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Sanctifying Time: The Catholic Meaning of Days and Months
February 24, 2015
Before I was Catholic, there were three significant days in my week: Monday was the much dreaded day school or work began; Wednesday was the hopeful hump day when most of the week was over; and Friday was the glorious final day of the week that ushered us into the weekend.
Since becoming, Catholic, however, I have gained a new appreciation for the sacredness of time. The liturgical cycle gives shape and meaning to the year, and each season brings new significance. But the liturgical year is just the beginning. Did you know Mother Church has also assigned meaning to each day and month of the year? It’s true. Let’s briefly examine the significance of each day and month.
Sunday: The Holy Trinity – Sunday is dedicated to the Holy Trinity. This is entirely fitting as Sunday is the first day of the week and the day when we offer God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit our praise, adoration, and thanksgiving.
Monday: The Angels – Monday is the day in which we remember the angels. Angels are powerful guardians, and each of us is protected by one. Many of the saints had a great devotion to the angels in general and to their guardian angel in particular.
Tuesday: The Apostles – The Catholic Church is apostolic. That is, it is founded on the authority and teaching of the apostles, most especially that of St. Peter to whom Jesus gave the keys of his kingdom. Each bishop is a direct successor of the apostles.
Wednesday: Saint Joseph – Saint Joseph is known as the prince and chief patron of the Church. As the earthly father of Jesus, he had a special role in protecting, providing for, and instructing Jesus during his earthly life. Now that Christ is ascended into heaven, St. Joseph continues his fatherly guardianship of Christ’s body, the Church.
Thursday: The Holy Eucharist – Our Lord instituted the most holy Eucharist on a Thursday, so it is fitting that we remember this greatest of sacraments on this day. The Eucharist is the greatest gift of God to mankind, as it is nothing less than Jesus himself. What gift could be greater?
Friday: The Passion – Jesus was scourged, mocked, and crucified on a Friday. Because of this, the Church has always set aside Fridays of days of penance and sacrifice. While the U.S. sadly does not require abstinence from meat on Fridays, penance is still required in one form or another. This day should always be a day of repentance and a day in which we recall Christ’s complete self-sacrifice to save us from our sins.
Saturday: Our Lady – There are a number of theological reasons Saturdays are dedicated to Our Lady, perhaps the most significant is that on Holy Saturday, when everyone else had abandoned Christ in the tomb, she was faithful to him, confidently waiting for his resurrection on the first day of the week.
January: The Holy Name of Jesus – There is no name more powerful than the name of Jesus. The Catechism sums up the power of this name beautifully: “The name ‘Jesus’ contains all: God and man and the whole economy of creation and salvation. To pray ‘Jesus’ is to invoke him and to call him within us. His name is the only one that contains the presence it signifies. Jesus is the Risen One, and whoever invokes the name of Jesus is welcoming the Son of God who loved him and who gave himself up for him” (CCC #2666)
February: The Holy Family – The Holy Family is an earthly reflection of the Holy Trinity. By meditating on the Holy Family, we can learn the meaning of love, obedience, and true fatherhood and motherhood. We are also reminded that the family is the foundational unit of both society and the Church.
March: St. Joseph – St. Joseph is the icon of God the Father: silent but active and perfectly providing for the needs of all. The Church constantly invokes the protection of St. Joseph, admonishing us to ite ad Joseph, go to Joseph.
April: The Blessed Sacrament – Holy Church is the guardian of the Holy Eucharist. For two thousand years, she has guarded this treasure, administering it to the faithful and proclaiming that it is nothing less than Jesus himself. We can never be too devoted to the Blessed Sacrament or show it too much honor.
May: The Blessed Virgin Mary – Our Lady has long been associated with the beauty of flowers and the coming of spring. This is fitting because she is both beautiful and the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the life of the world. In May, the Church remembers our glorious lady with crownings and processions in her honor.
June: The Sacred Heart of Jesus – The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the revelation of God’s immense love for us. It is often depicted as a fiery furnace, pierced and broken, but beating with love. The Sacred Heart is also a profound reminder of the humanity of our Lord, for his heart is not a mere symbol, but a true physical reality.
July: The Precious Blood – The blood of Christ saves us from sin. It is the blood of Christ that gives us the hope of heaven. St. Paul tells us that Jesus reconciled “to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” (Col. 1:20). Without the blood of Christ shed for us, all would be lost.
August: The Immaculate Heart of Mary – The heart of Mary is a motherly heart, a heart full of love and mercy for her children. The heart of Mary is also the channel through which all the graces of God flow down to us. She is “our life, our sweetness, and our hope.”
September: The Seven Sorrows of Mary – Aside from Jesus, no human being has suffered more than our Blessed Mother. In perfect obedience to the will of God, she consented to her sons torture, humiliation, and brutal executed for our salvation. As any parent knows, watching one’s child suffer is the greatest suffering of all. She still bears the sufferings of her divine Son in her heart.
October: The Holy Rosary – The rosary is one of the most powerful weapons the Church possesses. We are constantly exhorted by saints, popes, and Our Lord and Our Lady themselves to pray this simple yet profound prayer. Accordingly, Mother Church has set aside a whole month to the promotion of this prayer.
November: The Souls in Purgatory – The souls in purgatory are suffering a great deal, and they cannot pray for themselves. They are our brothers and sisters, and as members of the body of Christ, we must pray and offer sacrifices for those who have gone before us, asking that they may rest in the light of God’s presence.
December: The Immaculate Conception – The Immaculate Conception of Mary is a profound mystery. In the Immaculate Conception, Mary was without sin from the first moment of her conception. She is perfectly united forever to her spouse, the Holy Spirit. Their fruitful union produced a wedding of heaven and earth in the God-Man, Jesus Christ. We will meditate on these truths for all eternity.
Time is a Gift
The Church takes seriously the call to sanctify all things, even time. The Catholic significance of days and months is a profound reminder that our lives are finite, and that time should not be squandered. As the Psalmist said, “teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:12). But more than anything, it reminds us that time is a gift from God, and with him and through him, all things are holy, and nothing is without meaning.
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