LITURGY for FRIDAY, SATURDAY, SUNDAY and MONDAY - January 21, 22, 23 and 24
Friday, January 21, 2000
First Reading: 1 Samuel 24: 3-21
Gospel Reading: Mark 3: 13-19
Feast of Saint Agnes, Virgin and Martyr
Martyred for her faith at the early age of twelve, Saint Agnes was one of the
youngest-known named martyrs in the Communion of Saints. She was born into a wealthy Roman aristocratic family and was remarkable for her beauty as a child. But the true beauty was interior and as a youth she vowed to live a life of purity and chastity, consecrating herself as a virgin. Even though she was not yet a teen, Roman suitors courted her trying to seduce her but she refused all advances. Word reached the Roman Emperor Diocletian who was relentless in his persecution of Christians. Rather than killing her right away, Diocletian's men sought to discredit her by making her a prostitute and that would further discredit Christianity and dissuade others from becoming Christians. Naturally Agnes rejected all advances and refused to give in to the sins of the flesh. This further infuriated Diocletian and his cohorts who dragged her before the governor. He ordered
that she be thrown into the fire. God preserved her beauty inside and out by allowing her to emerge unscathed. The governor then ordered that she be beheaded in a public display but even this the executioner botched, stabbing her in the throat where she died professing her undying loyalty to her One, True God in 304. She was buried on the Via Nomentana where a cemetary stands in her name. Over the centuries Agnes, which means "chaste" in Greek, has become the standard for chastity, purity and virginal innocence and she is always depicted with a lamb - the Lamb of God - in Latin: Agnus Dei.
Saturday, January 22, 2000
Saturday January 22: Green, White or Red vestments
Second Saturday in Ordinary Time and
Feast of Saint Vincent, Deacon and
Observance of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday
First Reading: 2 Samuel 1: 1-4, 11-12, 19, 23-27
Psalms: Psalm 80: 2-3, 5-7
Gospel Reading: Mark 3: 20-21
Feast of Saint Vincent, Deacon and Martyr
Like the saints whose feasts preceded him in January, St. Vincent, not to be confused with St.
Vincent de Paul, was born in Spain in the 3rd Century. and became archdeacon in Saragoza where Our Lady first appeared in 40 AD. He was a great orator and did more than his share of preaching since his bishop, Valerian had a speech impediment. The Romans caught wind of his evangelizing and reported to Diocletian who ordered Dacian the president of that region to silence the saint. Dacian chose the horrendous torture tactic of the rack, stretching Vincent's body asunder. Yet no form of torture could steal Vincent's joy at suffering for Christ. When the rack failed, Dacian tore his flesh with hooks then bound him to a seat of burning iron. When that failed, lard and salt were rubbed into his open wounds. Yet through it all he kept his eyes focused joyfully toward Heaven. Finally, in desperation, Dacian had him thrown into a dungeon locking his feet in a tight stock. But again God intervened, sending His angels to unloose the shackle and inform this brave saint that his reward would be great. Dacian never had the satisfaction of torturing Vincent again for this persevering saint died peacefully before being sentenced again. His bravery and the wonders of his stamina effected many conversions after his death. Upon his death, faithful carried away pieces of his cloths soaked with his blood. His relics are preserved today in an Augustinian monastery in Lisbon. It's a reminder to us all that no matter the opposition, if we keep our eyes and heart focused on the same Goal Vincent strove for, nothing can harm our soul. It is also important to realize the importance of relics which, sadly has been relegated to minor importance today. We should remember that they can intercede for us in Heaven for they are linked to us through the Communion of Saints.
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, volume 7). 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, January 23, 2000
First Reading: Jonah 3: 1-5, 10
Psalms: Psalm 25:4-9
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 7: 29-31
Gospel Reading: Mark 1: 14-20
Monday, January 24, 2000
Monday January 24: White vestments
Feast of Saint Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
WORLD COMMUNICATIONS DAY
First Reading: 2 Samuel 5: 1-7, 10
Psalms: Psalm 89: 20-22, 25-26
Gospel Reading: Mark 3: 22-30
Saint Francis de Sales, Bishop, Religious Founder and Doctor of the Church
Born in Savoy, France on August 21, 1567, nearly 50 years after the Protestant Reformation, Saint Francis de Sales would go on to play a major role in beginning the swing of the pendulum back to Holy Mother Church. Spurning the luxury of a barrister, this learned graduate of the University of Padua opted to become a priest where, guided by the Holy Spirit, his words and actions helped convert over 70,000 Calvinists back to the One, True Faith. He was so successful Pope Clement VIII elevated him to the See of the Bishopric of Geneva in 1602 at the age of 35. Accused by some of being too gentle, he offered the rationalization, "I would rather account to God for too great gentleness than for too great severity." This gentleness helped convince the widow of the Baron of Chantal, none other than Saint Jane Frances de Chantal, to whom Francis was Spiritual Director, to help him found the Order of Visitation Nuns (the Visitandines) in 1610. The fruits of their labors in this holy endeavor soon spread throughout Europe and eventually the world. Vowed to poverty, Francis refused all provisions and honors, including politely declining the See of Paris to remain head of the Geneva Diocese. He devoted much to writing including his two brilliant works Introduction to the Devout Life which he penned in 1609 as a guide for the nuns to-be, and seven years later wrote Treatise on the Love of God which simply points out that sanctity is achievable in everyone's life. Both books have gone on to become spiritual must-reading for religious and laity alike. Francis fell ill in the winter of 1622 in Lyons, France and passed on to his Heavenly reward three days after Christmas on December 28, 1622 at the age of 55. Later the next year he was the first person to be beatified in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. He was canonized 43 years later by Pope Alexander VII and declared a "Doctor of the Church" by Pope Pius IX in 1877. St. Francis de Sales holds a special place in the hearts of all editors, journalists, writers and authors as their patron saint which was made official on January 24, 1923 when Pope Pius XI proclaimed him the designated patron saint of the Catholic press.