Celebrating the birthday of the Baptist

The birth of St. John the Baptist

by Doug Lawrence

The Catholic Church officially celebrates only three birthdays each year: the birth of Jesus Christ, the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the birth of Jesus’ cousin, St. John the Baptist.

Celebrating the birth of Jesus and Mary makes perfect sense, but why John the Baptist? I’ll let Jesus explain, in his own words:

And when the messengers of John were departed, he (Jesus) began to speak to the multitudes concerning John.

What went ye out into the desert to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went you out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Behold they that are in costly apparel and live delicately are in the houses of kings. But what went you out to see? A prophet?

Yea, I say to you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written: Behold I send my angel before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee. For I say to you: Amongst those that are born of men, there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist. But he that is the lesser in the kingdom of God is greater than he. (Luke 7:24-28)

Holy Week: Easter Sunday

97. Mass is to be celebrated on Easter Day with great solemnity. It is appropriate that the penitential rite on this day take the form of a sprinkling with water blessed at the Vigil, during which the antiphon Vidi aquam, or some other song of baptismal character should be sung. The fonts at the entrance to the church should also be filled with the same water.

98. The tradition of celebrating baptismal Vespers on Easter Day with the singing of psalms during the procession to the font should be maintained where it is still in force, and appropriately, restored.103

99. The paschal candle has its proper place either by the ambo or by the altar and should be lit at least in all the more solemn liturgical celebrations of the season until Pentecost Sunday, whether at Mass, or at Morning and Evening Prayer. After the Easter season the candle should be kept with honor in the baptistry, so that in the celebration of Baptism the candles of the baptized may be lit from them. In the celebration of funerals, the paschal candle should be placed near the coffin to indicate that the death of a Christian is his own passover. The paschal candle should not otherwise be lit nor placed in the sanctuary outside the Easter season.104

100. The Celebration of Easter is prolonged throughout the Easter season. The fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday are celebrated as one feast day, the “great Sunday.”105

101. The Sundays of this season are regarded as Sundays of Easter, and so termed, and they have precedence over all feasts of the Lord and over all solemnities. Solemnities that fall on one of these Sundays are anticipated on the Saturday.106 Celebrations in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary or the saints which fall during the week may not be transferred to one of these Sundays.107

102. For adults who have received Christian initiation during the Easter Vigil, the whole of this period is given over to mystagogical catechesis. Therefore wherever there are neophytes the prescriptions of the “Ordo initiationis Christianae adultorum,” nn. 37-40 and 235-239, should be observed. Intercession should be made in the Eucharistic Prayer for the newly baptized throughout the Easter octave in all places.

103. Throughout the Easter season the neophytes should be assigned their own special place among the faithful. All neophytes should endeavor to participate at Mass along with their godparents. In the homily, and according to local circumstances, in the General Intercessions mention should be made of them. Some celebration should be held to conclude the period of mystagogical catechesis on or about Pentecost Sunday depending upon local custom.108 It is also appropriate that children receive their first Communion on one of the Sundays of Easter.

104. During Easter time, the pastor should instruct the faithful who have been already initiated into the Eucharist on the meaning of the Church’s precept concerning the reception of Holy Communion during this period.109 It is highly recommended that Communion be brought to the sick also, especially during the Easter octave.

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The Solemnity of St. Joseph

Today, March 19, 2010, is the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary; it is also a Friday during the season of Lent.

According to Canon Law 1251, the obligation to abstain from meat is lifted, therefore it is permissible to eat meat today or voluntarily observe Lenten abstinence on Fridays.

Have a blessed Feast of Saint Joseph!

Thanks to American Catholic for this post