Christ the Lord was tempted and suffered for us. Come, let us adore him.
Or: O that today you would listen to his voice: harden not your hearts.
Year: A(II). Psalm week: 1. Liturgical Colour: Violet.
St Isidore of Seville (560 - 636)
He was born in Seville in about 560 and after his father’s death he was educated by his brother Leander, Archbishop of Seville. He was instrumental in converting the Visigothic kings from the Arian heresy; he was made Archbishop of Seville after his brother’s death; and he took a prominent part in councils at Toledo and Seville. The Council of Toledo, in particular, laid great emphasis on learning, with all bishops in the kingdom commanded to establish seminaries and to encourage the teaching of Greek and Hebrew, law and medicine. He promoted the study of Aristotle, long before the Arabs discovered him and centuries before 13th-century Christian philosophers discovered him through the Arabs.
He embarked on the project of writing an encyclopaedia of universal knowledge but did not live to complete it. See the articles in the Catholic Encyclopaedia
Other saints: St Benedict 'The Black' (1526 - 1589)
Kenya, Southern Africa
Benedict was born in 1526, the son of Christopher and Diana, an Ethiopian couple who were kept as slaves in Sicily. When Benedict reached the age of 18, he was set free and after a while he joined a hermit called Jerome. His reputation for holiness was spread throughout the area and people flocked to him all the time. Eventually he moved to a Franciscan monastery where he spent the rest of his life serving his brothers as a cook. Even though he was a lay brother and without education, he was chosen to be their Superior and, at the end of his term of 6 years, he went back to the kitchen. People kept on visiting him seeking his advice and the help of his prayers. He died on 4 April, 1589. Humility, spirit of service, wisdom and powerful intercession were the special gifts bestowed on Benedict “The Black”. See the articles in the Catholic Encyclopaedia
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
Second Reading: St Gregory Nazianzen (329 - 390)
Gregory Nazianzen, “Gregory of Nazianzus”, was the son of Gregory, Bishop of Nazianzus, a Christian convert. (Nazianzus is a small town in Cappadocia, now the village of Nenizi in the Turkish province of Aksaray).
The culture of the Hellenic world means that a religion is not merely something to be lived: it also has to make sense. It has to work not only in practice, but in theory as well. Despite the passionate anti-Greek reaction of the Reformation, we are still, in this sense, all Greeks today. Take the doctrine of the Trinity, for example. Some people reject it because it sounds like polytheism. Instead, they make Jesus not God but something created by God – either a supremely favoured man or some kind of intermediate being. The Arians had such a view, and so does the Koran. Or they make Jesus only God, not man, relegating the intense humanity of the Passion to the status of a mere performance, a show put on by God through phantoms and angels rather than something utterly real and of eternal significance. Both these responses show a general feature of heresies, which is that they simplify the richness of orthodoxy and flatten it into a shadow of itself. “Simpler” may well mean “more easily acceptable”, but that is not the same as “true”. One could simplify quantum physics and get rid of its paradoxes until there is no metaphysical weirdness for anyone to object to – that might well make more people happy, but it would not be true.
The three men we call “the Cappadocian Fathers” were active after the Council of Nicaea, working to formulate Trinitarian doctrine precisely and, in particular, to pin down the meaning and role of the least humanly comprehensible member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. St Basil of Caesarea, “St Basil the Great”, was the leader and organizer; Gregory of Nazianzus was the thinker, the orator, the poet, pushed into administrative and episcopal roles by circumstances and by Basil; and Gregory of Nyssa, Basil’s younger brother, although not a great stylist, was the most gifted of the three as a philosopher and theologian. Together, the Cappadocian Fathers hammered out the doctrine of the Trinity like blacksmiths forging a piece of metal by hammer-blows into its perfect, destined shape. They were champions – and successful champions – of orthodoxy against Arianism, a battle that had to be conducted as much on the worldly and political plane as on the philosophical and theological one. The sciences ought not to have to work like this, but all of them, at one time or other in their history, do.
It is a relief to us as readers to note, after all this, that St Gregory of Nazianzus, as well as receiving the title of Doctor of the Church, is acknowledged as the most accomplished rhetorical stylist of the patristic age, and that this “style” does not adopt the over-ripe excesses of some late-imperial rhetoric (Augustine can get carried away in this direction sometimes, and Cassiodorus, in the sixth century, spends altogether too much of his time there). Gregory’s Second Readings do sound almost operatic at times, but the grandeur of the style does not exist for its own sake but comes from the splendour of its subject-matter. It is possible to be carried away by it, and enjoyable, even, to let that happen; but underlying the experience there is always a sense of being carried away in the direction of somewhere definite and somewhere worthwhile.
Liturgical colour: violet
Violet is a dark colour, ‘the gloomy cast of the mortified, denoting affliction and melancholy’. Liturgically, it is the colour of Advent and Lent, the seasons of penance and preparation.
|Mid-morning reading (Terce)||1 John 1:8-9 ©|
If we say we have no sin in us, we are deceiving ourselves and refusing to admit the truth; but if we acknowledge our sins, then God who is faithful and just will forgive our sins and purify us from everything that is wrong.
|Noon reading (Sext)||1 John 2:1-2 ©|
If anyone should sin, we have our advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, who is just. He is the sacrifice that takes our sins away; and not only ours, but the whole world’s.
|Afternoon reading (None)||1 John 2:8-10 ©|
The night is over and the real light is already shining. Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the dark. But anyone who loves his brother is living in the light and need not be afraid of stumbling.