Christ the Lord has promised us the Holy Spirit: come, let us adore him, alleluia.
Year: B(I). Psalm week: 3. 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: St Basil the Great (330 - 379)
St Basil the Great, or Basil of Caesarea, was one of the three men known as the Cappadocian Fathers. The others are his younger brother, St Gregory of Nyssa, and St Gregory Nazianzen. 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, Basil’s brother, 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.
In addition to his role in doctrinal development, Basil is also the father of Eastern monasticism. He moderated the heroic ascetic practices that were characteristic of earlier monastic life, to the point where they could be part of a life in which work, prayer and ascetic practices could be in harmonious balance. Knowledge of Basil’s work and Rule spread to the West and was an influence on the founding work of St Benedict.
The works of Basil that appear in the Second Readings are mostly from his works on the Holy Spirit, but there are also extracts from his monastic Rule.
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)||Acts 4:11-12 ©|
This Jesus is ‘the stone rejected by you the builders, but which has proved to be the keystone.’ For of all the names in the world given to men, this is the only one by which we can be saved.
|Noon reading (Sext)||(1 Peter 3:21-22) ©|
Now you are saved by baptism. This is not the washing off of physical dirt but a pledge made to God from a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has entered heaven and is at God’s right hand.
|Afternoon reading (None)||Colossians 3:1-2 ©|
Since you have been brought back to true life with Christ, you must look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand. Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth.