So Long, for Now.
In the United States:
The Sixth Day after the Octave of the Nativity; or, the Memorial of Saint Raymond of Penyafort, Priest.*
Lessons from the feria, according to the ordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• I John 5: 14-21.
• Psalm 149: 1-6, 9.
• John 2: 1-11.
If a Mass for the memorial is taken, lessons from the feria as above, or from the proper:
• II Corinthians 5: 14-20.
• Psalm 103: 2-4, 8-9, 13-14, 17-18.
• Luke 12: 35-40.
…or, any lessons from the common of Pastors for One Pastor.
Outside the United States:
The Saturday after the Epiphany; or, the Memorial of Saint Raymond of Penyafort, Priest.
Everything as above, except the lessons from the feria which are as follows:
• I John 3: 22—4: 6.
• Psalm 2: 7-8, 10-12.
• Matthew 4: 12-17, 23-25.
The First Saturday after the Epiphany; and, the Fourth Class Feria of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday.
Lessons from the feria, according to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• Titus 3: 4-7.
• Psalm 44: 3, 2.
• Luke 2: 15-20.
The Saturday after Theophany; and, the Simple Holy Day of the Synaxsis of the Holy Forerunner and Baptist, John.
First & third lessons from the pentecostarion, second & fourth from the menaion, according to the Ruthenian recension of the Byzantine Rite:
• Ephesians 6: 10-17.
• Acts 19: 1-8.
• Matthew 4: 1-11.
• John 1: 29-34.
9:44 AM 1/7/2017 — This is, of course, First Saturday, and we will, as usual, expose the Blessed Sacrament after the Postcommunion prayer. And, as we did yesterday on First Friday, with reckless abandon we will again throw caution to the wind and violate all known liturgical law by praying together another litany approved only for private devotion, as I’m not that much of a legalist, and pray together the “Litany of the Life of Mary,” which I’m almost sure you’ve never heard before. The rest of today’s Holy Hour will be yours to converse with our Blessed Lord, or make use of the confessional, or both, with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at one-thirty. And if you want to write to Bishop Checchio to report me for using a Litany not approved for public recitation, please feel free, as I would be more than happy to be defrocked and retire to Boca Raton, where I hope to be, incidentally, at some point next month, as I will be separated from you for a month after Monday, with visiting priests filling in for me.
The powers that be, I know, would prefer that every First Saturday be focused on that extremely important devotion requested of us by the Mother of God at Fatima, and they are not wrong; but, as you know, my passion is for history and Scripture, and I cannot bring myself to ignore what the Roman Missal indicates, and the lessons from Holy Scripture that it presents to us on this day. And understanding those lessons requires a little bit of a history lesson.
Tomorrow, as you know, we will observe the Great Feast of the Epiphany, but that’s only in the United States and Canada. In the rest of the Catholic world, Epiphany was observed yesterday on January the 6th, it’s traditional date. Prior to Vatican II—and even today in churches and shrines where the Mass is offered in the extraordinary form—the Feast of the Epiphany commemorates three events in the life of our Blessed Lord: His manifestation to the gentiles in the visit of the Magi, His manifestation as the co-eternal Son of God in His baptism by John, and His manifestation as God Incarnate in the miracle at the wedding at Cana—which you will notice is the Gospel lesson for today’s Mass in the ordinary form. If you visit my web site, you’ll see at the top of the first page a woodcut print serving as the top image for that page, taken from an edition of the Missal of St. John XXIII, displaying all three events together.
In the ordinary form, with which we worship here, the Epiphany commemorates only the visit of the Magi, with His baptism commemorated on the following Sunday (or, as in the case this year, this coming Monday, since there is no available Sunday), which is the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, after which the season of Ordinary Time begins. Today’s Gospel lesson, the Wedding at Cana, is read only when January 7th falls before the Epiphany; otherwise, it is not commemorated until the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, and then only on every third year, when the lessons of the tertiary dominica are read.
In the Byzantine Rite, the Solemn Holy Day of the Theophany, always celebrated on January 6th, commemorates only the Baptism of the Lord, and thus corresponds to the feast of that name in the Roman Rite rather than to the Epiphany, with there being no specific commemoration of the visit of the Magi apart from Christmas Day. The Wedding at Cana is not commemorated in this season at all, but first appears in the Divine Liturgy for the Second Monday of Easter.
Still awake? I hope so, because there will be a quiz later. The bottom line is that the Wedding at Cana is, and always has been, an integral part of the Church’s observance of the Epiphany; and, even though the bishops of our country have decided that the feast should be transferred to the nearest Sunday on the theory that American Catholics will turn into pumpkins if required to attend Mass twice in one week, we need to understand the ramifications of this Gospel event.
And our first reaction, I think, is to be uncomfortable with our Blessed Lord’s remonstrance of His Mother: “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come” (John 2: 4 NABRE). Our Lord is clearly annoyed with His Mother; and who among us doesn’t know what that feels like? My mother is in a nursing home in another state. Thankfully, my younger sister, who lives nearby, takes care of things so that I and my older sister, who lives in Colorado with her husband, doesn’t have to. But, it seems, that our Blessed Lord is a “Mama’s Boy,” because He does do what our Blessed Mother wants, and saves the day by making sure that the bride and groom have plenty of wine on hand to keep their guests drunk and happy.
What’s the moral of the story? Darned if I know. But this I do know: that when push comes to shove, the Mother of God is the one person to whom we can always turn when things aren’t going all that well, and we need a little help.
Because the weekday crowd here at our Shrine is different form the Sunday crowd, I’ll say “so long” to all of you today. By the grace of God, I’ll be back with you in February.
* Born in Barcelona, St. Raymond (1175-1275) was the third superior general of the Dominican Order, and was famous for his efforts to abolish slavery. He wrote five books of "Decretals," which constitute a valuable contribution to the development of canon law. The Summa de Casibus Penitentiæ, which is about the correct administration of the Sacrament of Penance, would probably be regarded as heretical and rigid by Pope Francis, but not by Pope St. John Paul II, who cited it several times.