DAILY CATHOLIC    FRI-SAT-SUN     June 26-28, 1998     vol. 9, no. 124


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

Friday, June 26, 1998

      First Reading: 2 Kings 25: 1-12
      Psalms: Psalm 137: 1-6
      Gospel Reading: Matthew 8: 1-4

Saturday, June 27, 1998

    Saturday June 27: Twelfth Saturday in Ordinary Time and
    Feast of Saint Cyril of Alexandria
    and Observance of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday

    Green or white vestments

      First Reading: Isaiah 49: 1-6
      Psalms: Psalm 139: 1-3, 13-15
      Second Reading: Acts 13: 22-26
      Gospel Reading: Luke 1: 57-66, 80


          A staunch defender of the Faith, Saint Cyril of Alexandria was born in Alexandria in the year 370 AD and died there 64 years later with the Church stronger for his efforts. He was officially proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII in 1883. He was the nephew of the Patriarch of Alexandria - Theophilus and, under his influence, was prejudiced against Saint John Chrysostom who was deposed at the synod of 403 in which Cyril was present. In 412 Cyril became Patriarch of Alexandria. Throughout his life he refuted all heresies, specifically Nestorianism which was promulgated by Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople in 428. Nestorius denied the divinity of Jesus and then that Mary was not truly the Mother of God. This infuriated Cyril so that he addressed the matter to Pope Celestine I who made it a priority to excommunicate Nestorius if he persisted. The Pope charged Cyril with the duty of informing Nestorius and the Syrian bishops in Ephesus. The letter Celestine had sent with Cyril was badly interpreted by the Syrians and they, in turn, thinking it was Cyril's own handwriting, charged Cyril with heresy. He was imprisoned and abandoned until the Council of Ephesus, convened by the emperor Theodosius in 431 in which the saint was exonerated. After this Cyril went on to write profound treatises on the Incarnation and the dogma of Mary's Divine Motherhood.


       &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, June 28, 1998

      First Reading: 1 Kings 19: 16, 19-21
      Psalms: Psalm 16: 1-2, 5, 7-11
      Second Reading: Galatians 5: 1, 13-18
      Gospel Reading: Luke 9: 51-62

Monday, June 29, 1998

      First Reading: Acts 12: 1-11
      Psalms: Psalm 34: 2-9
      Second Reading: 2 Timothy 4: 6-8, 17-18 Gospel Reading: Matthew 16: 13-19


          Because of the significance of these two saints, we include it under feasts rather than saints. Known as "The Rock" of the Church, Saint Peter is indeed the one who Christ charged to head His Church as the first Pope after He ascended into Heaven. Christ's words in John 21: 15-19 indicate another way Jesus clearly intended Peter to be the first Vicar of Christ on earth when he said: "Feed My lambs...Feed My sheep." The Good Shepherd was passing his staff on to Peter the new shepherd. To this day every bishop carries the shepherd's staff, called a crozier, shaped like the shepherd's crook and symbolic of the bishop's role in feeding Christ's sheep as well as the reason for the staff in the first place, to prod the sheep when they become lax or stray. Up until the eleventh century popes also carried the crozier but now carry the cross, indicated by the cross Pope John Paul II carries whenever on official appearance as the successor of Peter. Through the actions of this saint, we realize Peter was "everyman", an accomplished fisherman by trade who Jesus turned into a "Fisher of men." Peter was weak and afraid, evidence by his denial of Christ as Jesus foretold, but was strengthened on Pentecost to become brave and strong, the leader of the fledgling Church. Cowering in fear far from the Our Lord's Crucifixion at the time, he courageously went to his own crucifixion later in Rome as a martyr. Humbled by the previous experienced he expressed that he was not worthy to be crucified in the same manner as Our Lord, and thus was crucified upside down. From a pebble to a strong rock God transformed this great Apostle just as the Almighty can transform all of us if we are open to His Will.

          Peter's counterpart, Saint Paul took a different route to sanctity. Starting out as Saul of Tarsus, the Pharisee who was a voracious persecutor of Christians, he was struck from his horse enroute to Damascus as God confronted him directly "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?" To impress that this was truly the One, True God, He struck Saul blind, instructing this Jewish persecutor to go into the city of Damascus and wait. After three days God, through His angel, sent a Christian named Ananias to Paul who was still blind. Ananias had been assured by God that "this man is a chosen vessel to Me, to carry My Name among nations and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for My Name" (Acts 9: 15-16). Trusting in God, Ananias approached Saul saying, "Brother Saul, the Lord has sent me - Jesus, Who appeared to thee on thy journey - that thou mayest recover thy sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." As Acts 9: 17-19 relates, "there fell from his eyes something like scales and he recovered his sight, and arose and was baptized." It was then that Saul realized the folly of his ways and turned his fervor to persecute as Saul into a fire of evangelism as Paul in converting countless Jews and Gentiles to the One, True Faith. It was not an easy path for upon his conversion he did as the Lord instructed, first going to Arabia in preparation for the mission God had for him. Paul underwent numerous hardships including shipwreck, rejection, imprisonment and internal bickering but, by trusting in Christ and the Holy Spirit, this fiery saint persevered writing and proclaiming the majority of the epistles of the New Testament. His journeys ultimately brought him to Rome where he received his crown of martyrdom by beheading in 67 AD, shortly after Peter was crucified by the Romans.

June 26-28, 1998       volume 9, no. 124


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