Christ is the chief shepherd, the leader of his flock: come, let us adore him.
Year: C(I). Psalm week: 1. Liturgical Colour: White.
St Wulstan (1008? - 1095)
St Wulstan became a Benedictine monk at Worcester Cathedral priory, and later was made prior. He reformed the monastic observance, and became known as a preacher and counsellor.
In 1062 he became Bishop of Worcester and combined effectively the tasks of monastic superior and diocesan bishop. He is the first English bishop known to have made a systematic visitation of his diocese. Together with Lanfranc he was instrumental in abolishing the slave trade from Bristol to Viking Ireland, and later he supported Lanfranc’s policy of reform. He built parish churches and re-founded the monastery at Westbury-on-Trym. He insisted on clerical celibacy, and under him Worcester became one of the most important centres of Old English literature and culture. He was known for his abstinence and generosity to the poor.
After the Norman Conquest he remained one of the few Englishmen to retain office. In the Barons’ Rising he was loyal to the Crown and defended the Castle of Worcester against the insurgents. He was buried in his Cathedral, and his cult began almost at once. He was canonised in 1203 and his feast was widely kept in monastic and diocesan calendars.
In the Chapel of St Oliver Plunkett at Downside Abbey, a stained glass window depicts a less official story concerning Wulstan: that one day, whilst celebrating Mass, he was distracted by the smell of roast goose, which was wafted into the church from the neighbouring kitchen. He prayed that he might be delivered from the distraction and vowed that he would never eat meat again if his prayer were granted.
The modern world needs stories like this more than it realises. The watered-down puritanism that serves so many of us as a moral code today equates pleasure with evil – cream cakes, the advertisements tell us, are “naughty but nice”.. or even “wickedly delicious.” Messages like this are a libel on the name of God, who created the pleasures, and on his Son, whose first recorded public act was turning water into wine. There is nothing wicked about delicious food in itself, or in any other pleasant or beautiful thing. Let us enjoy God’s creation all we can and rejoice in its creator as we do so, and if, like Wulstan, we have to deprive ourselves of something for our spiritual or bodily health, then let us suffer our deprivation cheerfully, blaming the weakness in us that made it necessary. Let us never devalue our sacrifices by denigrating the things we sacrifice, or the sacrifice will be pointless. Let us remember what God did, day after day, as he was creating the world: he looked at it, and saw it, and behold: it was very good.
Other saints: St Faolan (8th century)
The fact that the saint’s name can be spelt Fillan, Filan, Phillan, Fáelán or Faolan says everything about the difficulty of disentangling the records of early Gaelic saints, and even their identities. This is nothing to worry about: saints are real people, and they remain real even when most of the facts about them have evaporated. It will happen to us.
This St Faolan appears to be St. Fillan of Munster, the son of Feriach, grandson of Cellach Cualann, King of Leinster. He received the monastic habit in the Abbey of Saint Fintan Munnu and came to Scotland from Ireland in 717 as a hermit along with his Irish princess-mother St. Kentigerna, his Irish prince-uncle St. Comgan, and his siblings. They settled at Loch Duich. Fillan later moved south and is said to have been a monk at Taghmon in Wexford before eventually settling in Pittenweem (‘the Place of the Cave’), Fife, in the east of Scotland later in the 8th century.
Other saints: Our Lady of Arabia
19 Jan (where celebrated)
The recent title ‘Our Lady of Arabia’ accorded to our Lady represents the patronage of the Blessed Virgin over the Arabian peninsula. The devotion to our Lady under this title began in the 20th century with the dedication of a chapel by the Carmelite fathers in honour of Our Lady of Arabia. In the space of a year, the chapel was soon enriched with the same indulgences as the Papal Basilica of St. Mary Major, and the image – modelled after that of our Lady of Mount Carmel and solemnly blessed by Pius XII – was installed in it. In 1957, the Blessed Virgin under this title was declared the principal patroness of the Apostolic Vicariate of Kuwait, and the statue solemnly crowned on 25 March 1960. The 21st century saw a renewed effort in favour of the devotion to the Blessed Virgin in the newly constituted Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia, as emblematic of the missionary character of the Church in the Gulf. The Blessed Virgin Mary, under this title, was declared the principal patroness of the region in 2013 by the Congregation of Divine Worship, and the proper Masses to the Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia in 2014.
Though the title is relatively recent, the Blessed Virgin is not a stranger to the region. On the contrary, her praises are mentioned even among Muslims in the Quran, which regards her as “chosen above all women” (Sura Al-Imran, 42). History bears witness to a flourishing devotion in honour of the Virgin Mary in the southern part of the Arabian peninsula before the arrival of Islam, as evinced by the churches dedicated in her honour.
The veneration historically shown toward the Blessed Virgin by the native inhabitants of the region has revived and increased in the modern day with the arrival of migrants from all corners of the globe, fulfilling the divine promise uttered in the Spirit by the holy Virgin herself: “All generations will call me blessed” (Lk 1:48). With trust in her powerful intercession, they praise the Lord who “casts down the mighty from their thrones and exalts the lowly”. The Mother of God shines as a beacon of hope for the Christian faithful, illuminating the providence and fidelity of God to those who trust in him amidst the anxieties of life. Whether through her journey to the hill country of Judah with the child in her womb, or her flight with the infant Christ from persecution by Herod, the Blessed Virgin serves as an exemplar for migrant faithful who are sustained by their faith in Christ the Lord. To the missionary Church in Arabia, the Mother of God reveals a life closely associated with her Son, and perpetually pointing to him. Thus, as it strives to be the leaven of the Gospel in the society in which it exists, the missionary Church in the Gulf makes the words of its Mother and Queen its own: “Do whatever he tells you”.
To their Mother and Queen therefore, on this day, the Christians of Gulf turn with filial confidence, that she “whose radiant glance banishes storms and tempests and brings back cloudless skies (may) look upon these her innocent and tormented children with eyes of mercy; that the Virgin, who is able to subdue violence beneath her foot, may grant to them that they may soon enjoy the rightful freedom to practice their religion openly, so that, while serving the cause of the Gospel, they may also contribute to the strength and progress of nations by their harmonious cooperation, by the practice of extraordinary virtues which are a glowing example in the midst of bitter trials” (Pius XII, Ad Caeli Reginam, 50).
Other saints: The Jesuit Martyrs of the Reformation in Europe
19 Jan (where celebrated)
Saints John Ogilvie, Priest; Stephen Pongrácz, Melchior Grodziecki, Priests, and Mark of Križevci, Canon of Esztergom; Blessed Ignatius de Azevedo, Priest, and Companions; James Salès, Priest, and William Saultemouche, Religious, Martyrs
Today we commemorate Jesuits who were killed for the Catholic Faith in the sixteenth century, after the Reformation. John Ogilvie ministered clandestinely to persecuted Catholics in Scotland. Stephen Pongracz from Hungary, Melchior Grodziecki from Poland, and Mark Krizevci, a local diocesan priest, ministered to the abandoned Catholics in Koscielny (Slovakia). Ignatius de Acevedo and thrity-nine Jesuits he had recruited from Portugal for the missions were massacred at sea by French Calvinist pirates while en route to Brazil. James Salès, a French Jesuit, ministered to straying Catholics in the Aube as, with his companion William Saultemouche, a Jesuit Brother.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
Second Reading: Saint Fulgentius of Ruspe (462/7 - 527/ 533)
Fulgentius was bishop of the city of Ruspe in the Roman province of Africa, which is in modern-day Tunisia. At that time Africa and parts of the Near East were ruled by the Vandals, who were Arians, calling themselves Christians but denying the divinity of Christ. As a result Fulgentius’ early career was marked by a series of flights from persecution, as Catholics tried to maintain their faith under Vandal rule. It was a complicated time. In 499 he was tortured for saying that Jesus was both God and man; the next year the Vandal king Thrasamund, impressed by his talents, invited him to return from exile and become a bishop (Fulgentius declined, since he knew that Thrasamund had ordered that none but Arians should be bishops); two years later he was persuaded to become bishop of Ruspe in Tunisia but shortly afterwards he was exiled to Sardinia. Thrasamund invited him back in 515 to debate against the Arians but exiled him again in 520.
In 523, following the death of Thrasamund and the accession of his Catholic son Hilderic, Fulgentius was allowed to return to Ruspe and try to convert the populace back to the faith. He worked to reform many of the abuses which had infiltrated his old diocese in his absence. The power and effectiveness of his preaching were so profound that his archbishop, Boniface of Carthage, wept openly every time he heard Fulgentius preach, and publicly thanked God for giving such a preacher to his church.
Liturgical colour: white
White is the colour of heaven. Liturgically, it is used to celebrate feasts of the Lord; Christmas and Easter, the great seasons of the Lord; and the saints. Not that you will always see white in church, because if something more splendid, such as gold, is available, that can and should be used instead. We are, after all, celebrating.
In the earliest centuries all vestments were white – the white of baptismal purity and of the robes worn by the armies of the redeemed in the Apocalypse, washed white in the blood of the Lamb. As the Church grew secure enough to be able to plan her liturgy, she began to use colour so that our sense of sight could deepen our experience of the mysteries of salvation, just as incense recruits our sense of smell and music that of hearing. Over the centuries various schemes of colour for feasts and seasons were worked out, and it is only as late as the 19th century that they were harmonized into their present form.
|Mid-morning reading (Terce)||1 Timothy 4:16 ©|
Take great care about what you do and what you teach; always do this, and in this way you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.
|Noon reading (Sext)||1 Timothy 1:12 ©|
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, and who judged me faithful enough to call me into his service.
|Afternoon reading (None)||1 Timothy 3:13 ©|
Those who carry out their duties well as deacons will earn a high standing for themselves and be rewarded with great assurance in their work for the faith in Christ Jesus.