Monthly Devotions of the Church Year
Each month of the year is dedicated to a particular devotion within the Catholic faith; the dedication of each month is based on historical events or a particular aspect of the liturgical calendar, or a combination of the two. These monthly Catholic devotions do not line up exactly with the time frame of the liturgical calendar, since they are fixed to standard calendar months rather than the Church seasons. Some countries and areas have developed monthly dedications to devotions more specific to their area, but the following are the common, widespread Catholic devotions for each month throughout the year.
January is the month of the Holy Name of Jesus. The feast of the Holy Name originated in the 1500s and was formerly celebrated on the second Sunday of Epiphany. It was removed from the calendar in 1969, “since the imposition of the name of Jesus is already commemorated in the office of the Octave of Christmas.” (motu propri: Mysterii Paschalis, 1969) It was restored in 2002 as an optional memorial on the first free day after January 1st.
The official litany of the Holy Name of Jesus is included in the book A Prayerbook of Favorite Litanies. There are indulgences attached to the devotion to the Holy Name; one hundred days each day if the devotion is made privately, three hundred days each day, if the devotion is made in a public church or chapel.
Because of the feasts in January which pertain to Christ’s infancy and childhood, January has also become a month dedicated to the Holy Childhood of Jesus.
February is the month dedicated to the Holy Family. Though the start of the Lenten season changes within the calendar year, a fair-sized portion of February gives us a space of time between the Christmas celebrations and the increased focus on Jesus’s public life and ministry, which occurs in Lent. It is a transition from the feast of Christmas to the fasting of Lent. Therefore traditionally February has become a time to recall the Holy Family; within the Holy Family is where Jesus spent the time between his birth and embarking on his public journey.
For a selection of books about the Holy Family and emulating the Holy Family within your own, click here.
March is the month of devotion to St. Joseph, whose feast falls on March 19th. The date of the solemnity of St. Joseph dates to the end of the 15th century; within the next few centuries, the entire month as a time for devotion to St. Joseph became part of tradition.
In a society which seems to discourage the importance of marriage and fatherhood, St. Joseph, the spouse of the Virgin and the man given the responsibility of raising Jesus, is an incredible model of an obedient, faithful, Christian father. To view our St. Joseph books and other goods go here.
There are indulgences attached to devotion to St. Joseph during this month: three hundred days daily for those who privately or publicly perform some pious practice in honor of St. Joseph, during the month, a plenary indulgence on any day of the month under the usual conditions.
The month of April is dedicated both to devotion to the Eucharist and devotion to the Holy Spirit. This tradition has developed because Easter Sunday often falls in April, and when it does fall in March, the Easter season continues on through all of April. In essence, April is a month of Easter, and during the Easter celebration we remember the Eucharistic sacrifice Christ gave us and the baptism in the Holy Spirit, which would come after Jesus’s resurrection.
May is the month of Mary; devotion to the Blessed Mother throughout May originated in Rome in the 18th century to counter immorality and infidelity among students at a college there. It has spread through most of the Latin Church now. Because the North American holiday of Mother’s Day falls in May, Catholics take this time to recall and try to emulate Mary’s role as mother. Therefore devotion to Mary in the month of May focuses both on Mary as a role model for Christian mothers, and Mary’s ever lasting chastity and purity, and her fidelity to God’s will.
View our Marian books here.
June is the month of the Sacred Heart. A devotion long practiced privately, it was officially approved in the 1800s. Devotion the Sacred Heart encourages participation in Holy Hour Eucharistic Adoration and to receive Holy Communion on the first Friday of every month. Read more about devotion to the Sacred Heart by clicking here.
July is the month dedicated to the Precious Blood of Our Lord; the Feast of the Precious Blood is the first Sunday of the month. Father Faber describes why we honor the Blood of Christ in The Precious Blood: The Price of our Salvation.
There are indulgences attached to devotion to the Precious Blood: seven years and seven quarantines each day for public devotion; plenary indulgence on any day in July or 1-8 August, after having assisted eight times at a public function under the usual conditions; if the devotion is held privately, three hundred days each day with a plenary indulgence on 31 July, or 1-8 August.
The month of August is dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament, and increased adoration of the Eucharist is encouraged. August is also dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and on August 15th, the church celebrates the Assumption of Mary into heaven.
September is traditionally dedicated to the Seven Sorrows (or Dolours) of Mary, and the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows falls in September. The Sorrows are:the prophecy of Simeon, the flight into Egypt, the loss of the Holy Child at Jerusalemfor three days, meeting Jesus on his way to Calvary, standing at the foot of the Cross, Jesus being taken from the Cross, and the burial of Christ. Read more about Our Lady of Sorrows in our article here.
Indulgences for devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows are three hundred days each day, and the devotions may be performed in public or private; a plenary indulgence on any day of September or 1-8 October under the usual conditions
October is the month of the Rosary, because of the anniversary of victory at the Battle at Lepanto and the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary occurring in October. The Battle of Lepanto and the institution of the feast day took place in the 17th century; in the late 1800s, Pope Leo XIII officially dedicated the entire month to devotion to the Holy Rosary. Read our entire article on the month of the Rosary here, and learn more about the Battle of Lepanto in our article here.
The month of November is dedicated to the poor souls in purgatory. All souls day falls on November 2nd, which is when we commemorate all the faithful departed. The indulgences attached to this devotion are seven years and seven quarantines each day; plenary indulgence on any day of the month under the usual conditions.
December is dedicated to Advent and the coming of Christ. This refers to the preparation for the celebration of remembering Christ’s birth 2000 years ago, but also the prayerful, spiritual preparation for the second and final coming of the Lord. To view our Advent and Christmas resources, click here.
– This article incorporated some information from the Catholic Encyclopedia.