January 6, 2001
volume 12, no. 6
Saturday and Sunday,
January 6 and 7

Saturday, January 6, 2001

      First Reading: 1 John 5: 5-13
      Psalms: Psalm 147: 12-15, 19-20
      Gospel Reading: Mark 1: 7-11

Feast of Blessed Andre Bessette, Religious Holy Cross Lay Brother and Humble Healer

    Credited with countless cures, Canadian-born Blessed Andre Bessette, a Holy Cross Brother was born in 1845 into a family of twelve. At the age of twelve he became an orphan when his parents died and helped care for his brothers and sisters by working in mills and farms in New England before returning to Montreal in 1870. At the age of 25 he joined the Holy Cross Order as a Lay Brother. Never educated and of poor health, Andre did not let that deter him from fulfilling God's Will in the simplest of ways. Though he was first rejected by the Holy Cross Fathers after his novitiate, the Bishop of Montreal intervened and suggested that he become a lay brother with the Order. For the next 67 years he devoted himself to the menial, but spiritually rewarding jobs of porter and gardener. Through the grace of God those who came in contact with this holy man were cured and word quickly spread of his fame. While he was helping build a shrine to Saint Joseph in Montreal - St. Joseph's Oratory, he contined as porter at the College of Notre Dame in that Canadian city. For 40 years he held this responsibility until demand was so great for Brother Andre to be at the shrine that the Holy Cross Order transferred him over there. Millions of pilgrims flooded the shrine with countless cures physically and spiritually occurring regularly when they came in contact with this holy, humble man of God. They flocked to him for spiritual direction. He received over 80,000 letters a year and insisted on corresponding with the people, but could not read or write and so he dictated the letters, many through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to a plethora of secretaries hired to handle the phenomenal responses to Blessed Andre. Through word of mouth and devotion, this shrine has since become the most well-known shrine to the protector of the Blessed Virgin Mary and foster father of Jesus in the world. It was already the best known in North America when Brother Andre succumbed of old age at 92 in 1937. Eighteen years later the Oratory was solemnly dedicated and declared a minor basilica. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1982. For more on this blessed one, we recommend 40th Top Catholic of the Century

SUNDAY, January 7, 2001

      First Reading: Isaiah 60: 1-6
      Psalms: Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-13
      Second Reading: Ephesians 3: 2-3, 5-6
      Gospel Reading: Matthew 2: 1-12


    Many have questions on why Epiphany is no longer celebrated on January 6th. After Vatican II, the liturgical calendar was changed - streamlined, if you will, and the feast of the Epiphany, once always celebrated on January 6th, was delegated to the first Sunday of January unless it falls on the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, in which case it would be celebrated on the sixth. Church liturgists argue that by placing the feast on Sunday it gives it more importance and more of the faithful can celebrate the feast when the wise men arrived bearing gifts for the Christ-child. It was also traditionally the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas and the transition period to Ordinary Time beginning with the Feast tomorrow of the Baptism of the Lord leading to Lent. This will be the last issue we feature anything of Christmas for after today, creche sets are taken down and packed away for another year. Lights are stripped from the trees, ornaments neatly wrapped, and the tree discarded. It is a time to look ahead toward the Spring during this time of limbo known as winter. During this week, like the snow on the ground, the vestments are white.

    Though the Feast of the Epiphany supercedes it this year, January 7th is normally the Feast of Saint Raymond of Penyafort, Priest and Religious

    Born at Penyafort in Catalonia, Spain in 1175, Saint Raymond was a scholarly genius, evident by the fact he was teaching philosophy in Barcelona at the early age of 20. By the time he was 35 he had resigned to study law at Bologna, Italy where he acquired a doctorate in 1216. Two years later Bishop Berengarius of Barcelona, proud of Raymond's achievements, made him an archdeacon which led to Raymond's vocation as a Dominican. The ensuing years brought fame to Raymond for his preaching throughout Spain as he addressed both Moors and Christians who had been freed from Moorish slavery, an endeavor Raymond played a pivotal role in from preaching the Spanish crusade which ultimately freed the Spanish slaves. Along with Saint Peter Nolasco, Raymond cofounded the Mercedarians in 1223, which was a lay order called the Order of Our Lady of Ransom and whose specific purpose was to raise money to ransom the Christian slaves. Raymond was St. Peter Nolasco's spiritual director. Raymond became spiritual confessor to Pope Gregory IX in 1230. It was there in Rome where Raymond was assigned the task of collecting and codifying papal decrees. His massive work, released in 1150, became the cornerstone for canon law. It was also during this time that he was appointed papal penitentiary which led to his writing Summa casuum and which would have an influential effect on the penial system throughout Europe during the middle ages. In 1235 Raymond was consecrated Archbishop of Tarragona, Spain. It was a position he did not want for he wanted to be with the people and felt as bishop he could not dedicate time to preaching or studies. He became very ill a year later and requested the Holy Father to rescind his appointment as bishop so he could return to his beloved Spain where, after recuperating, resumed his preaching duties. Three years later he was named Master General of the Dominican Order. In this position he wrote a revision of the Dominican constitution, one that would stand until 1924 and then, at the age of 65, resigned his position with the Dominicans. Though it was the end of his official titles with the Dominicans it was not the end of his ministry for he would go on to preach for 35 more years, living to the ripe old age of 99, passing into God's embrace on January 6, 1275 in Barcelona, just shy of becoming a centarian. In those final years Raymond not only founded friaries in Tunis and Murcia, introduced the study of Arabic and Hebrew in Dominican circles to better understand Sacred Scripture and to preach to the non-Christians of the mideast during the Crusades, but also assisted in establishing the Inquisition in Catalonia, Spain. Raymond was canonized in 1601 by Pope Clement VIII.

January 6, 2001
volume 12, no. 6

Return to Front Page of Current Issue