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June Solemnities - 15th June 2014
Over the next two weeks the Church calendar lists five celebrations which are considered important enough to be classed as Solemnities: Trinity Sunday today, the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ next Sunday, the Nativity of St John the Baptist on 24th June, the Sacred Heart on Friday 27th June, and Sts Peter and Paul on Sunday 29th June. That’s a lot of feasting!
Here is a little information about the first three of these. I will look at the other two next week.
The Preface of the Most Holy Trinity expresses what the feast is about:
For with your Only Begotten Son and the Holy Spirit
you are one God, one Lord:
not in the unity of a single person,
but in a Trinity of one substance.
For what you have revealed to us of your glory
we believe equally of your Son and of the Holy Spirit,
so that, in the confessing of the true and eternal Godhead,
you might be adored in what is proper to each Person,
their unity in substance, and their equality in majesty.
The feast serves to reaffirm our belief in the mystery of the Holy Trinity and remind us that we adore God who is three-in-one.
The Nativity of St John the Baptist 24th June
It is unusual to be commemorating the birthday of a saint instead of their day of death which is considered to be the date of their birth into eternal life. According to tradition, John the Baptist was endowed with special grace at the time of the visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth, John’s mother, so the feast of his nativity was considered to be of greater importance than that of his death. From the late 4th century, the feast has been celebrated on 24th June, six months before the birth of Jesus.
The spirit of the feast is expressed well in the Preface of the day which bears the title “The mission of the Precursor”:
(John’s) birth brought great rejoicing; even in the womb
he leapt for joy at the coming of human salvation.
He alone of all the prophets pointed out the Lamb of redemption.
And to make holy the flowing waters, he baptised the very author of Baptism
and was privileged to bear him supreme witness by the shedding of his blood.
Body and Blood of Christ
When the liturgical calendar was reformed in 1969, the feasts of Corpus Christi and the Precious Blood were combined into a single solemnity celebrating the Lord’s abiding presence in the gift of the Eucharist.
Preface of the Holy Eucharist II, one of two options for the feast, focuses on the impact of the Eucharist on our lives, especially its unifying effect:
Nourishing your faithful by this sacred mystery, you make them holy,
so that the human race, bounded by one world,
may be enlightened by one faith and united by one bond of charity.
In celebrating the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, we pray that our sharing together the one bread that is Christ’s Body and sharing the one cup of Christ’s Blood may make us truly one in Christ, for the life of the world.