We Celebrate June as the Month of the Sacred Heart — Not ‘Pride Month’
This month, we ought to storm heaven with our prayers and ask for the intercession of our beloved martyrs.
We all are aware that June is called “Pride Month” in some circles. We have been assaulted all month with LGBT flags and messaging on social media and television broadcasts, at retail stores and restaurants, at sporting events and, perhaps, even by acquaintances and neighbors.
Of course, there is a social movement underway to resist this barrage. Boycotts of retail giants and sports teams, along with clear and firm statements by well-known athletes, musicians and the like, seem to have helped in significant measure. Still, we need to engage this on more than just an economic front. It is no coincidence, then, that June contains the memorial celebrations of a handful of Christian martyrs, each of whom provides a bold and firm witness against the prevailing trends of sexual immorality in their respective eras.
To begin the month, we recall the witness of St. Justin Martyr. While his teaching and writing were often focused more broadly on explaining Christian beliefs and practices, he did address the sexual immorality of Roman culture explicitly. In Chapter 27 of his First Apology to Emperor Titus, on the guilt of exposing children, Justin wrote:
But as for us, we have been taught that to expose newborn children is the part of wicked men; and this we have been taught lest we should do any one an injury, and lest we should sin against God, first, because we see that almost all so exposed (not only the girls, but also the males) are brought up to prostitution. And as the ancients are said to have reared herds of oxen, or goats, or sheep, or grazing horses, so now we see you rear children only for this shameful use; and for this pollution a multitude of females and hermaphrodites, and those who commit unmentionable iniquities, are found in every nation.
While he was describing Rome near the end of the first century, the passage might also be used, verbatim, to describe what happens at pride festivals and drag shows around our country. Worse, it identifies what will happen to children who are exposed to such immoral and grotesque behavior.
St. Charles Lwanga (June 3). On June 3, we remember St. Charles Lwanga, a Ugandan man who worked to protect young boys from being raped by the pederast king. The king was enraged by Lwanga’s defiant stand and his provision of catechism lessons to the children. Without many words, his witness is enough. In our own culture, we must be willing to protect purity by bold witness against the prevailing culture, even against the powers that be. The employment of words is important, but secondary.
Sacred Heart of Jesus (19 Days After Pentecost). In the middle of the month stands the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to which the entire month is dedicated. St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, the Apostle of the Sacred Heart, reminds us in a June 1689 letter to one of her religious sisters that the essence of the Christian thing is to “abandon ourselves to the loving providence of the Sacred and lovable Heart of Jesus and let Him guide and rule us as He wishes.” That formula seems precisely the opposite of pride. We can spend a whole month, and beyond, begging the Sacred Heart of Jesus to shed his great mercy upon our culture, and upon all of us who need conversion.
Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More (June 22). Later in the month, on June 22, we commemorate the martyrdoms of Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More. Specifically, both men were killed for their refusal to take the Oath of Supremacy to King Henry VIII. Still, behind Henry’s power grab was his refusal to abide by the Church’s teaching and practice of the marital bond. Both Fisher and More refused to capitulate to the whims of the powerful king, even when everyone else around them took the oath of fealty. They paid fealty to God and his revelation through the Church instead.
Nativity of St. John the Baptist (June 24). Then, there is the witness of John the Baptist. St. John was imprisoned and martyred by King Herod Antipas for pointing out the king’s adulterous relationship with Herodias. Setting an example for later martyrs throughout the centuries, he refused to acknowledge the earthly authority of the king as a higher authority than the revelation of God Himself. In St. John, we see the courage to tell the truth about God’s plan for marriage and sexuality, even in the face of becoming a social pariah.
Sts. Peter and Paul (June 29). At the end of the month, we remember the lives and martyrdoms of Sts. Peter and Paul. In his New Testament letter, St. Peter wrote prophetically: “There will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them. … And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed” (2 Peter 2:1-2). Of course, St. Paul wrote on several occasions to warn against sexual immorality. Ultimately, though, he reminded us of the provenance of our enemies: “For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). Both of these men were killed in the persecutions of Emperor Nero, a paranoid and prideful eccentric, in the A.D. 60s.
So, during June, we ought to storm heaven with our prayers and ask for the intercession of these beloved martyrs. Finally, we must beg the mercy of Jesus on each of us, our culture, and those who put pride above purity. This is the only way to fully reclaim the month.