Thursday, May 17, 2007

Give me my holy day back!

Curse that Curt Jester! He beat me to the punch. Today is, in fact, the Feast of the Rant. It has been for twelve years here in Utah. I am famous for moaning and complaining about Ascension Sunday. A woman in my parish asked her husband, "Is tomorrow a holy day of obligation?" He replied, "No, and you can bet we are going to hear about that at daily Mass tomorrow." And he was right. In my last parish, this time of the year was know as the "When Father Erik complains about moving the Ascension". Every year on Ascension Sunday, one of the General Intercessions reads, "That the Solemnity of the Ascension will be returned to its proper day of
Thursday." My former bishop, Archbishop Neiderauer, was used to my frequent comment that the Church needs more holy days, not fewer and that Catholics needs to be in church more, not less.

So what is wrong with Ascension Sunday? Two things, I think. First, Jesus didn't ascend into heaven on a Sunday, in was on a Thursday. Now I know the Modernists don't believe that. Who cares. That is what the Church teaches. To move the solemnity, undercuts the historicity of the event and the link between the Church Year and History. We are not celebrating an idea or event a doctrine, but rather an event; an important one at that. It was 40, not 43, days after Easter that our frail human nature was taken up into heaven and lifted above all of creation. In a Da Vinci Code world we cannot afford to sell short the historicity of our faith.

Second, this is yet another withdrawal in the face of secularism. Meatless Fridays, processions, rogatation and ember days, etc ... all gone in the name of compromise with the world. Neither the Church nor the world is better for it. This is yet another sign, intentional or not, that religion is just something for Sundays. Mark my words, the Sunday Obligation is next up on the Liturginazi chopping block. I suspect that a dislike of anything that is distinctively Catholic is the real motivation behind the assault from within the Church on holy days. (That and the fact that too many priests are too lazy.) Sometimes I also think that they imagine that people will explode, implode, die, or turn purple if they have to attend Mass twice in a week. Newsflash: no one ever died from attending Mass (aside from those martyred during times of persecution, of course). And I don't care that many people didn't attend anyway. That is their sin. We shouldn't surrender to it.
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