Jesus said, “Among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist”. Each year on June 24 the Catholic Church honors the birth of John by reflecting on his unique role as the precursor of Jesus. The solemnity held on that date praises John as a worthy example of what it means to be a follower of Christ. A solemnity is the most significant feast the Church can establish. While other saints are remembered with feast days to remember their deaths, St. John the Baptist, like Our Lady, is honored with solemnities to recall both his birth and his death.
Chicago history buffs will tell you that their city was founded in 1790 by a successful trapper and fur trader named Jean Baptiste Point du Sable. Less well known is du Sable’s background — he was black and Catholic. Traditionally, most African Americans have been members of Protestant denominations, yet African-American Catholics have been a presence in this country since the earliest days of settlement, and they have played a fascinating part in the story of America and of the Church in the United States. Read more history in the full post.
Aside from the Twelve, few others receive the designation of apostle in the New Testament. Chief among them is the apostle Paul. Among the others is his one-time collaborator Barnabas, whose memorial is celebrated by the Church on June 11. Legend recalls Barnabas as one of the 70 disciples of Christ in the Gospel, but few details about him were recorded in the New Testament. Find out more in today’s post.
Shakespeare said, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Perhaps that’s true, but when it comes to Jesus’ mother, Catholics have many ways of addressing her. Names connect us to one another and to God. In the Book of Exodus, when Abraham first encounters God, he asks the Lord his name. The Lord responds, “I am who I am” (Ex 3:14). The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that God revealed himself to us by making his name known (see No. 203). Likewise, the many names of Mary reveal her many aptitudes such as saint, helpmate and mother of us all.
Pope Saint John Paul II was born Karol Wojtyla in the small Polish town of Wadowice. During World War II, when the Nazis invaded Poland, Karol secretly studied for the priesthood in an underground seminary established by the archbishop of Krakow. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1946. In 1964, Father Karol was appointed archbishop of Krakow; just three years later he was made a cardinal. In 1978, Cardinal Wojtyla was elected Pope, the 264th in the Church’s history. He took the name John Paul II. He began his papacy on Oct. 22 by telling the world, “Be not afraid”; his life showed everyone that to change the world, we must “cast into the deep for a great catch.”