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Liturgical Celebrations – Weekly Message for August 11, 2015
Dear Fellow Digital Pilgrim, pax Christi:
One of the little things about being Catholic that I really like is the octaves (the word comes from the Latin term for “eight”). When a big celebration pops up in the liturgical calendar, we get to keep on celebrating it for eight days in a row! This is an ancient tradition, even going back in a certain sense to the time of Moses, around 1500 B.C.
It also reminds us of periods in the history of Christian civilization when the civil calendar and the liturgical calendar were more closely united. The “holidays” that were celebrated in towns and cities and countryside were “holy – days,” days linked to great events in the history of salvation. The really big events – like Christmas and Easter, or the feast of a local patron saint – would include a period of spiritual preparation, and then eight days of “holiday” celebration. This allowed the people to stay in sync with the eternal realities and avoid becoming sucked into the vacuum of meaningless secularism.
The octave tradition also reminds me of the wedding feasts that used to take place in the Holy Land at the time of Christ – like the wedding feast of Cana. Those celebrations would last for an entire week, and the whole village would participate. That’s why it was so problematic, in the Gospel passage, when the couple started to run out of wine.
In any case, we find ourselves on the doorstep of one of these octaves now. We will celebrate Mary’s Assumption on August 15th, and then we will prepare to celebrate her coronation as Queen of the Universe on August 22nd. It is my hope and prayer that RC Spirituality’s latest Retreat Guide, God Is Faithful, on Mary’s Assumption, can contribute at least a little bit to helping you live the octave fruitfully.
As we are poised to begin a new academic year in the northern hemisphere, I also want to invite you to continue sending us your ideas for how we can serve you better. I also want to thank, once again, all of you who continue to support us with your prayers and generous donations.
Our mission depends on them.
God bless you and keep you.
Fr. John Bartunek, LC