This weekend we commemorate the Feast of Saint Monica on Friday, and the Feast of her son Saint Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, on Saturday while Sunday is the Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. For the liturgies, readings, meditations and vignettes on these feasts, click on LITURGY
FEAST OF SAINT MONICA, WIFE AND DEVOTED MOTHER OF SAINT AUGUSTINE
Born into a Christian family in the village of Tagaste, Northern Africa in 332, Saint Monica learned at an early age the virtues of patience and obedience which she exhibited throughout her lifetime. When she reached
womanhood her parents married her off to a nobleman by the name of Patricius who was a kind husband, but possessed a terrible temper and a wanderlust which Monica tolerated because of her marriage vows. She tried to calm and win him over through her obedience and patience, always praying that he would realize the error of his ways and come to see the only answer was God. Her prayers were answered in 371 when Patricius received Baptism as he lay dying. This patient love and total faith in God's Providence was transfered from Patricius to their son Augustine who was 17 when his father died, leaving Monica a widow. Though Augustine had begun studying as a catechumen his father's genes took hold and her son opted for the world, also being led down the wrong path by Manichean heresy rationalizing that he wasn't responsible for his own free will. Oh, how wrong he was and Monica knew it, but rather than alienating her son she opened her arms to him using the psychology of catching more flies with honey than vinegar. But her loving protection backfired as Augustine fled to Italy to do his own thing. Monica would not see her son for 15 more years when, under the influence of Saint Ambrose, Augustine's heart and mind finally discovered the truth and invited his mother to Ostia, Italy in 387 where, on Easter Sunday at the age of 33, Augustine was finally baptized into the true faith and a mother's patient prayers were finally answered. It had been her dying wish to see him come back to the Church and shortly after she passed on to her heavenly reward in the same year. Little did Monica realize how powerful were her prayers and what a gift her son would give back to Holy Mother Church as a great Doctor who had been tutored by another great Doctor of the Church St. Ambrose. Monica has become the role model for mothers everywhere especially mothers who have wayward children or offspring that have fallen away. Persevering prayer does indeed pay off, not necessarily in our timetable but in God's time. That is where patience and obedience play such a vital role. In 1586 St. Monica was officially added to the Roman Calendar by Pope Sixtus V and her relics were moved from Ostia to the church of St. Augustine where her son's relics rested and once again mother and son were reunited on earth as they were reunited in Heaven on Augustine's death in 430 AD.
It was the combined efforts of two saints who had the greatest effects on the life of one of the great Doctors of
the Church Saint Augustine of Hippo. As we saw from the previous day, Augustine's mother Saint Monica played a major behind the scenes role in his conversion, while Saint Ambrose was on the front line with Augustine, who had become a great skeptic, teaching, influencing and converting him. Augustine was born in Tagaste in what is today Algeria on November 13, 354. By the time he was 30 he was preaching rhetoric, interspersed with Manichean heresy, at the university of Milan. It was there he met St. Ambrose and sat in on his lectures where he was enthralled with Ambrose's explanation of Sacred Scripture. In 356 Augustine heard a voice while he was embroiled in abandoned tears of helplessness searching for answers. The child-like voice chanted, "Take and read." Without thinking Augustine opened the Bible to the words of Saint Paul in Romans 13:13-14 which said, "Let us walk becomingly as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in
debauchery and wantonness, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and as for the
flesh, take no thought for its lusts." He was so moved that he asked Ambrose if he could be baptized and then immediately told his mother Monica that he wanted to be baptized. Both she and Ambrose were delighted
beyond belief. Monica firmly insisted that in order to be in full union with the Church he had to abandon his
Manichean beliefs and forsake living with his girl friend and their three children illegitimately conceived.
Augustine agreed, was baptized and then buried his mother the same year. Shortly after Monica's death he
returned to Africa and was ordained a priest at the age of 36. During this time he dedicated full time to righting
and writing the wrongs he had wrought to so many through his Manichean ideas. At the young age of 41
Augustine was consecrated the Bishop of Hippo where he preached and served the people for the rest of his
life, defending the Church against all types of heresies. Even though a bishop, he still lived in community with
fellow priests and wrote constantly beginning with his major works Confessions which was basically a
catechism for all catechumens along with his great work Christian Doctrine. In 410, as the Goth Alaric was laying siege to Rome Augustine wrote his most famous opus - City of God. His great words, "Too late have I loved You, O Beauty of ancient days, yet ever new! Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in You" show how God became the end-all and be-all in his life which ended at the age of 76 on August 28, 430 as the Vandals were storming the gates of Hippo. To preserve his body from the Vandals, the Augustinians stole him away to Sardinia where he was laid to rest, and later transferred to Pavia. Though
Augustine's works were appreciated during his lifetime, it wasn't until after his death that his words really took
root and was celebrated as a Doctor of the Church from the eighth century on, becoming official in the eleventh
century. Today St. Augustine is revered as one of the greatest and learned scholars of the Church. His
conversion proves the power of God's love and the power of the Word of God.
First Reading:Jeremiah 20: 7-9 Psalms:Psalm 63: 2-6, 8-9 Second Reading:Romans 12: 1-2 Gospel Reading:Matthew 16: 21-27
Though it is superseded by the Sunday in Ordinary Time, this day is also the Feast of the Martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist:
MARTYRDOM OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST BY BEHEADING
The first martyrdom of the New Testament is attributed to Saint John the Baptist who was beheaded by Herod at the urging of Herodius' daughter Salome who demanded the head of the baptist on a plate (cf. Matthew 14: 1-12). John had been thrown in prison because he would not reneg on his assertion that Herod could not marry his brother's wife Herodius, "It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife" (Mark 6: 18). Herod had feared doing anything to John for he knew John was a just and holy man and there would be great repercussions if any harm came to the man they called "the Baptist." But in a weak, lustful moment Herod backed himself into a corner by granting Salome anything she wanted and Herodius talked her into demanding that John be beheaded. Though Herod did not want to do this, he would be publicly humiliated if he went back on his promise and therefore relented. Within moments he commanded the executioner to do the dastardly deed and shortly thereafter presented the decapitated head on a dish to Salome who immediately discarded it, giving it to her mother Herodius who had gotten her temporal revenge but would be forever condemned. When the disciples heard of this they came and took John's body away and gave him a proper burial as Jesus wept. John's skull was venerated in a Samarian crypt where the skull was discovered around the 4th Century. The feast of his martyrdom was first celebrated in the East a century later and then in the 7th Century celebrated by Rome for the universal Church as the feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist. There are reports that John's skull was moved to the church of St. Sylvester in Rome, but this cannot be fully authenticated.
In honor of the Feast of Saint Augustine, esteemed Doctor of the Church, we present a special prayer from My Daily Prayer:
Give ear to our supplications, Almighty God; and at the intercession of Blessed Augustine, Thy Confessor and Bishop, bestow upon us, who hope and trust in Thee, Thy loving kindness, the fruit of Thine unfailing mercy. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.
SIMPLY SHEEN: Don't always make assumptions by the cover
They say a picture is worth 1000 words, but the words of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen have been known to launch a thousand images in one's mind, one of the ways this late luminarydid so much to evangelize the faith. Because of the urgency of the times and because few there are today who possess the wisdom, simplicity and insight than the late Archbishop who touched millions, we are bringing you daily gems from his writings. The good bishop makes it so simple that we have dubbed this daily series: "SIMPLY SHEEN".
"Each of us is really an open book, but some who know us do not read the book well. We speak with great sympathy of those who understand us or who read us aright, and with some diffidence of those who do not understand."
Audiences sense "The Sixth Sense" is worth seeing. But then what else is there for film aficianodos!
Top Ten Films for the third week of August
As an indication that this has been a down summer for quality films one would only have to point to the top ten movies this week to see the mediocrity that seems to be permeating Hollywood these days. For the third straight week Bruce Willis' weak vehicle "The Sixth Sense" held the top rung when in past summers it might have been lucky to even break the top ten compared to past fare offered. Maybe that's why, with all these celluloid dogs, they call these days the "dog days" of summer! As we near the time we wrap up the regular summer top ten, we doubt it will be missed because if you're smart, you've been passing on most of the movies foisted on the public this year. For the Top Ten reviews for the third week of August prepared by the NCCB, click on MOVIES AND MORALS
TOP TEN MOVIES FOR THE THIRD WEEK OF AUGUST
1. THE SIXTH SENSE
$24 million last week/ $107.5 million in three weeks:
Because of gory violence, a menaced child and coarse language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents are strongly cautioned that some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. "The Sixth Sense" is a clunky psychological thriller in which child psychologist Bruce Willis tries to help a shaky 8-year-old who keeps seeing dead people walking around, though matters ultimately are not what they seem. The story's vague assumptions and boring situations are suddenly thrown into an entirely new light by a twist ending, though few will find the "surprise" worth waiting for.
$10.6 million last week/ $35.8 million in two weeks:
Because of its comic treatment of a starlet's implied promiscuity, an instance of rough language and a few crude expressions, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents are strongly cautioned that some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. In "Bowfinger", a desperate Hollywood producer (played by Steve Martin) secretly shoots footage of a top action star (played by Eddie Murphy) to use in his sci-fi-alien movie, but the star's paranoid fear of alien invaders produces comic complications. Steve Martin's script lampoons all sorts of Tinseltown pretensions with wry affection.
3. MICKEY BLUE EYES
10.2 million in one week:
Because of brief violence, some profanity, irreverent depictions of religious art and a few instances of rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents are strongly cautioned that some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. "Mickey Blue Eyes" is a frail mob comedy in which expatriate British auctioneer Hugh Grant becomes engaged to schoolteacher Jeanne Tripplehorn whose gangster family immediately ensnares him in mob business that could get him killed. The fish-out-of-water premise is stretched pretty thin through the course of some mildly amusing situations.
4. RUNAWAY BRIDE
9.3 million last week/ $113.5 million in four weeks:
Because of very discreet sexual innuendo and minimal profanity, the
U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association
of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. In "Runaway Bride" cynical
big-city reporter Richard Gere comes to a small town to do an exposť on bride-to-be
Julia Roberts, who has left several previous suitors at the altar, only to find he wants to
replace the groom at the imminent ceremony. With Roberts luminous in her role, the
feel-good romantic comedy, though predictable, brims with warmth and charm.
5. THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT
$7.3 million last week/ $120.6 million in six weeks:
Because of fleeting violence, much menace, some profanity
and constant rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is, A-III --
adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. "The Blair
Witch Project" is a documentary-like horror film showing footage found a year after the
disappearance of three young filmmakers who entered a Maryland woods to explore an
old myth about a resident witch, leaving only the filmed record of their frightened final
days. The low-budget effort has a sense of urgency as the footage shows the trio
increasingly lost and terrified, but the dialogue is soon reduced to shrill, incessant
cursing, which undermines the film's ominous atmosphere.
6. THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR
$7 million last week/ $42.2 million in three weeks:
Because of sexual encounters with nudity, occasional profanity and a few instances of rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-IV -- adults, with reservations. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. "The Thomas Crown Affair" is a cat-and-mouse drama in which a billionaire art thief (played by Pierce Brosnan) and the insurance investigator (Renee Russo), who will net five million for nailing him, become romantically involved,
complicating whether she will do her job or take off with him as he suggests. An update of the 1968 Steve McQueen-Faye Dunaway crime caper, the bedroom scenes are more explicit in this glossy escapist fantasy of riches and romance without consequences.
7. UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: THE RETURN
$4.6 million in one week:
Because of excessive violence, nudity, profanity and rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. "Universal Soldier: The Return" is set in a secret government lab where a haywire computer turns a force of almost indestructible human robots loose until stopped by former robot Jean-Claude Van Damme. The cycle of violence in the repetitive sequel is even more mindless than in the original.
8. INSPECTOR GADGET
$4.3 million last week/ $83.2 million in five weeks:
Because of comic violence and mild sexual innuendo, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. "Inspector Gadget" is a dopey adventure comedy starring Matthew Broderick as a bionic policeman slowly learning how to use the various crime-fighting gadgets with which his body has been equipped. Based on a TV cartoon character, this live-action Disney misfire is a waste of time.
9. DEEP BLUE SEA
$4 million last week/ $63.8 million in four weeks:
Because of gory maritime violence, coarse expressions and rough
language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture
Association of America rating is R -- restricted. "Deep Blue Sea" is a wildly implausible
thriller in which three genetically enhanced sharks devastate a floating sea laboratory
experimenting on them, then roam through the lab's lower levels hunting down trapped
survivors, including the lead scientist (played by Saffron Burrolip) and the project's
financial backer (Samuel L. Jackson). The synthetic characters bring little human
interest to the frantic proceedings as sudden, ferocious shark attacks punctuate the
10. TEACHING MRS. TINGLE
$3.3 million in one week:
Because of its implied justification of criminal acts, an off-screen sexual encounter, some violence, underage drinking and an instance of rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents are strongly cautioned that some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. "Teaching Mrs. Tingle" is a corrosive black comedy in which three high school seniors tie their nasty history teacher (Helen Mirren) to her bedposts, taking bedroom photos of her with the school's drunken, married coach in order to prevent their being expelled for cheating. The smug, emotionally manipulative tale of vicious characters celebrates the teens' outrageously anti-social behavior.