December 2, 2000
volume 11, no. 249

LITURGY for Saturday and Sunday, December 2 and 3, 2000

Saturday, December 2, 2000

    Saturday December 2:
    Final Weekday in Ordinary Time andObservance of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday

    Green or white vestments

      First Reading: Apocalypse/Revelation 22: 1-7
      Psalms: Psalm 95: 1-7
      Gospel Reading: Luke 21: 34-36

Observance of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday

        Honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary is a custom first promoted by the Benedictine Monk Saint Alcuin back in the days of Charlemagne (see archives December 23, no. 25 issue). He composed different formulas for Votive Masses for each day of the week, with two set aside to honor Our Lady on Saturday. This practice caught on with great enthusiasm and eventually the Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday became the Common of the Blessed Virgin. This Mass was a favorite with retired priests and those whose sight was failing for most had memorized this Mass and were able to say it by heart without having to read the Lectionary or Sacramentary. One reason Saturday was dedicated to Mary was that Saturday held a special meaning in Mariology. First of all, as Genesis accounts for, God rested on the seventh day. In the Old Testament, the Sabbath was Saturday. Jesus, Son of God rested in the womb and then, when He became incarnate, in the loving arms of Mary from birth until she held His lifeless body at the foot of the Cross. Thus the God-head rested in Mary. It was also on Saturday after Good Friday that Jesus gave His Mother a special gift and reward for keeping her faith in His Divinity intact by making an exceptional appearance to her. Thus, because of these reasons, the devotion spread by St. Alcuin and other liturgies that evolved within the Church, Saturday took on a special Marian significance. Saturday took on even more significance in honoring Mary when Our Lady imparted to visionary Lucia in her third apparition at Fatima on July 13, 1917, "Our Lord wishes that devotion to my Immaculate Heart be established in the world. If what I tell you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace; the war will end...I ask the consecration of the world to my Immaculate Heart and Communion of reparation on the First Saturday of each month...If my requests are granted, Russia will be converted and there will be peace...In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph, and an era of peace will be conceded to humanity." As we draw nearer to that wonderful event, it is more important than ever to honor Mary's request on the First Saturday as well as each Saturday that her feast is commemorated in the Church calendar, not to mention responding to her call daily with the Rosary and attending Daily Mass, nourished by her Divine Son present body and blood, soul and Divinity in the Blessed Sacrament. It is in the Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary where she remains in the background in the liturgy of the Word so that her Divine Son's words and His Presence take the spotlight as He should while Mary remains the chief intercessor before the Holy Trinity as she should and serves as the ideal for all Catholics to strive for, as we should. The Dictionary of Mary states quite succinctly, "Through these liturgical acts, (honoring Mary on Saturday) Christians exalt the person of Mary in the action that renews the sacrifice of Christ and in the action that prolongs His prayer."

SUNDAY, December 3, 2000

      First Reading: Jeremia 33: 14-16
      Psalms: Psalm 25:4-5, 8-9, 10, 14
      Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 3: 12-13; 4: 1-2
      Gospel Reading: Luke 21: 25-28, 34-36
December 3rd is normally the Feast of Saint Francis Xavier, Priest and Missionary. However this year it is superseded by the First Sunday of Advent.

Feast of Saint Francis Xavier, Priest, Religious and Missionary

        One of the charter members of the Jesuit Order, Saint Francis Xavier was hand-picked by Saint Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus. Born in the family castle of Xavier near Pamplona in the Basque country of the Spanish Navarre on April 7, 1506, Francis was sent to the prestigious University of Paris to receive his licentiate in 1528. While there he met Fr. Loyola. Though he rejected Ignatius' original plans, he was one over by his piety and became one of the original seven who took their vows as Jesuits, dedicated to the Pope, at Montmartre, France in 1534 on the feast of the Assumption. He became a Jesuit priest in 1537 in Venice, Italy and subsequently was sent to Rome along with four other Jesuits in 1538. After two years of "pestering the Pope" and keeping Pope Paul III abreast of the activities and ideals of the Society of Jesus, the Holy Father formally approved the Society. Once approval was official, Fr. Xavier and fellow Jesuit Fr. Simon Rodriquez were sent to the East Indies as the first missionaries. On their way they stopped off in Lisbon where King John II detained them. It was the king who had requested missionaries. When they were ready to head to the Orient again on April 7, 1541 the King felt Fr. Rodriquez was not healthy enough to go and other priests were assigned to join Francis, though not Jesuits. Thirteen months later Fr. Xavier arrived in Goa where he preached for five months to the children, ministered to the sick, and sought to correct the immorality factor - in particular the use of concubines so prevalent among the Portuguese community there, but frowned upon in Europe and by the Church. From there he traveled to the southern tip of India to Sri Lanka ministering to the natives. In 1544 he moved on to care for the Malaccans and a year later the Moluccas near New Guinea. In 1546 he landed on Morotai which was near the Philippines. In 1549 he reached his farthest destination - Japan where he preached until 1551. Whenever other missionaries joined him in these countries, Francis would turn over the duties to them and move on to new frontiers with a heart flaming with love for God and souls. Thus, he set out for China. On December 3, 1552 in sight of his life-long goal to evangelize to the Chinese, God took Francis home. Alone excepted for a Chinese youth named Antony, Francis, though only 46, died of exhaustion and fever on the island of Shangchwan just a short distance from the China mainland. No other missionary, with the exception of possibly Saint Paul, traveled more miles than Francis and in such a short span of time. He traveled to some of the most remote and inaccessible places then known to man under tremendous harrowing situations that a lesser man would have run from. But he persevered, despite the lack of cooperation from locals and the absence of funds, in converting over 30,000 people during his lifetime. In a time when thousands were fleeing from the faith in Europe as a result of the Protestant revolution, thousands were embracing the True Faith in the Far East thanks to the valiant, heroic deeds of St. Francis Xavier, the "Apostle of the Indies and Japan." It is all the more remarkable when one realizes he worked solely through interpreters and translators, not having the gift of tongues. He was credited with countless miracles and healings and was canonized by Pope Gregory XV in 1622. Pope Saint Pius X proclaimed him patron of all foreign missions in 1927 along with the Little Flower of Lisieux- Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus.

December 2, 2000
volume 11, no. 249

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