Celebrating the Liturgical Year

Making Saint's Days and Other Feast Days Special in Your Home

 

Saint Stories for Kids Podcast
Catholic Icing: Living the Liturgical Year at Home--How to Get Started
Catholic Icing: How to Celebrate Saint Feast Days with Kids

2021-2022 Liturgical Year: Ordinary Time (Before Lent) PDF from CatholicCulture.org
Summaries of Feast Days and Sunday Readings during this ~60-day period.

References:  CatholicCulture.org; Magnificat; Universalis


September 2022

Sep. 8:  Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
This feast is one of three birthdays in the Church Calendar: the birth of Jesus (Dec. 25), the birth of John the Baptist (Jun. 24) and the birth of Mary. It follows nine months after the celebration of her Immaculate Conception on Dec. 8 (just as Jesus’ birth follows his conception at the Annunciation, Mar. 25).

This feast has been associated with end of summer rituals, including blessings for the summer harvest and fall planting seeds. French winegrowers call this feast “Our Lady of the Grape Harvest” and grapes are brought to local churches to be blessed and placed at Mary’s statue. In the Austrian alps, it is known as “Drive-down Day” when cattle and sheep are led from high summer pastures to winter quarters in the valleys, accompanied by a festival. Have your own fest with a birthday party for Mary at your home. 

Sep. 9:  Memorial of St. Peter Claver, SJ (1580-1654)
He was born in Catalonia and studied at the University of Barcelona. He became a Jesuit and spent 40 years of ministry in Cartagena (today’s Columbia), focusing his efforts on enslaved Africans. He called himself, “the slave of the Negroes forever” attending to both their spiritual and material needs. It is estimated he personally baptized 300,000 people and heard the Confessions of over 5,000 slaves each year.
He brought fresh food to the slave-ships as they arrived, instructed the slaves and baptized them in the faith, followed their progress and kept track of them even when they were sent to the mines and plantations, defending them as well as he could from oppressive slave-owners. He organized teams of catechists who spoke the many languages spoken by the slaves. He worked in hospitals also, looking after lepers among others, and in prisons.
At the end of his life he fell ill and for four years he was treated neglectfully by the servant whose task it was to look after him. He did not complain but accepted his sufferings as a penance for his sins. He is considered a heroic example of Christian love and of the exercise of human rights.

Sep 12:  Most Holy Name of Mary
Following the Jewish custom, Mary’s parents named her eight days after her birth (just as the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus follows Christmas). This feast was extended to the universal Church in 1683 in thanksgiving for the victory that year over Turks besieging Vienna.

Sep 13:  St. John Chrysostom (347-407)
This famously eloquent preacher earned the surname Chrysostom (“golden mouth”). His courageous stances against vices of the rich and powerful led to several periods of exile. He is a Doctor of the Church.

Sep 14:  Exaltation of the Cross
This feast commemorates the recovery of the Holy Cross, discovered by St Helena and preserved in Jerusalem but then captured by the Persians before later being recovered and returned in 629. We are reminded of Moses lifting up the bronze serpent in the desert foreshadowing the salvation through Jesus when he was lifted up on the cross. We honor the triumph of the cross, the instrument of our redemption.

Sep 15:  Our Lady of Sorrows
This feast concludes an informal Marian octave begun with her birthday on Sep 8. It focuses on Mary’s intense suffering during the passion and death of her son as was long promoted by the Cistercian and the Servite Orders. Also known as “the Seven Dolors” (esp. in the 1600s), referring to the 7 sorrows/pains that pierced her soul (as foretold by Simeon (Luke 2:35).

Sep 16:  Sts. Cornelius (pope) and Cyprian (bishop)
Following Pope Fabian’s martyrdom during the Decian persecution of 250, Cornelius was elected his successor but opponents then met to elect Novatian as pope (the first such “anti-pope”). Cornelius and Bishop Cyprian of Carthage opposed Novatian and his teaching that apostates (those who had denied the Faith during persecution) who repented could not be forgiven. They were both martyred in subsequent persecutions.

Sep 17:  St. Robert Bellarmine, SJ (1542-1621)
Jesuit priest, theology professor during the turbulent reformation period following the Council of Trent, papal counselor, spiritual director to St. Aloysius Gonzaga, catechism author, and Doctor of the Church.

Sep 17:  St. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)
She was a Benedictine abbess, composer, author, theologian, philosopher, and mystic. Honored as a saint for centuries but canonized and named a Doctor of the Church in 2012.


August 2022

Aug 1:  St. Alphonsus de’ Liguori, Bishop & Doctor (1696-1787)
He began a career in law, but left his practice of ten years after a legal case he was defending was decided not on justice but political intrigue. He was a great preacher of the Gospel to the poor. His charity and apostolic spirit led him to found the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer to carry on this work. He sent his Redemptorists, as our Lord did the Apostles, into the countryside and the market towns and villages, to announce the Kingdom of God. He became Bishop of Sant' Agata dei Goti, near Naples, and died at the age of ninety, in 1787. For his great works on Moral Theology, he has been declared a Doctor of the Church. He emphasized that holiness is accessible to every Christian: “the priest as a priest, the married as married, the soldier as a soldier, and so of every other state in life.

Aug 4: St. John Mary Vianney, Priest (1786-1859)
He was born in Dardilly and died in Ars, France. Although his talents were limited and his education meager, he was ordained a priest in 1815. After three years at Ecully, he was appointed parish priest of Ars. Here he spent almost forty-two years of his life, devoting himself to prayer, mortification, and pastoral works. His success in directing souls made him known throughout the Christian world. Men of all ranks and conditions of life sought his guidance and advice, trekking for miles and waiting for hours to have him hear their confession. He was beatified by Pope St. Pius X, himself once a parish priest, and canonized by Pope Pius XI. He is the patron of parish priests.

Aug 6: Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord
Jesus took Peter, James, and John up a mountain and was trans-figured before them (Mt 17:1, Mk 9:2, Lk 9:28). The Transfiguration foretells the glory of the Lord as God, and His Ascension into heaven. It anticipates the glory of heaven, where we shall see God face to face. Jesus appears with Moses and Elijah, representing the Law and the Prophets, with whom he discussed the Exodus he was about to accomplish in Jerusalem.

Aug 8:  St. Dominic de Guzmán, Priest (1170-1221)
Born in Castile (modern Spain), he became a canon of the cathedral of Osma and accompanied his bishop in a mission to preach against the Albigensian heresy, which was growing in southern France. In 1216 he founded the Order of Preachers (O.P.), dedicated to saving souls by preaching and persuasion. Like the Franciscans, founded just a few years earlier, the “Dominicans” put great emphasis on poverty, both personal and communal. These monks were to be involved directly in the world while still living a form of monastic life (quite a difference from the accepted form of Benedictine monasticism). They made a significant impact on medieval and later European intellectual history by making careful and rational responses to the new learning that was appearing from ancient thinkers such as Aristotle. (Our parish patron, St. Thomas Aquinas, was a Dominican).

Aug 10:  Feast of St. Laurence, Deacon & Martyr ( - 258)
He was archdeacon of the seven deacons of the Church of Rome and was executed on Aug 10, 258, four days after Pope Sixtus II and his companions, during the persecution of Valerian. He was probably a Spaniard from Toledo. Some 50 years after his death, a basilica was built over his tomb by Emperor Constantine and the anniversary of his martyrdom was kept as a solemn feast. According to Tradition, after the death of Sixtus, the Prefect of Rome ordered Lawrence (as keeper of the treasury) to turn over the riches of the Church. Lawrence asked for three days for this task, during which he worked swiftly to distribute as much of the treasury to the poor as possible. When he presented the indigent, lame, and suffering as the true treasures of the Church, he was martyred, roasted on a grate.   

Aug 15:  Solemnity of the Assumption of the Bl. Virgin Mary
Although usually a holy day of obligation, when this Solemnity falls on a Saturday or a Monday as it does this year, the obligation to attend Mass is removed (or “abrogated” to use a legal term).

Mary’s bodily Assumption into heaven makes clear to us that there is room for our humanity in heaven. It assures us that what Jesus accomplished in rising from the dead and ascending into heaven was not limited to his own Person. Even though we are not divine, we too are meant to be in heaven with the Incarnate Son, his Father, and the Holy Spirit. The commemoration of Mary’s death (also called the “Dormition” or falling asleep in the East) is known as the Assumption because of the tradition that her body did not decay but that she was raised up, body and soul, into heaven. This tradition was present in the early centuries of the Church and finally defined in 1950 by the Papal Encyclical Munificentissimus Deus of Pius XII: “The Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was completed, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death." The consciously ambiguous language (“when the course of her earthly life was completed”) reflects the divergence of traditions on whether Mary experienced a natural death before the Assumption. We may also consider the “assumptions” of Enoch (Gen 5.24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11); these and Mary’s Assumption anticipate the resurrection of the faithful.

Aug 20:  St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Abbot & Doctor (1090 - 1153)
He was born near Dijon, France. In 1112, at 22 years of age, he joined the new monastery at Citeaux (home of the “Cistercians”), founded 14 years earlier to reject the laxity and riches of other well-established orders. He arrived with 4 of his 5 brothers and some 24 friends! Within 3 years he was sent to found a new monastery at Clairvaux, where he served as abbot for the remainder of his life and fathered many reforms. Bernard heeded the requests of popes and bishops to arbitrate disputes and rouse the faithful throughout Europe. He like to call himself Beatae Mariae capellanus, “Mary’s faithful chaplain.” Bernard was one of the Church’s great thaumaturges, or wonderworkers. Thousands would line the roads he traveled, waiting for his healing touch. He himself suffered from lifeline stomach troubles. Bernard died in 1153. “What we love, “ he taught, “we shall grow to resemble.” He was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1830. May this great reformer prompt us to renew our own lives, homes, and associations.

Aug 22:  The Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Mary is our Queen because she is the Mother of Jesus, the King of kings. Like so many of her special prerogatives, her queenship is based primarily on the person of Jesus:  she is the Queen Mother because her son is the king. St. Maximilian Kolbe wrote that Mary “has a right to be loved as Queen of all hearts so that through her, hearts would be cleansed and themselves become immaculate, similar and like unto her own heart, and so worthy of union with God.” The Queenship of Mary shows us that being united to Jesus gives us a royal citizenship, participation in a heavenly court. We have a king and a queen whose greatness does not distance them from us. They are closer, more loving, and more intimately attentive to us than anyone else.

This memorial celebration now follows one week after her Assumption and is the natural complement to that solemnity. These two feasts, like the two glorious mysteries of the rosary, are two sides of one reality. Because of her intimate relationship with the Triune God (daughter of the Father, spouse of the Holy Spirit, mother of the Son), and in anticipation of the resurrection of the body which awaits all God’s Faithful, Mary was “taken up body and soul to the glory of heaven where, as Queen, she sits in splendor at the right hand of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages” (Encyclical Munificentissimus Deus #40, 1950). In 1954, Pope Pius XII issued the Encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam, establishing the feast of Mary’s Queenship (originally on May 31) and summarizing the long history of this title for Mary in the Church, including such popular titles as Regina Caeli (Queen of Heaven) and Regina Angelorum (Queen of the Angels).

Aug 28:  The 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time  
             In other years:  St Augustine of Hippo, Bishop, Doctor

Today provides an example of the hierarchy of feasts in the Church. August 28 is usually the memorial of St. Augustine (the memorial of his mother, St Monica, was celebrated Aug 27). This year, however, this great saint’s memorial is superseded by Sunday, the weekly celebration of the Lord’s Day. 

Augustine was born in Thagaste in North Africa. He was brought up a Christian but left the Church early and spent a great deal of time seriously seeking the truth until at length, through the prayers of his mother and the teaching of St Ambrose of Milan, he was converted back to Christianity and baptized in 387, shortly before his mother’s death. Augustine had a brilliant legal and academic career, but after his conversion he returned home to Africa and led an ascetic life. He was elected Bishop of Hippo and spent 34 years looking after his flock, teaching them, strengthening them in the faith and protecting them strenuously against the errors of the time. He wrote an enormous amount and left a permanent mark on both philosophy and theology. His Confessions are a landmark of world literature. He was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Boniface VIII in 1308. May we, too, respond to God’s call and work as tirelessly as St Augustine to defend the Church.

Aug 29:  The Passion of St John the Baptist  
The Church, having celebrated the earthly birthday of St. John the Baptist on June 24, today honors the anniversary of his martyrdom. Besides our Lord and our Lady, St. John the Baptist is the only one whose birth and death are thus celebrated. Today's Gospel relates the circumstances of his execution, when he was beheaded by Herod’s order. His passion reveals that to die for the truth is not to die in vain. John the Baptist’s courageous preaching about the truth of marriage earned him imprisonment and death—but now he reigns gloriously with Christ who conquered death. Herod, we are told, had even enjoyed listening to John. If only Herod had realized that the repentance John preached was not merely a nice idea but a life-changing possibility for him, too! May we, too, persevere in fidelity to the truth of the Gospel.