WEDNESDAY     February 2, 2000    vol. 11, no. 22    SECTION TWO

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SECTION TWO Contents: Go immediately to the article:
  • COLLEGE OF CARDINALS Series: Cardinal Johannes Willebrands
  • Daily LITURGY
  • Daily WORD
  • Be an Angel! Help the DailyCATHOLIC reach all four corners of the earth!

  • Appreciation of the Third Epistle of Saint John

       Today we continue with our new series in the search to uncover the wonderful treasures of the Church contained in the great Deposit of Faith, concentrating on the Books of the New Testament with today bringing you the Third Epistle of Saint John. For the one-hundred-first installment, see APPRECIATING THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF OUR FAITH

    installment 101:

        The Third Epistle of Saint John is addressed to a certain Gaius. Whether he is to be identified with a Christian of the same name mentioned in Acts 19, 29 and 20: 4, is uncertain.

        The time and place of composition of this Epistle are likewise uncertain. The similarity of content and form, however, suggests that it was written about the same time as the Second Epistle.

        The Epistle, though brief, vividly portrays certain features in the life of the early Church. Gaius is praised for his hospitality and for walking in the truth. Diotrephes, on the contrary, is censured for his ambition and lack of hospitality. A certain Demetrius is also commended for his virtue.

    Tomorrow: The Epistle of Saint Jude the Apostle

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    The Archbishop emeritus of Utrecht Cardinal Johannes Willebrands is now Camerlengo of the College of Cardinals

        We continue with this special series introducing you to the Princes of the Church. Our one-hundred-fiftieth red-hat we feature, in alphabetical order is 91 year-old Cardinal Johannes Willebrands, the former Archbishop of the ancient see of Utrecht in the Netherlands from 1975 to 1983 and President emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity for twenty years who was appointed Camerlengo of the Sacred Conclave in 1988 at the age of 79. He was elevated to the cardinalate by Pope Paul VI during his Consistory of April 28, 1969. For more on Cardinal Willebrands, see COLLEGE OF CARDINALS COLLECTION

    153.   Cardinal Johannes Willebrands

          Born on September 4, 1909 in Bovenkarspel, Holland Cardinal Johannes Willebrands is one of the older cardinals at 90 years old. Immediately after World War I he entered the seminary in his Diocese of Haarlem in the Netherlands and completed his studies at the Angelicum receiving his masters in Philosophy. He was ordained on May 26, 1934 and, after more studies was assigned to the faculty of Warmond University in Holland from 1937 to 1940. With the outbreak of World War II he was forced underground until after the war when he was appointed Rector of the Major Seminary in Haarlem. He was chosen Secretary for Christian Unity in Holland by Pope John XXIII in 1959 as well as elected president of the St. Willebrord Association with the purpose of promoting ecumenical good in the Netherlands.

          Some think this was taken too far for after Vatican II no country showed a quicker decline in the Faith as did the Netherlands, once a highly Catholic country. This can be attributed to the progressive renewal employed in Holland where priests and nuns shed their collars and habits respectively and sought to become more worldly. In this mistaken attempt to reach the laity they themselves became more worldly and lost the focus of the Church universally. Cardinal Willebrands has to share some of that blame, and has been reminded of that many times, having celebrated Mass on Sunday morning with less than a handful in attendance.

          Pope Paul VI made him a bishop on June 4, 1964 as Titular Bishop of Mauriana. He was ordained on June 28, 1964. Five years later he was honored by Paul VI who bestowed on him the red-hat during his Consistory of April 28, 1969. Cardinal Willebrands remains one of the few left to receive the cardinalte under Paul VI. On December 5, 1975 Paul elevated him to the Archbishop of Utrecht where he remained until reaching 76 when he retired on December 3, 1983. Despite his status as Archbishop-emeritus of Utrecht Pope John Paul II made him the Camerlengo of the College of Cardinals where he resides today at Piazza della Citta Leonina 1 in Rome.

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       Today is the Feast of the PRESENTATION OF THE LORD while tomorrow we return to Ordinary Time as well as the duo Feasts of Saint Blase, Bishop and Martyr and Saint Ansgar, Bishop. It is also the day for the Blessing of the Throats. For the readings, liturgies, meditations, and vignettes on these feasts, see DAILY LITURGY.

    Wednesday, February 2, 2000

        First Reading: Malachi 3: 1-4
        Psalms: Psalm 27: 7-10
        Second Reading: Hebrews 2: 14-18
        Gospel Reading: Luke 2: 22-40


          The Presentation of Jesus is also called the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or Candlemas Day, since on this day the Church blesses the candles used in the procession (if there is one) and which will be used to bless throats on the next day - the feast of Saint Blase. The main focus of course is on the Presentation of Jesus which is in accordance with the old Jewish Law given from God to Moses for the Jewish women after childbirth. A mother was still considered unclean and not to appear in public for 40 days after the birth of a son, and 80 days after the birth of a daughter. At the end of this period, the first place she was to go with her husband was to the temple. There, at the door of the tabernacle she was to present a young pigeon or a turtle dove as a sin-offering. The ideal offering was a lamb, the highest immolation one could offer, as documented throughout the Old Testament - specifically with Abraham and Isaac and culminating with the Sacrifice of the Lamb - Jesus Christ on the Cross. However, very few could afford to donate a lamb for the altar. Therefore, they were allowed to substitute a second turtle-dove in lieu of a lamb. Once the high priest sacrificed these gifts to Almighty God, the woman was cleansed of the legal impurity and free to return to a normal life with all its privileges. In accordance with all this, the Blessed Mother, accompanied by her chaste husband Saint Joseph, complied, bringing Jesus with them since there was also a Hebrew code commanding the first-born be brought to the temple and presented to God. Hence, the Presentation. The Gospel Reading in Luke 2: 22-40 relates all that happened in the temple. Though the Virgin Mary was always pure she still was obedient to the law and humble in all she was asked to do by God and by man. There was also present in the mysteries of the Purification and the Presentation, a third "mystery", that of the prophecies of the holy Simeon and the prophetess Anna. Simeon knew immediately that this child was the Messiah. This was foretold by the prophet Malachi in his book of the Old Covenant and selected as the first reading in this feast's celebration of the Mass. He was also charged by God to reveal further the sorrows Mary would undergo by her fiat to God. The second reading in Hebrews 2: 14-18 reveals much of what Our Lady understood, especially verse 18 where Paul writes: "For in that He Himself has suffered and has been tempted, He is able to help those who are tempted." Yes, Jesus walked in our shoes, so to speak, which allows us to follow in His footsteps.

    Thursday, February 3, 2000

      Thursday February 3:
      Fourth Thursday in Ordinary Time and
      Feast of Saint Blase, Bishop and Martyr andFeast of Saint Ansgar, Bishop and Religious Missionary - "Apostle of the North" andBlessing of the Throats

      Green, Red or White vestments

        First Reading: 1 Kings 2: 1-4, 10-12
        Responsorial: 1 Chronicles 29: 10-12
        Gospel Reading: Mark 6: 7-13

    Feast of Saint Blase, Bishop and Martyr

          The traditional "Blessing of Throats" commemorates the feast of Saint Blase who lived in the fourth century. A philosopher and physcian, St. Blase was turned his back on the worldly pleasures and devoted his life to God as a physician of souls. His virtues and preaching drew people from everywhere. This bothered Agricolaus the Governor of Cappadocia, which is today Turkey and Iraq. The Roman governor seized Blaze and ordered his incarceration. On his way to prison, Blase was stopped by a distraught mother who pleaded for him to help her daughter who was dying of a throat disease. Blase, touched by her sorrow and faith, prayed and through these intercessory prayers the little girl was healed. Other reports say he healed a young boy choking on a fish bone. St. Blase is often depicted with two candles, used by priests on this day to bless throats. There are a plethora of stories of how many have been cured of throat diseases by praying to St. Blase to intercede. He was beheaded by the heathens in 316 and his remains are buried in the church bearing his name in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Unfortunately, the church was damaged by the Serbs in 1993 and is presently being restored.
    Feast of Saint Ansgar, Bishop and "Apostle of the North"

         Dubbed the "Apostle of the North," Saint Ansgar was born into a noble family in 801 in Amiens in what was then Frankish territory. God called and Ansgar became a Benedictine monk at the Picardy monastery of Old Corbie. He became the master of the monastic school there before King Harold heard of his prowess as a preacher and evangelizer and requested the saint to accompany him back to Denmark under the protection of the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne. His zeal and missionary success in Denmark prompted King Bjorn of Sweden to invite him into the land of the Vikings. While there he was made the first archbishop of Hamburg and later appointed by Pope Gregory IV as the first papal legate to the Scandinavian countries. During his fourteen years in Sweden he converted countless pagans and Holy Mother Church was making great inroads until the heathen Vikings invaded in 845 and destroyed the city of Hamburg and much of Sweden. Ansgar was forced to flee to Bremen in what is today Germany where he was appointed the first archbishop there in 848. Pope Nicholas I did not forget Ansgar or Hamburg, uniting the see of Hamburg with Bremen in 854 when Ansgar again returned to Denmark and Sweden resuming his missionary activities. His coup de gras was converting the King of Jutland, King Erik who was impressed with Ansgar's fluent preaching, great austerity and the holiness he exhibited to all. Though Ansgar had always wanted to be a martyr, he died at the age of 64 of natural causes on February 3, 865 in Bremen. Shortly after that the Vikings again overwhelmed Scandinavia and destroyed almost all remnants of Christianity as the entire lands resorted to paganism since there were no more "Ansgars" to keep the faith burning in the hearts and souls of the peoples. The lack of the Church to maintain her roots in Scandinavia was one reason protestantism took such a firm hold in these countries during the Protestant Revolution of the sixteenth century.

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    "And when the days of her purification were fulfilled according to the Law of Moses, they took Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord - as it is written in the Law of the Lord, Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord - and to offer a sacrifice, according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, 'a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons.' "

    Luke 2: 22-24

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      In preparation for the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes next Friday, we present a special Nine Day Novena from the Treasurey of Novenas that begins today. See NOVENA

    Nine Day Novena for Our Lady of Lourdes and Saint Bernadette


        Between February 11 and July 16, 1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary came down from Heaven eighteen times and showed herself at Lourdes to Bernadette Soubirous a little girl of fourteen years of age. On February 11, while gathering wood, Bernadette heard a whistle of wind. With astonished eyes she saw a niche in the upper part of a rock filled with golden light, and there in the midst of it stood a Lady of great beauty.

        Her robe glowed with the whiteness of snow in the sunshine and swept in majestic folds to the ground. Her head and shoulders were framed by a white veil, which feel the full length of her robe. A blue sash encircled her waist, and its two ends, wide and unornamented, reached down in front almost to her feet. Each of her feet bore a rose of purest gold. A rosary, whose beads were white and whose cross and chain were of gold, hung from her right arm. Her hands were open, and her arms outstretched slightly in front.

        In her apparitions our Lady appealed for penance and prayers for sinners. On March 25, the feast of the Annunciation, the Blessed Mother declared her name to Bernadette and to the world. On that day Bernadette made this request: "My Lady, would you be so kind as to tell me who you are?"

        This is how Bernadette describes what happened in that last apparition: "Three times I asked the Apparition her name. At the third instance, she stretched out her hands, which until then she held joined, raised them, and she said: 'I am the Immaculate Conception.'" Then having completed her great message to the world, the Lady smiled on Bernadette and withdrew without further word of farewell.

        Less than four years before these apparitions, on December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed that Mary in the first instant of her conception was preserved free from all stain of original sin through the merits of her Divine Son. At Lourdes the Virgin Mary had come to confirm the infallible utterance of God's Vicar on earth and declared herself not only immaculately conceived, but "the Immaculate Conception."

        On October 30, 1867, Bernadette made her religious profession in the Convent of the Congregation of the Sisters of Nevers, France. In January, 1873, Bernadette became ill. On April 16, about three in the afternoon, Bernadette prayed: "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for me, a poor sinner!" She made a Sign of the Cross, took the glass that was handed to her, twice swallowed a few drops of water, and then bending her head gently gave up her soul to her Creator.

        Bernadette died, worn out with physical suffering, on April 16, 1879, at the age of thirty-six. Now her incorrupt body can be seen as she lay in death in the side chapel of the motherhouse of the Sisters of Charity at Nevers, where she lived and died as Sister Marie Bernard. Thirty years after her death her body was found in a perfect state of preservation, undoubtedly a token of love of the Immaculate Virgin Mary. She was beatified in 1925, and on December 8, 1933, she was canonized by Pope Pius XI.


    • "You have visited the land and watered it; greatly have you enriched it." (Psalm 65:10)
    • "I have chosen and consecrated this house that My name may be there forever; My eyes and My heart also shall be there always." (2 Chronicles 7:16)
    • "I found delight in the children of men." (Proverbs 8:31)


            Mary, Mother of God, I firmly believe in the doctrine of Holy Mother Church concerning your Immaculate Conception: namely, that you were, in the first instant of your conception, by the singular grace and privilege of God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.

            Alone of all the children of Adam, you were gifted with the fullness of sanctifying grace that made you the object of a very special love on the part of God. How wonderful were the workings of Divine power to make you a fitting dwelling for the Redeemer of the world! With no tendency to evil, but with a deep yearning for the highest virtue, you glorified God more than all His other creatures. At the very instant of your conception your mind was filled with the light of God, and your will was entirely conformed to the Divine Will. You were always intimately united with God.

            I thank God with you for these wonderful blessings. Help me to imitate your holiness to some degree. Your holiness was not the result of the privilege of your Immaculate Conception and sanctifying grace alone, but followed from your gift of yourself to God and your constant cooperation with His graces. Help me to be generous with God by turning to good account the graces that He ever bestows on me, and by rising promptly when I fall, with renewed confidence in His Mercy.

            Ever Immaculate Virgin, Mother of mercy, health of the sick, refuge of sinners, comfort of the afflicted, you know my wants, my troubles, my sufferings. Deign to cast upon me a look of mercy.

            By appearing in the Grotto of Lourdes, you were pleased to make it a privileged sanctuary, from which you dispense your favors; and already many sufferers have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and corporal. I come, therefore, with the most unbounded confidence to implore your maternal intercession.

            Obtain, O loving Mother, the granting of my requests. Through gratitude for your favors, I will endeavor to imitate your virtues that I may one day share your glory.

            Through your loving compassion shown to thousands of pilgrims who come to your shrine at Lourdes, and through your special love for your devoted client Bernadette, I ask for this grace if it be the Will of God:

        (Mention your request).

            Our Lady of Lourdes, aid me through your prayer with your Divine Son, to be a true child of yours, as Bernadette was, and to grow daily into your likeness.


            Saint Bernadette, little shepherdess of Lourdes, favored with eighteen apparitions of the Immaculate Virgin Mary and with the privilege of lovingly conversing with her, now that you are eternally enjoying the entrancing beauty of the Immaculate Mother of God, do not forsake me, your devoted client, who am still in this valley of tears.

            Intercede for me that I, too, may walk the simple path of faith. Help me to imitate your example, at our heavenly Queen's request, by saying the Rosary daily and by doing penance for sinners.

            Teach me to imitate your wonderful devotedness to God and our Lady, the Immaculate Conception, so that, like you, I may be blessed with the grace of lasting faithfulness and enjoy the happiness in heaven of the eternal vision of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.


            God of infinite mercy, we celebrate the feast of Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes, the sinless Mother of God. May her prayers help us to rise above our human weakness. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever. Amen.

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    February 2, 2000     volume 11, no. 23
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