Friday, December 7, 2012

Musings on holy days of obligation...

As a child, I distinctly remembering how I felt at Mass. Which was a definite: BORED.

I didn't understand everything that was being said, nor why it was meaningful, and I was always happy to get to the Our Father, because that meant that Mass was approximately 3/4 of the way complete. I can see this same tendency right now in my own son, which makes me a bit sad, but I'm doing what I can to explain things to him and keep him engaged in the Mass and in our Catholic faith, and I pray every day that both of my children will always remain close to Jesus and his Church. That's really all I can do.

It wasn't until I was an adult that I understood the Mass and consequently felt it's true power and meaning. Since that time, I've been grateful every day that I was raised in a church with a liturgy, because I love it, and it suits me so well. I used to attend daily Mass, and so wish that were an easier objective for me these days. In the end, I'm just so grateful that I have the gift of the Mass.

I read somewhere that Sunday Mass attendance amongst self-identified Catholics is approximately 25%. For holy days of obligation, the number is much, much lower. I know that there are some dioceses in which bishops chose to eliminate the obligation to attend Mass on some holy days, and instead moved the feast to the closest Sunday. Whenever I look at my Catholic calendar, printed at my parish, I seem to remember Hawaii always being mentioned :) so I believe they are one of those exception dioceses.

This is just my opinion, but I was always glad that I live in a diocese that does not move the holy days of obligation to Sundays only. I love the holy day Masses, and it gives me an excuse to make that extra effort during the week to attend Mass. The liturgy is always special on those days, and the readings particularly poignant.

There are a few holy days, however, that do not carry the option of being moved by our local bishops. The feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8th) is one of those holy days, because Our Lady under that name is patroness of the United States. Christmas, obviously, is another such holy day.

I have to admit, this year, the feast of the Immaculate Conception presents an awkward Mass challenge for me. The vigil is tonight, but via some very bad luck, I got stuck with the 3-5 pm reference shift this afternoon. Hence, all 4 and 5 pm vigils are out for me. I could technically make a 7 pm vigil, but I have dance class then, and you know how much I love my dance class. Obviously, if I had no other option to attend Mass, I'd have to miss my class, but happily I can go tomorrow morning, on the feast itself.

The only problem with *that* is that we wanted to go to the vigil for the second Sunday of Advent together as a family Saturday evening (Mike doesn't like going to Mass on Sunday mornings, he always prefers to go to a Saturday vigil when he attends), which would mean Mass twice in one day. And that seems less than ideal to me, like I was treating the Masses as not as special as they deserve because I'm simply packing them in to accommodate my schedule.

And so I had thought to myself for a brief time that I wished that this was one of the holy days that was moved to a Sunday (when they fall on a Saturday or a Monday, which I think all dioceses do). But I corrected myself pretty quickly. Both the feast of the Immaculate Conception and the second Sunday of Advent deserve their own special Mass, they cannot be combined or one forsaken for the other. So I simply have to deal.

I'm still not sure what we'll do yet about the second Sunday of Advent. If Mike really wants to go to Mass, I'm certainly not going to turn him away, so I'll go to Mass twice on Saturday. If not, then I'll go to Mass for the second Sunday of Advent on Sunday morning. Next Sunday, I have Children's Liturgy of the Word duty, so we won't go to the vigil that week. And I know that Mike probably won't want to go to Mass as a family on the fourth Sunday of Advent because Christmas is so close and he'll be attending on Christmas Eve. *sighs* The problems of Catholic Librarians these days, I tell you.

So, my evening today and morning tomorrow will be a bit hectic. I may try to take Anne to Mass with me in the morning if (a) it won't interfere with her nap, and (b) she isn't in a foul mood and clearly on the prowl for trouble.

We'll see how it goes. :)

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