Christ is the chief shepherd, the leader of his flock: come, let us adore him.
Year: B(I). Psalm week: 1. Liturgical Colour: White.
St Edmund of Abingdon (1175? - 1240)
St Edmund Rich was born at St Edmund’s Lane, Abingdon, on 20 November, probably in the year 1175. His father was a rich merchant, hence the surname (which he never in fact used himself). Under the influence of his mother he led an ascetic life. He studied at Oxford and Paris, and became a teacher in about 1200 or a little earlier. For six years he lectured on mathematics and dialectics, apparently dividing his time between Oxford and Paris, and winning distinction for his part in introducing the study of Aristotle. He is the first known Oxford Master of Arts, and the place where he taught was eventually renamed St Edmund Hall.
Between 1205 and 1210 he changed direction, studying theology and being ordained a priest. He took a doctorate in divinity, and soon won fame as a lecturer on theology and as an extemporaneous preacher. Some time between 1219 and 1222 he was appointed vicar of the parish of Calne in Wiltshire and Treasurer of Salisbury Cathedral, and finally became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1233. He was a notable and effective reforming Bishop. His love for discipline and justice aroused opposition, and he found himself ranged against Rome as champion of the national Church. Eventually, like his predecessors St Thomas Becket and Stephen Langton, he retired to Pontigny, where he is buried. He died at Soisy-Bouy on 16 November 1240.
Devotion to him was especially marked at Abingdon, and at Catesby where his sisters were both nuns. Edmund was canonised in 1246, and is the Joint-Principal Patron of the Diocese of Portsmouth.
He is venerated as a vigorous and reforming bishop and as a peacemaker, as well as being a distinguished commentator on the Scriptures and an effective spiritual writer.
In other years: St Margaret of Scotland (1046 - 1093)
She was born in Hungary of Anglo-Saxon and Hungarian parents. When William of Normandy conquered England she found refuge with King Malcolm III of Scotland, and they were married in 1070 and had eight children. She reformed the royal court, founded monasteries, and supported major reforms of Church life. She died in Edinburgh on 16 November 1093. She is remembered for the happiness of her marriage, for her devotion to prayer and learning, and especially for her generosity to the poor.
In other years: St Gertrude (1256 - 1301/2)
She was born at Eisleben in Thuringia. As a girl she was educated by the Benedictine nuns at Helfta and was particularly talented at literature and philosophy. She turned to God and became a nun herself. She was devoted to the mystery of the Incarnation, in particular to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Eucharist. She was the recipient of many mystical experiences, and her spiritual writings had great influence in later centuries and indirectly contributed to the establishment of the feast of the Sacred Heart.
Other saints: Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn
Vilnius (Wilno in Polish) is the capital of Lithuania, which was part of the multi-ethnic Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until this was destroyed in 1793 by the Prussian, Austrian and Russian Empires. Lithuania was taken over by the Russian Empire; then, after a brief period of independence between the wars, it was illegally occupied by the Soviet Union until the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1989.
In the Chapel of the Gate of Dawn there is a painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary which has been venerated by the faithful since the 17th century, and which became a symbol of the national identity that the invaders sought to obliterate. Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn (Lithuanian: Aušros Vartų Dievo Motina, Polish: Matka Boska Ostrobramska, Belarusian: Мац Божая Вастрабрамская) is a major focus of pilgrimage from the successor states of the Commonwealth: Poland, Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine.
Pope John Paul II visited the chapel in 1993.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
Second Reading: Saint Andrew of Crete (650? - 720/740?)
St Andrew of Crete is of great importance in the Orthodox Church because he invented – or at least introduced into the liturgy – the canon, a new form of hymnody of which there is no sign before his time. Canons are huge, elaborately structured musical and poetic compositions. Andrew’s immense “Greek Canon”, for instance, is a hymn 250 verses long interspersed with litanies and odes, takes three hours to chant, and goes chronologically through the entire Old and New Testaments, showing examples of the need for repentance and conversion.
The canon, as a genre, has never taken real root in the rest of Christendom, but in addition to his achievements as a hymnographer Andrew was a noted preacher of sermons and discourses, and it is extracts from these that form some of our Second Readings. As might be expected from such a poet they are clear and inspiring, deriving their effect more from the arrangement of images and episodes so that one reflects and illuminates another, rather than from closely-argued pieces of reasoning.
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)||Jeremiah 17:7-8 ©|
A blessing on the man who puts his trust in the Lord, with the Lord for his hope. He is like a tree by the waterside that thrusts its roots to the stream: when the heat comes it feels no alarm, its foliage stays green; it has no worries in a year of drought, and never ceases to bear fruit.
|Noon reading (Sext)||Proverbs 3:13-15 ©|
Happy the man who discovers wisdom, the man who gains discernment: gaining her is more rewarding than silver, more profitable than gold. She is beyond the price of pearls, nothing you could covet is her equal.
|Afternoon reading (None)||Job 5:17-18 ©|
Happy indeed the man whom God corrects! So do not refuse this lesson from the Omnipotent: for he who wounds is he who soothes the sore, and the hand that hurts is the hand that heals.