Christ is the spouse of the Church: come, let us adore him.
Year: B(I). Psalm week: 4. Liturgical Colour: White.
In other years: Pope St Paul VI (1897-1978)
Giovanni Battista Montini was born on 26 September 1897 in the village of Concesio, in the province of Brescia, Lombardy. He was ordained priest on 29 May 1920 and worked in the Roman Curia, the Vatican civil service, until he was made Archbishop of Milan in 1954. He was elected Pope on 21 June 1963, successfully saw the Vatican Council through to its completion, promoted the renewal of the Church’s life and especially of the liturgy. He also promoted ecumenical dialogue and the proclamation of the Gospel to the modern world. He died on 6 August 1978.
He was canonized by Pope Francis in 2018.
In a reflection from 5 August 1963, one and a half months after his election to the See of Peter, Paul VI wrote: “I must return to the beginning: relationship with Christ... that must be the source of the most sincere humility: ‘leave me, for I am a sinful man...’; be it in availability: ‘I will make you fishers...’; be it in the symbiosis of will and grace: ‘for me to live is Christ...’”. Love for Christ and love for his Church. With good reason he could write in Pensiero alla morte: «I pray that the Lord will give me the grace to make of my approaching death a gift of love to the Church. I can say that I have always loved her and I feel that I have lived my life for her and for nothing else”.
When the Holy Spirit chose him as the Successor of Saint Peter, someone already taken by the figure and apostolic activity of Saint Paul, he did not spare his energies in the service of the Gospel of Christ, of the Church and of humanity, seen in the light of the divine plan of salvation. As his teachings show he was a defender of human life, peace and true human progress. He wanted the Church, inspired by the Council and implementing its normative principles, to rediscover ever more her identity, overcoming the divisions of the past and by being ever more attentive to the new age. He wanted the Church of Christ to place the centrality of God and the preaching of the Gospel in the first place, even when she spends herself in the service of the brothers and sisters, in order to build that “civilisation of love” begun by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
In Notes for my Last Will and Testament, Paul VI wrote: «No monument for me». Even if a monument was erected in the Duomo of Milan in October 1989, the true monument to Saint Paul VI is the one built by his witness, his works, his apostolic journeys, his ecumenism, his work on the revised Vulgate, in the Liturgical renewal and his many teachings and examples by which he showed forth the face of Christ, the mission of the Church, the vocation of contemporary humanity and reconciling Christian thought with the requirements of the difficult moment in which he, with much suffering, had to guide the Church.
Other saints: Blessed Joseph Gerard (1831 - 1914)
Born in France in 1831, Joseph Gerard joined the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and later was sent to South Africa where the Oblates were opening new missions. After his ordination in 1854, he worked among the Zulu in Natal for ten years before being sent to the Basuto, in today’s Lesotho, where he carried out his missionary ministry and established the Church. He died on 29 May 1914, having spent 60 years as a missionary priest: he was known as “the Apostle of the Basuto”.
Other saints: Bl Elia of St Clement (1901-1927)
29 May (where celebrated)
Blessed Elia of St Clement was born in Bari, 17th January 1901, to deeply Christian parents. At her baptism she was given the name Theodora, gift of God. In the brief course of her life on earth she lived up to her name. On 8th April 1920 (then Feast of St Albert, author of the Carmelite Rule), she entered the Carmel of St Joseph in Bari. She received the habit on 14th November of the same year, the feast of St John of the Cross. On 8th December 1924 she wrote her act of total and definitive offering to the Lord with the vow to embrace the “most perfect”. She died on Christmas day 1927. On 19th December 2005 Pope Benedict XVI signed the Decree of Beatification. She was proclaimed Blessed in Bari Cathedral on 18th March 2006.
Other saints: Bl. William Arnaud OP and Companions, Martyrs
29 May (where celebrated)
Among the eleven martyrs commemorated this day, three were Dominicans. They were part of a band of preachers whose success at Avignonet, to the southwest of Toulouse, induced a number of Albigensian heretics to ambush the group and treacherously murder them on May 29, 1242. As they died they gave witness to the faith by singing the Te Deum. The Dominicans in this group were: Blessed William Arnaud, one of the first Dominicans to be appointed an inquisitor in the diocese of Toulouse; Blessed Bernard of Rochefort, a Dominican priest; and Blessed Garcia d’Aure of Orense, a cooperator brother.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
Second Reading: Origen (184 - 254)
Origen is a giant among early Christian thinkers. He was knowledgeable in all the arguments of the Greek philosophical schools but believed firmly in the Bible as the only source of true inspiration. He is thus a representative of that curious hybrid called “Christianity”, which on the one hand maintains (like the Jews) an ongoing direct relationship with the living God, who is the principle and source of being itself, but on the other hand maintains (like the Greeks) that everything makes sense rationally and it is our duty to make sense of it. As the Gospels say (but the Pentateuch does not), “You shall love the Lord your God with all your mind”.
A first stage in this, when it comes (for example) to disputations with the Jews over their view of Christianity as a recently-founded syncretizing heresy of Judaism, is to decide what Scripture is and what it says. If I argue from my books and you argue from yours, we will never meet; but if we share an agreed foundation, there is some chance. Accordingly Origen compiled a vast synopsis of the different versions of the Old Testament, called the Hexapla. Not all Origen’s specific judgements on soundness were generally accepted, even at the time, but the principle remains a necessary one, indispensable for any constructive meeting of minds.
Origen’s principle of interpretation of Scripture is that as well as having a literal meaning, its laws, stories and narratives point us to eternal and spiritual truths. The prime purpose of Scripture is to convey spiritual truth, and the narrative of historical events is secondary to this. While we still accept that “Scripture provides us with the truths necessary for salvation”, this view does leave room for over-interpretation by the unscrupulous, and in the controversies of succeeding centuries people would either claim Origen as an authority for their own interpretations or accuse their opponents of Origenizing away the plain truths of Scripture. Even today, the literalist view taken by some heretics of narratives in Genesis which most of us accept as allegorical shows that this controversy will never die.
As part of his programme of founding everything on Scripture, Origen produced voluminous commentaries – too many of them for the copyists to keep up, so that today some of them have perished. But what remains has definite value, and extracts from his commentaries and also his sermons are used as some of our Second Readings in the Office of Readings.
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)||1 Corinthians 3:16-17 ©|
Do you not realise that you are God’s temple and that the Spirit of God is living among you? If anybody should destroy the temple of God, God will destroy him, because the temple of God is sacred; and you are that temple.
|Noon reading (Sext)||2 Corinthians 6:16 ©|
The temple of God has no common ground with idols, and that is what we are – the temple of the living God. We have God’s word for it: I will make my home among them and live with them; I will be their God and they shall be my people.
|Afternoon reading (None)||Jeremiah 7:2,4-5,7 ©|
Listen to the word of the Lord, all you men of Judah who come in by these gates to worship the Lord. Put no trust in delusive words like these: ‘This is the sanctuary of the Lord, the sanctuary of the Lord, the sanctuary of the Lord!’ Since if you amend your behaviour and your actions, I will permit you to remain in this place and live in it.