Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy feast (not solemnity) of St. Patrick!

Today is the feast of St. Patrick (St. Patrick's Day) so don't forget to wear green and wish that you were lucky enough to be born Irish if you're not (I'm ¼ Irish that's not too bad).

Don't forget that this Friday is the solemnity of St. Joseph (Jesus' … adoptive father, or step-dad, or something like that). St. Joseph is the patron saint of fathers and is a great one to remember when the dad-thing gets tough.

But what's the difference between feasts and solemnities?

The basic answer is solemnities are of higher importance than feasts; in face, solemnities are of higher importance than the liturgical season (currently Lent). On a solemnity, we act as though it were Sunday, we do a Sunday-style Mass (though the Solemnity will have its own readings) and any fasts prescribed by the Church for the liturgical season are ignored.

In other words, since this Friday is a solemnity meat is on the menu!

Feasts on the other hand don't over-rule the daily readings or the liturgical season. That's why a few years ago when St. Patrick's Day was on a Friday each bishop had to decide whether or not to offer a dispensation from meat (presumably for corned beef sandwiches).

Imagine you lost a good friend and are in the grieving process. Imagine someone's birthday came along. You'd probably go to the birthday party and have a nice time but would likely not stop grieving, you'd probably still be thinking about the loved one. That's like a feast.

Now imagine that instead of a birthday party a close friend of yours who was serving in Afghanistan surprised everyone by coming home a month early. You haven't seen him in over a year and were constantly worried about his safety. This time the celebration would probably, at least temporarily, let you forget about your grief and focus entirely on celebrating the life of the returning vet. That's like a solemnity.

So have a great St. Patrick's Day, but don't forget to have an even better St. Joseph's Day this Friday!

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