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Catholic Activity: No. 13: St. Matthias


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Story of St. Matthias, and suggestions on how to celebrate his feast day.


Actually, little is known about him. After Our Lord ascended into Heaven, the Apostles returned to the Upper Room where Our Lady, the holy women, and the remaining disciples gathered to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. This is narrated in the Acts of the Apostles. While they waited, St. Peter said that something should be done to replace Judas. He quoted a passage from the Psalms where it was prophesied that one would be a traitor and another should "take over his office." Two men, Justus and Matthias, were suggested. All prayed to Our Lord asking, with His help, to choose the right one; they drew lots and Matthias was chosen. One of the two traditions about him holds that he evangelized Palestine and was martyred there; the other says it was Ethiopia. Whichever, he was one of the Apostles and he is in the Canon of the Mass.

To us, also, Thy sinful servants, who hope in the multitude of Thy mercies, vouchsafe to grant some place and fellowship with Thy holy apostles and martyrs: with John, Stephen, Matthias. . . .
Knowing so little about his life, we decided not to separate him from the rest of the Apostles but celebrate a feast in his honor which would include the others — and remind us, incidentally, that the superstition about unlucky thirteen is nonsense. It wasn't unlucky for St. Matthias; he died a saint. If being thirteenth were a guarantee of that, I would volunteer any time.

The story of his election is told in the Epistle for his Mass, and his Collect is a beautiful addition to Grace at Table this day:

O God, who didst associate blessed Matthias to the company of Thine Apostles, grant, we beseech Thee, that by his intercession we may ever experience Thy tender mercy towards us. Through Our Lord, Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who is God, and liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, world without end. Amen.
Feast-day dinners in our family are begun by singing "Happy Feast Day to you" to the tune of the birthday song. While not liturgical, it is a custom of long standing and comes from the heart. The big feature of this dinner celebration is the dessert: thirteen gingerbread Apostles.

Activity Source: Year and Our Children, The by Mary Reed Newland, P.J. Kenedy & Sons, New York, 1956

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