Sermon for Septuagesima Sunday – February 9, 2020 by Monsignor Patrick Perez
Msgr. Patrick Perez, February 9, 2020
You are always praying, I hope, for your priests to keep us safe. I just want you to know your prayers are paying dividends. I was on my way back from Northridge to say the 12:30 Mass and a wheel flew off of a truck and totaled my car. My air bags went off, it was very exciting. But because of your prayers I am absolutely positive that nothing happened to me. It’s a miracle because we actually had somebody in this congregation tell me that their friend was killed that same way and I’ve seen things about people being killed by that. So I want to thank you. Keep up the prayers. Maybe say a little prayer of thanksgiving in the meantime because it is very much appreciated. You know, I’d like to say my life flashed before my eyes but since I’m turning 60 this year it never finished. (Monsignor laughing) The wheel hit me and it stopped flashing right when I was around 12. So many, many thanks for that. I know it’s God who saved me. There is no other explanation. The air bags flew up in my face and all over the place and I kept going. There was no shoulder there. The car actually worked until I was able to find a shoulder and stop and the car stopped working. No idea what happened to the truck but we pray everybody was safe.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Father began the sermon by reciting the Hail Mary.
Today is Septuagesima Sunday – we are in violet now. It is also the feast of Saint Cyril so you could wish any Slavs you know happy feast day. It is also the feast day of St. Apollonia by the way, the patron saint of dentists. If you know any dentists you can call their service since its Sunday and wish them a happy feast day. If they ask if this is an emergency you can just say, no, just tell him when he/she comes in the office that it’s their feast day and I’m wishing them a happy feast day. Actually we could use a dentist or two in our congregation because as you know I have no dental insurance and it’s enormous. Up North I had Dr. Joe Cortese, fantastic traditional Catholic dentist. He has a big picture of St. Apollonia in his office. We have a psychiatrist so if I go crazy I’m covered. We have a surgeon so if I get cancer he’ll like cut out my colon or something; that’s okay too. But last year if you remember I had a bad tooth. It ended up costing like $2,000 and they ultimately pulled it. I went to my regular dentist – everything is out of pocket – and he goes well, yes, something needs to be done but I’m leaving on vacation tomorrow. So I couldn’t stand it anymore and went to another dentist and said, doctor, I’m paying out of pocket. And he said okay, fine, I can’t help you but I’ll send you to somebody else for $250. He sends me to somebody else who says you don’t need a root canal, you need to have it taken out — another $250. Then I go to the guy who pulls it out, $1,000. So it came to about $2,000. How many times can you do that? I mean my credit card has still got something on it from that. So……pray for more dentists in our congregation….
A couple of things I’d like to mention – I will be blessing the throats for St. Blaise after Mass so you know the routine. Just come up as you would for Holy Communion and kneel at the altar rail if you are able. If you’re not I’ll reach over and get you wherever you are or come to where you are. That’s going to take a lot of time so I just wanted to do kind of a quick sermon. I know this is Septuagesima Sunday. I was going to give this last week but something happened (!)
What I wanted to talk about you see, last week was the Feast of the Purification which is the official end of the Christmas cycle. That would be the days of the Church year that are influenced by the date of Christmas, December 25th. Now we go into Septuagesima which is the days of the year influenced by the date of Easter which is different. December 25th is always the same; that cycle is always the same. However, the Easter cycle is always different because Easter changes.
We have this very important cycle in the Church really beginning with the first Sunday in Advent determined by December 25th. And why do we celebrate Christmas on December 25th. This is a weird time to be talking about it but it’s a nice little short thing I can tell you and you’ll have a bit more education on the subject to walk away with because if you look on the internet, Was Jesus really born on December 25th?, well most of the commentaries are by the ignorant by definition Protestants who are saying, Oh, no, this was an invention of the Catholic Church; we have no idea. He was probably born in springtime, and all these kinds of things. Most of it is like that but there actually are reasons to believe that the Church has always been right by celebrating Christmas on December 25th. So I just wanted to give you a quickie about that.
Like I said, you see a lot of why it couldn’t have been December 25th, the Catholic Church made it up, the big bad evil Catholic Church that wasn’t started until the 4th Century and all this nonsense. So what is the story? Well, first I want to answer the naysayers who say that, Well, it can’t be December 25th, the Catholic Church just made that up.
(By the way, whoever gave me this history book I showed you earlier, it’s a generally okay history book but it buys into some of the Protestant nonsense about the date of Christmas by the way, just to let you know – it’s a defective book.)
Okay, so what are they saying? Well, first, they say that all the Catholic Church did was take a whoopee doo pagan celebration and substitute the birth of Christ for their pagan celebration because they were already used to giving presents to each other and everything on what they called Saturnalia. It was the party of their god Saturn. Now the problem with that is that the dates don’t match up. Saturnalia was celebrated between the 17th and the 22nd of December and it wouldn’t make any sense if we were going to substitute a holiday for their pagan holiday to substitute it on a different date, okay? So that’s the first objection.
The second objection is that it was chosen to replace the pagan holiday of Sol Invictus. Now Sol Invictus was celebrated for a time by the pagans on December 25th. What’s the problem with that? Well, there’s no record of it being celebrated on December 25th until the rule of the Caesar, Julian the Apostate. Now why is this significant? Because we have records of Christmas being celebrated December 25th that go well before Julian the Apostate. So it appears that Julian the Apostate chose December 25th because he was an apostate, he was called Julian the Apostate for a reason. It wasn’t his last name, like, Hello, Mr. Apostate! Although we have a lot of those around too. But he began to hate the Church; even though he had been baptized a Christian he hated God, he hated everything to do with Our Lord. So what he did was take the pagan feast and try to replace Christmas with it, not the other way around. That’s the second major objection.
The third objection was –- the Protestants are big on this one. It’s really ridiculous. They say, St. Luke in his gospel talks about the shepherds being in their fields with the sheep but it’s cold in the winter and they wouldn’t be out in the fields with their sheep. Well, we’re not talking about Norway where Our Lord was born. He was born in Bethlehem which is on a parallel latitude-wise with Northern Mexico/Southern Texas – and Rome also for example. Now to this day in December there are shepherds in the fields with their sheep. Sheep need tending in the winter or in the summer; it doesn’t matter; so that takes care of their third major stupid argument.
I just want to tell you quickly we decided it is December 25th. Okay, in a nutshell, the beginning of St. Luke’s gospel isn’t about Jesus exactly, although all the gospels are about Jesus, but it’s about St. John the Baptist, right? And it mentions his father, St. Zacharias, ministering in the temple doing a stint as priest. Now a lot of people who did stints as priests – not the high priest but as the other priests in the temple – and Luke mentions that St. Zachary was in the course of Abias. Now Aaron, Moses’ brother, had 24 grandchildren and from them came the lines of priests, Abias being one of them. There were so many grandchildren that when your course in the year came up you would take a two-week stint as being priest in the temple. It was kind of like being in the reserve for the Marines, you do a course, and then you go back to doing whatever you were doing, carpenter or whatever you did the rest of the time.
Anyway, it mentions that St. Zachary was in the course of Abias. Well, while he was doing his course during his two weeks the angel appeared to him and said that he and St. Elizabeth were going to have a baby, okay? All right, we had no idea for a while, I guess – without doing some research – when the course of Abias was so we couldn’t verify anything. However, documentation then came up that told us which priests were on duty in the temple in 70 AD when it was destroyed. Okay, you follow me now. It said it was the course of these people to do the priests of the temple in this month, on this day of 70 AD. We know the date, the day, the year of the destruction of the temple, and then from that document we know which priest course was on duty. Well, if you know that priest course, they all go in order so we can figure out when the course of Abias was during the year. So as it turned out, the course of Abias was in the eighth week and thirty-second week of the year. That would be from September 22nd to October 8th, in there, those two weeks. Now this means that after the angel told St. Zachary that he and Elizabeth were going to have a child, when he got off duty he wasted no time fulfilling the commandment of God, which means that John the Baptist would have been born around the last week of June.
Now when do we celebrate the feast of the birth of John the Baptist? June 24th. When St. Gabriel appeared to Our Lady she said, Yes, go see your cousin Elizabeth because she is already six months pregnant, remember? So they figured out the date of the Annunciation and he said she was six months pregnant so 6/24 plus 6 months is about December 25th. So we know from that that the Church has always been right in celebrating Christmas on December 25th. Add to that, think about it, we have documents from the popes and early Church documents specifying December 25th as the date of Christmas but also every woman who has had a child out there, I’m appealing to your witness here. Did you forget what day your kid was born? I know if you had like more than six you probably did and no longer know their birthdays or anything like that. But any woman who has had a child knows precisely. It’s kind of like what they used to say, where were you when Pearl Harbor happened (to the older people here who know what I’m talking about), or Kennedy was shot. Everybody knows that they were doing, all right? Well, any woman who has a child knows precisely what day that was and could probably tell you the weather on that day. So Our Lady for sure did not forget when her only child, conceived by the Holy Ghost and not through anybody else, was born. And she told the apostles. The apostles visited her; the ones who were left and not martyred yet went to see her frequently. St. John took her into his house. She told them, Yes, he was born on December 25th.
So I just wanted to leave you with that. I know it’s a little bit short but we do have the blessings of the throat after Mass. So when we celebrate these things we’re not making up dates! We are celebrating dates that have been celebrated that way from the beginning because those were the real dates. And the real date of Our Lord’s birth is December 25th.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
(And actually the Williams are here at Mass today, John and Inez. One of them celebrates their birthday on Christmas. Who’s birthday is on Christmas, is it you or John? Oh, so Inez’s birthday is Christmas and John’s is the Blessed Virgin’s birthday on September 8th. What kind of marriage made in heaven has that got to be.)