DAILY CATHOLIC    FRI-SAT-SUN     July 3-5, 1998     vol. 9, no. 129


To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO

Friday, July 3, 1998

      First Reading: Ephesians 2: 19-22
      Psalms: Psalm 117: 1-2
      Gospel Reading: John 20: 24-29


          Though Saint Thomas the Apostle is often referred to as the "Doubting Apostle," in truth he was one of the most faithful, believing of Christ's disciples. This is confirmed in John 11: 16 when Thomas boldly encourages his fellow apostles to go with Jesus to Lazarus where the fear was that they might be stoned, "Let us also go, that we may die with Him." That does not display doubt, but rather undying faith. But Thomas, being human and having withered the many storms Christ underwent, expressed the sentiment many would. In other words, it was almost too much to believe that Jesus had risen. To allay any further sorrow, Thomas put up a defense to the other Apostles with his famous, "Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." In other words, "don't tease me!" Christ understood and was gentle with Thomas, rebuking him mildly in John 20: 27-29 with "...and be not unbelieving, but believing...Because thou hast seen Me, thou has believed. Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed." The last sentence is a great lesson in faith for the majority of us have not seen, yet we believe. That's faith. This event also occurred before the Descent of the Holy Spirit. Even before this Thomas had pledged his undying loyalty with his famous response to Our Lord in John 20: 28, "My Lord and my God!" It was Thomas' way of asking forgiveness for doubting. After Christ's Ascension Thomas was sent to preach in Parthia and the Indies where he gained the glorious crown of martyrdom. In 1972 Pope Paul VI proclaimed him "Patron Saint of India."

Saturday, July 4, 1998

    Saturday July 4:
    Fourteenth Saturday in Ordinary Time and
    Feast of Saint Elizabeth of Portugal, wife, queen, and mother and Observance of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday

    Green or white vestments

      First Reading: Amos 9: 11-15
      Psalms: Psalm 85: 9, 11-14
      Gospel Reading: Matthew 9: 14-17


          Saint Elizabeth of Portugal was named after her great-aunt Saint Elizabeth of Hungary. Born to of King Peter III of Aragon in 1271, Elizabeth was married off at the age of 12 to Denis, king of Portugal. She bore two children - Constance the future queen of Castile, and Alphonse, successor to the Portuguese throne. Denis was a rogue and fathered multiple children out of wed-lock with numerous women. Rather than leaving him, Elizabeth not only prayed and fasted for him, but went out of her way to provide for the education of these illegitimate children. She constantly was the peacemaker between father and son when strong-headed Alphonse took up arms against Denis. Satan did all he could to hurt Elizabeth, but her faith and devout austerity prevailed. After Denis' death in 1325, Elizabeth tried to enter the Poor Clares but was turned away. Undaunted, she put on the habit of the Third Order of St. Francis where she dedicated the rest of her life to helping others, dying peacefully in 1336 at the age of 65. Ironically the order that had denied her in life, opened their arms to her in death, for she was buried at the Poor Clare Monastery she had helped build in Coimbra. She was canonized by Pope Urban VIII in 1625.


       &bnsp;&bnsp; 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."

SUNDAY, July 5, 1998

      First Reading: Isaiah 66: 10-14
      Psalms: Psalm 66: 1-7, 16, 20
      Second Reading: Galatians 6: 14-18
      Gospel Reading: Luke 10: 1-12, 17-20

Monday, July 6, 1998

    Monday July 6:
    Fourteenth Monday in Ordinary Time and
    Feast of Saint Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr

    Green or Red vestments

      First Reading: Hosea 2: 16-18, 21-22
      Psalms: Psalm 145: 2-9
      Gospel Reading: Matthew 9: 18-26


          Considered the first saint of the 20th Century, Saint Maria Teresa Goretti was born into a poor family in Nettuno, Italy in 1890. At a very early age she showed tremendous maternal instincts, caring for her four younger brothers as well as the neighbors young children while the parents worked in the fields during the day. Her mother had been forced to work the fields since her husband and Maria's father died in 1900. Too poor to afford education, Maria dedicated herself to doing God's Will and went about her work joyously. One of the older boys who worked on the farm, a nineteen year old, lusted after Maria who was only twelve years old in 1902. Regardless he attempted to rape her when no one else was around, but Maria resisted, crying out: "No! No! Do not touch me, Alessandro! It is a sin. You will go to hell!" Her refusal so enraged Alessandro that in a fit of passion he pulled out his field knife and plunged it into her fourteen times and then fled. Bleeding to death, Maria was rushed to the hospital where she lay dying for two more painful days. On receiving the Final Sacrament, the priest asked her if she would forgive her murderer and she lovingly proclaimed, "Yes, I forgive him for the love of Jesus, and I want him to be with me in Heaven. May God forgive him!" Shortly after that she breathed her last death with her lips to the crucifix, clutching the Miraculous Medal. Her assailant Alessandro was quickly arrested and served 26 years in prison. It was during his 8th year in prison that he experienced a conversion experience from a dream of Maria Goretti presenting him with flowers. When he was released from prison in 1928 he went immediately to Maria's mother and begged forgiveness and then accompanied her to Christmas Mass where they received Holy Communion together. He became a Franciscan tertiary and spent his remaining life with the Capuchins. The most fascinating aspect of all this was that both Alessandro and Maria's mother were present for the canonization ceremonies in Rome when Pope Pius XII officially proclaimed Maria Teresa Goretti a saint in 1970. She is one of the greatest role models for young people today in a society that exalts the world, the flesh and the devil.

July 3-5, 1998       volume 9, no. 129


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