Summer is underway in the Northern Hemisphere – at least according to the meteorological calendar – and with the warmer weather the outdoors is calling to us. After months of winter dreariness, we’re ready to get out and relish the sun. So, we’ll want to mark dates on our calendars designated just for that.
But we’ll also be wanting to get out and relish the Son – as in our Lord Jesus. There are three important dates on the Liturgical Calendar that you’ll want to mark down so you don’t forget those, either.
With the anticipation of vacations and activities, we can lose track of what’s coming up and when.
So, I’m writing to give you a heads up on three dates in June that you won’t want to forget. They’re all solemnities, which means that they hold the highest ranks among Church celebrations. Currently, the Church has 24 solemnities on its calendar. Some of them are on fixed dates, and some vary from year to year, mostly because they’re always observed on a Sunday.
A solemnity gives honor to an important event in the life of Jesus and Mary and the chief mysteries of the Catholic faith. Certain saints are honored with solemnities as well, and some solemnities are Holy Days of Obligation on which Catholics are required to attend Mass.
Solemnities differ from feasts and memorials, which also are special days on the Liturgical Calendar. (Our Sunday Visitor has an excellent article that explains the difference between solemnities, feasts, and memorials. You can read it here.)
A few examples of solemnities are Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Pentecost, Immaculate Conception, Assumption, and All Saints Day.
Three of the Church’s solemnities occur in June:
Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) June 7
Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus June 12
Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist June 24
In preparation for the upcoming celebrations, I’ve put together a brief description of each. It can be both review and inspiration for us as we move through the month of June.
June 7 Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
Corpus Christi began in France in the mid-1200s, and was extended to the whole Church by Pope Urban IV in 1264. The main purpose of the celebration is to draw our focus on the Eucharist and Christ’s Presence within it. The secondary purpose is to draw our focus on the Body of Christ as it is present in the Church.
It’s customary in many parishes to hold public Eucharistic processions by way of a sign of common faith and adoration.
June 12 Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
The solemnity of the Sacred Heart honors all of the attributes of our Lord’s Divine Heart. Pope Pius XII explained what this means in his 1956 encyclical Haurietis Aquas (On Devotion to the Sacred Heart):
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is devotion to Jesus Christ Himself, but in the particular ways of meditating on his interior life and on His threefold love — His divine love, His burning love that fed His human will, and His sensible love that affects His interior life.
It’s from Jesus’ Heart that both Blood and Water flowed as he hung dying on the Cross. Devotion to the Sacred Heart was popular in the early centuries of Christianity, and peaked during the thirteenth century with St. Gertrude the Great. But St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was most instrumental in the rise of the devotion in the seventeenth century.
St. Margaret Mary had a personal revelation involving several visions of Christ in which he spoke to her, instructing her to spread devotion to his Sacred Heart.
“He disclosed to me the marvels of his Love and the inexplicable secrets of his Sacred Heart,” she wrote.
In this revelations, Jesus also promised St. Margaret Mary that those who consecrate themselves and make reparations to his Sacred Heart would be granted by him the following favors: