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Ordinary Time: January 18th

Friday of the First Week of Ordinary Time

Other Commemorations: St. Prisca, virgin and martyr (RM)

MASS READINGS

January 18, 2008 (Readings on USCCB website)

COLLECT PRAYER

Father of love, hear our prayers. Help us to know your will and to do it with courage and faith. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Before the reform of the Roman Calendar the feast of St. Peter's Chair at Rome and the commemoration of St. Prisca were celebrated today. The Feast of the Chair of St. Peter is now kept on February 22 and St. Prisca is no longer on the Universal Roman Calendar.

Regarding St. Prisca, the Martyrology reads: "In the city of Rome, the holy virgin and martyr Prisca; after many tortures she gained the crown of martyrdom under Emperor Claudius II (about 270)." Prisca should not be confused with Priscilla, the wife of Aquila, mentioned in the Acts, whose feast dates to the earliest days of Christianity.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, traditionally celebrated every year from January 18 to 25, is due to begin today. The theme for the 2007 initiative is: "He even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak."

"This year's Week of Prayer for Christian Unity," says a communique released by the pontifical council, "brings together two themes, two invitations extended to Christian Churches and people: to pray and strive together for Christian unity, and to join together in responding to human suffering. These two responsibilities are deeply intertwined. Both relate to healing the Body of Christ (the Church), hence the principal text chosen for this year's week of prayer is a story of healing."

Each day of the Week will have a different theme. Today's theme is: Pray always. "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5, 17)

Prayer
Lord of unity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we pray without ceasing that we may be one, as you are one. Father, hear us as we seek you. Christ, draw us to the unity which is your will for us. Spirit, may we never lose heart. Amen.

Vatican Resources


St. Prisca
Prisca, who is also known as Priscilla, was a child martyr of the early Roman Church. Born to Christian parents of a noble family, Prisca was raised during the reign of the Roman emperor Claudius. While Claudius did not persecute Christians with the same fervor as other Roman emperors, Christians still did not practice their faith openly. In fact, Prisca's parents went to great lengths to conceal their faith, and thus they were not suspected of being Christians.

Prisca, however, did not feel the need to take precaution. The young girl openly professed her dedication to Christ, and eventually, she was reported to the emperor. Claudius had her arrested, and commanded her to make a sacrifice to Apollo, the pagan god of the sun.

According to the legend, Prisca refused and was tortured for disobeying. Then, suddenly, a bright, yellow light shone about her, and she appeared to be a little star.

Claudius ordered that Prisca be taken away to prison, in the hopes that she would abandon Christ. When all efforts to change her mind were unsuccessful, she was taken to an amphitheatre and thrown in with a lion.

As the crowd watched, Prisca stood fearless. According to legend, the lion walked toward the barefoot girl, and then gently licked her feet. Disgusted by his thwarted efforts to dissuade Prisca, Claudius had her beheaded.

Seventh-century accounts of the grave sites of Roman martyrs refer to the discovery of an epitaph of a Roman Christian named Priscilla in a large catacomb and identifies her place of interment on the Via Salaria as the Catacomb of Priscilla.

—Excerpted from Ordinary People Extraordinary Lives.


The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Day 1, Raise us up and draw us to your perfect light.
“We observed his star in the East.” (Matthew 2:2)

Scripture

  • 2 Timothy 1:7-10, This grace... has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus.
  • John 16:7-14, When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.

Meditation
In this fragile and uncertain world, we look for a light, a ray of hope from afar. In the midst of evil, we long for goodness. Our confidence rests in the God we worship. God, in wisdom, enabled us to hope for divine intervention; but we had not anticipated that God’s intervention would be a person, and that the Lord himself would be the light in our midst. This exceeded all our expectations. God’s gift to us is a “spirit of power, and love.”

In the midst of humanity’s darkness, the star from the East shone. The star’s light was not only an illumination at a particular historical moment but it continues to shine and change the face of human history. Despite the vicissitudes of history and the changing of circumstances, the Risen One continues to shine, moving within the flow of history like a beacon guiding all into this perfect light and overcoming the darkness which separates us from one another.

The desire to overcome the darkness that separates us compels us to pray and work for Christian unity.

Prayer
Lord God, illumine our path by the light of Christ who moves us and leads us. Guide us to discover a small manger in our hearts where a great light still sleeps. Creator of light, we thank you for the gift of that unfading Star, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Heal our divisions and draw us closer to the Light that we may find our unity in him. Amen.