September 23, 2015
Tomorrow we celebrate the feast of saints Cosmas and Damian. They are well known to us by name at least as they are the last pair of saints mentioned in the opening part of the Roman Canon. Although we know little of them for certain from history we are quite confident that two martyrs with these names suffered in modern day Syria sometime in the second or third century.
They are invoked as the patron saints of doctors as the holy legends which speak of them identify Cosmas and Damian as two brother who practised medicine free of charge for the poor. Various doctors’ guilds right up to the present day have them as their patrons. There are three churches dedicated to them in the British Isles.
Tomorrow might be a time to think and pray for the sick. These saints show us how both spiritual and physical care should be sought when we fall ill. We are not to pretend that we have no need of doctors. But equally we are to remember that prayer and intercession have an important part to play.
We live in a society which tries to marginalise the sick. The church has an important role in preventing that. May Cosmas and Damian pray for us all.
September 3, 2015
On Tuesday we celebrate the Birthday of Our Blessed Lady. We believe that she was immaculately conceived by two human parents, Joachim and Ann. From the first moment of her existence no stain of sin touched her.(Non-Catholics sometimes confuse this with the doctrine of the Virgin Birth which refers to Our Lord who was Son of God and Son of Mary). The feast on Tuesday gives us time to contemplate Our Lady’s upbringing.
As a devout Jewess she would have been steeped in the Old Testament, and would have longed for the coming of the Messiah. As we can see from the story of the Annunciation she was startled by the fact that the Messiah would be born from her. But her whole life to that point would have been lived in the closest possible relationship with God. In that she would have been encouraged and helped by her parents.
We know nothing concrete about her early and teenage years but, as with others that we meet in adulthood, we can see the formative influences. She did not become the Mother of God by accident but through design. At each stage of her life she would have said Yes to God. So she is an example for us. Let us ask for her prayers.