For those not raised in the Catholic faith or tradition, as it is sometimes called, Catholic holidays and observances are maybe a little hard to understand. For those that are now – or, like me, ever WERE Catholic – these rituals never leave us.
For example, today is a Holy Day of Obligation in the Catholic faith. Simple definition? It’s like a Sunday on a weekday, meaning that God “requires” you to attend mass and mark the day with devotion and reflection.
Today marks The Feast of The Assumption, the day which commemorates the death of Mary and her bodily assumption into Heaven, before her body could begin to decay – a foreshadowing of our own bodily resurrection at the end of time. Because it signifies the Blessed Virgin’s passing into eternal life, it is probably the most significant Holy Day.
As a boy, I attended church, made my First Holy Communion and received several years of “…continuing Catholic development,” or CCD, at The Most Pure Heart of Mary Church in Shelby, Ohio. Here is an undated photo of the church interior, which looks very much like it does today. It is a beautiful, spiritual, holy place…
Anyway, even though I am no longer a “practicing Catholic,” the traditions and rituals of the faith still reside with me. My therapist says that 35% of her clients are former Catholics; I always laugh, but I still have a great reverence and respect for Catholicism – at least all the good “Christian” values of Catholicism. (Believe me, some the the views of the church make me CRAZY!) And like all Catholics, current and former, Holy Days remind me of virtues of faith, goodness and sacrifice, virtues that society could use a little more of these days.
Do I think God chose a virgin to bear His son? I have to confess, not really… Do I think many great lessons could be gleaned from some Biblical teachings, lessons about compassion and generosity, kindness and selflessness? Absolutely. I guess I have always felt an affinity with/for The Holy Mother, for her nurturing, loving giving qualities and virtues. Do I still connect with images like this one, YEARS after I left the faith? You bet I do…
So I guess, maybe if only for today, I am still “a little Catholic” and will look to the sky before bed and thank whomever is listening for watching over me and taking care of me and the ones I love. It never hurts to be thankful, right?