As I was perusing Facebook the other day I noticed that even in the middle of Mardi Gras and Valentine’s Day, this week also celebrates National Friend’s Day. Our culture has created many such days to celebrate everything from relationships (e.g. National Siblings Day) to simple comforts (National Ice Cream Day).
I could not help but think that what our culture truly craves is much more than ice cream, and even more than Facebook friendships. Our culture thirsts for reasons to celebrate life. It invents new holidays and adopts religious feast days like Mardi Gras and Saint Patrick’s Day, though often without the liturgical significance from which it was established.
Our world grasps for holidays and weekends to look forward to, essentially, reasons to keep going. Most commuters I see on Monday mornings have that “I can’t wait until the weekend” look. But those longed for moments come and go and they often never provide the refreshment needed. Nor do they prevent Monday from coming again.
Without an eternal perspective life seems like a random conglomeration of pointless days…unless there can be something to celebrate! In the attempt to remedy hopelessness, the world embraces feast days but often forgets the One who is at the center of all, the One who gives meaning and purpose to each of our lives, to every moment of every day. He gives us hope for the greatest of holidays, an eternal “weekend” if you will.
We can all get sidetracked by the secular mentality and forget what we are living for, but the Church comes to our aid! On every day of the year there is at least one person to celebrate – a saint who is already participating in the Eternal Life to which we all hope to be invited. There are solemnities, feast days, and memorials throughout the year to point us to the purpose of this life, much more so than Mardi Gras parades and Saint Patrick Day parties. Celebrating these days with the Lord in mind leads us on towards that Life we all hope to inherit.
As we celebrate Mardi Gras and prepare for Lent, here are a few questions that might be helpful as we seek to appreciate the Lord’s presence here and now and also look forward to what is to come:
- How can we live in a way that anticipates the underlying meaning of these celebrations that have been secularized?
- In this Lenten Season, can we start with celebrating Sunday as the Lord’s Day, truly commemorating His Resurrection?
- How can we witness to our families and our world the joy we receive when we are fed by the liturgy and Sacraments that are so much a part of our feasts and celebrations?
I hope that this reflection helps you to find even more joy in your celebrations, so that you will be constantly reminded of the Heavenly feast to which we can participate in the Sacraments and to which we hope to celebrate fully in the life to come.