The Archdiocese of Birmingham - The Parish of the Immaculate Conception

Saints and Feast Days this week.

Beginning Sunday, 21st May 2017 ~ Sixth Sunday of Easter

Lectionary - Sundays Year A, Weekdays Year 1




22th May - Optional memorial of St. Rita of Cascia, Religious.

An Augustinian nun, Rita was born in 1377 at Roccaporena in Umbria and from her childhood wished to become a nun. However, in deference to her parents’ wishes, she married. Sadly the marriage was not a happy one. Her husband became notoriously violent and unfaithful. They remained married for eighteen years during which time she bore two sons. Her husband was murdered as the result of a vendetta and in c. 1407 Rita fulfilled her ambition and became a nun at S. Maria Maddalena at Cascia. She undertook a regime constant prayer and mortification that was accompanied by meditation on the Passion of Christ. This was so intense that a wound appeared on her forehead as though she had been pierced by a crown of thorns. This wound would not heal for fifteen years. Rita died in 1447 and such was her reputation for holiness and miracles that it led to her incorrupt body being transferred to the elaborate tomb where it rests today. Also contained in the tomb is the local bishop’s approbation of her cult in 1457. Rita was beatified in 1626 by Pope Urban VIII and canonized in 1900 by Pope Leo XIII.

New Advent


25th May ~ Memorial of St. Bede the Venerable, Priest, Doctor of the Church.

Born: 673. Died: 735.

ede was born in 673 near Sunderland and was educated from the age of seven, first by Benedict Biscop at Wearmouth and then by Ceolfirth at Jarrow where he was a monk for the rest of his life. That life was externally uneventful. He apparently travelled little, probably never outside Northumbria. He was ordained to the priesthood in c. 703 and devoted his life to the study of Scripture “amid the observance of monastic discipline and the daily charge of singing in church” but, as he himself related, his “special delight was always to learn, to teach, and to write”. His impressive range of writings included works on orthography, metre, computistics and chronology as well as the lives of the saints. In his own view his twenty-five works of Scripture commentary were his most important but he is best remembered for his “Ecclesiastical History of the English People” finished in 731. He died in 735. Knowing that he was soon to die he pressed on with his translation into Old English of the Gospel of St. John dictating the last sentence to the boy who was his scribe. He also sung antiphons from the Divine Office, especially that from Ascension Day, as well as a vernacular poem about death. He is reported to died singing “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost”.

Lord, you gave us Saint Bede as a model of scholarship and learning. May his thirst for knowledge be reflected in our thirst for knowledge of you.

New Advent


26th May ~ Memorial of St. Philip Neri, Priest.

Born: 1515. Died: 1595.

The founder of the Congregation of the Oratory, Philip was born in 1515 the son of a Florentine notary. Educated by the Dominicans at the convent of S. Marco in Florence he experienced a deep religious conversion he went to Rome without plane or money living the life of a hermit in an attic in extreme poverty. During this time he studied philosophy and theology and turned to the apostolate talking to young Florentines employed in the banks and shops. In 1544 he experienced a vision that a globe of fire entered his mouth and dilated his heart – this experience left permanent physical effects that were verified after his death. In 1548 he founded a congregation to look after the pilgrims that came to Rome and three years later, in 1551, he was ordained to the priesthood. At one stage, inspired by the achievements of St. Francis Xavier, he wanted to become a missionary abroad but was informed by a Cistercian that Rome was to be his Indies – as a result he is often known as the Apostle of Rome. From this apostolate developed the Congregation of the Oratory, so called because Philip and his five priest-disciples used to use an oratory built above the nave of S. Giordano to which they would call the faithful by ringing a small bell. The Congregation was formally approved in 1575 and the pope gave them the small and dilapidated church of S. Maria in Vallicella which Philip, without any funds, decided to pull down and to build a larger church on the site. Paid for by donations from both rich and poor the Chiesa Nuova was occupied by the Oratorians in 1577. Philip died in 1595 and was formally canonised in 1622 although he had been regarded as a saint during his lifetime often experiencing ecstasy during prayer or the celebration of Mass.

Lord, in Saint Philip Neri we see a true devotion to you concealed within the Blessed Sacrament, Kindle in us the devotion that he had for that which we can only see through the eyes of faith.

New Advent


27th May ~ Feast of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop, Apostle of the English

Born: unknown. Died: 604.

An Italian by birth, a pupil of Felix, bishop of Messana and companion of Gregory, Augustine became a monk and later prior of the monastery of St. Andrew on the Celian Hill in Rome. In 596 he was chosen by Pope Gregory to head a mission of thirty monks to evangelize the Anglo-Saxons in England. In Gaul they wished to turn back but Gregory gave them fresh encouragement, redefined Augustine’s authority more clearly and had him consecrated bishop. The party landed at Ebbsfleet in Kent in 597 and were received cautiously by Ethelbert, the king of Kent, whose wife Bertha was already a Christian. Nevertheless gave them a house in Canterbury and allowed them to preach, but required time to consider their message before committing himself to becoming a Christian. By 601 Ethelbert and many of his people were baptised and more clergy were sent from Rome with relics, altar vessels and books, one of which, a sixth century uncial manuscript called the Gospels of St. .Augustine is now at Corpus Christi College in Cambridge and is used at the enthronement of Archbishops of Canterbury. Augustine built his first cathedral at Canterbury as well as founding a monastery just outside the walls. Working with Ethelbert he drew up the earliest Anglo-Saxon laws to survive and during his lifetime he had the reputation of being a miracle worker. Augustine died in 604.

Lord, the preaching of Saint Augustine of Canterbury brought the people of England to the Gospel. May we follow his example and share his missionary zeal in proclaiming your truth in our present day.

New Advent


Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord.

Now having met together, they asked him, "Lord, has the time come? Are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" He replied, "It is not for you to know times or dates that the Father has decided by his own authority, but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and then you will be my witnesses not only in Jerusalem but throughout Judea and Samaria, and indeed to the ends of the earth."

As he said this he was lifted up while they looked on, and a cloud took him from their sight. They were still staring into the sky when suddenly two men in white were standing near then and they said, "Why are you men from Galilee standing here looking into the sky? Jesus who has been taken from you into heaven, this same Jesus will come back in the same way as you saw him go there."

Before the most recent changes to the liturgical calendar the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord used to be celebrated forty days after Easter Sunday (always on a Thursday) to mark the length of time that Jesus remained with His disciples and Our Lady before returning to His Father in heaven and was a Holy Day of Obligation when Catholics were called upon to go to Mass.  Following the changes this feast is now celebrated in place of the Seventh Sunday of Easter.

The feast marks the end of Jesus’ earthly mission – yet he is with us until the end of time. He ascends to the Father where He intercedes for us. He goes with the promise that He will certainly come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. This is a celebration of Jesus’ eternal Kingship. These are reflected in the Entrance Antiphon “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking in the sky? The Lord will return, just as you have seen him ascend, alleluia” (Acts 1: 11) and in the Communion Antiphon “I, the Lord, am with you always, until the end of the world, alleluia” (Matthew 28: 20).

The Opening Prayer expresses that in the Ascension of Jesus is the glory and hope that we may follow Him into the new creation – a theme developed in the Prayer over the Gifts. The readings of the Mass actually contain two accounts of the Ascension. The first reading is always that at the beginning of the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles while the Gospel is the same story as told by St. Matthew, St. Mark or St. Luke depending on which year of the lectionary is being read.

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