My Carmelite buddy Father Dan puts our feet to the fire with this easy litmus test of living our Catholic faith.
Which made a bigger dent in your life this week, the Super Bowl or the Feast of the Presentation?
"If the National Labor Relations Board investigated your life in this way, what would they find? Would they find that you really are salt in the world, and light in darkness, as Jesus’ urged? Or would they also find that the reality of your life doesn’t match the surface? And if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?
I want to close by considering two days: today, and this past Wednesday.
Today—this evening—there is something happening. I can’t imagine what. It isn’t a federal holiday; it isn’t on your employer’s calendar; it isn’t on your children’s school calendar; I doubt it is even a Hallmark holiday. And yet, mysteriously, 100 million people will do something different than they do on a normal Sunday; 100 million. They will all watch the same television channel, so that it will be the most-watched program of the year—perhaps even of all television history, as it was last year. They will all make special food, especially chili and wings, so that it ranks only second to Thanksgiving as food purchasing for a holiday. It might even generate more prayers, on behalf of one team or the other, than many other days of the year.
Yes, the government investigator would probably find evidence of the Super Bowl in your finances and your calendar. It shows up; it makes a bump.
But what about last Wednesday? The investigator would point to the evening of February 2 and say, “It says Presentation; was that some sort of talk you were giving?” “Oh no,” you would say, “that’s the Feast of the Presentation—one of the great feasts of the Church year. It comes 40 days after Christmas, and celebrates when Mary and Joseph took the baby Jesus to the Temple. And so the Lord entered his Temple. And the old man Simeon said he would be a ‘light to enlighten the nations.’ And so the whole parish gets together in the evening. And we start out in the front of the property, and the priest blesses candles, and we have this candlelight procession, singing, until we get inside the church—which has been a Catholic tradition for centuries. And then we celebrate Mass. And then we go to the parish hall for a great dinner—with traditional foods for that feast day. And there are games for the kids; and one class always puts on a little skit about the day. It’s so much fun. I look forward to it every year. You know, you should come next year. I think you would really enjoy it.”
And the investigator would mark down: Yep, this one is Catholic. This one is salt and light. This Feast of the Presentation isn’t a federal holiday, or on the employer’s calendar or the school calendar or in the Hallmark cards; but it sure makes a bump in his life.
Of course, that didn’t happen last Wednesday, did it? But it could! If you would like to help make plans for feast days like that one, let me know. The Feast of the Annunciation is coming up on March 25."
Read Father Dan's whole homily here.
Find ideas about how to celebrate Candlemass better next year, click here and here.