Our Celebrations

During the last 70 years, or maybe even more, there has been a mentality in the Church, an undercurrent if you will, that tries to explain away the mysteries of church, the dogma, and the Traditions.  The idea is to make the faith more palatable for human consumption. Try to make it sound reasonable.  It manifests itself in a wide variety of ways.

For instance, earlier this Month, the head of a bible study at the parish I work at wished me a Happy Rosh Hashanah.  She has been known to hold a Seder meal during Lent for the RCIA class at the parish. I have always been fascinated and dismayed by this sort of misguided ecumenical act done by many in teaching positions in Catholic Parishes.

When asked why they do it, the usual answer varies around: ‘Christianity is an offshoot of Judaism, and shouldn’t we celebrate the Holy Days of our ancestors?’ This answer saddens me; it shows an unawareness, if not disregard, for Christianity.

Why? Isn’t it a nice ecumenical action that brings us closer together with our elder brothers and sisters?

No, I don’t think they would care, one way or another, if we celebrated their Holy Days. In fact, it might offend them since we deny their faith by proclaiming the messiah has indeed already come.

Doesn’t it sound more reasonable to show that we aren’t made up, that we come from a deeper and older societal activity?

Not really, what this does show is lack of our understanding of the meaning of Christ and His actions. Trying to make faith more reasonable takes the importance out of the discussion. Catholics believe that Jewish feasts were foreshadows of the actions of Christ. They technical term is ‘type’. For instance, the Jewish Passover is a ‘type’ for Christ’s Pasch. Our Lord fulfilled what the Passover foreshadowed and what is celebrated. Our attention and total obedience is to our Lord and Savior. Our faith is centered on His actions and His Gospel. Why? Because He rose from the dead! So, who He is and what He did and is still doing should demand our whole attention.

The Jewish Holy Days and their feasts are special and wonderful events in salvation history. We wish our Jewish friends the very best as they celebrate. But we have been given the fulfillment of these events, indeed the fulfillment of creation through our Lord. Our celebrations, we believe, make whole and complete any other celebration and so we can in a very real way say that we are honoring the Jewish feasts with our own celebrations. But that isn’t the main point; we have the fullness of the truth, we should be zoned in on that, not on other events; not even to try and make ours sound reasonable. How can man make the mysteries God reasonable? That is like Hamlet trying to explain Shakespeare.

But what worries me the most is that apparent parish volunteer leaders (I shudder to think that clergy are doing this) are catechizing catechumens and candidates with these misguided ideas. These types of events have the possible result of diluting the teachings of Holy Mother Church, minimizing the importance both Traditions and traditions, making them ‘one of among many’ acceptable celebrations as it were.

Brothers and sisters, it is up to us to live the faith of the Catholic Church. To show the import of the faith in our lives and celebrate it with vigor and joy. After all, it is Faith – not social anthropology.