Saturday and Sunday,|
January 20 and 21
Saturday, January 20, 2001
Meditation for Saturday January 20:
Weekday in Ordinary Time
Feast of the martyrs Pope Saint Fabian and Saint Sebastian and
Observance of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday
Green, Red or White vestments
First Reading: Hebrews 9: 2-3, 11-14
Psalms: Psalm 47: 2-3, 6-9
Gospel Reading: Mark 3: 20-21
Feast of Pope Saint Fabian and Saint Sebastian, Martyrs
Both saints lived in the 3rd Century and both were martyred for their faith. St. Fabian was the 21st pope in the succession of Peter, reigning fourteen years. Born in Rome, he was elected on January 10th 236 and died a martyr on January 20th, 250. At the moment of his election a dove, symbol of the Holy Spirit was seen alighting on his head. During his pontificate the exodus from Rome to flee the persecution of Decius, and later Diocletian, was such that it gave rise to the hermetical life of the anchorites, including Saint Antony of Egypt whose feast we celebrated on January 17th.
St. Sebastian was born shortly after Pope Fabian's death. He became a Roman army officer and converted to Christianity, rescuing Christians who had been unjustly accused. He discovered that Christian twin brothers MarcusandMarcellinus, who had been imprisoned and tortured, were close to succumbing to the enticing offers of pagan relatives to give up their faith. Sebastian encouraged them to stand by Christ and die for Him if necessary. This was confirmed by a miraculous light shining about him as he spoke. Sebastian cured countless sick through prayer and, by his example, led many pagans to the true faith. He encouraged all to not be afraid to die for the faith for Heaven would be their reward for their loyalty to the Son of God. Sebastian even experienced a visit from one of his disciples who had been martyred. This disciple came back to tell him about Heaven and that his own time to die was at hand. Betrayed by a false disciple, he was condemned to death by the emperor Diocletian and shot with arrows. Left for dead, he miraculously was healed by Divine intervention and proceeded to go right back into the teeth of the enemy, pleading for Diocletian to stop the senseless slaughter of Christians. But the emperor's soul was already satan's and he sentenced Sebastian to be beaten to death by brutal clubbing. This saint holds the honor of a double martyrdom or "Martyr Extraordinaire."
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 21, 2001
Though it is superseded by the Sunday Liturgy, today is traditionally the Feast of Saint Agnes:
First Reading: Nehemiah 8: 2-5, 8-10
Psalms: Psalm 19: 8-10, 15
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 12: 12-30
Gospel Reading: Luke 1: 1-4; 4: 14-21
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.
January 20, 2001
volume 12, no. 20
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