The Berthold Sacramentary,
Weingarten, Germany,
Executed 1215-1217,
Purchased by J.P. Morgan, 1926
© The Morgan Library & Museum, New York

The Berthold Sacramentary,
Weingarten, Germany,
Executed 1215-1217,
Purchased by J.P. Morgan, 1926
© The Morgan Library & Museum, New York

Gospel of 1 December 2023

My words will never pass away

Luke 21:29-33

Jesus told his disciples a parable: ‘Think of the fig tree and indeed every tree. As soon as you see them bud, you know that summer is now near. So with you when you see these things happening: know that the kingdom of God is near. I tell you solemnly, before this generation has passed away all will have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.’

Reflection on the Sacramentary Cover

Yesterday, we look at an illuminated manuscript page from a medieval sacramentary. Today we are looking at the cover of a different sacramentary. A sacramentary refers to a liturgical book used by the priest and clergy during the celebration of the Mass. It is a compilation of prayers, chants, and instructions specific to the celebration of the sacraments, particularly the Eucharist. The term "sacramentary" is derived from the Latin word "sacramentarium," indicating its association with the administration of the sacraments. It is different from a missal. The missal is a more comprehensive liturgical book that includes not only the priest's parts of the Mass (which are found in the sacramentary) but also the texts for the responses and participation of the congregation. It contains the complete order of the Mass, including the Ordinary (unchanging parts) and the Proper (varying parts based on the liturgical calendar).

Our Gospel reading today ends with Jesus's words 'my words will never pass away'. How true. Jesus' life-giving words are captured forever in sacred scripture. Each time we open our Bibles, we find the treasure of God's Word inside.

This treasure of the Word often then found artistic expression when skilled craftsmen created true treasure of the covers and binding that would hold the Word of God: an external treasure to house the treasure of the Word. The artwork we are looking at today is adorned with pearls, diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, and precious metals. These types of covers are appropriately called 'treasure binding'. Skilled metalworkers were employed to emboss patterns of silver and gold and to set precious stones to create these lavish-looking works of art.

The example we are looking at, The Berthold Sacramentary, is named after Berthold, the abbot of Weingarten from 1200–1232, who commissioned it. It is one of the most luxurious German manuscripts and a major monument of Romanesque art.  Although the manuscript was formerly known as the Berthold Missal, it is, in fact, a Sacramentary. The book still retains its original tooled metal and precious stone inset binding, which includes representations of the abbey's patron saints (Martin and Oswald) and Abbot Berthold himself.

Not many treasure-bound manuscripts have survived the centuries. Many bindings and covers have disappeared... but Jesus's word itself will never pass away….

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Jamie Cardinal
Member
Jamie Cardinal
3 months ago

What a beautiful sacramentary…….such a beautiful and expensive piece of art.

btw today is the Feast of Saint Charles de Foucauld, an amazing man who lived among the Tuareg people in the Sahara in Algeria.
Happy Feast Day to St. Charles! 🙂

Nadeen Lester
Member
Nadeen Lester
3 months ago

I do what I can as His beloved creature to draw near to Him. If I’m sitting at His feet like Mary, listening and wondering, Jesus assures me that I’ve chosen “the better part, which will not be taken from (me).” Luke 10:42

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
3 months ago
Reply to  Nadeen Lester

You have indeed Nadeen! Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have sat there like Mary!?

Will Howard
Member
Will Howard
3 months ago

Ahhhh the ‘thread’ on the ‘2nd page’ … behind God’s back so to speak (grin)

Lots of wonderful commentary: ” Magnifications … humility and virginity …, St Charles …Angles …the establishing of the Church …the coming of the kingdom ”

I’ve found myself magnifying the central ‘Ever Blessed Mother and Child’ from which the jeweled cross emanates to the sacramentary’ s edges. And I find myself squinting as to draw back from the hammered relief and precious gems and wonder at the craftsman/craft’s intended impression.

Like our words, arresting
the scriptural and liturgical pretext,
the ‘living Word/Logos’
admit to that which takes-
as Elvira offers-
‘eyes of Faith’ .
… So that our heart are able to Lift up
into the Kingdom,
pierce the temporal and tangible
so to regard the intangible and eternal.
That Somehow, the polished gem too well speaking of:
rare hidden finds sprinkled in the earth/hummus,
in the humble fleetingness of this world,
that when worked by craft and caprice,
dazzle the eye and raise the spirit
to jolt us out of our common place to BEHOLD,
beyond the molten burnished brass’s beginnings,
a fire that ‘passes heaven and earth before our eyes’,
and offers the timeless spectacles:
of Saints and angel’s Glory
the praise of God’s solemnity
ever so near at hand and lowly
Mother and Child through all eternity.

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
3 months ago
Reply to  Will Howard

Poetry!! Do you know the Blessed John Bradburne Father? If you have time google him 😇

Will Howard
Member
Will Howard
3 months ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

thanks Chazbo … a bit too rough to use the P word; I call it verse.. But thank you. I’ve just been checking Bl Bradburne out. A Beautiful life. Ahhhh back in the day of real poets and adventurers (grin).

Niobe Hunter
Member
Niobe Hunter
3 months ago

So I worked out ( before reading the helpful commentary,) that we have the Virgin, Four Evangelists, two archangels and s Oswald and S Martin. But who are the two female figures directly above the patron saints? After a lot of magnification and squinting, it seems they are personifications of Virtues : Humility and Virginity; so perhaps there as a counterpoint to the richness of the ornament and the possibly self referential appearance of the donor.

I do love Romanesque Art, and its logical puzzles. There is something very direct about the statements of faith.

Elvira
Member
Elvira
3 months ago
Reply to  Niobe Hunter

And below, beside Saint Mark is Abbot Berthold and beside Saint Luke is Saint Nicholas

Wouter Delaere
Member
Wouter Delaere
3 months ago

Vandaag ook de heilige Charles de Foucauld. In de huidige internationale context misschien wel eens goed om ons te richten tot hem…

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
3 months ago

Like it, Janey. Have a nice rest!!

Elvira
Member
Elvira
3 months ago

On the cover of the sacramentary I seem to see, above two angels and below two evangelists Mark, the lion and Luke, the bull.

Thimas@
Member
Thimas@
3 months ago

Well that is where both atheists and Christians agree. The truth exists!

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
3 months ago
Reply to  Thimas@

The search continues……!

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
3 months ago

I can read some names around the edges of this joyful and gorgeous thing. Some are clearer than others, but I’m glad Saint Oswald is there, and Saint Michael too! What a truly precious thing this is, although Our Lady seems to have lost a hand!

‘… all will have taken place.’ Is Jesus referring to His death and resurrection here? To the founding of the church? This is how I read it. Followed by those comforting words, that though Heaven and Earth pass away, but not the Word Himself. Wow!

We think we know so much, but our knowledge is tiny.

I shall ponder on this today, as Graham says below, I have nothing more to add.

Graham B.
Member
Graham B.
3 months ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

🌅

Elvira
Member
Elvira
3 months ago

As the fig tree announces to us the arrival of the summer or the almond tree the spring, so the speeches of Jesus that we have meditated on in the previous days : the suffering of humanity, the persecution of Christians, the destruction of the Temple and its substitution by the risen Christ, announce the coming of the kingdom of God. A Kingdom that is coming and that comes in every human generation, also in ours if we have the eyes of faith open to see it. Sursum corda!
Let us trust “His words will not pass”

Last edited 3 months ago by Elvira

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