Christ is the spouse of the Church: come, let us adore him.
Year: B(I). Psalm week: 2. Liturgical Colour: White.
Other saints: Blessed Ghebre Michael (1790 - 1855)
He was born in Ethiopia in 1790. He entered an Orthodox monastery, where he proved to be a gifted student. His name, “Ghebre-Michael” means “servant of Michael”.
He took an intense interest in the history of monasticism and, concerned at the deterioration of monastic standards in Ethiopia, travelled around the country, visiting monasteries, researching their history and the manuscripts in their libraries, and inspiring a small group of monks in each place with a zeal for reform.
Having come to the conclusion that the root cause of the trouble was the monks’ poor theological education, he determined to travel to Jerusalem to continue his studies. He had intended to travel alone, but at this time an important coincidence supervened and changed the course of his life.
Ethiopia had only one Orthodox bishop, who was appointed by the Coptic Patriarch of Alexandria, and in 1840-41 the see was vacant. A delegation was being sent to Alexandria to ask the Patriarch for a new bishop and to visit Jerusalem on the way back, and Ghebre-Michael was invited to join the group. He made one stipulation: that the return journey should include Rome as well as Jerusalem, with the aim of lessening the suspicion of the Catholic Church among the Orthodox. On this journey he first met the Catholic missionary Justin de Jacobis, whose holiness and way of life made a great impression on him.
To everyone’s dismay, the bishop chosen by the Patriarch was in every way unsuitable. Educated by Protestants, he had his own political agenda. He set himself against Ghebre-Michael’s project of reform and theological purification, and his followers tried to poison Ghebre-Michael himself.
In September 1843 Ghebre-Michael sought out Justin and asked to be received into the Catholic Church (at that time about three dozen Ethiopians had become Catholics). They discussed the matter for nearly six months, and visited many monasteries together to study their ancient manuscripts. Finally, in February 1844, Ghebre-Michael was received into the Church.
In July 1854, together with four other converts, Ghebre-Michael was arrested by the bishop and tortured with the aim of getting him to renounce Catholicism. This torture continued for many months. When a new emperor of Ethopia was crowned in February 1855 he had Ghebre-Michael put in chains and took him with him wherever he went. He was put on trial in the presence of the British Consul in May 1855, and, still refusing to apostasize, was sentenced to be shot. The Consul interceded for him, his life was spared, but he died on 28 August 1855 as a result of the harsh treatment he was receiving. He was buried at the side of the road; the exact site is unknown.
Other saints: Saint Fiacre
He was born in Ireland in the seventh century, and was ordained priest. He lived in a hermitage in Kilkenny, but disciples flocked to him there and he went to France in search of greater solitude. He was kindly received by St Faro, Bishop of Meaux, and given land at Breuil on which to build a hermitage. The town of Saint-Fiacre-en-Brie stands on the site of the hospice he built for travellers. See the article in the Catholic Encyclopaedia
Other saints: St Edmund Arrowsmith (1585 - 1628)
Liverpool: 30 Aug
Salford: 1 Sep
He was born at Haydock in Lancashire. His father was a yeoman farmer and his mother was a member of an important Lancashire Catholic family. At the age of 20 he left England and went to the English College at Douai to study for the priesthood. He was ordained in Arras on 9 December 1612 and sent on the English mission a year later He ministered to the Catholics of Lancashire without incident until around 1622, when he was arrested and questioned by the Anglican Bishop of Chester. Edmund was released when King James I of England ordered all arrested priests to be freed. He joined the Jesuits in 1624.
In the summer of 1628, he was denounced to the authorities. He was put on trial, and sentenced to death for being a Roman Catholic priest in England. He was hanged, drawn and quartered at Lancaster on 28 August 1628. His final confession was heard by Saint John Southworth, who was imprisoned along with Edmund.
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.