We are the people of the Lord, the flock that is led by his hand: come, let us adore him, alleluia.
Year: A(II). Psalm week: 2. Liturgical Colour: Green.
In other years: St Margaret Clitherow, née Middleton (1556 - 1586)
She was born in York and lived there all her life. At the age of 15 she married a butcher, John Clitherow, and three years later became a Catholic. Imprisoned for her non-attendance at the Protestant church, she taught herself to read, and on her release ran a small school for her own and her neighbours’ children. Her husband, although he remained a Protestant himself, allowed her to hide priests in the house. In 1586 the secret hiding places were discovered and Margaret was put on trial. As the law then stood, to be found guilty would have meant destitution for her children, so she refused to plead: thus she could not be tried, and instead was crushed to death with a heavy stone, on 25 March 1586.
In other years: St Anne Line, née Heigham (1565? - 1601)
She was born in Dunmow, in Essex. In her teens she became a Catholic and was disinherited by her family, and in 1585 she married another disinherited convert, Roger Line. Her husband was imprisoned for his faith and then sent into exile, leaving her destitute. She taught and embroidered and also kept house for priests. One day a large number of people were seen congregating at her house for Mass. She was arrested, tried, condemned to death, and hanged at Tyburn in London on 27 February 1601.
In other years: St Margaret Ward (- 1588)
She was born in Congdon, in Cheshire, and became a servant of a family in London. She was arrested after helping a priest to escape from prison, but even under severe torture she refused to reveal his hiding place or to renounce her faith. She was tried at the Old Bailey and executed on 30 August 1588.
In other years: St Anne Line (c.1565-1601)
Anne Heigham was born at Dunmow (Essex) around 1565, and was hanged at Tyburn on 27 February 1601. In her teens, she became a Catholic and was disinherited, and in 1585 married Roger Line, also a disinherited convert, who was subsequently imprisoned then, already a sick man, exiled for his faith, dying in Flanders soon afterwards. Anne was left destitute and herself suffered poor health. She offered her services to the Jesuits and was asked to look after a house of refuge in London. She ran a large safe house for priests, taught children, and made vestments. To strengthen her resolution she took voluntary vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. On 2 February after a large number of people had been seen gathering at her house for Mass, she was arrested. Her trial was on 26 February. Despite the prosecution’s failure to prove the charge of harbouring a priest the Lord Chief Justice directed the jury to find her guilty, and condemned her to be hanged the next day.
In other years: St Margaret Clitherow (c.1553-1586)
Margaret Middleton was born in York around 1553, lived there all her life, and died there on 25 March 1586. At 15, she married a butcher, John Clitherow, and three years later became a Catholic. Her brother-in-law William was a Catholic and after ordination as a priest became a Carthusian; he may well have influenced Margaret’s decision to become a Catholic. Imprisoned for her non-attendance at church, she taught herself to read and later ran a small school for her own and her neighbours’ children. Her husband remained Protestant, but allowed her to hide priests in their house. It is said that she used to visit the Knavesmire (the Tyburn of the North) to pray for those who had been martyred there. She saw that her children were all educated in the faith through the services of a young man who had been imprisoned for his faith in York Castle. She knew this prison well having been detained there several times for non-attendance at Church of England services. In 1586 the secret hiding places in her home were discovered, and Margaret was put on trial. In order to prevent her children and servants from being questioned she refused to plead, for which the punishment was being laid on sharp stones and then crushed to death. Her body was secretly buried by the authorities but was later discovered by friends, who buried her privately elsewhere; though the place of her burial has not yet been found. Her daughter Anne was imprisoned for four years for refusing to attend a Church of England service, and finally became a nun at St Ursula’s, Louvain. Her sons Henry and William became priests.
In other years: St Margaret Ward (?-1588)
Margaret Ward was born at Congleton (Cheshire), but entered into the service of a family in London. She was arrested after assisting a priest, William Watson, who was himself awaiting execution to escape from prison (after a somewhat bizarre life he was eventually executed for having mounted an attempt to kidnap and usurp King James I). After many twists and turns she was eventually arrested but though severely tortured refused to reveal Watson’s hiding place or to renounce her faith. She was tried at the Old Bailey, and executed on 30 August 1588.
Other saints: Blessed Ghebre Michael (1790 - 1855)
He was born in Ethiopia in 1790. He entered an Orthodox monastery, where he proved to be a gifted student. His name, “Ghebre-Michael” means “servant of Michael”.
He took an intense interest in the history of monasticism and, concerned at the deterioration of monastic standards in Ethiopia, travelled around the country, visiting monasteries, researching their history and the manuscripts in their libraries, and inspiring a small group of monks in each place with a zeal for reform.
Having come to the conclusion that the root cause of the trouble was the monks’ poor theological education, he determined to travel to Jerusalem to continue his studies. He had intended to travel alone, but at this time an important coincidence supervened and changed the course of his life.
Ethiopia had only one Orthodox bishop, who was appointed by the Coptic Patriarch of Alexandria, and in 1840-41 the see was vacant. A delegation was being sent to Alexandria to ask the Patriarch for a new bishop and to visit Jerusalem on the way back, and Ghebre-Michael was invited to join the group. He made one stipulation: that the return journey should include Rome as well as Jerusalem, with the aim of lessening the suspicion of the Catholic Church among the Orthodox. On this journey he first met the Catholic missionary Justin de Jacobis, whose holiness and way of life made a great impression on him.
To everyone’s dismay, the bishop chosen by the Patriarch was in every way unsuitable. Educated by Protestants, he had his own political agenda. He set himself against Ghebre-Michael’s project of reform and theological purification, and his followers tried to poison Ghebre-Michael himself.
In September 1843 Ghebre-Michael sought out Justin and asked to be received into the Catholic Church (at that time about three dozen Ethiopians had become Catholics). They discussed the matter for nearly six months, and visited many monasteries together to study their ancient manuscripts. Finally, in February 1844, Ghebre-Michael was received into the Church.
In July 1854, together with four other converts, Ghebre-Michael was arrested by the bishop and tortured with the aim of getting him to renounce Catholicism. This torture continued for many months. When a new emperor of Ethopia was crowned in February 1855 he had Ghebre-Michael put in chains and took him with him wherever he went. He was put on trial in the presence of the British Consul in May 1855, and, still refusing to apostasize, was sentenced to be shot. The Consul interceded for him, his life was spared, but he died on 28 August 1855 as a result of the harsh treatment he was receiving. He was buried at the side of the road; the exact site is unknown.
Other saints: Saint Fiacre
He was born in Ireland in the seventh century, and was ordained priest. He lived in a hermitage in Kilkenny, but disciples flocked to him there and he went to France in search of greater solitude. He was kindly received by St Faro, Bishop of Meaux, and given land at Breuil on which to build a hermitage. The town of Saint-Fiacre-en-Brie stands on the site of the hospice he built for travellers. See the article in the Catholic Encyclopaedia
Other saints: St Edmund Arrowsmith (1585 - 1628)
Liverpool: 30 Aug
Salford: 1 Sep
He was born at Haydock in Lancashire. His father was a yeoman farmer and his mother was a member of an important Lancashire Catholic family. At the age of 20 he left England and went to the English College at Douai to study for the priesthood. He was ordained in Arras on 9 December 1612 and sent on the English mission a year later He ministered to the Catholics of Lancashire without incident until around 1622, when he was arrested and questioned by the Anglican Bishop of Chester. Edmund was released when King James I of England ordered all arrested priests to be freed. He joined the Jesuits in 1624.
In the summer of 1628, he was denounced to the authorities. He was put on trial, and sentenced to death for being a Roman Catholic priest in England. He was hanged, drawn and quartered at Lancaster on 28 August 1628. His final confession was heard by Saint John Southworth, who was imprisoned along with Edmund.
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: green
The theological virtue of hope is symbolized by the colour green, just as the burning fire of love is symbolized by red. Green is the colour of growing things, and hope, like them, is always new and always fresh. Liturgically, green is the colour of Ordinary Time, the orderly sequence of weeks through the year, a season in which we are being neither single-mindedly penitent (in purple) nor overwhelmingly joyful (in white).
|Mid-morning reading (Terce)||Romans 5:1-2,5 ©|
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, by faith we are judged righteous and at peace with God, since it is by faith and through Jesus that we have entered this state of grace in which we can boast about looking forward to God’s glory. This hope is not deceptive, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us.
|Noon reading (Sext)||Romans 8:26 ©|
The Spirit comes to help us in our weakness. For when we cannot choose words in order to pray properly, the Spirit himself expresses our plea in a way that could never be put into words.
|Afternoon reading (None)||2 Corinthians 1:21-22 ©|
Remember it is God himself who assures us all, and you, of our standing in Christ, and has anointed us, marking us with his seal and giving us the pledge, the Spirit, that we carry in our hearts.