Tuesday, June 03, 2008

June: the month of the Sacred Heart

And so we have arrived in the month of June. It is supposed to be summer, but here in Ireland at least, there has been little evidence of either sunshine or scorching temperatures—only lots of grey, lowering skies, and endless, repetitive, depressing pluvial days. But enough of that; complaining about the misery of the Irish weather is not the point of this post.

June is the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Reflecting on the Sacred Heart, to which he has a particular devotion, Melancholicus was reminded that in traditional popular devotion, each month of the year has a special dedication, whether to Our Lord, to Our Lady, or to the saints. Some of these devotions once had indulgences attached, but since the promulgation of the new Enchiridion in 1968, it is likely that many of these indulgences have now lapsed.

These dedications of the twelve months of the year are not set in stone. There are many regional and temporal variations. The reader may, at his or her discretion, add to the following list:

  • January . . . . . This is the month of the Holy Name of Jesus, since the feast of the Holy Name occurs on the Sunday between the Circumcision and the Epiphany, or if in a given year there be no such Sunday, on 2 January.

  • February . . . . . The month of the Holy Family. Since the feast of the Holy Family falls on the Sunday after Epiphany—which Sunday is invariably in January—the month of January is in some districts dedicated to the Holy Family in place of the Holy Name. In such instances February tends to be sacred to the Passion of Our Lord.

  • March . . . . . St. Joseph, naturally, since his feast falls on 19 March and (apart from the Annunciation on 25 March) is the only first class feast in the month.

  • April . . . . . The Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. For some reason Melancholicus always associates April with Our Lord as the Good Shepherd, but he is at a loss to account for this association.

  • May . . . . . The Blessed Virgin Mary, of course. This month is bounded by two significant Marian devotions, on the first and last days of the month. The month of May often opens with the tradition of May crowning, and ends with the liturgical celebration of Our Lady’s Queenship (instituted in 1954 by Pope Pius XII) on 31 May.

  • June . . . . . The month of the Sacred Heart, the feast of which is celebrated on the Friday following the Second Sunday after Pentecost and is hence a movable feast. This feast falls almost invariably in June, but in years on which Easter occurs very early (i.e. on 22, 23 or 24 March) the Sacred Heart will fall in late May (as it did this year), and in years in which Easter is late (24 or 25 April), the Sacred Heart will fall in early July. Whenever Easter falls on 24 April, the feasts of the Sacred Heart and the Precious Blood will occur.

  • July . . . . . The month of the Precious Blood, the feast of which is celebrated on 1 July.

  • August . . . . . This month is sacred either to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin (15 August, the sole first class feast occurring in August and a holy day of obligation) or else to its octave day, the feast of the Immaculate Heart.

  • September . . . . . Here again we have a choice: either the Holy Angels (since Michaelmas falls on 29 September with the rank of a first class) or else Our Lady of Sorrows, the feast of which falls on 15 September and whose liturgical observance is distinguished by the sequence Stabat Mater.

  • October . . . . . Again we have a choice. This month is most widely dedicated to the Most Holy Rosary (particularly by those who revere the memory of the victory at Lepanto), the feast of which falls on 7 October (Melancholicus, incidentally, first met the woman to whom he is now betrothed on this day). Those who in September prefer to give prominence to the Seven Dolours may prefer to consecrate October to the Holy Angels instead (the feast of the Holy Guardian Angels takes place on 2 October).

  • November . . . . . This month, as the reader must surely expect, is dedicated to commemorating the faithful departed and to praying for the dead. Indulgences for the relief of the Holy Souls may be obtained every day throughout the month of November, as explained here. “It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins” (2 Macc. 12:46).

  • December . . . . . Finally, December is dedicated either to the Immaculate Conception, the liturgical feast of which falls on 8 December, or else to the Divine Infancy, since Christmas also falls in December.

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