Christ is the chief shepherd, the leader of his flock: come, let us adore him.
Year: C(I). Psalm week: 2. Liturgical Colour: White.
St Cuthbert (634? - 687)
According to tradition, he was a shepherd boy. Certainly he became a monk, and later prior, at Melrose. After the Synod of Whitby in 664 he became prior of Lindisfarne and gradually won over the community to Roman ecclesiastical customs. He was zealous in preaching the Gospel but most attracted to living the life of a hermit, and in 676 he left the monastery and lived in solitude on the nearby island of Inner Farne. For the last two years of his life he served as bishop of Lindisfarne, but he returned to his island to die, on 20 March 687. His remains were removed from their resting place at Lindisfarne to escape Viking raiders and were eventually enshrined at Durham Cathedral. Because the anniversary of his death always falls within Lent, his feast is celebrated on the anniversary of the enshrinement of his remains at Durham.
Other saints: Bl Francis Palau y Quer (1811-1872)
20 Mar (where celebrated)
Francis Palau y Quer was born in the year 1811 at Aitona in Spain. His early aspirations to live in the way of the Gospel led him to join the seminary in Lírida in 1828. During his seminary studies Francis came to know some Discalced Carmelite friars, whose way of life echoed with his own personal vocation. In 1832, spurred on by this appeal, he joined a Discalced Carmelite community at Barcelona and was later ordained in 1836.
Francis’ Carmelite life was marked by a rhythmic movement between life as a hermit and work as a missionary preacher in the region of Catalonia and southern France. Soon after his ordination he became a wandering preacher hoping to reignite the Catholic faith among the local people. He regularly spent periods of solitude living in caves in the region, following the pattern of the Desert Fathers. In 1840 Francis was named an Apostolic Missionary by the dioceses in which he preached. Soon after bans on religious communities were imposed in Spain, and so Francis crossed the Pyrenees to live in exile and to continue his solitary life and preaching in southern France. Over the next decade he would write three works exploring and defending the solitary life. His example inspired others to live as he did, and he became a spiritual guide for those seeking a solitary life in service of the Gospel.
Returning to Spain in 1851, Francis entered back into more active work as a spiritual director of seminarians and a parish catechist for adults. The movement between his missionary work and solitary life brought him to the insight that the Church, his Beloved, was God and neighbours together. His life continued in this pattern even during a six-year banishment by the Spanish government to the island of Ibiza. In his final years, Francis worked to establish the Teresian Missionary Carmelite Sisters and the Brothers of Charity (who later become re-affiliated with the Discalced Carmelite friars). Francis died on 20 March 1872, in the midst of his work that had sought to base the spiritual life on recognising and returning God’s love, rather than merely being caught up in the rational doctrines of his day.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
Second Reading: Saint Fulgentius of Ruspe (462/7 - 527/ 533)
Fulgentius was bishop of the city of Ruspe in the Roman province of Africa, which is in modern-day Tunisia. At that time Africa and parts of the Near East were ruled by the Vandals, who were Arians, calling themselves Christians but denying the divinity of Christ. As a result Fulgentius’ early career was marked by a series of flights from persecution, as Catholics tried to maintain their faith under Vandal rule. It was a complicated time. In 499 he was tortured for saying that Jesus was both God and man; the next year the Vandal king Thrasamund, impressed by his talents, invited him to return from exile and become a bishop (Fulgentius declined, since he knew that Thrasamund had ordered that none but Arians should be bishops); two years later he was persuaded to become bishop of Ruspe in Tunisia but shortly afterwards he was exiled to Sardinia. Thrasamund invited him back in 515 to debate against the Arians but exiled him again in 520.
In 523, following the death of Thrasamund and the accession of his Catholic son Hilderic, Fulgentius was allowed to return to Ruspe and try to convert the populace back to the faith. He worked to reform many of the abuses which had infiltrated his old diocese in his absence. The power and effectiveness of his preaching were so profound that his archbishop, Boniface of Carthage, wept openly every time he heard Fulgentius preach, and publicly thanked God for giving such a preacher to his church.
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 Timothy 4:16 ©|
Take great care about what you do and what you teach; always do this, and in this way you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.
|Noon reading (Sext)||1 Timothy 1:12 ©|
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, and who judged me faithful enough to call me into his service.
|Afternoon reading (None)||1 Timothy 3:13 ©|
Those who carry out their duties well as deacons will earn a high standing for themselves and be rewarded with great assurance in their work for the faith in Christ Jesus.