May 10, 2010

Holy Days of Opportunity

Here in New York we are privileged to be one of the last places on earth where the Ascension is celebrated on the actual fortieth day of Easter instead of being transferred to the Sunday following. So at the end of Mass yesterday I was announcing the schedule for this "Holy Day of Opportunity," as my first priest liked to say.

As it always does, this led someone to take up the old debate with me. Weekday holy days should be done away with, transferred to Sundays, or at least have their obligations relaxed so that they don't bind under penalty of sin. In our world it is too much to ask of someone to assist at Mass on a weekday when we have so many other things that have to be done and places to go. It is an unfair an onerous obligation; it's too hard for people.

My answer to this old complaint is always the same, and, to my mind, devastating:

"It doesn't seem to be a problem for people on Ash Wednesday."

It's a weekday. Nobody has the day off. It's not a holy day of obligation. And yet, it's one of the best attended days in the whole church year. Often its only rival for attendance is Christmas. Therefore, the question of assisting at Mass on the occasional weekday is a question not of hardship, but of motivation.

9 comments:

Karinann said...

This comment made by some about relaxing, doing away with Holy Days is a sad commentary on our society. Can we not take 30-60 minutes to give to God to attend Mass?
Here in the archdiocese of Newark we also still celebrate on the proper Thursday.
It is my experience that most parishes expand their Mass schedule on these days to accommodate all schedules.
I like "Holy Days of Opportunity."
God Bless!

ben in denver said...

Alas, in Denver the Holy Day has been Moved to Sunday, But since we use the 1962 missal at my parish, we will be celebrating this coming Thursday anyway. We will have a High Mass at 6:00pm, which should enable many people to come.

I expect that there will be a good attendance even though it is no longer a Holy Day of Obligation for us.

BTW, Title VII of the 1965 Civil Rights Act requires employers to be accomdating of things like Holy Days of Obligation.

Anonymous said...

I am disappointed that my parish is only offering one Mass this Thursday and it's my impression that it's the regular daily Mass. It's also scheduled at 9AM. On Ash Wednesday our parish at an evening Mass to be sure more would attend. How I wish this were the case for Ascension Thursday and Masses for First Fridays. As a side note, is there any reason, other than the celebrant's preference, to not offer an evening Mass for First Fridays? Thank you for your blog!

Jennifer said...

Very good point, Father!

My parish also uses the 1962 missal, so we will be having a solemn high mass Thursday evening. We also happen to have adoration and benediction Thursday afternoons, and Compline in the evening, and there will also be a procession for Our Lady of Fatima (it being May 13th)... I'm absolutely thrilled that I get to do all of these things in one day. (It's an hour drive so I don't get there more than a couple times a week usually).

I wasn't sure if I would be able to go because I have a class on Thursday nights, but I worked it out with the professor to get the material another way. It is such a shame that these kinds of things are so often seen as a burden. If people only knew what joyous occasions they are meant to be they'd be knocking the doors down!

Anonymous said...

I'd just like to say that I think I'm familiar with the parish ben in denver is talking about. If so then I would just like to say thank God for Our Lady of Mt.Carmel and the good and holy Frs. Jackson and Hearty of the FSSP, both of whom are excellent Confessors. And btw this lover of the TLM is not a nostalgic old man, but a 17 year old boy.

Lee Strong said...

Holy Day of Opportunity. I like that. Thanks for passing that on.

Anonymous said...

Opportunity is a good word! It emphasizes the attribute for advancement, rather than another responsibility. New Yorkers are fortunate to have this day celebrated on its traditional Thursday.

I wonder if more people would take advantage of the “days of opportunity” if they received as much instruction on how to approach these Feasts, Memorials and Solemnities as they receive instruction for Ash Wednesday? If we are reminded fast for the Wednesday; should we also be reminded to be festive on a feast day?

carl said...

Anonymous, when are you coming to SJV?

Josh Lynch said...

I am in Pittsburgh and we are celebrating the Ascension today. And I work at Duquesne University so we have the day off!