Give thanks to the Lord, for his great love is without end.
Year: B(I). Psalm week: 3. Liturgical Colour: Green.
St Peter Claver (1581 - 1654)
He was born in Catalonia and studied at the University of Barcelona. He became a Jesuit; and while he was studying philosophy in Mallorca, the door-keeper of the college, Alfonso Rodríguez, saw that his true vocation was to evangelize the New World, and encouraged him to fulfil that vocation. (Rodríguez was later canonized on the same day as Peter Claver himself).
He arrived in Cartagena, in what is now Colombia, in 1610, and after his ordination six years later he became ‘the slave of the Negroes forever’, labouring on their behalf for 33 years, attending to both their spiritual and material needs. The slave trade was repeatedly condemned by the Popes; but it was too profitable to be stopped and on the whole the local church hierarchy kept quiet about it, much as they did in North America in the 19th century.
He brought fresh food to the slave-ships as they arrived, instructed the slaves and baptized them in the faith, followed their progress and kept track of them even when they were sent to the mines and plantations, defending them as well as he could from oppressive slave-owners. He organized teams of catechists who spoke the many languages spoken by the slaves. He worked in hospitals also, looking after lepers among others, and in prisons.
Naturally he made himself unpopular by his work: as his superior said, ‘unfortunately for himself he is a Catalan, pig-headed and difficult’. Opposition came from both within the Church and outside it, but there were always exceptions. For instance, while many fashionable ladies refused to enter his city churches because they had been profaned by the presence of the blacks, a few, such as Doña Isabel de Urbina, became his strong and lifelong supporters.
At the end of his life he fell ill with a degenerative disease and for four years he was treated neglectfully and brutally by the servant whose task it was to look after him. He did not complain but accepted his sufferings as a penance for his sins.
Other saints: St Ambrose Barlow OSB (1585-1641)
Liverpool, Salford, Shrewsbury
Ambrose was born at Barlow Hall, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, near Manchester in 1585. He was the fourth son of the nobleman Sir Alexander Barlow and his wife Mary. Ambrose’s grandfather died in 1584 whilst imprisoned for his beliefs and Sir Alexander Barlow had two thirds of his estate confiscated as a result of his refusing to conform to the new established religion. In 1597, Ambrose was taken into the stewardship of a relative who would care for him whilst he served out his apprenticeship as a page. However, upon completing this service, Barlow realised that his true vocation was for the Catholic priesthood, so he travelled to Douai in France to study at the English College there before attending the College of St Alban in Valladolid, Spain. In 1615, he returned to Douai where he became a member of the Order of Saint Benedict and was ordained as a priest in 1617. He then returned to Morley’s Hall, Astley. From there he looked after the local Catholics, celebrating daily Mass and reciting his Office and Rosary. He would often visit his cousins, the Downes, at their residence of Wardley Hall (now the residence of the Bishop of Salford) and celebrate Mass for the gathered congregation. He was arrested several times during his travels. His parishioners implored him to flee or at least go into hiding but he refused. Their fears were compounded by a recent stroke which had resulted in the 56-year-old priest being partially paralysed. “Let them fear that have anything to lose which they are unwilling to part with” he told them.
On 25 April 1641, Easter Sunday, Ambrose and his congregation of around 100 people, were surrounded at Morley’s Hall, Astley by the Vicar of Leigh and his large (and armed) congregation. Ambrose surrendered, and his parishioners were released after their names had been recorded. The priest was then taken on horseback with a man behind him to prevent his falling, and escorted by a band of some sixty people to the Justice of the Peace at Winwick, before being transported to Lancaster Castle. Ambrose appeared before the presiding judge, Sir Robert Heath, on the 7 September when he professed his adherence to the Catholic faith and defended his actions. On the following day, the feast of the Nativity of Mary, Sir Robert Heath found Ambrose guilty, and sentenced him to be executed. Two days later, he was taken from Lancaster Castle, drawn on a hurdle to the place of execution, hanged, dismembered, quartered, and boiled in oil. His head was afterwards exposed on a pike. When the news of his death and martyrdom reached his Benedictine brothers at Douai Abbey, a Mass of Thanksgiving and the Te Deum were ordered to be sung.
Other saints: Saint Egwin, Bishop
The foundation of the abbey dedicated to Our Lady at Evesham is attributed to an early eighth-century Bishop of Worcester called Egwin. Very little is known about him, since the earliest account of his life, written in Latin c. 1020, is almost entirely composed of fables. However it does contain some local material which may reflect older traditions; among these is the account of the appearance of Our Lady to a swineherd at a place on the Avon where Egwin built the Church in her honour. This would be the earliest record of the appearance the Blessed Virgin Mary in England. Since 1952 Evesham has become the place of an annual pilgrimage to Our Lady; the Catholic Church there is dedicated to St Mary and St Egwin. In the Middle Ages St Egwin was commemorated on 30 December: September 10 is the day of the translation of his relics in 1039.
Other saints: Blessed Agnellus of Pisa, Priest
Agnellus was born at Pisa in northern Italy and was received into the Order of Friars in 1211, probably by St Francis himself. In 1224, S. Francis sent him and eight other friars to England where they made a great impression by their penury and simplicity. Agnellus was the first Minister Provincial in this country and founded friaries at Canterbury, London and Oxford. At Oxford, then in the period of the university’s first development, he established a school for the friars which rapidly grew into a major centre of theology, combining apostolic poverty with study based on scriptures. Agnellus died on 7 May 1236, aged 41, and was buried at Oxford. The cult of Blessed Agnellus of Pisa was approved in 1892; September 10 is the date of the arrival of the first Franciscans in Dover in 1224.
Other saints: Blessed Francis Gárate (1857-1929)
10 Sep (where celebrated)
Francis Gárate (1857-1929) was born in a farmhouse just a hundred yards from the Loyola Castle in Spain. After some elementary education, at the age of fourteen he began work as a domestic servant at the Jesuit College in Orduna, Spain. In 1874, he joined the Society as a Brother. From 1877 to 1888 he served as infirmarian and sacristan at the Jesuit College in La Guardian, near the Portuguese border. He went about his duty most meticulously, caring for the sick, often spending whole nights by their bedside. The strain was too much for him and he was transferred to the University college at Deusto, in Bilbao, Spain, as doorkeeper, remaining there for the next forty-one years. He was known for his holiness, piety, kindness and courtesy.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
Second Reading: Blessed Isaac of Stella (c.1105 - c.1178)
All that is known for certain about Isaac is that he abandoned his studies at the cathedral schools in about 1140 and became a Cistercian monk, at the time of St Bernard’s reforms. He became abbot of the small monastery at Stella, outside Poitiers, in 1147, from where he was exiled to a remote monastery on the Ile de Ré on the Atlantic coast of Gascony, perhaps in 1167, perhaps because of his support for Archbishop Thomas Becket. Scholars incline to the view that he returned to Stella some time later and died there in about 1178. The date of his birth has been given as anywhere between 1105 and 1120.
Liturgical colour: green
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 orderly sequence of weeks through the year, a season in which we are being neither single-mindedly penitent (in purple) nor overwhelmingly joyful (in white).
|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.