ASK FATHER: No snails this year? No leaping over fires or burning witches?

From a reader…


For eight years (this will be the ninth) my family has hosted a party on Midsummer’s Eve, complete with sung Vespers (last four years with a priest), bonfire, homemade water slide, and much food. Once or twice the feast has rubbed elbows with the Sacred Heart, but this is the first year Sacred Heart has fallen on 6/24.

My Novus Ordo ordo says St. John has been transferred to the 23rd, with I Vespers on the 22nd. My FSSP ordo says it’s been transferred to the 25th, with no I Vespers on the 24th. My TAN wall calendar says “Trad: vigil of St. John” on the 23rd and “Trad: Nativity of St. John” on the 25th!

Question: Should we even have the party? And, if so, when? If, properly speaking, there is no vigil of St. John’s Day this year, perhaps we should just accept that, take a party sabbatical, and resume next year, rather than do some liturgical eating our cake and having it too. Or maybe we should just have a Sacred Heart party…

In a similar situation, what would, say, Bavarian peasants in the 12th century have done, blissfully underinformed and yet (or rather, therefore) full of culture. Would they have rolled their flaming wheels through the streets of the town and leapt over fires as usual, and perhaps not even known that the Masses their priest was saying that evening and the next day were actually those of the Sacred Heart? Ok, I know there was no feast of the Sacred Heart in the 12th century… Corpus Christi maybe, even a late Pentecost. Or we could say the late 19th century. In any case, would country peasants have pressed on with their feast, heedless of this collision of the movable and immovable, or would they have forbore in the years that called for it? And what is the new peasantry to do?

At last an important question!

This year, liturgically, John the Baptist (24 June) gives way to the Christological feast (Friday after the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost).  It’s only logical, for Christ to be greater on that day and John to be less.  No?

That’s sort of the whole point, also of the fact that it is the time of year when the days start to get shorter again.

So, have the party on this year’s liturgical date, which happily is a Saturday, 25 June.

On the other hand, what’s a day here or there?  Since we are not Bavarian peasants without calendars, blissfully unaware even of the name of the present Pope and getting along without him just fine, have the St. John/Midsummer party when it pleases you to have it.

And thanks for the chance to remind people to plan for their snails in honor of St. John.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. kat says:

    Looking at the 1962 ordo, I don’t see first Vespers of the Sacred Heart on the 23rd. Are they not done for this feast?

  2. APX says:

    We just spent the last two years in lockdown. Have the damn party. Who’s to say you’ll have next year to party?

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