Monday, December 8, 2014

Mary, Did You Know That Your Feast Days are Confusing?


So yesterday I made it home from my very busy weekend. I started to unwind and unpack and get organized for the chaotic finals week ahead. My thought process was something like this: Monday: papers, presentation. Oh, crap, I need to figure out when to fit in Mass since it’s a holy day. But wait; it’s a holy day on a Monday, which means it’s moved to Sunday. Whew. One less thing…But wait; isn’t the Immaculate Conception the U.S. patron? Doesn’t that mean that the holy day that shouldn’t be moved but is actually isn’t? To the Google machine.

Turns out that yes, the Immaculate Conception is still a holy day of obligation, even if it’s on a Saturday or Monday. Americans just have to suck it up and go to church two days in a row. Yes, it was kind of an inconvenience for me; even with 5 mass times offered in town today, I had to decide on whether to go into work an hour late or leave an hour early.

But in all honesty, I didn’t mind going. I like going to Mass, especially when the music is decent. I particularly like going on weekdays, because it feels like my faith is more interwoven into the rest of my life that way. I miss being able to get to daily Mass like I did this summer. Would have I gone today had it not been an obligation? No. I didn’t want to. I wouldn’t have chosen this Monday or this feast day. But that doesn’t mean I went unwillingly. I like obeying. I like going to Mass. I like unmoved movable holy days. I like singing the Gloria in a season of penance. I love my weird, confusing faith.

SimchaFisher wrote a great article about holy days of obligation and giving into the obligation part with the right attitude. The American in me wants to only attend when it’s good for me. The Catholic in me knows it’s good to attend whether I want to or not. She says:

“I would be wonderful if we simply always wanted to go to Mass. It would be Heaven on earth if we enjoyed doing all the things we ought to do…But knowing how you ought to be is not the same as being that way. The Church gives us obligations because she knows we need them. This is an idea which sets the Church apart from so many other religions: the much-derided ‘rules and regulations’ that the Church lovingly imposes show that the Church understands human nature…All the same, it’s a good idea to remember that I obey, it’s because the thing I’m doing is good for me but also because obeying itself is good for me.”

So I go to Mass twice within 18 hours, even though I didn’t want to either time. I enjoy it both times. I receive the grace of God and the body and blood of Christ and the security of the Church. I get showered in blessings, because I have to. Obligations are freeing.

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