Christ is the chief shepherd, the leader of his flock: come, let us adore him.
Year: B(II). Psalm week: 1. Liturgical Colour: White.
|St Ignatius Loyola (1491 - 1556)|
Ignatius (or Iñigo) was born in Loyola in the Spanish Basque country. He was a soldier, but was wounded in the battle of Pamplona (against the French) at the age of 30. During a long convalescence he read a life of Christ and a collection of lives of the saints, and discovered that his true vocation was to devote his life wholly to God. He was as systematic about this as he had been about his military career: he spent a year’s retreat in a Dominican friary, made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and then set about learning Latin.
Such enthusiasm in a layman caused grave suspicion in the Spanish authorities, and he was questioned and imprisoned more than once. He moved to Paris in 1528 and continued his studies; and then in 1534 Ignatius and six companions bound themselves to become missionaries to the Muslims in Palestine. By the time they were ready to set out, war made the journey impossible and so the group (now numbering ten) offered their services to the Pope in any capacity he might choose. A number of them were duly ordained and they were all assigned to various tasks.
Soon it was proposed that they should organise themselves into a regular religious order, and in 1540 the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) was formed. Ignatius was the first Superior General until his death. Soon after their foundation the Jesuits began to meet the challenge of the Reformation: a tough task, given the debilitated state into which the Church had fallen, but one which, as Ignatius said, had to be undertaken “without hard words or contempt for people’s errors”.
Ignatius had a gift for inspiring friendship, and was the recipient of deep spiritual insight. Soon after his conversion Ignatius wrote the Spiritual Exercises, a systematic step-by-step retreat that can be followed by anyone – and has been followed by many, not all of them Catholics, ever since.
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.