Give thanks to the Lord, for his great love is without end.
Year: A(II). Psalm week: 3. Liturgical Colour: Green.
Other saints: Saint Kenelm (-821)
Saint Kenelm was the son of Kenwulf, who was King of Mercia from 796 to 821. There is a strong local tradition that identifies a particularly steep and narrow valley in the Clent Hills as the place where Kenelm was murdered. The site is marked by a medieval Church dedicated to him. A two-line Anglo-Saxon verse, which probably represents the folk-memory of the event, can be translated:
On the Clent Hills · Kenelm is there
in the cow valley · born to be king
under a hawthorn tree · a headless corpse lies he.
An eleventh-century Life of St Kenelm in Latin contains many fanciful legends but reflects the belief that the Prince was killed as the result of dynastic quarrels within the Mercian royal family; in fact his uncle Kelwulf succeeded to the throne. In an age when politics were conducted according to the maxim: “Kill or be killed”, it is probable that Kenelm’s reputation for holiness came from his refusal to adopt such methods to obtain power. He was remembered by the people of the West Midlands as a faithful follower of Christ in particularly difficult circumstances. Kenelm was buried with his father in the crypt of St Pancras’ Abbey at Winchcombe (Gloucestershire), which became a place of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages. In the nineteenth century, Cardinal Newman was eager to encourage devotion to English saints; he would walk on pilgrimage from the Oratorian house at Rednal to St Kenelm’s Church on the Clent Hills.
Other saints: Blessed John Sugar, Priest, and Robert Grissold, Martyrs
Blessed John Sugar was born at Wombourne near Wolverhampton about 1558 and studied at St Mary’s Hall, Oxford, becoming a clergyman of the Established Church at Cannock in Staffordshire. He later became a Catholic, studied at the English College, Douai, and was ordained a priest on 21 April 1601. His ministry was in Warwickshire, Staffordshire and Worcestershire, where he travelled on foot and especially looked after the “poorer and meaner sort of Catholics”. Blessed Robert Grissold lived at Rowington in Warwickshire; he was the son of a weaver and is described as a “husbandman”; he had a special reverence for Catholic priests. He and John Sugar were arrested on the highway on 8 July 1603 after a raid on the Grissold house; Robert was given the chance of escaping by his first cousin, Clement Grissold, who was with the search party and had probably led it to the house, but he refused to leave the priest. Both were offered their freedom if they would conform. They were executed at Warwick on 16 July 1604. Sugar said on the scaffold “Be ye all merry, for we have not occasion of sorrow but of joy: for although I shall have a sharp dinner, yet I trust in Jesus Christ that I shall have a most sweet supper”. They were beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1987.
Other saints: Blessed Inácio de Azevedo (1528-1570)
He was born at Oporto in Portugal in 1528 and entered the Society of Jesus at Coibra, 28 December, 1548, and became successively rector of the Jesuit college at Lisbon, provincial of Portugal, and rector at Broja. In 1565 St Francis Borgia gave him the task of visiting and inspecting the Jesuit missions in the Portuguese colony of Brazil. He spent two years on this work, from 1566 to 1568, and went to Rome to make his final report.
He asked to be sent back as a missionary to Brazil. With thirty-nine companions he started on his voyage on 5 June 1570, but on 15 July their ship was captured by French Huguenot corsairs and Azevedo and his companions were seized and martyred. They were beatified by Pope Pius IX in 1854, and in 1999 forty concrete crosses were placed on the sea bed at the site of their martyrdom.
Other saints: Bl Thérèse of Saint Augustine and Companions
17 Jul (where celebrated)
These Discalced Carmelite nuns lived in a quiet town of Compiègne, France, offering intercessory prayer for those who asked for help at the Monastery of the Incarnation. In 1789, their community numbered 20, with their prioress Thérèse of St Augustine. In the same year, in the midst of the French Revolution, the French National Assembly declared all religious vows null and void, assuming that most religious men and women were held in religious life against their will. The Assembly believed their act would ‘liberate’ religious who would gratefully leave to enter the workforce. In August 1790, a government official visited the monastery of Compiègne and was surprised that each member of the community refused the “ridiculous freedom” that was being offered. The nuns were given a two-year ultimatum after which they would have to leave religious life.
Under the leadership of Mother Thérèse the community prepared for the ordeal to come, appealing to God for help and offering themselves as an instrument for the peace between France and their Church. They resolved to follow Jesus in his crucifixion and resurrection. Following their expulsion from the monastery, the community split into groups of four, living in separate houses, adopting secular dress and continuing their simple and prayerful life.
Soon after, sixteen of the sisters were arrested for living religious life in violation of the constitution. They were taken to Paris, where they were all found guilty of being religious fanatics and supporters of the King, with their sentence being death on the 17th July. On the night before their execution, the sisters renewed their desire for reconciliation between church and state. The sisters arrived at the guillotine singing the Veni Creator Spiritus. Thérèse of St Augustine asked to be the last to die, so that she could encourage her sisters in their commitment, in the midst of the pointless violence. By the end of the same month the terror of the French Revolution had come to an end.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
Second Reading: St Ambrose of Milan (340? - 397)
Ambrose was born in Trier (now in Germany) between 337 and 340, to a Roman family: his father was praetorian prefect of Gaul. Ambrose was educated at Rome and embarked on the standard cursus honorum of Roman advocates and administrators, at Sirmium, the capital of Illyria. In about 372 he was made prefect of Liguria and Emilia, whose capital was Milan.
In 374 the bishopric of Milan fell vacant and when Ambrose tried to pacify the conflict between the Catholics and Arians over the appointment of a new bishop, the people turned on him and demanded that he become the bishop himself. He was a layman and not yet baptized (at this time it was common for baptism to be delayed and for people to remain for years as catechumens), but that was no defence. Coerced by the people and by the emperor, he was baptized, ordained, and installed as bishop within a week, on 7 December 374.
He immediately gave his money to the poor and his land to the Church and set about learning theology. He had the advantage of knowing Greek, which few people did at that time, and so he was able to read the Eastern theologians and philosophers as well as those of the West.
He was assiduous in carrying out his office, acting with charity to all: a true shepherd and teacher of the faithful. He was unimpressed by status and when the Emperor Theodosius ordered the massacre of 7,000 people in Thessalonica, Ambrose forced him to do public penance. He defended the rights of the Church and attacked the Arian heresy with learning, firmness and gentleness. He also wrote a number of hymns which are still in use today.
Ambrose was a key figure in the conversion of St Augustine to Catholicism, impressing Augustine (hitherto unimpressed by the Catholics he had met) by his intelligence and scholarship. He died on Holy Saturday, 4 April 397.
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.