Tuesday, December 11, 2007

St Maravillas, Save the Devil! ... and Kippers

No, I'm not a Universalist or Origenist (tho' apokatastasis is a great word).

St Maravillas

Reading the (new) Martyrology last night, I realized that today would be the feast of St Maravillas.  Unfortunately I didn't make early Mass at the Carmelites, so I made do with Advent-plus-St Damasus instead.

A good friend in Hobart swears by St Maravillas – she always comes through with a car park spot.  (My theory is, pray to obscure saints, they get so little business they really go for it when you ask them to intercede for you.)

Who was she?  Well, she's only been canonized since 2003, but she died in 1974, after spending over fifty years as a Discalced Carmelite nun: an indefatigable foundress of monasteries (eleven Carmels in Spain and India), given over to prayer (yet enduring much spiritual desolation), and while living an enclosed contemplative life somehow able to arrange for the building of schools, housing and community facilities for the poor near her monastery.  (Read more about her at the Vatican website; and for a rundown of all Carmelite saints and beati, try this link.)  

As she died, she repeated over and again, "What happiness to die a Carmelite!"  I'm very fond of Carmelites too – my family and I have relied on the prayers of the local Carmel and owe them a great debt of gratitude.

What I particularly liked to learn, since I was reading the Martyrology in Latin, was that her name "Maravillas" means marvels, wonders, miracles (Mirabilia in Latin), and her full religious name "Mary Maravillas of Jesus" signifies properly the marvels and wonders of Our Lord accomplished in and through the Blessed Virgin.  What a glorious name!

This is the collect for St Maravillas (from the Discalced Carmelite Missal); it's quite a good prayer:

Lord God, who drew Blessed Maria Maravillas of Jesus into the secrets of the heart of your Son, grant through her intercession and example, that we may work together for the salvation of souls, experiencing the delights of your love.  Thro' Christ our Lord.  R/.  Amen.

The prayer over the 'gifts' (oblata) asks that the oblation to be offered up may obtain that we may "follow the example of Saint Maria Maravillas", and that we be cleansed "from our earthly way of life" and taught "to live the new life" of the kingdom of heaven; while the post communionem likewise prays to do as the communion antiphon ("The wise virgin chose the better part..."  – cf. St Luke x, 42) suggests Maravillas did:

Lord, may our reception of the Body and Blood of your Son keep us from harmful things [and] Help us by the example of Saint Maria Maravillas to grow in your love* on earth that we may rejoice forever in heaven.

(*Very often English translations of the Mass have "love" where a more literal translation would read "grace", but I don't have the Latin at hand.)

Save the Devil!

While eating lunch (of which more anon) I was reading Alumni News from the University of Tasmania.  This had an article in it about the approaching extinction of the Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii – "Harris's meat-lover"! – and not to be confused with Taz, the whirling dervish cartoon character appearing in Loony Tunes), due to a horrible contagious facial cancer: the little devils bite each other and pass on the invariably fatal malady, which eats away at their faces till they die.  Like cheetahs, devils have little genetic diversity, and so their immune systems don't recognize cancerous cells from other devils as foreign; so the cells upon being transferred from teeth to skin just grow and grow.  

With the Tasmanian Tiger already gone (extinct ~1936: see here for footage of "Benjamin", the last known Thylacine, who died of neglect at the Hobart Zoo), the University, and the State and Federal Governments, are trying to find a cure, and in the meantime transfer healthy populations to zoos and offshore islands.  (More information available at www.tassiedevil.com.au)

Saint Maravillas, save the Devil.

... and Kippers

Oh, and I had kippers (tinned, unfortunately) on toast for lunch after Mass.  Very nice.  Finished off with marmalade on toast and two cups of tea.  (Yes, I know this is a breakfast menu, but I'm on holiday, and anyhow it was really a Hobbit-like "second breakfast".)

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