I Do Not Recommend the Fish.
The Fourth Saturday of Ordinary Time; the Memorial of Saint Blaise, Bishop & Martyr; the Memorial of Saint Ansgar, Bishop; or, the Saturday Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary.*
Lessons from the secondary feria, according to the ordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• II Samuel 24: 2, 9-17.
• Psalm 32: 1-2, 5-7.
• Mark 6: 1-6.
When a Mass for St. Blaise is taken, lessons from the proper:
• Romans 5: 1-5.
• Psalm 117: 1-2.
• Mark 16: 15-20
…or, any lessons from the common of Martyrs for One Martyr, of the common of Pastors for a Bishop.
When a Mass for St. Ansgar is taken, lessons from the proper:
• Isaiah 52: 7-10.
• Psalm 96: 1-3, 7-8, 10.
• Mark 1: 14-20.
…or, any lessons from the common of Pastors, either for a Bishop or for Missionaries.
When a Mass for the Mother of God is taken, any lessons from the common of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Septuagesima Saturday; and, the Commemoration of Saint Blaise, Bishop & Martyr.**
Lessons from the dominica,*** according to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• I Corinthians 9: 24-27; 10: 1-5.
• [Gradual] Psalm 9: 10-11, 19-20.
• [Tract] Psalm 129: 1-4.
• Matthew 20: 1-16.
8:12 AM 2/3/2018 — Today’s Gospel lesson, although different from tomorrow’s, touches on the same theme. Our Lord’s Apostles have just returned from the mission on which He sent them in our lesson the other day, and He calls them away to rest and pray. Of course, they don’t escape for long, as news of their location leaks out, and our Lord is compelled to preach once again because, as Saint Mark tells us, they were like sheep without a shepherd. And don’t we often feel this way ourselves? We are so busy doing many things for our Lord—caring for our families, working to support them, tidying up after their mistakes, caring for them in their illnesses—and when we finally find time to ourselves to spend with our Lord, something else comes along that pulls us away and into activity again. I’ll save the rest of that reflection for tomorrow.
But, at least today, being that it’s the First Saturday of the Month, we can at least have this time with our Blessed Lord, as we’ll expose the Blessed Sacrament at the conclusion of Holy Mass, pray together the Litany of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, enjoy another opportunity to go to confession, then have Benediction at 1:30.
But, happily, we also observe today the Memorial of the bishop and martyr Blaise, who is believed to have been a very faithful shepherd, though we really know absolutely nothing about him for certain. What we think we know about him comes from a book called The Acts of Saint Blaise, written in Greek some four or five hundred years after the date it gives for him, which is sometime in the 5th or 6th centuries. It tells us that he was a physician who became a priest and later bishop of Sebaste who was known for his sound teaching and for performing many miraculous cures, and who was martyred during the persecution of Emperor Licinius. The blessing of throats we do on this day stems from a legend1—and it's only a legend—about how, while Blaise was being taken into custody, a distraught mother, whose only child was choking on a fish-bone, threw herself at his feet and implored his intercession. Touched by her grief, he offered up his prayers, and the child was cured. Consequently, Saint Blaise is invoked for protection against injuries and illnesses of the throat. We will invoke his intercession for that intention in just a moment, when you can come forward and receive the traditional blessing.
But what I really want you to reflect on today—aside from being careful when ordering the fish—is the example our Blessed Lord at least tries to give to his Apostles. He did a lot of good for a lot of people as these lessons leading us closer to Lent illustrate, but he always took time to pray; and, sometimes I don't wonder, whenever I read that passage from Luke wherein our Lord's visit to Martha and Mary is described, Jesus, in His Human Heart, looking back to these first months of his public life, had just a tinge of envy when He spoke those words to Martha: “Martha, Martha, how many cares and troubles thou hast! But only one thing is necessary; and Mary has chosen for herself the best part of all, that which shall never be taken away from her” (Luke 10: 41-42 Knox).
* Born in France, Ansgar (801-865) became known as the "Apostle of the North" for his great evangelical work in Denmark and Sweden. He was the first Archbishop of Hamburg and then of Bremen, and Pope Gregory IV appointed him as his delegate to Denmark and Sweden. In replay to those who questioned some miracles attributed to him, he said, "Were God to choose me to do such things, I would ask Him for one miracle only: that by His power He would make me a good man."
** During the Septuagesima Season, a Mass for the commemoration is not permitted, but is made by an additional Collect, Secret and Postcommunion added to those of the feria.
*** In the extraordinary form, on ferias outside privileged seasons, the lessons come from the previous Sunday.
† Vollet, E. H., Grande Encyclopédie s.v. Blaise; published in Bibliotheca Hagiographica Graeca "Auctarium", 1969, 278, col. 665b.