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?