DAILY CATHOLIC     WEDNESDAY     June 30, 1999     vol. 10, no. 126


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Wednesday, June 30, 1999

    Wednesday, June 30:
    Thirteenth Wednesday in Ordinary Time and
    Feast of the First Martyrs of Rome

    Green or Red vestments

      First Reading: Genesis 21: 5, 8-20
      Psalms: Psalm 34: 7-8, 10-13
      Gospel Reading: Matthew 8: 28-34


          In an effort to commemorate all of the early martyrs in the first days of the Church, a special feast has been set aside which follows the day after the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul and was established for the entire Roman Calendar by Pope Paul VI in 1969. Prior to that it had only been observed in the city of Rome. The Jerome Martyrology lists 979 martyrs who died in the famous fire set by the nefarious Emperor Nero in 64 A.D. as well as countless others who shed their blood to sanctify the faith with the blood of its martyrs." Their deaths were the "seeds of faith." Historians Tertullian and Tacitus give accounts of how many willingly gave their lives for their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through the dastardly acts of being thrown to the lions and other beasts in the arenas, or burned at the stake as "human torches;" while others were crucified, and still others banished to remote islands without food or water. All in all there is no set number how many martyrs they were but they are all remembered in this special feast as the "first martyrs."

Thursday, July 1, 1999

    Thursday, July 1:
    Thirteenth Thursday in Ordinary Time and
    Feast of Blessed Junipero Serra, Franciscan Missionary

    Green or White vestments

      First Reading: Genesis 22: 1-19
      Psalms: Psalm 115: 1-6, 8-9
      Gospel Reading: Matthew 9: 1-8


          Considered the founder of the California missions that still flourish today along the west coast, Blessed Junipero Serra was born Jose Miguel Serra in 1713 in the village of Petra near Mallorca, Spain. The son of a farmer, he received the name Junipero upon joining the Franciscans in 1730. After receiving his doctorate in theology as a priest and teaching at the Lullian University at Palma de Mallorca, he was finally given the assignment he had prayed for - missionary work which took him first to San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1749. For the next eight years he traveled throughout Mexico, holding numerous administrative offices including Commissary of the Holy Office of the Inquisition. In 1767 the Jesuits were expelled from Mexico and the Franciscans were given the spoils with Junipero being named president of the missions in Lower California. Two years later Spain took over Upper California and Blessed Serra accompanied the Conquistadors to San Diego where he founded the first mission in 1769 - Mission de Alcala in Mission Valley which is still considered the "mother of all California missions." Following the traditional Spanish rule for administering the missions, Serra had more than a few run-ins with Spanish leaders and military forces regarding the Indians whom he ministered to and loved. Because of his dedication to the Beatitudes, perseverance, and loyalty to the Indians resulted in countless conversions. Riding by mule and horseback, Blessed Junipero established nine more missions along the California coast from Oceanside to Carmel where he established his headquarters and where he died peacefully in 1784 at the age of 71. At Serra's beatification ceremony in 1988, Pope John Paul II said Blessed Junipero "is a shining example of Christian virtue and the missionary spirit. His great good was to bring the gospel to the native peoples of America, so that they, too, might be consecrated to the truth." It is fitting that the Church established his feast day on the first day of the month America celebrates her heritage and independence.

June 30, 1999       volume 10, no. 126


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