Christ is the chief shepherd, the leader of his flock: come, let us adore him
Year: A(I). Psalm week: 2. Liturgical Colour: White.
|St Wulstan (1008? - 1095)|
St Wulstan became a Benedictine monk at Worcester Cathedral priory, and later was made prior. He reformed the monastic observance, and became known as a preacher and counsellor.
In 1062 he became Bishop of Worcester and combined effectively the tasks of monastic superior and diocesan bishop. He is the first English bishop known to have made a systematic visitation of his diocese. Together with Lanfranc he was instrumental in abolishing the slave trade from Bristol to Viking Ireland, and later he supported Lanfranc’s policy of reform. He built parish churches and re-founded the monastery at Westbury-on-Trym. He insisted on clerical celibacy, and under him Worcester became one of the most important centres of Old English literature and culture. He was known for his abstinence and generosity to the poor.
After the Norman Conquest he remained one of the few Englishmen to retain office. In the Barons’ Rising he was loyal to the Crown and defended the Castle of Worcester against the insurgents. He was buried in his Cathedral, and his cult began almost at once. He was canonised in 1203 and his feast was widely kept in monastic and diocesan calendars.
In the Chapel of St Oliver Plunkett at Downside Abbey, a stained glass window depicts a less official story concerning Wulstan: that one day, whilst celebrating Mass, he was distracted by the smell of roast goose, which was wafted into the church from the neighbouring kitchen. He prayed that he might be delivered from the distraction and vowed that he would never eat meat again if his prayer were granted.
The modern world needs stories like this more than it realises. The watered-down puritanism that serves so many of us as a moral code today equates pleasure with evil – cream cakes, the advertisements tell us, are “naughty but nice”.. or even “wickedly delicious.” Messages like this are a libel on the name of God, who created the pleasures, and on his Son, whose first recorded public act was turning water into wine. There is nothing wicked about delicious food in itself, or in any other pleasant or beautiful thing. Let us enjoy God’s creation all we can and rejoice in its creator as we do so, and if, like Wulstan, we have to deprive ourselves of something for our spiritual or bodily health, then let us suffer our deprivation cheerfully, blaming the weakness in us that made it necessary. Let us never devalue our sacrifices by denigrating the things we sacrifice, or the sacrifice will be pointless. Let us remember what God did, day after day, as he was creating the world: he looked at it, and saw it, and behold: it was very good.
|Other saints: St Faolan (8th century)|
The fact that the saint’s name can be spelt Fillan, Filan, Phillan, Fáelán or Faolan says everything about the difficulty of disentangling the records of early Gaelic saints, and even their identities. This is nothing to worry about: saints are real people, and they remain real even when most of the facts about them have evaporated. It will happen to us.
This St Faolan appears to be St. Fillan of Munster, the son of Feriach, grandson of Cellach Cualann, King of Leinster. He received the monastic habit in the Abbey of Saint Fintan Munnu and came to Scotland from Ireland in 717 as a hermit along with his Irish princess-mother St. Kentigerna, his Irish prince-uncle St. Comgan, and his siblings. They settled at Loch Duich. Fillan later moved south and is said to have been a monk at Taghmon in Wexford before eventually settling in Pittenweem (‘the Place of the Cave’), Fife, in the east of Scotland later in the 8th century.
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)||1 Timothy 4:16 ©|
Take great care about what you do and what you teach; always do this, and in this way you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.
|Noon reading (Sext)||1 Timothy 1:12 ©|
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, and who judged me faithful enough to call me into his service.
|Afternoon reading (None)||1 Timothy 3:13 ©|
Those who carry out their duties well as deacons will earn a high standing for themselves and be rewarded with great assurance in their work for the faith in Christ Jesus.