December 10, 2000
volume 11, no. 257

LITURGY for Sunday and Monday, December 10 and 11, 2000

SUNDAY, December 10, 2000

      First Reading: Baruch 5: 1-9
      Psalms: Psalm 126: 1-6
      Second Reading: Philippians 1: 4-6, 8-11
      Gospel Reading: Luke 3: 1-6

Monday, December 11, 2000

      First Reading: Isaiah 35: 1-10
      Psalms: Psalm 85: 9-14 and Isaiah 35: 4
      Gospel Reading: Luke 5: 17-26

Feast of Pope Saint Damasus I

        Though born in Rome around 304, Saint Damasus I was of Spanish descent by his mother Laurentia. His father Lorenzowas a priest, this being before celibacy was the mandate. Under his tutelage he became a deacon. On October 1, 366 he was elected the 37th Pope; however he faced a violent resistance from those who supported the antipope Ursinus. He retaliated by storming the Julian Basilica and massacring the Ursinian followers. The violence of Rome was not reserved only for the Roman Emperor who was Valentinian at that time. He waged a constant witch-hunt against the Christians and when the Ursinians counterattacked Damasus and his followers, the Pope asked for the Roman Prefect's assistance in stemming an inevitable slaughter. Valentinian intervened, the first in Church history when the Church asked for help from the state in a fight with an adversary, and exiled Ursinus. The latter's followers plotted on how to discredit Damasus, accusing him of adultery. Again, because Damasus had gained favor with the Roman court, he was acquitted of the accusation. Though he was ruthless against those who threatened the Church, he held the torch of truth high proclaiming the true doctrines against the heresies of Arianism, Donatism, Novatianism, Macedonianism, Priscillianism, and Apollinariansim. It was Damasus who first used the term "Apostolic See" in referring to Rome and its primacy, of which evolved the phrase:"Where Peter is, there is the Church." Because he was so rigid and faithful to this Roman primacy, he did not gain favor with the Eastern Church where Saint Basil the Great was striving to keep things afloat. Rather than acquiesce to detente between the East and the West, Damasus clung stubbornly to the primacy of Rome, thus paving the way for the eventual permanent split of the Churches six centuries later. Damasus' greatest claim to fame was, as a Biblical Scholar, the chance to publish the canons of Holy Scripture which specified the authentic books of the Bible the Council had decreed in Rome in 374. He befriended and took as his protege Saint Jerome who he made his personal secretary, commissioning him to translate the Bible from Greek and Hebrew into Latin as the Vulgate Edition. It was another strong instance of him distancing Rome from the Greek Church. Though St. Basil and St. Damasus fought vehemently amongst themselves in favor of their sides and infringed on each other's territory, both became saints in Holy Mother Church. Some of Damasus' other accomplishments were restoring the catacombs, shrines and the tombs of the early martyrs as well as encouraging pilgrims to venerate these sites. Through his influence the Emperor Theodosius I proclaimed Catholicism the state religion of pagan Rome in 379 as Constantine had promoted nearly 50 years earlier. Damasus died a peaceful death around the age of 80 in Rome on December 11, 384.

December 10, 2000
volume 11, no. 257

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