Universalis
Monday 18 May 2020    (other days)
Monday of the 6th week of Eastertide 
 or Saint John I, Pope, Martyr 

The Lord has truly risen, alleluia.

Year: A(II). Psalm week: 2. Liturgical Colour: White.

Pope St John I (- 526)

He was born in Tuscany and elected pope in 523. It was a time of high political and religious tension. Theodoric the Ostrogoth, the ruler of Italy, was an Arian, while many of his subjects were Catholics. Initially tolerant, he became increasingly suspicious of the Catholics’ influence and political allegiance – above all, because they naturally had strong links with the Catholicism of the surviving eastern Roman Empire in Constantinople. Moreover, Arians in the eastern Roman Empire were being persecuted by the Catholic emperor, Justin, and they appealed to Theodoric for help.
  Pope John I was sent on an embassy to the emperor, to ask for better treatment for the Arians. In this he succeeded; but the enthusiasm with which he was greeted in Constantinople excited Theodoric’s suspicions, and when he returned to Italy Theodoric had him imprisoned and he died from ill-treatment there a few days later.
  Pope John I’s career reminds us what tolerance is and is not. Arianism was a dangerous heresy (by making the Son subordinate to the Father it made the Atonement virtually pointless) and there could be no compromise with it – but this did not mean that Arians themselves were to be persecuted for their beliefs. Then, as so often now, it was the state and not the Church that tried to use force to impose uniformity. See the articles in Wikipedia and the Catholic Encyclopaedia.

About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:

Second Reading: Didymus of Alexandria (c.310-395)

Didymus, known as “Didymus the Blind” because he went blind at the age of four, was the head of the famous catechetical school of Alexandria for over fifty years. He remained always a layman, and was one of the most learned and widely respective ascetics of his time: St Jerome once stayed with him for a month, to have his doubts resolved on difficult passages in Scripture, and referred to him as “the Seer” rather than “the Blind”.
  Didyums was a leading opponent of Arianism, which held that Christ is not truly divine but a created being. He was, however, also a follower of Origen and took on some of his errors, so that, although he was not condemned by name at the time that Origenism as a whole was condemned, his works fell out of fashion and, as they were not copied, gradually disappeared over the centuries.
  Didymus’ Trinitarian and Christological doctrine is, however, perfectly orthodox. He was a pioneer in expressing the doctrine of the Trinity in a way that was clear and unambiguous and could not be misunderstood. This was a delicate business requiring a careful choice of terms, especially in Greek, which lacked a direct equivalent of straightforward Latin words such as persona. “On the Trinity”, which is used in the Office of Readings, is his most important work.

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)(Apocalypse 1:17-18) ©
I saw the Son of Man, and he said to me, ‘Have no fear! I am the First and the Last. I was dead and now I am to live for ever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and of the underworld.’

Noon reading (Sext)Colossians 2:9,12 ©
In Christ lives the fullness of divinity, and in him you too find your own fulfilment. You have been buried with him, when you were baptised; and by baptism, too, you have been raised up with him through your belief in the power of God who raised him from the dead.

Afternoon reading (None)2 Timothy 2:8,11 ©
Remember the Good News that I carry, ‘Jesus Christ risen from the dead, sprung from the race of David’. Here is a saying that you can rely on: ‘If we have died with him, then we shall live with him.’
Scripture readings taken from The Jerusalem Bible, published and copyright © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc, and used by permission of the publishers. For on-line information about other Random House, Inc. books and authors, see the Internet web site at http://www.randomhouse.com.
 
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