Thursday, 1 January 2009

The Mother of God and a Capuchin Church.

Today is the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God, about which there is some interesting information in the Ordo compiled by Father Hunwicke. His blog can be seen on the side bar. I have never read his Ordo before, relying instead on the Diocese of Salford's excellent ringbound yearly publication. Father Hunwicke seems to provide some worthwhile, and sometimes wry, reflections on local custom. So thank you to the kind person who bought it for me.

Mary's continuing example of care and intercession sometimes makes our squabbles seem futile, but I hold that Marian devotion is a mark of complete acceptance of the Faith delivered by the Saints. To accept Mary as the Mother of God, chosen and blessed before time and as one to whom the Lord of all time assumed into Heaven takes us out of our egocentric squabbles. We surrender ourselves before the great mystery, not seeking to apply our own interpretation of our experience of the world and our expectations of the divine to the eternal word. Acceptance of the Queenship of Mary the Mother of God brings us into the universal Church in a way which study and preaching rarely can, she is, to me, the mark and model of the Church and a signifier to salvation hence it is today that I will, as every day, say the magnificat but with a special joy in my heart, for the knowledge of the love of the Mother of God is, as most of you know, quite beautiful. Give thanks today for healings and miracles in Lourdes, Fatima, Knock and Walsingham and in the many places in the world where Our Lady has appeared to countless pilgrims over many centuries to bring consolation, healing and exhortation.

This is the outside of the Church of the Capuchins in Bruges, dedicated to Saint Anthony. It is a lovely place, a walk from the town centre, near to the Benedictine Abbey convent. A small community live here, in a quiet backwater of the city.

This is the chapel of the community, tucked away down a series of passages behind the main church, where daily Mass and offices are kept. You can see an interesting shrine to Our Lady above the altar mensa. It is rather like a small theatre stage, going back some way with different 'scenery'. Such was the devotion showed it by my Capuchin friend, I did not feel that I should take time fiddling with settings and lenses to get a good shot. Sorry.

This statue of Saint Francis caught my eye, next to the huge statue of Padre Pio made from polystyrene which attracted the lions share of the votive candles. I thought this was lovely, a change as well from the continual Baroque overkill suffered after a couple of days Churchcrawling.

Here is the nave of the Capuchin church, showing the splendid High Altar and confessionals. It benefits being expanded.