This month’s topic is Kneeling Before the Majesty of God and while I could recommend any number of paintings which feature God in all His heavenly glory, I think I’ll go with this one featuring his hidden earthly glory instead.
This is Saint Norbert worshiping Our Lord, truly present in this ornate monstrance. Norbert was a worldly man who had a very dramatic conversion story and went on to found a religious order that continues to this day. One of the other things Saint Norbert is known for is defending the Eucharist against heresy and disbelief, and one of his attributes* is to be pictured with a monstrance.
I think the value this piece would hold on a classroom prayer table is this:
- Norbert’s obvious devotion. His posture, focus, position of his hands – all are expressions of love for He who is before him.
- The beauty of this particular monstrance. We offer our best to God, and some craftsman (and this artist, Marten Pepijn), certainly did that, also as a sign of their devotion to God.
- And finally, there are details you can cover such as:
- What is a monstrance? (A sacred vessel with a glass opening through which the Sacred Host can be seen. From a Latin word meaning to show.)
- Why is that lamp burning just to the right of the monstrance? (That is a sanctuary lamp, required by canon law to be lit wherever the Blessed Sacrament – consecrated hosts – are reserved, to remind believers of their sacred presence.)
- Where can we find the Eucharist in our church? (Answers vary slightly with each church, but it would be most typical to find the Blessed Sacrament reserved in your church’s tabernacle and in an Adoration Chapel.) Make sure your students know where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in your church and remind them of the proper signs of devotion and respect. (genuflecting, sign of the cross, reverent behavior, etc.)
- How can we find where the Eucharist is another Catholic church? (Look for the sanctuary lamp to point the way.)
*In art, an attribute is an object that identifies someone, most commonly referring to objects held by saints. (e.g. Saint Peter is often identified as holding keys, Saint Joseph by carpenter tools and a staff with lilies, etc.)
If you want a reminder of what this Leading with Beauty thing is all about, click over here for an explanation.