Christ has appeared to us: come, let us adore him.
Year: C(I). Psalm week: 2. Liturgical Colour: White.
St Aelred of Rievaulx (1110 - 1167)
Aelred was born in Hexham in around 1109. His family was well connected and at an early age he was sent into the service of King David of Scotland. There he rose to the position of Master of the Royal Household. In time he became attracted to the religious life, but he was also much attached to the life he lived at court and to King David himself. It took a considerable personal struggle for him at the age of 24 to give up his secular pursuits and to enter the newly founded Cistercian monastery of Rievaulx in Yorkshire in 1133. At 34 he moved from there and took charge of a new foundation in Lincolnshire. But within four years he had returned to Rievaulx as Abbot where he remained for the rest of his life. He died in 1167.
Aelred is remembered both for his energy and for his gentleness. His writings and his sermons were characterised by a deep love of the Scriptures and by a very personal love of Christ ‘as friend and Saviour’. He was sensitive and understanding in his dealings with his fellow monks and under his direction the monastery at Rievaulx grew to an extraordinary size. He did not enjoy robust health and the last ten years of his life were marked by a long and painful illness. His position as Abbot required him to travel on visitation to monasteries not only in England and Scotland but even in France, and the physical suffering and exhaustion which this incurred seems to have been considerable. A contemporary account of the last year of his life describes him as being left helpless on his bed unable to speak or move for an hour after celebrating his morning Mass.
Aelred was a singularly attractive figure, a man of great spiritual power but also of warm friendliness and humanity. He has been called the St Bernard of the North.
St Benet (Benedict) Biscop (c. 628–690)
He was born of a noble Northumbrian family and was for a time a thegn of King Oswiu.
While returning from a journey to Rome, he visited Lérins, a monastic island off the Mediterranean coast of Provence, and stayed there for two years, from 665 to 667, during which he took monastic vows and the name of “Benedict”.
Ecgfrith of Northumbria granted Benedict land in 674 for the purpose of building a monastery. He went to the Continent to bring back masons who could build a monastery in the Romanesque style, and St Peter’s, at Jarrow, was the first ecclesiastical building in England to be built in stone. Its library became world-famous and it was here that Benedict’s student Bede wrote his famous works.
For the last three years of his life Benedict was bed-ridden. He suffered his affliction with great patience and faith. He died on 12 January 690.
Other saints: St Marguerite Bourgeoys (1620 - 1700)
Born in Troyes in France, she went to Canada at the age of 33, where she taught and devoted herself to works of corporal mercy. She returned to France twice to gather new recruits, and founded the Congregation of Notre-Dame de Montréal, a non-enclosed order which established and ran many schools and is still active today, across the world. She died on 12 January 1700. See the article in Wikipedia
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
Second Reading: Faustus of Riez (405/10 - 490/95)
Faustus was born in Britain, though there is some disagreement as to whether this means the island of Great Britain or Less Britain, that is, Brittany. As a young man he entered the monastery of Lérins, on an island off the coast of the French Riviera, where he was elected abbot at a remarkably young age, in 439, on the elevation of his predecessor, Maximus, to the nearby bishopric of Riez. (St Vincent of Lérins, another monk of this abbey, is another author of a Second Reading: he died in about 445). When Maximus died in about 466, Faustus succeeded him as bishop. He wrote extensively on the Trinity and on grace and free will and took part in the controversies of the time on these subjects. It is heartening to note that the same volume of our Liturgy of the Hours contains readings from both Faustus and one of his opponents, Fulgentius of Ruspe.
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)||Ezekiel 20:41-42 ©|
I will welcome you like an appeasing fragrance when I bring you out from among the peoples. I mean to gather you together from the foreign countries in which you have been scattered and through you I intend to display my holiness for all the nations to see. You will learn that I am the Lord.
|Noon reading (Sext)||Ezekiel 34:11-12 ©|
I am going to look after my flock myself and keep all of it in view. As a shepherd keeps all his flock in view when he stands up in the middle of his scattered sheep, so shall I keep my sheep in view. I shall rescue them from wherever they have been scattered.
|Afternoon reading (None)||Micah 2:12 ©|
I am going to gather all Jacob together, I will gather the remnant of Israel, bring them together like sheep in the fold; like a flock in its pasture they will fear no man.