How wonderful is God among his saints: come, let us adore him.
Year: C(I). Psalm week: 1. Liturgical Colour: White.
|Saint Columbanus, Abbot (540? - 615)|
He was born in Ireland before the middle of the sixth century. He was a monk from his youth and was learned in both sacred and secular literature. At the age of 45 he left Ireland and went to Europe, where he founded three monasteries in what is now France. His monastic rule was strict, based on Irish practice.
King Thierry II of Burgundy had a veneration for Columbanus and often visited him. Columbanus’s criticisms of Thierry’s debauched living and practice of concubinage enraged the king’s grandmother Brunhild, and eventually Columbanus and all other Irish-born monks were ordered to be deported to Ireland. They eluded their captors, and after an unsuccessful attempt to evangelize the pagan tribes near modern-day Zürich they reached Italy, where Columbanus founded the monastery at Bobbio. He died there in 615.
The Rule of St Columbanus was eventually superseded by the milder Rule of St Benedict. Columbanus’s writings are among the earliest evidence of Irish knowledge of Latin. Some of what he wrote related to ecclesiastical controversies of the time and is no longer read, but several extracts from his “Instructions” are still part of the Office of Readings. His style combines an underlying passion with a strong and rhythmic rhetorical structure.
|Other saints: Blessed Miguel Agustín Pro (1891 - 1927)|
He was born into a mining family in the Mexican state of Zacatecas. He joined the Jesuits in 1911. Government persecution forced the Jesuits to flee to California in 1914, from where he went to study at Granada in Spain. He left there in 1919 and taught in Nicaragua until 1922. Because of his mining background and his natural ability to get on with people, he was sent to Enghien in Belgium to study Catholic labour movements. After his ordination in 1925 he worked among the miners in Charleroi.
He returned to Mexico in 1926 because it was thought that his health (which was always poor) would improve in the warm climate. At this time the Church was being severely persecuted. Under the Mexican constitution religious education was banned, and priests were forbidden to wear clerical clothes, speak in public, or vote. In some Mexican states all churches had been closed, many priests had been killed, and the few remaining ones had to work underground at the risk of their lives.
Pro celebrated the Eucharist clandestinely and administered the other sacraments to small groups of Catholics. He was arrested once in October 1926, and then in November 1927 he was falsely accused of an assassination attempt on the ex-president and executed without trial. Detailed photographs of his execution were widely published in Mexican newspapers to intimidate Mexican Catholics, but they were treated as holy pictures by the faithful and had the opposite effect.
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)||1 Kings 8:60-61 ©|
May all the peoples of the earth come to know that the Lord is God indeed, and that there is no other. May your hearts be wholly with the Lord our God, following his laws and keeping his commandments as at this present day.
|Noon reading (Sext)||Jeremiah 17:9-10 ©|
The heart is more devious than any other thing, perverse too: who can pierce its secrets? I, the Lord, search to the heart, I probe the loins, to give each man what his conduct and his actions deserve.
|Afternoon reading (None)||Wisdom 7:27,8:1 ©|
Although she is alone, Wisdom can accomplish everything. She deploys her strength from one end of the earth to the other, ordering all things for good.