Coat of Arms revision: sword & quill

Fr Byers Coat of Arms 2

The great elizdelphi has put pencil to paper once again, now with version II, just a quickie draft mind you. I don’t know if this is proper heraldry or not. Does it matter? Actually, I’m told that it follows the rules pretty closely. I figure, at any rate, that if Pope Francis, who pretty much despises all such things, can have a coat of arms, so can I, so should I.

mother teresa-There’s only one change I would make here. As an outreach to our Eastern brothers, I would like the the words from Scripture (Galatians 5:22) to be kept in the inspired language: χρηστότης ἀγαθωσύνη (goodness – kindness). Maybe one more: where the words are below, maybe the band could be made up of blue and white stripes since I spent so very, very, very much time right around the world with “Mama” T and the Missionaries of Charity, so many of whom pray for me. Thank you! The lettering could be in white over the thickest band of blue. Some might say that the two minor stripes offend with Zionist tendencies, it being that they are reminiscent of the Israeli flag. I respond that this was not the intention of Mother Teresa. As it is, she adopted this habit fully ten months before the Israelis approved their flag (January and October of 1948 respectively). Also, I’m Jewish, since my mom, grandma and great-grandma were all Jewish. Get over it. Do I agree with the State of Israel as the State of Israel. Yes, I do, in the secular order apart from religious implications, yes, I do. They have a right to protect their lives. Let me rephrase that: WE have a right to protect our lives. Get over it. Getting beaten down by the likes of Martin Luther and his buddy Hitler is just too much. Truly.

At any rate, the arms are like an autobiography of my dealings with religious orders in the midst of my forever being at the heart of diocesan life.

My pre-seminary days had me living at a Eucharistic Shrine run by a religious congregation (see the monstrance). And before going there, still at home just after graduating from my parish’s high school, I won a Palestinian donkey in our parish raffle at the Diocesan Seminary (on the grounds of the Monastery). My home parish was, in fact, Benedictine, the world’s largest monastery of the Cassinese Federation, at least at the time (well over 400 monks back in the day). There are many benedictine nuns (Tyburns!) who pray for this unworthy soul. Thank you! Note that the Cross on the Coat of Arms is that which is found on the medal of Saint Benedict (not the tiny one held by him on the medal).

It was at this Eucharisitic shrine that I was introduced to the great Discalced Carmelite Saints bringing me into a life-long love affair with all that is Carmelite. This was quite the big deal for me, eventually bringing me to have a full OCD habit made by OCD nuns for what they called being fully invested in the Brown Scapular. This involved one of the retired Definitor Generals of the OCDs. Anyway, the flowing waters are in the shape of Mount Carmel, with the Star of David representing the Blessed Virgin Immaculate Mother of the Divine Son of God. Jesus is represented by the Most Blessed Sacrament, even while the donkey represented the members of the Body of Christ, indeed, the donkey being a time-immemorial symbol of the Jewish people. Again, I’m Jewish! Donkey’s were always in the midst of the Holy Family, from Nazareth to Bethlehem to Egypt and back, at the crib and bringing Jesus to the Cross. This scene, with Mount Carmel and the three stars – Star of David, Blessed Sacrament, Donkey – recalls the Coat of Arms of the Discalced Carmelite Order. The flowing waters (blue, actually) in the shape of Mount Carmel are the waters of Lourdes, where I was a chaplain for some years. Our Lady appeared to Bernadette at the very end wearing the habit of an OCD nun. There is an OCD nun who offers all her prayers and suffering in life for me. I am so incredibly unworthy and fear the reprimand of Jesus. But… of course… yes… Thank you!

The plain black galero with the singular tassel to either side represents the diocesan priesthood. I always had much to do with diocesans, no matter what the relations I had with religious orders.  In joining the CPMs, this remained, as the religious habit is, for the most part, that of the diocesan priests at the time of the founding which remains the case to this day. I was with the CPMs, in fact, only for my novitiate, but have since then (decades ago) been with diocesan clergy, as a seminarian, and teaching at and being on the internal forum and external forum formation teams of diocesan seminaries, ministering in (arch)diocesan parishes and hospitals, living with, recreating with, eating with, praying with diocesan priests, and basically never the CPMs. Just the way it worked out. Yikes! So, yes, a black galero for a simple priest (also appropriate to religious).

The donkey bowing before the Blessed Sacrament recalls, of course, all that is Franciscan. The full ferocity of my relations with the Custody of the Holy Land both stateside and in Rome and the Middle East must remain undisclosed in this world, I’m afraid. I’ve spoken about some of this elsewhere. Let’s just say that the Mossad knows about everything!

The flaming fiery sword is that of the Garden of Eden, and Elijah, and Saint Michael, all three of which I’ve had some dealings. After all, I am a wretched inheritor of original sin and the angels have to smack me down with particular rigor. Elijah is always pictured with this sword, which he used to good effect. He is hailed as “Our Holy Father Elijah, Founder of the Carmelite Order of the Friars of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel. When I was living above the cave of Elijah, I visited the site of the great fiery sacrifice, just below which he dispatched the false prophets. Saint Michael is also pictured with this sword, which he uses to great effect during exorcisms. I’ll leave it at that. The sword can also represent my many years with the Jesuits at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome and Jerusalem.

The quill pen is about the sword of the Word of God, for which I’ve become a scribe at Hebrew University on the West Bank and at the Pontifical Biblical Institute and… and… at the Angelicum. That’s all about writing about the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Mother of God in Genesis and Luke. I can hardly count all the years I’ve been with the Dominicans. They provided me the time and space to write about our Blessed Mother. The quill is dedicated to them more than to the Jesuites.

At one time I wanted ἐσπλαγχνίσθη for the motto (He sacrificed His Heart [for him] Luke 15:20). But, the goodness – kindness motto is kind of a received effect of that ἐσπλαγχνίσθη which one is to manifest, while ἐσπλαγχνίσθη in the Gospels is reserved to our Lord alone.

Elizdelphi tells me that the sword tip will be fiery flames. But I wonder what the hilt might be colored. Gold, I suppose. The feather of the quill I’m guessing should be raven-black, since, in the years I spent as a hermit, many played the part of the raven in bringing me food to eat, helping me to write the summary of the popular version of the thesis about the Immaculate Conception. So, in their honor… :-)

8 Comments

Filed under Father Byers Autobiography

8 responses to “Coat of Arms revision: sword & quill

  1. Monica Harris

    You won an actual donkey?

  2. Father George David Byers

    Yes.

  3. Monica Harris

    This will be such a great coat-of-arms then, once the colors are put in. Great idea and execution, elizdelphi! —although Fr Byers skillfully eluded the papacy part, much to his (probable) relief.

  4. sanfelipe007

    Wow, what a coat of arms. So much going on.

  5. elizdelphi

    I am just reading this now. I will try to incorporate these ideas. I am a little confused about the blue stripes… they would be on the ribbon? with the wide strip on the bottom and the lettering superimposed over the narrow stripes above? I can try but have a feeling that would be busy looking. I would be happy to attempt to write the Greek letters! That will DEFINITELY take practicing to be able to accomplish! And, we had the same idea about a black raven feather. I already unhesitatingly made it black, with ink, for exactly that reason (Elijah’s ravens). Last fall I got a very beautiful icon of Elijah at the Wadi Cherith from a Byzantine Rite Monastery, Elijah is looking at a raven holding bread. I have had this icon blessed and it hangs above my computer. When I am tempted to waste time looking at useless things online I try to let it remind me be zealous for the Lord, God of Hosts. All of the sword blade is going to be flames. I hope it comes out looking good.

  6. elizdelphi

    I want a donkey. I had a horse at one time.

    If I recall correctly, in the original Carmelite rule, they are allowed to have donkeys or mules if they need them, but not horses.

  7. Father George David Byers

    Thank you. Letters on the wide ribbon.

  8. Mary E.

    It is such a treat watching this particular creative process unfold. Fine work, Elizdelphi.

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