ASCENSION THURSDAY WEEKEND ISSUE
June 1-4, 2000
volume 11, no. 103









LITURGY for June 1-4, 2000

THURSDAY, June 1, 2000

      First Reading: Acts 1: 1-11
      Psalms: Psalm
      Second Reading: Ephesians 4: 1-13
      Gospel Reading: Mark 16: 15-20

SOLEMNITY OF THE ASCENSION OF THE LORD INTO HEAVEN

        This mystery, honored 40 days after the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, celebrates the Triumph of Jesus Ascension into Heaven. It gave new hope not only to all the Apostles and disciples, but for every person to follow for all generations, for all have ingrained in their hearts and minds Jesus' Own words, "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world" (Matthew 28: 19-20). At His beckoning, we are invited, rather commanded, to follow Jesus through the authority He placed here on earth - Holy Mother Church. The Church, through the dogmas, doctrines and teachings, combined with tradition, Sacraments, and Sacred Scripture carries on this edict Christ set down just before elevating into the Heavenly clouds and returning to the Father. Just like her Founder, the Church realizes that for all those faithful to Christ's One, True, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church the only way to be reunited with Him in Heavenly bliss is through the Cross. Jesus has shown us that the way of humiliation and suffering is the only true freeway to Heaven. This feast was not officially recognized by the Church until the Fourth Century. Up to that time, the Ascension had traditionally been part of the paschal mystery tied in with the Resurrection. Because of the denial by Celsus in the second century as a pagan myth, the Church finally decided to emphasize this feast, acknowledging that all souls who were saved but denied Heaven before Christ's Death and Resurrection, were brought into the Heavenly Glory with Jesus. His Ascension is the example for all of us that, by doing God's Will, we, too, can look forward to being assumed into Heaven by the grace of God.

NOTE: June 1st is normally the Feast of Saint Justin, Apologist and Martyr, but his feast is superseded this year by the Holy Day of the Ascension. Below is his profile:

Feast of Saint Justin, Apologist and Martyr

       Born of pagan parents in 103 AD in the village of Neapolis in Samaria (today Sichem in Palestine), Saint Justin was afforded a good education and devoted his life to the study of philosophy with a growing hunger to know of this God these upstart Christians preached. Unsatisfied with the contending schools of philosophy, he relentlessly continued his search until God Himself quenched that thirst for knowledge which was Divinely inspired through an old Christian man who explained in the simplest, but most profound terms what Christianity was about. Convinced he had found what he had long been looking for, Justin enthusiastically embraced Christianity, realizing that Sacred Scripture and the zeal of the martyrs led to faith and it was in faith that one could come to know God. Once he was converted he threw himself into spreading this faith with the same zeal he had during his search for this faith. Justin carried the Gospel to Egypt, Greece and Italy, distributing his writings far and wide, eventually arriving in Rome where he established a school of Christian philosophy. In his efforts to defend the Jews against the Romans, Justin wrote the Dialogue of Trypho and, armed with the strength of the Spirit wrote two special Apologies to the Roman Senate and Emperor Marcus Aurelius. The second Apology was more than Aurelius could stand. His pride and lack of control raging out of control, Aurelius ordered Justin be put to death. Brought before the Prefect of Rome to be sentenced, Justin and the disciples with him feared no earthly death. When the Prefect provoked Justin by mocking him with the question "Do you think that by dying you will enter this heaven you talk about and be rewarded by this God of yours?" Justin replied, "I do not think; I know!" As Justin was so certain, so also the faith he embraced is a certainty - that by striving to do God's Will through all that Jesus asks within the framework of His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church we can be assured of joining Justin someday in our everlasting reward.

Friday, June 2, 2000

    Friday June 2:
    Easter Weekday and
    Feast of Saint Marcellinus and Peter, martyrs
    FIRST FRIDAY

    White or red vestments

      First Reading: Acts 18: 9-18
      Psalms: Psalm 47: 2-7
      Gospel Reading: John 16: 20-23

Feast of Saint Marcellinus and Peter

       These two saints were martyred for the faith in the early fourth century by beheading. Roman-born Saint Marcellinus died with his Egyptian-born counterpart Saint Peter who were both arrested and executed by the Emperor Maximin in Alexandria, the last to be martyred there by Roman authority. Peter was a learned scholar of the Scriptures and Catechism and fervently fought the Arians and followers of Origen who undermined the authority and teaching of Holy Mother Church. As Bishop of Alexandria Peter protected his flocks against the persecutions of the Emperor Diocletian but was eventually forced into hiding where both he and Marcellinus were captured when Maximin came into power. Peter detailed how lapsed Christians could be received back into the Church and these instructions were adapted by the Eastern Church. Both saints were forced to first dig their own graves in an out-of-the-way place before they were beheaded somewhere between 303 and 311 A.D. There was an unusual account that began in the sixth century when both of their bodies miraculously appeared together with their heads intact. They were buried together in the Catacomb of St. Tiburtius. Their relics were sent to Frankfort, Germany in 827 by Pope Gregory IV as a gift to the Holy Roman Emperor Louis, son of Charlemagne.

Saturday, June 3, 2000

    Saturday June 3:
    Feast of Saint Charles Lwanga and his companion martyrs
    FIRST SATURDAY

    Red vestments

      First Reading: Acts 18: 23-28
      Psalms: Psalm 47: 2-3, 8-10
      Gospel Reading: John 16: 23-28

Feast of Saint Charles Lwanga and his companion martyrs

       One of the Church's most recent saints, Saint Charles Lwanga and twelve companions were burned to death after withstanding tremendous torture in Uganda, Africa on June 3, 1886. They are the first group of African blacks ever canonized. This was done less than eighty years after their death during Vatican II by Pope Paul VI with most of the bishops of the world present in 1964. St. Charles is the patron of Catholic Action and has been offered as an ideal role model for all, especially African-American young men. Like the early Christians, the blood of St. Charles and his companions became the seed of Christianity in Africa with conversions more than tripling after their death. These martyrs were the first of over 100 missionaries, priests and ministers, including several bishops, who were to be slain during the bloody reign of the vicious Ugandan King Mwanga who, strangely enough, had invited the White Fathers into the area in 1879. It was through their efforts that much of Uganda was brought to the faith. Because of the priests' popularity and the surge of Christianity in Uganda, Mwanga felt threatened and retaliated with a vengence.

Sunday, June 4, 2000

      First Reading: Acts 1: 15-17, 20-26
      Psalms: Psalm 103: 1-2, 11-12, 19-20
      Second Reading: 1 John 4: 11-16
      Gospel Reading: John 17: 11-19

Monday, June 5, 2000

      First Reading: Acts 19: 1-8
      Psalms: Psalm 68: 2-7
      Gospel Reading: John 16: 29-33

Feast of Saint Boniface, Bishop and Martyr

       Known as the "Apostle of Germany," Saint Boniface was born in the 670's in Wessex, England. He became a Benedictine and became a missionary at the approval of Pope Gregory II who ordained him a bishop in 722 and placed him ecclesiastically in charge of Germany. His zeal and perseverance paid off in converting most of this land, producing many saintly monks and nuns. One account tells of him chopping down a huge oak tree which had been dedicated to the god Jupiter. Boniface then proceeded to use the wood from this tree to build a church dedicated to St. Peter. Pope Gregory III saw the fruits and added Bavaria and what is today Austria to Boniface's charge, making the saint an archbishop. Boniface founded numerous dioceses establishing monasteries and abbeys in each. On a trip to Holland, while waiting to confirm 52 newly-Baptized Dutch Catholics, he was murdered by a hostile troop of heathens on June 5, 755. His body was buried at the now-famous abbey in Fulda which Boniface had not only founded, but had managed to receive pontifical exemption for the monastery, a first in the history of the Church. Fulda is the site where the bishops of western Germany still convene today for synods.


June 1-4, 2000
volume 11, no. 103
MILLENNIUM MILESTONES