Come, ring out our joy to the Lord; hail the God who saves us, alleluia.
Year: A(II). Psalm week: 3. Liturgical Colour: Green.
In other years: St Polycarp (- 155)
He was a disciple of the Apostles, bishop of Smyrna, and a friend of St Ignatius of Antioch. He went to Rome to confer with Pope Anicetus about the celebration of Easter. He was martyred at Smyrna in about 155 by being burnt to death in the stadium. Polycarp is an important figure in the history of the Church because he is one of the earliest Christians whose writings still survive. He bears witness to the beliefs of the early Christians and the early stages of the development of doctrine. See the articles in Wikipedia
and the Catholic Encyclopaedia
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
Second Reading: St Maximus the Confessor (c.580 - 662)
Beginning life as a civil servant and rising to high office, Maximus saw the light and took monastic vows, at an unknown time and for unknown reasons, at the monastery of Philippicus in Chrysopolis, a city across the Bosporus from Constantinople (later known as Scutari, the modern Turkish city of Üsküdar). In due course he became the abbot there.
When the Persians conquered Anatolia, Maximus was forced to flee to a monastery near Carthage. It was there that he came under the tutelage of Saint Sophronius, and began studying in detail with him the Christological writings of Gregory of Nazianzus and Dionysius the Areopagite. He applied rigorous Aristotelian logic to these writings to make their doctrine clearer, and harder to misunderstand.
The perennial argument in the East over the nature of Christ – whether true God and true man, or just a divinely commanded man-shaped puppet – flared up yet again, and this time both the Emperor and the Patriarch of Constantinople were on the latter side. Maximus taking the side of orthodoxy, he was arrested in Rome in 653, together with Pope Martin I. The Pope was condemned without a trial and died before he could be sent to Constantinople. Maximus was taken there to be tried as a heretic in 658 and was sentenced to four years’ exile. In 662 he was brought back and tried again, and this time his tongue was cut out so that he could no longer speak rebellion and his right hand cut off so that he could no longer write letters. He was exiled to a distant region of the empire, where he died on 13 August of the same year.
The passages from St Maximus which adorn the Office of Readings have nothing of these controversies in them, but are chosen to reflect for us the glory of the light of the events of our redemption.
Liturgical colour: green
The theological virtue of hope is symbolized by the colour green, just as the burning fire of love is symbolized by red. Green is the colour of growing things, and hope, like them, is always new and always fresh. Liturgically, green is the colour of Ordinary Time, the orderly sequence of weeks through the year, a season in which we are being neither single-mindedly penitent (in purple) nor overwhelmingly joyful (in white).
Other notes: Quinquagesima Sunday
Today is the last Sunday before Lent. Ash Wednesday is only three days away. It is a good time to make sure that you are ready for Lent. At some times, and in some parts of the world, Quinquagesima had a semi-lenten character, because Lent started gradually rather than, as now, all at once on the Wednesday. The liturgy also reflected the coming start of Lent, and the liturgical colour was already violet.
The modern calendar has curbed this tendency of Lent to spread backwards, and there is no sign at all that this is the last Sunday of Ordinary Time for quite a few months. Nevertheless, it is still worth reflecting that Lent is coming very soon and we should make our plans for it.
Incidentally, Quinquagesima means ‘fiftieth’, and indeed if you count Easter as 1, and count backwards, you will reach exactly 50 when you get to today.
|Mid-morning reading (Terce)||Romans 8:15-16 ©|
The spirit you received is not the spirit of slaves bringing fear into your lives again; it is the spirit of sons, and it makes us cry out, ‘Abba, Father!’ The Spirit himself and our spirit bear united witness that we are children of God.
|Noon reading (Sext)||Romans 8:22-23 ©|
From the beginning until now the entire creation, as we know, has been groaning in one great act of giving birth; and not only creation, but all of us who possess the first-fruits of the Spirit, we too groan inwardly as we wait for our bodies to be set free.
|Afternoon reading (None)||2 Timothy 1:9 ©|
God has saved us and called us to be holy, not because of anything we ourselves have done but for his own purpose and by his own grace. This grace had already been granted to us, in Christ Jesus, before the beginning of time.