Let us come before the Lord, giving thanks.
Year: A(II). Psalm week: 3. Liturgical Colour: Green.
Saint Faustina Kowalska (1905 - 1938)
Helena Kowalska was born on 25 August 1905 in Głogowiec, near Łódź in Poland, the third of ten children of a poor and religious family. From an early age she had a religious vocation, and she showed great determination in pursuing it despite the opposition of her parents and rejection by the first few convents to which she applied. Through persistence and hard work she was accepted by the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, which she entered on 1 August 1925, taking the name Sister Mary Faustina. She lived in the Congregation for the rest of her short life. Her work as cook, gardener and porter revealed nothing of her rich mystical interior life.
The mystery of the Mercy of God which forms the centre of St Faustina’s spirituality was revealed to her by Jesus in visions and conversations from early 1931. In choosing an obscure and uneducated young girl as the apostle of devotion to the Divine Mercy, he followed the pattern so often used by God: that his strength is manifested in weakness, and the weak and humble have the power to change the world. “Today I am sending you with my mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish aching mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to my merciful heart.”
With the help of the nuns’ confessor, Father Michael Sopoćko (who prudently started by having Sister Faustina psychiatrically examined to confirm the veracity of the visions), the devotion to the Divine Mercy began. An image of the Divine mercy was painted at Sister Faustina’s instruction (since she could not paint herself); she wrote instructions for a Novena of the Divine Mercy, which was published in the final year of her life. Sister Faustina died (probably of tuberculosis) on 5 October 1938.
The devotion to the Divine Mercy spread widely and fast, especially during the Second World War. In 1956 Pope Pius XII blessed an image of the Divine Mercy, but the theorists were harder to convince, and although the process of Faustina’s canonization began in 1965, it was not until 1978 that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reversed its previous ban on the circulation of her writings: “…there no longer exists, on the part of this Sacred Congregation, any impediment to the spreading of the devotion to The Divine Mercy”. Indeed, on the official Vatican web site some of Faustina’s actual conversations with Jesus are quoted in her biography, and there have been moves to have her declared a Doctor of the Church.
Faustina Kowalska was beatified on 18 April 1993 and canonized on 30 April 2000. At the same time the second Sunday of Easter was officially designated as the Sunday of the Divine Mercy.
Other saints: Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos (1819 - 1867)
He was born in Füssen, in Bavaria, in what is now Germany, on 11 January 1819. He entered the diocesan seminary. Coming to know the charism of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, joined it and was sent to North America. He was ordained a priest in 1844.
He began his pastoral ministry in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as assistant pastor of his confrère St John Neumann, serving also as Master of Novices and dedicating himself to preaching. He became a full-time itinerant missionary preacher, preaching in both English and German in a number of different states. He died in New Orleans, Louisiana, on 4 October 1867.
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)||2 Corinthians 13:11 ©|
Brethren, be joyful. Try to grow perfect; help one another. Be united; live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.
|Noon reading (Sext)||Romans 6:22 ©|
Now you have been set free from sin, you have been made slaves of God, and you get a reward leading to your sanctification and ending in eternal life.
|Afternoon reading (None)||Colossians 1:21-22 ©|
Not long ago, you were foreigners and enemies, in the way that you used to think and the evil things that you did; but now he has reconciled you, by his death and in that mortal body. Now you are able to appear before him holy, pure and blameless.