Pointing at the bulletin letter's date (link) at left will display it's title.
May 21, 2006
Days of CelebrationFor years, Catholics have been taught that they have an obligation to attend Mass on all Sundays of the year as well as on six other feast throughout the liturgical calendar. The reasons for attending Mass on Sunday are principally to worship the God who created us, our universe and all that makes us alive. Also, we come to Mass to be fed with God’s Word and Sacrament. And, of course, we celebrate all of this on Sunday because Sunday is the Day of Resurrection or New Life. It is the seventh day of the week, thus the day of Rest, (or so it should be).
Why do we have an obligation to celebrate six other days besides Sunday? Although they are days of obligatory worship, many Catholics no longer see this obligation as relating to them. Perhaps they figure they have performed their duty by coming to church on Sunday. Perhaps, they really do not understand the concept of these extra days. Andrew Greeley, gives us a new perspective on this Catholic practice.
The term “obligation” is perhaps the greatest downfall for the preservation our faith. Rather than look at everything from the perspective of rules and obligation, why can’t we look at the events of our faith from a positive, celebratory perspective. The six days that the Church in the United States retain as important do have beautiful tradition and great relevance to our lives if we bother to look at them closely.
One thing that the church does well is to present God as being present in creation, in the objects, and events, and people in the world around us. God is in the processes of nature, in the relationships among humans, in the great events that mark the human life cycle. Catholic imagination is characterized by metaphors, a whole rainforest of metaphors which tells us what God is like. The Catholic tradition, at its best anyway, revels in sacraments and festivals at which it believes God is present in a special way. Hence music and art and architecture and poetry and story and ceremony are (or should be) at the center of Catholic life. (A.Greeley)
What does all this have to do with the days of obligation? Well, the days we celebrate are all related to one or more of the above mentioned criteria. Two great “environmental” holy days connected to the cycle of nature are the Assumption on August 15 and All Saints on November 1. The possibilities inherent in both feasts are enormous if we only saw them from a celebration perspective rather than an obligation to get to Mass.
The feast related to Mary, and there are three, reflect the love of God that is like the love of a mother for a newborn child. God may not be like that at all says Greeley, but Catholics hope against hope that Mary tells us that God is just like that. That is very Good News indeed and definitely grounds for great rejoicing and exuberant celebration.
Perhaps we could work on developing our festive spirits in relation to these holy days rather than to relegate them to the back burners of our lists of obligations. This coming Thursday is the Feast of the Ascension of our Lord. We celebrate the return of Jesus to his father. This was certainly a heartwarming homecoming for Jesus. He had a rough go of it. We should be happy that it ended in such a wonderful time.
Lorette P. Nault