Christ the Lord has promised us the Holy Spirit: come, let us adore him, alleluia.
Year: C(I). Psalm week: 3. Liturgical Colour: White.
Saint Norbert (1080 - 1134)
He was born in Xanten in the Rhineland. He came of a noble family and lived a worldly life at the courts of the Archbishop of Cologne (where he held some minor benefices) and of the Emperor Henry V.
At the age of 35 he had a narrow escape from death and his life changed. He became a priest and was full of reforming zeal, which so antagonized the clergy of Xanten that they denounced him as a hypocrite. So he sold or gave away all his possessions and made his way to the Pope (who was then in southern France). The Pope gave him permission to preach wherever he lived, and he travelled through France and Germany preaching. Others joined him, and a community was started in the valley of Prémontré near Laon, which developed into an order (the Premonstratensian Order) with a number of abbeys.
Meanwhile Norbert continued travelling and preaching, until he was consecrated Archbishop of Magdeburg. He threw himself into his new task with his usual enthusiasm, reforming what had been a rather corrupt diocese, antagonizing the clergy (who had established a comfortable life for themselves) and some of the laity, who had quietly taken possession of unwatched church properties – several attempts were made to murder him. He also preached the gospel to the pagans of the district, and died (of natural causes) in 1134.
Saint Marcellin Champagnat (1789 - 1840)
He was born at Marlhes, a village in the mountains of south-eastern France. The village was poor, and Marcellin had virtually no education. When he was 14, a priest who was passing through the village helped him to recognise his vocation to the priesthood, and he began to study. Life was hard, and he was tempted to give up, but he was ordained priest in 1816.
By then he, with other seminarians, had conceived the idea of a Society of Mary, to include teaching brothers who would work with children who were deprived of Christian education by the remoteness of the areas in which they lived.
When Marcellin was working as a curate, an encounter with a dying 17-year-old boy, with the body of a weak 12-year-old and complete ignorance of Christianity, convinced him that it was time to act. In 1817 he founded the Marist Brothers. Mostly teenage peasants themselves, they were taught how to pray and live in religious community and sent them out to be teachers and religious educators themselves. They went into the remotest villages and taught children, and often the adults, the rudiments of the faith, and how to read and write.
There were many difficulties, not least the incomprehension of the local clergy, but things gradually got better. Marcellin was freed from his parish duties in 1825 and in 1836 the Church recognised the Society of Mary and entrusted to it the missions of Oceania. The first missionaries were sent out in the same year.
Worn out by the effort of obtaining official recognition, and after suffering long and painfully from cancer, Marcellin died on 6 June 1840. The order he founded continues to thrive: today there are about 5,000 Marist brothers.
Other saints: Saint Jarlath (- 540/550)
He founded a monastery at Tuam and became the first Bishop of that see. See the article in Wikipedia
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
Second Reading: St Cyril of Alexandria (370 - 444)
Cyril was born in 370 . He entered a monastery, became a priest and in 412 succeeded his uncle as Bishop of Alexandria. Alexandria was the largest city in the ancient world. Rather like Los Angeles, it was a sprawling mixture of races and creeds; and it was a byword for the violence of its sectarian politics, whether of Greeks against Jews or of orthodox Christians against heretics.
In 428, Nestorius, the new Patriarch of Constantinople (and hence one of the most important bishops in the world) made statements that could be interpreted as denying the divinity of Christ. The dual nature – human and divine – has always been hard for us to accept or understand, and if it seems easy it is only because we have not thought about it properly. Those who dislike problems have had two responses: to deny the human nature of Christ or to deny his divinity: and either leads to disaster, since both deny the Incarnation and hence the divinisation of human nature.
Cyril fought strongly against the teachings of Nestorius and took the lead at the Council of Ephesus, plunging into the turbulent politics of the time and defending the Catholic faith through to its ultimate victory.
Cyril wrote many works to explain and defend the Catholic faith. He died in 444.
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 12:13 ©|
In the one Spirit we were all baptised, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as citizens, and one Spirit was given to us all to drink.
|Noon reading (Sext)||Titus 3:5,7 ©|
God saved us by means of the cleansing water of rebirth and by renewing us with the Holy Spirit which he has so generously poured over us through Jesus Christ our saviour. He did this so that we should be justified by his grace, to become heirs looking forward to inheriting eternal life.
|Afternoon reading (None)||(Colossians 1:12-14) ©|
We thank the Father who has made it possible for us to share in the saints’ inheritance of light. He has taken us out of the power of darkness and created a place for us in the kingdom of the Son that he loves. In him, we gain our freedom and the forgiveness of our sins.