19 April 2014

Why Good Friday should be a holiday

Sub Tuum

Good Friday used to be a day off. In some places, it still is. Some business still close for Good Friday. For the most part, though, America has moved to a paradigm in which it is just business as usual on that day. However, Christmas is a national holiday. Labor is celebrated with a day off. The troops are remembered on Memorial Day. Presidents of the Republic are remembered on President's Day. The day of the Republic's declaration of independence is even celebrated. Even one Sunday is given over to football mania...Super Bowl Sunday. Yet, the day of the Passion and Death of Our Lord is glossed over. Non sequitur. 

I am tempted to say that this is mostly because American society has essentially dropped the idea of sacrifice and instead wants to focus only on the happy. The scores of self-help pseudo-churches and even much of the mainstream Protestant movement certainly testify to this. Yet, America celebrates the sacrifice of soldiers on Memorial Day. Then again, on Memorial Day I see more backyard barbecue than mourning of the military dead and celebration of their glorious achievements. 

I see scores of Easter bunnies, so American society still cares about Easter on one level or another. I have nothing at all against Easter bunnies. To me they are a fine symbol of renewal and rebirth in Christ and the promises of the Resurrection. However, there would be no Easter (and hence no Easter bunnies) without the Passion. There is no Easter without Good Friday! There are nation days of mourning declared for many people, and even foreign persons who were considered terrorists. Why not Our Lord, who truly came to save all mankind? Yes, Good Friday needs to be restored to its proper place as a day off. 

Essential services, at least some restaurants, and other such things helpful to keep the infrastructure functioning are certainly fine. Otherwise, businesses need to be closed out of respect. They need to be closed to allow their employees the ability to attend the liturgy and devotions of the day according to the Church's calendar and schedule. If they do not close, then employees ought to be let off to attend liturgy without penalty. It is not sufficient to tell employees that they can attend "evening services." Traditionally, Good Friday liturgy is in the morning or, with the 1955 alternatives, in the afternoon. It is not in the evening. The evening is for Tenebrae of Holy Saturday. It is simply unfair and not right that a business would tell an employee that they must conform their religious practices to the desires and whims of the business. Religion is above commerce. 

Also, imagine a workplace filled with workers who have just lost a loved one. They are not the most productive workers. How, then, can anyone think that the faithful in Christ would be the most productive people on Good Friday? Their hearts and mind are rightly turned towards the Cross! They ought to have the simple freedom, without penalty, to participate in the liturgy. It is a basic human right. 

16 April 2014

As we approach the Sacred Triduum....

Sub Tuum.

Today is Spy Wednesday, the day before Maundy or Holy Thursday. This is the day that the conspiracy against our Lord reached its final stages of planning. From within His own closest circle, he was betrayed by a traitor. From without, the powers of the Sanhedrin marshaled to seek His doom. We have long called this day Spy Wednesday because it was the day that Judas accepted the thirty pieces of silver. What a wonderfully accurate foreshadowing of what was to come in the Church this proved to be! Today in the world, the Christian Church is buffeted from without by numerous enemies who have encompassed to seek her destruction. Recall the reminder of Pius XII that this is why we are the Church Militant. Also from the inside we have plenty who are not workers in the vineyard of our Lord, but who work for the destruction of the Church, the Holy Bride of Christ. These are the modernists who seek to destroy the traditions of the Church that are vital to her mission. These are the liberals who seek to destroy the very doctrine of the Faith. These are the clergy who bicker senselessly and bear false witness against their brethren and refuse them hospitality and charity. These are no better than the traitor who betrayed our Lord. As Paul VI said, the smoke of Satan has entered into the Church!

In this period I am ever reminded of the words of Saint Athanasius, whose words as a Doctor of the Church are second only to Scripture. Those who keep the traditions of the Church, even if reduced to a handful, are the true Catholic Church. A small group of devout Catholics has more positive impact on the world than the largest cathedral in the world filled to the brim with modernist liberals professing a doctrine that cannot be called Catholic. Far more faithful were those who stayed at the Cross with Christ and tended to His body than the masses who turned their backs and dispersed as the earth shook. 

The Devil will tempt people of faith in hopes of weakening the Church from within. The Devil will tempt the clergy even more so, for to destroy the shepherd is to destroy the flock. There is one Lord and one Faith. The Faith of our Lord is contained in Scripture and the doctrine derived therefrom. It is Sacred Tradition that is both the framework in which Scripture and doctrine were written and the fortress that protects the integrity of the Faith from enemies, both from within and without. It is Sacred Tradition that keeps us standing at the Cross of our Lord and indeed hanging there on it with Him. As we pass through Spy Wednesday, let each of us acknowledge our own faults, and in so doing let us refuse the thirty pieces of silver and instead embrace our Lord. Tomorrow, on Holy Thursday, let all clergy be reminded of the example of our Lord set at the Last Supper - that we are to offer Sacrifice and serve others. Also on Holy Thursday, let all people of faith realize that humanity today still betrays our Lord. On Good Friday, let us all be there, hanging on the Cross with our Lord. Let us die to all that is not of the Kingdom of God. Let us ask to be taken up, like the thief on the right. Then, on Holy Saturday, just as our Lord descended into hell, let us pray for the souls of the dead, recalling that the Church is not just here on earth, but also in purgatory and in Heaven. Finally, let us rejoice in the Resurrection at the Vigil and on Easter Sunday, and indeed throughout the Easter Season! Let us know that we need not pretend to be perfect, for none of us are. Yet, we can all receive the reward of everlasting life. Embrace the Sacred Traditions of the Holy Church, a gift from God to guide us on our journey to sanctification, that we may indeed be worthy of the promises of Christ!