August – a veritable Feast
The month of August is heaving with opportunities to acknowledge the doctrine of the Communion of Saints. As Catholics, our belief in the Communion of the Saints is an enormous gift to us as it means we are companioned by those who are now in heaven. There are everyday saints with a lower case ‘s’; people whom we may know and admire and then there are people like Mary MacKillop who are Saints with a Capital ‘S’. Saints have shown great faith during their life often in trying circumstances and the Church has raised them up for us all to follow their example. It is important to know that ordinary people have become saints, as they can provide a sense of direction and motivation in our own lives. We can ask for their intervention in our lives, as the Church has judged them to be holy people united with Christ.
The Church has a Liturgical Calendar which allows us to be shaped by the life of Christ: Advent, Christmas, Ordinary Time, Lent and Easter. These seasons lead us through an exploration of the Paschal Mystery of Christ. Running alongside the Liturgical Seasons is the Sanctoral Cycle, where the Church commemorates on dedicated dates events in the life of Christ, Our Lady (for example the Annunciation, the Assumption as there are many Marian Feasts), the mysteries of the faith and the lives of the saints. Martyrs and saints have been recorded throughout the ages in what is called the Martyrology. An official liturgical book, The Roman Martyrology has its origins in the early Church; it lists the martyrs, confessors, virgins and other saints according to the day that they entered eternal life.
As our liturgies are celebrations that immerse us in the Paschal Mystery of Christ, the celebrations are prioritized with four rankings: The highest ranking are Solemnities which are obligatory as they help shape and nourish our Christian identity; like the name implies they are solemn occasions of great importance and so we celebrate with vestments of gold or white (reflecting the garment worn at our baptism). August has two Solemnities; St Mary of the Cross MacKillop on the 8th and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the 15th. Ranking second are Feasts. When Feasts that celebrate the Lord fall on a Sunday, they take precedence over the usual Sunday liturgy. On August 6 the Feast of the Transfiguration this year falls on a Thursday. In all August has three Feasts for us to celebrate. The final category are Memorials and they are sub divided into Obligatory Memorials which must be celebrated and Optional Memorials, which as the name implies are optional. August has eleven Memorials and eight Optional Memorials. The Church recognizes that different global regions have celebrations that have more significance to that locality.
The sanctoral commemorations for the month of August begins with the Feast of St Alphonsus de Liguori (M) on the 1st, Dominic (M) on the 3rd, St John Vianney (M) on the 4th, the Transfiguration of the Lord (F) on the 6th, St Mary of the Cross MacKillop (S) on the 8th August, St Lawrence (F) on the 10th, St Clare (M) the 11th August, St Maximillian Kolbe (M) the 14th August. The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (S) occurs on the 15th, St Bernard of Clairvaux (M) on the 20th, Saint Pius X (M) on the 21, Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary (M) on the 22nd St Bartholomew (F) on the 24th, St Monica (M) on the 27th and her son St Augustine (M) on the 28th August and finally the Passion of St John the Baptist (M). That’s 16 big names celebrated across 31 days. It is a veritable feast of nourishment!
Ms Sharon Boyd
Professional Specialist Liturgy Education
ACU Centre for Liturgy