Christ is the chief shepherd, the leader of his flock: come, let us adore him.
Year: A(I). Psalm week: 2. Liturgical Colour: White.
Saint Birinus was sent to England as a missionary by Pope Honorius I about the year 634; on his way, he was consecrated bishop in Genoa. He had intended to work in a remote part of Britain but when he found that the West Saxons were still pagan he stayed among them and baptised their King and a good number of his followers during his fifteen years’ apostolate. He died about 650 and the main Church of the West Saxons which he had established at Dorchester-on-Thames was later moved to Winchester, as were the relics of Saint Birinus.
Saint Birinus (-649)
Birinus was a Frank, had been ordained a bishop in Genoa. He was sent to Wessex by Pope Honorius I, arriving in 634 at the port of Hamwic, now in the St Mary’s area of Southampton. He had intended to work in a remote part of Britain but when he found that the West Saxons were still pagan he stayed among them. He baptized the West Saxon king Cynegils, probably in 635. The king granted him the See of Dorchester, where he established a church. He is reputed to have baptised the king’s son and his grandson (and to have been godfather to the latter). During his 15-year apostolate, he founded churches across Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. He died on 3 December 649, and it is thought that his relics were later taken to Winchester, the capital of Wessex, when the See was moved from Dorchester to Winchester by St Hedda.
Saint Hedda (-705)
Hedda (Haeddi), whose feast is celebrated in Winchester on this day, was educated at Whitby, and ordained bishop in 676 by Theodore of Canterbury. He was appointed Bishop of the West Saxons, and moved his See from Dorchester to Winchester, which transformed it not only into the ecclesiastical centre of the kingdom but also for a time its capital. He died in 705.
Other saints: St John Almond (c.1565-1612)
John Almond (or Lathom or Molyneux) was born at Allerton near Liverpool of Catholic parents about 1565 and went to school at Much Woolton. After studying at Reims he went to the English College in Rome, where in due course he was ordained priest. In 1602 he returned to England as a secular priest and ministered to Catholics there. He was arrested briefly in 1608, and then again in 1612. In November of that year, seven priests had escaped from prison, and this may have sharpened the zeal of those who interrogated him. He displayed to the last great skill in argument; the account of his death describes him as “a reprover of sin, a good example to follow, of an ingenious and acute understanding, sharp and apprehensive in his conceits and answers, yet complete with modesty, full of courage and ready to suffer for Christ, that suffered for him.” He refused to sign the Oath of Allegiance in the form in which it was offered him, but offered to swear that he bore in his heart “so much allegiance to King James as he, or any Christian king, could expect by the law of nature, or the positive law of the true Church, be it which it will, ours or yours.” He was committed to Newgate and within a few months was brought to trial as a seminary priest. Having been duly convicted he was hanged, drawn, and quartered on 5 December 1612 at Tyburn, London.
Other saints: Bl Bartholomew Fanti (c.1428-1495)
5 Dec (where celebrated)
Bartholomew Fanti was born in Mantua around the year 1428. In 1452 he is known to have already been a Carmelite priest of the Congregation of Mantua. For thirty-five years at the Order’s church in Mantua he was the spiritual director and rector of the Confraternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for which he composed a rule and statutes. He was a teacher of Bl Baptist Spagnoli and is especially remembered for his devotion to and love of the Eucharist. He died in 1495 in Mantua.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
Second Reading: St John of the Cross (1542 - 1591)
John was born in Fontiveros, in Spain, in about 1542. He spent some time as a Carmelite friar before, in 1568, Saint Teresa of Ávila persuaded him to pioneer the reform of the Carmelite order. This was a difficult task and a dangerous one: he suffered imprisonment and severe punishment at the hands of the Church authorities. He died at the monastery of Ubeda in Andalusia on 14 December 1591: the monks there had initially treated him as the worst of sinners, but by the time he died they had recognised his sanctity and his funeral was the occasion of a great outburst of enthusiasm.
His works include two major mystical poems – he is considered one of the great poets of the Spanish language – and detailed commentaries on them and the spiritual truths they convey. He was canonized in 1726 and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1926.
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)||(Isaiah 10:20-21) ©|
That day, the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the House of Jacob will truly rely on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel. A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God.
|Noon reading (Sext)||(Isaiah 10:24,27) ©|
The Lord of Hosts says this: My people who live in Zion, do not be afraid. On that day the burden will fall from your shoulder and the yoke will cease to weigh on your neck.
|Afternoon reading (None)||(Isaiah 13:22-14:1) ©|
Its time is almost up, its days will not last long. Yes, the Lord will have pity on Jacob, and Israel will be saved.