February 13, 2001
volume 12, no. 44

Tuesday and Wednesday, February 13th and 14th

Tuesday, February 13, 2001    Meditation

    Weekday in Ordinary Time

    Green vestments
      First Reading: Genesis 6: 5-8; 7: 1-5, 10
      Psalms: Psalm 29: 1-4, 9-10
      Gospel Reading: Mark 8: 14-21

Wednesday, February 14, 2001    Meditation
    Feast of Saints Cyril and Methodius, "Apostles of the Slavs"
    Saint Valentine's Day

    White vestments
      First Reading: Genesis 8: 6-13, 20-22
      Psalms: Psalm 116: 12-15, 18-19
      Gospel Reading: Mark 8: 22-26
Feast of Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius, Bishop - "Apostles of the Slavs"

        The Apostles to the Slavs - Saints Cyril and Methodius were brothers born in Thessalonica, Greece. Methodius was 12 years older than Cyril but it was Cyril who became a priest first. Shortly after Cyril's ordination, Methodius, who had been governor of a Slav province, became a monk. It was in 862 when the prince of Moravia called for missionaries who could speak the Slavic language to preach to his subjects. Cyril and Methodius were selected and they adapted well, translating Sacred Scripture into the native language and establishing a Slavic alphabet which, to this day, is still called Cyrillic in honor of the saint. Even in those days there were jealousies within the Church and many in the Latin rite criticized the two saints for their method of inculturation. Yet the papacy has always defended these two pillars of the Church from Pope Adrian II to Pope John Paul II who pronounced in his apostolic letter Slavorum Apostoli that the fruits of these two co-patrons of Eastern Europe were an outstanding contribution to the common Christian foundation of Europe. St. Cyril died in Rome on February 14, 869 and his remains are buried below the basilica of St. Clement. St. Methodius survived his brother by 16 years, and drew strength from God in single-handedly fending off the Latin rite opposition, especially the German bishops who were successful in getting Pope John VIII to suspend Methodius' influence and the use of the Slavic language in the Liturgy for a time. However, when Methodius died in 885, his funeral was celebrated in both the Greek and Latin rites as well as the Slavic Liturgy.

Origins of Saint Valentine, Priest, Physician and Martyr

      &bnsp;There are many myths about the origin of St. Valentine's Day, but there are also facts substantiating that it was established as a Church feast to counteract a Roman pagan feast. When Saint Valentine was jailed by Claudius, the children of the martyred parents, relatives and friends sent him notes of love and encouragement. Other historians report that Valentine willingly married young Christian couples even though the Roman authorities forbid it, but Valentine believed it was important to perpetuate life through the Holy Sacrament of Matrimony and procreation as God intended so Christianity could spread from the seeds of the martyrs. Another claim on its roots was that many pastors and bishops demanded it to counter the Roman pagan feast on February 15th of the goddess Februata Juno. On that day the emphasis was on the heathen practice of boys picking the names of girls through a drawing with the outcome being they could do anything lewd and obscene they wished on that feast. Thus the Church unofficially, at first, established St. Valentine's Day to emphasize the virtue of marital love and courtship. From the fourth century on the Church acknowledged St. Valentine's Day on February 14th and in the middle ages, the custom of sending cards or "Valentines" began from the medieval belief that birds, returning from the winter refuge, began pairing on that day. St. Valentine was a Roman priest and a physician who assisted Saint Marius (another Roman saint who was displaced by ordinary time) in ministering to the physical and spiritual and assisting the many martyrs persecuted under the reign of the vindictive Roman emperor Claudius II, who incarcerated Valentine and made every cruel effort to get the saint to forsake his faith. Valentine would have none of it and thus Claudius ordered the loyal priest be beaten with heavy clubs and beheaded. He was executed on February 14th, 270 and buried on the Flaminian Way, where seventy years later Pope Julius I decreed a basilica be built in his honor. Research by Church historians uncovered the fact Valentine was also the bishop of Terni, sixty miles from Rome, but held his priestly duties above any exalted office in order to better reach the people. The gate leading to the church that was completed in 350 was called Porta Valentini. Most of his relics reside in the Church of Saint Praxedes.

February 13, 2001
volume 12, no. 44
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