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Fri 8 July

Friday of week 14 in Ordinary TimeOffice of Readings | Morning Prayer | Evening Prayer | Night Prayer | Mass(Saint Kilian (- 689)) He was born in County Cavan, Ireland. He was a missionary bishop and the apostle of Franconia, which is nowadays the northern part of Bavaria, in the late 7th century. He preached the Gospel in Würzburg and converted the local Duke and much of the population. He was martyred by beheading, possibly at the behest of the Duke’s wife, possibly because she was the widow of the Duke’s brother and Kilian had declared her subsequent marriage to the Duke to be illegal. See the article in Catholic Encyclopaedia.(Saint John of Dukla) (Saint Withburga (- 743)) Withburga was the youngest daughter of King Anna of East Anglia. After her father had fallen in battle she took the veil and lived mostly in East Dereham, a nunnery which she had founded. After her death c.743, her body was stolen by monks from Ely and enshrined there.East Anglian Ordo

Thu 7 July

Thursday of week 14 in Ordinary TimeOffice of Readings | Morning Prayer | Evening Prayer | Night Prayer | Mass(Blessed Peter To Rot) He was born in 1912 at Rakunai, a village on the Melanesian island of New Britain, today part of Papua New Guinea. His parents belonged to the region’s first generation of Catholics. He was a pious boy and the parish priest thought that he should study for the priesthood, but his father felt that the tradition of Catholicism in the region was too short and none of the people were yet ready for the priesthood, so Peter became a catechist. He married in 1936 and had three children.When the Japanese occupied the island during the war, all the missionaries and mission staff were imprisoned in a concentration camp and Peter was the only spiritual guide that Catholics had. He organized prayer services, gave religious instruction, baptized children, preserved the consecrated Hosts and administered them to the sick and dying, and gave help to the poor. The Japanese had destroyed the church when they arrived, so Peter built a new one out of the branches of trees.After a quiet start, repression grew violent. The Japanese banned all Christian worship, public and private, and decided to reintroduce polygamy among the people. Peter was arrested in April or May 1945 and savagely “questioned” by officials. He was sentenced to two months in prison. A Japanese doctor came and injected him with poison, stuffed his ears and nose with cotton wool, and held him down and suffocated him until he died.An immense crowd attended Peter’s burial, at which no religious rite was permitted. He has been increasingly revered as a martyr ever since that day.See also Pope John Paul II’s sermon at Peter To Rot’s beatification, on Vatican web site.(Saint Maelruain (- c.791)) In 769 he founded the monastery at Tallaght, in County Dublin, Ireland. Together with St Aengus he wrote a detailed Rule for the community, which is an important document in the history of early monasticism.

Wed 6 July

Wednesday of week 14 in Ordinary Time, or Saint Maria Goretti, Virgin, Martyr Office of Readings | Morning Prayer | Evening Prayer | Night Prayer | Mass(St Maria Goretti (1890 - 1902)) Maria Goretti was the third of seven children of a poor peasant family living near Corinaldo in the province of Ancona in Italy; owing to extreme poverty the family later migrated to a village near Anzio.In order to make ends meet, Maria’s father entered into partnership with a man called Serenelli, and shared a house with him and his two sons, one of whom was called Alessandro. Her father died in 1900, when Maria was ten.Maria impressed everyone with her radiant purity. She was naturally pious, kind, and helpful. She was also outstandingly beautiful – and Alessandro Serenelli was an outstandingly passionate and undisciplined man. She resisted his attentions, which only made her the more desirable, and narrowly managed to escape a serious sexual assault, which he made her keep secret by means of threats of murder.A month later Alessandro arranged things so that he would be alone in the house with Maria; and he had a dagger. She tried to resist, begging him to have care for his immortal soul, but he thrust a handkerchief into her mouth to prevent her from crying out, tied her up, and threatened her with the dagger. She could, the theologians say, have consented then, with no danger to her soul; but her love of purity was too great. Alessandro, enraged, stabbed her fourteen times.She did not die, though her entrails were hanging out from one of her abdominal wounds. She was taken to hospital, seven miles of bad road in a horse-drawn ambulance, and was operated on for more than two hours. She lived for twenty hours more, became a Child of Mary, received the Last Sacrament, and specifically forgave her murderer. She died in the afternoon of 6 July 1902, at the age of eleven years, eight months, and twenty days.Alessandro narrowly escaped being lynched, and was tried and sentenced to thirty years’ penal servitude with hard labour. For the first seven years or so he maintained a cynical and defiant attitude, but he repented, and dreams of Maria herself figured largely in his repentance. (You might say, he pretended to repent so as to get his sentence reduced – but the most sceptical experts were convinced, and he had to remain in prison for another twenty years, which is a long time to sustain a pretence).Maria was beatified in 1927. Alessandro was released in 1928; and he and Maria’s mother received Communion side by side on Christmas Day 1937, and they spent Christmas together.Maria was canonized in 1950. Her mother was present at the ceremony, the first time this has ever happened. Some people say that Alessandro was there too, others not; but it is certain that he spent his last years in a Capuchin monastery: he died in 1970.The trouble with purity nowadays is that we don’t believe in it – or at least we say we don’t. When we read of one saint or another that he or she was a virgin, we are more inclined to deride than to admire. And that is sad: here is not the place for a long disquisition on sex, but suffice it to say that sex is a valuable thing that should not be squandered or used trivially; any more than one should use champagne for cleaning floors.Even if we find it difficult to admire virginity as such – even when it is a positive virtue and not a negative one – we should still, even as pagans, admire purity. For whatever alternative set of moral standards one may adopt, purity, decency, and self-respect are all-important and always will be. (The standards of what is or is not decent may be different – in Victorian times it is said that it was indecent to let ankles be seen, while a few centuries earlier large codpieces were the fashion for men – but decency itself is always there, however the ways of measuring it may change).One may admire or praise Maria Goretti for all manner of other things if one likes – some people have a great fondness for sentimentality, melodrama, and wet plaster saints – but at the end of it all, the heroic virtue that she exhibited was a blazing affirmation of purity and integrity. Even if her standards are not ours, we must still have standards of some kind; and if we are faced with a threat to them, we must defend ourselves with the same passion that she showed. To behave otherwise, to tell ourselves “well, it doesn’t matter really”, is to commit slow moral suicide.(Saint Moninne (c.432 - c.518)) She founded a community of female hermits in County Armagh; there is a tradition that she received the veil from St Patrick. Late in her life she founded the convent at Killeavy, where she died.(Blessed Maria Teresia Ledóchowska, Virgin) (Blessed Thomas Alfield, Priest, Martyr)

Tue 5 July

Tuesday of week 14 in Ordinary Time, or Saint Antony Mary Zaccaria, Priest Office of Readings | Morning Prayer | Evening Prayer | Night Prayer | Mass(St Antony Mary Zaccaria (1502 - 1539)) He was born in Cremona in Lombardy and started by studying medicine, but soon decided to become a priest instead and was ordained in 1528. He founded the Congregation of Clerks Regular of St Paul, generally known as the Barnabites (after the church that was their headquarters), whose aim was the reform of the clergy and laity. He was part of the general movement to self-reform in a Church that was coming increasingly under attack from the Protestant Reformation.(Saint Modwen) The memory of St Modwen is strongly established at Burton-on-Trent where she is venerated as a virgin who lived as a hermit on the island-meadow of Andressey on the Trent. Her name is Irish and she seems to have belonged to the group of Irish monks and hermits who worked for the conversion of Anglo-Saxons in the seventh century; Irish women hermits, such as St Dympna, are also known at that period. The medieval parish church at Burton is dedicated to her; she was adopted as patron of the restored Catholic parish when the Catholic Church in Guild Street was built in 1879.Birmingham Ordo (Blessed George Nichols, Richard Yaxley, Thomas Belson, Humphrey Pritchard (-1589)) These four men were executed at Oxford on 5 July 1589. Two were priests: George Nichols, born at Oxford, and Richard Yaxley, born at Boston, Lincolnshire, both ordained at the English College at Rheims. Thomas Belson was a gentleman from Oxfordshire who worked as a layman to support the underground work of the priests in Elizabethan England and had previously been imprisoned and deported; he was 26. All three were arrested at the Catherine Wheel at Oxford, together with Humphrey Pritchard, employed by the widow who owned the public house; she was condemned to perpetual imprisonment. After examination and torture in London, the four were tried and executed at Oxford. Blessed Humphrey Pritchard, the barman, was taunted for his ignorance by some of the university men present at the execution. When he said that he died for being a Catholic, one of them shouted that he was unable to explain what being a Catholic meant. Blessed Humphrey replied: “What I cannot say in words, I will seal with my blood”. They were beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1987.Birmingham Ordo (Our Lady of Refuge) (Blessed Thomas Belson, Martyr)

Mon 4 July

Monday of week 14 in Ordinary Time, or Saint Elizabeth of Portugal Office of Readings | Morning Prayer | Evening Prayer | Night Prayer | Mass(St Elizabeth of Portugal (1271 - 1336)) She was the daughter of King Peter III of Aragón and was named after her great-aunt, St Elizabeth of Hungary. She was married to King Denis of Portugal, by whom she had two children. She set up hospitals, orphanages, and other institutions, patiently endured her husband’s infidelities and provided for the education of his bastards, and acted as peacemaker in the quarrelsome and complicated politics of the time.On her husband’s death in 1325 she retired from public affairs and devoted herself to prayer and the service of the poor. Throughout her life she was faithful and regular in prayer, and daily recited the Liturgy of the Hours.In 1336 her son, by now King Alfonso IV of Portugal, went to war against King Alfonso XI of Castile. Elizabeth followed the Portuguese army on the field in an effort to bring about peace. She succeeded, but the effort killed her.The canonization of royal personages may seem offensive to our modern egalitarian principles; but though it may be hard to attain sanctity in a mediaeval kingdom or its equivalent, a modern corporation, with God nothing is impossible.See the article in the Catholic Encyclopaedia.(Blessed John Cornelius (-1594)) John Cornelius was born of Irish parents in Bodmin, and his talent was soon noticed by Sir John Arundell of Lanherne, who sent him to Oxford. From there he went to the English College in Rheims, and to Rome, where he was ordained priest. He came back to England, and worked here for ten years, before being arrested at Chideock Castle, where he was acting as chaplain to Lady Arundell. Whilst being escorted to the sheriff’s house he was met on the way by Thomas Bosgrave, a relative of the Arundell family, who offered him his own hat, as he had been dragged out bare-headed. Thereupon Bosgrave was promptly arrested. Two servants of the castle, John (or Terence) Carey and Patrick Salmon, both natives of Dublin, shared the same fate. They were executed at Dorchester on July 4th 1594.Plymouth Ordo (Saint Ulrich of Augsburg, Bishop) (Bl Maria Crocifissa Curcio (1877-1957)) Rosa Curcio was born on 30 January 1877 in Ispica, Sicily, Italy. She was the seventh of ten children born to Salvatore Curcio and Concetta Franzò. As was the general custom of the time, Rosa completed her formal schooling at the age of twelve. In her own readings in the family library she happened upon the Life of St Teresa of Jesus, the impact of which would propel her into her Carmelite journey. At age thirteen she enrolled in the Carmelite Third Order, which had been recently re-established in Ispica. As she grew in her understanding and practice of Carmelite Spirituality she came to discern that her mission was to “make Carmel flourish”.As a young women she joined other Third Order Carmelites, to live together as a community in a small apartment. Following this experience, she was transferred to Modica and entrusted with the management of Carmela Polara, an institution that supported and educated orphaned and disadvantaged girls. Later still, inspired by her attendance at the canonisation of St Therésè of the Child Jesus in Rome, 1925, Rosa resolved to found a community of missionary Carmelite sisters. In 1930 her Congregation of the Carmelite Missionary Sisters of St Therésè of the Child Jesus was given official recognition. The mission of the congregation was to ‘bring souls to God’ by feeding the poor, educating children and supporting families in Christian living. Following the end of World War II, in 1947 Rosa (now Madre Maria Crocifissa) sent missionary sisters to Brazil to carry out their work. Her passion for mission was lived out in her congregation, as her own health limited her ability to travel throughout her life. Madre Maria Crocifissa died on July 4, 1957 in Porto Santa Rufina, after a life spent in living the Carmelite life of contemplative prayer, community and prophetic action.MT

Sun 3 July

14th Sunday in Ordinary TimeOffice of Readings | Morning Prayer | Evening Prayer | Night Prayer | Mass(St Thomas the Apostle) The apostle Thomas is famous for doubting the resurrection of Jesus when his fellow apostles told him about it; but if he is the sceptical apostle, he is also the believing apostle, for having seen and touched a risen man, he made the immediate leap of faith and so became the first apostle to call Jesus God.Nothing is known about Thomas’s later career. A well-known apocryphal document called the Acts of Thomas relates his missionary journeys to Persia and India. Although the document as it stands is not historical evidence (it was written to provide evidence for certain heretical Gnostic teachings), it still bears witness to the likelihood of a tradition that Thomas did go to India. If you are writing something that you intend to use to convince people of a controversial doctrine, you do not invent completely new facts: instead, you weave the existing facts and traditions into something that suits your purpose. Thus the very fact that the heretics used a journey of St Thomas to support their case shows us that, in the third century at least, there would have seemed nothing implausible about such a journey. The journey would have been easy enough – important trade routes lay that way – and if some of the apostles went west, to Rome, the centre of the world, there is no reason why some others should not have chosen to go east, to the edge of the known world.We will probably never know for certain; but the Christians of Kerala have called themselves for centuries “St Thomas Christians”, and they may very well be right.See the article in the Catholic Encyclopaedia.My friend has two children, a boy and a girl. If she tells the girl not to do something, the girl thinks “good, now I know one more thing about how to be grown-up” and doesn’t do it. If she tells the boy not to do something, he thinks “I wonder: why not?” and goes and does it, to see.When the Church, inspired by Christ and millennia of prayer and reflection, tries to teach us what to do and what not to do, we pay no attention. We have to go and try it out for ourselves and later, made wise by experience, we discover that the teaching was right all along. We are like my friend’s small son. We are like St Thomas, who obstinately wouldn’t believe what he was told but had to see and touch for himself. St Thomas the Apostle, if you can stop laughing for long enough, pray for us!

Sat 2 July

Saturday of week 13 in Ordinary Time, or Saturday memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary Office of Readings | Morning Prayer | Evening Prayer | Night Prayer | Mass(Saturday memorials of the Blessed Virgin Mary) ‘On Saturdays in Ordinary Time when there is no obligatory memorial, an optional memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary is allowed.‘Saturdays stand out among those days dedicated to the Virgin Mary. These are designated as memorials of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This memorial derives from Carolingian times (9th century), but the reasons for having chosen Saturday for its observance are unknown. While many explanations of this choice have been advanced, none is completely satisfactory from the point of view of the history of popular piety.‘Whatever its historical origins may be, today the memorial rightly emphasizes certain values to which contemporary spirituality is more sensitive. It is a remembrance of the maternal example and discipleship of the Blessed Virgin Mary who, strengthened by faith and hope, on that “great Saturday” on which Our Lord lay in the tomb, was the only one of the disciples to hold vigil in expectation of the Lord’s resurrection. It is a prelude and introduction to the celebration of Sunday, the weekly memorial of the Resurrection of Christ. It is a sign that the Virgin Mary is continuously present and operative in the life of the Church.’Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy (2001), §188(Our Lady of Budslau) The multi-ethnic Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was destroyed by the Prussian, Austrian and Russian Empires in 1793. Budslau (Belarusian: Будслаў, Polish: Budsław) is in the Mińsk district, which was taken over by the Russian Empire. Between the wars it formed part of the restored Poland; after the Second World War it was ethnically cleansed and became part of the Soviet Union until the Soviet Union itself collapsed in 1989. It is now part of the newly independent country of Belarus.The miracle-working icon of Our Lady of Budslau has been a focus of pilgrimage since the 16th century. A monastery grew up to serve the pilgrims, and was later destroyed in the wars and revolutions that swept the area; but the icon survived wars, revolutions, and even the attempts by the Soviet secret police to destroy it.Pilgrims have come from all the successor states of the Commonwealth: Belarus, Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine: secretly in the late 20th-century times of oppression and persecution, but openly since 1992.This feast was traditionally celebrated on 2 July but in 2012 it was moved to the first Saturday of the month, because “Many believers, including students and priests, expressed their wish to celebrate the feast of Lord’s Mother of Budslau on Saturday because they want to do it to the full. Previously that was not possible because the feast often occurred to be on a workday.”

Fri 1 July

Friday of week 13 in Ordinary TimeOffice of Readings | Morning Prayer | Evening Prayer | Night Prayer | MassThe Solemnity of the Precious Blood This feast started in Spain in the 16th century. It was introduced to Italy by St Gaspar del Bufalo in 1815. The feast was extended to the universal Church by Pope Pius IX in 1849, to celebrate the victory of Papal and French troops over the revolutionary forces that had captured Rome and sent him into exile. Initially celebrated on the first Sunday of July, the feast was later moved to July 1, and Pope Pius XI raised it to the rank of a Solemnity to mark the 1900th anniversary of the Crucifixion.One of the aims of the liturgical reform of 1970 was the simplification of the calendar and in particular a reduction in the number of feasts that took precedence over the celebration of Sundays. Accordingly the feast of the Precious Blood was merged into the solemnity of Corpus Christi, which is now the solemnity of the Body and Blood of Our Lord.(St Oliver Plunkett (1625 - 1681)) Oliver Plunkett was archbishop of Armagh and primate of All Ireland from 1668, at a time when the country was in a state of civil and religious disorder after the interventions of Oliver Cromwell. He persevered for ten years in his effort to ameliorate this state of affairs, until the discovery of a non-existent “Popish Plot” against the English government (invented and revealed by Titus Oates, who implicated many before he was executed for his part in it) gave the authorities an excuse to act against many prominent Catholics. Plunkett was arrested in Ireland but taken to London for trial; one of his companions was saved by being appointed as Bavarian Ambassador to London and therefore acquiring diplomatic immunity, but for Plunkett there was no such escape, and he was hanged at Tyburn, cheating his executioners by dying before he could be ceremonially disembowelled.His remains are preserved at Downside Abbey, together with such other relics as the notes for his defence at his trial; on the occasion of his canonization in 1975 his casket was opened and some parts of his body given to the cathedral at Drogheda in Ireland.See the article in the Catholic Encyclopaedia.(St Oliver Plunkett (1625-1681)) Oliver Plunkett was born in County Meath in 1625, and died at Tyburn in 1681. Little is known about his early life except that he was educated privately by a Cistercian cousin, Dr Patrick Plunkett, who eventually became bishop of Meath. Ordained in Rome in 1654, he was professor at the college of Propaganda Fidei until 1669, when he was appointed archbishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland. He held synods and visitations and promoted the reforms initiated by the Council of Trent. It was a time when persecution was less severe, though he would often have to dress as a layman. In 1673 the English Parliament forced the king, Charles II, to behave more strictly towards Catholics, and edicts were issued banning bishops and all religious from Ireland. For the next few years he was able to continue his work clandestinely and was even able to hold a provincial synod. Despite the danger he went to visit his uncle, Bishop Plunkett, who was dying. He was arrested and imprisoned in Dublin Castle in 1679, he was tried on the extraordinary charge of having planned to bring seventy thousand French troops into Ireland. There was clearly no hope of a successful conviction in Ireland he was taken to London and duly found guilty of the charge. He was executed in London, the final victim of the ‘Popish Plot’ and the last person to be executed for the faith in England. He is remembered for his pastoral zeal and for the friendly relations he established with those who did not share the Catholic faith. His body rests at Downside Abbey, his head at Drogheda.DK (Blessed Junipero Serra (1713 - 1784)) He was born on the Spanish island of Mallorca, and became a Franciscan. He taught at the university for a number of years before finally giving in to his vocation to be a missionary and sailing to America.After spending some years in Mexico, he became a missionary in California, then being newly taken over by the Spaniards. Over a period of fifteen years he founded nine missions with about six thousand converts. He frequently came into conflict with the authorities over their treatment of the native population, but nevertheless, when he died, he was buried with full military honours. He was beatified in 1988, and canonized by Pope Francis in Washington, D.C. on 23 September 2015.See the article in the Catholic Encyclopaedia.(Bl. Nazju Falzon (1813 - 1865)) He was born into a legal family: his father and maternal grandfather were both judges, and he and his three brothers all became lawyers. Two of his brothers became priests, but Nazju himself (the name is a form of “Ignatius”) did not feel worthy of the priesthood. He taught the catechism to children and gave away all the money he had to help the poor. He also found a special apostolate among the British soldiers and sailors who were using the island as a base, teaching the catechism to those who were interested and making many converts. See also the Nazju Falzon web site and the article in Wikipedia.(Saint Otto of Bamberg, Bishop)

Thu 30 June

Thursday of week 13 in Ordinary Time, or The First Martyrs of the See of Rome Office of Readings | Morning Prayer | Evening Prayer | Night Prayer | Mass(The First Martyrs of the See of Rome) When the city of Rome had been devastated by fire in the year 64, the Emperor Nero launched a persecution against the Christians, who were thrown to the wild beasts in the arena or soaked in tar and used as living torches. Their deaths are documented in the writings of the Roman historian Tacitus and in Pope St Clement’s letter to the Corinthians. Their feast was celebrated the day after the feast of Saints Peter and Paul.

This July Fourth, let's celebrate our dependence on one another

Our independence succeeds only to the extent it is balanced by societal interdependence, by bonds that might restrain our independence and freedom but that do so in pursuit of the common good, by mutual dependence.