts were made over the centuries by the Abbey of Strahov in Prague to retrieve the saint’s body.   Only after several military defeats at the hand of Emperor Ferdinand II was the abbot of Strahov able to claim the body.   On 2 May 1627 the body was finally brought to Prague where it remains to this day, displayed in a glass-fronted tomb in the Royal Canonry of Strahov, Prague and is venerated by his sons and daughters from all over the world.   As mentioned above, St. Norbert is venerated as the “Apostle and Defender of the Eucharist”.   He is usually depicted with a ciborium or monstrance in his hand on account of his extraordinary devotion to the Most Blessed Sacrament.   St Norbert is also a patron of childbirth/expectant mothers, as well as traditionally invoked by married couples who want to conceive a child, with many favours attributed to his intercession.

Death-of-St.-Norbert-edited

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Shrine of St. Norbert, Royal Canonry of Strahov, Prague

Why is St Norbert Patron of Expectant Mothers & Infertile Married Couples?

A pious woman once approached St. Norbert asking whether she and her husband ought to separate and enter monasteries because they lived in an infertile marriage.   St. Norbert prophesied that they would be blessed with children, the first of whom would be dedicated to God.   This child, Nicholas, did indeed become a Norbertine at Prémontré.    St. Norbert is traditionally invoked for a good childbirth. The Norbertine Canonesses at Doksany (Czech Republic) in modern times promote this devotion to St. Norbert as patron of infertile couples or endangered pregnancies and report hundreds of families now blessed with children, the sisters having well over 3,000 spiritual children as of 2012.

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A Prayer to St. Norbert for a Good Childbirth

St. Norbert, great and faithful servant of God!
You venerated the holy and miraculous birth of our Saviour,
Who His Mother, the purest Virgin Mary,
conceived without the loss of her virginity
and gave birth remaining a virgin.
You connected the origin of the Premonstratensian Order
with the day of the birth of Jesus Christ.
I humbly pray to you, St. Norbert,
as a great protector, so that God will give me the grace,
through your intercession,
to give birth to this conceived child.
And so that He will give me also the grace
that this child will join the Church of Christ
through the sacrament of Baptism
and that he/she will serve Him, Our Lord,
the whole of his/her life
so that in the end we both will reach eternal salvation.
Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord, Amen.

(Translated from The Little Hours, 1749, by one of our Norbertine Sisters at Doksany)

Story of St Norbert mostly from the Norbertine Sisters.