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December 3-5, 1999
SECTION THREE vol 10, no. 230
To print out entire text of today's issue, print this section as well as SECTION FOUR and SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO
LITURGY FOR THE WEEKEND
This weekend we celebrate on Friday the Feast of Saint Francis Xavier, the Jesuit Missionary Priest who brought the Faith to the Far East and India. Saturday we commemorate the First Saturday of Advent and the Feast of Saint John of Damascus, Religious Priest and Doctor of the Church, and the following day the SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT. For the liturgies, readings, meditations and vignettes on these feasts, click on WEEKEND LITURGY
Friday, December 3, 1999
Friday December 3:
Feast of Saint Francis Xavier, Priest and Religious Missionary
First Reading: Isaiah 29: 17-24
Psalms: Psalm 27: 1, 4, 13-14
Gospel Reading: Matthew 9: 27-31
Saint Francis Xavier, Priest, Religious and Missionary
One of the charter members of the Jesuit Order, Saint Francis Xavier was hand-picked by Saint Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus. Born in the family castle of Xavier near Pamplona in the Basque country of the Spanish Navarre on April 7, 1506, Francis was sent to the prestigious University of Paris to receive his licentiate in 1528. While there he met Fr. Loyola. Though he rejected Ignatius' original plans, he was one over by his piety and became one of the original seven who took their vows as Jesuits, dedicated to the Pope, at Montmartre, France in 1534 on the feast of the Assumption. He became a Jesuit priest in 1537 in Venice, Italy and subsequently was sent to Rome along with four other Jesuits in 1538. After two years of "pestering the Pope" and keeping Pope Paul III abreast of the activities and ideals of the Society of Jesus, the Holy Father formally approved the Society. Once approval was official, Fr. Xavier and fellow Jesuit Fr. Simon Rodriquez were sent to the East Indies as the first missionaries. On their way they stopped off in Lisbon where King John II detained them. It was the king who had requested missionaries. When they were ready to head to the Orient again on April 7, 1541 the King felt Fr. Rodriquez was not healthy enough to go and other priests were assigned to join Francis, though not Jesuits. Thirteen months later Fr. Xavier arrived in Goa where he preached for five months to the children, ministered to the sick, and sought to correct the immorality factor - in particular the use of concubines so prevalent among the Portuguese community there, but frowned upon in Europe and by the Church. From there he traveled to the southern tip of India to Sri Lanka ministering to the natives. In 1544 he moved on to care for the Malaccans and a year later the Moluccas near New Guinea. In 1546 he landed on Morotai which was near the Philippines. In 1549 he reached his farthest destination - Japan where he preached until 1551. Whenever other missionaries joined him in these countries, Francis would turn over the duties to them and move on to new frontiers with a heart flaming with love for God and souls. Thus, he set out for China. On December 3, 1552 in sight of his life-long goal to evangelize to the Chinese, God took Francis home. Alone excepted for a Chinese youth named Antony, Francis, though only 46, died of exhaustion and fever on the island of Shangchwan just a short distance from the China mainland. No other missionary, with the exception of possibly Saint Paul, traveled more miles than Francis and in such a short span of time. He traveled to some of the most remote and inaccessible places then known to man under tremendous harrowing situations that a lesser man would have run from. But he persevered, despite the lack of cooperation from locals and the absence of funds, in converting over 30,000 people during his lifetime. In a time when thousands were fleeing from the faith in Europe as a result of the Protestant revolution, thousands were embracing the True Faith in the Far East thanks to the valiant, heroic deeds of St. Francis Xavier, the "Apostle of the Indies and Japan." It is all the more remarkable when one realizes he worked solely through interpreters and translators, not having the gift of tongues. He was credited with countless miracles and healings and was canonized by Pope Gregory XV in 1622. Pope Saint Pius X proclaimed him patron of all foreign missions in 1927 along with the Little Flower of Lisieux- Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus.
Saturday, December 4, 1999
Saturday December 4:
Saturday in the First Week of Advent and
Feast of Saint John of Damascus, Priest, Religious and Doctor of the Church
Violet or white vestments
First Reading: Isaiah 30: 19-21, 23-26
Psalms: Psalm 147: 1-6
Gospel Reading: Matthew 9: 35-38; 10: 1, 6-8
Saint John of Damascus, Priest, Priest, Religious and Doctor of the Church
In the year 675 as Mohammedanism was making its mark in the Holy Land, Saint John of Damascus was born into a wealthy Christian-Arab family. His mother was Catholic, his father Mansur a Moslem. Though John spent all his life under Mohammedan rule, he never wavered from the True Faith which was taught to him by a wise monk named Cosmas, a slave bought by John's father during a Moslem raid in Sicily. When John's father died, his inheritance included the position of chief revenue officer and counselor of the Caliph, the Mohammedan leader who was then Abdul Malek. In the early 700's the Byzantine Emperor Leo the Isaurian released a decree condemning the veneration of images. John knew it was a direct assault on Catholicism and he refuted all the Emperor had decreed which naturally drew the wrath of the Byzantine rulers who wanted to silence him, but they were prevented because John was under the Caliph's protection and rule. A year later, largely through the influence of Cosmas, he resigned the prestigious position of finance officer and became a monk at St. Sabas on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Even though Leo's successor, the Emperor Constantine Copronymus denounced John at a false synod he convened in Constantinople, the Patriarch John V still ordained John in 726. Now a priest, John returned to the monastery in Jerusalem to lead the defenders of the orthodox Catholic faith against the iconoclast movement of the Byzantine regime. Known as both a poet and theologian, John wrote his famous The Fount of Knowledge, translated into Latin with the title De Fide Orthodoxa. It had the most profound effect on theology for centuries. Teaming up with John V and Pope Gregory II, he defended the faith and the right to use images and icons of Our Lord, Our Lady and the saints with the beautiful rationale, "It is not the material that we honor but what it represents: the honor paid to images goes to the one who is represented by the image." He wrote countless works including poems still used in the Greek liturgy. The Greeks called him "Chrysoorhoas" which meant "pouring forth gold" since his words were a treasure so profound to those who heard them. John's peaceful death at the monastery at St. Sabas on December 4, 749 marked the end of the Greek Fathers of the Church. On the same date in 1890 Pope Leo XIII proclaimed John of Damascus a Doctor of the Church adding his feast to the Roman Calendar.
SUNDAY, December 5, 1999
First Reading: Isaiah 40: 1-5, 9-11
Psalms: Psalm 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14
Second Reading: 2 Peter 3: 8-14
Gospel Reading: Mark 1: 1-8
Monday, December 6, 1999
Monday December 6:
Saturday in the First Week of Advent and
Feast of Saint Nicholas, Bishop
Violet or white vestments
First Reading: Isaiah 30: 19-21, 23-26
Psalms: Psalm 85: 9-14
Gospel Reading: Matthew 9: 35-38; 10: 1, 6-8
Saint Nicholas, Bishop
The universal popularity of Saint Nicholas in both the Eastern Church, the Western Church and in secular circles has contributed to the legend of this saint. All we really know about him is that he was born of wealthy parents near Patara in Lycia part of Asia Minor. He was named bishop of Myra, which was a diocese in decline, but his holiness, zeal and accounts of miracles transformed the diocese into one of great faith. As bishop, he was among those who signed the doctrine affirming Jesus Christ's Divinity at the Council of Nicea in 325. Nicholas used his well-endowed inheritance from his deceased parents for the Church, aiding the poor. One legend, which spawned the concept of Santa Claus relates that there were three very poor sisters whose father, in order to make ends meet for the family, was about to turn them into prostitutes so he could also afford their future dowries. Nicholas, hearing of this, tossed a bag of gold into their house through a window on three different occasions, thus preserving them from a life of sin. The repentant father, discovering it was Nicholas, later fell at his feet in gratitude saying, "You are my helper. You have delivered my soul and my daughters' from hell." On another occasion, unable to personally reach the Emperor Constantine, through prayer he appeared in a dream to the Emperor informing the ruler that the three imperial officers he was going to put to death for treason, were innocent. Upon awakening, Constantine freed them immediately. Nicholas destroyed pagan temples and even managed to get a governor to admit publicly that he was condemning three innocent men because he had been bribed. The men were set free and the governor deposed. During the tyrannical rule of the Emperor Diocletian he was incarcerated for his faith along with many other Christians. There he was tortured and died around the age of 65 in the middle of the 4th Century. Nicholas had always been renowned for his charitable works toward poor children and, after his death the legend grew enormously. When the faith was brought to Northern Germany, so also were the tales of St. Nicholas who took on the folklore of "Weihnachtsmann", German for "the man of Christmas Eve. His popularity increased in the 11th Century when his relics were transfered from Myra to Bari in Italy. His shrine in this Adriatic coastal town became one of the most beloved of the Medieval times, visited by many crusaders who brought the legend back to various parts of Europe. The practice of giving gifts and sweets to children on the eve before the Christ Child's birth grew both from a secular standpoint as well as a religious one, for the adults spent much time in Church at Christmas with extensive ceremonies and if the children had something to keep them occupied, it made it easier on everyone. In Holland St. Nicholas became Sint Klaes which was soon translated into Santa Claus since the German name for Nicholas is Klaus. The image of Santa Claus however was taken from the pagan god Thor and associated with winter and the Yule log. They depicted him riding on a chariot led by two goats whose names were Cracker and Gnasher. It wasn't long before this translated into reindeer and the rest, as we know, is commercialism. St. Nicholas Day is still celebrated in Europe to this day with sweets placed in the shoes of children the night before. St. Nicholas is considered the patron saint of Greece, Sicily, Lorraine in France and Apulia, not to mention the universal patron of children everywhere. His popularity can be attested in the fact there are thousands of churches named in his honor throughout Europe.
Events this weekend in Church History
Saturday is the 436th anniversary of the day when Pope Pius IV officially closed the landmark 19th Ecumenical Council in the Tridentine mountain village in the remote regions of northern Italy. Because of its location it was forever remembered as the Council of Trent. It had been opened on November 19, 1544 by Pope Paul III lasting 19 years in which it condemned Protestantism, enacted reforms and launched the Counter Reformation. For other events throughout the centuries that are memorable in Church history this weekend, click on MILLENNIUM MILESTONES AND MEMORIES
Historical Events in Church Annals for December 3:
(Feast of Saint Francis Xavier)
Pope Saint Zachary becomes the 91st successor of Peter. Born in Calabria, his pontificate would last eleven years during which time he would strongly oppose Rachis, Duke of Friuli, whose desire was to occupy all of Italy. But through Zachary's example and prayers, Rachis converted and became a repentant monk. Zachary is most famous for consecrating Pipin the Short as King of the Franks, which would be the first investiture of a sovereign by a Roman pontiff. St. Zachary would die on March 22, 752.
Death of Pope Anastasius IV, 168th successor of Peter, whose papacy lasted one year and who had, as counselor, Cardinal Nicholas Breakspeare who would become his successor Pope Adrian IV. By Anasatasius' gentleness of character he succeeded in bringing about the pacification of the temporal domains of the Church.
Pope Clement VI, the fourth Avignon Pope, excommunicates members of the Roman tribunal and its representative Cola di Rienzo for their disregard of the hierarchy of the Church and especially di Rienzo's plans to become supreme ruler of Italy.
Death of Blessed Jan van Ruysbroeck, a Belgian mystic who wrote his works in Flemish rather than Latin in order to reach the people of that land.
Historical Events in Church Annals for December 4:
Death of Saint Barbara, virgin and martyr who was savagely beheaded by her own father because of her faith. Immediately after he had cut off her head he was struck down by lightning as a sign of God's anger at such a violent act against His martyred daughter.
Death of Pope John XXII. This 196th successor of Peter was born in Cahors, France and the influential choice of King Philip IV at Lyons, France after a two year vacancy after the death of Pope Clement V who ensconced the papacy at Avignon in France. During John's eight year pontificate he instituted the feast of the Most Holy Trinity and was responsible for the institution of the Sacra Rota and the construction of the Papal Palace at Avignon.
Birth of Giuliano della Rovere in Abissola, near Savona, Italy. Rovere would go on to become a Franciscan priest, then bishop, then cardinal in Vincoli before being chosen the 216th successor of Peter on November 26th, 1503 where he would rule until his death ten years later in February. Julius was the patron of the great artists Michelangelo, Bramante and Raphael. He also completed construction of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
Pope Pius IV brings the Council of Trent to a successful conclusion a special counter reformation council that lasted eighteen years through five Popes. The decrees passed at this landmark 19th Ecumenical Council would stay with Holy Mother Church until after Vatican II.
Historical Events in Church Annals for December 5:
Death of Saint Sabas, abbot who lived to the ripe old age of 93 who ministered to the peasants and royalty, in particular the Byzantine emperor. But Sabas always showed his allegiance to one King only - Jesus Christ.
Incensed by King Philip IV of France, Pope Boniface VIII issues his decree Ausculta fili in which he condemns the violation of the Church's freedom and withdraws the exemptions earlier granted as he summons the French higher clergy to Rome. It would be the precursor of his landmark Papal Bull Unam sanctam a year later which would have wide-ranging repercussions for centuries to come.
Christopher Columbus discovers Hispaniola, establish the faith in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Cardinal Niccolo Sfondrati is chosen the 229th successor of Peter and chooses the title Pope Gregory XIV. This Cremona-born pontiff, an upright and ascetical man, would confirm the right of sanctuary in embassasies accredited with the Holy See. He would also excommunicate Henry IV, monarch of France and be swindled and cheated by dishonest counselors within the curia.
Millions give thanks for quality movie in "Toy Story 2" record first week take, proving all can be a kid again!
Top Ten Films for the final week of November
Finally a movie you can take the whole family to and enjoy, without fear of violence, bad language or sexual situations except for a flirtatious Barbie Doll...that's Disney's "Toy Story 2" the sequel to the original "Toy Story" which proved immensely successful. But this second edition, originally planned for direct-to-video, promises to break more records after setting a Thanksgiving weekend record with a phenomenal $80.5 million take in theatres across the country, leaving the rest in the dust. As for the Top Ten reviews for the final week of November prepared by the NCCB, click on MOVIES AND MORALS
TOP TEN MOVIES FOR THE FINAL WEEK OF NOVEMBER
1. TOY STORY 2
$80.5 million in one week:
The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-I --
general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G
-- general audiences. In "Toy Story 2" the animated adventures of toys
that come to life when humans aren't around continues as cowboy
Woody voiced by Tom Hanks is stolen by a greedy toy collector, sending Woody's toy buddies, led by Buzz Lightyear, the voice of Tim Allen, on a breathless rescue mission. Featuring even better animation, the briskly paced cartoon sequel is slightly less original,
but zippy action scenes and gentle humor should amuse small fry and grown-ups alike.
2. THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH
$34 million last week/ $75.5 million in two weeks:
Because of much stylized violence and a
few discreet bedroom scenes, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification
is A-IV -- adults, with reservations. 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 World Is Not
Enough" is typical breathless Bond fare in which Pierce Brosnan's agent
007 must outwit a dangerously duplicitous female and a sinister
psychopath intent on seizing control of the world's oil supply. The
escapist fantasy's fast and furious action eventually wears itself out in
an overlong and overly elaborate plot.
3. END OF DAYS
$31.5 million in one week:
Because of excessive violence, frequent mindless
mayhem, a perverted sexual encounter with nudity, some profanity and
much rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is O --
morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R --
restricted. "End of Days" is an ultraviolent millennium thriller in which
ex-cop Arnold Schwarzenegger struggles to prevent satan, played by Gabriel Byrne, from
impregnating a young woman, thus ushering in the devil's reign. The
big-budget action movie simply exploits a religious theme to showcase
murder, mayhem and explosive special effects far removed from genuine
4. SLEEPY HOLLOW
$26.9 million last week/ $61.6 million in two weeks:
Because of recurring grisly decapitations and a
discreet sexual encounter, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is
A-IV -- adults, with reservations. The Motion Picture Association of
America rating is R -- restricted. In "Sleepy Hollow," a violent adaptation of
Washington Irving's spooky tale of the headless horseman, Johnny
Depp's Ichabod Crane is a pompous, fearful NYC constable sent to
Sleepy Hollow to find a triple murderer who has made off with the victim's
heads. Although it's a visually gorgeous period piece, the contrived humor
doesn't work and the narrative overdoses on scenes of the horseman
and another villain gleefully butchering their prey.
5. POKEMON: THE FIRST MOVIE
$9.1 million last week/ $77.7 million in three weeks:
The U.S. Catholic Conference
classification is A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association
of America rating is G -- general audiences. "Pokemon: The First
Movie" is a Japanese animated movie based on the TV cartoon series in
which youngsters and their pocket monsters called pokemons gather on a
remote island where they must defend themselves against an evil
pokemon clone and his minions intent on enslaving the world. Colorful but
crudely animated, the movie's characters battle one another while a
preachy voice-over asserts that violence is wrong, thus sending a mixed
message to little ones.
6. THE BONE COLLECTOR
$7.5 million last week /$53.7 million in four weeks:
Because of grisly violence, an implied affair,
occasional profanity and recurring 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 Bone
Collector" is a grim thriller in which paralyzed police forensics expert
Denzel Washington relies on rookie cop Angelina Jolie to gather
evidence and clues to the identity of a serial killer who is taunting the
bedridden cop with a series of increasingly grotesque murders. The
police procedural slides from engrossing to disappointing with its
unsatisfying revelations and gory wrap-up. selfdestruction.
7. it's-a-DOG, MA
$5 million in one week/ /$21 million in three weeks:
Because of anti-religious buffoonery, intense violence, sexual
references, substance abuse, assorted vulgarities, profanity and
recurring rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is O
-- . The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R
-- restricted. It's-a-"Dog, ma" is a sophomoric religious satire in which a heavenly
messenger persuades the last descendant of Joseph and Mary to leave
her job in an abortion clinic and set out to stop a pair of fallen angels from
regaining heaven by means of a plenary indulgence. The unfunny
proceedings rely on a mindless mix of irreverence and absurdity in poking
fun at biblical characters and Christian stereotypes.
8. ANYWHERE BUT HERE
$3.9 million last week/ $14.6 million in three weeks:
Because of an implied affair, sexual references
and occasional profanity, 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. "Anywhere But Here" is a heartfelt drama in which
a level-headed daughter played by Natalie Portman struggles through her
teens with free-spirited mom Susan Sarandon who has rashly moved
them from their Wisconsin roots to Beverly Hills with self-delusional
dreams of fame and fortune. The finely acted film explores the unhappy
daughter's love-hate relationship up to its sentimental resolution.
9. THE INSIDER
$3.3 million last week/ $22.1 million in four weeks
ecause of frequent rough language, and mature subject
matter, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III adults. The
Motion Picture Association of America rating is R restricted. "The Insider"
is a fact-based, largely riveting account of how a CBS news producer (Al
Pacino) is prevented from airing a -60 Minutes" interview with a tobacco
company whistleblower (Russell Crowe) because the CBS corporate
parent feared a costly lawsuit. Superbly acted, the lengthy,
documentary-like drama explores corporate manipulation of journalism as
well as the human cost to those involved in complex ethical issues.
10. BEING JOHN MALKOVICH
$2.7 million last week/ $11.9 million in four weeks:
No review from the bishops available yet.
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December 3-5, 1999 volume 10, no. 230 DAILY CATHOLIC