If you are Catholic, you don’t need to wait until Christmas or Easter to party. The Church’s calendar is filled to the brim with feast days and special celebrations. Paying closer attention to the liturgical calendar of the Church is a wonderful way to integrate the faith more deeply into your everyday life and learn more about the holy men and women that came before us.
With a feast landing on almost every day of the year, it can be hard to know exactly where to start. Here is a feast day to celebrate each week this month.
July 3: Saint Thomas the Apostle
Most people know Saint Thomas for his unfortunate nickname, “Doubting Thomas,” but I much prefer his other nickname, “Thomas the Beliver.” After all, Saint Thomas’s proclamation of “My Lord and my God,” after seeing Jesus’s hands and side, is one of the most beautiful moments in scripture.
Saint Thomas’s Day used to be celebrated on December 21st before the feast was moved to July. At that time there was an old Austrian tradition that said an unmarried woman would dream of her future husband on Saint Thomas’s Day if she completed a prescribed set of actions. What were those actions exactly? Step one: Climb into bed using a step stool. Step two: Take off your shoes. Step three: Throw said shoes at the door, toes first. Step four: Sleep with your head at the foot of your bed. Sounds foolproof, right?
Pray: O Glorious Saint Thomas, your grief for Jesus was such that it would not let you believe He had risen unless you actually saw Him and touched His wounds. But your love for Jesus was equally great and it led you to give up your life for Him. Pray for us that we may grieve for our sins which were the cause of Christ’s sufferings. Help us to give ourselves in His service and so earn the title of “blessed” which Jesus applied to those who would believe in Him without seeing Him. Amen.
Read: John 20:24-29
Do: Throwing your shoes at the door to dream about your future husband may be a bit to superstitious to do seriously (though you can certainly do it for fun!). Instead, spend some time on Saint Thomas’s feast day journaling about a time when you struggled with doubts in your faith. How did you overcome those doubts? Do you still find yourself doubting sometimes today?
Serve: Thomasstriezeln (St. Thomas’s fingers) is a German sweet bread with lemon, cinnamon and powdered sugar. Delicious!
July 11: Saint Benedict
Saint Benedict is known as the “father of Western Monasticism.” He was the founder of the Benedictine order, and died in 547 A.D. on July 11th.
Pray: Dear Saint Benedict, I thank God for showering you with His grace to love Him above all else and to establish a monastic rule that has helped so many of His children live full and holy lives. Through the cross of Jesus Christ, I ask you to please intercede that God might protect me, my loved ones, my home, property, possessions, and workplace today and always by your holy blessing, that we may never be separated from Jesus, Mary, and the company of all the blessed. Through your intercession may we be delivered from temptation, spiritual oppression, physical ills, and disease. Protect us from drug and alcohol abuse, impurity and immorality, objectionable companions, and negative attitudes. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Read: Take some time learning about Saint Benedict’s life and the history of the Benedictines. Benedict and his monks played a huge role in stabilizing and building early Western Civilization. They created some of the world’s first universities, and many of their monasteries grew to eventually become some of the most prominent cities in Europe.
Do: The Saint Benedict is a powerful sacramental that is considered especially efficacious against the devil. Bring one to your church to be bledded by a priest today. Then place it on a chain to wear aroundyour neck, put it in your vehicle or place it somewhere in your home.
Serve: Eggs Benedict would be a fun dish to serve to day (though it should be noted that the dish has no relation to the monk, other than its name). Or you could try eating like a Benedictine for a day, and try out one of the recipes shared by the sisters of Saint Benedict in Minnesota.
July 16: Our Lady of Mt. Carmel
The feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel commemorates the day Mary appeared on Mount Carmel to Saint Simon Stock and gave the Brown Scapular to the Carmelites.
Pray: O most beautiful flower of Mount Carmel, fruitful vine, splendor of Heaven, Blessed Mother of the Son of God, Immaculate Virgin, assist me in my necessity. O Star of the Sea, help me herein and show me here you are my Mother. Amen.
Read: Read the story of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and learn about the history and promises associated with the Brown Scapular.
Do: Make a bouquet of roses to offer to Our Lady of Mount Carmel and place them near an image or statue of Mary in your home. Better yet, set up a small shrine to Our Lady of Mount Carmel on any flat surface to honor her for the day.
Serve: Make a batch of brownies with caramel sauce to enjoy after dinner as a special treat!
July 22: Saint Mary Magdalene
Mary Magdalene is a well-known figure in the bible. She was one of Jesus’s followers, was present at the crucifixion and was the first person Jesus appeared to after his resurrection.
Pray: Saint Mary Magdalene, woman of many sins, who by conversion became the beloved of Jesus, thank you for your witness that Jesus forgives through the miracle of love. You, who already possess eternal happiness in His glorious presence, please intercede for me, so that some day I may share in the same everlasting joy. Amen.
Read: Spend some time learning about her life and reading the scripture verses referring to her.
Do: Kiss the feet of a crucifix in your home and imagine what it would be like to witness the crucifixion. Close your eyes and put yourself in Mary’s shoes. How does it feel like to watch someone you love be crucified? How does it feel to see him return after the resurrection?
Serve: It is thought that the small, shell shaped sponge cakes called madeleines (french for magdalene) were named after Mary Magdalene. Treat yourself to some for dessert.
July 29: Saint Martha
Saint Martha was one of Jesus’s friends mentioned in the New Testament. She lived in Bethany with her sister Mary and brother Lazarus.
“She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Pray: O blessed St. Martha, your faith led Jesus to proclaim, “I am the resurrection and the life”; and faith let you see beyond his humanity when you cried out, “Lord I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” With firm hope you said, I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him, and Jesus called your brother Lazarus back from the dead. With pure love for Jesus you welcomed him into your home. Friend and servant of our Savior, I too am “troubled about many things.” (Pause for silent prayer.) Pray for me that I may grow in faith, hope and love, and that Jesus, who sat at your table, will hear me and grant me a place at the banquet of eternal life. Amen.
Read: Martha is mentioned in three Gospel passages: Lk 10:38-42, Jn 11:1-53 and Jn 12:1-9.
Do: Spend some time in service to others today. Consider serving at a soup kitchen or inviting friends or family over for a home cooked meal.
Serve: Today, consider serving a simple meal that takes less time to prepare than your usual dishes. Use the extra time to spend more time in prayer with Jesus.
Featured image: Pixabay. Free for commercial use. No attribution required.