Give thanks to the Lord, for his great love is without end.
Year: A(II). Psalm week: 3. Liturgical Colour: Green.
Other saints: All the Saints of Ireland
Ireland, especially in the early Christian centuries, was known as an isle of saints and scholars. More than once, when the rest of western Europe was submerged in ignorance and chaos, Ireland kept learning alive.
Many of the Irish saints combined pastoral care with an observance of the monastic life. The Irish also did much as missionaries, bringing the faith to other parts of Europe, and the story of St Brendan, whether authentic history or not, shows that they set their sights even further afield.
Other saints: All Saints of Africa
Today we celebrate the feast of all the Saints of Africa who, down through the ages, have followed the Lord with courage, love and dedication. Many of these saints are unknown to us, while others are remembered in various countries on account of their exemplary life of discipleship. Their example and teaching remind us of our call to holiness, while their intercession makes it possible for us to achieve it, thanks to God’s grace. The feast we celebrate today is a foretaste of the joy we shall experience one day in heaven.
Other saints: St Illtud or Illtyd
He was a Welsh abbot in the early 6th century, and founder of a monastery in Glamorgan that carried his name. He may have been a disciple of St Germanus of Auxerre. No reliable biographical details survive: the earliest Life that we have was written 500 years after his death.
Other saints: St Nuno Alvares Pereira (1360-1431)
6 Nov (where celebrated)
Nuno was born into a Portuguese noble family, a family noted for its history of distinguished religious and military service. He followed the path of a young nobleman becoming a royal page at thirteen, and marrying a wealthy noblewoman at sixteen. He and his wife had three children, but only their daughter Beatriz survived to adulthood.
At the age of twenty-three, Nuno was named the Constable (commander in chief) of the Portuguese loyalist forces who were formed to defend Portugal against the King of Castile’s plans to annex the country after the death of the Portuguese king. Between 1383 and 1411 Nuno led many battles, insisting that his soldiers remembered the holy cause for which they were fighting and that they acted as moral Christians who were ready to die, if necessary. He was strict on moral behaviour in camp, urged the soldiers to pray and receive the sacraments, and upheld respect and mercy toward enemies and civilians. Every victory Nuno attributed to the protection the the Virgin Mary offered to the Portuguese nation. After the fighting had ended and the stability of Portugal was re-established under King John I, Nuno had become a popular, powerful and wealthy man. His wife having died during his military career and with his daughter married to the King’s son, Nuno gave much of his wealth to his veterans and at his own expense built numerous churches and monasteries, one of which was the Carmelite church in Lisbon.
In 1423, Nuno decided to enter the convent of Carmelites he had founded in Lisbon, abandoning any remaining power and privilege he had gained as the glorified commander. He entered the convent as a serving brother and took the name Brother Nuno of Saint Mary. He did not seek any privileges but put himself at the service of Jesus in the poor and offered his work to the Virgin Mary his loyal patron. He died on Easter Sunday, 1 April 1431 after which the people acclaimed him as “O Santo Condestavel” – the Holy Constable. At Nuno’s canonisation in 2009, Pope Benedict XVI presented Nuno as one who having gained all wealth, power and acclaim, gave it all up in thanksgiving to a merciful God and to Mary who remained with him even in the darkest moments.
Other saints: Bl Josepha Girbes (1820-1893)
6 Nov (where celebrated)
Josepha Naval Girbés was born at Algemes in the Archdiocese of Valencia, Spain, on December 11, 1820. As a very young woman she consecrated herself to the Lord by a perpetual vow of chastity. Josepha’s life was simple. She stood out for her ardent love, and she made progress along the way of prayer and evangelical perfection, while dedicating herself generously to apostolic works in her parish community. In her own home she opened a school where she taught needlework, prayer, and the evangelical virtues. She formed many young girls and women and shared with them her wisdom and spiritual understanding. She was a member of the Third Order Secular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Saint Teresa of Jesus, and had a special love for the Virgin Mother of God. Her holy death took place on February 24, 1893. She is buried in her parish church of Saint James in her native city.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
Second Reading: St Gregory Nazianzen (329 - 390)
Gregory Nazianzen, “Gregory of Nazianzus”, was the son of Gregory, Bishop of Nazianzus, a Christian convert. (Nazianzus is a small town in Cappadocia, now the village of Nenizi in the Turkish province of Aksaray).
The culture of the Hellenic world means that a religion is not merely something to be lived: it also has to make sense. It has to work not only in practice, but in theory as well. Despite the passionate anti-Greek reaction of the Reformation, we are still, in this sense, all Greeks today. Take the doctrine of the Trinity, for example. Some people reject it because it sounds like polytheism. Instead, they make Jesus not God but only a man supremely favoured by God: the Arians believed this, and the Koran reflects this idea. Or they make Jesus not man but only God, and relegate the intense humanity of the Passion to the status of a mere performance, a show put on by God through phantoms and angels rather than something utterly real and of eternal significance. Both these responses show a general feature of heresies, which is that they simplify the richness of orthodoxy and flatten it into a shadow of itself. “Simpler” may well mean “more easily acceptable”, but that is not the same as “true”. One could simplify quantum physics and get rid of its paradoxes until there is no metaphysical weirdness for anyone to object to – that might well make more people happy, but it would not be true.
The three men we call “the Cappadocian Fathers” 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. St Basil of Caesarea, “St Basil the Great”, 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 younger 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. The sciences ought not to have to work like this, but all of them, at one time or other in their history, do.
It is a relief to us as readers to note, after all this, that St Gregory of Nazianzus, as well as receiving the title of Doctor of the Church, is acknowledged as the most accomplished rhetorical stylist of the patristic age, and that this “style” does not adopt the over-ripe excesses of some late-imperial rhetoric (Augustine can get carried away in this direction sometimes, and Cassiodorus, in the sixth century, spends altogether too much of his time there). Gregory’s Second Readings do sound almost operatic at times, but the grandeur of the style does not exist for its own sake but comes from the splendour of its subject-matter. It is possible to be carried away by it, and enjoyable, even, to let that happen; but underlying the experience there is always a sense of being carried away in the direction of somewhere definite and somewhere worthwhile.
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 season in which we are being neither especially penitent (in purple) nor overwhelmingly joyful (in white).
|Mid-morning reading (Terce)||Romans 1:16-17 ©|
The power of God saves all who have faith – Jews first, but Greeks as well – since this is what reveals the justice of God to us: it shows how faith leads to faith, or as scripture says: The upright man finds life through faith.
|Noon reading (Sext)||Romans 3:21-22 ©|
God’s justice that was made known through the Law and the Prophets has now been revealed outside the Law, since it is the same justice of God that comes through faith to everyone who believes.
|Afternoon reading (None)||Ephesians 2:8-9 ©|
It is by grace that you have been saved, through faith; not by anything of your own, but by a gift from God; not by anything that you have done, so that nobody can claim the credit.