Give thanks to the Lord, for his great love is without end.
Year: B(I). Psalm week: 1. Liturgical Colour: Green.
St Oliver Plunkett (1625 - 1681)
Oliver Plunkett was archbishop of Armagh and primate of All Ireland from 1668, at a time when the country was in a state of civil and religious disorder after the interventions of Oliver Cromwell. He persevered for ten years in his effort to ameliorate this state of affairs, until the discovery of a non-existent “Popish Plot” against the English government (invented and revealed by Titus Oates, who implicated many before he was executed for his part in it) gave the authorities an excuse to act against many prominent Catholics. Plunkett was arrested in Ireland but taken to London for trial; one of his companions was saved by being appointed as Bavarian Ambassador to London and therefore acquiring diplomatic immunity, but for Plunkett there was no such escape, and he was hanged at Tyburn, cheating his executioners by dying before he could be ceremonially disembowelled.
His remains are preserved at Downside Abbey, together with such other relics as the notes for his defence at his trial; on the occasion of his canonization in 1975 his casket was opened and some parts of his body given to the cathedral at Drogheda in Ireland.
St Oliver Plunkett (1625-1681)
Oliver Plunkett was born in County Meath in 1625, and died at Tyburn in 1681. Little is known about his early life except that he was educated privately by a Cistercian cousin, Dr Patrick Plunkett, who eventually became bishop of Meath. Ordained in Rome in 1654, he was professor at the college of Propaganda Fidei until 1669, when he was appointed archbishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland. He held synods and visitations and promoted the reforms initiated by the Council of Trent. It was a time when persecution was less severe, though he would often have to dress as a layman. In 1673 the English Parliament forced the king, Charles II, to behave more strictly towards Catholics, and edicts were issued banning bishops and all religious from Ireland. For the next few years he was able to continue his work clandestinely and was even able to hold a provincial synod. Despite the danger he went to visit his uncle, Bishop Plunkett, who was dying. He was arrested and imprisoned in Dublin Castle in 1679, he was tried on the extraordinary charge of having planned to bring seventy thousand French troops into Ireland. There was clearly no hope of a successful conviction in Ireland he was taken to London and duly found guilty of the charge. He was executed in London, the final victim of the ‘Popish Plot’ and the last person to be executed for the faith in England. He is remembered for his pastoral zeal and for the friendly relations he established with those who did not share the Catholic faith. His body rests at Downside Abbey, his head at Drogheda.
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.
Liturgical colour: green
The theological virtue of hope is symbolized by the colour green, just as the burning fire of love is symbolized by red. Green is the colour of growing things, and hope, like them, is always new and always fresh. Liturgically, green is the colour of Ordinary Time, the orderly sequence of weeks through the year, a season in which we are being neither single-mindedly penitent (in purple) nor overwhelmingly joyful (in white).
|Mid-morning reading (Terce)||Philippians 2:2-4 ©|
Be united in your convictions and united in your love, with a common purpose and a common mind. There must be no competition among you, no conceit; but everybody is to be self-effacing. Always consider the other person to be better than yourself, so that nobody thinks of his own interests first but everybody thinks of other people’s interests instead.
|Noon reading (Sext)||2 Corinthians 13:4 ©|
He was crucified through weakness, but still he lives now through the power of God. So then, we are weak, as he was, but we shall live with him, through the power of God, for your benefit.
|Afternoon reading (None)||Colossians 3:12-13 ©|
You are God’s chosen race, his saints; he loves you, and you should be clothed in sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with one another; forgive each other as soon as a quarrel begins. The Lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same.