Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Happy Epiphany!

Happy Feast Day! I guess I can say that without getting into too much trouble. I guess I can also admit that I'm just a little bit tired of the tinkering around with the Feasts and Holy Days of Obligation. What's the purpose? Ostensibly to make things easier for the faithful. Fine but don't do it at the expense of liturgical common sense. You see there seems to be some very unclear thinking going on. I somehow doubt that the officials that have actually gone and done this know what the grass roots opinion of it is. They must be totally deaf to the fact that whilst the majority of the faithful once suspected they were silly out of touch old fuddy duddies now they actually know it!
You can imagine the Chancery Office wanting to uphold the bishop's authority (it is the ultimate source of that nice pay cheque) and therefore Holydays of Obligation must remain. However at the same they are a bit of a nuisance- it means those nice Conference lunches and cocktail parties have to be sacrificed on the altar of fulfilling ones obligation. Then there's the 'lay-terrh-gee-kahl' brigade in the office round the corner. They are pretty ropeable over the damage it's done to their precious cycle of Ordinary Sundays. The School chaplains, if they can get through the switchboard,  will tell you that the exercise has probably halved the times any Catholic school child will go to Mass during any one year. Thankfully the Indultists have managed to  resurrect some archaic dispensation to celebrate external solemnities. I suspect the score between the Bishops' Conference and the LMS stands at 1-1 at this point.

The average lay person just shakes their head and wonders what practical difference it has made. If they could get there they got there if they had been reminded. If they couldn't they didn't.  I suspect this great 'easing' from our Lords and Masters has not radically increased the devotion of the faithful nor changed the amount of people attending Masses. So what has been gained? A little smug shifting of the deck chairs perhaps? An opportunity, perhaps,  to get revenge on those nasty Extraordinary Form types? (Bad luck guys it backfired!). Sadly the whole exercise is more likely to have been one of deluding themselves that they are actually of some practical significance.


  1. As a Catholic dad I do feel that this great feast has been missed by my children because it was celebrated last Sunday in our church as part of the normal Sunday mass. Jackie (wife) has even a bigger problem in her Catholic school because they are celebrating the Epiphany tomorrow even though it has already been celebrated in the children's local parish!

  2. Happy Feast, here is a great video of The Twelve Days of Christmas.

  3. Well I have been totally confused for some years as to which Holydays of Obligation are still of that ilk and always need a calendar for enlightenment. Of course, one needs the right calendar – appropriate to one’s current domicile… Adding to my confusion is the fact that I have lived in a number of different countries for various periods of my life.

    It seems that at one time January 1st (formerly the Circumcision…) was a Holy Day somewhere, but not January 6th. Then, in some other place the roles were reversed – January 6th was a Holy Day, but January 1st was not.

    So if you were in Country ‘A’ on January 6th you were obliged to go to Mass, whereas if you were in Country ‘B’ you could sleep in without incurring eternal damnation – leading a friend of mine to declare that this was “regionalizing mortal sin…!”

    I think he had a point.


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