Electric Prayer

The Liturgy of the Hours, the Mass, and other things.

John the Baptist in Australasia

Posted by universalis on 17 June 2022

This year the Solemnity of John the Baptist cannot be celebrated on 24 June because the Sacred Heart is celebrated on that day.

Australia and New Zealand are celebrating John the Baptist on 25 June; the rest of the world, on 23 June. This blog post explains the reason for the difference and also what you can expect Universalis to show you next week.

Anyone who has ever put up a bookshelf knows that there are two ways to do it:

  1. Parallel to the floor.
  2. Parallel to the ceiling.

People with experience end up putting the shelf up a third way:

3. Horizontal.

Exactly the same applies to liturgical calendars. One can be correct or one can be consistent, and at times one cannot be both.

Before 11 May 2020

The Table of Liturgical Days in the Universal Norms for the Liturgical Year and the General Roman Calendar states clearly what is to happen when a Solemnity falls on the same day as another Solemnity:

  • The senior Solemnity wins: in this case, the Sacred Heart, because that is a solemnity of the Lord rather than of a saint.
  • The junior Solemnity (in this case, John the Baptist) does not disappear but is moved to the next available day. Since Saturday is occupied by a mere memorial (the Immaculate Heart of Mary), John the Baptist is celebrated on Saturday 25 June.

11 May 2020

The Congregation for Divine Worship issued a document answering various questions which had been asked concerning the year 2022. The document stated that unless John the Baptist was Patron of a country or diocese or religious community, his feast should be brought forward to the 23rd instead of being put back to the 25th. No reason was given in the document, but I can imagine two. One is that moving a grand solemnity to a Saturday makes it less likely to be celebrated properly, human nature being what it is. The other is that although the Immaculate Heart of Mary has only the rank of a Memorial, it is in a sense the second half of the two-day celebration of the Sacred Heart.

From 27 January 2021

A kind correspondent told us about the Congregation for Divine Worship’s decision and we updated all the apps and programs, and the web site, accordingly. Universalis was now showing the correct date for St John the Baptist in 2022: 23 June.

17 June 2022

The Liturgy Office of the Archdiocese of Sydney sent out a circular saying that their printed Ordos for 2022 had followed the normal (pre-2020) rules and placed St John the Baptist on 25 June, correctly according to those rules. The circular went on to say:

Recently it has come to our attention that a responsa ad dubium was released and published in Notitiae in 2020, providing for The Solemnity of the Nativity of St John the Baptist to be celebrated on 23 June in 2022, presumably so that the memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary could still be celebrated on Saturday 25 June.

This is exactly the shelf-hanger’s nightmare, in liturgical terms: the floor tilts one way, the ceiling another way, so which do you choose? The Liturgy Office decided that since the printed books and leaflets had a wide circulation and were universally regarded as authoritative, the least harm would be done if St John the Baptist were kept on 25 June 2022:

The electronic Ordo has been kept in line with the printed Ordo to prevent confusion and to provide one consistent calendar for the Australian Church this year.

The circular added:

We simply wish to offer this by way of explanation to those who may use apps like Universalis for liturgical prayer and may notice a discrepancy.

We are grateful for the kind reference!

What we have done now

We have made an appropriate change in the Universalis programming for Australia and New Zealand, so that in those calendars St John the Baptist this year will be celebrated on the 25th and not the 23rd as it is in the rest of the world.

The trouble is that time is rather short. Here is the state of play:

  • The web site has already been updated for Australia and New Zealand.
  • Updates for the programs and apps were sent out between Saturday 18 and Monday 20 June. If you haven’t been updated automatically by the time Thursday comes round, you can update by hand.
  • If you use something like Google Calendar to subscribe to the liturgical feasts from Universalis, you may or may not see the revised date. It all depends on how often Google Calendar checks the Universalis site for the feasts.
  • If you have an e-book – either generated for yourself or bought from Amazon – that will not change and will still show 23 June for St John the Baptist.

What you need to do

If you are not in Australia or New Zealand, there is nothing that needs doing.

If you are in Australia or New Zealand, have a look at the calendar and see if Universalis is showing you the date you need for St John the Baptist – Saturday 25 June – or not. If it isn’t, check for an update: here are instructions.

If for any reason you don’t get an update, then you can get round the problem with a certain amount of acrobatics. All the apps and programs let you look at any date in any year, so:

  • Vespers on Wednesday 22 June 2022: Universalis will be showing you First Vespers of St John the Baptist instead of Vespers of Wednesday of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More. The nearest date that has Saints John Fisher and Thomas More on a Wednesday is 22 June 2016.
  • Thursday 23 June 2022: Universalis will be showing you St John the Baptist instead of Thursday of week 12 in Ordinary Time. If you just want Thursday of week 12 in Ordinary Time, look at 27 June 2024. If you want Thursday of week 12 in Ordinary Time with the optional memorial of St Paulinus of Nola, the nearest date is 23 June 2016.
  • Vespers on Thursday 23 June 2022: these are First Vespers of the Sacred Heart everywhere in the world including Australasia, so you don’t need to look at a different date.
  • Friday 24 June 2022 is the solemnity of the Sacred Heart everywhere in the world including Australasia, so you don’t need to look at a different date.
  • Saturday 25 June 2022: if it has not been updated, Universalis will be showing you the Immaculate Heart of Mary instead of St John the Baptist. Look at 23 June 2022 instead.
  • Vespers on Saturday 25 June 2022: if it hasn’t been updated, Universalis will be showing you First Vespers of the Sunday. In Australasia these should be Vespers of St John the Baptist. 23 June 2022 will not be helpful in this case because First Vespers of the Sacred Heart take precedence. So for Vespers of St John the Baptist you need to look at 24 June 2023.

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