DAILY CATHOLIC    WEDNESDAY     January 27, 1999     vol. 10, no. 18


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Wednesday, January 27, 1999

    Wednesday January 27:
    Third Wednesday in Ordinary Time and
    Feast of Saint Angela Merici, Virgin, Religious Educator and Foundress

    Green or white vestments

      First Reading: Hebrews 10: 11-18
      Psalms: Psalm 110: 1-4
      Gospel Reading: Mark 4: 1-20

Feast of Saint Angela Merici, Virgin, Religious Educator and Foundress

         Born in Lombardy near Desenzano on March 21, 1470, Saint Angela Merici became an orphan at the tender age of ten and was turned over to her uncle who raised her in the village of Salo. At the age of 13 she became a member of the Third Order of St. Francis, beginning a life of sincere austerity. When her uncle died she decided to dedicate her life to educating the children of the poor, specifically the young girls who would grow into motherhood. Angela, guided by private revelation from Jesus, turned down an offer from Pope Clement VII in 1525 to supervise a group of nursing nuns in order to return to Brescia, Italy to train women there to teach. This was the begining of the Ursuline Order of Nuns, so named because the congregation dedicated their work to God through the intercession and protection of Saint Ursula, a tenth century saint whose feast is October 21. The Ursulines became the first teaching Order in the Church, being officially approved by Pope Paul III four years after Angela's death. Angela, since an early age had been a victim-soul and visionary with both Our Lord and Our Lady guiding her every step. Though the early formation of the congregation was rough at first with many naysayers, she, along with the other candidates of the Order, were encouraged by Saint Charles Borromeo (November 4) who made it a point to introduce the nuns throughout the villages of Italy. Unanimously chosen as the Ursulines' first Mother Superior, Angela guided the Order until her death on January 27, 1540 at the Mother House in Brescia. She was 70 years-old when she was called home to God. Her holiness and example led to more vocations and additional convents in France, Germany and Canada in 1636. It was the Ursulines who founded the first school in the United States in New Orleans in 1727 and the rest, as they say, is history. Pope Pius VII canonized her in 1807.

Thursday, January 28, 1999

    Thursday January 26:
    Feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Dominican Priest and Angelic Doctor of the Church

    White vestments

      First Reading: Hebrews 10: 19-25
      Psalms: Psalm 24: 1-6
      Gospel Reading: Mark 4: 21-25

Feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Dominican Priest and Angelic Doctor of the Church

          Few saints were more revered than this learned Dominican who contributed so much to Holy Mother Church in writings and songs. He is best known for the great theology tome "Summa Theologica", which incorporates three parts covering the entire teaching of the Church in regards Faith and Morals. He also penned the awe-inspiring Benediction hymns of "O Salutaris Hostia" and "Tantum Ergo". He was born of noble heritage in Aquino, Italy in 1226 five years after the death of the founder of the Dominicans Saint Dominic. Though Thomas studied at the Dominican University in Naples, his brother kidnapped him on his way from Naples to the Order's University in Paris. This absconding was ordered by Thomas' own mother, so incensed was she that Thomas was considering the priesthood. Thomas was forcefully taken to the family's castle of Rocca-Secca and kept there against his will for two years, often being coerced by his own brothers to abandon his holy vow of chastity. But Pope Innocent IV intervened, ordering Thomas be brought to Rome. From there Thomas, also an expert chemistry scholor, was free to go on to Paris to study. In France he studied under Saint Albert the Great who had joined the Dominicans in 1223. After graduating summa cum laude, Thomas landed teaching dockets at universities in Paris, Rome and Naples. So great was his tutelage that Pope Urban Iv summoned Thomas to personally advise the pontiff in 1261. Thomas stayed on for three years. There in Rome, he composed the Mass and office for the feast of Corpus Christi as well as writing the hymns "Pange Lingua" and "Adoro Te". Though he was an extremely learned man, he was also humble enough to realize his vital need for God. Once, while in prayer, he heard Jesus say to him from the crucifix, "Thomas, thou has written well of Me. What reward dost thou wish?" The holy preacher didn't hesitate in his response, "No other reward, Lord, except Thyself." Besides St. Albert, Thomas was a close confidant to Saint Bonaventure. He became such a counselor to the papacy that Pope Gregory X personally invited him to participate in the General Council of Lyons in 1274, but the Dominican scholar died on his way there at Fossa Nuova near Terracina, Italy on March 7, 1274. He was only 49 when he was called home to Heaven and exactly 49 years later he was canonized by Pope John XXII. Thomas was officially declared a "Doctor of the Church" in 1567 by Pope Saint Pius V and his feast day had always been celebrated on March 7th until after Vatican II when it was changed to January 28th.

January 27, 1999       volume 10, no. 18


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