The Pope emeritus, Benedict XVI, celebrates his 89th birthday today. Ad multos annos!
Every year, I use Jennifer Fulwiler’s Saint’s Name Generator to find a saint to whose intercession I entrust my blogging efforts for that year. Yes, there’s is a degree of randomness in this method, but with the added ingredient of prayer before clicking, I am more than willing to accept whoever the program selects for me, and ask that person for special guidance and inspiration as I do my blogging.
This time around, I got Saint Maria Goretti. In 1902, at the age of 12, she was raped and stabbed to death, but her witness of the concern for not her own wellbeing but that of her rapist’s soul, as well as her forgiveness of him, ultimately led to the latter’s conversion, and her own canonisation by Pope Pius XII in 1950.
She protects against various things, including poverty and the death of parents, and she is also a patron of children, poor people and martyrs. Suffice it to say that more than a few of these are significant to me personally at this time in my life.
For the blog, and in my life as a Catholic, perhaps I can take the example of St. Maria Goretti of how to act in the face of adversity.
Anyway, for this year: Sancta Maria Goretti, ora pro nobis!
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.
Oh, come, all ye faithful,
Joyful and triumphant!
Oh, come ye, oh come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold him,
Born the King of angels!
Christ is born, 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem, and every day in the hearts of people everywhere in the world. May today herald His arrival in your heart!
This is Remus Nicolau. He is homeless and sells street newspapers in Amsterdam. The latest edition carried the interview with Pope Francis, and is selling like hotcakes. Remus says: “This edition of the street newspaper is really unbelievable. Really a lot of people are buying this edition. In four days I have already sold 130 papers.”
The money he earned has allowed Remus to contribute to the buying of ingredients for the soup he is making in the photo, soup that will be served to homeless men and women in the open house AMOC. AMOC caters especially to people who have come from abroad and ended up on the street for various reasons, mostly because they do not speak Dutch, can’t find work and are not entitled to a source of income and housing. This is more often than not the start of a downward spiral leading to substance abuse and psychological problems. By selling street newspapers, people like Remus, who is Romanian, can earn a bit of money for their own needs. And that evidently includes doing something for others, like buying fresh ingredients and making soup.
The difference an interview makes.
Photo credit: Remus Nicolau
Last week I wrote about the possibility (and desireability) of donating to my blog. Today I just want to express my gratitude to those who have chosen to do so. Your contribution goes a long way in keeping this blog afloat, and, like the sharing of my posts on social media, it validates the time and effort I put into it. Seeing your appreciation expressed in such a way is indeed humbling. Thank you!
And of course, future donations will be equally appreciated. I remember all donors in my prayers at Mass.
…and her collection plate is decidedly empty…
Image credit: Collecte schaal, Kees de Hond (1979)
This blog is a labour of love, flowing from my interest in the topics I write about and the perceived interest of readers in the English speaking world and beyond. In the past weeks I have seen a surge in page views here and sharing of my blog posts on social media and in other blogs and websites (I suspect the Synod may have had something to do with that…) It is always a joy to see that happening and every link and retweet is appreciated. It is one of the reasons I keep on doing this, in between my daily chores, work, family, Church and social activities.
You can also show your appreciation by donating financially, not to Her Sisterness above, but via the handy PayPal button below or in the left sidebar. Your donation, no matter how great or small, will help in my continued blogging and contribute to the upkeep of the small household I call home, the place from where I blog.
In addition to my gratefulness, I will remember all donors in my prayers and am willing to pray or light a candle for any specific intentions you may have.
I am also thinking of expanding into writing on assignment, so if you are interested in discussing the possibilities of that, drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tomorrow he city where I live, Groningen, marks the end of the siege of 1672, when the bishop of Münster had to give up his attempts to defeat the protestant inhabitants of the city and so reconquer those parts of his diocese that he had lost in the Dutch revolt against the Habsburgs. On his side, if not in the form of pratical support, he knew France and England, as well as the bishop of Cologne, who also had territorial interests around Groningen.
Many people are no longer aware of what it exactly is that is being celebrated, or even that the colloquial name of the day, Bommen Berend (Berend of the Bombs) (pictured), refers to the city’s enemy, Bishop Christoph Bernhard von Galen. That bishop was not only the spiritual head of the Diocese of Münster, but also the worldly ruler of the Prince-Bishopric of Münster (not the same thing), which until shortly before 1672 had included the eastern parts of the province of Groningen. He wanted those parts back and saw the presence of Protestant rebels in the sole major city in that area of the Dutch republic as a threat. The siege of the city was the final act of a successful campaign across Drenthe to the south and the eastern parts of the province of Groningen. But this success would prove to be temporary as Bishop Bernhard could not take Groningen.
There is still some evidence of the siege and subsequent victory visible in the city. City commander Carl von Rabenhaupt has a modest statue on the main square, and the best-known café in the city is named after the cannon that, legend has it, was so accurate that it shot a plate of cabbage and bacon away from Bishop von Galen, as he sat down for dinner at a convent south of the city. Said convent is long gone (I was at its location a few days ago), the city has long since expanded to where the bishop’s troops had their trenches (as I am typing this, I may be sitting not too far from them), but the celebration of the victory over the foreign prince-bishop has continued.
Today, the Relief of Groningen is a cultural and secular day, but it marks an event with deeply rooted religious undertones, even if that was often overshadowed by secular concerns of power. Thje inevitable consequence of having men be both bishops and princes.