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TO SHINE AS STARS IN THE SKY

One of the losses we have in modern life is that we do not see the night skies. Light pollution has spread to such a degree that you have to be very far away from electric lights indeed to see the true brilliance of the heavens. One of the most beautiful images of the Christian in the world is the one St. Paul uses in Philippians 2:15, where he says: “That you may be blameless and sincere children of God, without reproof, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation: among whom you shine as lights in the world” (or, as the passage may also be rendered in English: “among whom you shine as stars in the sky.”)

To behold a true night sky is to be awestruck by the beauty of the heavens and to feel the immensity of God’s Creation.

In an analogous way, the crowding out of sacred times and seasons by the secular has had a dulling effect on our souls. Unless we are seeking it we do not spontaneously feel surrounded by an invisible spiritual world of angel hosts and Saints of Heaven. And yet, we are, just as surely as the fullness stars is shining above us in the heavens each night though we do not see it. 

One of the unintended effects of Pope Pius X’s reduction of the Holy Days of obligation in the Church Year to ten from over 30 in the early 1900s was to shrink the faithful’s awareness of how the Redemption surrounds them at all times of the year. Prior to that reform, these other feast-days were Holy Days of obligation: 

  • Easter Monday and Easter Tuesday
  • Pentecost Monday and Tuesday
  • Finding of the Holy Cross (May 3rd)
  • Purification (February 2nd)
  • Annunciation (March 25th)
  • Nativity of Our Lady (September 8th)
  • Michaelmas (Michael the Archangel, September 29th)
  • Nativity of St. John the Baptist (June 24th)
  • Primary Feast of each of the Twelve Apostles (e.g., St. Matthew, September 21st)
  • St. Stephen (December 26th)
  • Holy Innocents (December 28th)
  • St. Anne, Mother of Mary (July 26th)
  • Patron Saint of a country
  • Patron Saint of the locality (Boston, St. Patrick, March 17th)
  • Titular Feast of the Parish Church (Mary Immaculate of Lourdes, February 11th)

One can see from this list how suffused a Catholic’s life would be by the sacred feasts of the Church. Whatever the shocks and griefs of life you were always reminded that this world, with its limited horizons, is not the only world there is: that there is another, continually reminding us of its existence and beckoning us on toward it. 

We could find it very profitable to familiarize ourselves with this full list and to mark all of these feasts in the life of our own home, especially at this time of the year when we have a succession of them coming upon us: St. Matthew Apostle on September 21st and Michaelmas on September 29th, SS. Simon and Jude Apostles, October 28th, and All Saints Day on November 1st—the Feast of the Heavenly Jerusalem itself. Don’t deprive yourself of seeing the Church’s “night skies”.

Fr, Higgins
 

 

 

About Our Parish

Mary Immaculate of Lourdes is Newton and Needham Massachusetts's oldest Roman Catholic Parish. Founded as Saint Mary's Parish in 1870 it was renamed "Mary Immaculate of Lourdes" when the new Church was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, 1910. In addition to being a regular territorial parish of the Archdiocese of Boston it is also a "Mission Parish" since 2007 with a special apostolate for the Traditional Latin Mass (1962 Missal).

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"If you are willing to serenely bear the trial of being displeasing to yourself, then you will be for Jesus a pleasant place of shelter."
- St. Therese of Lisieux (+1897)

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