Christ is the chief shepherd, the leader of his flock: come, let us adore him.
Year: C(I). Psalm week: 3. Liturgical Colour: White.
|Other saints: All Saints of Wales|
This feast commemorates the hundreds of Welsh saints recognised by the Church across the ages, as well as those known only to God. Many of them date from the so-called ‘Age of the Saints’ in the firth and sixth centuries, and often have connections with the Christian communities in Cornwall, Ireland, Scotland and Brittany.
|Other saints: Blessed George Napier (-1610)|
Blessed George Napier was born at Holywell Manor in Oxford and studied at Corpus Christi College. He later went to Douai and was ordained priest in 1596. He returned to England secretly in 1603 and worked as a priest in Oxfordshire. He was arrested at Kirtlington on 19 July 1610 after he had brought the sacraments to a sick Catholic woman; the possession of the holy oils and a breviary was considered sufficient evidence of priesthood and he was condemned to death at the Oxford assizes. While imprisoned in Oxford Castle, he reconciled a condemned criminal to the Church and prepared him for a Christian death. This was reported to the judges, who angrily brought forward the date of George Napier’s execution, lest he should influence other prisoners in the same way. When the martyr was told, he said that he would be glad to do the same for the judges if ever they required it “for he came into the county to execute his functions and to save men’s souls.” He was hanged, drawn and quartered at Oxford on 8 November 1610. He was beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1929.
|Other saints: St Elizabeth of the Trinity (1880-1906)|
8 Nov (where celebrated)
Elizabeth Catez was born in 1880 in Cher, France. In 1901, she entered the Discalced Carmelite monastery of Dijon. There she made her profession of vows in 1903. A faithful adorer in spirit and in truth, her life was a “praise of glory” of the Most Blessed Trinity present in her soul and loved amidst interior darkness and excruciating illness. In the mystery of divine inhabitation she found her “heaven on earth,” her special charism and her mission for the Church. Elizabeth died on 9th November 1906, speaking her last words, “I am going to Light, to Love, to Life!”
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.
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)||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.