Saturday, August 7, 1999
Saturday August 7:
Eighteenth Saturday in Ordinary Time and
Feast of Pope Saint Sixtus II and companions, and Saint Cajetan, priest and religious founder and
Observance of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday and
Green or Red or White vestments
First Reading: Deuteronomy 6: 4-13
Psalms: Psalm 18: 2-4, 47, 51
Gospel Reading: Matthew 17: 14-20
FEAST OF SAINT SIXTUS II, POPE AND COMPANIONS
Very little is known of Pope Saint Sixtus II. This Grecian-born pontiff, elected on August 30th, 257, was the twenty-fourth successor of Saint Peter. He possessed a meek disposition but was not afraid to settle the disputes that had arisen under his predecessors Pope Saint Cornelius, Pope Saint Lucius I, and Pope Saint Stephen I. It was Sixtus who effected the translation and identification of the mortal remains of St. Peter and Saint Paul. The Romans captured Sixtus while he was celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the catacombs and was immediately beheaded to discourage others. It had the opposite effect as Saint Cyprian wrote as he originated the exclamation now part of the Mass - "Deo Gratias". Many companions willingly joined Sixtus in martyrdom on August 6, 258. Sixtus' body was retrieved and given an appropriate burial with a church being built in his honor a century later after the liberation by Constantine. Another church was eventually built over the original one and early in the 13th Century it was given over to Saint Dominic who bequeathed it to his Order of Preachers. It gradually became a cloistered monastery for Dominican nuns. Today, known as the church of St. Dominic and St. Sixtus, it is located in the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas.
FEAST OF SAINT CAJETAN, PRIEST AND RELIGIOUS FOUNDER
Born twelve years before the discovery of America, Saint Cajetan would go on to be a staunch defender of the faith in the face of Martin Luther's attacks against the Church. This holy canon lawyer was appointed protonotary apostolic and secretary to Pope Julius II in 1505 twelve years before becoming a priest in 1517. Realizing the Church needed universal and radical reform as assessed by the Fifth Lateran Council, he stayed near the Vatican while bringing the order he had helped foster with John Peter Carafa. This was the Company of Divine Love which was founded by Saint Catherine of Genoa in that city, and dedicated to caring for the poor and infirm. Cajetan was instrumental in establishing a hospital in Rome and later one in Vicenza where he became the pastor of St. Mary's in 1520. Three years later he returned to Rome to found the Institute of Clerks Regular with the charge of preaching, administering the sacraments and celebrating the liturgy. They became known as the Theatines with their first Superior General being Bishop Carafa who sent St. Cajetan to fend against Lutheranism in Venice in 1536. Upon Carafa's death, St. Cajetan returned to Naples where he was elected the Order's Superior General. Over and over he strove to pacify the unrest in Naples and the worldliness of its inhabitants. Beaten down by the discord and apathy, he died in 1547 at the age of 67 before he could realize the fruits he had sown which would become evident at the Council of Trent.
OBSERVANCE OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY ON SATURDAYS
Honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary is a custom first promoted by the Benedictine Monk Saint Alcuin back in the days of Charlemagne (see archives December 23, no. 25 issue, volume 7). He composed different formulas for Votive Masses for each day of the week, with two set aside to honor Our Lady on Saturday. This practice caught on with great enthusiasm and eventually the Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday became the Common of the Blessed Virgin. This Mass was a favorite with retired priests and those whose sight was failing for most had memorized this Mass and were able to say it by heart without having to read the Lectionary or Sacramentary. One reason Saturday was dedicated to Mary was that Saturday held a special meaning in Mariology. First of all, as Genesis accounts for, God rested on the seventh day. In the Old Testament, the Sabbath was Saturday. Jesus, Son of God rested in the womb and then, when He became incarnate, in the loving arms of Mary from birth until she held His lifeless body at the foot of the Cross. Thus the God-head rested in Mary. It was also on Saturday after Good Friday that Jesus gave His Mother a special gift and reward for keeping her faith in His Divinity intact by making an exceptional appearance to her. Thus, because of these reasons, the devotion spread by St. Alcuin and other liturgies that evolved within the Church, Saturday took on a special Marian significance. Saturday took on even more significance in honoring Mary when Our Lady imparted to visionary Lucia in her third apparition at Fatima on July 13, 1917, "Our Lord wishes that devotion to my Immaculate Heart be established in the world. If what I tell you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace; the war will end...I ask the consecration of the world to my Immaculate Heart and Communion of reparation on the First Saturday of each month...If my requests are granted, Russia will be converted and there will be peace...In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph, and an era of peace will be conceded to humanity." As we draw nearer to that wonderful event, it is more important than ever to honor Mary's request on the First Saturday as well as each Saturday that her feast is commemorated in the Church calendar, not to mention responding to her call daily with the Rosary and attending Daily Mass, nourished by her Divine Son present body and blood, soul and Divinity in the Blessed Sacrament. It is in the Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary where she remains in the background in the liturgy of the Word so that her Divine Son's words and His Presence take the spotlight as He should while Mary remains the chief intercessor before the Holy Trinity as she should and serves as the ideal for all Catholics to strive for, as we should. The Dictionary of Mary states quite succinctly, "Through these liturgical acts, (honoring Mary on Saturday) Christians exalt the person of Mary in the action that renews the sacrifice of Christ and in the action that prolongs His prayer."