To All Hibernians:
In June we pass out of the Easter season, with the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity and the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ on the last Sundays, the 14th and 21st respectively. Trinity Sunday is the traditional date by which one has been expected to complete the “Easter duty,” an impossibility in many places this year due to quarantine measures. On Sunday, June 21, we pass back into Ordinary time, and the color for vestments is green.
MAJOR SAINTS AND FEAST DAYS OF JUNE
|June 1||Justin Martyr||Memorial|
|June 3||Charles Lwanga & Companions||Memorial|
|June 5||Boniface, Martyr||Memorial|
|June 11||Barnabas, Apostle||Memorial|
|June 13||Anthony of Padua||Memorial|
|June 21||Aloysius Gonzaga||Memorial|
|June 24||Nativity of John the Baptist||Solemnity|
|June 27||Cyril of Alexandria Optional||Memorial|
|June 28||Most Sacred Heart of Jesus||Solemnity|
|June 29||Peter and Paul, Apostles||Solemnity|
JOHN THE BAPTIST AND BONFIRES
The custom of holding a bonfire on the eve or on the feast day itself of the Nativity of John the Baptist is an ancient one in European Christianity. Having fallen out of practice in many places, it is enjoying a renewal. There is a blessing in the Roman rite for the bonfire. The event was and is marked by many local variations in custom throughout Europe, including Ireland. Irish poet Aubrey Thomas De Vere’s poem, “The Sisters” makes reference to such a “Bonfire Night” or “St. John’s Day Eve” as celebrated in the wake of the Great Famine.
IRISH SAINTS OF JUNE
June 3 Kevin, Abbot of Glendalough (d.c. 618)
Though Kevin, also known as Coemgen, is one of Ireland’s most popular saints, it is difficult to disentangle his real story from the mass of legends which have grown up around him. He may have been of royal blood, was born in Leinster, and was baptized by St. Cronan. He was an oblate to a community of monks at a young age, and after his ordination, sought out a solitary life, finding what he desired in Glendalough. As was so often the case, the holy hermit attracted disciples to his location, and eventually Kevin established a community, which grew into the abbey of Glendalough, of which he was the abbot. Many stories about Kevin testify to his close affinity to the natural world around him and are reminiscent of stories about Francis of Assisi. St. Kevin is one of the patrons of Dublin.
June 6 Jarlath, Bishop of Tuam (d.c. 550)
St. Jarlath is not to be confused with an earlier namesake who was a disciple of St. Patrick. Jarlath was said to come from a prominent Galway family. Like many early Irish holy men, he was sent at an early age to be trained by monastic mentors. After ordination, Jarlath founded a monastic community near Tuam and became its abbot and bishop. He was the first bishop of Tuam. Among his pupils were supposedly Sts. Brendan of Clonfert and Colman, son of Lenine.
June 7 Colman of Dromore, Bishop (fl. 6th century)
There are more than 200 Celtic holy men named Dromore, so it is no wonder that their life stories have become confused. This man was supposedly a Scot, born in Argyllshire. One of his mentors supposedly assigned him the mission of establishing a monastic community on the Coba plain in Ireland, and he did, at Dromore, in County Down. Colman has been venerated in Scotland and Ireland.
June 9 Columba, Abbot of Iona (c. 521-597)
Columba, one of the greatest of Irish saints, came of royalty from both parents. His father was a great-grandson of Niall of the Nine Hostages, and his mother traced descent from both the kings of Leinster and the Scottish Dalriada. He was also known as Colmcille, a name etymologically derived from the fact that he established many religious cells or foundations. At an early age, he was sent to St. Finnian’s school at Moville, where he was ordained a deacon. From there he went to Leinster to study the bardic arts. Still later, he went to the school of another St. Finnian, that of Clonard. Columba was one of the so-called Twelve Apostles of Ireland who emerged from that school. At some point, Columba was ordained a priest. He was associated for a time with another famous monastic school, that of St. Mobhi at Glasnevin, which was dispersed by an outbreak of the plague in 543. For about fifteen years, Columba went about Ireland preaching and making monastic foundations, the best known being Derry, Durrow, and Kells. Columba must have made a striking presentation to his contemporaries; he was said to be very tall and athletic, with a great speaking voice which carried quite a distance.
It was in this period that Columba became involved in a legal dispute with his mentor, Finnian of Clonard. Finnian was in possession of a copy of Jerome’s Psalter, the first one to reach Ireland. Columba borrowed it and made a copy. Finnian heard of this and demanded that the copy be surrendered to him. Columba refused. The case made its way to King Diarmaid, overlord of Ireland, who ruled in favor of Finnian. Soon after, Columba found himself in greater difficulty. He provided sanctuary to a man who had fatally injured a follower of Diarmaid in a hurling match. Diarmaid’s followers violated sanctuary and killed the man, touching off a war between Columba’s clan and Diarmaid’s followers, a war in which many men were slain. Columba felt some responsibility for this and there were others who agreed, even asserting that Columba had instigated the war. A local synod censured him, and he only escaped excommunication due to the intervention of St. Brendan. Columba vowed to exile himself from Ireland and seek to win at least as many men for Christ as had perished in the feud. In 563, Columba left Ireland in a coracle, with twelve relatives. His wandering brought him to Iona, where he founded a monastery on land given to him by his mother’s kinsmen.
Iona was to be one of the most renowned and influential monastic foundations of early medieval Europe. From Iona, Columba and his disciples evangelized the Picts and Scots, and later the English as well as continental Europeans. Columba, always noted for saintly habits, certainly progressed in those over time, with many of the rough edges seen in his earlier life being transformed. He and his disciples became identified, even after his death, with many of the unique practices of the Celtic Church. The monastic rule which he composed for his followers was used throughout Europe, until it was largely replaced by that of St. Benedict.
June 17 Moling, Bishop of Ferns (d. 697)
The Welshman Giraldus Cambrensis noted that books written by Patrick, Columba, Broccan, and Moling, whom he called The Prophets of Ireland, were extant in his day. Unfortunately, at least for Moling, these have vanished. Moling is said to have come from County Wexford, and to have been related to Leinster’s royalty. After some time at Glendalough, where he took the monastic habit, Moling founded an abbey at Achad Cainigb. Moling is said to have lived for a while in a hollow tree and endured lengthy fasts. Later he succeeded St. Aidan as bishop of Ferns.
June 20 Goban, Martyr (d.c. 670)
Goban, or Gobain, was a disciple of St. Fursey, accompanying him to East Anglia. Later, he went with St. Ultan to Gaul. After some wanderings, Goban established a hermitage on what is now Mont d’Ermitage, at the town of Saint-Gobain. The saint was beheaded
by barbarian raiders.
NATIONAL DEVELOPMENTS OF INTEREST
–Our American bishops have designated June 22-29 as Religious Freedom Week. Religious freedom, especially that of Christians, is under increasing attack worldwide. Except in a few notable cases, in Europe and the United States, Christians have not largely faced vandalism, arson, assault, kidnapping, and murder as in other parts of the world. However, the news over the past few years has been full of incidents in which local and state governments have taken action to restrict Christians from practice and advocacy of their faith right here in the United States. It is worth pondering that in the current crisis, many of our political class regard public worship of God as a “non-essential service.” For resources, see www.usccb.org/ReligiousFreedomWeek.
–In regard to pandemic measures, The Department of Justice has warned the State of California that unless states can prove that church services pose some specific risk, they cannot be held to more stringent standards than other public assemblies when considerations are made for reopening.
–A few days after the May 21 announcement by Minnesota’s Catholic bishops that they intended to allow parishes to reopen for public worship, despite apparent state orders to the contrary, Governor Tim Walz (D) announced changes to his closure orders which would allow for the reopening. The state’s Missouri Synod Lutherans have also announced reopening plans. On May 28, Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker (D) relaxed restrictions on churches, making them guidelines rather than mandatory measures, after Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on appeal ordered the state to respond to three lawsuits brought by churches. Several of the suits have charged that public worship has been placed below things such as liquor stores and marijuana dispensaries, and that the governor has exceeded his legal authority.
–May 22–President Trump has called upon the nation’s governors to reopen the churches “right now.” States have put in place a variety of measures which have prohibited or at least restricted public worship. The President also said that the CDC, at his direction, will soon release new directives for the reopening of places of worship, places which will be identified therein as “essential places.”
[Sources consulted for this report include: Butler’s Lives of the Saints, complete edition, ed. and rev. by Herbert Thurston and Donald Attwater; 4 vols. (New York, 1956); The Liturgy of the Hours According to the Roman Rite (New York, 1975); The National Catholic Register; ewtn.com; catholic.org; priestsforlife.org; catholicnewsagency.com.]