Saturday, September 19, 1998
Saturday September 19: 24th Saturday in Ordinary Time and
Feast of Saint Januarius, Bishop and Martyr and Commemoration of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday
Green or white vestments
First Reading: 1 Corinthians 15: 35-37, 42-49
Psalms: Psalm 56: 10-14
Gospel Reading: Luke 8: 4-15
Feast of Saint Januarius, Bishop and Martyr
Though very little is really known about Saint Januarius, he is more regularly known as San Gennaro and no one can pinpoint the date of his birth. We do know, from the biography of Saint Paulinus of Nola that Januarius, along with Saint Martin of Tours appeared to Paulinus in a vision as the author describes what Paulinus saw, "Paulinus began to ask in a clear voice where his brethren were. One of the priests, thinking that he was referring to his brother bishops who had just celebrated the Eucharist with him in his bedroom, responded: 'Your brethren are all here with you.' But he answered: 'I am speaking of Januarius and Martin [of Tours], my brothers in the episcopate, who a little while ago were speaking to me and promising me that soon I would join them'." Januarius was martyred in 305 by the Emperor Diocletian along with six companion martyrs at Pozzuoli which is near Naples, Italy. Since the 6th Century Januarius has been a special patron saint of the Napolitan city south of Rome. Miraculous events have contributed to his popularity for his blood has been preserved in a reliquary in Naples. Ever since the 13th Century there is scientific and historical proof that the dried blood is liquified four times a year, first on his feast day of September 19, on the octave of his feast, December 16 and the first Saturday in May. This phenomenon has been so great that several Holy Fathers over the centuries have put an indulgence on veneration of Januarius' relic.
Observance of 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."