Read the daily quote from Pope Francis

Saturday August 5 - Week 17

Today we move from the Book of Exodus to the Book of Levitcus which chronicles the feasts and constructs of the laws born from adhearance to the 10 Commandments God gave to His people through Moses. The feasts of Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah were created to allow the people a focused time of repentence collectively and individually for sins against God.  The Jubilee Year was also established.

In the Gospel we see how far the sin of Pride can overtake a person's compassion and humanity.  On the whim of his step daughter, King Herod orders John the Baptist's head on a platter. 

Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome

Today we celebrate the dedication of one of the great basilicas in Rome. It was built in the fourth century under the direction of Pope Liberius. A quaint story tells of Mary herself choosing the spot where the church was to be built. She appeared to the married couple who owned the land, and also to the pope, telling them each separately that the place on the hill covered with snow was the site she had picked. The following morning on August 5, an oppressively hot time of year in Rome, there was a covering of snow on the Esquiline Hill. The married couple was honored to donate their land and the money necessary to build the church as a gift to Mary.

At first the church was called the Liberian Basilica, after the pope who had it built. It was also called St. Mary of the Snow because of the remarkable way that Mary pointed out the spot for its construction. It was later dedicated to the Virgin Mary by Pope Sixtus III, after the Council of Ephesus declared that Mary is the Mother of God. It stands as a beautiful reminder of the love and honor that the Church has for the Mother of the Lord. The name “Major” was given because it is the first church in the West to honor Mary.

Within the Basilica of St. Mary Major is the manger from Bethlehem where Mary cradled the infant Jesus. This is exposed for veneration on Christmas Day, with a silver replica of the Christ Child lying in it.

The Catholic Church honors the Mother of God with special shrines and churches that Christians can visit as a way of showing their love for Mary and of asking for graces. Making a pilgrimage to one of these, if possible, is a wonderful faith experience




Fr O'Neill's Daily Mass Reflections

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