Posted by: liturgicalyear | August 18, 2010

The Dog Days of August

Muggy, hot, and uncomfortable.  You know…you just don’t feel like doing anything but cool off and relax.  Ennui and inertia rule. We’re deep in the dog days of August, conjuring up images of an overheated canine with its tongue hanging out looking for shade or water.

I remember asking my mom about the meaning of that funny phrase “the dog days of August”.  She said it was a time of the year when everyone gets kind of lazy from the unrelenting heat and humidity.

I thought about August having this reputation, but when you look at the liturgical life of the Church, the picture couldn’t be more different.  Just look August’s feast days:

August 2 – St. Eusebius and St. Peter Eymard
August 4 – St. John Vianney
August 5 – Dedication of the Basilica St. Mary Major in Rome
August 6 – The Transfiguration
August 7 – St. Sixtus and companions
August 9 – St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)
August 10 – St. Lawrence
August 11 – St. Clare
August 12 – St. Jane Frances de Chantal
August 13 – St. Pontian and St. Hippolytus
August 14 – St. Maximillian Kolbe
August 15 – The feast of the Assumption of Our Lady into heaven
August 16 – St. Stephen of Hungary
August 19 – St. John Eudes
August 20 – St. Bernard
August 21 – St. Pius X
August 22 – The feast of the Queenship of Mary
August 23 – St. Rose of Lima
August 24 – St. Bartholomew, apostle
August 25 – St. Louis of France, St. Joseph Calasanz
August 27 – St. Monica
August 28 – St. Augustine

Hardly dogs at all!!!  I mean look at the powerhouse of Saints we remember in August. 

This got me thinking….We can often feel like we’re in the dog days in our spiritual life – difficulty praying, crabby, committing and confessing the same sins over and over again, making no progress – just sitting there hot and sweaty looking for shade with our tongues hanging out. 

I say there is shade all around us in the “cloud of witnesses”(Hb 12:1) we celebrate in August.  Take a moment to check out the list above. 

Do you have a favorite on the list?  Turn to him or her and pray for their intercession for you to grow in your spiritual life. 

Can you picture the Transfiguration?  Can you see Elijah, Moses, and Jesus?  Do you hear the voice from the cloud say “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”(Mk 9:7)  Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to hear what Jesus is saying to you so that you can hear his voice and “listen to him.”

Do you thirst for knowledge of the Truth?  Pray to St. Augustine and read his writings.

Do you need courage to face enemies and those who persecute you?  Pray to St. Maximillian Kolbe or St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross and ask them for courage and wisdom they had to show in the face of the Nazis.

Are you praying for a wayward child? Unite your suffering and hope with St. Monica who prayed for years for the conversion of her son, the great saint, Saint Augustine.

Do you want to be closer in your walk with Jesus?  Call on St. Bartholomew, the apostle, to show you how to follow Him.

Notice, too, that during 3 of the 4 weeks, we have a Marian feast day.  I liken this to the proverbial, “I’m bored,” I used to give my mother when the summer seemed so long and I had no initiative remaining in my limp body.  We should bring Our Lady along with us on those hot, sticky days and ask her to help us to unite our hearts with hers and to make everything, even the slightest drop of sweat, a prayer.  Change the passivity into an active lifting of the heart and mind to God.  Instead of “It’s too hot to…”(fill in the blank), think, “It’s never too hot to say I love you.  I love you, Lord! Help me to know your love for me today.”

The ever-present heat and humidity closing in on all parts of your body – even making your hair react– can serve as a reminder of the ever-present love of God surrounding us.

Here’s to the dog days of August!  Anne


For your further prayer, one of my favorite psalms:  Psalm 139 reminding us of God’s unfailing presence in our lives.

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