Christ is the spouse of the Church: come, let us adore him.
Year: A(II). Psalm week: 2. Liturgical Colour: White.
Other saints: Saint James Berthieu (1838 - 1896)
Madagascar, Southern Africa
James Berthieu was born in 1838 in France. He was ordained a priest in 1864. At the age of 35 he joined the Society of Jesus and in 1875 left for Madagascar where he spent the rest of his life. The local people started fighting in order to chase away the French Colonialists and to destroy the Christian faith. The colonial authority managed to suppress the rebellion. But, in 1896, during another rebellion, Fr Berthieu was taken prisoner, beaten and put into prison. He was asked to reject his faith in order to save his life, but he said he preferred death to apostasy. On the night of 8 June 1896, while he was praying, he was shot dead and his body thrown in the river Mananara.
He was canonized on 21 October 2012.
Other saints: St William of York (-1154)
Hallam, Hexham & Newcastle, Leeds, Middlesbrough
William Fitzherbert was born at the end of the eleventh century into a position of favour and wealth, and was a nephew of the future King Stephen. In his early days he received a good education and when he took holy orders, he became the treasurer of the cathedral church of York. Even if he received this office through patronage, it was generally agreed that he carried it out with wisdom and charity.
This was the time of the accession of King Stephen and the civil war with Queen Maud, with all the disastrous effects that it was bound to have on the government of the Church in England. When William was elected to the archbishopric of York in 1140, his election was challenged by supporters of the Queen because of his family relationship with the King. So began a dispute over his position as archbishop that was to continue almost until the time of William’s own death. Some accounts would suggest that he was ill-served by his advisers and suffered the disadvantages of having too many politically minded relatives in positions of authority. But he himself would seem to have lived an exemplary life and was even careless of his own interests. Although Pope Innocent II upheld the appointment, the next Pope Eugenius III suspended him from his duties on the advice of no less than St Bernard of Clairvaux and another candidate was appointed to the See of York.
William retired for seven years to Winchester where his uncle was bishop and papal legate and lived there quietly without complaint. It was only when his successor at York died and he was again elected to the archbishopric that he travelled to Rome and received the pallium from Pope Anastasius IV. On his return to England, William was mild and conciliatory towards his former enemies and well-liked by his flock. But he had hardly begun work in the city of York when he was taken ill and died in 1154. He was buried in his cathedral and the solemn translation of his relics took place in 1283.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
Second Reading: Origen (184 - 254)
Origen is a giant among early Christian thinkers. He was knowledgeable in all the arguments of the Greek philosophical schools but believed firmly in the Bible as the only source of true inspiration. He is thus a representative of that curious hybrid called “Christianity”, which on the one hand maintains (like the Jews) an ongoing direct relationship with the living God, who is the principle and source of being itself, but on the other hand maintains (like the Greeks) that everything makes sense rationally and it is our duty to make sense of it. As the Gospels say (but the Pentateuch does not), “You shall love the Lord your God with all your mind”.
A first stage in this, when it comes (for example) to disputations with the Jews over their view of Christianity as a recently-founded syncretizing heresy of Judaism, is to decide what Scripture is and what it says. If I argue from my books and you argue from yours, we will never meet; but if we share an agreed foundation, there is some chance. Accordingly Origen compiled a vast synopsis of the different versions of the Old Testament, called the Hexapla. Not all Origen’s specific judgements on soundness were generally accepted, even at the time, but the principle remains a necessary one, indispensable for any constructive meeting of minds.
Origen’s principle of interpretation of Scripture is that as well as having a literal meaning, its laws, stories and narratives point us to eternal and spiritual truths. The prime purpose of Scripture is to convey spiritual truth, and the narrative of historical events is secondary to this. While we still accept that “Scripture provides us with the truths necessary for salvation”, this view does leave room for over-interpretation by the unscrupulous, and in the controversies of succeeding centuries people would either claim Origen as an authority for their own interpretations or accuse their opponents of Origenizing away the plain truths of Scripture. Even today, the literalist view taken by some heretics of narratives in Genesis which most of us accept as allegorical shows that this controversy will never die.
As part of his programme of founding everything on Scripture, Origen produced voluminous commentaries – too many of them for the copyists to keep up, so that today some of them have perished. But what remains has definite value, and extracts from his commentaries and also his sermons are used as some of our Second Readings in the Office of Readings.
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 Corinthians 3:16-17 ©|
Do you not realise that you are God’s temple and that the Spirit of God is living among you? If anybody should destroy the temple of God, God will destroy him, because the temple of God is sacred; and you are that temple.
|Noon reading (Sext)||2 Corinthians 6:16 ©|
The temple of God has no common ground with idols, and that is what we are – the temple of the living God. We have God’s word for it: I will make my home among them and live with them; I will be their God and they shall be my people.
|Afternoon reading (None)||Haggai 2:6,7,9 ©|
The Lord of Hosts says this: I will shake all the nations and the treasures of all the nations shall flow in, and I will fill this Temple with glory, says the Lord of Hosts. The new glory of this Temple is going to surpass the old, and in this place I will give peace – it is the Lord of Hosts who speaks.