Today the Church celebrates the birth of the predecessor of Our Lord, St. John the Baptist.
There is so much to say about St. John!
He was the herald of the good news of the Savior’s impending arrival! His mother, St. Elizabeth, was the cousin of the Morning Star – Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary.
When Mary came to assist Elizabeth in the last three months of her pregnancy with St. John, St. John leaped in his mother’s womb in the presence of his cousin, Our Lord, in the womb of His mother, Mary!
The Catholic Church teaches that this was the moment of St. John’s sanctification in the womb.
Our Lady, we are taught, was conceived without original sin, but we are taught that St. John, unlike any other creature save Our Lady and St. Joseph, was born without original sin through this meeting of Our Lord prior to both of their births.
So…what am I getting at?
Today is a feast (actually a solemnity) – our family celebrated by going out for a very decadent breakfast this morning, and we’re off soon to make a Holy Hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament to close our day…
…but ALSO what I’m getting at is something I discovered about nature last year, and how my Faith plays a role in it.
About this time last year we were watching an Australian television show called McLeod’s Daughters. It’s about some women who run a sheep/cattle ranch in the Outback. They were dealing with a problem of St. John’s Wort growing in their pastures, and I was trying to remember back to vet school why St. John’s wort in one’s pasture was a problem. I looked up the plant, and sure enough I thought to myself, as I looked at the photo of the plant, “I think I saw that flower down by the garden yesterday!”
I walked down to the garden the next morning and yes – there was the plant – and it was growing all over the place in the lot adjacent to ours!
St. John’s wort is a plant that is used medicinally by many herbalists to treat depression. It can be toxic to livestock (causes photosensitivity, among other things, resulting in sunburn and can even cause death), though, and it is considered an invasive species. I don’t think we’re going to be able to get rid of it, though – and I don’t think our sheep are suffering depression or are in need of a quick tan, so we’ll probably be avoiding feeding it to them any time soon!BUT – the really cool thing (to me, as a Catholic) is that St. John’s wort got it’s name because it blooms around the time of St. John the Baptist’s feast day – today! How cool is that?!
Forgive me, but I get kind of excited when my faith has an influence in naming plants! And when nature reminds us of our Christian Faith…it’s a good thing!
Happy Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist! And if you find yourself a bit down in the dumps, give us a call and we’ll send you a care package of yellow happy flowers!
Hymn from Vespers
The great forerunner of the morn,
The herald of the Word, is born;
And faithful hearts shall never fail
With thanks and priase his light to hail.
With heavenly message Gabriel came
That John should be that herald’s name,
And with prophetic utterance told
His actions great and manifold.
John, still unborn, yet gave aright
His witness to the coming light;
And Christ, the Sun of all the earth,
Fulfilled that witness at his birth.
Of woman-born shall never be
A greater prophet than was he,
Whose mighty deeds exalt his fame
To greater than a prophet’s name.
All praise to God the Father be,
All praise, eternal Son, to thee,
Whom with the Spirit we adore
For ever and for evermore.