Christ is the chief shepherd, the leader of his flock: come, let us adore him.
Year: C(I). Psalm week: 2. Liturgical Colour: White.
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: St Cuthbert (634? - 687)
England, St Andrews & Edinburgh: 4 Sep
Hexham & Newcastle: 20 Mar
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: 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: Origen (184 - 254)
Origen is a giant among early Christian thinkers. He was knowledgeable in all the arguments of the Greek philosophical schools but believed firmly in the Bible as the only source of true inspiration. He is thus a representative of that curious hybrid called “Christianity”, which on the one hand maintains (like the Jews) an ongoing direct relationship with the living God, who is the principle and source of being itself, but on the other hand maintains (like the Greeks) that everything makes sense rationally and it is our duty to make sense of it. As the Gospels say (but the Pentateuch does not), “You shall love the Lord your God with all your mind”.
A first stage in this, when it comes (for example) to disputations with the Jews over their view of Christianity as a recently-founded syncretizing heresy of Judaism, is to decide what Scripture is and what it says. If I argue from my books and you argue from yours, we will never meet; but if we share an agreed foundation, there is some chance. Accordingly Origen compiled a vast synopsis of the different versions of the Old Testament, called the Hexapla. Not all Origen’s specific judgements on soundness were generally accepted, even at the time, but the principle remains a necessary one, indispensable for any constructive meeting of minds.
Origen’s principle of interpretation of Scripture is that as well as having a literal meaning, its laws, stories and narratives point us to eternal and spiritual truths. The prime purpose of Scripture is to convey spiritual truth, and the narrative of historical events is secondary to this. While we still accept that “Scripture provides us with the truths necessary for salvation”, this view does leave room for over-interpretation by the unscrupulous, and in the controversies of succeeding centuries people would either claim Origen as an authority for their own interpretations or accuse their opponents of Origenizing away the plain truths of Scripture. Even today, the literalist view taken by some heretics of narratives in Genesis which most of us accept as allegorical shows that this controversy will never die.
As part of his programme of founding everything on Scripture, Origen produced voluminous commentaries – too many of them for the copyists to keep up, so that today some of them have perished. But what remains has definite value, and extracts from his commentaries and also his sermons are used as some of our Second Readings 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)||Deuteronomy 1:16-17 ©|
At that time I told your judges: You must give your brothers a fair hearing and see justice done between a man and his brother or the stranger who lives with him. You must be impartial in judgement and give an equal hearing to small and great alike. Do not be afraid of any man, for the judgement is God’s.
|Noon reading (Sext)||Isaiah 55:8-9 ©|
My thoughts are not your thoughts,
my ways not your ways – it is the Lord who speaks.
Yes, the heavens are as high above earth
as my ways are above your ways,
my thoughts above your thoughts.
|Afternoon reading (None)||1 Samuel 16:7 ©|
God does not see as man sees; man looks at appearances but the Lord looks at the heart.