How to Celebrate Holy Days of Awesome

by Fr. Christian Mathis on August 16, 2011

My most recent post on holy days of non-obligation elicited this response from a friend of a friend,

They should stop calling them holy days of obligation then. The very word has the most negative connotations. Maybe “holy days of awesome”?

Another friend had this response,

Your last point is so essential, and I am thankful for your approach! It is quite a challenge (at least when living in areas with fewer daily mass options) to go to mass on non-obligatory days since those in charge of mass scheduling tend to do little to encourage extra participation.

But that brings up the crucial point for me…  holy days of obligation are not, in my limited Catholic world, *holy* days, and certainly not holidays. They are simply days of obligation. One *has* to go to mass, but there is no celebration or vacation from work.

It seems to me that we will only regain an appreciation for holy days when we celebrate them fully, and that is far more than just dragging ourselves to mass during lunch-break as I did today.

So what are we to do with our Catholic holy days? Do we simply make them about an obligation to attend mass? And what about those who can’t attend mass without endangering their job? Our American culture is not exactly supportive of Catholicism these days, in fact much of American culture is hostile to it. It is easy enough for me as a priest to attend mass on a holy day, even more than once as I did yesterday, but this is not the case for many Catholics. Many of our faithful, due to circumstances beyond their control, may not be able to attend mass on many of our holy days. How should these Catholics participate in these “holy days of awesome” in a meaningful way? If we are truly to be people who show others the holiness that is always present in our world, then we must find ways to allow that same holiness to flow freely from the Eucharist into our everyday lives and into the lives of those we meet each day.

Yesterday, I suggested to my parishioners that we could do so by taking time to explore the feast we were celebrating. If we take the feast of the Assumption seriously it will lead us to take a good look at Mary, the mother of God, and find ways to imitate her. We can imitate her humility. We can imitate her faith in God. Perhaps most of all we can imitate her love for Jesus, and if we love Him, we will be led to love even those who are the hardest for us to love.

Any day that we can succeed in following the example of Mary’s love for Christ should certainly be considered a Holy Day of Awesome.

What are your thoughts on ways of turning our Holy Days of Obligation into Holy Days of Awesome?

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  • JeanAnn Carrigan

    Yesterday’s 9:00 AM was a celebration, it was uplifting, inspiring, and wonderful!  The music was dynamite, at the end of mass, the uplifting music sent everyone in the world ready to take on the day with courage and enthusiasm.  Thank you Father for instilling the “real” reason to celebrate mass, and making masses celebrations, uplifting. 

  • Fr. Christian Mathis

    Yes, I believe that Cormac is bringing a very prayerful and uplifting spirit to our parish through our music ministry.

  • Mary

    Further to my comment on your companion blog on this topic, your readers might find Archbishop Dolan’s comments in his Aug. 16th blog interesting.  He discusses bringing abstinence of meat back, and other “external markers” of being a Catholic.

  • Fr. Christian Mathis

    Thanks for both comments Mary. I haven’t seen Archbishop Dolan’s comments yet, but will check them out.

  • Ironiccatholic

    I think I’ll start called them this at school. :)

  • Tara S

    Cupcakes!  I was thinking about this very thing yesterday – I decided on cupcakes. I’m going to make cupcakes for every important feast day to make them more celebratory. I will also now be calling them “Holy Days of Awesome.”

  • Georgia

    There’s a priest in my parish who calls them Holy Days of Opportunity. :)

  • Fr. Christian Mathis

    That’s an awesome way to describe them.

  • Deacon Patrick Murphy-Racey

    I’ve always called them holy days of opportunity–a way to befriend the saints who were just like us and yet found new heights to their faith and service of our Lord. Just like entering a room filled with people, we are not going to like everyone we meet. But by moving around that big room, entering into conversations, and by listening more than talking, we can encounter amazing people who are interesting, and can lead us into a deeper communion with Jesus through the bonds of new friendship with the saints.

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