This weekend we commemorate the Feast of Pope Saint Gregory the Great, the 64th successor of Peter and a Doctor of the Church on Friday and on Saturday, besides Ordinary Time, the Observance of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday while Sunday is the Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time. For the liturgies, readings, meditations and vignettes on these feasts, click on LITURGY
POPE SAINT GREGORY THE GREAT, 64th SUCCESSOR OF PETER, RELIGIOUS AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH
The same barbarian ransacking that Augustine faced in the early 400's revisited in the early 600's while Pope Saint Gregory the Great was guiding Holy Mother Church as the 64th successor of Saint Peter. Born in Rome in 540 to a Roman Senator, Gregory began his career following in the footsteps of his father by becoming prefect of Rome from 573-578. After the death of his father, Gregory gave it all up for God. He gave everything he had to an assortment of monasteries, building six monasteries in Sicily and even turned his own palatial home in Rome into a monastery. In 579 Pope Pelagius II ordained Gregory a deacon, sending him as an emissary to Constantinople amid the opulence in the court of the Emperor there. But Gregory disdained these perks, opting to continue living the monastic way of life while still carrying out his duties. In 586 Pope Pelagius recalled him to Rome where Gregory was given the position of abbot of St. Andrew's Monastery, while performing the full time duties of the Holy Father's Secretary. It was an important step in his grooming for four years later he was chosen to succeed Pelagius who had died from the plague on February 7, 590. Seven months later on September 3, 590 Gregory became Pope. This Benedictine was the first monk in the history of the Church to be elevated to pontiff and continued his contemplative ways while still maintaining a busy, active schedule as the leader of his people, calling himself the "Servant of the servants of God." His first official act was forming penitential processions to the seven churches in Rome to petition God to end the deadly plague ravaging the city. Gregory's and the people's prayers were answered as the plague was diminished. Gregory knew this from the vision he received of an angel in a castle at the Vatican which, from that time on, became Castel Sant'Angelo near the river Tiber. During his fourteen year reign Gregory reaffirmed the civil authority of the pope, thus beginning the "temporal power." He was a pope who called for great reform within the Church unifying her with disciplinary measures necessary to expand the mission of the Church. That mission included England, France, Spain and Africa where he sent numerous missionaries to evangelize the true faith. Gregory was creative and original in his administration as Pope and his actions became the benchmark for how the Holy Father would rule from the Vatican to the entire world. He became an ideal role model for priests, bishops, religious and lay people throughout the world. Gregory also revised the Sacramentary and the liturgy of the Mass, introducing chants in the Mass which would become the celebrated Gregorian Chant. He was given the moniker "Great" seven hundred years later by Pope Boniface VIII and was proclaimed one of the great Doctors of the Church along with Saints Ambrose, Jerome, and Augustine...all from the same era of the early centuries. Like our Holy Father Pope John Paul II today, the Canticle of Mary responsory proclaims that "Gregory put into practice all that he preached so that he might be a living example of the spiritual message he proclaimed."
Saturday, September 4, 1999
Saturday September 4: Twenty-second Saturday in Ordinary Time Observance of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday
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). 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."
For the fourth straight week "The Sixth Sense" desensitizes audiences as, thankfully, the disappointing summer movie scene winds down!
Top Ten Films for the final week of August
Continuing the mediocre movie trend, "The Sixth Sense" remained in first place for the fourth week in a row, tying "Star Wars: Episode One - The Phantom Menace" at the beginning of the summer and last year's titanic film "Titanic" for most weeks in the top spot. Unlike the latter two, "Sense" doesn't make a lot of sense and is a clear indication that this has been a down summer for quality films as the rest of the list affirms. With this Labor Day weekend serving as the last hurrah for the movie industry to try to make heads or tails of the season, we're hopeful there will be more quality films like "Life is Beautiful" issued in the fall. "Life" has been mysteriously delayed for video release. We hear they're tinkering with the voice-over track, redubbing it in English! Don't they get it? It was the mystery of the language and the lilting Italian that made it such a moving story. For the Top Ten reviews for the final week of the summer prepared by the NCCB, click on MOVIES AND MORALS
TOP TEN MOVIES FOR THE FINAL WEEK OF AUGUST
1. THE SIXTH SENSE
$20.1 million last week/ $138.9 million in four weeks:
Because of gory violence, a menaced child and coarse language, 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. "The Sixth Sense" is a clunky psychological thriller in which child psychologist Bruce Willis tries to help a shaky 8-year-old who keeps seeing dead people walking around, though matters ultimately are not what they seem. The story's vague assumptions and boring situations are suddenly thrown into an entirely new light by a twist ending, though few will find the "surprise" worth waiting for.
2. THE 13th WARRIOR
$10.3 million in one week:
Because of some gory battlefield violence with decapitations, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. "The 13th Warrior" is a chaotic tale of tenth-century Vikings who force a traveling Arab diplomat Antonio Banderas to fight with them against savage cannibals decimating one of their kingdoms. The constantly panning camera, murky visuals and often incomprehensible dialogue amount to a dark and dreary horror film.
3. RUNAWAY BRIDE
$6.3 million last week/ $124.4 million in five weeks:
Because of very discreet sexual innuendo and minimal profanity, the
U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association
of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. In "Runaway Bride" cynical
big-city reporter Richard Gere comes to a small town to do an exposť on bride-to-be
Julia Roberts, who has left several previous suitors at the altar, only to find he wants to
replace the groom at the imminent ceremony. With Roberts luminous in her role, the
feel-good romantic comedy, though predictable, brims with warmth and charm.
$6.6 million last week/ $46.4 million in three weeks:
Because of its comic treatment of a starlet's implied promiscuity, an instance of rough language and a few crude expressions, 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. In "Bowfinger", a desperate Hollywood producer (played by Steve Martin) secretly shoots footage of a top action star (played by Eddie Murphy) to use in his sci-fi-alien movie, but the star's paranoid fear of alien invaders produces comic complications. Steve Martin's script lampoons all sorts of Tinseltown pretensions with wry affection.
5. MICKEY BLUE EYES
$5.4 million in one week/ $19.7 million in two weeks
Because of brief violence, some profanity, irreverent depictions of religious art and a few instances of rough language, 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. "Mickey Blue Eyes" is a frail mob comedy in which expatriate British auctioneer Hugh Grant becomes engaged to schoolteacher Jeanne Tripplehorn whose gangster family immediately ensnares him in mob business that could get him killed. The fish-out-of-water premise is stretched pretty thin through the course of some mildly amusing situations.
6. THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR
$7 million last week/ $42.2 million in three weeks:
Because of sexual encounters with nudity, occasional profanity and a few instances of 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 Thomas Crown Affair" is a cat-and-mouse drama in which a billionaire art thief (played by Pierce Brosnan) and the insurance investigator (Renee Russo), who will net five million for nailing him, become romantically involved,
complicating whether she will do her job or take off with him as he suggests. An update of the 1968 Steve McQueen-Faye Dunaway crime caper, the bedroom scenes are more explicit in this glossy escapist fantasy of riches and romance without consequences.
7. IN TOO DEEP
$4.2 million in one week:
No bishops' review is available yet.
8. THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT
$4.2 million last week/ $128.1 million in seven weeks:
Because of fleeting violence, much menace, some profanity
and constant rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is, A-III --
adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. "The Blair
Witch Project" is a documentary-like horror film showing footage found a year after the
disappearance of three young filmmakers who entered a Maryland woods to explore an
old myth about a resident witch, leaving only the filmed record of their frightened final
days. The low-budget effort has a sense of urgency as the footage shows the trio
increasingly lost and terrified, but the dialogue is soon reduced to shrill, incessant
cursing, which undermines the film's ominous atmosphere.
9. THE ASTRONAUT'S WIFE
$4 million in one week:
Because of some intense violence, explicit sex, an attempted abortion, rough language and profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. "The Astronaut's Wife" is a lame sci-fi thriller in which a woman begins to suspect her husband has been replaced by an alien, then fears she will give birth to its alien offspring. The movie's weak premise, pedestrian pacing and predictable ending turn this supposed thriller into a limp misfire.
10. THE MUSE
$3.9 million in one week:
Because of a few instances of profanity and a flash of nudity, 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. In "The Muse" a failing screenwriter (played by Albert Brooks) is forced to indulge every pampered wish of a woman (Sharon Stone) he believes to be a genuine muse whose inspiration will turn around his career. Brooks,
who also directs, mocks the Hollywood value system quite amusingly, but has nowhere to go with the silly premise beyond clever one-liners.
Finally the long-awaited books "I SOLEMNLY TELL YOU..." and THE HIDDEN WAY are NOW available!
With the messages completed, you can now order the book that contains ALL the messages. This much-anticipated 224-page book of ALL the messages to the world imparted to the Hidden Flower of the Immaculate Heart from the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary is a lasting gift that will inspire you in your faith, and all God asks of us. You can acquire your own handsome, coffee-table top copy of "I SOLEMNLY TELL YOU..." containing all 632 messages or the THE HIDDEN WAY containing 100 inspirational Meditative Lessons from Our Lord and Our Lady on Church Doctrine by clicking on "I SOLEMNLY TELL YOU..." or THE HIDDEN WAY or both books at BOOKS