Christ is the spouse of the Church: come, let us adore him.
Year: C(II). Psalm week: 3. Liturgical Colour: White.
In other years: Saint Faustina Kowalska (1905 - 1938)
Helena Kowalska was born on 25 August 1905 in Głogowiec, near Łódź in Poland, the third of ten children of a poor and religious family. From an early age she had a religious vocation, and she showed great determination in pursuing it despite the opposition of her parents and rejection by the first few convents to which she applied. Through persistence and hard work she was accepted by the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, which she entered on 1 August 1925, taking the name Sister Mary Faustina. She lived in the Congregation for the rest of her short life. Her work as cook, gardener and porter revealed nothing of her rich mystical interior life.
The mystery of the Mercy of God which forms the centre of St Faustina’s spirituality was revealed to her by Jesus in visions and conversations from early 1931. In choosing an obscure and uneducated young girl as the apostle of devotion to the Divine Mercy, he followed the pattern so often used by God: that his strength is manifested in weakness, and the weak and humble have the power to change the world. “Today I am sending you with my mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish aching mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to my merciful heart.”
With the help of the nuns’ confessor, Father Michael Sopoćko (who prudently started by having Sister Faustina psychiatrically examined to confirm the veracity of the visions), the devotion to the Divine Mercy began. An image of the Divine mercy was painted at Sister Faustina’s instruction (since she could not paint herself); she wrote instructions for a Novena of the Divine Mercy, which was published in the final year of her life. Sister Faustina died (probably of tuberculosis) on 5 October 1938.
The devotion to the Divine Mercy spread widely and fast, especially during the Second World War. In 1956 Pope Pius XII blessed an image of the Divine Mercy, but the theorists were harder to convince, and although the process of Faustina’s canonization began in 1965, it was not until 1978 that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reversed its previous ban on the circulation of her writings: “…there no longer exists, on the part of this Sacred Congregation, any impediment to the spreading of the devotion to The Divine Mercy”. Indeed, on the official Vatican web site some of Faustina’s actual conversations with Jesus are quoted in her biography, and there have been moves to have her declared a Doctor of the Church.
Faustina Kowalska was beatified on 18 April 1993 and canonized on 30 April 2000. At the same time the second Sunday of Easter was officially designated as the Sunday of the Divine Mercy.
Other saints: Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos (1819 - 1867)
He was born in Füssen, in Bavaria, in what is now Germany, on 11 January 1819. He entered the diocesan seminary. Coming to know the charism of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, joined it and was sent to North America. He was ordained a priest in 1844.
He began his pastoral ministry in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as assistant pastor of his confrère St John Neumann, serving also as Master of Novices and dedicating himself to preaching. He became a full-time itinerant missionary preacher, preaching in both English and German in a number of different states. He died in New Orleans, Louisiana, on 4 October 1867.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
Second Reading: Origen (184 - 254)
Origen is a giant among early Christian thinkers. He was knowledgeable in all the arguments of the Greek philosophical schools but believed firmly in the Bible as the only source of true inspiration. He is thus a representative of that curious hybrid called “Christianity”, which on the one hand maintains (like the Jews) an ongoing direct relationship with the living God, who is the principle and source of being itself, but on the other hand maintains (like the Greeks) that everything makes sense rationally and it is our duty to make sense of it. As the Gospels say (but the Pentateuch does not), “You shall love the Lord your God with all your mind”.
A first stage in this, when it comes (for example) to disputations with the Jews over their view of Christianity as a recently-founded syncretizing heresy of Judaism, is to decide what Scripture is and what it says. If I argue from my books and you argue from yours, we will never meet; but if we share an agreed foundation, there is some chance. Accordingly Origen compiled a vast synopsis of the different versions of the Old Testament, called the Hexapla. Not all Origen’s specific judgements on soundness were generally accepted, even at the time, but the principle remains a necessary one, indispensable for any constructive meeting of minds.
Origen’s principle of interpretation of Scripture is that as well as having a literal meaning, its laws, stories and narratives point us to eternal and spiritual truths. The prime purpose of Scripture is to convey spiritual truth, and the narrative of historical events is secondary to this. While we still accept that “Scripture provides us with the truths necessary for salvation”, this view does leave room for over-interpretation by the unscrupulous, and in the controversies of succeeding centuries people would either claim Origen as an authority for their own interpretations or accuse their opponents of Origenizing away the plain truths of Scripture. Even today, the literalist view taken by some heretics of narratives in Genesis which most of us accept as allegorical shows that this controversy will never die.
As part of his programme of founding everything on Scripture, Origen produced voluminous commentaries – too many of them for the copyists to keep up, so that today some of them have perished. But what remains has definite value, and extracts from his commentaries and also his sermons are used as some of our Second Readings in the Office of Readings.
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 3:16-17 ©|
Do you not realise that you are God’s temple and that the Spirit of God is living among you? If anybody should destroy the temple of God, God will destroy him, because the temple of God is sacred; and you are that temple.
|Noon reading (Sext)||2 Corinthians 6:16 ©|
The temple of God has no common ground with idols, and that is what we are – the temple of the living God. We have God’s word for it: I will make my home among them and live with them; I will be their God and they shall be my people.
|Afternoon reading (None)||Haggai 2:6,7,9 ©|
The Lord of Hosts says this: I will shake all the nations and the treasures of all the nations shall flow in, and I will fill this Temple with glory, says the Lord of Hosts. The new glory of this Temple is going to surpass the old, and in this place I will give peace – it is the Lord of Hosts who speaks.