June seasonal notes
Back to Ordinary Time
Notes, important dates, and other material for June.
Notes for Cycle A
BACK IN OUR GREENING SEASON of Ordinary Time, Matthew is prepared to teach us. His gospel is, after all, the handbook of the church, full of instruction aimed at those who are entrusted with leadership. Although church ministers may feel particularly addressed by this evangelist, it would be hard to locate anyone in the assembly who does not share the responsibility of guidance and authority in some arena. Parents obviously do; so do Christians who are leaders in the chamber of commerce or city hall. In the broader sense, anyone who moves through the workplace and the marketplace is called to demonstrate the Christian brand of servant leadership, most especially when the values of the gospel are not regarded. This month, Jesus directs most of his formation to the 12 apostles, that inner circle of future leaders. We can all benefit from listening in on these conversations.
BACK TO ORDINARY TIME and a long ramble through the growing season of discipleship. Obviously, this period of growth is demonstrated by the disciples, who listen to the teachings of Jesus and make some small progress toward understanding. But it’s also our time of greening as the latest harvest of disciples in the church. What will we learn from attending to Matthew’s gospel?
First, we must build our lives on what will stand the test of time: the will of God as expressed in the life and ministry of Jesus. Next, we can count on the mercy of God in times of sin and personal failure because it is for this very reason that Jesus has come into the world. Third, we are not alone in our passage through the maze of this world’s moral choices. Jesus our Shepherd provides us with many shepherds to guide us.
Fourth, don’t be frightened even when world events seem to give many reasons for fear. God keeps vigil over creation every moment. Finally, like Peter and Paul, trust in the Spirit that lives within.
Notes for Cycle B
FOUR OUT OF FIVE Sundays this month are designated as solemnities of the church. We’ll be hearing variously from John, Matthew, and Mark: three out of four evangelists. Huge ecclesiastical tenets will be presented like a smorgasbord of Christianity: Pentecost, the great feast of the church, is followed by Trinity Sunday, focused on our central doctrine about God. The feast of the Body and Blood, commemorating our Eucharist as well as our identity as Christians, is succeeded by the feast of Peter and Paul, our wonderfully paired and dynamically different early leaders.
If someone were to drop into the pews from outer space and wonder what the church is all about, this would be an excellent month to do so. In a way only a little less literal, some of our people do just that. Consider this month a “teachable moment,” and open up the church’s mysteries!
LITURGICALLY SPEAKING, this month is where we hit the speed bumps after back-to-back seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter that languidly developed and unfolded. In short order we now commemorate Pentecost, Trinity, Corpus Christi, and reenter Ordinary Time. The tempo may seem awkward, and the connective flow a mystery. But the timing couldn’t be better to consider the mysteries of church, Trinity, and Eucharist. Why are we gathered here? Who is the source of our being? How are we called to relate intimately with that source?
Before we continue exploring Mark's gospel of the identity of Jesus, we have these few weeks to consider our own identity as Catholic Christians. Here we find the heart of our vocation: Beyond the work we do to who we are invited to be and why. For those who are new Catholics since Easter, it’s helpful to take a few weeks to be grounded in some basic doctrines of our faith. For the rest of us, it’s good to be reminded why this identity continues to form, transform, and compel us forward.
Notes for Cycle C
THIS MONTH we make the transition from the relentless pace of the major seasons of the church year to the relative tranquility of Ordinary Time. We begin post-Pentecost on a didactic note with the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. This is the central mystery of Christianity upon which our understanding of God and our relationship with God are founded. Do we present this idea as a bookish fact to remember or a vital and dynamic reality? The next week takes us to the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Is this an engaging and joyful expression of our faith, or another opportunity to lay down ponderous dogmatic assertions? After these two teachable moments, we move into the ongoing growing season of faith conveniently marked by the color green. Since it’s Luke’s year, it might be a good time to sit down and read through his testimony again in preparation for 20 weeks of preaching Lucan themes.
JUST WHEN EVERYONE is kicking back for the summer months, the liturgical year gets into the theological nitty-gritty. So don’t discard your thinking caps yet. First we face Trinity Sunday, which celebrates the foundational Christian mystery of God.
Preachers are put in the position of having to explain to the assembly what remains patently inexplicable, all shamrocks aside. Next comes the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, a time to celebrate the central Paschal Mystery of our Eucharist. If you set up the Catholic sense of “mystery” well the first week, you can build on your successes here. We dip into Ordinary Time for a moment, long enough to learn that a sinful woman’s love is better than a righteous man’s contempt in the eyes of God. Finally, we commemorate the irregular feast of the Baptist’s birth. His whole family—the “Second Family” of holy families—participates in the great proclamation of good news. Communicate all this effectively, and then you can go to the beach.
Thoughts for summer
“You have fixed all the bounds of the earth; you made summer and winter.”
“The summer night is like a perfection of thought.”
—Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)
“ ‘From the fig tree learn its lesson: As soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near.’ ”
“Don’t pray when it rains if you don’t pray when the sun shines.”
—Satchel Paige (1906-1982)
“Summer afternoon, summer afternoon . . . the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
—Henry James (1843-1916)
“In summer, the song sings itself.”
—William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)
SEVEN WEEKS AFTER PASSOVER
Shavuot, Festival of Weeks Shavuot, the Jewish harvest festival of “Weeks,” also commemorates the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai.
Death of Blessed Pope John XXIII Pope John XXIII, beatified in 2000, once said, “It often happens that I wake up at night and begin to think about a serious problem and decide I must tell the pope about it. Then I wake up completely and remember that I am the pope.”
More quotes from Blessed Pope John XXIII (1881-1963):
“Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.”
“See everything, overlook a great deal, correct a little.”
“Anybody can be pope; the proof of this is that I have become one.”
Saturday after Pentecost The Saturday after Pentecost was once the traditional day for the ordination of priests. Alert those in your community to take advantage of vocation resources available on the web, including the free information and inspiration for spiritual seekers offered at VocationNetwork.org. Articles on religious life and vocation discernment are now available in Spanish on the Vision website.
THIRD SUNDAY OF JUNE
Father’s Day The major promoter of Father’s Day was Sonora Dodd of Washington State. She wished to honor her father, a Civil War veteran who raised her and her five siblings alone after her mother died in childbirth. In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge expressed support for a national Father’s Day, and in 1966 President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the third Sunday of June—the birth-month of Sonora Dodd’s father—as Father’s Day.
“It no longer bothers me that I may be constantly searching for father figures; by this time, I have found several and dearly enjoyed knowing them all.”
Midsummer Eve and Day