Christ the Lord was tempted and suffered for us. Come, let us adore him.
Or: O that today you would listen to his voice: harden not your hearts.
Year: A(II). Psalm week: 4. Liturgical Colour: Rose or Violet.
|Other saints: St Deogratias (d. 457)|
The Christians of the diocese of Carthage, who had remained without a bishop for fourteen years, welcomed the appointment of Deogratias with great joy. He was an outstanding priest, very much loved and supported by the people because of his charity and preaching. During his ministry as bishop he cared for all the people, especially for the many captives that had been taken to Northern Africa by the Vandal king Genseric. Bishop Deogratias was a pastoral leader, full of love for his people and ready to respond to their practical and spiritual needs. He died in the year 457.
|Other saints: St Nicholas Owen (c.1550-1606)|
Birmingham: 23 Jan
Brentwood: 2 Mar
Nicholas Owen was born around 1550 into a Catholic family and grew to manhood during the time of the Penal Laws. He became a carpenter, and for thirty years or more built hiding-places for priests in the homes of Catholic families. He frequently travelled from one house to another, under the name of “Little John”, accepting only the necessities of life as payment before starting off for a new project. To minimize the likelihood of betrayal he often worked at night, and always alone. The number of hiding-places he constructed will never be known. Early in 1606 he was arrested, giving himself up voluntarily in the hope of distracting attention from some priests who were hiding nearby. After being committed to the Marshalsea, Owen was then removed to the Tower. He was executed on 2 March 1606. It was written of him that “no man can be said to have done more good of all those who laboured in the English vineyard. He was the immediate occasion of saving the lives of many hundreds of persons, both ecclesiastical and secular.”
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
|Second Reading: St Augustine of Hippo (354 - 430)|
Augustine was born in Thagaste in Africa of a Berber family. He was brought up a Christian but left the Church early and spent a great deal of time seriously seeking the truth, first in the Manichaean heresy, which he abandoned on seeing how nonsensical it was, and then in Neoplatonism, until at length, through the prayers of his mother and the teaching of St Ambrose of Milan, he was converted back to Christianity and baptized in 387, shortly before his mother’s death.
Augustine had a brilliant legal and academic career, but after his conversion he returned home to Africa and led an ascetic life. He was elected Bishop of Hippo and spent 34 years looking after his flock, teaching them, strengthening them in the faith and protecting them strenuously against the errors of the time. He wrote an enormous amount and left a permanent mark on both philosophy and theology. His Confessions, as dazzling in style as they are deep in content, are a landmark of world literature. The Second Readings in the Office of Readings contain extracts from many of his sermons and commentaries and also from the Confessions.
|Liturgical colour: rose (or violet)|
Rose is a lighter version of violet, because today the penitential violet is mixed with the white of the approaching festival.
It is part of human nature that we cannot go on being penitent for a long time, or we sink into a settled and insincere gloom rather than working at the definite and active spiritual exercise called penance. The Church knows human nature, and both in Advent and Lent there is a moment where the atmosphere of penance and preparation is brightened by a shaft of light from the glorious season we are preparing ourselves for.
The third Sunday of Advent tells us ‘Gaudéte, rejoice!’ because the Lord is near and the fourth Sunday of Lent says ‘Lætáre, Ierúsalem, be joyful, Jerusalem, and all who love her!’ because she herself is loved by the Lord. On Gaudete and Laetare Sundays, therefore, the dark penitential violet may be lightened to what the documents call ‘rose’ but most laymen would call ‘pink’.
This happens where it is traditional, and appropriate, and vestments of this extra colour are available. Otherwise there is nothing wrong in keeping violet as violet. Ultimately the liturgical colours are there to serve us, not we to serve them.
|Mid-morning reading (Terce)||1 Thessalonians 4:1,7 ©|
My brethren, we urge you and appeal to you in the Lord Jesus to make more and more progress in the kind of life that you are meant to live: the life that God wants, as you learnt from us, and as you are already living it. We have been called by God to be holy, not to be immoral.
|Noon reading (Sext)||Isaiah 30:15,18 ©|
For thus says the Lord, the Holy One of Israel: ‘Your salvation lies in conversion and tranquillity, your strength will come from complete trust.’ The Lord is waiting to be gracious to you, to rise and take pity on you, for the Lord is a just God. Happy are all who hope in him.
|Afternoon reading (None)||Deuteronomy 4:29-31 ©|
You will seek the Lord your God, and if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul, you shall find him. In your distress, all that I have said will overtake you, but at the end of days you will return to the Lord your God and listen to his voice. For the Lord your God is a merciful God and will not desert or destroy you or forget the covenant he made on oath with your fathers.