Newsletter 13.10.2013

Every Picture Tells a Story — Albrecht Durer’s Hands


Text version of Newsletter 13th October 2013


For full version of the Newsletter click here

Back in the fifteenth century, in a tiny village near Nuremberg, lived a family with eighteen children. Eighteen! In order merely to keep food on the table for this mob, the father and head of the household, a goldsmith by profession, worked almost eighteen hours a day at his trade and any other paying chore he could find in the neighbourhood.


Despite their seemingly hopeless condition, two of Albrecht Durer the Elder’s children had a dream. They both wanted to pursue their talent for art, but they knew full well that their father would never be financially able to send either of them to Nuremberg to study at the Academy.


After many long discussions at night in their crowded bed, the two boys finally worked out a pact. They would toss a coin. The loser would go down into the nearby mines and, with his earnings, support his brother while he attended the academy.  Then, when that brother who won the toss completed his studies, in four years, he would support the other brother at the academy, either with sales of his artwork or, if necessary, also by labouring in the mines.


They tossed a coin on a Sunday morning after church. Albrecht Durer won the toss and went off to Nuremberg. Albert went down into the dangerous mines and, for the next four years, financed his brother, whose work at the academy was almost an immediate sensation. Albrecht’s etchings, his woodcuts, and his oils were far better than those of most of his professors, and by the time he graduated, he was beginning to earn considerable fees for his commissioned works.


When the young artist returned to his village, the Durer family held a festive dinner on their lawn to celebrate Albrecht’s triumphant homecoming. After a long and memorable meal, punctuated with music and laughter, Albrecht rose from his honoured position at the head of the table to drink a toast to his beloved brother for the years of sacrifice that had enabled Albrecht to fulfil his ambition.  

His closing words were, “And now, Albert, blessed brother of mine, now it is your turn. Now you can go to Nuremberg to pursue your dream, and I will take care of you.”

All heads turned in eager expectation to the far end of the table where Albert sat, tears streaming down his pale face, shaking his lowered head from side to side while he sobbed and repeated, over and over, “No …no …no …no.”

Finally, Albert rose and wiped the tears from his cheeks. He glanced down the long table at the faces he loved, and then, holding his hands close to his right cheek, he said softly, “No, brother. I cannot go to Nuremberg. It is too late for me.  Look … look what four years in the mines have done to my hands! The bones in every finger have been smashed at least once, and lately I have been suffering from arthritis so badly in my right hand that I cannot even hold a glass to return your toast, much less make delicate lines on parchment or canvas with a pen or a brush. No, brother … for me it is too late.”


More than 450 years have passed. By now, Albrecht Durer’s hundreds of masterful portraits, pen and silver-point sketches, watercolours, charcoals, woodcuts, and copper engravings hang in every great museum in the world, but the odds are great that you, like most people, are familiar with only one of Albrecht Durer’s works. More than merely being familiar with it, you very well may have a reproduction hanging in your home or office.


One day, to pay homage to Albert for all that he had sacrificed, Albrecht Durer painstakingly drew his brother’s abused hands with palms together and thin fingers stretched skyward. He called his powerful drawing simply “Hands,” but the entire world almost immediately opened their hearts to his great masterpiece and renamed his tribute of love “The Praying Hands.” The next time you see a copy of that touching creation, take a second look. Let it be your reminder, if you still need one, that no one – no one – – ever makes it alone!


Author Unknown


Visiting Choir — Schola Peregrina

Next Saturday evening at the Vigil Mass we continue something we started during the summer with Kevin O’Sullivan and the Early Music Society, where we occasionally have choirs of aspiring young musicians to sing in the lovely surroundings of our church and at the same time add something very important to our Sunday liturgy.  Schola Peregrina is a young Dublin group who get together regularly with their director Eoin Conway to sing beautiful music. Next Sunday they will sing William Byrd’s “Mass For Five Voices”, John Taverner’s motet “Mater Christi Sanctissima”, and some of the Gregorian propers for the day.


Mission Sunday—Next Week

Each year we celebrate Mission Sunday to remind ourselves of the fact that mission is at the very hear of what we do as Christians. Pope Francis asks us quite simply “to be missionaries of God’s love and tenderness and mercy” wherever we are. The theme for this year is “Growing in Faith.  The call to mission is a call to go beyond ourselves. Mission Sunday is at the same time an occasion to be mindful of the Church in the wider world, where people often struggle for their faith in very challenging conditions. Our homilist next Sunday will be our deacon John Zheng. John who is from China has been appointed to work as a missionary in Indonesia. The Share Collection will be replaced by a collection for the Church’s missionary effort in the world.


The Royal Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra Concert

A small committee in the parish is presently very busy organising this very exciting event which will take place on Sunday 11 November at 8pm here at St Mary’s. The RIAM Orchestra is a group comprising over 80 of the Academy’s finest musicians from all over Ireland. Under the baton of James Cavanagh, this group makes several annual appearances at the National Concert Hall. We are delighted to welcome them to St Mary’s for a wonderful programme that will include the lovely Bruch Violin Concerto and Beethoven’s 7th Symphony. The entire proceeds from the evening will go to the St Mary’s Music and Organ fund which is to promote sacred music in the parish and for the upkeep and eventual restoration of our organ.  We would love to have a full church for the event. Tickets will on sale soon from the usual outlets for parish events. Prices €12, €6 (conc.), €30 Family ticket.