Friday, December 6, 2013

Holidays? Holy Days?

I often have the question in my mind about why, when we have set aside days of a religious nature, gathering as a people to honor God seems to be low on the priority list.

Here are a few of the things that come to mind.

  1. Gathering before Thanksgiving Day for religious services and then not gathering to pray together on Thanksgiving Day as a group of the faithful.
  2. Not having Christian Services on Christmas Day itself.  Many groups will only do a service on Christmas Eve.
  3. Canceling Sunday Services if Christmas is on a Sunday. It may be Sunday and Christmas, but we will not celebrate as a Christian community.
  4. Having a single Protestant sunrise service on Easter Sunday (even though there are 5+ congregations or ministers in a community) at a neutral location and not celebrating Easter as individual congregations. Many times only one of the local clergy members presides at the service while the others are out of town.
One of the reasons I hear for these attitudes is that the ministers want to spend the holiday with their own family. Sometimes the extended families or in-laws are not local so they need time to travel. In other communities, a lot of the other members of the congregation have the same issues. They don't have time to go to church because they have to get to the family celebration. These holiday (holy days) seem to have shifted from focus on God to focus on us.

As a priest who is usually assigned to multiple communities, I know that I can not bi-locate. I've had people who have gone to Mass elsewhere because I've not had Mass in their community on Christmas Eve, but rather on Christmas Day. But, as we look at the significance of days set aside to honor God, I want to suggest that we encourage our parishes and congregations to set aside these days to honor God on the day designated so that God is once again our real priority. 
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