Tag Archives: Coat of Arms

Donkey Day: Donkeys on Coats of Arms. Benedict XVI and myself

benedict xvi coat of arms

Recall that Saint Corbinian’s bear on the coat of arms of Benedict XVI was actually a donkey, that is, fulfilling the role of the donkey after he killed the donkey. Benedict called himself that “donkey”. No, really. A Pope who is a jackass. Luther, with great malice, called the Pope of the time a jackass. Benedict is from Germany. Anyway, see the outrageously wonderful 2005 article of Archbishop Raymond Burke about the newly elected Pope Donkey, Benedict XVI. And then, to those of you who are fuming mad and flinging the rest of us into hell in all the mortal sin you suppose I and Ratzinger and Burke are in for speaking of the papacy being filled with the likes of a jackass, to you I say, lighten up. Have some Christian mirth. Some irony. Rejoice! The Lord is good and kind. Again, I will say it: Rejoice! My coat of arms, breaking all the rules of heraldry, as any donkey might do, so far:

GEORGE DAVID BYERS - COAT OF ARMS - revision

This recalls the Discalced Carmelite coat of arms:

discalced-carmelite-coat-of-arms

I think Tom Clancy wrote on the etiquette of sword ceremonial. What is the military symbolism of the sword held high as with Elijah or with Saint Michael atop Castel Sant’Angelo who is sheathing his sword? What of ceremonial stuff, like the the sword being held straight up or pointed upward or straight down or pointed downward? Anyone?

Benedict XVI was Pope. Cardinal Burke could well be Pope soon. I’ll never be, but I’m happy to have a donkey on my coat of arms anyway! Just in case that article by Cardinal Burke disappears, I include the bit towards the end commenting on Pope Benedict XVI as being a Jackass:

[…] In his memoirs published in 1997, then-Cardinal Ratzinger commented on his life as a bishop, reflecting upon the image of the bear of St. Corbinian, founding bishop of Freising, the ancient see which is now the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, to which Cardinal Ratzinger was called to serve as archbishop. He relates the story to a meditation of St. Augustine on the text of verses 22 and 23 of Psalm 73 (72). St. Corbinian’s bear:

As the story goes, St. Corbinian was on his way to Rome when a bear attacked and killed his pack animal, his donkey. St. Corbinian rebuked the bear and placed the load of the donkey upon his back to carry to Rome. The story of the bear of St. Corbinian reminded the cardinal of St. Augustine’s meditation on the verses of Psalm 73 which he translates thusly: “A draft animal am I before you, for you, and this is precisely how I abide with you” (Psalm 73:22-23; Joseph Ratzinger, Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, page 155). The cardinal, like St. Augustine, had chosen the life of a scholar, but God called him to take up the burdens of the episcopal office, eventually serving the Holy Father as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He comments on the frustrations which St. Augustine experienced in dealing with the many practical concerns of a pastor of souls, when he had in mind to carry out great intellectual and spiritual works. The text of the psalm reminded the saint and reminded Cardinal Ratzinger that God chose to keep them close to Him by having them serve as His “draft animals,” carrying out the humble tasks of the pastoral office, rather than the exalted service which they had in mind for themselves. Relating the meditation of St. Augustine to the story of St. Corbinian’s bear, Cardinal Ratzinger comments: “Just as the draft animal is closest to the farmer, doing his work for him, so is Augustine closest to God precisely through such humble service, completely within God’s hand, completely His instrument.He could not be closer to his Lord or be more important to Him. The laden bear that took the place of St. Corbinian’s horse, or rather donkey — the bear that became his donkey against its will: Is this not an image of what I should do and of what I am?”A beast of burden have I become for you, and this is just the way for me to remain wholly yours and always abide with you” (Milestones, pages 156-157). Tonight, we thank God for Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, who has found his happiness in serving as Christ’s “donkey,” His “draft animal,” who has given his entire self to working humbly and steadfastly with Christ in the vineyard of the Father. When we see the image of the bear of St. Corbinian on his coat-of-arms, may we be reminded of how he has given and gives his life in service to Christ and His Church. Assisting our Holy Father with his burdens Conscious of the many and heavy burdens which our Holy Father carries, with Christ, for us, let us assist him, offering him the joy of our faithful prayers, loyal affection and unfailing obedience. Our Holy Father, in continuity with the teaching and direction of his much beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II, has already given us an indication of his desires for our growth in holiness of life.In his first address to the College of Cardinals on the day after his election, Pope Benedict XVI stated that the Holy Eucharist “cannot but be the permanent center and the source of the petrine service entrusted to [him]” (Benedict XVI, a pope of Christ, communion, collegiality, Vatican Information Service, April 20, 2005, page 2). Reflecting upon Divine Providence, which called him to the office of St. Peter during the Year of the Eucharist, he has asked that the Solemnity of Corpus Christi “be celebrated in a particularly special way.”He reminded us that the celebration of World Youth Day in Cologne in August will center on the Holy Eucharist, and that the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, to be held this coming October, will devote itself to the theme: “The Eucharist, Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church.”He concluded with a solemn request addressed to us all: “I ask everyone to intensify in coming months love and devotion to the Eucharistic Jesus and to express in a courageous and clear way the real presence of the Lord, above all through the solemnity and the correctness of the celebrations” (Benedict XVI, a pope of Christ, communion, collegiality, Vatican Information Service, April 20, 2005, page 3). As we thank God tonight for the gift of Pope Benedict XVI, let us help him shoulder his heavy burdens by deepening and strengthening our knowledge and love of the Holy Eucharist, above all by the piety with which we participate in Holy Mass, and adore and worship the Blessed Sacrament outside of Mass. As we are now united sacramentally to the Sacrifice of Christ on Calvary, let us lift up to His glorious and open Heart the intentions of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. Placing our Holy Father and his intentions into the all-merciful and all-loving Heart of Jesus, we trust that no grace will be lacking to our Holy Father as he pours out his life, with Christ, as Christ’s “donkey”for our salvation and the salvation of our world. We ask the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, and the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul to pray with us for our Holy Father: “The Lord preserve him and give him life, and make him blessed upon the earth, and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies” (Enchiridion of Indulgences, June 29, 1968, no. 39). Conclusion I hope that the text of my homily has helped you in some way to understand the office of St. Peter and the deep trust in Divine Providence with which Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the office from our Lord.He is the humble worker in the vineyard, Christ’s “draft animal” who seeks only to do God’s will. Let us continue to assist our Holy Father by our daily prayers.I ask especially that you remember the intentions of our Holy Father when you pray the rosary. […]

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The sins of my Coat of Arms (revision)

GEORGE DAVID BYERS - COAT OF ARMS - revision

In my opinion, this is the best Coat of Arms for a priest ever.

We’re still working on the motto… I am rather indecisive…

elizdephi is an extremely talented artist. It makes me wonder what treasures she has…

This is the third post on this. Behold, posts one and two:

As for the sword and quill pen, a lawyer who is also a Scott has written in to complain, saying, “Hmph!” and adding that “I seriously think you are NOT allowed swords behind your blazon. How very brazen!” To which I answer, there are not “swords” but only one, and then a quill. Perhaps it is with this kind of intervention that the exclamation came about: “Scotch that!”

That this fellow is a Scott is rather significant. They are very persnickety about Coats of Arms and all manner of heraldry. I respect that. But, he was born in the British Commonwealth and offered, of all things, to seek a waiver for my brazenness with the very Queen of England. The Scotts have all manner of opinion about any Queen of England having any sort of wealth that is common round about the globe.

At any rate, I hear it told – though I don’t know if it’s true – that the coat of arms of Pope John Paul II was also in some way against the rules. And, at any rate, does not the Church have some weight to throw around with such rules?

Anyway, I’m not sure of the significance of a sword or quill for that matter either turned up or, as depicted here, turned down. For Saint Michael the Archangel, the downward sword being put into the scabbard does not signify peace or surrender, but rather victory in the sense of “It’s over for you buddy. You’re a joke. Just give it up now or you’re dead.” Something like that…

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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… :-)

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