Let us celebrate the birth of the Virgin Mary; let us adore her son, Christ the Lord.
Year: B(I). Psalm week: 3. Liturgical Colour: White.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
Second Reading: Saint Andrew of Crete (650? - 720/740?)
St Andrew of Crete is of great importance in the Orthodox Church because he invented – or at least introduced into the liturgy – the canon, a new form of hymnody of which there is no sign before his time. Canons are huge, elaborately structured musical and poetic compositions. Andrew’s immense “Greek Canon”, for instance, is a hymn 250 verses long interspersed with litanies and odes, takes three hours to chant, and goes chronologically through the entire Old and New Testaments, showing examples of the need for repentance and conversion.
The canon, as a genre, has never taken real root in the rest of Christendom, but in addition to his achievements as a hymnographer Andrew was a noted preacher of sermons and discourses, and it is extracts from these that form some of our Second Readings. As might be expected from such a poet they are clear and inspiring, deriving their effect more from the arrangement of images and episodes so that one reflects and illuminates another, rather than from closely-argued pieces of reasoning.
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)||Song of Songs 6:10 ©|
Who is this arising like the dawn, fair as the moon, resplendent as the sun, terrible as an army with banners?
|Noon reading (Sext)||Judith 13:18-19 ©|
May the Lord God be blessed,
the Creator of heaven and earth,
by whose guidance you cut off the head
of the leader of our enemies.
The trust you have shown
shall not pass from the memories of men,
but shall ever remind them
of the power of God.
|Afternoon reading (None)||Apocalypse 21:3 ©|
You see this city? Here God lives among men. He will make his home among them; they shall be his people, and he will be their God; his name is God-with-them.