Universalis
Saturday 16 January 2021    (other days)
Our Lady of Arabia, Patroness of the Gulf 
Solemnity

Christ is the son of Mary: come, let us adore him.

Year: B(I). Psalm week: 1. Liturgical Colour: White.

Our Lady of Arabia

The recent title ‘Our Lady of Arabia’ accorded to our Lady represents the patronage of the Blessed Virgin over the Arabian peninsula. The devotion to our Lady under this title began in the 20th century with the dedication of a chapel by the Carmelite fathers in honour of Our Lady of Arabia. In the space of a year, the chapel was soon enriched with the same indulgences as the Papal Basilica of St. Mary Major, and the image – modelled after that of our Lady of Mount Carmel and solemnly blessed by Pius XII – was installed in it. In 1957, the Blessed Virgin under this title was declared the principal patroness of the Apostolic Vicariate of Kuwait, and the statue solemnly crowned on 25 March 1960. The 21st century saw a renewed effort in favour of the devotion to the Blessed Virgin in the newly constituted Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia, as emblematic of the missionary character of the Church in the Gulf. The Blessed Virgin Mary, under this title, was declared the principal patroness of the region in 2013 by the Congregation of Divine Worship, and the proper Masses to the Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia in 2014.
  Though the title is relatively recent, the Blessed Virgin is not a stranger to the region. On the contrary, her praises are mentioned even among Muslims in the Quran, which regards her as “chosen above all women” (Sura Al-Imran, 42). History bears witness to a flourishing devotion in honour of the Virgin Mary in the southern part of the Arabian peninsula before the arrival of Islam, as evinced by the churches dedicated in her honour.
  The veneration historically shown toward the Blessed Virgin by the native inhabitants of the region has revived and increased in the modern day with the arrival of migrants from all corners of the globe, fulfilling the divine promise uttered in the Spirit by the holy Virgin herself: “All generations will call me blessed” (Lk 1:48). With trust in her powerful intercession, they praise the Lord who “casts down the mighty from their thrones and exalts the lowly”. The Mother of God shines as a beacon of hope for the Christian faithful, illuminating the providence and fidelity of God to those who trust in him amidst the anxieties of life. Whether through her journey to the hill country of Judah with the child in her womb, or her flight with the infant Christ from persecution by Herod, the Blessed Virgin serves as an exemplar for migrant faithful who are sustained by their faith in Christ the Lord. To the missionary Church in Arabia, the Mother of God reveals a life closely associated with her Son, and perpetually pointing to him. Thus, as it strives to be the leaven of the Gospel in the society in which it exists, the missionary Church in the Gulf makes the words of its Mother and Queen its own: “Do whatever he tells you”.
  To their Mother and Queen therefore, on this day, the Christians of Gulf turn with filial confidence, that she “whose radiant glance banishes storms and tempests and brings back cloudless skies (may) look upon these her innocent and tormented children with eyes of mercy; that the Virgin, who is able to subdue violence beneath her foot, may grant to them that they may soon enjoy the rightful freedom to practice their religion openly, so that, while serving the cause of the Gospel, they may also contribute to the strength and progress of nations by their harmonious cooperation, by the practice of extraordinary virtues which are a glowing example in the midst of bitter trials” (Pius XII, Ad Caeli Reginam, 50).

Other saints: Saint Fursa or Fursey (- c.650)

East Anglia, Ireland
He was an Irish monk who did much to establish Christianity throughout the British Isles and particularly in East Anglia, at a time when a high Christian civilisation existed in Ireland but had been largely wiped out elsewhere.
  Born in Ireland, he established a monastery at Rathmat, on the shores of Loch Corrib, and then journeyed to England where he founded another at Burgh Castle, near Yarmouth. He finally crossed over to France and became the abbot-founder of Lagny, near Paris. He was buried in Picardy and his shrine survived until the French Revolution. His life is also famous for his remarkable ecstasies, of which St Bede and others wrote.
East Anglian Ordo

Other saints: Saint Joseph Vaz (1651 - 1711)

India
Joseph Vaz was a missionary born on 21 April 1651 in Goa, India. He died on 16 January 1711 in Kandy, present day Sri Lanka. He was an Oratorian missionary priest. He arrived in Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon) during the Dutch occupation.
  The Dutch had expelled the Portuguese who had introduced Catholicism to Sri Lankan. The Dutch then went on to impose Calvinism as the official religion in Sri Lanka. Father Vaz travelled throughout Sri Lanka, bringing the Eucharist and Sacraments to clandestine groups of Catholics. He would sometimes disguise himself as a beggar in order to facilitate his mission. Later, he founded a shelter in the Kingdom of Kandy where he intensified his missionary work of ministering to both the minority Tamil and Sinhalese ethnic groups. By the time of his death, he had managed to rebuild the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka. He was beatified by Pope Saint John Paul II on 21 January 1995, in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, and canonized there by Pope Francis on 14 January 2015.

About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:

Second Reading: St Sophronius of Jerusalem (c.560 - 638)

Sophronius was born in Damascus around 560. He became an ascetic in Egypt about 580 and subsequently entered the monastery of St Theodosius near Bethlehem. He was active in the battle against the heretics who rejected the nature of Christ as both God and man. He became Patriarch of Jerusalem in 634. At that time the Saracen armies under the caliph Umar I were advancing into Palestine, and Jerusalem itself fell in 637, Sophronius negotiating with Umar the terms of a surrender which gave religious freedom to Christians and preserved the Church of the Holy Sepulchre as a Christian church.
  Sophronius’ writings show little sign of these grand historical events. He wrote a series of poems in classical style on Christian subjects, and a number of sermons and doctrinal works.

Liturgical colour: white

White is the colour of heaven. Liturgically, it is used to celebrate feasts of the Lord; Christmas and Easter, the great seasons of the Lord; and the saints. Not that you will always see white in church, because if something more splendid, such as gold, is available, that can and should be used instead. We are, after all, celebrating.
  In the earliest centuries all vestments were white – the white of baptismal purity and of the robes worn by the armies of the redeemed in the Apocalypse, washed white in the blood of the Lamb. As the Church grew secure enough to be able to plan her liturgy, she began to use colour so that our sense of sight could deepen our experience of the mysteries of salvation, just as incense recruits our sense of smell and music that of hearing. Over the centuries various schemes of colour for feasts and seasons were worked out, and it is only as late as the 19th century that they were harmonized into their present form.

Mid-morning reading (Terce)Zephaniah 3:14,15 ©
Shout for joy, daughter of Zion, Israel, shout aloud! Rejoice, exult with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord, the king of Israel, is in your midst; you have no more evil to fear.

Noon reading (Sext)Zechariah 9:9 ©
Rejoice heart and soul, daughter of Zion! Shout with gladness, daughter of Jerusalem! See now, your king comes to you; he is victorious, he is triumphant.

Afternoon reading (None)Judith 13:18-19 ©
May you be blessed, my daughter, by God Most High,
beyond all women on earth;
and may the Lord God be blessed,
the Creator of heaven and earth,
by whose guidance you cut off the head
of the leader of our enemies.
The trust you have shown
shall not pass from the memories of men,
but shall ever remind them
of the power of God.
Scripture readings taken from The Jerusalem Bible, published and copyright © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc, and used by permission of the publishers. For on-line information about other Random House, Inc. books and authors, see the Internet web site at http://www.randomhouse.com.
 
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