Christ the Lord has promised us the Holy Spirit: come, let us adore him, alleluia.
Year: C(I). Psalm week: 3. 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: St Gregory of Agrigentum (late 6th century)
Gregory was born near Agrigentum (Girgenti) in Sicily. He was ordained deacon while on a pilgrimage to Palestine, by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, and was ordained Bishop of Agrigentum while on a visit to Rome. Pope St Gregory the Great addressed several letters to him.
There is a long biography of him, written some years after his death, but it is short on the kind of dry biographical detail that is valued in the modern West and long on the stories of personalities, feuds, injustice, divine assistance and eventual vindication which may well be true (there is no reason for them not to be) but which do not accord well with our current ideas of what history ought to be. Even the date of Gregory’s death is uncertain. By 594 he was no longer Bishop, but whether this was due to death, dismissal or retirement, nobody knows.
On the other hand, the “Gregory of Agrigentum” who wrote the exposition on Ecclesiastes which appears among the Second Readings may be another Gregory of Agrigentum from the late seventh, and not the late sixth, century. Or he may even be someone else altogether, from later still.
Faced with such rich material for controversy among scholars, this is one of those cases when it is better not to worry too much about the exact authorship, instead absorbing and deriving spiritual benefit from the rich line of interpretation which this work provides. It is the quality of the Exposition on Ecclesiastes, not the identity of its author, which has secured it its place in the Liturgy of the Hours.
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)||Romans 5:10-11 ©|
When we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, we were still enemies; now that we have been reconciled, surely we may count on being saved by the life of his Son? Not merely because we have been reconciled but because we are filled with joyful trust in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have already gained our reconciliation.
|Noon reading (Sext)||1 Corinthians 15:20-22 ©|
Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of all who have fallen asleep. Death came through one man and in the same way the resurrection of the dead has come through one man. Just as all men die in Adam, so all men will be brought to life in Christ.
|Afternoon reading (None)||2 Corinthians 5:14-15 ©|
The love of Christ overwhelms us when we reflect that if one man has died for all, then all men should be dead. The reason he died for all was so that living men should live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised to life for them.