COMMONWEALT1I GIVES LEAD IN STAMPS
IILEUSTRAI la alongside two special postage stamps which have been issued by the New Zealand and Australian Governments respectively to commemorate Christmas. The New Zealand stamp is a full-colour reproduction of the beautiful Sassoferrato painting "Madonna in Prayer", which is in the National Art
Gallery. London. It is the third Christmas commemorative to be issued by New Zealand and the black-and-white reproduction does less than justice to it.
The Australian stamp, printed in violet, shows an early 16th century Spanish carving of a Madonna and Child. Australia has been producing a Christmas commemorative stamp ever a itiCe 1457. Last year's stamp bore the inscription "Glory to God in the highest". and the previous year's "Behold I bring tidings of great joy", with an appropriate Nativity scene.
THESE extensions of the campaign to put Christ back into Christmas are leaving our own postal authorities untouched. The G.P.O. spokesman told me this week that no Christmas commemorative stamp of any kind would be issued. 'I he usual answer to queries of this kind is that, by tradition. all our stamps must carry a portrait of the head of the ruling monarch. The spokesman .said: "It would not be easy to include the monarch's head with a Christmas design which had a religious theme". This seems a ridiculously sweeping statement and 1 cannot believe it is impossible to design a stamp which would have a religious theme suitable to Christmas with the Queen's head appearing in miniature at one side.
Meanwhile the U.S. has decided for the first time to issue a Christmas commemorative, but the stamp's design has been criticised by "Time" as "calculated blab". having not even the tiniest hint that Christmas is Christ's birthday. The design shows a wreath adorned by a red how and some amateurish lettering in Olde English.
MANY viewers and listeners who were impressed by the chanting of the Greek Rite Litany during the opening ceremonies of the Vatican Council may sympathise with a Lincolnshire priest who thinks that the Greek Rite music "fits the need" for a more popular kind of Church music. Ile thinks that plain song is not popular, except among the more musically sophisticated. and would like to know where he can get hold of some Greek Rite printed music.
"Many who appreciate plainsong'", he writes. "would like to see less long-winded 'arrangements' of the various parts of the Mass, and many of our Catholic congregations 'suffer' plainsong but think they are not really expected to join in.'
He does not want to disclose his name because, he says, "my con
bregation contains adherents of oth schools", but would like a genuine effort made to stop what he calls "the neglect of right use of music and the arts."
Fr. X, who himself plays the piano, guitar, ukelele and double bass, emphasises that he is not in favour of "pop" Church music. "The last thing 1 want," he adds, "is folk Masses and jazz masses
they are usually bad folk and bad If anyone can help him in his search for Greek Rite music. I will be glad to act as intermediary.
NXT January will see the inauguration of the lirst Catholic Record Club this side of the Atlantic. Originally founded by two Carmelitie Fathers in America. the idea caught on quickly and the American Club }1:14 ene from strength to strength. Its first base in Europe will be at the Mercier Press in Cork. where a full-scale programme 'has been prepared with the co-operation of the original founders.
Subscribers will receive eight long-playing 12 in, records a year, designed particularly as "spiritual aids" to priests and religious, at an average cost of about al 2s. 6d. each. The price alone, then, makes them an attractive proposition.
The speakers on the records include Archbishop Heenan of Liverpool who speaks on "The Meaning of your Vocation". Bishop Fulton Sheen who speaks on "The Holy Spirit" and many other famous names including Abbot Eugene Boylan, 0.C.S.0.. Fr. Robert Nash. Si. and Mgr. Charles Hugo Doyle. Those interested should write direct to the Mercier Press for an explanatory leaflet.
A NCHORI I ES. hermits and stylites are out of fashion these days, as we noted in last week's editorial, but if there is anybody for whom the solitary life holds more attractions than our present highly-paced civilisation, Fame Island, off the coats of Northumberland, might offer him a haven.
Lying five miles north of the famous "Holy Island" of Lindisfarne, Faroe Island is completely surrounded by water, while its more famous neighbour may be reached on foot at low tide. It boasts an ancient chapel. built over the site of the hermitage used by St. Cuthbert, and is inhabited only by wild birds.
It must he a lonelyplace. St. Bede, in his life of St Cuthbert, remarked that "no-one but God's
servant Cuthbert had ever dared to
inhabit the island alone, on account of the evil spirits which reside there; but when this servant of Christ came . . . all the fiery darts of the wicked were extinguished and that wicked enemy with all his followers were put to flight."
St. Cuthbert obviously did a good job, as several other hermits succeeded him in residence, and a Benedictine house was established on the island in 1225 by the Convent of Durham. Said to be richly endowed it remained until the Dissolution with its normal complement of two monks, one called "The Master" and the other "The Associate". The present building, which was built in 1370, was re-roofed in 1848 and contains carved oak panelling from Durham Cathedral.
Arthritis on October 11 ?
AN overnight visit to Dublin to lake part in a Radio Eireann discussion produced this background story to the station's television coverage of the opening of the Vatican Council.
The film was sent from Rome and was voted'first-clans. By some mishap. however. the engineers put it into the camera the wrong way round. The somewhat unfortunate and certainly unliturgical result was that Pope John was shown repeatedly blessing the throng in St. Peter's Square with his left hand.
One dear old lady in the country, worried about the Pope's seeming indisposition. wrote in to sympathise and to offer, for transmission to Rome, her own infallible cure for arthritis.