How wonderful is God among his saints: come, let us adore him.
Year: A(II). Psalm week: 4. Liturgical Colour: White.
St Gilbert of Sempringham (1083 - 1190)
He was born at Sempringham, near Bourne in Lincolnshire, the son of Jocelin, an Anglo-Norman lord of the manor, who sent him to the University of Paris to study theology; it may be that he had some deformity which barred him from the military career which would normally have been expected. When he returned home in 1120 he became a clerk in the household of Robert Bloet, Bishop of Lincoln, started a school for boys and girls, and was finally ordained by Robert’s successor, Alexander.
When his father died in 1130 and he became lord of the manor of Sempringham, he used his inherited wealth to found an order of monks and nuns, known as the Gilbertines.
When he was 90, some of his lay brothers revolted and spread serious calumnies against him, but he received the support of King Henry II, and Pope Alexander III freed him from suspicion and confirmed the privileges granted to the order. Gilbert resigned his office late in life because of blindness and ill health, and died at Sempringham in about 1190, at the age of 106.
Other saints: St John de Britto (1647 - 1693)
He was born in Lisbon on 1 March, 1647 and brought up at the royal court there. He became a Jesuit at the age of 15, and was given Madura in southern India as his missionary field.
In September, 1673, he reached Goa. He apparently entered the Kshatriyas, a noble caste. His dress was yellow cotton; he abstained from every kind of animal food and from wine. Setting out early in 1674, he traversed the Ghauts on foot and reached Colei in the Cauvery Delta, where he perfected himself in the language. He journeyed northward at least as far as Madras and Vellore, but Cauvery Delta, Tanjore, Madura, and Marava, between Madura and the sea, were his chief field. In 1684 he was imprisoned in Marava, and, though freed by the king, he was expelled from the country. In 1688 he was sent to Europe as deputy to the triennial Congregation of Procurators. Resisting urgent attempts to keep him in Portugal, and refusing the Archbishopric of Cranganore, he returned in 1691 to the borders of Madura and Marava. Having converted Teriadeven, a Maravese prince, he required him to dismiss all his wives but one. Among them was a niece of the king, who took up her quarrel and began a general persecution. De Britto and others were taken and carried to the capital, Ramnad, the Brahmins clamouring for his death. Thence he was led to Oreiour, some thirty miles northward along the coast, where he was beheaded on 11 February, 1693. He was beatified by Pope Pius IX on 21 August 1853 and canonized by Pope Pius XII on 22 June 1947.
Other saints: Blessed Marie-Eugène Grialou (1894-1967)
4 Feb (where celebrated)
Henri Grialou was born in Aubin, in Aveyron (France), on December 2, 1894. After his priestly ordination on February 4, 1922, he was captivated by the doctrine of St Thérèse of the Child Jesus and St John of the Cross and decided to join the Discalced Carmelites. After serving as superior in France, in 1937 he was elected to serve as a General Definitor of the Order in Rome. In 1948, he was appointed Apostolic Visitor of the Discalced Carmelite nuns in France and religious assistant to their federations. From 1955 he was able to devote himself full-time to the secular institute Notre Dame de Vie, which he started in 1932. He died in Venasque on March 27th, 1967, the feast day of the institute. He was beatified in 2016 by Pope Francis.
Other saints: St. Catherine de' Ricci OP (1522 - 1590)
4 Feb (where celebrated)
Dominican Sister and Virgin.
Alessandra de’ Ricci was born of a noble family near Florence in 1522. At the age of twelve she entered the Dominican convent of St. Vincent at Prato and took the religious name Catherine. Inspired by Girolamo Savonarola she worked constantly to promote the regular life. She was favored with extraordinary mystical experiences and at the age of twenty began to experience the sacred stigmata and weekly ecstasies of the Passion. These phenomena continued for twenty years. Despite her intense mystical life of prayer and her penance, Catherine served as prioress of the convent for thirty-six years. She was noted as a kind and considerate superior, particularly gentle with the sick. She died on February 2, 1590.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
Second Reading: St Irenaeus (130 - 202)
Irenaeus was born in Smyrna, in Asia Minor (now Izmir in Turkey) and emigrated to Lyons, in France, where he eventually became the bishop. It is not known for certain whether he was martyred or died a natural death.
Whenever we take up a Bible we touch Irenaeus’s work, for he played a decisive role in fixing the canon of the New Testament. It is easy for people nowadays to think of Scripture – and the New Testament in particular – as the basis of the Church, but harder to remember that it was the Church itself that had to agree, early on, about what was scriptural and what was not. Before Irenaeus, there was vague general agreement on what scripture was, but a system based on this kind of common consent was too weak. As dissensions and heresies arose, reference to scripture was the obvious way of trying to settle what the truth really was, but in the absence of an agreed canon of scripture it was all too easy to attack one’s opponent’s arguments by saying that his texts were corrupt or unscriptural; and easy, too, to do a little fine-tuning of texts on one’s own behalf. Irenaeus not only established a canon which is almost identical to our present one, but also gave reasoned arguments for each inclusion and exclusion.
Irenaeus also wrote a major work, Against the Heresies, which in the course of denying what the Christian faith is not, effectively asserts what it is. The majority of this work was lost for many centuries and only rediscovered in a monastery on Mount Athos in 1842. Many passages from it are used in the Office of Readings.
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)||1 John 3:17-18 ©|
If a man who was rich enough in this world’s goods saw that one of his brothers was in need, but closed his heart to him, how could the love of God be living in him? My children, our love is not to be just words or mere talk, but something real and active.
|Noon reading (Sext)||Deuteronomy 30:11,14 ©|
This Law that I enjoin on you today is not beyond your strength or beyond your reach. No, the Word is very near to you, it is in your mouth and in your heart for your observance.
|Afternoon reading (None)||Isaiah 55:10-11 ©|
|The word that goes out from my mouth does not return to me empty|
Thus says the Lord: ‘As the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return without watering the earth, making it yield and giving growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for the eating, so the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.’