DAILY CATHOLIC    WEDNESDAY     January 20, 1999     vol. 10, no. 13

DAILY LITURGY

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Wednesday, January 20, 1999

    Wednesday January 20:
    Second Wednesday in Ordinary Time and
    Feast of Pope Saint Fabian and Saint Sebastian, Martyrs

    Green or Red vestments

      First Reading: Hebrews 7: 1-3, 15-17
      Psalms: Psalm 110: 1-4
      Gospel Reading: Mark 3: 1-6

Feast of Pope Saint Fabian and Saint Sebastian, Martyrs

         Both saints lived in the 3rd Century and both were martyred for their faith. St. Fabian was the 21st pope in the succession of Peter, reigning fourteen years. Born in Rome, he was elected on January 10th 236 and died a martyr on January 20th, 250. At the moment of his election a dove, symbol of the Holy Spirit was seen alighting on his head. During his pontificate the exodus from Rome to flee the persecution of Decius, and later Diocletian, was such that it gave rise to the hermetical life of the anchorites, including Saint Antony of Egypt whose feast we celebrated on January 17th.

          St. Sebastian was born shortly after Pope Fabian's death. He became a Roman army officer and converted to Christianity, rescuing Christians who had been unjustly accused. He discovered that Christian twin brothers MarcusandMarcellinus, who had been imprisoned and tortured, were close to succumbing to the enticing offers of pagan relatives to give up their faith. Sebastian encouraged them to stand by Christ and die for Him if necessary. This was confirmed by a miraculous light shining about him as he spoke. Sebastian cured countless sick through prayer and, by his example, led many pagans to the true faith. He encouraged all to not be afraid to die for the faith for Heaven would be their reward for their loyalty to the Son of God. Sebastian even experienced a visit from one of his disciples who had been martyred. This disciple came back to tell him about Heaven and that his own time to die was at hand. Betrayed by a false disciple, he was condemned to death by the emperor Diocletian and shot with arrows. Left for dead, he miraculously was healed by Divine intervention and proceeded to go right back into the teeth of the enemy, pleading for Diocletian to stop the senseless slaughter of Christians. But the emperor's soul was already satan's and he sentenced Sebastian to be beaten to death by brutal clubbing. This saint holds the honor of a double martyrdom or "Martyr Extraordinaire."

Thursday, January 21, 1999

      First Reading: Hebrews 7: 25-28; 8: 1-6
      Psalms: Psalm 40: 7-10, 17
      Gospel Reading: Mark 3: 7-12

Feast of Saint Agnes, Virgin and Martyr

          Martyred for her faith at the early age of twelve, Saint Agnes was one of the youngest-known named martyrs in the Communion of Saints. She was born into a wealthy Roman aristocratic family and was remarkable for her beauty as a child. But the true beauty was interior and as a youth she vowed to live a life of purity and chastity, consecrating herself as a virgin. Even though she was not yet a teen, Roman suitors courted her trying to seduce her but she refused all advances. Word reached the Roman Emperor Diocletian who was relentless in his persecution of Christians. Rather than killing her right away, Diocletian's men sought to discredit her by making her a prostitute and that would further discredit Christianity and dissuade others from becoming Christians. Naturally Agnes rejected all advances and refused to give in to the sins of the flesh. This further infuriated Diocletian and his cohorts who dragged her before the governor. He ordered that she be thrown into the fire. God preserved her beauty inside and out by allowing her to emerge unscathed. The governor then ordered that she be beheaded in a public display but even this the executioner botched, stabbing her in the throat where she died professing her undying loyalty to her One, True God in 304. She was buried on the Via Nomentana where a cemetary stands in her name. Over the centuries Agnes, which means "chaste" in Greek, has become the standard for chastity, purity and virginal innocence and she is always depicted with a lamb - the Lamb of God - in Latin: Agnus Dei.

January 20, 1999       volume 10, no. 13
LITURGY

DAILY CATHOLIC

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