Tuesday, 9 January 2007

Give Us Back Our Holyday Heritage !

The Bishops of England and Wales say that they are very keen on consultation with the faithful. So much so that they want to have lots of cozy little chats with parish groups to find out how the Church should "progress." By which they seem to mean that they "need" to plan for a Church with fewer parishes and fewer priests... and more "caring, sharing" Communion Services.

So, having heard how keen they are on consultation, it was a trifle irritating to find that these same Bishops, without so much as a by-your-leave - let alone consultation, have abolished most of the Holydays of Obligation. Oh sorry, no... not abolished exactly, just transferred them to the nearest Sunday to make life easier for the faithful who lead such busy lives. However, since Sundays (last time I looked) are days of Obligation anyway, the extra Holydays have effectively been abolished, so let's not pretty it up with fancy words.

It is even more annoying to read on blogs overseas praising the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster for having written a Pastoral Letter encouraging the faithful to take part in more traditional Catholic devotions, like Benediction and the Rosary... (See this post by The Hon. Treasurer at the Recusant Cricket Club for a good examination of his message.) It seems to have escaped the notice of the Cardinal that the sort of person who would "find the time" for such Catholic devotions is the sort of person who would jolly well make sure that they found the time to attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on a Holyday of Obligation, and who rejoiced in the marking of such major Feasts in the same way that Catholics through the ages have done...

...Maybe I'm being overly cynical, but has anyone else noticed that such devotions as the Rosary and the Stations of the Cross and so on don't actually need the presence of a priest...?

7 comments:

Real Cynic said...

"Consultation" usually means:

We have decided what is best for you [i.e. what fits in with our vision of 'being Church', and by means of carefully engineered parish "discussion packs" and the use of well-trained "facilitators" [these masquerade as paper/pencil monitors and seem harmless enough at the time], we will grant you the illusion that you have actually been consulted - when you eventually see things our way.

Oh, and don't forget the evaluation sheets!

Mark said...

I have, of course, been in a time machine up here, but I think some similar things were afoot up here. I know +Keith Patrick engaged in consultations with the Parishes in the Archdiocese regarding stuff, including the Deanery boundaries.

It really bugs me when people start to move obligations to Sundays. It's going down the slippery slope. The next step is to then not announce that a particular weekday was/is still a Feast, and then well, there'll be no special days left during the week (something I love).

Re Real Cynic's comments--I think the Church is lagging behind in the 'new management speak' stuff. It's still stuck in the nonsense stuff that some businesses were stuck in in the 90s/early 00s, and that the majority of organisations are still in. The Church needs the organisational version of Web 2.0!

Capt. said...

I agree - "In consultation" is one of those phrases like "For your safety and convenience" that makes the hair on my neck stand on end. The always betoken something I am really going to dislike.

Augustinus said...

Three Holidays have been abolished - there can be no doubt about that. The feasts of the Epiphany, Ascension and Corpus Christi are observed in the universal calendar of the Church on their respective days. What the bishops of E and W have done is transfer their liturgical observance to the nearest Sunday. Since, as Mac points out, Sundays are also Holidays, this means that three Holidays have been abolished. It's simple maths.

It's a bit like your birthday falls on a Friday, but the family can't make it that day, so you have your celebration on another day: the birthday still happened, all that was changed was the celebratory observance.

The net effect of the change is that, in E and W, there is now only 1 Holiday of Obligation on a feast of Our Lord: Christmas day (and, from all accounts, more and more Catholics get this "over with" by going to an afternoon/ early evening Mass the day before).

Once the incongruity of this becomes recognised, will the next move be to suppress altogther the Holidays which pertain to the feasts of lesser relative importance than those of Christ Himself: ie His Mother's Assumption, Sts Peter and Paul and All Saints?

We need to pray harder for the Church in our land.

Mac McLernon said...

all that was changed was the celebratory observance

...actually, Augustinus, it's a bit more than that... the family decided to combine your birthday celebration with someone else's, because they couldn't be bothered to celebrate yours on its own... not special enough, see!

We certainly need to pray...

Augustinus said...

Mac - you're right. And a bit like when Christmas day falls on Monday - you get some who say 'let's get Sunday and Christmas day Mass in one (two for the price of one) by going to the vigil Mass'. They're wrong, but.....

As an added bonus, in Birmingham diocese there are some parishes where you can get your Sunday Mass obligation fulfilled on a Saturday lunch-time (I kid you not) by combining it with your weekend shopping. See how convenient the Church makes it for us.

It's hard not to be cynical sometimes - but prayer is the only answer.

tc said...

In my experience, some of the most beautiful masses I have attended have been on holy days of obligation. There is something unexplainably magical about these special feast days. Like a lot of people, I have a long commute back in the evenings and sometimes it is very difficult to make it back for mass but I really do try and when I make it, it's really worth it. Each one deserves it's own special day not on a Sunday.

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