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FRI-SAT-SUN      November 20-22, 1998      SECTION TWO       vol 9, no. 228

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      This weekend we celebrate a few feasts, but they pale compared to the great feast on Sunday - the SOLEMNITY OF CHRIST THE KING. After the Thirty-third Friday in Ordinary Time, we observe the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and Sunday, even though it is superseded by the Solemnity of Christ the King - the Final Sunday of the Church year before Advent - November 22nd is the traditional feast of the patron saint of musicians, singers , poets and songwriters - Saint Cecilia, virgin and martyr, with Monday being the final Monday in Ordinary Time and the trilogy of feasts of Pope Saint Clement I, martyr, Saint Columban, Irish abbot and missionary, and Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro, Mexican martyred priest. For the liturgies, readings, meditations and vignettes on the above feasts for this weekend, click on LITURGY

Friday, November 20, 1998

Saturday, November 21, 1998


      This feast, established by Pope Gregory XI in 1372 honors the Blessed Virgin Mary, the "daughter of Zion" who was so faithful to the Jewish faith she was raised in. This feast commemorates when Mary's parents Saint Anne and Saint Joachim presented their precious daughter at the age of three in the temple of Jerusalem where she studied for several years. Even at the tender age of three Our Lady was expressing her fiat to God by her obedience to her parents and submitting totally to the tutelage of priests of the temple. This special chosen one who would become the New Covenant "temple of the Lord" first had to learn the Old Covenant temple of the Lord. All these things prepared her better for her role as the Mother of God, Mediatrix of all graces, Co-redemptrix and Advocate. It was vital for her first to be a willing pupil so she could, as a dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, teach the Father's Divine Son all the Almighty wanted imparted. This feast was first celebrated in 543 by the Eastern Church on the occasion of the dedication of the basilica of the Blessed Virgin Mary built in Jerusalem. This was subsequently destroyed by the Turks (Persians) about seventy years in 614. Exactly a century after Pope Gregory XI declared it a feast, Pope Sixtus IV extended it to the universal Church in 1472 to be celebrated on the twenty first of November each year.

SUNDAY, November 22, 1998


      This feast fittingly climaxes the Church's liturgical year on the last Sunday before Advent. A relatively new feast, Pope Pius XI established it be celebrated on the last Sunday in October. It was changed after Vatican II to transplant the 34th Sunday in Ordinary Time, a fitting time to celebrate the apex of all we strive for - Jesus Christ, our Spiritual King - the Lord and Giver of life, Maker of law, the supreme judge and ruling Authority in the minds, wills and hearts of all mankind. Jesus began His public ministry by announcing in Mark 1: 14, "the kingdom of God is at hand" and just before His crucifixion affirmed to the high priests His rightful title as King of Heaven and earth, "you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of Heaven." By celebrating this feast on the final Sunday of the liturgical year we are paying homage to our Sovereign King as His subjects in fulfilling the words of the Archangel Gabriel to Mary in Luke 1:32-33, "He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of David His father, and He shall be King over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end." The cycle is completed with this feast which leads into a new year with the First Sunday of Advent and preparation for His coming. A time to prepare for Christ the King, Whom as a little child the three kings bowed down to, as we should always as His loyal, humble and obedient servants.

Consecration to Christ the King

The Solemnity of Christ the King supersedes today's normal feast, the Feast of the Virgin Martyr Saint Cecilia:


      Born into a Patrician family in Rome and raised a Christian, Saint Cecilia still was afforded all the luxury of a family of wealth in pagan Rome. Though she had disgarded this way of life,l vowing herself to virginity, her father thought otherwise and forced her to marry a young pagan man by the name of Valerian. During the pagan nuptial ceremony songs of merriment and sensuality were played, but Cecilia didn't hear it for her heart was dedicated to God alone and that was her song as the Acts of of St. Cecilia proclaim, "While instruments were playing (at her wedding feast) profane music, Cecilia sang rather to God in her heart." Because of this she has been chosen patron saint of music and musicians. On their wedding night Cecilia disclosed her vow to her new husband and rather than going into a rage, Valerian, who loved her dearly, was converted by a vision of St. Cecilia's guardian angel and forever honored her vow of virginity, not consummating their marriage. He became so enraptured with Christianity that he converted his brother Tiburtius. Both dedicated their lives to carrying for the survivors of loved ones who had been martyred as well as burying the martyrs. Caught by the Roman guards burying the martyrs they were arrested by the prefect Almachius who ordered them to sacrifice to the gods. When they refused both Valerian and Tiburtius were beheaded along with Saint Maximus who was converted on the spot, so impressed by their faith and determination. When Cecilia brought the three bodies back to her villa along the Appian Way to be buried there, she, too, was arrested. The guards tried to suffocate her in her room, but she miraculously survived. When brought before the prefect, Almachius tried to dissuade her from her ideals as he did with her husband, but Cecilia would have nothing to do with the world, the flesh and the devil. He then ordered that she also be decapitated, but the executioner bungled the job and Cecilia was not killed instantly, but rather lingered in pain for three days before expiring around September 16, 235. Dates vary among historians, some placing it as early as 230, others 250 but research shows Valerian, Tiburtius, and Maximus died during the end of the reign of the Roman Emperor Alexander who ruled between 222 and 235. Therefore the most accurate date would be 235. Commemoration of St. Cecilia began in the 600's after they discovered facts about her inscribed on the walls of the catacomb of Saint Callistus. Pope Paschal I dedicated the basilica of St. Cecilia in Trastevere in Rome in 824 where he transfered her relics and commissioned a mosaic depicting Cecilia standing between Valerian and Tiburtius.

Monday, November 23, 1998

November 23: SAINT CLEMENT I, Pope and Martyr

The third successor of Saint Peter, and fourth pope Pope Saint Clement I was elected pontiff in 88 AD. He ruled the See of Rome for most of the last decade of the First Century. During that time he restored the Sacrament of Confirmation as St. Peter had instructed. He also is the one who assigned the popular phrase "Amen" which means "so be it" at the end of all prayers. Clement authored many letters, specifically to the Corinthians in which he capsulized the role of the Church in rebuking schism, "They who are great," he wrote, "cannot yet subsist without those that are little, nor the little without the great. In our body, the head without the feet is nothing, neither the feet without the head. And the smallest members of our body are useful and necessary to the whole." Fearing his influence, the Roman Emperor Trajan had Cement exiled to the Crimea. There the Holy Father converted so many that the enraged Emperor had him carted out to sea and there, with an anchor tied around his neck, cast into the depths of the Mediterranean. He has been venerated ever since the end of the 4th Century in the basilica of St. Clement in Rome.

November 23: SAINT COLUMBAN, Abbot and Missionary

Born in West Leinster, Ireland around 540, Saint Columban was a product of the fruits of Saint Patrick's missionary efforts. Though Columban's mother objected to his entering the monastery at Bango, he did, becoming a monk. With 12 other monks he was sent to evangelize France in 585, then still called Gaul. Five years later Columban was given land to contruct a monastery at Annegray and followed that with two more houses in Luxeuil and Fontaines. Soon after he had followers through most of Western Europe who built like monasteries in upper France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy. With the number of monks swelling to well over 250, St. Columban penned a Rule for the monks in addition to a guide for confessors called a Penitentiary. Because of his origins, Columban installed Celtic usages in the monastery which he defended as exempt from the bishop's jurisdiction. Angered by this, the bishops expelled him from France in 603 after Columban had written Pope Saint Gregory the Great defending his position against the impositions placed on him by the Gallican bishops. He settled in Burgundy in the south part of France but was soon banished from there along with all his monks because he refused to act as celebrant for King Theodoric II who would not give up his concubines. Returning to Ireland by sea, Columban was shipwrecked and was offered refuge by King Theodebert II of Neustria, where he went to Metz, east of Paris in Northern France evangelizing the Alemanni around the area of Bregenz. All was going well until his old nemesis Theodoric waged war on Theodebert and captured the land. Columban again had to flee, this time going east through Switzerland and south through the Italian Alps where he was welcomed by Milanese King Agilulf who was an Arian Lombard. Soon after Columban founded the monastery of Bobbio in the Lombard mountains south of Milan and just north of Genoa near the Mediterranean. There he wrote the Monastic Rule, and many treatises against the Arian heresy. Bobbio became one of the great monasteries of that time period, a center of culture for learning and spirituality. Columban died on November 23, 615 at the age of 72. In 1969, Pope Paul VI proclaimed his feast be celebrated in the Roman Calendar on November 23rd.

November 23: BLESSED MIGUEL AGUSTIN PRO, Presbyter and Martyr

Venerated throughout Mexico, Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro was a Jesuit priest who was martyred during the Church persecutions early in this century. Born in the shadow of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1891, Miguel entered the Jesuit seminary. Throughout his life Miguel was a victim soul, suffering much in reparation for others. He suffered particularly severe stomach ailments. While in the Mexican novitiate in 1911, revolution broke out and by 1914 the Jesuits feared for their lives. Miguel, along with many of his colleagues, were sent first to Laredo, Texas to continue their studies, then to California. They were then sent by the Provincial to Nicaragua, but were soon called to Spain. In his final year of studies, as a deacon, Miguel was assigned to Belgium where he was ordained in 1925. He was reassigned to his beloved Mexico City but within a month the Mexican regime banned all public worship. In secret Father Pro ministered to the faithful, always staying a step ahead of the government spies. However, in November 1927 a car which had been previously owned by one of Miguel's brothers was seen tossing a bomb toward Mexican President Calles' car along Paseo de la Reforma. Needless to say all the Pro brothers were arrested and a kangaroo court condemned them to a firing squad. The youngest brother, at the eleventh hour, was granted a reprieve and exiled to the U.S. Miguel and his other brother were not so fortunate and they were both marched into the courtyard on November 23, 1927. There, as the government rifles were aimed at the two men, Father Miguel stretched out his arms wide proclaiming in a loud, clear voice: "Viva Cristo Rey!" which in English means "Long live Christ the King!" Shots rang out and within seconds Miguel had joined the long list of martyrs. Three years later a campaign for his beatification was begun. He is still waiting canonization. With his devotion to "Cristo Rey" it is fitting that he is honored the day after the Solemnity of Christ the King.


with a Catholic slant provided by
Catholic World News Service



      NEW ORLEANS ( - Pro-abortion groups began a court challenge on Thursday against a new Louisiana law that defines partial-birth abortion as any procedure in which a living unborn child is partially delivered before he is killed.

      Opponents said defining a fetus as a living baby as soon as it enters the birth canal could potentially outlaw every abortion. "It comes down to how you decide when pregnancy ends and when birth begins," said Assistant Attorney General Roy Mongrue, who was to defend the law in federal district court.

      The crux of the argument is the US Supreme Court's decision in the 1973 Roe v. Wade case that women have a right to abortion in the first two-thirds of pregnancy, when the child cannot survive outside the womb. Mongrue said he will argue that once the fetus is outside the womb and in the birth canal, its stage of development is irrelevant -- it's a child.

      Twenty-eight states have passed laws banning partial-birth abortions, but courts have overturned nine of those laws, in most cases saying that the law is too vague and could ban all abortions. Only in eight states have the laws remained on the books without challenge.

      Meanwhile, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, DC for their biannual meeting urged Catholic politicians on Wednesday to support the dignity of all human life, not just in their personal beliefs but in their official duties.

      The bishops approved a statement 217 to 30 with one of the strongest pro-life declarations ever made by the conference. First, they urged all Catholics to vote for pro-life candidates running for public office, and then told Catholic politicians that agreeing with the Church's teachings on poverty, housing, and health care does not exempt them from the necessity to protect life. Being "right" on those issues "can never excuse a wrong choice regarding direct attacks on innocent human life," they said.

      Some bishops worried that telling politicians how to vote could create a backlash against the Church. "Any statement that tells people how to vote will be ill-received by Catholic and non-Catholic alike," said Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany, New York. "If a Catholic officeholder changes his position on life issues of abortion or the death penalty ... he or she could well be accused by political opponents of caving in to the dictates of the church, a tool of the bishops," Bishop Hubbard said. "We should trust people ... to cast their votes."

      In other business on Wednesday, the bishops also discussed proposed standards for Catholic colleges and universities which would require presidents of those institutions to take an oath of fidelity to the Church and require theologians to receive permission from local bishops to teach. The standards would also urge the schools to recruit faithful Catholics as faculty.


      VATICAN CITY ( - The Vatican and the White House both announced on Wednesday that President Bill Clinton will have a private meeting with Pope John Paul II in January during the Holy Father's visit to the St. Louis.

      The Pontiff, during his trip January 22-28, will first visit Mexico City where he will officially receive the results of the Synod for the Americas which took place last year and will journey to St. Louis on January 26.

      After meeting with Clinton at an Air National Guard hangar at the St. Louis airport, the Holy Father will speak with sick children from Cardinal Glennon's Children's Hospital, and the next day will deliver a homily at a morning Mass at St. Louis' Trans-World Dome. He heads home to Rome later that evening on an overnight flight.


      VATICAN ( -- Pope John Paul II today received participants in an international conference on cinema and art, and told them that film can be "a particular artistic expression for the Year 2000."

      The Pope made his remark at an audience for participants in a conference organized by the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. The conference is designed to address the ethical, spiritual, and cultural issues involved in the world of cinema.

      The Holy Father said that the arts, insofar as they "make life rich and open to the beauty and truth of God," constitute a central concern for the Church. Films can have an educational influence, he said, and can be "a fascinating instrument for transmitting the eternal message of life" to a modern audience. At a time when technological developments have given the medium remarkable new capabilities, he said, films could contribute to the development of a "new humanism," by acting as "a mirror of the human soul which is constantly searching for God."


      VATICAN ( -- In a new public appeal to the developed nations, issued by the Vatican press office today, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace has asked for the cancellation of debts owed by the nations suffering from the effects of hurricane Mitch.

      In a statement signed by Archbishop Francois-Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, the president of the dicastery, the Council pointed out that the storm had not only caused thousands of deaths, but also the destruction of crops, roads, bridges, and infrastructure, especially in Honduras and Nicaragua. The result will be devastating to the nations' economies, the Council observed, and "calls into question the capacity of these countries, which are already among the most impoverished in the world, to cope with the debt payments."

      The situation calls for "a new gesture" from creditor nations in response to "an immense human tragedy," the Vatican document says. In order to help "programs for sustainable reconstruction" in the devastated region, the Pontifical Council salutes nations which have announced the cancellation of debts, and urged other nations to imitate that gesture.

      Meanwhile, in those ravaged Central American countries the Catholic Church of Honduras has accepted -- "as a challenge and a vote of confidence" -- the role of supervising the delivery of relief supplies to the victims of Hurricane Mitch.

      After a meeting with government representatives and leaders of major relief operations, the Catholic Church agreed to administer the distribution of food, medicine, and other supplies within the relief camps that have been opened around the country to accommodate families left homeless by the storm. The Church will supervise the relief operations for a period of one month. As in the case of Nicaragua, officials indicated that the Church had been asked to fulfill that role in order to avoid any questions of political corruption in the relief operations.

      In Managua, the Nicaraguan bishops' conference issued a stern statement condemning any effort to use the tragic consequences of the hurricane as an occasion for gaining political advantage. The bishops' statement noted "with great sorrow" that some local political authorities were impeding relief efforts, apparently fearful that the entry of donors from outside the region might undercut their own privileged standing. Others, the bishops suggested, were seeking to use the relief operation as a base for political or even religious proselytism. The bishops' statement rejected such efforts, as well as "the language of division and intrigue."

For more headlines and articles, we suggest you go to the Catholic World News site. CWN is not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

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November 20-22, 1998 volume 9, no. 228   DAILY CATHOLIC