For centuries, Catholics have assigned special meaning and devotion to the Months of year, the days of the week and even the hours of the day. This sanctification of time is one of the ways that the Church helps us to “pray unceasingly.” (The odd modern notion that Jesus just set us adrift to figure it out for ourselves by reading the bible, praying privately and getting the occasional helpful insight from pastor Joe is, well, odd.)
The special meanings, for example, of the days of the week are:
- Sunday, The Resurrection & The Holy Trinity
- Monday, The Holy Spirit & The Souls in Purgatory
- Tuesday, The Holy Angels
- Wednesday, St. Joseph
- Thursday, The Most Holy Eucharist & The Priesthood
- Friday, The Passion of Jesus & His Sacred Heart (Also, even in the current law of the Church, all Fridays throughout the year are a day of abstaining from meat as a small penance in honor of the Lord’s Passion.)
- Saturday, The Blessed Virgin & Her Immaculate Heart
As for the Months:
- January, The Holy Name and Childhood of Jesus
- February, The Holy Family
- March, St. Joseph
- April, The Blessed Sacrament
- May, The Blessed Virgin Mary
- June, The Sacred Heart of Jesus
- July, The Most Precious Blood
- August, The Immaculate Heart of Mary
- September, The Seven Dolours (Sorrows) of Mary
- October, The Holy Rosary (and, less formally, the Holy Angels)
- November, Poor Souls in Purgatory
- December, The Immaculate Conception
In some places at various moments in history, these special meanings were changed or adapted to specific places. In the United States, July, for example, is also a time of prayer for the nation in connection with Independence Day on July 4. In Benedictine Monasteries, devotions for both the days and months reflect connection with specific aspects of the Rule of St. Benedict and with great Benedictine Saints.
The idea of “sanctifying time” extends broadly throughout the Church Year. Certain days are feast days or fast days. (In the modern Liturgical Calendar, only two fast days remain… Previously, though, dozens of days were set aside for fasting. Optional fasting is still encouraged by all the great spiritual masters of history.) There are days of celebration associated with the feast of your patron saint or the patron of your field or career or your local city\state\nation or the saint you chose for your confirmation. There are days of prayer and devotion associated with the secular season of the year which we call “[Ember Days].” There are also the great Liturgical Seasons (Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, etc). In fact, there are many calendars of devotion layered on top of each other that a given diocese, parish church, community, family or individual may take advantage of to sanctify his or her time. A priest friend of mine has a simple and effective rule: when the feast day of a saint comes up, he eats all three meals that day; when there is no saint for the day, he eats two meals only; when there is a cause for doing penance and there is no saint of the day, he eats one meal only; when there’s a day of fasting or penance prescribed, he fasts. All you need is your parish’s calendar to see what saint is prescribed for each day of the year and you’ve got all the tools you need!
Thankfully, the particularly important devotions associated with the First Friday and First Saturday or each month are still popular around the world. Hopefully, your local Church has some kind of Eucharistic devotion associated with First Friday of which you can be a part.
However we do it, though, we ought to take seriously the injunction to “pray unceasingly,” as it is part of who we are as Christians and as Catholics.
If you have a special system or secret sauce for sanctifying time, share it in the comments.