Christ is the son of Mary: come, let us adore him.
Year: A(II). Psalm week: 1. Liturgical Colour: White.
Our Lady of Walsingham
The lady of the manor of Walsingham in Norfolk, Richeldis de Faverches, was instructed by a vision of the Virgin Mary to build in her village an exact replica of the house in Nazareth in which the Annunciation had taken place. The vision occurred, according to tradition, in 1061, though a more likely date for the construction of the shrine is a hundred years later. This feast celebrates the shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Walsingham, one of the great pilgrimage centres of medieval times. The original house was destroyed at the Reformation, but the Shrine was re-established at King’s Lynn in 1897 and the Slipper Chapel became the National Shrine in 1943. The Shrine was raised to the rank of Minor Basilica by Pope Francis in 2015.
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 Aelred of Rievaulx (1110 - 1167)
Aelred was born in Hexham in around 1109. His family was well connected and at an early age he was sent into the service of King David of Scotland. There he rose to the position of Master of the Royal Household. In time he became attracted to the religious life, but he was also much attached to the life he lived at court and to King David himself. It took a considerable personal struggle for him at the age of 24 to give up his secular pursuits and to enter the newly founded Cistercian monastery of Rievaulx in Yorkshire in 1133. At 34 he moved from there and took charge of a new foundation in Lincolnshire. But within four years he had returned to Rievaulx as Abbot where he remained for the rest of his life. He died in 1167.
Aelred is remembered both for his energy and for his gentleness. His writings and his sermons were characterised by a deep love of the Scriptures and by a very personal love of Christ ‘as friend and Saviour’. He was sensitive and understanding in his dealings with his fellow monks and under his direction the monastery at Rievaulx grew to an extraordinary size. He did not enjoy robust health and the last ten years of his life were marked by a long and painful illness. His position as Abbot required him to travel on visitation to monasteries not only in England and Scotland but even in France, and the physical suffering and exhaustion which this incurred seems to have been considerable. A contemporary account of the last year of his life describes him as being left helpless on his bed unable to speak or move for an hour after celebrating his morning Mass.
Aelred was a singularly attractive figure, a man of great spiritual power but also of warm friendliness and humanity. He has been called the St Bernard of the North.
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)||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.