The Lord is a great king: come, let us adore him.
Year: B(II). Psalm week: 3. Liturgical Colour: Green.
|Saint Rita of Cascia (1377 - 1447)|
She was born near Cascia, in Umbria in Italy. She was married at the age of 12 despite her frequently repeated wish to become a nun. Her husband was rich, quick-tempered and immoral and had many enemies. She endured his insults, abuse and infidelities for 18 years and bore him two sons, who grew to be like him.
Towards the end of his life she helped to convert her husband to a more pious way of life, but he was stabbed to death by his enemies not long afterwards. He repented before he died and was reconciled to the Church.
Her sons planned to avenge their father’s death. When Rita’s pleas were unavailing, she prayed that God should take their lives if that was the only way to preserve them from the sin of murder. They died of natural causes a year later.
Rita asked to join the convent of St Mary Magdalen at Cascia. She was rejected for being a widow, since the convent was for virgins only, and later given the impossible task of reconciling her family with her husband’s murderers. She carried out the task and was allowed to enter the convent at the age of 36. She remained there until her death at the age of 70.
She is widely honoured as a patron saint of impossible or lost causes.
|Other saints: St Joachina de Vedruna de Mas (1783-1854)|
22 May (where celebrated)
Joachina, was born in Barcelona, Spain and was the fifth of eight children of the aristocratic Vedruna family. Steeped in the traditional piety of her time, Joachina (aged 12) requested to enter the cloistered Carmelite Convent near to her home. Her request was turned down, but this did not stifle a growing prayer life and her awareness of God’s presence. She decided that if she could not live her life in the service of the convent, then God must be calling her to serve in another way.
This other way led to her marriage to Teodoro de Mas in 1799. Teodoro was someone who, like her, had considered religious life and was drawn to actively living a Christian life of prayer and charitable works. Together Joachina and Teodoro raised nine children in the midst of Napoleonic wars, retreating from Barcelona to live in the safety of Vich. Soon after moving to Vich, Teodoro joined the Spanish forces to defend Spain, leaving Joachina as the sole carer of their children. Teodoro returned to the family in 1813, after he resigned from the army, but returned weakened by warfare. When Teodoro died suddenly in 1816, Joachina was only 33 years old and left alone to raise their children. However, her unwavering life of prayer and her substantial inheritance left her with the means to care not only for her children into adulthood, but also the sick people of Vich.
After her children had left home, Joachina resolved to direct her skills to other works of mercy. She based this ministry on the skills she had developed over previous years: teaching the young, and nursing the sick. In 1826, with the blessing of the local Bishop, Joachina established a community of nine sisters, naming the community the Carmelites of Charity. The early years of the community were spent in extreme poverty, but this did not hamper the establishment of a hospital in Tarrega, Spain. Under Joachina’s leadership and with God’s help, the community worked amidst further Spanish conflicts, their places of ministry were places of peace where wounded from either side of a conflict would be treated. In 1843 the community experienced a rapid period of growth and development, and received final approval from Rome in 1850. During the same year, Joachina’s health began to decline. She died in 1854, and was laid to rest at the mother house of the community at Vich, Spain.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
|Second Reading: St Gregory of Nyssa (335 - 395)|
Gregory of Nyssa was the younger brother of St Basil of Caesarea (“St Basil the Great”). He, Basil and Gregory Nazianzen, “Gregory of Nazianzus”, are known as the Cappadocian Fathers. They were active after the Council of Nicaea, working to formulate Trinitarian doctrine precisely and, in particular, to pin down the meaning and role of the least humanly comprehensible member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. Basil was the leader and organizer; Gregory of Nazianzus was the thinker, the orator, the poet, pushed into administrative and episcopal roles by circumstances and by Basil; and Gregory of Nyssa, although not a great stylist, was the most gifted of the three as a philosopher and theologian. Together, the Cappadocian Fathers hammered out the doctrine of the Trinity like blacksmiths forging a piece of metal by hammer-blows into its perfect, destined shape. They were champions – and successful champions – of orthodoxy against Arianism, a battle that had to be conducted as much on the worldly and political plane as on the philosophical and theological one.
The works of Gregory of Nyssa whose extracts appear as Second Readings are not as rhetorically beautiful as those of Gregory of Nazianzus, who was an acclaimed orator; but they are helpful and clear. Most of them are commentaries on Scripture passages. They involve the mind and deepen the understanding.
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 season in which we are being neither especially penitent (in purple) nor overwhelmingly joyful (in white).
|Mid-morning reading (Terce)||Jeremiah 22:3 ©|
Practise honesty and integrity; rescue the man who has been wronged from the hands of his oppressor; do not exploit the stranger, the orphan, the widow; do no violence; shed no innocent blood in this place.
|Noon reading (Sext)||Deuteronomy 15:7-8 ©|
Is there a poor man among you, one of your brothers, in any town of yours in the land that the Lord your God is giving you? Do not harden your heart or close your hand against that poor brother of yours, but be open-handed with him and lend him enough for his needs.
|Afternoon reading (None)||Proverbs 22:22-23 ©|
Because a man is poor, do not therefore cheat him, nor, at the city gate, oppress anybody in affliction; for the Lord takes up their cause, and extorts the life of their extortioners.