A mighty God is the Lord: come, let us adore him.
Year: B(II). Psalm week: 2. Liturgical Colour: Green.
According to tradition, he was a shepherd boy. Certainly he became a monk, and later prior, at Melrose. After the Synod of Whitby in 664 he became prior of Lindisfarne and gradually won over the community to Roman ecclesiastical customs. He was zealous in preaching the Gospel but most attracted to living the life of a hermit, and in 676 he left the monastery and lived in solitude on the nearby island of Inner Farne. For the last two years of his life he served as bishop of Lindisfarne, but he returned to his island to die, on 20 March 687. His remains were removed from their resting place at Lindisfarne to escape Viking raiders and were eventually enshrined at Durham Cathedral. Because the anniversary of his death always falls within Lent, his feast is celebrated on the anniversary of the enshrinement of his remains at Durham.
|Other saints: Saint Mac Nissi|
He founded the diocese of Connor in Ireland in 480, and is patron saint of the diocese, which is now part of the diocese of Down and Connor.
|Other saints: Blessed Dina Bélanger (1897 - 1929)|
She was born on 30 April 1897 in Québec and at the recommendation of her parish priest she went to New York to study at the Institute of Musical Art, with the intention of becoming a concert pianist. On her return home, she decided to enter the religious life in the Congregation of Jésus-Marie at Sillery, where the nuns had their mother house. She entered the convent on 11 August 1921, at the age of 24, and, as Sister Marie Sainte-Cécile of Rome, took her final vows on 15 August 1928.
She went to teach music at the Couvent Jésus-Marie at Saint-Michel, near Québec, but soon caught scarlet fever after caring for a sick pupil. She returned to Sillery where, her constitution weakened by the illness, she developed tuberculosis.
For the rest of her life she taught whenever she was not too ill to do so. She died on 4 September 1929, at the age of 32.
She wrote an autobiography at the request of her superiors, and this was published in 1934 under the title Une vie dans le Christ (a life in Christ). The book revealed her hidden life as a mystic, entering into the mystery of love at the heart of the Trinity. It was a worldwide success, being translated into five languages, fulfilling the promise made by Christ before she entered the convent, that ‘You will do good above all by your writing’.
She was beatified in Rome by Pope John Paul II on 20 March 1993.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
|Second Reading: Thomas à Kempis (1379 - 1471)|
The first thing to know about The Imitation of Christ is that it was published anonymously and that its attribution to Thomas à Kempis is not uncontested. Other possible authors have included (as his translator Betty I. Knott points out) thirty-five different people, including Gerhard Groote; Walter Hilton, the English mystic; St Bernard; St Bonaventure; Pope Innocent III; and John Gerson, Chancellor of the University of Paris. But on the whole Thomas à Kempis himself is still in the lead. (In any case, “Do not ask who said this,” says Book I chapter 5, “but listen to what is said”).
The late 14th and early 15th centuries saw a miraculous outpouring of mysticism and spirituality all over western Europe, encompassing The Cloud of Unknowing, Walter Hilton, Julian of Norwich, and even the maddening Margery Kempe. Much of it was lay, and even Thomas à Kempis, who became a priest, belongs not to any of the great monastic or preaching orders but to the Brethren of the Common Life, a movement which started in the Netherlands and Rhineland in the late fourteenth century. The birth of the movement was the teaching of Gerhard Groote, who preached and taught a simple prayerful way of life which people could follow in their own homes. Groote shared most of his own large house in Deventer, in the Netherlands, with a group of devout women who lived together as a community (without taking formal vows), and Florentius Radwijns, one of the cathedral clergy and a follower of Groote’s, then hosted a similar community of men. The Brethren of the Common Life aimed to live a communal life in imitation of the simplicity and poverty of the earliest Christians, devoting themselves both to contemplation and to active works. In the time of relative ecclesial peace which preceded the Reformation the Brethren were allowed to grow and develop largely without too much interference. In due course a progression was also established whereby those Brethren who desired a more formal commitment founded, or joined, houses of regular Augustinian canons or canonesses.
Thomas à Kempis himself was born in Kempen, a small town not far from Cologne. He went to a school founded by Gerhard Groote, and in 1399 became a member of the recently founded Augustinian house of which John, his elder brother, was the first prior. He remained a member of this community for the rest of his life.
It was a custom of the Brethren to make collections of sayings on spiritual topics, and Thomas followed this practice from his schooldays onwards. Thus some of the Second Readings from the Imitation that we use in the liturgy read almost like a sequence of “bullet points”. In a sense this is the best use of the Imitation – as a bedside book to be read one chapter out of each night, as Monsignor Ronald Knox did in his later years. Thomas à Kempis manages, in each short chapter, to propound a theme or even sketch a situation, and to bring out of it a moral or a conclusion, food for the spirit. Knox tells us that in the days when English Protestants treated The Pilgrim’s Progress as a sort of extra book of the New Testament, The Imitation of Christ was practically the Catholic equivalent. But that does not make it a warm bath to sink oneself into. As Knox puts it:
“The whole work… is a sustained irritant which preserves us… from sinking back into relaxation: from self-conceit, self-pity, self-love. It offers consolation here and there, but always at the price of fresh exertion… Heaven help us if we find easy reading in The Imitation of Christ.”
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)||1 Corinthians 12:4-6 ©|
There is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there are all sorts of service to be done, but always to the same Lord; working in all sorts of different ways in different people, it is the same God who is working in all of them.
|Noon reading (Sext)||1 Corinthians 12:12-13 ©|
Just as a human body, though it is made up of many parts, is a single unit because all these parts, though many, make one body, so it is with Christ. In the one Spirit we were all baptised, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as citizens, and one Spirit was given to us all to drink.
|Afternoon reading (None)||1 Corinthians 12:24,25-26 ©|
God has arranged the body and that there may not be disagreements inside the body, but that each part may be equally concerned for all the others. If one part is hurt, all parts are hurt with it. If one part is given special honour, all parts enjoy it.