Christ is the bread of life: come, let us adore him.
Year: B(I). Liturgical Colour: White.
In other years: Saint Norbert (1080 - 1134)
He was born in Xanten in the Rhineland. He came of a noble family and lived a worldly life at the courts of the Archbishop of Cologne (where he held some minor benefices) and of the Emperor Henry V.
At the age of 35 he had a narrow escape from death and his life changed. He became a priest and was full of reforming zeal, which so antagonized the clergy of Xanten that they denounced him as a hypocrite. So he sold or gave away all his possessions and made his way to the Pope (who was then in southern France). The Pope gave him permission to preach wherever he lived, and he travelled through France and Germany preaching. Others joined him, and a community was started in the valley of Prémontré near Laon, which developed into an order (the Premonstratensian Order) with a number of abbeys.
Meanwhile Norbert continued travelling and preaching, until he was consecrated Archbishop of Magdeburg. He threw himself into his new task with his usual enthusiasm, reforming what had been a rather corrupt diocese, antagonizing the clergy (who had established a comfortable life for themselves) and some of the laity, who had quietly taken possession of unwatched church properties – several attempts were made to murder him. He also preached the gospel to the pagans of the district, and died (of natural causes) in 1134.
Other saints: Saint Marcellin Champagnat (1789 - 1840)
Australia, New Zealand
He was born at Marlhes, a village in the mountains of south-eastern France. The village was poor, and Marcellin had virtually no education. When he was 14, a priest who was passing through the village helped him to recognise his vocation to the priesthood, and he began to study. Life was hard, and he was tempted to give up, but he was ordained priest in 1816.
By then he, with other seminarians, had conceived the idea of a Society of Mary, to include teaching brothers who would work with children who were deprived of Christian education by the remoteness of the areas in which they lived.
When Marcellin was working as a curate, an encounter with a dying 17-year-old boy, with the body of a weak 12-year-old and complete ignorance of Christianity, convinced him that it was time to act. In 1817 he founded the Marist Brothers. Mostly teenage peasants themselves, they were taught how to pray and live in religious community and sent them out to be teachers and religious educators themselves. They went into the remotest villages and taught children, and often the adults, the rudiments of the faith, and how to read and write.
There were many difficulties, not least the incomprehension of the local clergy, but things gradually got better. Marcellin was freed from his parish duties in 1825 and in 1836 the Church recognised the Society of Mary and entrusted to it the missions of Oceania. The first missionaries were sent out in the same year.
Worn out by the effort of obtaining official recognition, and after suffering long and painfully from cancer, Marcellin died on 6 June 1840. The order he founded continues to thrive: today there are about 5,000 Marist brothers.
Other saints: Saint Jarlath (- 540/550)
He founded a monastery at Tuam and became the first Bishop of that see. See the article in Wikipedia
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
Second Reading: St Thomas Aquinas (1225 - 1274)
Thomas was born of a noble family in southern Italy, and was educated by the Benedictines. In the normal course of events he would have joined that order and taken up a position suitable to his rank; but he decided to become a Dominican friar instead.
He studied in Paris and in Cologne under the great philosopher St Albert the Great, at a time of great philosophical ferment, when the writings of Aristotle, the greatest philosopher of the ancient world, had been newly rediscovered and were becoming available to people in the West for the first time in a thousand years. Many feared that Aristotelianism was flatly contradictory to Christianity, and the fact that Aristotle’s works were coming to the West from mostly Muslim sources did nothing to help matters.
Thomas’ clarity of thought ensured that the truth would be recognised whatever its source. He inaugurated a form of disputation which would bring ideas together not so that one would win and the other lose through clever tricks of debate, but so that the single unifying truth behind them should be found. He thus not only transformed the practice of theology but also laid the foundations of the modern scientific revolution.
As well as producing major philosophical and theological works, Thomas, at the request of Pope Urban IV, composed the Divine Office for the newly-created feast of Corpus Christi.
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)||Wisdom 16:20 ©|
Lord, you have given your people the food of angels, from heaven untiringly sending them bread already prepared, containing every delight, satisfying every taste.
|Noon reading (Sext)||Proverbs 9:1-2 ©|
Wisdom has built herself a house, she has erected her seven pillars, she has slaughtered her beasts, prepared her wine, she has laid her table.
|Afternoon reading (None)||Acts 2:42,47 ©|
These remained faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers. They praised God and were looked up to by everyone.