Liturgical Highlights: January 14-27
Here in Virginia we are experiencing a cold and snowy few days, which finally ends our 3 year lack of snow. The “down time” gives me a chance to look at our upcoming liturgical calendar. Since Christmas there has been a bit of a lull for feast days in the General Roman Calendar. We have resumed Ordinary Time, the Time of the Year, or Tempus per Annum which is really the absence of a liturgical season.
The upcoming two weeks on the Liturgical Calendar has a few saints’ days and one feast to highlight:
I admit, I don’t like it when I hear complaints about how ordinary Ordinary Time can be. I think there is such a lack of understanding of what this “Time of the Year” means. Although I have highlighted these posts before, for more reading on what is Ordinary Time, see:
January 17: Memorial of St. Anthony, Abbot
St. Anthony is considered the Father of monastics. He lived as a hermit in the desert, and many were inspired by asceticism, and so wanted to join him. St. Anthony then founded a type of monastery consisting of hermitages near one another, and wrote a rule to guide the monks.
St. Anthony lived in the 3rd century and has been so very popular through many centuries. In the Middle Ages he was included in The Golden Legend. And before St. Francis of Assisi became the designated patron saint of animals, St. Anthony’s feast day was connected to a Blessing of Animals.
It seems modern man doesn’t connect as much to an ascetic in the desert, but perhaps this year we can contemplate small ways we could imitate St. Anthony to detach ourselves from the distractions of the world.
- The Golden Legend
- The Blessing of Animals
- Because of St. Anthony’s connection with pigs/swine, Bacon or other kinds of pork would be a suitable food for remembering this hermit. See for some ideas.
- We also have 3 podcasts on St. Anthony:
- The Temptation of St. Anthony, an interview with Elizabeth Lev about the paintings depicting this scene.
- Way of the Fathers: Ep. 22—Anthony of the Desert: The Solitary Celebrity
- Catholic Culture Audiobooks: St. Athanasius—Life of St. Anthony
We celebrate some more 3rd century saints. St. Fabian died before St. Anthony Abbot was born, but Sebastian would have been his contemporary. I like to know the dates and geographic regions of saints to see how they would be paired up. Fabian and Sebastian were in Rome, Anthony was in Egypt, hosting people who were fleeing from the “worldliness” of Rome.
St. Fabian was the 20th pope, and was one of the first martyrs under the persecutions of the Emperor Decius. He reigned as pope for 14 years.
The depictions of Sebastian with so many arrows through his body fascinated boys and artists for centuries. He was a Roman soldier, was pierced with arrows by order of the Emperor Diocletian, but he did not die from that. He was nursed back to health, and then when he started boldly speaking of Christ again, he was scourged to death.
Again, the Middle Ages had quite a devotion to St. Sebastian. His life was also included in The Golden Legend (as also St. Fabian). And during the Black Plague, he was invoked as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.
- August 8 is the traditional feast of the Fourteen Holy Helpers
- Fourteen Holy Helpers
- The Golden Legend: St. Fabian
- The Golden Legend: St. Sebastian
- St. Sebastian is one of the patrons of the Pontifical Swiss Guards
This is only the 5th year that the Church has celebrated Word of God Sunday on the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, established by Pope Francis in 2020. Pope Francis intended that “the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time is to be devoted to the celebration, study and dissemination of the Word of God.”
Since Sunday “overrides” or supersedes the Memorial of St. Agnes, I wonder when the Vatican is moving the Blessing of the Lambs whose wool will be used to weave the pallia worn by the new Archbishops.
- Aperuit illis—Instituting the Sunday of the Word of God
- Note on the Sunday of the Word of God
- Scott Hahn: A Sunday for Scripture
- Do Catholics Read the Bible?
The bishop’s conference in the United States declares January 22 as the day of prayer and fasting for the legal protection of unborn children. Although we did see one victory of the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, the United States is now facing a state by state battle over abortion laws, and last election had some disturbing referendums passed in some states.
The March for Life now is held the Friday before January 22, so it sometimes is confusing to remember which day is the prayer and fasting.
Because of the Day of Prayer for the Unborn Children, St. Vincent of Saragossa is moved to January 23rd in the United States. St. Vincent lived in Spain and suffered a horrible martyrdom under the Emperor Diocletian, the same as St. Sebastian. Here is another 3rd century saint.
There is also an option to celebrate St. Marianne Cope. In 1883, she went to the Hawaiian Islands to serve those suffering from leprosy in Hawaii, while working with St. Damien de Veuster. She died in 1918, living through so many historical events of the United States: the Civil War, the beginning of World War I. Hawaii only became a US territory since 1900, so she witnessed that transition, also.
January 24: St. Francis de Sales
St. Francis de Sales is considered one of the great spiritual directors. He was a Bishop, and helped form many souls. Although he lived from 1567-1622, so much of his spiritual advice found in his books are applicable to us today.
Audiobooks are such a handy tool to be able to listen when our hands can’t be free. James Majewski has been recording St. Francis’ spiritual classic, Introduction to the Devout Life. Scroll down to find the links to all the recordings.
January 25: Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, Apostle
This Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul ends the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, with no coincidence, as St. Paul’s work opened the door for everyone to be Christian.
Although often depicted in art as being thrown off his horse during his conversion, none of the retellings of the event talks about a horse. His story is mentioned three times in the Acts of the Apostles: 9:1-19; 22:1-21; and 26:12-20.
I shared some food ideas for the feast of the Conversation over at Catholic Cuisine.
January 26: Memorial of Sts. Timothy and Titus
Right after we celebrate St. Paul’s conversion, we honor two of his closest missionary companions, Timothy and Titus. We don’t know much about them except what is included in the New Testament.
St. Paul emphasized in his life the importance of working together in relationship and collaboration, mutually supporting each other with prayers and friendship. How beautifully he illustrated that we do not have to “suffer” alone in our spiritual journey.
January 27: Optional Memorial of St. Angela Merici
We celebrate one of our Catholic saint-educators at the end of January. There have been so many contributions by Catholics in the area of education. Respecting and honoring the dignity of all persons does mean we have to try to give them education.
I highlighted three Catholic educators in this previous post: January Ends with Three Italian Educators.
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