Universalis
Wednesday 17 July 2024    (other days)
Saints Andrew Zorard and Benedict, Hermits 
 on Wednesday of week 15 in Ordinary Time

Using calendar: Slovakia. You can change this.

How wonderful is God among his saints: come, let us adore him.

Year: B(II). Psalm week: 3. Liturgical Colour: White.

Other saints: Saint Kenelm (-821)

Birmingham
Saint Kenelm was the son of Kenwulf, who was King of Mercia from 796 to 821. There is a strong local tradition that identifies a particularly steep and narrow valley in the Clent Hills as the place where Kenelm was murdered. The site is marked by a medieval Church dedicated to him. A two-line Anglo-Saxon verse, which probably represents the folk-memory of the event, can be translated:
On the Clent Hills · Kenelm is there
in the cow valley · born to be king
under a hawthorn tree · a headless corpse lies he.
An eleventh-century Life of St Kenelm in Latin contains many fanciful legends but reflects the belief that the Prince was killed as the result of dynastic quarrels within the Mercian royal family; in fact his uncle Kelwulf succeeded to the throne. In an age when politics were conducted according to the maxim: “Kill or be killed”, it is probable that Kenelm’s reputation for holiness came from his refusal to adopt such methods to obtain power. He was remembered by the people of the West Midlands as a faithful follower of Christ in particularly difficult circumstances. Kenelm was buried with his father in the crypt of St Pancras’ Abbey at Winchcombe (Gloucestershire), which became a place of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages. In the nineteenth century, Cardinal Newman was eager to encourage devotion to English saints; he would walk on pilgrimage from the Oratorian house at Rednal to St Kenelm’s Church on the Clent Hills.
Birmingham Ordo

Other saints: Blessed John Sugar, Priest, and Robert Grissold, Martyrs

Birmingham
Blessed John Sugar was born at Wombourne near Wolverhampton about 1558 and studied at St Mary’s Hall, Oxford, becoming a clergyman of the Established Church at Cannock in Staffordshire. He later became a Catholic, studied at the English College, Douai, and was ordained a priest on 21 April 1601. His ministry was in Warwickshire, Staffordshire and Worcestershire, where he travelled on foot and especially looked after the “poorer and meaner sort of Catholics”. Blessed Robert Grissold lived at Rowington in Warwickshire; he was the son of a weaver and is described as a “husbandman”; he had a special reverence for Catholic priests. He and John Sugar were arrested on the highway on 8 July 1603 after a raid on the Grissold house; Robert was given the chance of escaping by his first cousin, Clement Grissold, who was with the search party and had probably led it to the house, but he refused to leave the priest. Both were offered their freedom if they would conform. They were executed at Warwick on 16 July 1604. Sugar said on the scaffold “Be ye all merry, for we have not occasion of sorrow but of joy: for although I shall have a sharp dinner, yet I trust in Jesus Christ that I shall have a most sweet supper”. They were beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1987.
Birmingham Ordo

Other saints: Blessed Inácio de Azevedo (1528-1570)

Brazil
He was born at Oporto in Portugal in 1528 and entered the Society of Jesus at Coibra, 28 December, 1548, and became successively rector of the Jesuit college at Lisbon, provincial of Portugal, and rector at Broja. In 1565 St Francis Borgia gave him the task of visiting and inspecting the Jesuit missions in the Portuguese colony of Brazil. He spent two years on this work, from 1566 to 1568, and went to Rome to make his final report.
  He asked to be sent back as a missionary to Brazil. With thirty-nine companions he started on his voyage on 5 June 1570, but on 15 July their ship was captured by French Huguenot corsairs and Azevedo and his companions were seized and martyred. They were beatified by Pope Pius IX in 1854, and in 1999 forty concrete crosses were placed on the sea bed at the site of their martyrdom.

Other saints: Bl Thérèse of Saint Augustine and Companions

17 Jul (where celebrated)
These Discalced Carmelite nuns lived in a quiet town of Compiègne, France, offering intercessory prayer for those who asked for help at the Monastery of the Incarnation. In 1789, their community numbered 20, with their prioress Thérèse of St Augustine. In the same year, in the midst of the French Revolution, the French National Assembly declared all religious vows null and void, assuming that most religious men and women were held in religious life against their will. The Assembly believed their act would ‘liberate’ religious who would gratefully leave to enter the workforce. In August 1790, a government official visited the monastery of Compiègne and was surprised that each member of the community refused the “ridiculous freedom” that was being offered. The nuns were given a two-year ultimatum after which they would have to leave religious life.
  Under the leadership of Mother Thérèse the community prepared for the ordeal to come, appealing to God for help and offering themselves as an instrument for the peace between France and their Church. They resolved to follow Jesus in his crucifixion and resurrection. Following their expulsion from the monastery, the community split into groups of four, living in separate houses, adopting secular dress and continuing their simple and prayerful life.
  Soon after, sixteen of the sisters were arrested for living religious life in violation of the constitution. They were taken to Paris, where they were all found guilty of being religious fanatics and supporters of the King, with their sentence being death on the 17th July. On the night before their execution, the sisters renewed their desire for reconciliation between church and state. The sisters arrived at the guillotine singing the Veni Creator Spiritus. Thérèse of St Augustine asked to be the last to die, so that she could encourage her sisters in their commitment, in the midst of the pointless violence. By the end of the same month the terror of the French Revolution had come to an end.
MT

Today's Gospel: "With all your mind"

Sometimes there is a message for us in some words of the Gospel that even the evangelists don’t notice. There is an example here, hidden in words so uninteresting that we can’t even be sure who said them. Matthew and Mark say Jesus, while Luke says the scribe.
  Jesus (or the scribe) appears to be quoting from the Old Testament, but one phrase does not exist in any text of the Commandments: that we should love the Lord our God with all our mind.
  It is easy not to notice this phrase, and indeed Matthew, Mark and Luke don’t notice it. We know this because normally when Jesus departs from the Old Testament it is noticed, and remarked upon, and made the subject of a whole “But I say to you…” discourse.
  Not here.
  There are two aspects to this. One is what it says about the past, the other is what it says to us. The past is straightforward. The Jews have never been “people of the Book” in the sense of believing in the Bible and nothing but the Bible. They have, it is true, had a peculiar reverence for every sacred word, but they have lived not in unthinking obedience to those words alone but in a dialogue, you might even say in a relationship, with the sacred text. So the fact that “all your mind” appears here, without attracting notice or comment, must mean that it had become a part of the generally accepted interpretation of the words of Scripture. When, centuries after the Pentateuch, the Jews came across the new, Greek ways of thinking – as the Wisdom literature shows that they did – they immediately realised that this new thing called “mind” was included, no doubt about it, in the commandment to love.
  What this says to us is more important than just a footnote in the history of ideas. It is the foundation and justification of all science. God does not command the impossible. If he is to be loved with the mind, that can only be because he is lovable with the mind, or, to detheologize the language, because Ultimate Being can be related to rationally. The Gospel phrase tells us that things make sense and that we have the equipment to make sense of them.
  What does omnipotence mean? Does it mean that the Omnipotent can do anything at all? If that were true, all science would be at an end. If God willed that when I dropped a glass on the floor it would shatter, then even if God had willed the same whenever anyone in the past had ever dropped a glass, that would still not bind God. God would still be free to decide, if I dropped a glass on the floor now, that this particular glass, alone among all the glasses in history, should bounce and not break.
  Which is to say: on this interpretation of divine omnipotence, science is impossible. We cannot predict the result of an experiment, because next time God may decide differently. We cannot even lay down laws of nature based on previous experience, because to call a law a “law” is to claim to be able to bind God, which is blasphemy.
  This is not merely an academic quibble. When the 11th-century Muslim philosopher al-Ghazāli propounded this very idea, it captured the mainstream of Islamic thinking and led to the virtual suicide of science in Islam and the abandonment of rational thinking about the physical world, as being unnecessary, or sacrilegious, or both.
  We are saved from this by this one little phrase in the Gospel, about loving God with all our mind. It is more than mere permission, it is a command to understand, to go out and do science, and it was followed whenever Christians had leisure to think. It led to the dazzling 13th-century renaissance and the birth of modern science, and we are still living through its consequences.
  As for divine omnipotence, this is not the place to go into it in detail, but the answer to al-Ghazāli must surely be that God can indeed make the glass bounce, but God cannot make the glass bounce and still be God, since to break the laws and regularities of nature whimsically and without reason would be to abandon lovability-with-the-mind. This is exactly the argument that theologians use against pointless or frivolous miracles, but it applies to science as well, and to the possibility of doing science at all.

About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:

Second Reading: St Ambrose of Milan (340? - 397)

Ambrose was born in Trier (now in Germany) between 337 and 340, to a Roman family: his father was praetorian prefect of Gaul. Ambrose was educated at Rome and embarked on the standard cursus honorum of Roman advocates and administrators, at Sirmium, the capital of Illyria. In about 372 he was made prefect of Liguria and Emilia, whose capital was Milan.
  In 374 the bishopric of Milan fell vacant and when Ambrose tried to pacify the conflict between the Catholics and Arians over the appointment of a new bishop, the people turned on him and demanded that he become the bishop himself. He was a layman and not yet baptized (at this time it was common for baptism to be delayed and for people to remain for years as catechumens), but that was no defence. Coerced by the people and by the emperor, he was baptized, ordained, and installed as bishop within a week, on 7 December 374.
  He immediately gave his money to the poor and his land to the Church and set about learning theology. He had the advantage of knowing Greek, which few people did at that time, and so he was able to read the Eastern theologians and philosophers as well as those of the West.
  He was assiduous in carrying out his office, acting with charity to all: a true shepherd and teacher of the faithful. He was unimpressed by status and when the Emperor Theodosius ordered the massacre of 7,000 people in Thessalonica, Ambrose forced him to do public penance. He defended the rights of the Church and attacked the Arian heresy with learning, firmness and gentleness. He also wrote a number of hymns which are still in use today.
  Ambrose was a key figure in the conversion of St Augustine to Catholicism, impressing Augustine (hitherto unimpressed by the Catholics he had met) by his intelligence and scholarship. He died on Holy Saturday, 4 April 397.

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)1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is always patient and kind; it is never jealous; love is never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish; it does not take offence, and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.

Noon reading (Sext)1 Corinthians 13:8-9,13
Love does not come to an end. But if there are gifts of prophecy, the time will come when they must fail; or the gift of languages, it will not continue for ever; and knowledge – for this, too, the time will come when it must fail. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophesying is imperfect. In short, there are three things that last: faith, hope and love; and the greatest of these is love.

Afternoon reading (None)Colossians 3:14-15
Over all these clothes, to keep them together and complete them, put on love. And may the peace of Christ reign in your hearts, because it is for this that you were called together as parts of one body. Always be thankful.

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