Let us listen for the voice of the Lord and enter into his peace.
Year: B(I). Psalm week: 2. Liturgical Colour: Green.
Pope St Sixtus II and his companions ( - 258)
Sixtus was elected Pope in 257. Twelve months later, on 6th August, as he was celebrating Mass in the catacomb of St Calixtus, he was seized by the authorities (it was the time of Valerian’s persecution) and beheaded along with four of his deacons. He was buried in the same catacomb.
St Laurence, another deacon, was captured and executed four days later.
We know most of the details of this martyrdom from a letter of St Cyprian, who was himself martyred later in the same year.
St Cajetan (1480 - 1547)
He was born in Vicenza and became a priest at the age of 36. He worked hard for the poor and the sick and for the reform of the Church; with this last aim in mind, he founded a congregation of secular priests which became known as the Theatines. These had three functions: preaching, the administration of the sacraments, and the celebration of the liturgy.
He encouraged the growth of pawn-shops as a means of helping the poor out of temporary financial difficulties and keeping them out of the hands of usurers. His congregation also cared for incurable syphilitics (a particularly virulent form of syphilis was sweeping Europe, having been imported from the Caribbean by Columbus’s men).
His example encouraged many others on the path to active sanctity. He said [in a letter to Elisabeth Porto]: “Do not receive Christ in the Blessed Sacrament so that you may use him as you judge best, but give yourself to him and let him receive you in this Sacrament, so that he himself, God your saviour, may do to you and through you whatever he wills.”
Saturday memorials of the Blessed Virgin Mary
‘On Saturdays in Ordinary Time when there is no obligatory memorial, an optional memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary is allowed.
‘Saturdays stand out among those days dedicated to the Virgin Mary. These are designated as memorials of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This memorial derives from Carolingian times (9th century), but the reasons for having chosen Saturday for its observance are unknown. While many explanations of this choice have been advanced, none is completely satisfactory from the point of view of the history of popular piety.
‘Whatever its historical origins may be, today the memorial rightly emphasizes certain values to which contemporary spirituality is more sensitive. It is a remembrance of the maternal example and discipleship of the Blessed Virgin Mary who, strengthened by faith and hope, on that “great Saturday” on which Our Lord lay in the tomb, was the only one of the disciples to hold vigil in expectation of the Lord’s resurrection. It is a prelude and introduction to the celebration of Sunday, the weekly memorial of the Resurrection of Christ. It is a sign that the Virgin Mary is continuously present and operative in the life of the Church.’
Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy (2001), §188
Other saints: Bl. Nicholas Postgate (1598 - 1679)
Nicholas Postgate was born around 1598 at Kirkdale House, Egton, one of the children of James and Margaret Postgate. His father died in 1602 leaving his widow with four young children to bring up. His mother was fined several times for non-attendance at the parish church before her death in 1624. The influence of missionary priests in the area probably led to Nicholas leaving home in 1621 to attend the training college for Catholic priests at Douai in northern France. Ordained priest on 2 April 1629 and knowing that he faced a sentence of death if he was caught, he returned to England on 29 June 1630.
His first home was at Saxton near Tadcaster, later moving to Holderness in East Yorkshire. After the death of Lady Dunbar in 1659 he is believed to have gone to Everingham. He was over 60 years of age when he returned to his native moors and settled in a small thatched cottage at Ugthorpe near Whitby. Here he lived in virtual poverty serving the Catholics of the whole of the North Yorkshire moors from northern Cleveland to well south of Whitby and inland to Pickering. In 1664 he wrote to the President of the English College at Douai that during his 34 years working in Yorkshire he had performed 226 marriages, baptised 593 infants and buried 719 dead. He also brought 2,400 persons into the Catholic Church.
On 8 December 1678 Father Postgate walked from Red Barn Farm at Littlebeck to baptise the infant son of Matthew and Mary Lythe. Unfortunately John Reeves, an Excise Collector from Whitby, decided to organise a search at Red Barn Farm in the hope of finding a connection with the Titus Oates Plot. Arriving as the baptism was taking place and finding Catholic books, relics, wafers etc, he arrested Father Postgate together with Matthew Lythe and two other farmers.
The following day after appearing before Magistrate Sir William Cayley, at Brompton, he was sent to York to await trial. The trial was lengthy and in 1679 he was indicted for high treason for being a Catholic priest. The death of the 83 year old priest took place on 7 August 1679 at the Knavesmire, York, where he was hung, drawn and quartered, which the Law inflicted on Catholic priests.
Ever since his death, Father Nicholas Postgate has been honoured not only by local Catholics but by families who have moved abroad.
On 22 November 1987, along with 84 other martyrs, he was beatified by Pope John Paul II.
Other saints: St Albert of Trapani (c.1240-1307)
7 Aug (where celebrated)
Albert is one of the earliest saints of the Carmelite Order remembered in the liturgical calendar, along with St Angelus and St Simon Stock. Like these other saints, his life is captured in the tradition that grew up around his memory, following his death, a tradition that is recorded in the legends written about him in the mid to late 14th century. Albert was born in Trapani, Sicily, in the mid-1200s the only child of a married couple who had struggled for many years to conceive. As is likely to have been a tradition, he was dedicated to God by his parents in thanksgiving for his birth and later joined the Carmelites in Trapani. He was ordained a priest and during his life is known to have moved between Trapani and Messina, also serving for a time as the Carmelite Provincial of Sicily. As such, Albert would have been an instrumental person in the establishment of the Carmelites in Europe as a mendicant Order following their move from Mount Carmel. His contribution to the foundation of the Order in Europe is recognised by his naming in tradition as one of the ‘fathers’ of the Order along with St Angelus, also from Sicily. Tradition attributed to Albert the gifts of a skilled preacher, healer and reconciler, the spirit of which continues to be recognised by pilgrims who visit his relics. Albert died in Messina, Sicily, in 1307.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
Second Reading: St Irenaeus (130 - 202)
Irenaeus was born in Smyrna, in Asia Minor (now Izmir in Turkey) and emigrated to Lyons, in France, where he eventually became the bishop. It is not known for certain whether he was martyred or died a natural death.
Whenever we take up a Bible we touch Irenaeus’s work, for he played a decisive role in fixing the canon of the New Testament. It is easy for people nowadays to think of Scripture – and the New Testament in particular – as the basis of the Church, but harder to remember that it was the Church itself that had to agree, early on, about what was scriptural and what was not. Before Irenaeus, there was vague general agreement on what scripture was, but a system based on this kind of common consent was too weak. As dissensions and heresies arose, reference to scripture was the obvious way of trying to settle what the truth really was, but in the absence of an agreed canon of scripture it was all too easy to attack one’s opponent’s arguments by saying that his texts were corrupt or unscriptural; and easy, too, to do a little fine-tuning of texts on one’s own behalf. Irenaeus not only established a canon which is almost identical to our present one, but also gave reasoned arguments for each inclusion and exclusion.
Irenaeus also wrote a major work, Against the Heresies, which in the course of denying what the Christian faith is not, effectively asserts what it is. The majority of this work was lost for many centuries and only rediscovered in a monastery on Mount Athos in 1842. Many passages from it are used in the Office of Readings.
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)||Deuteronomy 8:5-6 ©|
The Lord your God was training you as a man trains his child. Keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and so follow his ways and reverence him.
|Noon reading (Sext)||1 Kings 2:2-3 ©|
Be strong and show yourself a man. Observe the injunctions of the Lord your God, following his ways and keeping his laws, his commandments, his customs and his decrees, so that you may be successful in all you do and undertake.
|Afternoon reading (None)||Jeremiah 6:16 ©|
Put yourselves on the ways of long ago and enquire about the ancient paths: which was the good way? Take it then, and you shall find rest.