Is Annunciation Really Today? Why Would it Bother Me?
Back on March 25, I wrote an article pertaining to irritations of the moving of what used to be known as an immovable feast, the Annunciation. In the course of that article, I had wondered what precisely changed between 1930 and today that allowed this feast to be moved. I still do not have an answer to that question, but I have a lot more questions now that we’re at the Monday to which the feast is moved.
Holy days of Obligation?
Annunciation used to be a holy day of obligation. It is no longer a holy day of obligation — the comments on the earlier article show that it was the French who first got rid of this obligation. Even if it were a holy day of obligation, we would be in a mess today because the United States bishops have caused holy days of obligation that fall on Saturday or Monday to be moved to Sunday. So what would that mean? Would yesterday have been the feast of the Annunciation? Or, would they move it to next Sunday, given that yesterday was low Sunday (aka Divine Mercy Sunday). After all, Annunciation was moved to this Monday today, as opposed to anything earlier, precisely because yesterday was not available. So, in the new scheme of abrogating holy days of obligation that we have in America, yesterday would still be unavailable. So what would happen? Next Sunday?
Genuflecting at mention of the Incarnation shouldn’t be an afterthought
I would still like to know why this feast was moved to begin with. However, pushing that question aside, we used to read the last Gospel after Mass, also. St. John’s Gospel, chapter 1, is what it is otherwise known as the “last Gospel.” It is a summary of all salvation, and prominently in the middle of it is the phrase “and the Word was made flesh.” It used to be that people would genuflect spontaneously upon hearing those words. The same thing happened when those words were said in the Credo, every time it was said, any day it was said. Not anymore. Today, I noticed at daily mass, that the priest had to remind everybody to genuflect at that phrase in the Credo. I find that deplorable. Seriously – it’s a joke. We only genuflect two times a year now, one of the days can’t even be reasonably determined, and even then, the priest has to tell people to show reverence. Hardly inspiring.
(I wrote about the loss of meaningful gestures at public worship in last year’s magazine “Englishing the Liturgy” order a copy here).
As I wrote on March 25th, the feast of the Annunciation is “the beginning of salvation” and Easter, between the passion of our Lord and His resurrection, is the “omega” of salvation. These two bookends, the Annunciation and Easter, form the definition of salvation history — they have the actual occurrence in history as well as the particular occurrence for each person. For me, I was quite disappointed to see the feast pushed outside of Easter both today and as I was on March 25.
The Little Things of Faith Build the Church
But underneath all of this movement of feasts and the little things that I’m irritated about is a bigger picture. These little things are what the big things of faith are built upon. Sort of like abstaining from meat on Fridays, that is, all Fridays of the year, these little things about when feasts occur, what they mean, how we respond to them by genuflecting or making the sign of the Cross, and similar little things have been tossed out the window. I believe that’s one of the reasons why people don’t even go to Mass anymore. If the bishops and the Church, as perceived by the ordinary person in the pew, don’t care about these little things, then why should people care about the big things?
A little point to illustrate this problem occurs in my questions above — what if today had been a holy day of obligation? The absurdities of having moved the feast to today, and then being unable to celebrate it yesterday, such that it would’ve been moved maybe the next Sunday becomes quite apparent. It’s a mess.
Underneath all of it is the real mess of the problems facing the Roman Church today: nobody appears to care about the little things, and ordinary people can see that nobody cares about the little things, so the big things are left to the side. People don’t even go to Mass on Sunday now. Why would they? None of the other stuff appears to be important.
The entire problem is made all the much worse by the bishops moving all of the obliged feasts to Sunday, and dropping any other obligation like meatless fridays. It’s almost as if the bishops are telling the public that the only day they need to worry about God is Sunday. Well, when people spend six of the seven days of the week not concerned with God and His Church, they are that much more disinclined to worry about him on Sunday, too. It really is that simple.
(I promise I won’t even get into the diocesan newspapers that showed parish and K of C lent fish frys that featured chicken fingers and other fried meat… For Fridays in lent no less…. Diocesan papers… Think about that)
MIRACLE As Priests Hears 1000 Confessions in 30 minutes (or less)
I could really pile on to this point by discussing the absurdity of parishes that have 1000 families but only publicize one half hour for confessions weekly. Is that even possible that such extraordinary numbers of people — more than a 1000 — could have their confessions heard in a 30 minute time slot by one priest? To an ordinary person, it would appear that confession is not important. Actually, even an idiot could deduce such quite easily.
Man Handling Our Lord
The same thing occurs with having all those laypeople, extraordinary ministers, hand out Holy Communion at every mass. Although the Vatican said back in 1997 that not every Sunday is extraordinary, (viz. “the habitual use of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion at Mass thus arbitrarily extending the concept of ‘a great number of the faithful'”) that the habitual use of these busybodies is wrong, it’s everywhere everyday. The Pope did something about it, issued an interdict, and it was and is ignored. Nothing has changed about it – it was and is still ignored. Walk into a typical American parish and there’s a pack of busybodies rushing the Holy alter to man handle Our Lord (as an aside, I suppose “man handle” would offend American liturgical sensibilities, and should be rendered by the Bishop’s rules as “human handle”). To an ordinary person then, Holy Communion doesn’t look like anything all that special – human handled by non-ordained. Moreover, given the observation about confession above, you start to see that none of it is important – just show up on Sunday and look busy.
So, why am I irritated that Annunciation was moved to today? Is it really being overly sensitive or grumpy? Is it made worse because nobody seems able to tell me what happened to change this immovable feast to be moved?
The truth is, I can’t blame anyone for not knowing — after all, none of this is important anymore, is it?
Nobody Listens to the Pope, Either (but it’s still all his fault, right?)
Yet, despite Pope Benedict telling us to reinstate Gregorian chants propers to all Masses, nobody has done it (except for a few parishes I can count on my two hands that never stopped). Despite Pope John Paul II telling everyone to stop being extraordinary ministers at every Mass, nobody stopped. Despite all those things, people today think Pope Francis is going to ruin the return of authentic Catholic worship. (!)
I have to laugh – how else can you respond to this madness? You have busybodies in lackluster smocks running around at our national masses – no attention to fast days, let alone meatless Fridays, total abrogation of making the sign of the cross and genuflections at Mass, and a strange ennui regarding feasts that used to be holy days of obligation celebrated on fixed calendar dates being flipped around like cheap toys. And we wonder why no one shows up? Pope Francis decides to snub the Curia parade on Holy Thursday and people complain and whisper that he’s ruining the western church’s revival (!). Really?
I think we need to get a grip. Pope Francis isn’t setting a bad example — nobody is doing what the past two popes have said anyway.
Yes, today was the feast of the Annunciation. Nobody can tell me why we move it to today but didn’t do so in 1930. I was irritated about that, and that it is no longer a holy day of obligation. But really, if we made it a holy day of obligation, we wouldn’t have it until next Sunday or maybe not even until after Pentecost.
I’m not irritated about it anymore – like everything else, it apparently doesn’t mean much to anyone. Whether Pope Francis is ruining the western rite is apparently what everyone else wants to be irritated about.
Apart from all my rhetorical questions above, I really would like to know if this matters.
- Can the Church survive as a mediocre Sunday thing?
- Is moving annunciation around and dropping the obligation related?
- Or, am I blowing hot air?
UPDATE: Thanks to Pewsitter.com for linking to us!
This article, Is Annunciation Really Today? Why Would it Bother Me? is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
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