Category Archives: Liturgical Year

Give It Up!

I remember well my first Lent in a religious community in the 1980s. Most of us seminarians, like many people out in the world, gave up sweets for 40 days. The one time that this penance really came into play was during the afternoon coffee break. The nearby Au Bon Pain restaurant donated day-old pastries to the seminary, and these were typically brought out to give us a little sugar boost to get us through metaphysics and epistemology.

So, while the rest of us were wistfully looking at the full tray of Au Bon Pain goodies, one delightfully chubby seminarian walked up and started munching on a big chocolate croissant. In between bites (barely) he told me, “This year I decided to do positive penance, so I’m just going to be charitable.”

The seminarian was joking, but this did illustrate how our image of ”Lenten penance” can become skewed. With Ash Wednesday just around the corner, I thought I would point out four approaches to Lent that seem a little disordered. Continue reading Give It Up!

Chair of St. Peter

Today the universal Church celebrates the feast of the Chair of St. Peter. When I first returned to the Church way back when, I thought this feast sounded really strange. I was okay with celebrating events from the life of Christ, and even with celebrating feasts in honor of special saints. But a chair?

Then I read that ever since the fourth century, the feast of the Chair of St. Peter has been celebrated in Rome as a sign of the unity of the Church founded upon that apostle. Hmmm. There must be more to the story . . . Continue reading Chair of St. Peter

Upstaging St. Valentine

Very few of us will walk up to someone today and greet him or her with the words, “Happy St. Cyril’s Day,” or even “Happy Cyril’s Day.” And surely no one will tell their sweetheart to “Be my Methodius.”

And yet, today the universal Church honors Sts. Cyril and Methodius, not St. Valentine, notwithstanding the latter’s larger-than-life appeal.

Sts. Cyril and Methodius, brothers from what in biblical times was known as Thessalonica, were ninth-century missionaries to the Slavic people in Eastern Europe. Not only did they learn the oral language of the people, but they developed an alphabet and written language so that the Bible and liturgical texts could be translated into the living language of the people. They were truly remarkable men of God.

Sts. Cyril and Methodius

Interestingly, Pope John Paul II authored only one encyclical on the lives of saints, and that short encyclical was entitled Slavorum Apostoli, the Apostles of the Slavs. Yes, it’s about Sts. Cyril and Methodius. Read it here.

Father, you brought the light of the gospel to the Slavic nations through Saint Cyril and his brother Saint Methodius. Open our hearts to understand your teaching and help us to become one in faith and praise.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Sts. Cyril and Methodius, pray for us. 

This article originally appeared in the Catholic Hour blog.