Cry out with joy to God, all the earth: serve the Lord with gladness.
Year: B(I). Psalm week: 2. Liturgical Colour: Green.
St Ephraem the Deacon (306 - 373)
Saint Ephraem was a poet and a theologian. He lived all his life in Mesopotamia, first founding a school and then, when the Persians invaded his native town of Nisibis, moving to Edessa. He preached there, and laid the foundations of its great school of theology.
He is famous not only for the beauty of expression of his homilies but also for his hymns, which have spread far beyond his native Syriac church and are in use in East and West alike.
Other saints: St Columba (521? - 597)
England, Ireland, Scotland
Columba (Gaelic Colm Cille) He was born in Gartan, in County Donegal, and was of royal lineage. He studied under Finnian of Moville and Finnian of Clonard. He founded monasteries at Derry, Durrow, and possibly Kells, before leaving Ireland as a missionary, “an exile for Christ.” His greatest foundation was Iona, from where he converted much of western Scotland, and his followers took the Gospel as far as northern England. He died at Iona in 597. He was renowned as a poet and scribe as well as a spiritual guide. In Gaelic literature he appears as Ireland’s most popular saint, noted for his great personal love of all creatures, both human and animal.
Other saints: Saint José de Anchieta (1534-1597)
José de Anchieta y Díaz de Clavijo was born on 19 March 1534 on Tenerife in the Canary Islands, to a noble family. He became a Jesuit at the age of 17 and, to help him recover from a serious illness, he was sent to Bahia in Brazil in 1553 as an assistant to the missionaries there.
Brazil at this time was in a very bad way spiritually. On the one hand, there were the Indians to be evangelized and led away from pagan practices including cannibalism (to which they were much attached). On the other hand, both the European settlers and many of the priests, finding themselves in a land where there was no real authority, lived scandalous lives, practising both slavery and concubinage. When the Jesuits arrived in Brazil in 1549 they worked hard to regularize the situation.
Brother Anchieta became the assistant and interpreter of the Jesuit superior Father Nóbrega. They set up a mission which later grew into the city of São Paulo, and Anchieta made the school there his headquarters. He learned the local Tupi language and wrote the first ever grammar of it; he wrote dramas to teach the faith to the illiterate and the uneducated; he gave medical assistance to the Indians and taught them skills such as agriculture, carpentry, and the use of stone and metal. With Nóbrega he gave himself up as a hostage in 1563 so that a peace settlement could be reached between two warring tribes, and he narrowly escaped martyrdom on more than one occasion.
He was ordained a priest in 1566 and was the Jesuit Provincial in Brazil from 1577 to 1587. He died on 9 June 1597, exhausted by his labours.
He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1980 and recognized as a saint by Pope Francis on April 2014.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
Second Reading: Origen (184 - 254)
Origen is a giant among early Christian thinkers. He was knowledgeable in all the arguments of the Greek philosophical schools but believed firmly in the Bible as the only source of true inspiration. He is thus a representative of that curious hybrid called “Christianity”, which on the one hand maintains (like the Jews) an ongoing direct relationship with the living God, who is the principle and source of being itself, but on the other hand maintains (like the Greeks) that everything makes sense rationally and it is our duty to make sense of it. As the Gospels say (but the Pentateuch does not), “You shall love the Lord your God with all your mind”.
A first stage in this, when it comes (for example) to disputations with the Jews over their view of Christianity as a recently-founded syncretizing heresy of Judaism, is to decide what Scripture is and what it says. If I argue from my books and you argue from yours, we will never meet; but if we share an agreed foundation, there is some chance. Accordingly Origen compiled a vast synopsis of the different versions of the Old Testament, called the Hexapla. Not all Origen’s specific judgements on soundness were generally accepted, even at the time, but the principle remains a necessary one, indispensable for any constructive meeting of minds.
Origen’s principle of interpretation of Scripture is that as well as having a literal meaning, its laws, stories and narratives point us to eternal and spiritual truths. The prime purpose of Scripture is to convey spiritual truth, and the narrative of historical events is secondary to this. While we still accept that “Scripture provides us with the truths necessary for salvation”, this view does leave room for over-interpretation by the unscrupulous, and in the controversies of succeeding centuries people would either claim Origen as an authority for their own interpretations or accuse their opponents of Origenizing away the plain truths of Scripture. Even today, the literalist view taken by some heretics of narratives in Genesis which most of us accept as allegorical shows that this controversy will never die.
As part of his programme of founding everything on Scripture, Origen produced voluminous commentaries – too many of them for the copyists to keep up, so that today some of them have perished. But what remains has definite value, and extracts from his commentaries and also his sermons are used as some of our Second Readings in the Office of Readings.
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).
Other notes: Universalis anniversary
On this day in 1996 the Universalis Web site was opened to the public.
Pray for those who contribute to it.
|Mid-morning reading (Terce)||Deuteronomy 1:16-17 ©|
At that time I told your judges: You must give your brothers a fair hearing and see justice done between a man and his brother or the stranger who lives with him. You must be impartial in judgement and give an equal hearing to small and great alike. Do not be afraid of any man, for the judgement is God’s.
|Noon reading (Sext)||Isaiah 55:8-9 ©|
My thoughts are not your thoughts,
my ways not your ways – it is the Lord who speaks.
Yes, the heavens are as high above earth
as my ways are above your ways,
my thoughts above your thoughts.
|Afternoon reading (None)||1 Samuel 16:7 ©|
God does not see as man sees; man looks at appearances but the Lord looks at the heart.