Monday of the First Week of Lent

+Matthew 25:31-46

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, escorted by all the angels, then he will take his seat on his throne of glory. All the nations will be assembled before him and he will separate men one from another as the shepherd separates sheep from goats. He will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left.

‘Then the King will say to those on his right hand, “Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome; naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.” Then the virtuous will say to him in reply, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you; or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome; naked and clothe you; sick or in prison and go to see you?” And the King will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.”

‘Next he will say to those on his left hand, “Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you never gave me food; I was thirsty and you never gave me anything to drink; I was a stranger and you never made me welcome, naked and you never clothed me, sick and in prison and you never visited me.” Then it will be their turn to ask, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty, a stranger or naked, sick or in prison, and did not come to your help?” Then he will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me.”

‘And they will go away to eternal punishment, and the virtuous to eternal life.’

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Hell

1033 We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: “He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren. To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called “hell.”

1034 Jesus often speaks of “Gehenna” of “the unquenchable fire” reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost. Jesus solemnly proclaims that he “will send his angels, and they will gather . . . all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire,” and that he will pronounce the condemnation: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!”

1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, “eternal fire.” The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.

1036 The affirmations of Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church on the subject of hell are a call to the responsibility incumbent upon man to make use of his freedom in view of his eternal destiny. They are at the same time an urgent call to conversion: “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

Since we know neither the day nor the hour, we should follow the advice of the Lord and watch constantly so that, when the single course of our earthly life is completed, we may merit to enter with him into the marriage feast and be numbered among the blessed, and not, like the wicked and slothful servants, be ordered to depart into the eternal fire, into the outer darkness where “men will weep and gnash their teeth.”

1037 God predestines no one to go to hell; for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end. In the Eucharistic liturgy and in the daily prayers of her faithful, the Church implores the mercy of God, who does not want “any to perish, but all to come to repentance”:

Father, accept this offering

from your whole family.

Grant us your peace in this life,

save us from final damnation,

and count us among those you have chosen.


Psalm 18

For the leader. Of David, the servant of the LORD, who sang to the LORD the words of this song after the LORD had rescued him from the clutches of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul.

He said: I love you, LORD, my strength,

LORD, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, My God, my rock of refuge, my shield, my saving horn, my stronghold!

Praised be the LORD, I exclaim! I have been delivered from my enemies.

The breakers of death surged round about me; the menacing floods terrified me.

The cords of Sheol tightened; the snares of death lay in wait for me.

In my distress I called out: LORD! I cried out to my God. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry to him reached his ears.

The earth rocked and shook; the foundations of the mountains trembled; they shook as his wrath flared up.

Smoke rose in his nostrils, a devouring fire poured from his mouth; it kindled coals into flame.

He parted the heavens and came down, a dark cloud under his feet.

Mounted on a cherub he flew, borne along on the wings of the wind.

He made darkness the cover about him; his canopy, heavy thunderheads.

Before him scudded his clouds, hail and lightning too.

The LORD thundered from heaven; the Most High made his voice resound.

Source: The New American Bible


 

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Monday of the Sixth Week of Ordinary Time

+Mark 8:11-13

The Pharisees came up and started a discussion with Jesus; they demanded of him a sign from heaven, to test him. And with a sigh that came straight from the heart he said, ‘Why does this generation demand a sign? I tell you solemnly, no sign shall be given to this generation.’ And leaving them again and re-embarking, he went away to the opposite shore.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

“And Lead Us not into Temptation”

2846 This petition goes to the root of the preceding one, for our sins result from our consenting to temptation; we therefore ask our Father not to “lead” us into temptation. It is difficult to translate the Greek verb used by a single English word: the Greek means both “do not allow us to enter into temptation” and “do not let us yield to temptation.” “God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one”; on the contrary, he wants to set us free from evil. We ask him not to allow us to take the way that leads to sin. We are engaged in the battle “between flesh and spirit”; this petition implores the Spirit of discernment and strength.

2847 The Holy Spirit makes us discern between trials, which are necessary for the growth of the inner man, and temptation, which leads to sin and death. We must also discern between being tempted and consenting to temptation. Finally, discernment unmasks the lie of temptation, whose object appears to be good, a “delight to the eyes” and desirable, when in reality its fruit is death.

God does not want to impose the good, but wants free beings…. There is a certain usefulness to temptation. No one but God knows what our soul has received from him, not even we ourselves. But temptation reveals it in order to teach us to know ourselves, and in this way we discover our evil inclinations and are obliged to give thanks for the goods that temptation has revealed to us.

2848 “Lead us not into temptation” implies a decision of the heart: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also…. No one can serve two masters.” “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” In this assent to the Holy Spirit the Father gives us strength. “No testing has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, so that you may be able to endure it.”

2849 Such a battle and such a victory become possible only through prayer. It is by his prayer that Jesus vanquishes the tempter, both at the outset of his public mission and in the ultimate struggle of his agony. In this petition to our heavenly Father, Christ unites us to his battle and his agony. He urges us to vigilance of the heart in communion with his own. Vigilance is “custody of the heart,” and Jesus prayed for us to the Father: “Keep them in your name.” The Holy Spirit constantly seeks to awaken us to keep watch. Finally, this petition takes on all its dramatic meaning in relation to the last temptation of our earthly battle; it asks for final perseverance. “Lo, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is he who is awake.”


Psalm 118(119):67-68,71-72,75-76

Let your love come to me and I shall live.

Before I was afflicted I strayed

but now I keep your word.

You are good and your deeds are good;

teach me your statutes.

Let your love come to me and I shall live.

It was good for me to be afflicted,

to learn your statutes.

The law from your mouth means more to me

than silver and gold.

Let your love come to me and I shall live.

Lord, I know that your decrees are right,

that you afflicted me justly.

Let your love be ready to console me

by your promise to your servant.

Let your love come to me and I shall live.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

 

Agatha, V & M

+Mark 6:53-56

Having made the crossing, Jesus and his disciples came to land at Gennesaret and tied up. No sooner had they stepped out of the boat than people recognised him, and started hurrying all through the countryside and brought the sick on stretchers to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, to village, or town, or farm, they laid down the sick in the open spaces, begging him to let them touch even the fringe of his cloak. And all those who touched him were cured.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Christ the physician

1503 Christ’s compassion toward the sick and his many healings of every kind of infirmity are a resplendent sign that “God has visited his people” and that the Kingdom of God is close at hand. Jesus has the power not only to heal, but also to forgive sins; he has come to heal the whole man, soul and body; he is the physician the sick have need of. His compassion toward all who suffer goes so far that he identifies himself with them: “I was sick and you visited me.” His preferential love for the sick has not ceased through the centuries to draw the very special attention of Christians toward all those who suffer in body and soul. It is the source of tireless efforts to comfort them.

1504 Often Jesus asks the sick to believe. He makes use of signs to heal: spittle and the laying on of hands, mud and washing. The sick try to touch him, “for power came forth from him and healed them all.” And so in the sacraments Christ continues to “touch” us in order to heal us.

1505 Moved by so much suffering Christ not only allows himself to be touched by the sick, but he makes their miseries his own: “He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.”. But he did not heal all the sick. His healings were signs of the coming of the Kingdom of God. They announced a more radical healing: the victory over sin and death through his Passover. On the cross Christ took upon himself the whole weight of evil and took away the “sin of the world,”. of which illness is only a consequence. By his passion and death on the cross Christ has given a new meaning to suffering: it can henceforth configure us to him and unite us with his redemptive Passion.


Psalm 131

Go up, Lord, to the place of your rest!

At Ephrata we heard of the ark;

we found it in the plains of Yearim.

‘Let us go to the place of his dwelling;

let us go to kneel at his footstool.’

Go up, Lord, to the place of your rest!

Go up, Lord, to the place of your rest,

you and the ark of your strength.

Your priests shall be clothed with holiness;

your faithful shall ring out their joy.

For the sake of David your servant

do not reject your anointed.

Go up, Lord, to the place of your rest!

Source: Jerusalem Bible


Saint Agatha of Sicily (231 AD – 251 AD) is a Christian saint and virgin martyr. Her memorial is on 5 February. Agatha was born at Catania or Palermo, Sicily, and she was martyred in approximately 251. She is one of seven women, who, along with the Blessed Virgin Mary, are commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass.

She is the patron saint of Catania, Molise, Malta, San Marino, and Zamarramala, a municipality of the Province of Segovia in Spain. She is also the patron saint of breast cancer patients, martyrs, wet nurses, bell-founders, bakers, fire, earthquakes, and eruptions of Mount Etna.

Life

One of the most highly venerated virgin martyrs of Christian antiquity, Agatha was put to death during the persecution of Decius (250–253) in Catania, Sicily, for her determined profession of faith.

Her written legend comprises “straightforward accounts of interrogation, torture, resistance, and triumph which constitute some of the earliest hagiographic literature”, and are reflected in later recensions, the earliest surviving one being an illustrated late 10th-century passio bound into a composite volume in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, originating probably in Autun, Burgundy; in its margin illustrations Magdalena Carrasco detected Carolingian or Late Antique iconographic traditions.

Although the martyrdom of Saint Agatha is authenticated, and her veneration as a saint had spread beyond her native place even in antiquity, there is no reliable information concerning the details of her death.

According to Jacobus de Voragine, Golden Legend of ca. 1288, having dedicated her virginity to God, fifteen-year-old Agatha, from a rich and noble family, rejected the amorous advances of the low-born Roman prefect Quintianus, who then persecuted her for her Christian faith. He sent Agatha to Aphrodisia, the keeper of a brothel.

The madam finding her intractable, Quintianus sent for her, argued, threatened, and finally had her put in prison. Amongst the tortures she underwent was the cutting off of her breasts with pincers. After further dramatic confrontations with Quintianus, represented in a sequence of dialogues in her passio that document her fortitude and steadfast devotion, Saint Agatha was then sentenced to be burnt at the stake, but an earthquake saved her from that fate; instead, she was sent to prison where St. Peter the Apostle appeared to her and healed her wounds. Saint Agatha died in prison, according to the Legenda Aurea in “the year of our Lord two hundred and fifty-three in the time of Decius, the emperor of Rome.”

Osbern Bokenham, A Legend of Holy Women, written in the 1440s, offers some further detail.

Source: Wikipedia

Monday of the Fourth Week of Ordinary Time

+Mark 5:1-20

Jesus and his disciples reached the country of the Gerasenes on the other side of the lake, and no sooner had Jesus left the boat than a man with an unclean spirit came out from the tombs towards him. The man lived in the tombs and no one could secure him any more, even with a chain; because he had often been secured with fetters and chains but had snapped the chains and broken the fetters, and no one had the strength to control him. All night and all day, among the tombs and in the mountains, he would howl and gash himself with stones. Catching sight of Jesus from a distance, he ran up and fell at his feet and shouted at the top of his voice, ‘What do you want with me, Jesus, son of the Most High God? Swear by God you will not torture me!’ – for Jesus had been saying to him, ‘Come out of the man, unclean spirit.’ ‘What is your name?’ Jesus asked. ‘My name is legion,’ he answered ‘for there are many of us.’ And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the district.

Now there was there on the mountainside a great herd of pigs feeding, and the unclean spirits begged him, ‘Send us to the pigs, let us go into them.’ So he gave them leave. With that, the unclean spirits came out and went into the pigs, and the herd of about two thousand pigs charged down the cliff into the lake, and there they were drowned. The swineherds ran off and told their story in the town and in the country round about; and the people came to see what had really happened. They came to Jesus and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his full senses – the very man who had had the legion in him before – and they were afraid. And those who had witnessed it reported what had happened to the demoniac and what had become of the pigs. Then they began to implore Jesus to leave the neighbourhood. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed begged to be allowed to stay with him. Jesus would not let him but said to him, ‘Go home to your people and tell them all that the Lord in his mercy has done for you.’ So the man went off and proceeded to spread throughout the Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him. And everyone was amazed.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Various forms of sacramentals

1671 Among sacramentals blessings (of persons, meals, objects, and places) come first. Every blessing praises God and prays for his gifts. In Christ, Christians are blessed by God the Father “with every spiritual blessing.” This is why the Church imparts blessings by invoking the name of Jesus, usually while making the holy sign of the cross of Christ.

1672 Certain blessings have a lasting importance because they consecrate persons to God, or reserve objects and places for liturgical use. Among those blessings which are intended for persons – not to be confused with sacramental ordination – are the blessing of the abbot or abbess of a monastery, the consecration of virgins and widows, the rite of religious profession and the blessing of certain ministries of the Church (readers, acolytes, catechists, etc.). The dedication or blessing of a church or an altar, the blessing of holy oils, vessels, and vestments, bells, etc., can be mentioned as examples of blessings that concern objects.

1673 When the Church asks publicly and authoritatively in the name of Jesus Christ that a person or object be protected against the power of the Evil One and withdrawn from his dominion, it is called exorcism. Jesus performed exorcisms and from him the Church has received the power and office of exorcizing. In a simple form, exorcism is performed at the celebration of Baptism. The solemn exorcism, called “a major exorcism,” can be performed only by a priest and with the permission of the bishop. The priest must proceed with prudence, strictly observing the rules established by the Church. Exorcism is directed at the expulsion of demons or to the liberation from demonic possession through the spiritual authority which Jesus entrusted to his Church. Illness, especially psychological illness, is a very different matter; treating this is the concern of medical science. Therefore, before an exorcism is performed, it is important to ascertain that one is dealing with the presence of the Evil One, and not an illness.


Psalm 3:2-8

A psalm of David, when he fled from his son Absalom.

How many are my foes, LORD! How many rise against me!

How many say of me, “God will not save that one.” Selah

But you, LORD, are a shield around me; my glory, you keep my head high.

Whenever I cried out to the LORD, I was answered from the holy mountain. Selah

Whenever I lay down and slept, the LORD preserved me to rise again.

I do not fear, then, thousands of people arrayed against me on every side.

Arise, LORD! Save me, my God! You will shatter the jaws of all my foes; you will break the teeth of the wicked.

Safety comes from the LORD! Your blessing for your people! Selah


 

Vincent, De & M

+Mark 3:22-30

The scribes who had come down from Jerusalem were saying, ‘Beelzebul is in him’ and, ‘It is through the prince of devils that he casts devils out.’ So he called them to him and spoke to them in parables, ‘How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot last. And if a household is divided against itself, that household can never stand. Now if Satan has rebelled against himself and is divided, he cannot stand either – it is the end of him. But no one can make his way into a strong man’s house and burgle his property unless he has tied up the strong man first. Only then can he burgle his house.

‘I tell you solemnly, all men’s sins will be forgiven, and all their blasphemies; but let anyone blaspheme against the Holy Spirit and he will never have forgiveness: he is guilty of an eternal sin.’ This was because they were saying, ‘An unclean spirit is in him.’

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Gravity of Sin: Mortal and Venial Sin

1854 Sins are rightly evaluated according to their gravity. the distinction between mortal and venial sin, already evident in Scripture, became part of the tradition of the Church. It is corroborated by human experience.

1855 Mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God’s law; it turns man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to him.

Venial sin allows charity to subsist, even though it offends and wounds it.

1856 Mortal sin, by attacking the vital principle within us – that is, charity – necessitates a new initiative of God’s mercy and a conversion of heart which is normally accomplished within the setting of the sacrament of reconciliation:

When the will sets itself upon something that is of its nature incompatible with the charity that orients man toward his ultimate end, then the sin is mortal by its very object . . . whether it contradicts the love of God, such as blasphemy or perjury, or the love of neighbor, such as homicide or adultery…. But when the sinner’s will is set upon something that of its nature involves a disorder, but is not opposed to the love of God and neighbor, such as thoughtless chatter or immoderate laughter and the like, such sins are venial.

1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.”

1858 Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: “Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother.” The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.

1859 Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God’s law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.

1860 Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man. the promptings of feelings and passions can also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, as can external pressures or pathological disorders. Sin committed through malice, by deliberate choice of evil, is the gravest.

1861 Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. However, although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God.

1862 One commits venial sin when, in a less serious matter, he does not observe the standard prescribed by the moral law, or when he disobeys the moral law in a grave matter, but without full knowledge or without complete consent.

1863 Venial sin weakens charity; it manifests a disordered affection for created goods; it impedes the soul’s progress in the exercise of the virtues and the practice of the moral good; it merits temporal punishment. Deliberate and unrepented venial sin disposes us little by little to commit mortal sin. However venial sin does not set us in direct opposition to the will and friendship of God; it does not break the covenant with God. With God’s grace it is humanly reparable. “Venial sin does not deprive the sinner of sanctifying grace, friendship with God, charity, and consequently eternal happiness.”

While he is in the flesh, man cannot help but have at least some light sins. But do not despise these sins which we call “light”: if you take them for light when you weigh them, tremble when you count them. A number of light objects makes a great mass; a number of drops fills a river; a number of grains makes a heap. What then is our hope? Above all, confession.

1864 “Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.” There are no limits to the mercy of God, but anyone who deliberately refuses to accept his mercy by repenting, rejects the forgiveness of his sins and the salvation offered by the Holy Spirit. Such hardness of heart can lead to final impenitence and eternal loss.


Psalm 88

My truth and my love shall be with him.

Of old you spoke in a vision.

To your friends the prophets you said:

‘I have set the crown on a warrior,

I have exalted one chosen from the people.

My truth and my love shall be with him.

I have found David my servant

and with my holy oil anointed him.

My hand shall always be with him

and my arm shall make him strong.

My truth and my love shall be with him.

My truth and my love shall be with him;

by my name his might shall be exalted.

I will stretch out his hand to the Sea

and his right hand as far as the River.

My truth and my love shall be with him.


Saint Vincent of Saragossa, also known as Vincent Martyr, Vincent of Huesca or Vincent the Deacon, the Protomartyr of Spain, was a deacon of the Church of Saragossa. He is the patron saint of Lisbon and Valencia. His feast day is 22 January in the Roman Catholic Church and Anglican Communion and 11 November in the Eastern Orthodox Churches. He was born at Huesca and martyred under the Emperor Diocletian around the year 304.

Biography

The earliest account of Vincent’s martyrdom is in a carmen (lyric poem) written by the poet Prudentius, who wrote a series of lyric poems, Peristephanon (“Crowns of Martyrdom”), on Hispanic and Roman martyrs.

He was born at Huesca, near Saragossa, Spain sometime during the latter part of the 3rd century; it is believed his father was Eutricius (Euthicius), and his mother was Enola, a native of Osca.

Vincent spent most of his life in the city of Saragossa, where he was educated and ordained to the diaconate by Bishop Valerius of Saragossa, who commissioned Vincent to preach throughout the diocese. Because Valerius suffered from a speech impediment, Vincent acted as his spokesman.

When the Roman Emperor Diocletian began persecuting Christians in Spain, both were brought before the Roman governor, Dacian in Valencia. Vincent and his bishop Valerius were confined to the prison of Valencia. Though he was finally offered release if he would consign Scripture to the fire, Vincent refused. Speaking on behalf of his bishop, he informed the judge that they were ready to suffer everything for their faith, and that they could pay no heed either to threats or promises.

His outspoken manner so angered the governor that Vincent was inflicted every sort of torture on him. He was stretched on the rack and his flesh torn with iron hooks. Then his wounds were rubbed with salt and he was burned alive upon a red-hot gridiron. Finally he was cast into prison and laid on a floor scattered with broken pottery, where he died. During his martyrdom he preserved such peace and tranquillity that it astonished his jailer, who repented from his sins and was converted. Vincent’s dead body was thrown into the sea in a sack, but was later recovered by the Christians and his veneration immediately spread throughout the Church. The aged bishop Valerius was exiled.

The story that Vincent was tortured on a gridiron is perhaps adapted from the martyrdom of another son of Huesca, Saint Lawrence— Vincent, like many early martyrs in the early hagiographic literature, succeeded in converting his jailer.

According to legend, after being martyred, ravens protected St. Vincent’s body from being devoured by vultures, until his followers could recover the body. His body was taken to what is now known as Cape St. Vincent; a shrine was erected over his grave, which continued to be guarded by flocks of ravens. In the time of Muslim rule in the Iberian Peninsula, the Arab geographer Al-Idrisi noted this constant guard by ravens, for which the place was named by him كنيسة الغراب “Kanīsah al-Ghurāb” (Church of the Raven). King Afonso I of Portugal (1139–1185) had the body of the saint exhumed in 1173 and brought it by ship to the Monastery of São Vicente de Fora in Lisbon. This transfer of the relics is depicted on the coat of arms of Lisbon.

Legacy and veneration

Three elaborated hagiographies, all based ultimately on a lost 5th-century Passion, circulated in the Middle Ages. His “Acts” have been “rather freely colored by the imagination of their compiler”.

Though Vincent’s tomb in Valencia became the earliest center of his cult, he was also honoured at his birthplace and his reputation spread from Saragossa. The city of Oviedo in Asturias grew about the church dedicated to Vincent. Beyond the Pyrenees, he was venerated first in the vicinity of Béziers, and at Narbonne. Castres became an important stop on the international pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela when the relics of Vincent were transferred to its new abbey-church dedicated to Saint Benedict from Saragossa in 863, under the patronage of Salomon, count of Cerdanya.

A church was built in honour of Vincent, by the Catholic bishops of Visigothic Iberia, when they succeeded in converting King Reccared and his nobles to Trinitarian Christianity. When the Moors came in 711, the church was razed, and its materials incorporated in the Mezquita, the “Great Mosque” of Cordova.

The Cape Verde island of São Vicente, a former Portuguese colony, was named in his honour.

The island of St. Vincent in the Caribbean, now a part of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, was named by Christopher Columbus after Vincent of Saragossa, as the island was discovered by Europeans on 22 January, St. Vincent’s feast day.

The 15th century Portuguese artist Nuno Gonçalves depicted him in his Saint Vincent Panels. A small fresco cycle of stories of St. Vincent is in the apse of the Basilica di San Vincenzo near Cantù, in northern Italy.

Vincent is also the patron of vintners and vinegar-makers.

Saint Vincent’s right arm is on display as a relic in Valencia Cathedral, located near the extensive Carrer de Sant Vicent Mártir (Saint Vincent the Martyr Street).

There is also the small town of São Vicente on the Portuguese island of Madeira, and the city of São Vicente, São Paulo in Brazil named after this saint.

Patronage

Saint Vincent is the patron of the Order of the Deacons of the Catholic Diocese of Bergamo (Italy). He is honoured as patron in Valencia, Saragossa, Portugal, etc., and is invoked by vintners, brickmakers, and sailors.

Source: Wikipedia


 

Monday of the Second Week of Ordinary Time

+Mark 2:18-22

One day when John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting, some people came to Jesus and said to him, ‘Why is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not?’ Jesus replied, ‘Surely the bridegroom’s attendants would never think of fasting while the bridegroom is still with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they could not think of fasting. But the time will come for the bridegroom to be taken away from them, and then, on that day, they will fast. No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak; if he does, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and the tear gets worse. And nobody puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins too. No! New wine, fresh skins!’

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Church is the Bride of Christ

796 The unity of Christ and the Church, head and members of one Body, also implies the distinction of the two within a personal relationship. This aspect is often expressed by the image of bridegroom and bride. The theme of Christ as Bridegroom of the Church was prepared for by the prophets and announced by John the Baptist. The Lord referred to himself as the “bridegroom.” The Apostle speaks of the whole Church and of each of the faithful, members of his Body, as a bride “betrothed” to Christ the Lord so as to become but one spirit with him. The Church is the spotless bride of the spotless Lamb. “Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her.” He has joined her with himself in an everlasting covenant and never stops caring for her as for his own body:

This is the whole Christ, head and body, one formed from many . . . whether the head or members speak, it is Christ who speaks. He speaks in his role as the head (ex persona capitis) and in his role as body (ex persona corporis). What does this mean? “The two will become one flesh. This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the Church.” And the Lord himself says in the Gospel: “So they are no longer two, but one flesh.” They are, in fact, two different persons, yet they are one in the conjugal union, . . . as head, he calls himself the bridegroom, as body, he calls himself “bride.”


Psalm 49(50):8-9,16-17,21,23

I will show God’s salvation to the upright.

‘I find no fault with your sacrifices,

your offerings are always before me.

I do not ask more bullocks from your farms,

nor goats from among your herds.

I will show God’s salvation to the upright.

‘But how can you recite my commandments

and take my covenant on your lips,

you who despise my law

and throw my words to the winds,

I will show God’s salvation to the upright.

‘You do this, and should I keep silence?

Do you think that I am like you?

A sacrifice of thanksgiving honours me

and I will show God’s salvation to the upright.’

I will show God’s salvation to the upright.

Source: Jerusalem Bible


 

Baptism of the Lord

+Mark 1:7-11

In the course of his preaching John the Baptist said:

‘Someone is following me, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to kneel down and undo the strap of his sandals. I have baptised you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.’

It was at this time that Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptised in the Jordan by John. No sooner had he come up out of the water than he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit, like a dove, descending on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you.’

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

To believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God

151 For a Christian, believing in God cannot be separated from believing in the One he sent, his “beloved Son”, in whom the Father is “well pleased”; God tells us to listen to him. The Lord himself said to his disciples: “Believe in God, believe also in me.” We can believe in Jesus Christ because he is himself God, the Word made flesh: “No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.” Because he “has seen the Father”, Jesus Christ is the only one who knows him and can reveal him.


Isaiah 12

On that day, you will say: I give you thanks, O LORD; though you have been angry with me, your anger has abated, and you have consoled me.

God indeed is my savior; I am confident and unafraid. My strength and my courage is the LORD, and he has been my savior.

With joy you will draw water at the fountain of salvation,

and say on that day: Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name; among the nations make known his deeds, proclaim how exalted is his name.

Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement; let this be known throughout all the earth.

Shout with exultation, O city of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel!

Source: The New American Bible


 

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

+Luke 2:16-21

The shepherds hurried away to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. When they saw the child they repeated what they had been told about him, and everyone who heard it was astonished at what the shepherds had to say. As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen; it was exactly as they had been told.

When the eighth day came and the child was to be circumcised, they gave him the name Jesus, the name the angel had given him before his conception.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

CONCEIVED BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. . .

484 The Annunciation to Mary inaugurates “the fullness of time”, the time of the fulfillment of God’s promises and preparations. Mary was invited to conceive him in whom the “whole fullness of deity” would dwell “bodily”. The divine response to her question, “How can this be, since I know not man?”, was given by the power of the Spirit: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you.”

485 The mission of the Holy Spirit is always conjoined and ordered to that of the Son. The Holy Spirit, “the Lord, the giver of Life”, is sent to sanctify the womb of the Virgin Mary and divinely fecundate it, causing her to conceive the eternal Son of the Father in a humanity drawn from her own.

486 The Father’s only Son, conceived as man in the womb of the Virgin Mary, is “Christ”, that is to say, anointed by the Holy Spirit, from the beginning of his human existence, though the manifestation of this fact takes place only progressively: to the shepherds, to the magi, to John the Baptist, to the disciples. Thus the whole life of Jesus Christ will make manifest “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.”


Psalm 67

For the leader; with stringed instruments. A psalm; a song.

May God be gracious to us and bless us; may God’s face shine upon us. Selah

So shall your rule be known upon the earth, your saving power among all the nations.

May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you!

May the nations be glad and shout for joy; for you govern the peoples justly, you guide the nations upon the earth. Selah

May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you!

The earth has yielded its harvest; God, our God, blesses us.

May God bless us still; that the ends of the earth may revere our God.

Source: The New American Bible


 

Christmas

+Luke 2:1-14

Caesar Augustus issued a decree for a census of the whole world to be taken. This census – the first – took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria, and everyone went to his own town to be registered. So Joseph set out from the town of Nazareth in Galilee and travelled up to Judaea, to the town of David called Bethlehem, since he was of David’s House and line, in order to be registered together with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to a son, her first born. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them at the inn.

In the countryside close by there were shepherds who lived in the fields and took it in turns to watch their flocks during the night. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone round them. They were terrified, but the angel said, ‘Do not be afraid. Listen, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. And here is a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly with the angel there was a great throng of the heavenly host, praising God and singing:

‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,

and peace to men who enjoy his favour.’

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Christmas mystery

525 Jesus was born in a humble stable, into a poor family. Simple shepherds were the first witnesses to this event. In this poverty heaven’s glory was made manifest. The Church never tires of singing the glory of this night:

The Virgin today brings into the world the Eternal

And the earth offers a cave to the Inaccessible.

The angels and shepherds praise him

And the magi advance with the star,

For you are born for us,

Little Child, God eternal!

526 To become a child in relation to God is the condition for entering the kingdom. For this, we must humble ourselves and become little. Even more: to become “children of God” we mu–t be “born from above” or “born of God”. Only when Christ is formed in us will the mystery of Christmas be fulfilled in us. Christmas is the mystery of this “marvelous exchange”:

O marvelous exchange! Man’s Creator has become man, born of the Virgin. We have been made sharers in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share our humanity.


Psalm 95

Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD; cry out to the rock of our salvation.

Let us greet him with a song of praise, joyfully sing out our psalms.

For the LORD is the great God, the great king over all gods,

Whose hand holds the depths of the earth; who owns the tops of the mountains.

The sea and dry land belong to God, who made them, formed them by hand.

Enter, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the LORD who made us.

For this is our God, whose people we are, God’s well-tended flock. Oh, that today you would hear his voice:

Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah, as on the day of Massah in the desert.

There your ancestors tested me; they tried me though they had seen my works.

Forty years I loathed that generation; I said: “This people’s heart goes astray; they do not know my ways.”

Therefore I swore in my anger: “They shall never enter my rest.”

Source: The New American Bible


 

Monday of the Third Week of Advent

+Matthew 1:18-24

This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph; being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfil the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son

and they will call him Emmanuel,

a name which means ‘God-is-with-us.’ When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Mary’s virginity

496 From the first formulations of her faith, the Church has confessed that Jesus was conceived solely by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, affirming also the corporeal aspect of this event: Jesus was conceived “by the Holy Spirit without human seed”. The Fathers see in the virginal conception the sign that it truly was the Son of God who came in a humanity like our own. Thus St. Ignatius of Antioch at the beginning of the second century says:

You are firmly convinced about our Lord, who is truly of the race of David according to the flesh, Son of God according to the will and power of God, truly born of a virgin,. . . he was truly nailed to a tree for us in his flesh under Pontius Pilate. . . he truly suffered, as he is also truly risen.

497 The Gospel accounts understand the virginal conception of Jesus as a divine work that surpasses all human understanding and possibility: “That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit”, said the angel to Joseph about Mary his fiancee. The Church sees here the fulfillment of the divine promise given through the prophet Isaiah: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son.”

498 People are sometimes troubled by the silence of St. Mark’s Gospel and the New Testament Epistles about Jesus’ virginal conception. Some might wonder if we were merely dealing with legends or theological constructs not claiming to be history. To this we must respond: Faith in the virginal conception of Jesus met with the lively opposition, mockery or incomprehension of non-believers, Jews and pagans alike; so it could hardly have been motivated by pagan mythology or by some adaptation to the ideas of the age. The meaning of this event is accessible only to faith, which understands in it the “connection of these mysteries with one another” in the totality of Christ’s mysteries, from his Incarnation to his Passover. St. Ignatius of Antioch already bears witness to this connection: “Mary’s virginity and giving birth, and even the Lord’s death escaped the notice of the prince of this world: these three mysteries worthy of proclamation were accomplished in God’s silence.”


Psalm 71

In you, LORD, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame.

In your justice rescue and deliver me; listen to me and save me!

Be my rock and refuge, my secure stronghold; for you are my rock and fortress.

My God, rescue me from the power of the wicked, from the clutches of the violent.

You are my hope, Lord; my trust, GOD, from my youth.

On you I depend since birth; from my mother’s womb you are my strength; my hope in you never wavers.

I have become a portent to many, but you are my strong refuge!

My mouth shall be filled with your praise, shall sing your glory every day.

Do not cast me aside in my old age; as my strength fails, do not forsake me.

For my enemies speak against me; they watch and plot against me.

They say, “God has abandoned that one Pursue, seize the wretch! No one will come to the rescue!”

God, do not stand far from me; my God, hasten to help me.

Bring to a shameful end those who attack me; Cover with contempt and scorn those who seek my ruin.

I will always hope in you and add to all your praise.

My mouth shall proclaim your just deeds, day after day your acts of deliverance, though I cannot number them all.

I will speak of the mighty works of the Lord; O GOD, I will tell of your singular justice.

God, you have taught me from my youth; to this day I proclaim your wondrous deeds.

Now that I am old and gray, do not forsake me, God, That I may proclaim your might to all generations yet to come, Your power

and justice, God, to the highest heaven. You have done great things; O God, who is your equal?

You have sent me many bitter afflictions, but once more revive me. From the watery depths of the earth once more raise me up.

Restore my honor; turn and comfort me,

That I may praise you with the lyre for your faithfulness, my God, And sing to you with the harp, O Holy One of Israel!

My lips will shout for joy as I sing your praise; my soul, too, which you have redeemed.

Yes, my tongue shall recount your justice day by day. For those who sought my ruin will have been shamed and disgraced.

Source: The New American Bible