For Major Feasts for July, see JULY
For Major Feasts for August, see EARLY AUGUST
Solemnity of the Most Blessed Trinity
Sunday - June 10
One week after the Feast of Pentecost and one week before the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Church celebrates the most august mystery of our faith - that God is Three Persons in One. Each Person is distinct from the other but identical in Divine Substance. It was Jesus who revealed the Father and the Holy Spirit and thus Christians have always clung to this essence of the Triune Divinity. The Blessed Virgin Mary is the greatest example of this relationship for she was the daughter of the Divine Father, Mother of the Divine Son, and Spouse of the Divine Spirit. In the Trinity we proclaim our "sonship" to the Father, our fellowship to the Son for we are Jesus brothers and sisters, and through these relationships and our life of grace we are sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Though the origins of Trinity Sunday go back to the time of the Arian heresy, the feast actually didn't become a reality until Saint Thomas Becket received from Rome permission for England to celebrate this special feast on the Sunday after Pentecost to honor the Trinity in the twelfth century. Two centuries later Pope John XXII extended this feast to the entire Church.
Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ
Sunday, June 17, 2001 - Father's Day
Jesus says in John 6: 48, "I am the Bread of Life." The Feast of Corpus Christi which means "The Body of Christ" is intended to glorify the Blessed Sacrament in which Jesus is present Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. For centuries the custom was to exclaim this publicly by processing through the church and often into the streets on this feast with the celebrant holding the Eucharist aloft in the sacred Monstrance for all to see and worship. Many times the procession would stop at smaller altars, especially in Europe where side altars were the norm, to offer Benediction with the final Benediction and blessing given at the main altar. This special feast was first established in 1246 by Bishop Robert de Thorote of Liege through the encouragement of Saint Juliana of Mont Cornilon and less than 20 years later in 1264 this feast was extended to the universal Church by Pope Urban IV at the urging of Saint Thomas Aquinas whose deep love for the Blessed Sacrament is legendary. Thomas wrote the original office of this feast including the Sequence sung at the Mass Pange Lingua. In recent times the Feast of Corpus Christi has officially been called the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ and celebrated on the Sunday following the Feast of the Holy Trinity.
Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Friday, June 22, 2001
This special feast set aside to honor the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is a tribute to the devotion to the Sacred Heart which illustrates Christ's love, divine and human for all his children symbolized in His Own physical Heart. It is also a symbol of His Divine Triune Love where Jesus shares with the Father, Holy Spirit and through the Son, with mankind, manifesting this love so that He became man, subjecting Himself to the weakness of man so that we could have life and have it more abundantly (cf. John 10:10) for Colossians 2: 9 sums it up, "For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and in Him Who is the Head of every Principality and Power you have received of that fullness." Devotion to His Sacred Heart can be traced to many mystics over the years beginning with Saint Bernard of Clairvaux in the 12th Century then Saints Bonaventure and Gertrude in the 13th Century, followed by Saint Frances of Rome in the 15th Century and Saint Francis de Sales, Saint John Eudes and Saint Margaret Mary Alocoque in the 17th Century. It was the latter who received apparitions and locutions while in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament that gave the greatest impetus to this devotion and passed down the Twelve Promises of the Sacred Heart. This led to the establishment of the Nine First Friday devotion which promises final penitence to those who receive Holy Communion on the first Friday of nine consecutive months.
Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Saturday, June 23, 2001
This feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was established by Pope Pius XII on December 8, 1945 and assigned to August 22. However, in more recent times it was moved to immediately follow the Feast of the Sacred Heart in concordance with the fact that wherever Jesus is, there is His Mother and wherever the Blessed Virgin Mary is, there also is her Divine Son. Devotion to the Immaculate Heart dates back to Saint John Eudes in the 17th Century who is known as the apostle of the devotion to the Two Hearts. He petitioned the Popes often during his life to institute special feasts honoring the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts. At each time he met with resistance, but Our Lady had other plans and promoted this devotion to her Immaculate Heart at Fatima when she said, "In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph." Just as the Feast of the Sacred Heart is always celebrated on Friday to commemorate the First Fridays, so also the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is always celebrated on the Saturday immediate following to commemorate the First Saturday Devotion begun after the Fatima apparitions when Our Lady promised her intercession at the hour of a person's death if they received Holy Communion of the First Saturday of five consecutive months and promise to offer reparation to her Divine Son through her Immaculate Heart. This feast also helped establish Saturday as special to Our Lady with the Church establishing optional memorials to the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday during Ordinary Time.
Solemnity of the Birth of Saint John the Baptist
Sunday, June 24, 2001
As the account of Luke 1: 5-80 relates, Saint John the Baptist was the son of Elizabeth and Zachariah. Elizabeth of course was the cousin of the Blessed Virgin Mary who came to help her cousin while both were pregnant. John, while in Elizabeth's womb, recognized the Divinity of the child in Mary's womb as "he leapt for joy". During this time his father Zachariah had been struck dumb because he doubted while in the temple where he beheld a vision from the Archangel Gabriel foretelling of John's role as preparing the way for the Savior. Still without voice at John's birth, the relatives and highpriests were arguing among themselves as to what this child's name should be when God gave voice back to Zachariah after he had written on a tablet for all to see: "John is his name." Indeed, as we all know, John went on to be "the voice of one crying in the wilderness. Make straight the way of the Lord." He became known as "the Baptist" or "Baptizer" because he baptized countless people, exhorting them to do penance and to amend their ways. Just as he was the precursor to Christ, his agenda was also the precursor for the Sacrament of Reconciliation which he proclaimed when he beheld Jesus at the shore of the River Jordan, "Behold the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1: 29) John was the bridge between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. In Sirach 48: 1-10 we see that he is the new Elijah. John was born in the summer when the days begin to get shorter while Jesus was born in the winter when the days begin to grow longer. This symbolism was pointed out by Saint Augustine in his writings. Because of his role in salvation, the beloved St. John the Baptist is given two feast days in the Liturgical Calendar - today and August 29th when his martyrdom by beheading is commemorated.
Solemnity of the Apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul
Friday, June 29, 2001
Because of the significance of these two saints, we include it under feasts rather than saints. Known as "The Rock" of the Church, Saint Peter is indeed the one who Christ charged to head His Church as the first Pope after He ascended into Heaven. Christ's words in John 21: 15-19 indicate another way Jesus clearly intended Peter to be the first Vicar of Christ on earth when he said: "Feed My lambs...Feed My
sheep." The Good Shepherd was passing his staff on to Peter the new shepherd. To this day every bishop carries the shepherd's staff, called a crozier, shaped like the shepherd's crook and symbolic of the bishop's role in feeding Christ's sheep as well as the reason for the staff in the first place, to prod the sheep when they become lax or stray. Up until the eleventh century popes also carried the crozier but now carry the cross, indicated by the cross Pope John Paul II carries whenever on official appearance as the successor of Peter. Through the actions of this saint, we realize Peter was "everyman", an accomplished fisherman by trade who Jesus turned into a "Fisher of men." Peter was weak and afraid, evidence by his denial of Christ as Jesus foretold, but was strengthened on Pentecost to become brave and strong, the leader of the fledgling Church. Cowering in fear far from the Our Lord's Crucifixion at the time, he courageously went to his own crucifixion later in Rome as a martyr. Humbled by the previous experienced he expressed that he was not worthy to be crucified in the same manner as Our Lord, and thus was crucified upside down. From a pebble to a strong rock God transformed this great Apostle just as the Almighty can transform all of us if we are open to His Will.
Peter's counterpart, Saint Paul took a different route to sanctity. Starting out as Saul of Tarsus, the Pharisee who was a voracious persecutor of Christians, he was struck from his horse enroute to Damascus as God confronted him directly "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?" To impress that this was truly the One, True God, He struck Saul blind, instructing this Jewish persecutor to go into the city of Damascus and wait. After three days God, through His angel, sent a Christian named Ananias to Paul who was still blind. Ananias had been assured by God that "this man is a chosen vessel to Me, to carry My Name among nations and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for My Name" (Acts 9: 15-16). Trusting in God, Ananias approached Saul saying, "Brother Saul, the Lord has sent me
- Jesus, Who appeared to thee on thy journey - that thou mayest recover thy sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." As Acts 9: 17-19 relates, "there fell from his eyes something like scales and he recovered his sight, and arose and was baptized." It was then that Saul realized the folly of his ways and turned his fervor to persecute as Saul into a fire of evangelism as Paul in converting countless Jews and Gentiles to the One, True Faith. It was not an easy path for upon his conversion he did as the Lord instructed, first going to Arabia in
preparation for the mission God had for him. Paul underwent numerous hardships including shipwreck, rejection, imprisonment and internal bickering but, by trusting in Christ and the Holy Spirit, this fiery saint persevered writing and proclaiming the majority of the epistles of the New Testament. His journeys ultimately brought him to Rome where he received his crown of martyrdom by beheading in 67 AD, shortly after Peter was crucified by the Romans.