Christ is the son of Mary: come, let us adore him.
Year: C(I). Psalm week: 1. Liturgical Colour: White.
The shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham in Norfolk was one of the great pilgrimage centres of mediaeval times. The lady of the manor of Walsingham, Richeldis de Faverches, had a vision in which the Virgin Mary instructed her to build in her village an exact replica of the house in Nazareth where the Annunciation had taken place. According to tradition this vision occurred in 1061, although the most likely date for the construction of the shrine is a hundred years later.
The original shrine was destroyed at the Reformation, but in the 19th and 20th centuries, pilgrimage to Walsingham was revived not only for Catholics but also for Anglicans.
|Other saints: St Stephanie|
Very little is known about St Stephanie who was martyred at Denderah in Egypt in the fourth century. Stephanie, who was only 18 years old, suffered death together with about 500 Christians who were accused of preferring Christ to the local gods. Their faith and courage are a great challenge for us today.
|Other saints: Blessed Émilie Tavernier-Gamelin (1800 - 1851)|
She was born at Montréal on 19 February 1800. She married in 1823 but was widowed four years later and devoted her life, and her fortune, to charitable works.
Inspired by her, Bishop Ignace Bourget founded a new religious congregation, which he named the Daughters of Charity, Servants of the Poor, and Émilie Tavernier-Gamelin became its first Superior. The congregation grew and grew, serving the poor, the sick, the old and the insane. The congregation is generally known as the Sisters of Providence and it now serves in nine countries: Canada, the United States, Chile, Philippines, Argentina, El Salvador, Cameroon, Haiti and Egypt.
Mother Émilie Gamelin was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 18 December 2000.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
|Second Reading: St Augustine of Hippo (354 - 430)|
Augustine was born in Thagaste in Africa of a Berber family. He was brought up a Christian but left the Church early and spent a great deal of time seriously seeking the truth, first in the Manichaean heresy, which he abandoned on seeing how nonsensical it was, and then in Neoplatonism, until at length, through the prayers of his mother and the teaching of St Ambrose of Milan, he was converted back to Christianity and baptized in 387, shortly before his mother’s death.
Augustine had a brilliant legal and academic career, but after his conversion he returned home to Africa and led an ascetic life. He was elected Bishop of Hippo and spent 34 years looking after his flock, teaching them, strengthening them in the faith and protecting them strenuously against the errors of the time. He wrote an enormous amount and left a permanent mark on both philosophy and theology. His Confessions, as dazzling in style as they are deep in content, are a landmark of world literature. The Second Readings in the Office of Readings contain extracts from many of his sermons and commentaries and also from the Confessions.
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)||Jeremiah 17:7-8 ©|
A blessing on the man who puts his trust in the Lord, with the Lord for his hope. He is like a tree by the waterside that thrusts its roots to the stream: when the heat comes it feels no alarm, its foliage stays green; it has no worries in a year of drought, and never ceases to bear fruit.
|Noon reading (Sext)||Proverbs 3:13-15 ©|
Happy the man who discovers wisdom, the man who gains discernment: gaining her is more rewarding than silver, more profitable than gold. She is beyond the price of pearls, nothing you could covet is her equal.
|Afternoon reading (None)||Job 5:17-18 ©|
Happy indeed the man whom God corrects! So do not refuse this lesson from the Omnipotent: for he who wounds is he who soothes the sore, and the hand that hurts is the hand that heals.