August 15, 2013

The Only Holy Day in Summer... today's solemnity, at least as far as being a day of obligation.  Cardinal Ratzinger in Co-Workers of the Truth says:
"The holy day, which is something quite different from the holiday, is the Church’s gift to man. The mere not-having-to-work does not constitute a holy day. This is one of the problems of contemporary society: that it is, on the one hand, thoroughly sated with the worship of work but, on the other hand, cannot find the alternative—which would be freedom, a break with routine—and hence comes gradually to find freedom more threatening and more uncomfortable than work. But what makes a day a holy day? Precisely the fact that it is not dependent on our own decision; that it is, as it were, not homemade but ordained; that it is based on a precept we have not decreed. There is nothing arbitrary about a holy day. We do not make it; we receive it. Even more: a holy day possesses a reality that is lasting and by reason of which it is transformed from a pause in our occupations into a reality of another kind. A third fact must be mentioned here: a holiday can become a holy day, in the true sense of the word, only if it stems from a precept that it be celebrated as such. The holy day, on the other hand, is an expression of the fact that we receive our time not just from the movement of the stars but from those who have lived, loved, and suffered before us—in other words, that man’s time is human time.

Even more significantly, it is an expression of the fact that we receive our time from him who sustains the universe. It is the invasion of the quite Other into our lives—the sign that we are not alone in this world. For its part, the holy day has engendered art, beauty for its own sake, which we find so endlessly comforting precisely because it has no compulsion to be useful, because it does not owe its existence to a leisure that we have devised for ourselves...The Church will have to learn again how to celebrate holy days, how to radiate the brightness of a holy day. Her obeisance to the rational world has been much too deep in latter years; she has thereby let herself be robbed of a piece of herself. The Church should invite us to the holy days she has preserved in faith. In doing so, she will enable even those to rejoice for whom her glad tidings are inaccessible because they are viewed too rationally."

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