August 28, 2000
volume 11, no. 153

LITURGY for Monday and Tuesday, August 28-29, 2000

Monday, August 28, 2000

    Monday August 28:
    Feast of Saint Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

    White vestments

      First Reading: 2 Thessalonians 1: 1-5, 11-12
      Psalms: Psalm 96: 1-5
      Gospel Reading: Matthew 23: 13-22
Feast of Saint Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
        It was the combined efforts of two saints who had the greatest effects on the life of one of the great Doctors of the Church Saint Augustine of Hippo. As we saw from the previous day, Augustine's mother Saint Monica played a major behind the scenes role in his conversion, while Saint Ambrose was on the front line with Augustine, who had become a great skeptic, teaching, influencing and converting him. Augustine was born in Tagaste in what is today Algeria on November 13, 354. By the time he was 30 he was preaching rhetoric, interspersed with Manichean heresy, at the university of Milan. It was there he met St. Ambrose and sat in on his lectures where he was enthralled with Ambrose's explanation of Sacred Scripture. In 356 Augustine heard a voice while he was embroiled in abandoned tears of helplessness searching for answers. The child-like voice chanted, "Take and read." Without thinking Augustine opened the Bible to the words of Saint Paul in Romans 13:13-14 which said, "Let us walk becomingly as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in debauchery and wantonness, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and as for the flesh, take no thought for its lusts." He was so moved that he asked Ambrose if he could be baptized and then immediately told his mother Monica that he wanted to be baptized. Both she and Ambrose were delighted beyond belief. Monica firmly insisted that in order to be in full union with the Church he had to abandon his Manichean beliefs and forsake living with his girl friend and their three children illegitimately conceived. Augustine agreed, was baptized and then buried his mother the same year. Shortly after Monica's death he returned to Africa and was ordained a priest at the age of 36. During this time he dedicated full time to righting and writing the wrongs he had wrought to so many through his Manichean ideas. At the young age of 41 Augustine was consecrated the Bishop of Hippo where he preached and served the people for the rest of his life, defending the Church against all types of heresies. Even though a bishop, he still lived in community with fellow priests and wrote constantly beginning with his major works Confessions which was basically a catechism for all catechumens along with his great work Christian Doctrine. In 410, as the Goth Alaric was laying siege to Rome Augustine wrote his most famous opus - City of God. His great words, "Too late have I loved You, O Beauty of ancient days, yet ever new! Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in You" show how God became the end-all and be-all in his life which ended at the age of 76 on August 28, 430 as the Vandals were storming the gates of Hippo. To preserve his body from the Vandals, the Augustinians stole him away to Sardinia where he was laid to rest, and later transferred to Pavia. Though Augustine's works were appreciated during his lifetime, it wasn't until after his death that his words really took root and was celebrated as a Doctor of the Church from the eighth century on, becoming official in the eleventh century. Today St. Augustine is revered as one of the greatest and learned scholars of the Church. His conversion proves the power of God's love and the power of the Word of God.

Tuesday, August 29, 2000

      First Reading: 2 Thessalonians 2: 1-3, 14-17
      Psalms: Psalm 96: 10-13
      Gospel Reading: Mark 6: 17-29
Feast of the Marytrdom of Saint John the Baptist
        The first martyrdom of the New Testament is attributed to Saint John the Baptist who was beheaded by Herod at the urging of Herodius' daughter Salome who demanded the head of the baptist on a plate (cf. Matthew 14: 1-12). John had been thrown in prison because he would not reneg on his assertion that Herod could not marry his brother's wife Herodius, "It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife" (Mark 6: 18). Herod had feared doing anything to John for he knew John was a just and holy man and there would be great repercussions if any harm came to the man they called "the Baptist." But in a weak, lustful moment Herod backed himself into a corner by granting Salome anything she wanted and Herodius talked her into demanding that John be beheaded. Though Herod did not want to do this, he would be publicly humiliated if he went back on his promise and therefore relented. Within moments he commanded the executioner to do the dastardly deed and shortly thereafter presented the decapitated head on a dish to Salome who immediately discarded it, giving it to her mother Herodius who had gotten her temporal revenge but would be forever condemned. When the disciples heard of this they came and took John's body away and gave him a proper burial as Jesus wept. John's skull was venerated in a Samarian crypt where the skull was discovered around the 4th Century. The feast of his martyrdom was first celebrated in the East a century later and then in the 7th Century celebrated by Rome for the universal Church as the feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist. There are reports that John's skull was moved to the church of St. Sylvester in Rome, but this cannot be fully authenticated.

August 28, 2000
volume 11, no. 153

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