Christ is the chief shepherd, the leader of his flock: come, let us adore him.
Year: C(I). Psalm week: 2. Liturgical Colour: White.
In other years: Saint Faustina Kowalska (1905 - 1938)
Helena Kowalska was born on 25 August 1905 in Głogowiec, near Łódź in Poland, the third of ten children of a poor and religious family. From an early age she had a religious vocation, and she showed great determination in pursuing it despite the opposition of her parents and rejection by the first few convents to which she applied. Through persistence and hard work she was accepted by the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, which she entered on 1 August 1925, taking the name Sister Mary Faustina. She lived in the Congregation for the rest of her short life. Her work as cook, gardener and porter revealed nothing of her rich mystical interior life.
The mystery of the Mercy of God which forms the centre of St Faustina’s spirituality was revealed to her by Jesus in visions and conversations from early 1931. In choosing an obscure and uneducated young girl as the apostle of devotion to the Divine Mercy, he followed the pattern so often used by God: that his strength is manifested in weakness, and the weak and humble have the power to change the world. “Today I am sending you with my mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish aching mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to my merciful heart.”
With the help of the nuns’ confessor, Father Michael Sopoćko (who prudently started by having Sister Faustina psychiatrically examined to confirm the veracity of the visions), the devotion to the Divine Mercy began. An image of the Divine mercy was painted at Sister Faustina’s instruction (since she could not paint herself); she wrote instructions for a Novena of the Divine Mercy, which was published in the final year of her life. Sister Faustina died (probably of tuberculosis) on 5 October 1938.
The devotion to the Divine Mercy spread widely and fast, especially during the Second World War. In 1956 Pope Pius XII blessed an image of the Divine Mercy, but the theorists were harder to convince, and although the process of Faustina’s canonization began in 1965, it was not until 1978 that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reversed its previous ban on the circulation of her writings: “…there no longer exists, on the part of this Sacred Congregation, any impediment to the spreading of the devotion to The Divine Mercy”. Indeed, on the official Vatican web site some of Faustina’s actual conversations with Jesus are quoted in her biography, and there have been moves to have her declared a Doctor of the Church.
Faustina Kowalska was beatified on 18 April 1993 and canonized on 30 April 2000. At the same time the second Sunday of Easter was officially designated as the Sunday of the Divine Mercy.
Other saints: Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos (1819 - 1867)
He was born in Füssen, in Bavaria, in what is now Germany, on 11 January 1819. He entered the diocesan seminary. Coming to know the charism of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, joined it and was sent to North America. He was ordained a priest in 1844.
He began his pastoral ministry in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as assistant pastor of his confrère St John Neumann, serving also as Master of Novices and dedicating himself to preaching. He became a full-time itinerant missionary preacher, preaching in both English and German in a number of different states. He died in New Orleans, Louisiana, on 4 October 1867.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
Second Reading: St Gregory of Nyssa (335 - 395)
Gregory of Nyssa was the younger brother of St Basil of Caesarea (“St Basil the Great”). He, Basil and Gregory Nazianzen, “Gregory of Nazianzus”, are known as the Cappadocian Fathers. They were active after the Council of Nicaea, working to formulate Trinitarian doctrine precisely and, in particular, to pin down the meaning and role of the least humanly comprehensible member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. Basil was the leader and organizer; Gregory of Nazianzus was the thinker, the orator, the poet, pushed into administrative and episcopal roles by circumstances and by Basil; and Gregory of Nyssa, although not a great stylist, was the most gifted of the three as a philosopher and theologian. Together, the Cappadocian Fathers hammered out the doctrine of the Trinity like blacksmiths forging a piece of metal by hammer-blows into its perfect, destined shape. They were champions – and successful champions – of orthodoxy against Arianism, a battle that had to be conducted as much on the worldly and political plane as on the philosophical and theological one.
The works of Gregory of Nyssa whose extracts appear as Second Readings are not as rhetorically beautiful as those of Gregory of Nazianzus, who was an acclaimed orator; but they are helpful and clear. Most of them are commentaries on Scripture passages. They involve the mind and deepen the understanding.
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)||Deuteronomy 8:5-6 ©|
The Lord your God was training you as a man trains his child. Keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and so follow his ways and reverence him.
|Noon reading (Sext)||1 Kings 2:2-3 ©|
Be strong and show yourself a man. Observe the injunctions of the Lord your God, following his ways and keeping his laws, his commandments, his customs and his decrees, so that you may be successful in all you do and undertake.
|Afternoon reading (None)||Jeremiah 6:16 ©|
Put yourselves on the ways of long ago and enquire about the ancient paths: which was the good way? Take it then, and you shall find rest.