Today is the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. Happy Feast Day! Only Our Lord Jesus Christ and his Blessed Mother also have feast days celebrating their birthdays. So why does the Church give such special reverence to the birth of St. John the Baptist?
“The reason for this is, of course, that the Lord willed to announce to men His own coming through the Baptist, lest if He appeared suddenly, they would fail to recognize Him,” explained the great 4th/5th century Doctor of the Church, St. Augustine.
“John represented the Old Covenant and the Law. Therefore, he preceded the Redeemer, even as the Law preceded and heralded the new dispensation of grace.”
It is customary in many countries to celebrate today’s feast with a summer bonfire and cook-out, with this blessing being prayed beforehand as a family or a group:
Leader: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All: Who hath made heaven and earth.
Leader: Let us pray. O Lord God, Father almighty, unfailing Ray and Source of all light, sanctify this new fire, and grant that after the darkness of this life we may come unsullied to thee, Who are Light eternal. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Then the group divides and reads alternate lines of the Canticle of Zachary (to be found in Luke 1:68-70).
So, have a happy, holy and, potentially, hot feast day! St. John the Baptist, pray for us!
Additional material courtesy of Catholic Culture: https://www.catholicculture.org/