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Weekly Bulletin January 15, 2023
by Terrie Evans
On this 3rd Sunday of January and the 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, we have the annual World Religion Sunday to celebrate people of all faiths as they join together to introduce the similarities and differences of each other’s religion. At present, there are close to 4,200 religions throughout the world with Christianity now 2,000 years old, being the most prominent religion in the world with Islam, number 2. The oldest religions in the world are Hinduism and Judaism. The first World Religion Sunday was held in 1950 to maintain harmony between religions and cultures. This event began to spread across the United States and is now promoted in over 80 countries around the globe. Over the years, as a way to call attention for this annual day, Sri Lanka as well as the Republic of Congo have issued postage stamps with the World Religion Logo. Some past themes were “Many Faiths One Family” and “The Power of Love” to promote the day among faith-based communities. There will be religious services and events to unite people of all faiths.
On Monday, January 16th of every year, the President of the United States will declare with a formal proclamation, Religious Freedom Day. The President calls on all Americans to “Observe the day through appropriate events and activities in homes, schools, and places of worship”. National Religious Freedom Day commemorates the Virginia General Assembly’s adoption of Thomas Jefferson’s landmark Virginia Statue for Religious Freedom that was enacted on January 16, 1786, 237 years ago. This Statue established the clause for the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that led to the freedom of religion for all Americans. There has been an official proclamation on this day by every President of the United States since 1993.
On Tuesday, we honor the feast day of St. Anthony, Abbot (251-356) who was born in Egypt. He became a Hermit after the death of his parents selling his worldly possessions to aid the poor. He was known for defending persecuted Christians in Alexandria and founding Monasteries for the many disciples who followed him.
On Friday, January 20th we honor the Feast day of St. Sebastian, a Roman Soldier, born in Milan, Italy who died in 288. He was known for his physical strength and endurance and is considered the Patron Saint of Athletes. St. Sebastian was linked to the plague and the many who were stricken and sought his intercession with prayers. There were many documented cures attributed to him with St. Sebastian easily Canonized by popular acclaim. Also on Friday, January 20th we celebrate the Feast Day of Pope and Martyr, St. Fabian. In the history of the Catholic Church, the elected Pope is regarded as a successor of St. Peter who was head of the Apostles with St. Fabian being very popular and considered a great Pope of the early Church. He became the Bishop of Rome in 236 and during his 14-year reign was credited with dividing Rome into 7 Districts with 7 Deacons and establishing Churches throughout France. St. Fabian died in 250.
On Saturday, January 21st we celebrate the Feast of St. Agnes who in her early life in the 4th Century stated “Christ is my bridegroom “ He was the first to choose me. I shall be His alone.” She was martyred for her faith, died at an early age and was buried at Via Nomentana near Rome. A few years after her death the Church of Sant Agnese Fuori le Mura was erected over her grave and although modified, still stands. She is the Patron Saint of young girls and girl scouts with a romantic, poem by John Keats, The Eve of Saint Agnes honoring her. It was written about the tale of a young unmarried girl seeing her future husband while she sleeps if she follows certain rites. Keats based his poem on the belief that a girl could see her future husband in a dream if she went to bed without supper, after transferring pins from a pin cushion to a sleeve while reciting the Lord’s Prayer.
On her feast day in Italy, there is a tradition that dates to the 16th Century. Two lambs will be brought from the Trappist Abbey in Rome to the Vatican for a special blessing by the Pope. The lambs will then be shorn in the summer with the wool used to weave the Pallium, a circular band of white wool with two hanging pieces and decorated with 6 black crosses. The Pallium will be given to the newly appointed Metropolitan Archbishops to wear over their shoulders and by the Pope on the Feast of St. Peter and Paul and at Pontifical Liturgies. The Congregation of the Sisters of St. Agnes, a religious community for women was founded in 1858, by Father Caspar Rehrl in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin and a city in California, Santa Ynez is named after St. Agnes.