January 7, 2001
volume 12, no. 7
Sunday and Monday,
January 7 and 8

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.

MONDAY, January 8, 2001

      First Reading: Isaiah 42: 1-4, 6-7 or Isaiah 40: 1-5, 9-11
      Psalms: Psalm 29:1-4, 9-11
      Second Reading: Acts 10: 34-38 or Titus 2: 11-14; 3: 4-7
      Gospel Reading: Luke 3: 15-16, 21-22


    The Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord serves as the bridge between Christmas/Epiphany and Ordinary Time leading up to Lent. It parallels Christ's life as well for, after spending His childhood and early adulthood in preparation in Nazareth, His Baptism signaled the beginning of His public life. He began His three year ministry by humbling Himself as He waded into the River Jordan to institute the Sacrament of Baptism administered by the one who made "ready the way of the Lord" (Luke 3:4). That was, of course, His friend and cousin Saint John the Baptizer son of Zachary and Elizabeth. John knew he wasn't worthy to perform this task for he knew who Jesus truly was. After all, it was John who "leapt for joy" in his mother's womb and John had said to the crowds in today's Gospel Reading of Matthew 3:11: "I indeed baptize you with water, for repentance. But He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to bear. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." God also chose this time to give a sign to all present, a manifestation of Himself in endorsing His Divine Son with the words recorded in today's Gospel: "This is My Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased." Isn't this what we seek? To have God approve of our lives? Jesus gave us a head start with the Sacrament of Baptism, initiating us into His Holy Church where, if we follow her directives obediently, we too will someday join Jesus and all His Saints in Heaven.

January 7, 2001
volume 12, no. 7

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