We have the unusual opportunity to celebrate on a weekend the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist. Because the Angel Gabriel told Mary at the Annunciation that her relative Elizabeth was in her sixth month, we celebrate the birth of John the Baptist, Elizabeth’s son, each year on June 24, six months and one day before Christmas.
When the same Angel Gabriel had announced to Zechariah that he and his wife, Elizabeth, were going to have a son, Zechariah asked how this could be since he and his wife were both advanced in years. For this expression of doubt he was rendered speechless. (Cf. Luke 1:18-20) Zechariah here represents the end of the Old Testament epoch and the fact that there had not been a prophet in Israel for centuries, since the time of the Babylonian Exile in the sixth century B.C. It was widely expected that prophecy would return to Israel with the coming of the Messiah. When John was born and the mute Zechariah indicated that his name was John, the name the angel had given the child before he was conceived, Luke states that Zechariah was “filled with the Holy Spirit” and “prophesied.” (Cf. Luke 1:67) This represents the return of prophecy to Israel. In the canticle which follows, Zechariah says—prophesies—about John: “And you, child, will be called prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways.” (Luke 1:76) John was to be the last of the prophets. Jesus, whose precursor or “forerunner” John was, was not simply to be a prophet—one who speaks God’s word—but he himself was the Word made flesh. (Cf. John 1:14)
Thus it is also said that the Church set the celebration of the birth of John the Baptist just after the summer solstice, when the period of daily sunlight begins to decrease, and likewise the birth of Jesus just after the winter solstice, when the period of daily sunlight begins to increase. This is because John said of Jesus: “He must increase; I must decrease.” (John 3:30)
June 30 marks the end of our fiscal year. While both parishes have met our goals for the Diocesan Annual Appeal, both are coming up short in regular envelope income. School subsidies, insurance and some necessary repairs strain our budgets. Any special end-of the-year contributions will be greatly appreciated, but must be received this week. Thank you for your generous support of our parishes.
The St. Charles Parish Picnic after the 4:00 Mass next Saturday, June 30, is being held as nothing more than a parish get-together. It is not a fund raiser; there is no raffle and no financial goal. It is simply a celebration of our parish family. We are having a pig roast and games for young and old. Volunteers and freewill offerings are welcome. So come, get acquainted with fellow parishioners, and welcome Eric Mashak, a seminarian who is with us for a couple of months.
From Thursday through Saturday morning the priests of our diocese will be gathered in La Crosse for Priest Unity Days. This annual gathering will conclude with the ordination Saturday morning of two new priests, Kyle Laylan and Barry Saylor. Consequently there will be no Mass at St. Peter on Friday morning, June 29. However, June 29 is the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles. Since it is the patronal feast day of St. Peter Parish, we will celebrate it next weekend there. At St. Charles we will celebrate the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Pray the rosary this week for the young people participating in Totus Tuus. Pray for the priests of our diocese as they gather in La Crosse later this week, and for the two to be ordained on Saturday. Pray for the seminarians studying for our diocese and, as always, pray for peace.
May God bless his people with peace.