December 7, 2000
volume 11, no. 254

LITURGY for Thursday and Friday, December 7 and 8, 2000

Thursday, December 7, 2000

      First Reading: Isaiah 26: 1-6
      Psalms: Psalm 118: 1, 8-9, 19-21, 25-27
      Gospel Reading: Matthew 7: 24-27

Feast of Saint Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

        This Doctor of the Church was born in 340 in Trier, Germany and rose swiftly through the secular ranks as the son of a praetorian prefect of Gaul. When his father died, he was taken to Rome where he was afforded the best education and soon became a renowned oratorian and was sent to Milan. There he began to be exposed to Christianity and plunged in to studying the faith. But before he could be baptized the bishop died and a bitter struggle broke out between Catholics and Arians for control of the bishopric. When Ambrose sought to mediate the fracas, his golden voice prompted the people to unanimously elect him Bishop of Milan even though he was not ordained, let alone baptized. Though he refused at first, the Emperor adhered to the vox populi and enforced the election. Thus he was baptized on this day in 374 and consecrated a bishop the same day at the age of 34. He took his position seriously and his golden voice converted countless souls to the faith as he became one of the staunchest defenders of the faith against Arianism. As the great Roman Empire began to crumble, Ambrose built from these decaying ruins hope for the Church through his dedication to Christ and His teachings. Despite insidious politics between the emperors of East and West, and the threat of Arianism and paganism, Ambrose persevered and, through his leadership and example, paganism was defeated and Christianity rose to new heights after three centuries of persecution. Ambrose, an exemplary example of what a bishop should be, is best known as the man who brought Saint Augustine back to the faith and baptized him. Ambrose died in Milan on April 4, 397 ten years after welcoming Augustine into the Mystical Body of Christ.

FRIDAY, December 8, 2000

    FRIDAY December 8:

    White vestments

      First Reading: Genesis 3: 9-15, 20
      Psalms: Psalm 98: 1-4
      Second Reading: Ephesians 1: 3-6, 11-12
      Gospel Reading: Luke 1: 26-38


        This feast was established for the universal Church by Pope Pius IX when He proclaimed that from all eternity, the Triune Divinity chose the Blessed Virgin Mary to be the tabernacle of the Son of God. The Dogma of the Immaculate Conception proclaimed once and for all that it was unthinkable that Mary be defiled in any way by sin in any manner whatsoever. Thus, in that infinitesmal second that God created Mary He made her Immaculate. This grace, like all other graces since Adam and Eve's fall, was given to Mary through the merits of her Divine Son Jesus. She stood alone as one free of the stain of original sin, redeemed not from the evil already present at birth, but from any evil that threatened this sacred temple known as the Mother of God. This was confirmed in the infallible words of Pius IX, "The most holy Virgin Mary was, in the first moment of her conception, by a unique gift of grace and privilege of Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ the Redeemer of mankind, preserved free from all stain of original sin." Saint Ephrem first held this belief in the fourth century. Seven centuries later the crusaders brought this belief back to the Western Church from the Eastern Church in the Holy Land where, since 750, it had been celebrated on December 9 along with the feast of Saint Anne who had conceived the Blessed Mother. In 1050 a feast honoring Mary's conception was offered by Pope Leo IX. In the twelfth century the Franciscan Father Duns Scotus defended the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception and was listed in the Roman Calendar in the year 1476 by Pope Sixtus IV. In 1708 Pope Clement XI made the conception of Our Lady a feast of obligation. Nearly 150 years later in 1854, Pius IX proclaimed it the feast of the Immaculate Conception. This interestingly followed the lead of the United States Bishops eight years earlier who had decreed in 1846 that the U.S. was consecrated to Mary's Immaculate Conception and assigned December 8 as the official feast of their Heavenly patron. Four years after Pius IX's infallible pronouncement, Our Lady herself confirmed this dogma at Lourdes when she proclaimed to the visionary Saint Bernadette Soubirous, "I am the Immaculate Conception."

December 7, 2000
volume 11, no. 254

Return to Front Page of Current Issue