Last Saturday, of course, was the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary-- one of the chief glories of the entire liturgical year. Thanks to the modern trend of caving into the lowest common denominator, the is-it-or-is-it-not-falls-on-a-weekend-so-it-was-holy-but-isn't-quite-as-holy-now Non-Holy Day of Non-Obligation (or NHDNO, for short) phenomenon struck at Our Lady's Feast this year.
Of course, we are supposed to assist at Masses like these because we love God and Our Lady, and not because the attendance is obligatory. But there are so few Holy Days of Obligation already, and you could apply the same rationale to Sundays. Thus, the reality is that many people do not go once the obligation is lifted.
Where was I? Oh yes, the Review. The editorial rightly urged Catholics to observe the Assumption by assisting at Mass:
Going the extra mile for God
On Saturday, Aug. 15, we mark the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Though usually with a Mass obligation, when the holy day falls on a Saturday or Monday, the solemnity is not obligatory. This should not, however, preclude us from attending Mass.
To honor Mary, the Mother of God, is to honor our Lord Himself. So much does Jesus think of her that He gives her to us as our own mother. Jesus said: “Behold, your mother” (John 19: 27).
We are no less bound to honor Mary by the Fourth Commandment — “Honor your father and your mother” — than we are to honor our birth mothers.
We live in a minimum-effort society. We ask questions such as: What is the bottom line? How little income tax may I pay? What must I do to inherit everlasting life? Do I have to? How far can I go without incurring mortal sin? Is there any loophole I can use to reduce what is required of me or to get out of leaving myself vulnerable or obligated? Too often, we strive to do only what is expected and evade doing a little more.
Genuine love is not inwardly pointed or self-seeking, it is outwardly pointed and self-giving. The questions of the one who loves are: What more can I give of myself? How can I better meet your need? Is there anything else I can do? What do you need of me? How can I lighten your burden? How can I pour myself out for you more? How can I better love you?
These are questions Jesus is always asking us. He owes us nothing and gives us everything, even to the point of pouring out and laying down His life for us daily. Never content merely with doing enough for us, He looks for more to do for us, to give of Himself to us, to bless us. There is no such thing as “enough” for Him, no “bottom line.”
Within the last half-century we have seen our faith demand far less of us in terms of minimal requirements than of Catholics years ago. The eucharistic fast formerly had been from midnight, even from water. It is now one hour and water is permitted. All Fridays had been days of abstinence from meat. Now, abstinence is required only on Ash Wednesday, Lenten Fridays and Good Friday. (SLC Note: I disagree with this conclusion, as I have posted in the past; but certainly this is the usual understanding of the rules of abstinence.) The Ascension had been celebrated on Thursday; it is now observed on Sunday, when we would ordinarily be in Our Lord’s house anyway.
Some holy days of obligation have no Mass requirement when observed on a Saturday or Monday. Far less is asked of us today by the law than in days past.
Despite ever-shrinking requirements, we often begrudge our Lord even in the little asked of us. If our lives have become so cluttered that we cannot clear out a day other than Sunday to gather in prayer, then our lives must be brought into balance.
This does not mean shortchanging Our Lord. Our lives begin and end with Him. They are shaped around Him. Whatever fits in around Him is fine. If it does not fit, then it must be sacrificed. Without Him, we are less than nothing.
Tomorrow we can show that we are truly blessed to gather in Our Lord’s house, to honor Him by saluting His victory in the life of Mary, His mother and ours. We have no minimalist Lord, and He deserves no minimalist people.
We come, without requirement, because it is the right thing to do. It might require a sacrifice. Our Lord is worth that.
We should be delighted to offer our gifts.