Christ the Lord has promised us the Holy Spirit: come, let us adore him, alleluia.
Year: B(I). Psalm week: 3. Liturgical Colour: White.
Saint Rita of Cascia (1377 - 1447)
She was born near Cascia, in Umbria in Italy. She was married at the age of 12 despite her frequently repeated wish to become a nun. Her husband was rich, quick-tempered and immoral and had many enemies. She endured his insults, abuse and infidelities for 18 years and bore him two sons, who grew to be like him.
Towards the end of his life she helped to convert her husband to a more pious way of life, but he was stabbed to death by his enemies not long afterwards. He repented before he died and was reconciled to the Church.
Her sons planned to avenge their father’s death. When Rita’s pleas were unavailing, she prayed that God should take their lives if that was the only way to preserve them from the sin of murder. They died of natural causes a year later.
Rita asked to join the convent of St Mary Magdalen at Cascia. She was rejected for being a widow, since the convent was for virgins only, and later given the impossible task of reconciling her family with her husband’s murderers. She carried out the task and was allowed to enter the convent at the age of 36. She remained there until her death at the age of 70.
She is widely honoured as a patron saint of impossible or lost causes.
Other saints: St Joachina de Vedruna de Mas (1783-1854)
22 May (where celebrated)
Joachina, was born in Barcelona, Spain and was the fifth of eight children of the aristocratic Vedruna family. Steeped in the traditional piety of her time, Joachina (aged 12) requested to enter the cloistered Carmelite Convent near to her home. Her request was turned down, but this did not stifle a growing prayer life and her awareness of God’s presence. She decided that if she could not live her life in the service of the convent, then God must be calling her to serve in another way.
This other way led to her marriage to Teodoro de Mas in 1799. Teodoro was someone who, like her, had considered religious life and was drawn to actively living a Christian life of prayer and charitable works. Together Joachina and Teodoro raised nine children in the midst of Napoleonic wars, retreating from Barcelona to live in the safety of Vich. Soon after moving to Vich, Teodoro joined the Spanish forces to defend Spain, leaving Joachina as the sole carer of their children. Teodoro returned to the family in 1813, after he resigned from the army, but returned weakened by warfare. When Teodoro died suddenly in 1816, Joachina was only 33 years old and left alone to raise their children. However, her unwavering life of prayer and her substantial inheritance left her with the means to care not only for her children into adulthood, but also the sick people of Vich.
After her children had left home, Joachina resolved to direct her skills to other works of mercy. She based this ministry on the skills she had developed over previous years: teaching the young, and nursing the sick. In 1826, with the blessing of the local Bishop, Joachina established a community of nine sisters, naming the community the Carmelites of Charity. The early years of the community were spent in extreme poverty, but this did not hamper the establishment of a hospital in Tarrega, Spain. Under Joachina’s leadership and with God’s help, the community worked amidst further Spanish conflicts, their places of ministry were places of peace where wounded from either side of a conflict would be treated. In 1843 the community experienced a rapid period of growth and development, and received final approval from Rome in 1850. During the same year, Joachina’s health began to decline. She died in 1854, and was laid to rest at the mother house of the community at Vich, Spain.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
Second Reading: St Gregory of Agrigentum (late 6th century)
Gregory was born near Agrigentum (Girgenti) in Sicily. He was ordained deacon while on a pilgrimage to Palestine, by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, and was ordained Bishop of Agrigentum while on a visit to Rome. Pope St Gregory the Great addressed several letters to him.
There is a long biography of him, written some years after his death, but it is short on the kind of dry biographical detail that is valued in the modern West and long on the stories of personalities, feuds, injustice, divine assistance and eventual vindication which may well be true (there is no reason for them not to be) but which do not accord well with our current ideas of what history ought to be. Even the date of Gregory’s death is uncertain. By 594 he was no longer Bishop, but whether this was due to death, dismissal or retirement, nobody knows.
On the other hand, the “Gregory of Agrigentum” who wrote the exposition on Ecclesiastes which appears among the Second Readings may be another Gregory of Agrigentum from the late seventh, and not the late sixth, century. Or he may even be someone else altogether, from later still.
Faced with such rich material for controversy among scholars, this is one of those cases when it is better not to worry too much about the exact authorship, instead absorbing and deriving spiritual benefit from the rich line of interpretation which this work provides. It is the quality of the Exposition on Ecclesiastes, not the identity of its author, which has secured it its place in the Liturgy of the Hours.
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)||Romans 5:10-11 ©|
When we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, we were still enemies; now that we have been reconciled, surely we may count on being saved by the life of his Son? Not merely because we have been reconciled but because we are filled with joyful trust in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have already gained our reconciliation.
|Noon reading (Sext)||1 Corinthians 15:20-22 ©|
Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of all who have fallen asleep. Death came through one man and in the same way the resurrection of the dead has come through one man. Just as all men die in Adam, so all men will be brought to life in Christ.
|Afternoon reading (None)||2 Corinthians 5:14-15 ©|
The love of Christ overwhelms us when we reflect that if one man has died for all, then all men should be dead. The reason he died for all was so that living men should live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised to life for them.