The Archdiocese of Birmingham - The Parish of the Immaculate Conception

Saints and Feast Days this week.

Beginning Sunday, 21st January 2018 ~ Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lectionary - Sundays Year B, Weekdays Year 2.




22nd January - Optional memorial of St. Vincent, Deacon, Martyr.

Born: unknown. Died: 304.

A deacon and proto-martyr of Spain Vincent was trained by Varerius, the Bishop of Saragossa and died in 304. There is no doubt of his martyrdom although there is speculation as to its manner. The earliest witness was Prudentius, while Ambrose said in a sermon that the veneration of Vincent as a saint extended all over the Roman Empire and wherever the name of Christ was known. According to a legend he was a victim of the persecution caused by the edicts of Diocletian and Maximinan. When threatened with torture, Vincent is reported to have responded; "I count myself blessed! The more you try to frighten me, the more you comfort me! So begin, your poor fool, do your worst, do whatever your evil nature bids you! You will see that with God's help I have more power to resist pain than you to inflict it!" He added; "It is not your tortures I fear; I dread only this show of pity! The more furious I see you, the greater is my joy. Do not hold back, I beg you! I want you to torture me as cruelly as you know how, them to admit that my victory is total and complete." Vincent was imprisoned and weakened by semi-starvation. When commanded to sacrifice he refused and was racked, roasted on a gridiron, thrown into prison and set in stocks. His imprisonment was accompanied by miraculous manifestations; "But at this moment the King for whose sake the soldier was suffering turned his agony into glory. For suddenly the darkness of the dungeon was dispelled by a brilliant light; Vincent's bed of torture became a bed of the sweetest smelling flowers; his fetters fell from his ankles; and holy angels were at his side offering him their comfort. When he walked on the bed of flowers and joined the singing of the angels, the sweetness of the melody and the wonderful fragrance of the flowers were wafted far and wide, and the guards, terrified by what the witnessed through chinks in the wall of Vincent's cell, were instantly converted to the faith." He died as a result of his sufferings. His body, after being exposed to be devoured by birds and beasts, was cast into the sea tied to a great millstone but was miraculously returned to the shore and was given a honourable burial.

His relics were claimed by Valencia, Saragossa, Lisbon, Paris and Le Mans. In England the veneration of Vincent is very ancient with mention in the Old English Maryrology and in plenty of pre-Conquest calendars. In Abingdon, which acquired Vincent's relics in the twelfth century through the efforts of Abbot Faricius, graded his feast very highly with its own octave. There are six ancient church dedications to him in England.

Almighty and ever-living God, grant that our hearts may possess that strong love by which your Martyr Vincent triumphed over all bodily torments

New Advent


24th January -Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, Bishop, Doctor of the Church.

Born:1567. Died:1622. Canonised:1665. Declared a Doctor of the Church: 1877.

Francis was born in 1567 at the Chateau de Sales in Savoy and his delicate nature as a child led to him being educated privately before completing his studies at the University of Paris where he studied rhetoric, philosophy and theology. In 1591 he became a Doctor of Law at Padua and although a brilliant marriage and worldly career beckoned he refused both fulfilling his wish to become a priest in 1593. He was soon distinguished for his service to the poor and skill as a preacher. The following year he undertook the dangerous task of converting the Chablis country from Calvinism where his life would be under constant threat from assassins and wolves. Through his simple preaching of Catholic doctrine with great love and understanding and with persistent patience and gentleness – the main characteristics throughout his life – he succeeded in his mission. In 1599, following a severe examination in theology at Rome in the presence of the Pope and cardinals Baronius, Bellarmine and others he was named coadjutor-bishop and in 1602 became Bishop of Geneva. He excelled in preaching, spiritual direction and catechizing as well as the administration of his diocese His most famous writings: Treatise on the Love of God and Introduction to the Devout Life belong to this period. To this period also belongs his friendship with Jane Frances de Chantal, whom he first knew as a widow and who, under his direction, founded the Order of the Visitation in 1610. He died at Lyons in 1622 and was canonised in 1665, declared a Doctor of the Church in 1877 and the patron of writers in 1923.

Almighty and ever-living God, graciously grant that by following the example of St. Francis de Sales, we may always display the gentleness of your charity in the service of our neighbour,

New Advent


25th January -Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul.

"It happened that while he was travelling to Damascus and approaching the city, suddenly a light from heaven shone all around him. He fell to the ground, and then he heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” “Who are you, Lord?” he asked, and the answer came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”The men travelling with Saul stood there speechless, for though they heard the voice they could see no one. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing at all, and they had to lead him into Damascus by the hand." Acts of the Apostles 9: 5-8

Paul would later recount his conversion to the Church in Jerusalem; "It happened that I was on that journey and nearly at Damascus when in the middle of the day a bright light from heaven suddenly shone around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" I answered, "Who are you, Lord?" and he said to me. I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting." The people with me saw the light but did not hear the voice which spoke to me. I said, "What am I to do, Lord?" The Lord answered, "Get up and go to Damascus, and there you will be told what you have been appointed to do." Since the light had been so dazzling that I was blind, I got to Damascus only because my companions led me by the hand. Someone called Ananias, a devout follower ofb the Law and highly thought of by all the Jews living there, came to see me; he stood beside me and said. "Brother Saul, receive your sight." Instantly my sight came back and I was able to see him." Acts of the Apostles 22: 6-13 see also Acts of the Apostles 26: 12-18.

In all the accounts of St. Paul's conversion we see the importance of the event, not purely in the conversion itself, but also in determining the personal qualities of his faith and his gospel; its focus on Jesus as the glorified Lord who has risen from His saving death and now who lives on in His Church. Paul's own commission was to preach Christ to the Gentiles with implications for the universal scope of the gospel which even Paul did not immediately see; the total salvation that Jesus brings and the importance of the Resurrection.

Paul's conversion experience is unique in recorded history, there is scarcely any parallel instance of such a sudden and personal reversal - that from the arch-persecutor of the Christian faith to one of its most vociferous and driven advocates. This has led some commentators to suggest a period of preparation before the conversion. Paul himself makes no mention of this, indeed the candour and keenness of Paul's insight makes it most unlikely that he should have been ignorant of such a transformation taking place or that he should have concealed it. Paul based his whole career on the fact that he had seen the real Jesus in the flesh, the risen and glorified Jesus. It was this experience that was the foundation of his claim that he was an apostle with the same rank and rights as the Twelve,

"Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? Even if to others I am not an apostle, to you at any rate I am, for you are my seal of my apostolate in the Lord. To those who want to interrogate me, this is my answer. Have we not every right to eat and drink? And every right to be accompanied by a Christian wife, like the other apostles, like the brothers of the Lord, and like Cephas? Are Barnabas and I the only ones who have no right to stop working? What soldier would ever serve in an army at his own expense? And who is there who would plant a vineyard and never eat the fruit from it; or would keep a flock and not feed on the milk from his flock? Do you not think that this is merely worldly wisdom."(1 Corinthians 9: 1-8)

Paul was already a religious man, an observant and believing Pharisee. However, from the moment of his conversion he was totally consumed by his faith in Jesus. In one aspect, he did differ from the Twelve. Whereas for the Twelve Christianity grew out of and was a form of Judaism, to Paul it was fundamentally different. Whereas the Jews believed that, the road to salvation lay in the careful observance of the Judaic Law and the no less careful of the performance of the Temple ritual, Paul believed what saved was faith. Jesus had changed the world. Before the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, all there was the observance of the Law - but since these events, the precepts of the Law were overridden by the need to simply but totally to believe. Jesus had revealed a new way to salvation, belief in Himself. Faith now saves and nothing else does. Paul's mission was to make everyone see this, Jew and Gentile alike.

Almighty and ever-living God, grant that through the example of the blessed Apostle Paul we may draw ever closer to you and so make us witnesses to your truth throughout the world.

New Advent


26th January - Memorial of St. Timothy and St.Titus, Apostles.

First century A.D.

Timothy, from the Greek "timotheos = honouring God", was born in Lystra, the son of a Gentile father and a Jewish Christian mother, Eunice. He is known to have studied Scripture as a young man and later became a companion and sometimes the representative of St. Paul, who took Timothy with him when he passed through Lystra on his Second Missionary Journey and remained at Berea with Silas when Paul was forced to leave suddenly (Acts of the Apostles 17: 14 and following). He rejoined Paul at Corinth where he appears to have remained during the period od Paul's preaching there. He was sent to Macedonia with Erastus before Paul's Third Missionary Journey. Timothy is mentioned in the initial salutations of the Pauline Letters to the Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians and Philemon and in the final salutation in Romans. He is known to have been sent to Thessalonica "When we could not bear it any longer, we decided it would be best to be left without a companion at Athens, and sent our brother Timothy, who is God's helper in spreading the gospel of Christ, to keep you firm and encourage you about your faith and prevent any of you from being unsettled by the present hardships." (1 Thessalonians 3: 1-3). There is a mention in the Letter to the Hebrews to Timothy being released which seems to indicate imprisonment of some kind. According to Eusebius he became the first Bishop of Ephesus. Paul’s letters to Timothy direct him to correct innovators and teachers of false doctrines and to appoint further bishops and deacons. According to the Acts of Timothy he met his death at the hands of pagans when he opposed their festivals – probably in honour of Dionysus – and was stoned a clubbed to death. His supposed relics were translated to Constantinople in 356 where cures at his shrine were mentioned by St. Jerome and St. John Chrysostom.

Titus was of Gentile birth from Antioch and became Paul’s companion and secretary - Paul refers to Titus as a "partner and fellow-worker in your interests" in his Second Letter to the Corinthians (8: 23). He took part in the Council of Jerusalem in 48 AD at which the admissibility of uncircumcised non-Jews to the Christian community was debated. Paul's refusal to circumcise Titus made Titus a symbol of Paul's determination to extend the Christian faith to the Gentile as well as the Jewish world. He is known to have travelled to Corinth on a difficult mission. Later he was left by Paul to organise the church in Crete and was later sent to Dalmatia. According to Paul's Letter to Titus, he had been left being in Crete ". . . to organise everything that still had to be done and to appoint elders in every town." (1: 5) and where he died and is venerated as its first Bishop. His body was buried at Grortyna, until his head was taken to Venice in 823.

Almighty and ever-living God, grant that through the intercession of St. Timothy and St Titus, we may live justly in this present age and that we may merit to reach our heavenly homeland.

Wikipedia - Timothy
Wikipedia - Titus

27th January - Optional memorial of St. Angela Merici, Virgin.

The foundress of the Ursuline nuns, Angela was born in 1474 at Desenzo near Lake Garda. She was orphaned at an early age and became a Franciscan tertiary devoting herself, with several companions to the education of poor girls. In 1535 they dedicated themselves to work under the patronage of St. Ursula but took no vows and wore lay clothes. Each member remained with her family evangelizing their relatives, acquaintances and neighbours whilst living a life of prescribed virginity, poverty and obedience. The formal recognition as a Congregation by the Church authorities only came in 1565 – fifteen years after Angela’s death. Up to that point they had not been prepared to approve Angela’s novel concept of unenclosed and mobile sisters. The Congregation is still in existence and has been described as the oldest and most considerable teaching order of women in the Catholic Church. Angela was canonised in 1807.

Almighty God, may the Virgin, Saint Angela never fail to commend us to your compassion O Lord and that, following the lessons of her charity and prudence, we may hold fast to your teaching and that it may find expression in all that we do.