Wednesday in the Octave of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
JOHN THE BAPTIST-TAKE A LAP-MIDSUMMER
Luke, Chapter 1, verse 13:
But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John.
We must remember that the evil one will sow fear in our hearts trying to convince us we are unworthy and if we listen, we become like the man who out of fear buried his talent in the ground.
Nativity of St. John the Baptist
ST.JOHN could not have had any greater panegyrist than Jesus Christ Himself, Who said: There hath not risen, among them that are born of women [in the natural manner], a greater than John the Baptist; (Matt. xi. 11). The Lord made him great, even from his mother’s womb, by causing his birth to be foretold by an angel, by giving him his name, and by sanctifying him while yet in his mother’s womb through the presence of Christ. To escape from the world and its allurements he withdrew to the desert, and there occupied himself only with God and with what concerned his vocation. His food was locusts and wild honey; his clothing a garment of camel’s hair, fastened by a leathern girdle; his bed the hard ground. Thus, he lived till his thirtieth year, in which, by the command of God, he was to proclaim the coming of the Messiahs, Whom he himself afterwards baptized and pointed out to men as the Lamb of God. With extraordinary zeal and earnestness, he preached the necessity of true penance. For having reproved Herod for living in adultery he was thrown into prison, and finally, at the instigation of Herodias, was beheaded.
We celebrate the day of his birth rather than that of his death, as is the case of most saints’ days, because, while other saints arrive at sanctity only through long and difficult contests, John was already sanctified in his mother s womb.
The Introit of the Mass is as follows: The Lord hath called me by my name, from the womb of my mother, and hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of His hand He hath protected me, and hath made me as a chosen arrow. It is good to give praise to the Lord, and to sing to Thy name, O Most High.
Prayer. O God, Who, by the birth of John, hast made this day worthy to be honored by us, grant to Thy people the grace of spiritual joys, and guide the minds of all the faithful in the way of eternal salvation.
EPISTLE. Isaias xlix. 1-3, 5-7.
Give ear, ye islands, and hearken, ye peoples from afar. The Lord hath called me from the womb, from the bowels of my mother He hath been mindful of my name. And He hath made my mouth like a sharp sword: in the shadow of His hand He hath protected me, and hath made me as a chosen arrow: in his quiver He hath hidden me. And He said to me: Thou art my servant Israel, for in thee will I glory. And now saith the Lord, that formed me from the womb to be His servant, that I may bring back Jacob unto Him, and Israel will not be gathered together: and I am glorified in the eyes of the Lord, and my God is made my strength. And He said: It is a small thing that thou shouldst be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to convert the dregs of Israel. Behold I have given thee to be the light of the gentiles, that thou mayest be My salvation even to the farthest part of the earth. Thus saith the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, His holy One, to the soul that is despised, to the nation that is abhorred, to the servant of rulers: Kings shall see, and princes shall rise up and adore for the Lords sake, because He is faithful, and for the holy One of Israel, Who hath chosen thee.
Explanation. This prophecy refers, it is true, to Christ, Whom God has made the head, teacher, ruler, and salvation of all nations. The greater part of it, however, may be applied to St. John, as is evident from his life.
GOSPEL. Luke i. 57-68.
Elizabeth s full time of being delivered was come, and she brought forth a son. And her neighbors and kinsfolk heard that the Lord had showed His great mercy towards her, and they congratulated with her. And it came to pass that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they called him by his father’s name, Zachary. And his mother answering, said: Not so, but he shall be called John. And they said to her: There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called. And demanding a writing-table, he wrote, saying: John is his name. And they all wondered. And immediately his mouth was opened, and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. And fear came upon all their neighbors; and all these things were noised abroad over all the hill-country of Judea. And all they that had heard them laid them up in their heart, saying: What an one, think ye, shall this child be? For the hand of the Lord was with him. And Zachary, his father, was filled with the Holy Ghost: and he prophesied, saying: Blessed be the Lord God of Israel: because He hath visited and wrought the redemption of His people.
Explanation. The neighbors and kinsfolk of Elizabeth rejoiced with her at her happiness, and gave her joy. We too, in like manner, should be glad when anything good happens to our neighbor, and thank and praise God therefor.
Prayer. St. John, blessed forerunner of Jesus Christ, mirror of true penance, burning and shining light, who by thy teaching and example didst show to men the way to Christ, I beseech thee, by thy penitential life, that thou wouldst obtain for me, from Him Whom thou didst point out as the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world, grace that, fearing God’s wrath against the impenitent, I may at last do true penance for my sins, mortify my sinful flesh according to thy example, serve God in purity and sanctity, and finally, in the land of eternal happiness, follow forever the Lamb Who on the altar of the cross was slain for me. Amen.
Saint John the Baptist
John the Baptist has the honor of being the only other person besides the Blessed Virgin and our Lord whose birthday the Church celebrates with a special feast. No doubt this has something to do with the unique role that John plays in the economy of salvation. As the "Precursor of the Lord" and the greatest of the prophets (Lk. 7.28), John was given the commission of preparing the way for the Son of God. In the Confiteor he is ranked higher than Saints Peter and Paul and is subordinate only to the Blessed Virgin and St. Michael the Archangel. (Tradition holds that like the prophet Jeremiah, John was consecrated in the womb to be free from all mortal sin.) But there is also something special about his birthday itself: John's conception in the womb of his aged mother Elizabeth was miraculous, as was the Angel Gabriel's prophecy about his mission and name (Lk. 1.5-26, 41-80). Even the birthday's location in the year is profoundly significant: because of the summer solstice, the days begin to grow shorter and shorter after his birthday. The days after Christ's birthday, on the other hand, begin to lengthen. Hence John's statement about Jesus, "He must increase, and I must decrease" (Jn. 3.30), is echoed in the cycle of the cosmos. No wonder that in speaking of John, the Archangel Gabriel declares, "many shall rejoice in his birthday" (Lk. 1.14).
A Great Leap in the Study of Music
We should also mention the breviary hymn for the Feast of St. John the Baptist: Ut queant laxis. Tradition ascribes the hymn to Paul the Deacon, who purportedly wrote it before having to sing the difficult Exultet on Holy Saturday night. (Paul was suffering from a hoarse throat and, remembering how Zechariah, the father of St. John, was cured from a case of muteness, thought it best to direct his prayers to the Baptist). What makes Ut queant laxis most famous, however, is that it is the source of our musical scale, do, re, mi. An attentive medieval monk noticed that the melody of the hymn ascended precisely one note of the diatonic scale of C at each verse. Taking the first stanza, he decided to name the notes after the first syllable of each verse:
UT queant laxis REsonare fibris
SOLve polluti LAbii reatum, SancTe Ioannes.
With the exception of Ut, which was
later changed to Do for ease of pronunciation, these syllables became
the first six notes of our scale: Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol,
La. And this stanza also ended up providing the name of the seventh
note, Ti, which was later taken from the last syllable of the
penultimate word and the first syllable of the last word of the stanza:
"T" from Sancte and "I" from Ioannes. The names
for the notes to our basic Western musical octave therefore come from the hymn
for today's feast.
Things to Do:
· Read about the traditions connected with this feast, particularly the connection with bonfires.
· The Liturgy of the Hours for the Evening Prayer (Vespers) of the Birth of St. John the Baptist has traditionally included the Gregorian chant Ut Queant Laxis. See Catholic Encyclopedia's entry Ut Queant Laxis, more information on the hymn from Catholic Culture, a Beginner's Guide to Modal Harmony, and Gregorian Chant Notation.
· The Church year has two cycles. The more important cycle is the Temporal Cycle (from the Latin tempus which means time or season). The life of Christ is relived in liturgical time, in both real time and Church's memory. Throughout the year the Paschal Mystery (Christ's work of redemption through His birth, life, passion, death, and resurrection and ascension) is relived, and broken down into the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, Holy Week, Easter and Ordinary Time. Sundays are the usual means by which this cycle unfolds.
At the same time with the Temporal Cycle, the Sanctoral Cycle (from the Latin sanctus which means saint) progresses. The Church honors Mary, Mother of God "with a special love. She is inseparably linked with the saving work of her son" (CCC 1172). Then the memorials of martyrs and other saints are kept by the Church. They are held up to us as examples "who draw all men to the Father through Christ, and through their merits she begs for God's favors" (CCC 1173).
This is one of the few saint feast days that is connected with the temporal calendar, not the sanctoral calendar, because John the Baptist was intimately involved in Christ's work of redemption. Charting or making your own liturgical calendar would be a great family project.
· Read the excerpt from the Directory on Popular Piety on the cult of St. John the Baptist.
· In Brazil, this day is known as Diário de Sáo Joáo (Saint John's Day). The festivities are set off in the villages and countryside by the Fogueira de Sáo Joáo (bonfire) on St. John's eve. Families and friends eat traditional foods around the fire while younger folks jump over the fire and firecrackers are exploded. The day is primarily a festival for children, who save up months in advance to purchase fireworks to set off for the day. In cities this is a day for parties and dances, with the urban dwellers dressing up in rural costumes.
· St. John is the protector of lovers, so for fun, young country girls in Brazil will roll up scraps of paper, each bearing a name of a single girl and place them into a bowl of water. The first one which unfolds indicates the girl who will marry first.
Take a Lap Day
Take a lap! Around the pool that is, swim a Lap Day is a day to get in the swimming pool. Swimming is a great way of getting exercise, especially for those who have health problems that make traditional exercise difficult due to weakness or difficulty moving. Swimming has been an activity human have indulged in at least as far back as 7,000 years ago, a time from which depictions of this activity can be seen in stone age paintings. People have been engaging in swimming for all these years for many reasons, with recreation being by far the most common among them. Swimming is, in fact, ranked among the most popular forms of physical activity, even among otherwise sedentary individuals. The buoyant nature of water makes it much easier on those with physical limitations to get out and have a good time, and the act of coursing through the water is often described as feeling a bit like flying! Swimming has also been shown to be excellent for your health Those engaged in swimming tend to engage in the activity for longer than other forms of exercise, and the act of swimming often engages the entire body while moving through the water This also results in the body drawing on large supplies of oxygen during almost all stages of the activity. Other benefits seen from this activity include a reduction in stress related illnesses by reduction of the same, and it can even improve posture! Military applications of swimming go back quite a long way, particularly in those engagements requiring infiltration. Especially at night, it’s difficult to see someone who is swimming underwater, and many cities and forts had vulnerabilities at the areas where waste was washed out of the location. Everyone loves pirates, and a common practice to taking a ship was to slip through the water from a distance, so as not to reveal the presence of their vessel. They’d then stealthily slip up the side of the target and take the ship by surprise!
There are many health benefits to swimming, and it’s an activity especially encouraged for those suffering from degenerative diseases, and ones that impede mobility such as arthritis. Its low impact nature allows those whose movement would otherwise be restricted to engage in a full body workout without causing further damage. Even those who are of advanced age can find an ability to remain active in this sport! Due to its full body nature, this sport is also excellent for building cardiovascular and respiratory health, increasing how much oxygen the body can take advantage, as well as how much blood the heart is able to move with each stroke.
Midsummer is the period of time centered upon the summer solstice, and more specifically the northern European celebrations that accompany the actual solstice or take place on a day between June 19 and June 25 and the preceding evening. The exact dates vary between different cultures. The undivided Christian Church designated June 24 as the feast day of the early Christian martyr St John the Baptist, and the observance of St John's Day begins the evening before, known as St John's Eve.
Midsummer celebrations held throughout the United States are largely derived from the cultures of immigrants who arrived from various European nations since the 19th century. With the rise of earth-centered spirituality, many, including Unitarian Universalists, celebrate the summer solstice as a religious holiday.
· Alaska-As the state of Alaska, northernmost state in the nation, straddles the Arctic Circle, midsummer is a time when most of the state is in daylight or civil twilight the entire day. The Midnight Sun Game is an annual tradition in the city of Fairbanks, in which a regulation game of baseball is played at 10:30 p.m. local time, through the midnight hour, with no artificial lighting.
· Arizona-Tucson has announced its inaugural Earthwalk Solstice celebration, with sister events in San Francisco, Jerusalem, and other communities around the world. The event features a walk through a giant labyrinth, musicians, healers, ceremony, etc.
· California-Since 1974, Santa Barbara has hosted an annual Summer Solstice celebration, typically on the weekend of or the weekend after the actual solstice. It includes a festival and parade. In Santa Clara County, the Swedish American Patriotic League has held a Midsummer celebration at Sveadal for more than 120 years. It includes a parade, decorating and raising a Maypole, dancing and other activities.
· Illinois-Geneva hosts a Swedish Day (Swedish: Svenskarnas Dag) festival on the third Sunday of June. The event, featuring maypole-raising, dancing, and presentation of an authentic Viking ship, dates back to 1911.
· Michigan-In Kaleva, Juhannus is celebrated annually on or near the Summer Solstice by Gathering at the Village Roadside Park. Traditionally Pannukakku (Finnish Oven Baked Pancake) and strawberry shortcake is enjoyed followed by a bonfire or kokko. Kaleva was founded in 1900 by Finnish immigrants.
· Oregon-The Astoria Scandinavian Midsummer Festival has been a tradition on the North Coast of Oregon for over forty years. The Festival takes place typically on the 3rd full weekend of June. The festival embodies the rich cultural heritage that was transplanted to the Astoria, Oregon region by emigrating Scandinavians. In the Pacific Northwest they found the same bounteous seas and forests as in their native lands and the demand for their skills at managing them.
· New York-The NYC Swedish Midsummer celebrations in Battery Park, New York City, attracts some 3,000–5,000 people annually, which makes it one of the largest celebrations after the ones held in Leksand and at the Skansen Park in Stockholm. Sweden Day, a Midsummer celebration which also honors Swedish heritage and history, has been held annually on the sound in Throgs Neck in New York City since 1941. Swedish Midsummer is also celebrated in other places with large Swedish and Scandinavian populations, such as Rockford, Illinois, Chicago, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Lindsborg, Kansas. The Swedish "language village" (summer camp) Sjölunden, run by Concordia College in Minnesota, also celebrates Midsummer.
· Washington-The Seattle neighborhood of Fremont puts on a large Summer Solstice Parade and Pageant, which for many years has controversially included painted naked cyclists. In St. Edwards Park in Kenmore, the Skandia Folkdance Society hosts Midsommarfest, which includes a Scandinavian solstice pole.
· Wyoming-A solstitial celebration is held on Casper Mountain at Crimson Dawn park. Crimson Dawn is known in the area for the great stories of mythical creatures and people that live on Casper Mountain. The celebration is attended by many people from the community, and from around the country. A large bonfire is held, and all are invited to throw a handful of red soil into the fire in hopes that they get their wish granted.
Every Wednesday is Dedicated to St. Joseph
The Italian culture has always had a close association with St. Joseph perhaps you could make Wednesdays centered around Jesus’s Papa. Plan an Italian dinner of pizza or spaghetti after attending Mass as most parishes have a Wednesday evening Mass. You could even do carry out to help restaurants. If you are adventurous you could do the Universal Man Plan: St. Joseph style. Make the evening a family night perhaps it could be a game night. Whatever you do make the day special.
· Do Day 6 of Total Consecration to St. Joseph.
· Do the St. Joseph Universal Man Plan.
· Always depend upon your superiors, even in the smallest things. Christ is instructing a Religious here.