Laudetur Iesus Christus! This Thursday June 24 is the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, the greatest of prophets (Matthew 11:11). This great feast falls around the summer solstice as the daylight begins its slow decrease until Christmas, symbolizing the gospel of St. John (3:30), as Fisheaters.com notes:
This Feast, then, follows the Feast of the Annunciation by 3 months and precedes the birth of Christ by six months. It is providential that the Feast of “the Forerunner,” the greatest of all Prophets, should fall at Midsummer, around the Summer Solstice 1 when the days become shorter, because of his words in John 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” It is the longest day of the year, and from here on out, the days grow shorter and shorter. Conversely, Our Lord, the “Radiant Dawn,” was born at the Winter Solstice, when the days were becoming longer!
The Vigil of St. John the Baptist – Wednesday June 23: Like Christmas, Assumption, Ascension, this solemn feast day also is preceded by its own vigil, the day prior, on Wednesday June 23. In the traditional calendar, vigil days are days of penance and prayer to prepare for the great feast day. This is not to be confused with the Novus Ordo “anticipatory Mass” the evening prior. Hence, traditionally, the vigil of St. John the Baptist was a day of fasting, and partial abstinence (meat at only 1 meal). Though optional today, readers may consider practicing this day of penance for the conversion of sinners and for those priests and bishops who are perhaps too timid in preaching the faith.
Charlotte Latin Masses for St. John’s Eve & St. John’s Day:
- Wednesday June 23 – Vigil of St. John: 6pm Low Mass, St. Ann parish
- Thursday June 24 – Feast of the Nativity of St. John: 7pm High Mass, St. Thomas Aquinas
The Octave of St. John the Baptist: As a side note, in the pre-1955 Latin Mass calendar, there used to be an octave for this grand feast day which would conclude July 1 (feast of the Most Precious Blood). The day following that octave day, July 2, is the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Visitation (to St. Elizabeth), which in scripture is of course linked the birth of St. John the Baptist. Sadly the removal of this octave has severed the connection with Our Lady’s Visitation day, leaving some to wonder why the feast day is July 2nd.
Traditions of St. John the Baptist: Church tradition has noted that St. John the Baptist was freed of original sin in the womb when the Blessed Mother greeted St. Elizabeth. Additionally, during the massacre of the Holy Innocents, tradition holds that St. Elizabeth and Zachary (who lived outside of Jerusalem) hid St. John behind a rock, where he escaped Herod’s soldiers.