Christ has been born for us: come, let us adore him.
Liturgical Colour: White.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
|Second Reading: Saint Hippolytus ( - 235)|
Hippolytus was a priest and a learned man, the most important writer of the Church at Rome in the early third century. He strongly attacked the popes of the time, and was set up as a rival Pope to St Callistus. Some time later, in Maximin’s persecution, he was sent to labour in the quarries of Sardinia. There he met the then Pope, Pontian, and was reconciled with him. (Pontian was made Pope in 231, and was sent to the quarries in 235, where he resigned the papacy and died; Hippolytus must have died at about the same time).
Pontian’s successor, Fabian, had both bodies brought back to Rome for burial, and Pontian and Hippolytus were already being venerated by the Roman Church by the start of the fourth century. Hippolytus was the most important theologian and the most prolific religious writer of the Roman Church in the pre-Constantinian era. Unfortunately most of his works have been lost or are known only through scattered fragments, while much has survived only in old translations into Oriental and Slavonic languages, tangled up with the writings of other authors. The fact that Hippolytus wrote in Greek means that later, when that language was no longer understood in Rome, the Romans lost interest in his writings, while in the East they were read long after, and made the author famous.
The “Discourse on the Theophany” [or Epiphany] was probably wrongly attributed to Hippolytus, which makes it hard to get a sense of him as a preacher; but it is of a similar period and outlook.
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 4:7 ©|
What great nation is there that has its gods so near as the Lord our God is to us whenever we call to him?
|Noon reading (Sext)||Isaiah 12:5-6 ©|
Sing of the Lord, for he has done marvellous things, let them be made known to the whole world. Cry out for joy and gladness, you dwellers in Zion, for great in the midst of you is the Holy One of Israel.
|Afternoon reading (None)||(Tobit 14:6-8) ©|
And all the people of the whole earth will be converted and will fear God with all sincerity and renounce their false gods. They will bless the God of the ages by upright conduct. All the Israelites spared in those days will remember God in sincerity of heart and will come and gather in Jerusalem. And those who sincerely love God will rejoice.