Christ is the son of Mary: come, let us adore him.
Year: C(I). Psalm week: 1. Liturgical Colour: White.
The shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham in Norfolk was one of the great pilgrimage centres of mediaeval times. The lady of the manor of Walsingham, Richeldis de Faverches, had a vision in which the Virgin Mary instructed her to build in her village an exact replica of the house in Nazareth where the Annunciation had taken place. According to tradition this vision occurred in 1061, although the most likely date for the construction of the shrine is a hundred years later.
The original shrine was destroyed at the Reformation, but in the 19th and 20th centuries, pilgrimage to Walsingham was revived not only for Catholics but also for Anglicans.
|Other saints: St Stephanie|
Very little is known about St Stephanie who was martyred at Denderah in Egypt in the fourth century. Stephanie, who was only 18 years old, suffered death together with about 500 Christians who were accused of preferring Christ to the local gods. Their faith and courage are a great challenge for us today.
|Other saints: Blessed Émilie Tavernier-Gamelin (1800 - 1851)|
She was born at Montréal on 19 February 1800. She married in 1823 but was widowed four years later and devoted her life, and her fortune, to charitable works.
Inspired by her, Bishop Ignace Bourget founded a new religious congregation, which he named the Daughters of Charity, Servants of the Poor, and Émilie Tavernier-Gamelin became its first Superior. The congregation grew and grew, serving the poor, the sick, the old and the insane. The congregation is generally known as the Sisters of Providence and it now serves in nine countries: Canada, the United States, Chile, Philippines, Argentina, El Salvador, Cameroon, Haiti and Egypt.
Mother Émilie Gamelin was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 18 December 2000.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
|Second Reading: St Sophronius of Jerusalem (c.560 - 638)|
Sophronius was born in Damascus around 560. He became an ascetic in Egypt about 580 and subsequently entered the monastery of St Theodosius near Bethlehem. He was active in the battle against the heretics who rejected the nature of Christ as both God and man. He became Patriarch of Jerusalem in 634. At that time the Saracen armies under the caliph Umar I were advancing into Palestine, and Jerusalem itself fell in 637, Sophronius negotiating with Umar the terms of a surrender which gave religious freedom to Christians and preserved the Church of the Holy Sepulchre as a Christian church.
Sophronius’ writings show little sign of these grand historical events. He wrote a series of poems in classical style on Christian subjects, and a number of sermons and doctrinal works.
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)||Zephaniah 3:14,15 ©|
Shout for joy, daughter of Zion, Israel, shout aloud! Rejoice, exult with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord, the king of Israel, is in your midst; you have no more evil to fear.
|Noon reading (Sext)||Zechariah 9:9 ©|
Rejoice heart and soul, daughter of Zion! Shout with gladness, daughter of Jerusalem! See now, your king comes to you; he is victorious, he is triumphant.
|Afternoon reading (None)||Judith 13:18-19 ©|
May you be blessed, my daughter, by God Most High,
beyond all women on earth;
and may the Lord God be blessed,
the Creator of heaven and earth,
by whose guidance you cut off the head
of the leader of our enemies.
The trust you have shown
shall not pass from the memories of men,
but shall ever remind them
of the power of God.