Wednesday 17 Jul 2024

June: A month of reverence and devotion

Dr. ALVARINHO J. LUIS | JUNE 16, 2024, 12:24 AM IST

June, the sixth month in the Julian and Gregorian calendars, is named after Juno, the goddess of marriage and childbirth. Known for its long daylight hours in the Northern Hemisphere, June marks the start of summer, showcasing the beauty of nature. It marks the start of rainy season in India. June marks the start of a new liturgical year for the Church, filled with significant memorials, solemnities, and celebrations. Notable feasts in June include the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Corpus Christi, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, and the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul.

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, celebrated Sunday after Pentecost, fell on June 4 this year. It honours the mystery of one God in three Divine Persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), symbolised by the Triquetra. Reason alone cannot fully explain this central mystery of Christian faith and life. Unlike most Christian celebrations, it commemorates a doctrine rather than an event or person.

The feast of Corpus Christi, celebrated on the Sunday after the Most Holy Trinity, was proposed by Thomas Aquinas to Pope Urban IV to focus on the Holy Eucharist. This feast emphasises the joy of the Eucharist as the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ. On the feast day, the holy mass concludes with a procession of the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance, followed by Benediction.

Since the 16th century, the Catholic Church has dedicated months to special devotions. June is devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, with the Solemnity celebrated on the Friday after the second Sunday after Pentecost. This devotion honours the human heart of Christ, symbolising His love for us, and aims to make Him king of our hearts, encouraging acts of consecration and reparation for ingratitude. The feast was approved by Clement XIII in 1765 and extended to the entire Church by Pius IX in 1856.

The Immaculate Heart of Mary is celebrated on Saturday, following the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. It symbolises her joys, sorrows, virtues, and motherly love, depicted with seven swords surrounded by roses. At Fatima, Our Lady asked for reparation against her Immaculate Heart.

On June 13, Catholics honour St. Anthony of Padua, a Franciscan priest known as the "Hammer of Heretics" for his powerful preaching and invoked today for finding lost objects. Known for his bold preaching and austere lifestyle, he was reputed for miracles during disputes with heretics. These included a horse/mule adoring the Eucharist, surviving a poisoned meal, and preaching to attentive fish. He is the patron saint of the poor, sailors, fishermen, priests, travelers, lovers, etc. St. Anthony's holiness led to his canonisation shortly after his death. In 1934, he was named Patron Saint of Portugal, and in 1946, Pope Pius XII declared him a Doctor of the Church.

On June 24, the Church celebrates the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist or San Joao. Unlike most saints whose feast days mark their death, which is “birth into heaven,” only the nativity of Jesus, Mary, and John the Baptist are celebrated. John was set apart to prepare the way for the Lord, connecting to the Incarnation and Redemption. As the last great prophet of Israel and the first to testify to Jesus, he initiated a baptism for the forgiveness of sins and baptised Jesus. John is the patron of tailors (because he made his garments in the desert), of shepherds (because he spoke of the "Lamb of God"), and of masons (tracing his words: Make ready the way of the Lord, make straight all his paths...).

The Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul is observed on June 29, honouring their martyrdom in Rome under Emperor Nero around AD 64-68. Tradition holds they were martyred on different days. Peter, originally Simon, was a Galilean fisherman introduced to Jesus by his brother Andrew. Jesus named him Cephas, meaning 'Rock,' signifying that Peter would be the foundation of His Church. Peter first recognised Jesus as "the Messiah, the Son of the living God" and pledged his fidelity until death, though he failed later. He is the patron of fishermen.

St. Paul, known as the Apostle of the Gentiles, authored letters in the New Testament, offering insights into his life and the early Church. Formerly Saul, a Pharisee persecuting Christians, he converted on his way to Damascus, becoming Paul. He preached fervently to the Gentiles of the Mediterranean until his execution in Rome in 67.

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