Monday, March 26, 2007

The Wisdom of the Church

In the old calendar, the feasts of St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Gregory the Great, and St. Benedict fell on March 7th, 12th and 21st respectively. Now they fall on January 28th, September 3rd and July 11th.

I know some people who bear hard feelings against the Church because of the changes in the old versus new calendars. While there are some changes in the calendar that I don't like that much, in my opinion these changes are for the better, given the Church's logic behind moving them.

The reason given for moving them was that these three men are some of the greatest and/or most influential saints in the church, making them worthy of a celebration on their feast day. However, celebrating during Lent is contrary to Lent's penitential nature. Hence, the Church moved the feasts of St. Thomas and St. Benedict to the days of the translation of their relics, and the feast of St. Gregory to the day he was elected pope in order that these men may be properly acknowledged.

The only way their feasts could legitimately be celebrated during Lent is if the feasts were raised to the status of a Solemnity, which is a day important enough that the Lenten obligation is remitted (such as the Feasts of St. Joseph and the Annunciation). In fact, my brother-in-law who is a Benedictine said that the Feast of St. Benedict is a solemnity for members of the Benedictine order, so they are able to celebrate during Lent. Since the Church wanted the laity to be able to celebrate as well, they moved the feast day (so now members of the Benedictine order have two days to celebrate).

Some purists might not think that any reason is valid for moving the feast of a saint, but from how I understand it, it was a wise and beautiful thing to do.

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