All my life, cards have been important to me.
My mother understood the value of playing cards (“Best Little Things”) – a cheap way to keep a passel of kids quiet. We learned Fish and War, Rummy, SetBack, Crazy Eights, Old Maid, and a jillion kinds of Solitaire. Then later it was Canasta, Cribbage, Hearts. I never did learn Bridge, although I have recently rediscovered Gin (online), and now am so addicted my puppy has been barking at me all evening.
There was also my most precious childhood possession – my library card. There was never a better invention that the public library. Why, you can borrow any book you want – FOR FREE – and read it and then go get another one. My library let me take SIX at a time!
In school, though, it was Holy Cards. I collected Holy Cards like they were tickets to Heaven – which may have been what the nuns told me – and they wouldn’t lie- they were NUNS. Married to Jesus, for God’s sake. [literally, for God’s sake.)
The nuns gave us Holy Cards for special occasions or as a reward for extraordinary achievement. And how I loved being recognized for any achievement, never mind extraordinary.
And although it has been more than fifty years since I was in elementary school, I still have a few of the holy cards I was awarded. Because they were still tucked inside my missal, which I have kept for 56 years.
Here are some of the Holy Cards I found. If you did not go to parochial school, you may recognize them as the cards that are often given as a remembrance at funerals.
The one of the upper left is in French – I went to a French parochial school in Connecticut. When I use Google Translate, it comes back with “Brace, Obey and Give Service Happily.” The “Brace’ part confuses me, but the first translation Google gave me was, “Spider, Obey and Give Service Happily” so perhaps this card was intended for Spiderman, and not little Nancy Dube.
The next Holy Card is Pope Paul VI, from 1963. I don’t know why I kept this card – I never liked Paul VI, because he never smiled. I liked his predecessor, Pope John XXIII – who was a chubby guy who smiled all the time.
At the upper right is a card in Latin and English – “Prince of Peace.” On the back of this card, in beautiful cursive is written,
May happiness be at your door
Throughout the year of ’64.
Sister Maria was a very nice nun. I remember she once told me that her “real” name was Beverly. I thought at the time that she must have been very relieved to become Maria.
On to the bottom left -“Our Lady of the Council.” I had no idea there was a lady of the council, and googling was no help. But I do remember a big deal was made by the nuns about the Second Vatican Council, which modernized the Church. I guess we prayed to this version of Mary so we could stop praying in Latin.
Lastly, “Inviolata integra et casta es Maria” – Inviolate and chaste is Mary. I’m sure I had no idea what that meant in 1962, since I still don’t.
I received dozens of Holy Cards back in the late 50s and early 60s. These five remain. They meant a lot to me back then, so I will put them back in my 56-year-old missal (for which I begged my mother for months, and at $4.50 it was enormously expensive, but my mother got her money’s worth, I think, since I still have it, and so it works out to be only $0.08 a year).
Any why am I thinking about playing cards and library cards and Holy cards this week?
Because I just received my latest precious Holy Card:
Like a Holy Card in my prayer book, I now have a Medicare card in my wallet.
Holy Card. Holy Crap. How the hell did that happen?
I don’t remember getting old enough for Medicare.