Does anyone realize that we are in the middle of 9 straight days of solemnities?
All of Easter week, starting with Sunday, of course, is a solemnity in the Church. Each day this week is a day of full splendour and glory, trumping even the Feast of the Annunciation (March 25, 9 months before Christmas). This major feast has been moved to Mon, March 31. And the Sunday following Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday (which you all should know since you are now saying the seventh day of the Divine Mercy novena which began on Good Friday, right?) So nine days of solemn feasting! Easter Sunday straight on through Divine Mercy Sunday and the Annunciation on Monday! Nine days of joy-filled partying to spring us off into Easter Season, during which the priest wears white, before we all settle down into the green of ordinary time.
Solemnity, feast, holy day, ordinary time... such terminology we all rattle off of our tongues with ease, but as I stop to think about them, I wonder what it all means. A feast day? Ordinary time? We don't eat lots of food and have a big party every time a major feast day like the Annunciation comes up, and really every day seems ordinary. Why celebrate ordinary time?
Well, such terms come from the tradition (trado= 'hand over' in Latin, so tradition literally means what is handed down to us through generations past) in the Church of living around a liturgical calender, a calender not based on secular days off from work or school breaks, but on major events and people in Church History, like the Resurrection of Our Lord, or the Assumption of Mary. On these major days, the Church celebrates the graces and gifts God has given the world through such events or people. We all remember what God has done for us and we are filled with joy and gratitude. We desire to show this joy and gratitude by sharing food with our brothers and sisters, going to mass, dancing and playing music. Its part of the great gift of life that we have all received and that we are glad to receive. In the Middle Ages, these special days were not just celebrated by individual feasts within each family, but by the whole town. All the people would flock to the town centers outside of the church and watch street performers, jugglers, and bands; they would attend a mass that was filled with more music and incense and candles than usual. Famous people like kings, queens, or learned men would be invited to preside over a banquet that everyone would attend. Think of St Patrick's day, a feast day that just passed a few weeks ago. Did your town have a parade, with everyone claiming to be Irish, feasting and frolicking all day wearing green? Perhaps many people forgot what they were really celebrating, the life of the great English missionary to pagan Ireland Saint Patrick, and thought they were celebrating being Irish, but you can still get the picture of a feast day. And solemnity is even great than a feast day! Not only has the Church declared these days so that we can remember to praise and thank God, but God also uses these special days to give extra graces and gifts to the world! During this whole week, the graces won for us by Our Lord during His life and Passion and Death are being distributed to all who ask for them! Have you asked God for a present this week? Because He is waiting for you to ask so that He may shower you with graces in abundance! Happy Solemnity this Easter Wednesday! Tell everyone!