Holy Church dedicates this month to Our Lord's Passion on that fateful Good Friday....such a terrible day, yet the day which wrought our Redemption. So how can we remember and honor His suffering this month? We honor His Passion every Friday by some act of penance and every Lent through various exercises and devotions. How then, does the month of February distinguish itself? Well, that is up to you. We are at such a juncture in human history, in the history of the Church, when we need to take the bull by the horns and create new traditions that will last perhaps, till the end of time (which, by the way, may not be too long from now).
So let's examine this month a little more closely....LENT begins exactly on March 1st, creating a nice clean cut between February and March! That means the 2 1/2-week Time of Septuagesima, our preparation for the rigors of Lent, begins about halfway through the month. What a great time to begin our commemoration of the Passion of Our Lord. I'm not going to give you any ideas. I assume if you are reading this blog, you must be intelligent enough to come up with something!
Shrove Tuesday also presents a wonderful opportunity to do a special meditation on the Passion...it is also the feast of the Holy Face of Jesus, given to Saint Veronica in the very midst of His suffering. I also am a proponent of doing penance on this day, to atone for the over-indulgences (a nice way to put it) that go on during Mardi Gras celebrations.
Some unique features of this month: a few feasts which call the New Testament to mind (Presentation, Chair of Saint Peter, Saint Matthias, Holy Face), 2 Cyrils and feasts pertaining to Lourdes and Fatima-the 2 most spectacular approved Marian apparitions of all time.
Here is a sampling of some upcoming feasts....I will begin to give the years associated with the saints, so we can have a better understanding of historical context....
2/2-Presentation of Our Lord (Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary/Candlemas)
2/3-Saint Blaise, 316-invoked for throat disorders
2/9-Saint Cyril of Alexandria, 444
2/11-Our Lady of Lourdes, 1858
2/12-Septuagesima Sunday (warning that Lent is coming!)/Seven Holy Founders Order of Servites, 1233 (trad)
2/14-Saints Cyril & Methodius, 869, 885/Saint Valentine, 269 (make reparation for sins against chastity on this day!)
2/17-Seven Holy Founders Order of Servites, 1233 (new)
2/18-Saint Bernadette, Seer of Lourdes, 1879 (lesser feast-it appears this date was chosen for its proximity to the date of the first apparition at Lourdes, but interesting to note there were in fact, 18 apparitions in total)
2/19-Sexagesima Sunday (even closer to Lent!)
2/20-Blesseds Francisco & Jancinta Marto, Seers of Fatima, 1919, 1920
2/22-Chair of Saint Peter
2/23-Saint Polycarp, Martyr, 166
2/24-Saint Matthias, Apostle-replacer of Judas
2/26-Quinquagesima Sunday (are you ready yet for Lent???)
2/28-Shrove Tuesday/Holy Face of Jesus