DPPL 233: Problems With A Saint’s Day

STA altar at night smallThe Church offers some cautions. Don’t let the party get too wild, or too disconnected from “Christian content.” Do you think they overstate the case? Saint Patrick being the exception.

233. From a religious and anthropological perspective, several elements serve to undermine the genuine nature of the “Saint’s day”.

In a religious perspective, the “Saint’s feast” of the “patronal feast” of the parish, when emptied of the Christian content that lies at its origin – the honor given to Christ in one of his members – becomes a mere popular observance or a social occasion, serving, in the best instances, as little other than a social occasion for the members of a particular community.
In an anthropological perspective, “to celebrate”, not infrequently, is defined by the behavior assumed by particular individuals or groups which can be widely at variance with the true significance of the feast. To celebrate a feast is to allow (people) to participate in God’s lordship over creation, and in His active “rest”, rather than in any form of laziness. It is a expression of simple joy, rather than unlimited selfishness. It is an expression of true liberty rather than an occasion for ambiguous amusement which creates new and more subtle forms of enslavement. It can safely be said that: transgressions of the norms for ethical behaviour not only contradict the law of the Lord, but also injure the anthropological fibre of celebration.

Joy, liberty, and union with God against laziness, selfishness, and slavery: a proper caution. But would you agree saints’ feasts are the prime occasions these days for “transgressions”? If anything, most modern Christians neglect all but the secular holidays. Or perhaps there is commentary from other parts of the world.

The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy is online at the Vatican site.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, post-conciliar liturgy documents. Bookmark the permalink.

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