The Lord has truly risen, alleluia.
Year: C(II). Psalm week: 4. Liturgical Colour: White.
Other saints: Saint George Preca (1880 - 1962)
George was born in Valetta, Malta, growing up not far from the Carmelite Shrine church there. At the age of four, he nearly drowned in the Grand Harbour, but was rescued by a passing boatman. When his family later told the story they would joke that he had been rescued from the waters, like Moses. George, recalling that the rescue had happened on the 16th July, feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, attributed his rescue to the protection of the same Lady. As a young man, George was enrolled in the Carmelite scapular and later joined the Third Order. Attracted to the service of the priesthood, George joined the seminary and was ordained a priest in 1906, inspired by a personal mission to convert the world.
Early on, Father George (‘Dun Gorg’ in Maltese) noticed the lack of genuine faith education amongst the young people of Malta. Their religion was built around festivals and formalities, with little connection to their interior lives and a truer following of Jesus. His vision for something more and his lived integrity attracted a circle of young men around him who gathered for prayer, discussion and ultimately to work as lay missionaries in parishes and villages around Malta. His society was known as MUSEUM, which stood for Magister, Utinam Sequatur Evangelium Universus Mundos, or “Master, would that the whole world would follow the Gospel.” A society of laymen who would teach the catechism to the people while receiving instruction themselves was unheard of at the time, and it took twenty-five years and much tension with the Church authorities (including at one point the closure of the Society’s houses) before the Society’s existence was officially approved. It continued its work throughout World War II even in the places where members fled from the violence as refugees.
Dun Gorg continued preaching and writing, drawing on the rich spiritual writings of Carmelites Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, as well as his models as a Third Order Carmelite, Elijah and Mary. He had a flair for making Carmelite thoughts, teachings and traditions clear and simple for working people. In 1951 Malta celebrated the Seventh Centenary of the Brown Scapular, with Father George at the forefront. In the same year the Carmelite Prior General, Killian Lynch, formally affiliated him to the Carmelite family.
He composed the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary in 1957. He died in 1962, and was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on 3 June 2007, being described as “Malta’s second father in faith” after St Paul. Today the Society has over a thousand members and is responsible for the teaching of some 20,000 young people in the Maltese islands, the UK, Australia, Peru, Albania, Kenya and the Sudan.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
Second Reading: St Basil the Great (330 - 379)
St Basil the Great, or Basil of Caesarea, was one of the three men known as the Cappadocian Fathers. The others are his younger brother, St Gregory of Nyssa, and St Gregory Nazianzen. They 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. Basil 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 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.
In addition to his role in doctrinal development, Basil is also the father of Eastern monasticism. He moderated the heroic ascetic practices that were characteristic of earlier monastic life, to the point where they could be part of a life in which work, prayer and ascetic practices could be in harmonious balance. Knowledge of Basil’s work and Rule spread to the West and was an influence on the founding work of St Benedict.
The works of Basil that appear in the Second Readings are mostly from his works on the Holy Spirit, but there are also extracts from his monastic Rule.
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)||(Apocalypse 1:17-18) ©|
I saw the Son of Man, and he said to me, ‘Have no fear! I am the First and the Last. I was dead and now I am to live for ever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and of the underworld.’
|Noon reading (Sext)||Colossians 2:9,12 ©|
In Christ lives the fullness of divinity, and in him you too find your own fulfilment. You have been buried with him, when you were baptised; and by baptism, too, you have been raised up with him through your belief in the power of God who raised him from the dead.
|Afternoon reading (None)||2 Timothy 2:8,11 ©|
Remember the Good News that I carry, ‘Jesus Christ risen from the dead, sprung from the race of David’. Here is a saying that you can rely on: ‘If we have died with him, then we shall live with him.’