June

June is the tenth month of the liturgical year in the Byzantine Rite. This article covers the most important liturgical aspects of the month of June. See the online menaion and the Lectionary for the hymns and readings of each day.

The "time after Pentecost"

We began with liturgical year in September, and followed by the services of the Menaon through Christmas and Theophany, and into the new year. This was followed by the "time of the Triodion" (the Great Fast) and the "time of the Pentecostarion" (the Paschal season), which ends on the Sunday after Pentecost, the Sunday of All Saints.

The Sunday of All Saints (which falls between May 17 and June 20) marks the transition back to "ordinary time", or the time after Pentecost. We return to regular use of the cycle of eight tones, combined with the services to the saints found in the menaion.

The Apostles' Fast

We also follow the feasting of the Paschal season with a period of simpler eating, the "fast of the holy apostles", also called the Apostles' Fast or the Fast of Sants Peter and Paul, which lasts from the Monday after All Saints until June 28, the eve of the feast of Saints Peter and Paul on June 29. Durign this fast, the Typikon prescribes strict abstinence (no meat, fish, animal products, wine or oil) on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and lesser abstinence (wine and oil allowed) on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Certain days during the fast are Days of Alleluia: certain penitential hymns and sung in place of the usual ones, and the Divine Liturgy is not celebrated. These days are:

May 19, 22, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31
June 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 10, 15, 16, 20, 22

The particular law of the Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Church in the United States has identified this as a penitential season, but its observance is voluntary. Still, I would encourage all Christians to spend at least some of this time in fast, simple living and eating, and regular devotion to prayer and works of charity.

The birth of Saint John the Baptist

There is one great feast (Great feast) in the month of June: on June 24, we celebrate the feast of the nativity (birth) of Saint John the Baptist, or to give him his full liturgical title, "the holy prophet, forerunner, and baptist John." In the Christian East, he is sometimes called simply "the Forerunner."

John the Forerunner is considered one of the greatest of the saints, yielding place only to the Theotokos; as our Lord said, "No man born of woman is greater than John the baptist" (Matthew 11:11). Coming in the spirit of the prophet Elijah (in fact, some of his contemporaries though he might be Elijah), he led all of Israel to repentence in preparation for the coming of the Messiah. He pointed Jesus out to his disciples, saying "Behold the Lamb of God", and baptized him in the River Jordan.

The feast of John the Baptist comes approximately nine months after the feast of his conception, on September 23. (From the feast of the conception of the Theotokos to the feast of her birth is nine months PLUS one day; from the feast of the conception of the Baptist to the feast of his birth is nine months LESS one day.) The hymns for the Divine Liturgy on this day can be found on pages 334-337:

The feast has a single post-festive day, on June 25.

Feasts of the apostles

The remaining major feasts of June are devoted to the apostles:

All of these are polyeleos feasts (Polyeleos feast) or above, which means that if they fall on Sunday, the hymns for the feast are sung along with the hymns of Sunday.

Saints Peter and Paul are called "pre-eminent" apostles because of their leadership, and their crucial roles in the spreading of the Gospel. Their shared feast on June is a vigil rank feast (Vigil feast), and in the Byzantine Catholic Church in the United States it is also a holyday of obligation, representing the ties that connect us to the universal Catholic Church as well as honoring the apostles themselves. The hymns for the Divine Liturgy on this day can be found on pages 338-340:

June 30 is a common feast for all the Twelve Apostles. Such a synaxis (Greek, "assembly", meaning a common celebration in church) often follows a major feast, and highlights other persons connected with it.

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