I first heard my previous pastor distinguish between holy days several years ago, citing that observances of Thanksgiving, Ash Wednesday, and Holy Thursday were “holy days of opportunity” that many believers would take advantage to celebrate some aspect of their faith. It was later that I read disparaging remarks online about these being applied to the more traditional days of “obligation.” These criticisms miss the mark. Truthfully, there is even opportunity in obligation, as we have known it. And if faith communities were serious about taking advantage of the opportunity, I think we would do “better” with days like yesterday.
The Legion of Mary at my parish provided a substantial spread after yesterday’s 9AM Mass: sandwiches, sweet rolls, lumpia, casseroles, salads, and fruit. Yum. Most parishes feel no obligation to provide celebratory fixings for major non-Sunday observances–unlike the more ancient traditions of respite from work, and festive celebrating. My sense is that liturgical obligation has been practically abrogated by the lack of
solemnity seriousness attached by institutions and parishes to these days. Really: gone are the days when obligation has any appeal whatsoever–at least in today’s society.
In a way, the whole discussion about restoring holy days to their original weekdays is jumping the gun. Most parishes just aren’t prepared to begin to think about serious celebrations of Epiphany, Ascension, and Corpus Christi. How we bumble Immaculate Conception shows us that.