Christ the Lord was tempted and suffered for us. Come, let us adore him.
Or: O that today you would listen to his voice: harden not your hearts.
Year: B(II). Psalm week: 1. Liturgical Colour: Violet.
|Other saints: Saint Macartan (- 506)|
He was a convert from paganism and a companion of St Patrick, who made him bishop of Clogher in 454. He is the patron saint of the diocese.
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.
|40 Days and 40 Ways: Saturday, 5th week of Lent|
“And the nations will learn that I am the Lord the sanctifier of Israel, when my sanctuary is with them for ever.” (Ez 37:28)
The Gospel reading for today will include the unwitting prophecy of the high priest that the death of Jesus will bring about the salvation of the people. To prepare for it the first reading from Ezekiel reminds us of the promise of a new covenant. This promise, made by Ezekiel in the darkest days of the Babylonian Exile, includes four elements:
1.The Lord will bring together again the two kingdoms, split after the death of Solomon, the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah.
2. They shall be cleansed from all their wickedness and their failure to faithfully follow the Lord.
3. The Lord’s servant David will reign over them for ever. By this Christians understand the Lord Jesus, the descendant of David, whose Kingdom will never end.
4. The Lord, the sanctifier of Israel, will remain with them for ever.
Perhaps nowhere else are the benefits of the new covenant so clearly outlined. This covenant will be expressed at the Last Supper and sealed by the death and Resurrection of Jesus. It then remains for every Christian to enter into it fully and joyfully, committing themselves to it and so making it their own.
The Gospel reading of the day is Jn 11:45-56.
Read Romans 5:12-21 on Christ’s obedience.
This passage is an extract from the booklet “40 Days and 40 Ways” by Henry Wansbrough, published by the Catholic Truth Society and used by permission. “40 Days and 40 Ways” has meditations for each day in Lent. To find out more about the booklet, or to buy it, please visit the CTS web site.
The Universalis Readings at Mass page shows the readings for today’s Mass.
|Liturgical colour: violet|
Violet is a dark colour, ‘the gloomy cast of the mortified, denoting affliction and melancholy’. Liturgically, it is the colour of Advent and Lent, the seasons of penance and preparation.
|Mid-morning reading (Terce)||1 John 1:8-9 ©|
If we say we have no sin in us, we are deceiving ourselves and refusing to admit the truth; but if we acknowledge our sins, then God who is faithful and just will forgive our sins and purify us from everything that is wrong.
|Noon reading (Sext)||1 John 2:1-2 ©|
If anyone should sin, we have our advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, who is just. He is the sacrifice that takes our sins away; and not only ours, but the whole world’s.
|Afternoon reading (None)||1 John 2:8-10 ©|
The night is over and the real light is already shining. Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the dark. But anyone who loves his brother is living in the light and need not be afraid of stumbling.