Letters From a Young Catholic

My reflections as a Catholic young adult passionate about the Faith, seeking to grow in knowledge and understanding of God and discerning the will of the Lord in my life.

Friday, August 11, 2006

First Mass Holy Card (1933)

This evening I passed by my maternal grandparents on my way home to check in on them and see how their day went. Somehow the topic of conversation led my eighty-six year old Opa and I to sit down at the kitchen table and flip through his 1964 French/Latin Daily Roman Missal. Interspersed throughout the pages of his missal were dozens of holy cards. Most of them were from funerals of deceased relatives and friends, although flipping through the pages we also discovered this this one. This holy card is in commemoration of my Oma's brother's first Mass after his ordination to the priesthood in 1933. I spent quite some time tonight trying to decipher the various verses and quotes written on the holy card.

On the front of the card is an image of "Heilige Elisabeth von Thüringen" (Saint Elizabeth of Thüringen). I'd never heard of her until tonight so I looked her up and apparently she's also known as St. Elizabeth of Hungary. She was a hungarian princess who personally cared for the poor and was dedicated to feeding the hungry. I wonder what led my great uncle to have a particular devotion to her. . ,

Underneath the name of "H. Elisabeth von Thüringen" are three verses. The first is an excerpt from the beatitudes in Matthew 25, the second is John 12:8 ("The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me."), and the third is apparently from Genesis although I'm having a hard time figuring out where in Genesis. The verse says "Du selbst (o Gott), willst mein ubergrosser Lohn sein" which according to my own rough translation means "You alone (o Lord), want to be my great reward."

The back side of the card says at the top "Praise be to God and peace to all men." Right under this is a quote from St. Augustine. After a little searching I found this quote translated in English as "O venerable dignity of priests, in whose hands the Son of God becomes incarnate." In the middle of the card it simply indicates that the holy card is in memory of his Ordination and First Mass and then gives the dates of his ordination and his First Mass, the names of the churches in which they were celebrated, and the city in which he was ordained. At the bottom it says (roughly translated) "Through the Grace of God I am what I am, a priest of the Lord. Therefore I am happy and my soul rejoices." Apparently this verse refers to St. Paul (1 Cor 15?) and Isaiah.

Fr. Martin Müller was ordained to the priesthood in 1933. He was an Augustinian priest from Würzburg, in Germany. Along with several other Augustinians he went briefly to New York the year he was ordained and then to Racine, Wisconsin in the early 1940s before moving to Canada in 1943.

On the invitation of Archbishop William Duke of Vancouver, the Augustinians came to Ladner in 1943. Besides their commitment to establish a retreat house and to open a Marian shrine under the title of Mother of Consolation, the Augustinians were also to be responsible for the needs of Sacred Heart Parish. My mom and her siblings used to spend their summer holidays visiting their uncle and staying at the guesthouse in the monastery. Also among the holy cards we were searching through tonight I discovered a holy card in remembrance of a retreat my Opa made at the Augustinian monastery in Ladner in the days leading up to his wedding to my Oma in 1952.

Fr. Martin died of cancer in December of 1984 when my mom was pregnant with me. Please pray for the repose of his soul and all priests who have died.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Update: Gerald Augustinus from The Cafeteria is Closed was kind enough to help me out and he came up with the following translation for the back of the card (I wasn't too far off!):

As for the front and being puzzled about the reference to Genesis 15:

The only thing in chapter 15 that comes close is verse 1.

After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, "Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great."

uebergrosser Lohn = very great reward