Three important “Apostolic fathers” of the Church are celebrated within a few days of each other. On June 29 is the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul who had great influence on the Western Church; and on July 3 is the Feast of Saint Thomas, who had a great impact on the Eastern Church. Each of these apostles of Jesus contributed greatly to the spread of Christianity in the early years of the Church after Jesus death.
The month of June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus with a Solemnity this year on June 11. The Immaculate Heart of Mary is celebrated on the following day. Both of these feasts are focused on love with the heart as a symbolic representation. The Sacred Heart of Jesus is a reflection on Jesus’ heart full of love for humanity, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary shows the fullness of Mary’s heart with love for the Savior.
Monday May 24th, 2021 is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church – a new Memorial in the Church calendar. Mary the Mother of Jesus is known by numerous titles in the Church, some of which are designated for celebration as Solemnities, Feasts or Memorials. Three Solemnities are Holy Days of Obligation, and some of the most well-known titles of Mary are celebrated on these days: Mary, Mother of God (Jan 1); Mary, Assumed into Heaven (Aug 15); and the Immaculate Conception (Dec 8).
May 1st is known as “May Day”, a celebration of working classes and laborers, that was started in 1889 in response to difficult working conditions and long hours during the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century. In order to incorporate the sacredness of work into the secular holiday, in 1955, Pope Pius XII instituted the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker to be celebrated on May 1st.
The early part of the December calendar is full of meaningful liturgical feast days and memorials as we move into the heart of Advent on the way to Christmas. Of course, the season of Advent is about watching and waiting, but it is also about anticipation of the birth of Jesus
Advent starts a new liturgical cycle in the Church each year; and in the daily and Sunday Mass readings of Advent, we are greeted by the verse of one of the greatest ancient poets in the Book of Isaiah. The Prophet Isaiah’s poetry tells of the coming of a Messiah who will rescue the plighted from sufferings and establish a new kingdom to satisfy all wants.
In many parts of the world, the church buildings have been closed for about one-half of 2020; and are now, thankfully, starting to re-open on a limited basis. These closures have felt like a loss in many ways, yet, we have learned that much of the spiritual beauty of the churches and sacred art can be experienced from afar.