Showing posts with label Holy Days of Obligation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Holy Days of Obligation. Show all posts
Tuesday, June 23, 2020
Nativity of St. John the Baptist - A Former Holy Day of Obligation

Birth of St. John the Baptist: Giordano Luca (1670's), The Hermitage

Among the casualties of liturgical change and relaxation in discipline in the past few centuries has been the loss of importance for the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist on June 24th. In "Christian Feasts and Customs," Father Weiser writes of the importance of the Feast of St. John's Nativity:
"The Council of Agde, in 506, listed the Nativity of Saint John among the highest feasts of the year, a day on which all faithful had to attend Mass and abstain from servile work. Indeed, so great was the rank of this festival that, just as on Christmas, three Masses were celebrated, one during the vigil service, the second at dawn, the third in the morning. In 1022, a synod at Seligenstadt, Germany, prescribed a fourteen-day fast and abstinence in preparation for the Feast of the Baptist. This, however, was never accepted into universal practice by the Roman authorities."
By the time of the changes to the Holy Days of Obligation in 1642, Pope Urban VIII kept the Nativity of St. John the Baptist as a day of precept. Why the importance? Father Wiser explains:
"The days of all the Apostles were raised to the rank of public holydays in 932. The feasts of Saint Michael, Saint Stephen, Saint John the Baptist, and other saints of the early centuries were celebrated in the past as holydays among all Christian nations."
By the time of his writing in the 1950s, in regards to the feasts of saints, only St. Joseph, Ss. Peter and Paul, All Saints, and the Marian Feasts of the Assumption and the Immaculate Conception remained as days of precept. And of these, Saint Joseph and Ss. Peter and Paul were exempt from obligation in the United States by dispensation from the Holy See.

In Ireland, the Nativity of St. John the Baptist remained as a day of full precept longer than many other days. When changes were made to the Irish holydays in 1755 under Pope Benedict XIV and in 1778 under Pope Pius VI, the Nativity of St. John remained as a day of double precept, even when the feasts of the apostles were reduced to single precept. It was not abolished as a day of precept until 1831 in Ireland

The southeastern Colonies in modern-day Florida and Lousiana kept the Vigil of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist as a day of fasting for much longer than other places. Even today, the Vigil of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist is celebrated with bonfires in many Catholic nations. And St. John the Baptist's Nativity is a public holiday in Quebec and Puerto Rico and Catalonia (where Barcelona is).

The Nativity of St. John the Baptist is one of only three birthdays celebrated by the Church - the other two are of our Lord and our Lady. The uniqueness of the Nativity of St. John and its previous rank as one of the primary holydays should instill in us greater devotion to this festival day, and a greater desire to do penance in advance.

Dom Gueranger, writing on the great Feast of the Nativity of the Lord's Forerunner, relates the following:
On this day, therefore, let us too imitate the Church; let us avoid that forgetfulness which bespeaks ingratitude; let us hail, with thanksgiving and heartfelt gladness, the arrival of him who promises our Saviour to us. Already Christmas is announced. On the Lateran Piazza (or Square) the faithful Roman people will keep vigil to-night, awaiting the hour which will allow the eve's strict fast and abstinence to be broken, when they may give themselves up to innocent enjoyment, the prelude of those rejoicings wherewith, six months hence, they will be greeting the Emmanuel. 
St John's vigil is no longer of precept. Formerly, however, not one day’s fasting only, but an entire Lent was observed at the approach of the Nativity of the Precursor, resembling in its length and severity that of the Advent of our Lord. The more severe had been the holy exactions of the preparation, the more prized and the better appreciated would be the festival. After seeing the penance of St John's fast equalled to the austerity of that preceding Christmas, is it not surprising to behold the Church in her liturgy making the two Nativities closely resemble one another, to a degree that would be apt to stagger the limping faith of many nowadays? 
The Nativity of St John, like that of our Lord, was celebrated by three Masses: the first, in the dead of night, commemorated his title of Precursor; the second, at daybreak, honoured the baptism he conferred; the third, at the hour of Terce, hailed his sanctity. The preparation of the bride, the consecration of the Bridegroom, his own peerless holiness: a threefold triumph, which at once linked the servant to the Master, and deserved the homage of a triple sacrifice to God the Thrice-Holy, manifested to John in the plurality of his Persons, and revealed by him to the Church. In like manner, as there were formerly two Matins on Christmas night, so, in many places, a double Office was celebrated on the feast of St John, as Durandus of Mende, following Honorius of Autun, informs us.[41] The first Office began at the decline of day; it was without Alleluia, in order to signify the time of the Law and the Prophets which lasted up to St John. The second Office, begun in the middle of the night, terminated at dawn; this was sung with Alleluia, to denote the opening of the time of grace and of the kingdom of God.

O God, Who hast made this day worthy of honor by the birth of blessed John: grant to Thy people the grace of spiritual joys, and direct the minds of all the faithful into the way of eternal salvation. Through our Lord.
Monday, June 1, 2020
Pentecost Monday & Pentecost Tuesday as Holy Days of Obligation

When writing about the rank of days in the Catholic Liturgical calendar, there are various ways to label them. In the modern Church, they will use the terms solemnity, feast, memorial, or optional memorial. In the 1962 Missal, we have First, Second, Third, or Fourth Class feastdays. But before the 1962 Missal up until the changes made by Pope Pius XII in 1955, there were from least to most important: Simples, Semidoubles, Lesser Doubles or also known as Doubles, Greater Doubles, Doubles of the second class, and lastly Doubles of the first class.
Using the traditional pre-1955 calendar, we notice something very interesting about Whit Monday and Whit Tuesday. Both of these days, like their counterparts in the Easter Octave, are doubles of the first class whereas the rest of the Pentecost Octave is of Double rank. The Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of the Pentecost Octave are Ember Days and days of fasting and abstinence

Why the special treatment for Monday and Tuesday in the Octave of Pentecost? 

It is because they were universal holy days of obligation for a very long time. In 1642, Pentecost Monday and Pentecost Tuesday were listed as Holy Days per Universa Per Orbem. In 1771, Pope Clement XIV abolished both Easter Tuesday and Pentecost Tuesday as days of refraining from servile work. By 1778, they ceased being days of obligatory Mass attendance. Pentecost Monday was dropped from the universal list in 1911 by Pope St. Pius X's significant reduction in Holy Days on the Universal Calendar.

The Monday after Pentecost is still a holiday in Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Austria, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, The British Virgin Islands, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominica, France, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Ivory Coast, Luxembourg, Monaco, Montserrat, The Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands, Switzerland, Togo, and Ukraine. Until 1973, it was also a holiday in Ireland, and until 1967 it was a bank holiday in the United Kingdom. And Sweden also continued to observe it as a public holiday until 2004.

The Catholic Encyclopedia affirms:
The office of Pentecost has only one Nocturn during the entire week. At Terce the "Veni Creator" is sung instead of the usual hymn, because at the third hour the Holy Ghost descended. The Mass has a Sequence, "Veni Sancte Spiritus" the authorship of which by some is ascribed to King Robert of France. The colour of the vestments is red, symbolic of the love of the Holy Ghost or of the tongues of fire. Formerly the law courts did not sit during the entire week, and servile work was forbidden. A Council of Constance (1094) limited this prohibition to the first three days of the week. The Sabbath rest of Tuesday was abolished in 1771, and in many missionary territories also that of Monday; the latter was abrogated for the entire Church by Pius X in 1911. Still, as at Easter, the liturgical rank of Monday and Tuesday of Pentecost week is a Double of the First Class.
While the Octave of Pentecost may not be days of precept anymore, we can certainly in our own prayer lives observe the Octave of Pentecost, hear Mass these days, pray the Divine Office more regularly, observe the Ember Days, and strive to sanctify them so as to do more than the minimum required by Church Law.

Veni Sancte Spiritus!
Monday, April 20, 2020
Easter Monday & Easter Tuesday as Holy Days of Obligation

When writing about the rank of days in the Catholic Liturgical calendar, there are various ways to label them. In the modern Church, they will use the terms solemnity, feast, memorial, or optional memorial. In the 1962 Missal, we have First, Second, Third, or Fourth Class feastdays. But before the 1962 Missal up until the changes made by Pope Pius XII in 1955, there were from least to most important: Simples, Semidoubles, Lesser Doubles or also known as Doubles, Greater Doubles, Doubles of the second class, and lastly Doubles of the first class.
Using the traditional pre-1955 calendar, we notice something very interesting about Easter Monday and Easter Tuesday. Easter Monday and Tuesday are doubles of the first class whereas the rest of the Easter Octave is a semi-double.  Even with the variation in rank, the Easter Octave is privileged and no other feastday may occur in the Octave. 
But what's unique about Easter Monday and Easter Tuesday is that no other saints are commemorated those days in the Mass or the Divine Office.

Why the special treatment for Easter Monday and Easter Tuesday? It is because they were universal holy days of obligation for a very long time. Easter Tuesday was not dropped from the list until 1777; Easter Monday was dropped from the universal list at the beginning of the 20th century but is still a Holy Day of Obligation in many places to this very day. In Catholic European countries, it is still common to have Easter Monday off as a paid holiday.

The unequaled Dom Gueranger, in his seminal work, The Liturgical Year, writes:
So fervently did the faithful of those times appreciate and love the Liturgy, so lively was the interest they took in the newly made children of holy mother Church, that they joyfully went through the whole of the services of this week. Their hearts were filled with the joy of the Resurrection, and they thought it but right to devote their whole time to its celebration. Councils laid down canons, changing the pious custom into a formal law. The Council of Mâcon, in 585, thus words its decree: ‘It behoves us all fervently to celebrate the feast of the Pasch, in which our great High Priest was slain for our sins, and to honour it by carefully observing all it pre-scribes. Let no one, therefore, do any servile work during these six days (which followed the Sunday), but let all come together to sing the Easter hymns, and assist at the daily Sacrifice, and praise our Creator and Redeemer in the evening, morning, and mid-day.’ 
The Councils of Mayence (813) and Meaux (845) lay down similar rules. We find the same prescribed in Spain, in the seventh century, by the edicts of kings Receswind and Wamba. The Greek Church renewed them in her Council in Trullo; Charlemagne, Louis the Good, Charles the Bald, sanctioned them in their Capitularia; and the canonists of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, Burchard, St Ivo of Chartres, Gratian, tell us they were in force in their time. Finally, Pope Gregory IX inserted them in one of his decretals in the thirteenth century. But their observance had then fallen into desuetude, at least in many places. The Council held at Constance, in 1094, reduced the solemnity of Easter to the Monday and Tuesday. 
The two great liturgists, John Beleth in the twelfth, and Durandus in the thirteenth century, inform us that, in their times, this was the practice in France. It gradually became the discipline of the whole of the western Church, and continued to be so, until relaxation crept still further on, and a dispensation was obtained by some countries, first for the Tuesday, and finally for the Monday. In order fully to understand the Liturgy of the whole Easter Octave (Low Sunday included), we must remember that the neophytes were formerly present, vested in their white garments, at the Mass and Divine Office of each day. Allusions to their Baptism are continually being made in the chants and Lessons of the entire week.
Friday, October 18, 2019
The Traditional Vigils and Feastdays of the Apostles

The Feasts of the Apostles as Holy Days

For over 100 years, the Holy Days of Obligation on the Universal Calendar have remained largely the same. But the number of Holy Days in previous times was significantly larger.

In 1911, Pope St. Pius X reduced the number of Holy Days of Obligation from 36 to 8, although which places observed the holy days were not uniform at all beforehand.  Shortly thereafter, the 1917 Code of Canon Law increased the number to 10 by adding back Corpus Christi and Ss. Joseph. Those ten on the Universal Calendar have remained the same ever since.

However, the Holy Days up until 1911 reveal something quite interesting as all of the feasts of the Apostles were Holy Days of Obligation on the Universal Calendar. The feasts of the Apostles were raised to public holidays in 932 AD as Father Weiser relates (p. 279).

The 36 Holy Days of Obligation on the Universal Calendar back in 1642 under Pope Urban VIII included:

1. Nativity of our Lord
2. Circumcision of our Lord
3. Epiphany of the Lord
4. Monday within the Octave of the Resurrection
5. Tuesday within the Octave of the Resurrection
6. Ascension
7. Monday within the Octave of Pentecost
8. Tuesday within the Octave of Pentecost
9. Most Holy Trinity
10. Most Holy Body of Christ
11. Finding of the Holy Cross
12. Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary
13. Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
14. Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
15. Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
16. Dedication of St. Michael
17. Nativity of St. John Baptist
18. Ss. Peter and Paul
19. St. Andrew
20. St. James
21. St. John (the December feastday)
22. St. Thomas
23. Ss. Philip and James
24. St. Bartholomew
25. St. Matthew
26. Ss. Simon and Jude
27. St. Matthias
28. St. Stephen (the December feastday)
29. The Holy Innocents
30. St. Lawrence
31. St. Sylvester
32. St. Joseph
33. St. Anne
34. All Saints Day
35. The Principle Patrons of One’s Country, City, etc.

The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary was added in 1708 so it not on 1642 list.

The Church, by reducing the number of Holy Days of Obligation, removed the feasts of the Apostles. And this has diminished their importance in the lives of the average Catholic. How many Catholics can even name all 12 Apostles? How many know the name of the traitor or the name of the Apostle who took his place? Catechesis has failed the modern Catholic.

Make a special effort to observe the feast of all of the Apostles by Mass attendance, if possible, or at least by praying the Collect prayer for their feastdays. You can also try to pray the Divine Office on their feastdays. And you should at the very least remember to implore their intercession on their feastdays.

Observing the Vigil of the Apostles

The term “vigil” is used in several ways.  It may refer to an entire day before a major feast day (e.g. the Vigil of Christmas is all day on Dec 24th). This kind of vigil is a feast day in itself. Before the changes to the Roman Calendar in 1955, nearly all feasts of the apostles were preceded by a special Vigil Day. And the Church put those days in place to help us prepare for the importance of a feast of an apostle. Sadly, the observance of fasting on the vigils of the apostles in many places disappeared back in the 1700s.

Note: A Mass with the Sunday propers and fulfilling one’s Sunday obligation that is anticipated on a Saturday evening is sometimes, though incorrectly, called a vigil. This practice though is a novelty and not part of Catholic Tradition, so I always encourage Catholics to never attend such “vigil masses” on Saturday evenings.

We have lost the importance of the feast of the apostles, I believe, in part due to losing the vigils. We can change that by observing those in our own prayer lives. And the same is true for the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception or the Vigil of All Saints (Halloween), traditional days when we would fast and abstain from meat, but which are neither found in the Novus Ordo calendar nor even in the 1962 Missal.

You can easily find online listings of the pre-1955 Catholic liturgical calendar which include these unique vigil days of preparation.
Thursday, August 7, 2014
The De-Sanctification of Sunday

Picture an average Sunday morning or Sunday afternoon.  The temperature is warm or at least pleasant.  Sunshine fills the sky.  The morning's calmness is punctuated only by the transcendent and alluring Church bells which toll throughout the morning during the Consecration at the Holy Mass.  Holiness pervades the air and the day is characterized by Christian charitable works, meetings of apostolates, authentic family time, and other like activities - in one word, the day is set aside for leisure.

But this is how Sunday is in a Catholic nation.

Instead nowadays we find something far different - few if any Catholics go to Mass.  The bells no longer toll during the Consecration of the Mass.  In fact, few people even attend Mass and far, far fewer attend the reverent and beautiful Traditional Latin Mass.  Sacrilege takes place on a wide scale with Communion in the Hand.  Divine Justice is not offered an august and immaculate victim; rather, the Triune God is angered by the indifference, injustice, and impiety of a people who have fallen from the True Faith.

And all the while the day is characterized by the sounds of lawnmowers, power tools, and mundane machines.

It's not hard to find.  Any Sunday in the year you will find people mowing their lawns, painting their homes, repairing household items, cleaning their cars, and doing other mundane activities that we are explicitly forbidden to do by the Third Commandment.  A Christian commits a sin by so doing unless he receives explicit dispensation from a priest (e.g. to fix a leaking pipe, etc).

Has holiness gone from among men?  Does no one care any longer for the sanctity of Sunday?
"And shewing mercy unto thousands to them that love me, and keep my commandments. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that shall take the name of the Lord his God in vain. Remember that thou keep holy the sabbath day. [9] Six days shalt thou labour, and shalt do all thy works. But on the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: thou shalt do no work on it, thou nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy beast, nor the stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them, and rested on the seventh day: therefore the Lord blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it" (Exodus 20:6-10).
Have we forgotten the words of Our Lady of La Salette?

Melanie Calvat and Maximin Giraud were two children from Corps, France, near the town of Grenoble in the southeastern part of France. When Melanie was 14, and Maximin was 11, they were watching cattle in a pasture when they saw a globe of light that "opened" to reveal a most beautiful woman, clad in long dress and apron, with a shawl that crossed in front and tied in back. Around her neck was a Crucifix that depicted the instruments of the Passion, and on her head were a cap and roses. She sat on a rock with her face in her hands weeping.   The Lady said that unless the people repented of working on Sundays and of blasphemy, she'd be forced to let go her Son's arm because it had grown so heavy. She said that crop blights and famine would follow if her wishes weren't heeded.

If we have forgotten the message of Our Lady of La Sallette, have we also forgotten the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title Our Lady of the Willow Tree?

The following story is a powerful one.  It is quoted from the Society of St. Pius X's Canadian website:
Many years ago in the village of Plantees, France, there lived a farmer named Pierre Port-Combet, who used to work on Sundays and Feast Days. At one time he had been a Catholic, but he had fallen away from the truth Faith and joined a Protestant religion called Calvinism. He had a great dislike for Catholics and anything about the Catholic Faith. 
Pierre had married a devout Catholic woman named Jeanne. They had six children and Jeanne tried to raise them as good Catholics. But even though Pierre had made a vow to allow his wife to raise their children as Catholics, he gradually led their six children into the Calvinist religion! Jeanne was broken hearted about this because it meant that her husband and children were in great danger of loosing their souls. And since Pierre would not listen to her pleadings, the best she could do was to go to Mass, pray, and make sacrifices. 
This area of France was very Catholic at the time. There was a law that all people should not work on Sundays and on special Holy Days, so that they could go to Mass and spend the rest of the day in prayer and holy reading. But Pierre loved to break this law, especially on Our Lady's Feast Days, because he did not like the Catholic religion! 
On March 25, 1649, the Feast of the Annunciation, Pierre showed his dislike for the Catholic Church by working near a road where villagers could see him, as they traveled on their way to Mass. He pretended to work, by using his knife to cut into a willow tree, which grew beside the road. But as soon as he cut into the willow, the tree bled! Pierre was shocked as the blood flowed out of the tree and splashed onto his hands and arms. At first Pierre thought he was wounded, but finding that he was not injured, he stabbed the willow tree another time, and again the tree bled! 
Around this time, Pierre's wife passed by on her way to church. Seeing that her husband's arms were covered with blood, she rushed over to help him. While she was looking for the wound, Pierre tried to explain to his wife what had just taken place. Jeanne tried to calm her husband and cut the tree with his knife, but nothing happened. When Pierre noticed that no blood came from the tree, he grabbed the knife from his wife and cut off a willow branch. The blood came gushing out of the tree! 
By now Pierre was terribly frightened! He called to Louis, a neighbour who was just passing by, and begged him to come and see what happened. But when Louis took the knife and tried to cut the tree, no blood came out. As the other villagers passed by they began to realize that the blood from the tree was a warning from God to Pierre, so that he would come back to the Catholic Faith and not work on Sundays. 
Before long, Pierre was brought to court for working on this special Feast Day and he had to pay a fine. And when the Bishop heard about the miracle of the bleeding willow tree, he ordered some priests to look into the matter. Pierre and others who saw the miracle were questioned. In the end it was decided that this miracle was a stern warning from God to Pierre, so that he would mend his ways! 
Pierre had a change of heart and realizing that he was wrong, he would often go to pray near the willow tree. But when some of his Calvinist friends saw him, they threatened to hurt him if he left the Calvinist religion. Because of this Pierre refused to go back to the Catholic Church. 
Heaven was watching over Pierre and after seven years, on March 25, 1656, Our Lady appeared to him. On that day, Pierre was working in the field and saw a Lady standing far away on a little hill. The Lady wore a white dress, a blue mantle and had a black veil over her head, which partly covered her face. As the Lady came toward Pierre, she suddenly picked up speed and in a flash, she stood beside him. With her beautiful, sweet voice, the Lady spoke to Pierre, "God be with you my friend!" 
For a moment, Pierre stood in amazement. The Lady spoke again, "What is being said about this devotion? Do many people come?" 
Pierre replied, "Yes many people come," 
Then the Lady said, "Where does that heretic live who cut the willow tree? Does he not want to be converted?" 
Pierre mumbled an answer. The Lady became more serious, "Do you think that I do not know that you are the heretic? Realize that your end is at hand. If you do not return to the True Faith, you will be cast into Hell! But if you change your beliefs, I shall protect you before God. Tell people to pray that they may gain the good graces which, God in His mercy has offered to them."
Pierre was filled with sorrow and shame and moved away from the Lady. Suddenly realizing that he was being rude, Pierre stepped closer to her, but she had moved away and was already near the little hill. He ran after her begging, "Please stop and listen to me. I want to apologize to you and I want you to help me!" 
The Lady stopped and turned. By the time Pierre caught up to her, she was floating in the air and was already disappearing from sight. Suddenly, Pierre realized that the Most Blessed Virgin Mary had appeared to him! He fell to his knees and cried buckets of tears, "Jesus and Mary I promise you that I will change my life and become a good Catholic. I am sorry for what I have done and I beg you please, to help me change my life…" 
On August 14, 1656, Pierre became very sick. An Augustinian priest came to hear his confession and accepted him back into the Catholic Church. Pierre received Holy Communion the next day on the Feast of the Assumption. After Pierre returned to the Catholic Faith, many others followed him. His son and five daughters came back to the Catholic Church as well as many Calvinists and Protestants. Five weeks later on September 8, 1656, Pierre died and was buried under the miraculous willow tree, just as he had asked. 
Fr. Fais, the parish priest from the nearby town of Vinay, helped a lady to buy the field where Pierre had spoken to Our Lady. In time the chapel of Our Lady of Good Meeting was built on the spot where Our Lady had spoken to Pierre. Soon, a large church was built over the spot of the miraculous tree, and named in honour of Our Lady of the Willow. Some good person also carved a statue of Our Lady similar to the way Pierre had described the Blessed Virgin Mary. When this statue was placed in the church, many people came to honour Our Lady of the Willow. 
But alas, because of the sinfulness of man, this beautiful shrine did not last and was ruined by members of the horrible French Revolution. These wicked men took the statue of Our Lady of the Willow and chopped it to pieces! Oh, what a terrible way to treat Our Lady's image! 
However, all was not lost! A good lady gathered up the pieces of the statue and hid them until the French Revolution was over. A piece of the willow tree was also saved from the hands of these wicked men. 
After the horrible French Revolution, people came again to honour Our Lady of the Willow at this sacred spot. The statue of Our Lady was repaired and in time the shrine was placed in the hands of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Now some priests were caring for the shrine and could help the many people who came there. 
In 1856, two hundred years after the apparition of Our Lady to Pierre, Blessed Pope Pius IX decreed that the statue of Our Lady should be crowned on September 8 of that year. More than 30,000 people were present at the shrine for the crowning of Our Lady of the Willow, and at least four hundred priests were also present at the ceremony. And this same Pope ordered that another crowning should take place in 1873! 
On March 17, 1924, Pope Pius XI declared that Our Lady of the Willow Church was now a minor basilica. Here the statue of Our Lady of the Willow is venerated. A box containing a piece of the old willow tree lies under her altar and Pierre's grave is at the foot of the altar.
Many people come to honour Our Lady of the Willow at this shrine and many have left little plaques in thanksgiving to Our Lady, for some special grace which she has given them. Also more than a hundred miracles are reported to have taken place at this shrine. Thank-you Jesus and Mary for your great mercies. 
Our Lady of the Willow, Pray for Us! 
We have a moral obligation to stand against the onslaught of sin in this world.  Next time you see someone cutting the lawn, painting their home, etc on a Sunday remind them to stop.  It is a spiritual work of mercy to admonish sinners.  Doing so with prudence and charity is the key.  Standing against sin is necessary lest we too participate in their sin by our quiet acceptance of it.

If you have a concern about approaching the person or truly believe it would not bring about their conversion, at least take the time to leave them an anonymous note in their mailbox or print off a page such as this one ( and drop off the information in their box.

In the words of the Holy Father Pope Pius XII in Mediator Dei: "How will those Christians not fear spiritual death whose rest on Sundays and feast days is not devoted to religion and piety, but given over to the allurements of the world! Sundays and holidays must be made holy by divine worship which gives homage to God and heavenly food to the soul...Our soul is filled with the greatest grief when we see how the Christian people profane the afternoon of feast days...."

As a final recommendation, considering reading The Land Without a Sunday by Maria Von Trapp.

O Lord, deliver us from evil!
Sunday, June 14, 2009
The Sanctification of Sunday

(Image by Mateusz Szymkiewicz)

How Should Sunday be Sanctified?

The Third Commandment explicitly forbids servile work on the Holy Day. Yet, the Church further commands that all Sundays – and all other Holy Days of Obligation – are mandatory days of Mass attendance and required days to refrain from servile works. Missing Mass on one of these days without a grave reason – illness, inability to reasonably obtain transportation, et cetera – is therefore a mortal sin. And, if one were not able to attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for a good reason, one should still read the Missal for that day and pray the prayers from the Liturgy (e.g. Collect, Gradual, Communion).

Yet Sunday is also a day in which to participate in communal Rosary, Vespers, and Benediction services. Sunday is the day on which the Faithful should be most willing to read Catholic newspapers, books, and magazines. See the Top 10 Sunday Activities for Catholics.

In times past there was a distinction made of days of double versus single precept. Days of double precept required both hearing Mass and refraining from servile works, whereas days of single precept were working holy days permitting work but still requiring Mass attendance.

What are the Holy Days of Obligation?
§1. Sunday, on which by apostolic tradition the paschal mystery is celebrated, must be observed in the universal Church as the primordial holy day of obligation. The following days must also be observed: the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Epiphany, the Ascension, the Body and Blood of Christ, Holy Mary the Mother of God, her Immaculate Conception, her Assumption, Saint Joseph, Saint Peter and Saint Paul the Apostles, and All Saints.

§2. With the prior approval of the Apostolic See, however, the conference of bishops can suppress some of the holy days of obligation or transfer them to a Sunday.

1983 Code of Canon Law: Canon 1246
In 1642, Pope Urban VIII reduced the number of holy days of obligation (not including Sundays) to approximately 36 days. Nearly all nations were granted dispensations in the ensuing years from certain days and there was little uniformity. 

In 1911, Pope St. Pius X reduced the number to 8 and in 1917, the Code of Canon Law (1917) increased the number to the ten days still universally observed.

However, differences continued to prevail. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops moved the Epiphany and the Feast of the Body and Blood of our Lord to Sundays, reducing the number to six days: Ascension, Assumption, All Saints, Immaculate Conception, and Christmas. Yet, many dioceses still move Ascension Thursday to the following Sunday, which does not coincidence with Traditionalist Catholics who observe Ascensiontide, leading up to Pentecost Sunday. Furthermore, in 1998 the U.S. bishops decided that when the solemnities of Mary the Mother of God (January 1), Assumption (August 15), or All Saints (November 1) fell on a Saturday or Monday, the obligation to attend Mass does not remain. The Diocese of Honolulu in 1992 even reduced their observed Holy Days to merely two days: Christmas and the Immaculate Conception.

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