Friday, March 27, 2015

Doing Away with Holy Days of Obligation

The Diocese of Albany publishes weekly a periodical titled, The Evangelist. It highlights events and developments around the Diocese, as well as across the globe. For the most part, it's somewhat solid. But every once in a while you'll find, scattered in the pages, a heretical idea, or a photo of liturgical dancers. This week, my brief scanning found (yet another) ridiculously stupid write up.

This week's The Evangelist published a question from a reader (originally from December) to Fr. Kenneth Doyle, Albany's Chancellor for Public Information, essentially asking when Holy Days of Obligation will be removed from the calendar...

From the column, "Question Box:"

"When are we going to do away with holy days of obligation? We no longer live in medieval times when a village is closed down for the day. The only people at Mass now are the diehards. Please encourage the bishops to put the celebrations on Sunday or take away the obligation. (Copake, NY)"
His answer was not exactly informative...

Of course, this illicits a response from yours truly...

If you don't want the richness of the Catholic Faith, if you want a bland year that passes without anyone noticing, then you're looking for something other than the Truth. 

It's time to evaluate. 

Holy Days of Obligation (or HDOOs, as I like to call them) should not be thought of as "obligations," as burdensome days when you have to go to Mass, or else. These are days of rejoicing! All Saints, Christmas, Ascension, these are days that we should be running to our Churches to praise God!

The reader who asked the question is very misinformed. I wouldn't be so quick to say that their sentiment is malicious, but it certainly shows how uncatechized they are. Things like HDOOs that are a major part of the Church and the Liturgical Year can't just be "done away with" simply because people don't want to take an hour out of their day to go to Mass. This is part of the visible effect of the changes of the Second Vatican Council. When the Liturgical Year was rewritten/revised/recreated, people were given the idea that things in the Church can be changed on a whim, and the fact that nobody was really educated about the changes of Vatican II is partly to blame for things like this. Results of this are obvious - Why can't we allow divorced and remarried folks to receive Communion? Because the Church doesn't allow it. I'm a woman and I'm not going to veil anymore. We never said you shouldn't veil. I think abortion and homosexuality are okay. The Church doesn't; she never has and she never will. Let's have clowns during Mass.  ...     It doesn't work like that.

Okay. Let's pretend that the Church could change directions on a dime. Fine. However, God does not change; He is ever the same. The same is true for His Word and teaching. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says in entry 2059 that the "ten words" were pronounced by God Himself to Moses in the midst of a Theophany (Deuteronomy 5:4). It then goes on to say (entry 2072) that "the Ten Commandments reveal, in their primordial content, grave obligations. They are fundamentally immutable, an they oblige us always and everywhere. No one can be dispense from them. The Ten Commandments are engraved by God in the human heart." Wow. No arguing with that one! Let's go on. The third Commandment tells us to keep holy the Sabbath Day. The Church and her Catechism reach further than "just Sundays," and extend this commandment to Holy Days of Obligation as well. 

It's not like Masses on HDOOs are so hard to find. Churches everywhere offer Masses throughout the day, especially on Holy Days. It's not impossible, by any means, to work 9-5, or 8-4:30, or even 10-7, and make Mass. There are morning Masses, noon Masses, and evening Masses. The problem with attending Mass isn't the convenience, it's the attitude of the attendee. 

Even if you have a really rough day at work, and you're exhausted, and all you want to do is go home and pass out on the couch watching Jeopardy!, you should get comfort out of knowing that you will spend an hour of your day with Our Lord, and that the day is a Holy Day because it is a special day. Sadly, many Catholics don't think of it this way, and will never think of it this way. They are misinformed about the Liturgy, about the Church as a whole, and about their duty to Worship God. 

One small point having to do with the statement, "We no longer live in medieval times when a village is closed down for the day." Something curious that I found while reading the Catechism to discuss the topic of the Commandments is this nugget from CCC 2188

"In respecting religious liberty and the common good of all, Christians should seek recognition of Sundays and the Church's holy days as legal holidays. They have to give everyone a public example of prayer, respect, and joy and defend their traditions as a precious contribution to the spiritual life of society. If a country's legislation or other reasons require work on Sunday, the day should nevertheless be lived as the day of our deliverance which lets us share in this 'festal gathering,' this 'assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven.'"

Interesting! Could you imagine how amazing it would be to make the Assumption of Our Lady a national holiday? Now we really wouldn't have an issue getting to Masses! But alas, America...

The Liturgical Year needs to shape our year. It is our year! We must adopt the cycles of the Church into our own daily life. As Michael Voris said a couple of weeks ago, we must be "Catholic, more than we are human!"

The sense of dreadful obligation that accompanies Holy Days of Obligation is really a problem, and that's the only thing that needs to be changed...

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