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Lent: February 16th

Friday after Ash Wednesday

Other Commemorations: St. Juliana, Virgin and Martyr (RM)

MASS READINGS

February 16, 2024 (Readings on USCCB website)

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COLLECT PRAYER

Friday after Ash Wednesday: Show gracious favor, O Lord, we pray, to the works of penance we have begun, that we may have strength to accomplish with sincerity the bodily observances we undertake. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.

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The first four Masses in Lent serve as a general introduction to Lent. They describe the essentials of a Lenten program. This Mass is concerned with fasting and teaches us what true fasting is. The Opening Prayer of today's Mass asks God to guide the Lenten penance we have begun.

Today the Roman Martyrology commemorates St. Juliana, Virgin and Martyr (c. 305). St. Juliana was a Christian virgin of Cumae, Italy, martyred for the faith when she refused to marry a Roman prefect. She suffered terrible ordeals and was finally beheaded. One tradition reports that Juliana actually suffered martyrdom at Nicomedia and that her relics were transferred to Cumae.

Today's Station Church >>>


Meditation—The Tree of Knowledge and the Cross
The sin that was wrought through the tree was undone by the obedience of the tree, obedience to God whereby the Son of man was nailed to the tree, destroying the knowledge of evil, and bringing in and conferring the knowledge of good; and evil is disobedience to God, as obedience to God is good. And therefore the Word says through Isaiah the prophet, foretelling what was to come to pass in the future—for it was because they told the future that they were "prophets"—the Word says through him as follows: I refuse not, and do not gainsay, my back have I delivered to blows and my cheeks to buffets, and I have not turned away my face from the contumely of them that spat. [Is. 50, 6] So by obedience, whereby He obeyed unto death, hanging on the tree, He undid the old disobedience wrought in the tree. And because He is Himself the Word of God Almighty, who in His invisible form pervades us universally in the whole world, and encompasses both its length and breadth and height and depth—for by God's Word everything is disposed and administered—the Son of God was also crucified in these, imprinted in the form of a cross on the universe; for He had necessarily, in becoming visible, to bring to light the universality of His cross, in order to show openly through His visible form that activity of His: that it is He who makes bright the height, that is, what is in heaven, and holds the deep, which is in the bowels of the earth, and stretches forth and extends the length from East to West, navigating also the Northern parts and the breadth of the South, and calling in all the dispersed from all sides to the knowledge of the Father.
St. Irenaeus

Highlights and Things to Do:

  • Today's reading from the book of Isaiah declares that the fasting desired by the Lord is not so much denying oneself food (although this is important) but rather, consists in "Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; / Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own." Many families take these words to heart by having an inexpensive, penitential dinner on Fridays in Lent (such as beans and rice) and then giving the extra money to the poor.
  • Many families give each child one pretzel during Friday dinners in Lent. Remind your children of the spiritual significance of the pretzel.
  • Pray the Stations of the Cross today with your family. An excellent version with beautiful meditations composed by our Holy Father is his Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum. Some other recommended versions are: Eucharistic Stations of the Cross, and the more traditional Stations of the Cross written by Saint Alphonsus Liguori can be found in most Catholic bookstores. Here are some guidelines for praying the Stations of the Cross in your home.
  • Any of the linked activities (Fun Pretzel Project, Lenten Scrapbook, Candelabrum for Stations of the Cross) are a wonderful way for your children to spend their Friday afternoons throughout this season of Lent.


St. Juliana of Nicodemia
St. Juliana suffered martyrdom during the Diocletian persecution. Both the Latin and Greek Churches mention a holy martyr Juliana in their lists of saints. The oldest historical notice of her is found in the "Martryologium Hieronymianum" for 16 February, the place of birth being given as Cumae in Campania (In Campania Cumbas, natale Julianae). It is true that the notice is contained only in the one chief manuscript of the above-named martyrology (the Codex Epternacensis), but that this notice is certainly authentic is clear from a letter of St. Gregory the Great, which testifies to the special veneration of St. Juliana in the neighbourhood of Naples. A pious matron named Januaria built a church on one of her estates, for the consecration of which she desired relics (sanctuaria, that is to say, objects which had been brought into contact with the graves) of Sts. Severinus and Juliana. Gregory wrote to Fortunatus, Bishop of Naples, telling him to accede to the wishes of Januaria (Gregorii Magni epist., lib. IX, ep. xxxv, in Migne P.L., LXXXVII, 1015).

The Acts of St. Juliana used by Bede in his Martyrologium are purely legendary. According to the account given in this legend, St. Juliana lived in Nicomedia and was betrothed to the Senator Eleusius. Her father Africanus was a pagan and hostile to the Christians. In the persecution of Maximianus, Juliana was beheaded after suffering frightful torturers. Soon after a noble lady, named Sephonia, came through Nicomedia and took the saint's body with her to Italy, and had it buried in Campania. Evidently it was this alleged translation that caused the martyred Juliana, honoured in Nicomedia, to be identified with St. Juliana of Cumae, although they are quite distinct persons. The veneration of St. Juliana of Cumae became very widespread, especially in the Netherlands. At the beginning of the thirteenth century her remains were transferred to Naples. The description of this translation by a contemporary writer is still extant. The feast of the saint is celebrated in the Latin Church on 16 February, in the Greek on 21 December. Her Acts describe the conflicts which she is said to have with the devil; she is represented in pictures with a winged devil whom she leads by a chain.
—Excerpted from The Catholic Encyclopedia

Patronage: against bodily ills; sick people; against sickness;

Symbols and Representation: young woman battling a winged devil; young woman being boiled; young woman chaining up a dragon; young woman chaining up and/or scourging the Devil; young woman in a cauldron; young woman leading a chained devil; young woman standing or sitting on a dragon; young woman wearing a crown on her head and a cross on her breast; naked young woman hanging by her hair

Highlights and Things to Do:


Friday after Ash Wednesday
Station with Santi Giovanni e Paolo (Saints John and Paul)

Today's Station on the Coelian Hill was named after two brothers who were officers in the Roman Imperial court. Because they refused to renounce Christ, they were beheaded on June 26, 362. The basilica is where the Christian Senator Pammachius built over their home of the martyrs Sts. John and Paul. Near the church was a hospice where Pammachius dispensed his fortune in charity to the poor.

For more on Santi Giovanni e Paolo, see:

For further information on the Station Churches, see The Stational Church.