Friday, December 08, 2006

Another Feast Day, Another Holy Day of Obligation

One of the "problems" with checking out the Many Catholic blogs out there is they never let you forget when there is a Holy Day of Obligation. Kind of like the Good Sisters who nagged us in grammar school--we used to get Holy Days off until they realized that many families were skipping out on the Mass part. If we were at school, we had to go to Mass.

Free will? Not if the Good Sisters had anything to say about it! :)

So last night DD#2 asked me, "Do you ever get a song stuck in your head?"

"All the time," I answered.

"Religious songs?"

"Which one?"

She hummed a few bars. I recognized it almost immediately: "Hail Holy Queen Enthroned Above." The 8th Grade was practicing for today's Mass during school.

I put a reminder on my Outlook calendar at work so I wouldn't forget to go at lunch time. St. Patrick's is an old parish--my grandmother was baptised there in 1898--and the church dates from the early 1910's. It was originally an Irish parish, so the stained glass windows list the counties of Ireland with their patron saints (so that's who St. Finbar is--the patron saint of Cork!). The altar is carved marble, filled with statues and symbols. There are five stained glass windows over the sanctuary: the Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, with St. Patrick in the middle. (Give the Irish some credit for a particular fondness for their favorite saint!).

Over the years, the parish culture has changed. Now Filipino star lanterns, called parols, hang from the lights. (More about Filipino Christmas traditions, including Simbang gabi and misa de gallo here.) A second collection was taken for the victims of the typhoon that recently hit the Luzon province in the Philippine Islands, with a special Mass for them tonight--many of the parishioners have family and friends back in the Islands.

Those of us who gathered to celebrate the noon Mass and to honor Mary and her Immaculate Conception are a mixed bag. We are blue collar, white collar, professional, and homeless. We are clergy, religious, and laity. We represent all the continents of the Catholic Church. We share the Mass in English, but it might not be our first--or even second--language. We are the Church.

No one would know if I didn't make it to Mass today. No one but God would care, frankly. I go to Mass now because it's important to me to do my best to follow the rules of the Church I claim to belong to. And, frankly, because those Good Sisters did manage to instill a sense of responsibility into me all those many years ago and I hate feeling guilty!