Alleluia! Christ ascends into heaven as Lord. Come, let us adore him. Alleluia!
Year: C(II). Liturgical Colour: White.
In other years: Pope St Paul VI (1897-1978)
Giovanni Battista Montini was born on 26 September 1897 in the village of Concesio, in the province of Brescia, Lombardy. He was ordained priest on 29 May 1920 and worked in the Roman Curia, the Vatican civil service, until he was made Archbishop of Milan in 1954. He was elected Pope on 21 June 1963, successfully saw the Vatican Council through to its completion, promoted the renewal of the Church’s life and especially of the liturgy. He also promoted ecumenical dialogue and the proclamation of the Gospel to the modern world. He died on 6 August 1978.
He was canonized by Pope Francis in 2018.
In a reflection from 5 August 1963, one and a half months after his election to the See of Peter, Paul VI wrote: “I must return to the beginning: relationship with Christ... that must be the source of the most sincere humility: ‘leave me, for I am a sinful man...’; be it in availability: ‘I will make you fishers...’; be it in the symbiosis of will and grace: ‘for me to live is Christ...’”. Love for Christ and love for his Church. With good reason he could write in Pensiero alla morte: «I pray that the Lord will give me the grace to make of my approaching death a gift of love to the Church. I can say that I have always loved her and I feel that I have lived my life for her and for nothing else”.
When the Holy Spirit chose him as the Successor of Saint Peter, someone already taken by the figure and apostolic activity of Saint Paul, he did not spare his energies in the service of the Gospel of Christ, of the Church and of humanity, seen in the light of the divine plan of salvation. As his teachings show he was a defender of human life, peace and true human progress. He wanted the Church, inspired by the Council and implementing its normative principles, to rediscover ever more her identity, overcoming the divisions of the past and by being ever more attentive to the new age. He wanted the Church of Christ to place the centrality of God and the preaching of the Gospel in the first place, even when she spends herself in the service of the brothers and sisters, in order to build that “civilisation of love” begun by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
In Notes for my Last Will and Testament, Paul VI wrote: «No monument for me». Even if a monument was erected in the Duomo of Milan in October 1989, the true monument to Saint Paul VI is the one built by his witness, his works, his apostolic journeys, his ecumenism, his work on the revised Vulgate, in the Liturgical renewal and his many teachings and examples by which he showed forth the face of Christ, the mission of the Church, the vocation of contemporary humanity and reconciling Christian thought with the requirements of the difficult moment in which he, with much suffering, had to guide the Church.
Other saints: Blessed Joseph Gerard (1831 - 1914)
Born in France in 1831, Joseph Gerard joined the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and later was sent to South Africa where the Oblates were opening new missions. After his ordination in 1854, he worked among the Zulu in Natal for ten years before being sent to the Basuto, in today’s Lesotho, where he carried out his missionary ministry and established the Church. He died on 29 May 1914, having spent 60 years as a missionary priest: he was known as “the Apostle of the Basuto”.
Other saints: Bl Elia of St Clement (1901-1927)
29 May (where celebrated)
Blessed Elia of St Clement was born in Bari, 17th January 1901, to deeply Christian parents. At her baptism she was given the name Theodora, gift of God. In the brief course of her life on earth she lived up to her name. On 8th April 1920 (then Feast of St Albert, author of the Carmelite Rule), she entered the Carmel of St Joseph in Bari. She received the habit on 14th November of the same year, the feast of St John of the Cross. On 8th December 1924 she wrote her act of total and definitive offering to the Lord with the vow to embrace the “most perfect”. She died on Christmas day 1927. On 19th December 2005 Pope Benedict XVI signed the Decree of Beatification. She was proclaimed Blessed in Bari Cathedral on 18th March 2006.
Other saints: Bl. William Arnaud OP and Companions, Martyrs
29 May (where celebrated)
Among the eleven martyrs commemorated this day, three were Dominicans. They were part of a band of preachers whose success at Avignonet, to the southwest of Toulouse, induced a number of Albigensian heretics to ambush the group and treacherously murder them on May 29, 1242. As they died they gave witness to the faith by singing the Te Deum. The Dominicans in this group were: Blessed William Arnaud, one of the first Dominicans to be appointed an inquisitor in the diocese of Toulouse; Blessed Bernard of Rochefort, a Dominican priest; and Blessed Garcia d’Aure of Orense, a cooperator brother.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
Second Reading: St Augustine of Hippo (354 - 430)
Augustine was born in Thagaste in Africa of a Berber family. He was brought up a Christian but left the Church early and spent a great deal of time seriously seeking the truth, first in the Manichaean heresy, which he abandoned on seeing how nonsensical it was, and then in Neoplatonism, until at length, through the prayers of his mother and the teaching of St Ambrose of Milan, he was converted back to Christianity and baptized in 387, shortly before his mother’s death.
Augustine had a brilliant legal and academic career, but after his conversion he returned home to Africa and led an ascetic life. He was elected Bishop of Hippo and spent 34 years looking after his flock, teaching them, strengthening them in the faith and protecting them strenuously against the errors of the time. He wrote an enormous amount and left a permanent mark on both philosophy and theology. His Confessions, as dazzling in style as they are deep in content, are a landmark of world literature. The Second Readings in the Office of Readings contain extracts from many of his sermons and commentaries and also from the Confessions.
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)||(Apocalypse 1:17-18) ©|
I saw the Son of Man, and he said to me, ‘Have no fear! I am the First and the Last. I was dead and now I am to live for ever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and of the underworld.’
|Noon reading (Sext)||Hebrews 8:1-3 ©|
Our High Priest has his place at the right of the throne of divine Majesty in the heavens, and he is the minister of the sanctuary and of the true Tent of Meeting which the Lord, and not any man, set up. It is the duty of every high priest to offer gifts and sacrifices.
|Afternoon reading (None)||Colossians 3:1-2 ©|
Since you have been brought back to true life with Christ, you must look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand. Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth.