June Spiritual Heroes
Spiritual Heroes for Commemoration at Communion
June 1: St. Justin of Rome (c. 167)—Philosopher and Martyr. Justin came from a gentile family in Samaria. He studied all the major religious and philosophical movements of his day, eventually deciding to become a Christian. He saw Christian faith as the fulfillment of Greek philosophy. He later settled in Rome and, upon refusing to sacrifice to the gods, was scourged and beheaded.
June 3: Blessed John XXIII (1881-1963)—Modernizer of the Church. When John was elected Pope he was expected to be no more than a transitional figure. In a brief pontificate of less than five years, John was able to bring about sweeping changes by opening the church up to positive dialogue with the modern world. John convened Vatican II (only the second council since the 16th century) as a pastoral council to address Christian unity, world peace, and the needs of the poor.
June 7: Seattle (1786?-1866)—Chief of the Suquamish. As a child growing up on Puget Sound, Seattle witnessed the arrival of the first white settlers. When he became chief he tried to use peaceful dialogue, rather than violence, to coexist with the increasing demands of the new settlers. He and his people converted to Christianity, but he came to see that there were fundamental spiritual differences between his people and the settlers, especially in our relationship with the earth. He understood that “to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its Creator.”
June 12: Anne Frank (1929-1945)—Witness of the Holocaust. During the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam, Ann Frank’s family remained in hiding for two years. At the age of 13 she took her school books and a diary into captivity with her. There she recorded not only their day to day struggle for survival, but her personal growth as a young woman who could find hope in the face of hopelessness. Shortly after turning fifteen they were discovered and she was sent to her death in the concentration camps.
June 25: Sadhu Sundar Singh (1889-1929)—Indian Christian mystic. Sundar Singh came from a wealthy family in northern India which followed the Sikh faith. As a teenager he had a mystical vision of Christ addressing him in Hindustani. For becoming a Christian he was turned out into the streets. He wore the robes of an Indian holy man, wandering across the country preaching the Gospel. He often taught in parables, and like Jesus attracted large crowds. He saw in Jesus a model for bridging the spiritual wisdom of the East and West.
June 27: Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots
June 29: St. Peter and St. Paul—Apostles. Peter was a commercial fisher known for being quite impetuous. Jesus gave him the nickname of ‘rock,’ and in the Catholic tradition he is considered the first Pope. Paul, on the other hand, was not one of Jesus’ original followers. He helped persecute the first Christians. After his conversion he was primarily responsible for spreading the “Gospel” to non-Jews across the Roman Empire. He wrote the first books of the Christian Scriptures as letters to churches he founded. He and Peter often did not get along. Peter and Paul both are thought to have been executed in Rome.