The Lord has truly risen, alleluia.
Year: C(I). Psalm week: 3. 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 Irenaeus (130 - 202)
Irenaeus was born in Smyrna, in Asia Minor (now Izmir in Turkey) and emigrated to Lyons, in France, where he eventually became the bishop. It is not known for certain whether he was martyred or died a natural death.
Whenever we take up a Bible we touch Irenaeus’s work, for he played a decisive role in fixing the canon of the New Testament. It is easy for people nowadays to think of Scripture – and the New Testament in particular – as the basis of the Church, but harder to remember that it was the Church itself that had to agree, early on, about what was scriptural and what was not. Before Irenaeus, there was vague general agreement on what scripture was, but a system based on this kind of common consent was too weak. As dissensions and heresies arose, reference to scripture was the obvious way of trying to settle what the truth really was, but in the absence of an agreed canon of scripture it was all too easy to attack one’s opponent’s arguments by saying that his texts were corrupt or unscriptural; and easy, too, to do a little fine-tuning of texts on one’s own behalf. Irenaeus not only established a canon which is almost identical to our present one, but also gave reasoned arguments for each inclusion and exclusion.
Irenaeus also wrote a major work, Against the Heresies, which in the course of denying what the Christian faith is not, effectively asserts what it is. The majority of this work was lost for many centuries and only rediscovered in a monastery on Mount Athos in 1842. Many passages from it are used in the Office of Readings.
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)||1 Corinthians 12:13 ©|
In the one Spirit we were all baptised, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as citizens, and one Spirit was given to us all to drink.
|Noon reading (Sext)||Titus 3:5,7 ©|
God saved us by means of the cleansing water of rebirth and by renewing us with the Holy Spirit which he has so generously poured over us through Jesus Christ our saviour. He did this so that we should be justified by his grace, to become heirs looking forward to inheriting eternal life.
|Afternoon reading (None)||(Colossians 1:12-14) ©|
We thank the Father who has made it possible for us to share in the saints’ inheritance of light. He has taken us out of the power of darkness and created a place for us in the kingdom of the Son that he loves. In him, we gain our freedom and the forgiveness of our sins.