DAILY CATHOLIC    FRI-SAT-SUN     August 27-29, 1999     vol. 10, no. 162


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Friday, August 27, 1999

    Friday August 25:
    Feast of Saint Monica, Wife and Devoted Mother of Saint Augustine

    White vestments

      First Reading: 1 Thessalonians 4: 1-8
      Psalms: Psalm Psalm 97: 1-2, 5-6, 10-12
      Gospel Reading: Matthew 25: 1-13


          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.

Saturday, August 28, 1999

      First Reading: 1 Thessalonians 4: 9-11
      Psalms: Psalm Psalm 98: 1, 7-9
      Gospel Reading: Matthew 25: 14-30


          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.

SUNDAY, August 29, 1999

      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:


          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.

Monday, August 30, 1999

      First Reading: 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18
      Psalms: Psalm 96: 1, 3-5, 11-13
      Gospel Reading: Luke 4: 16-30

August 27-29, 1999       volume 10, no. 162


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