feast days


Today is super Tuesday. It is also Fat Tuesday, aka Mardi Gras, aka Shrove Tuesday (though admittedly, I am more about the fat and mardi than I am about being shriven, but that is because I am not such a good person).

It is Super Fat Tuesday, or Super Size Tuesday.

I am gorging myself on treats and political coverage. We can report that sweets, cheese, milk, pepperoni and liquor are up, but we expect their polls to go down over the next 40 days. Hillary and Obama are each winning stuff. McCain is winning a lot of stuff. Huckabee is winning stuff in the South and the NPR people are attributing it to everything but the fact that he is *southern* and southerners like to support their own. I think their reporters must all be from other parts of the land.

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Today is the feast day of St. Nicholas. As my friend JZ would say, “Yes, Virginia (and DC and Maryland) there *is* a Santa Claus.”
St. Nicholas was raised in a wealthy and devout Christian family in the third century. He became Bishop of Myra (which would now be a part of Turkey) and is venerated for his great generosity and care for others. He spent his whole inheritance helping those in need. Among other things, he is said to have thrown bags of gold into the homes of unmarried, dowry-less women to save them from a life a prostitution. God bless him. He also had a thing for helping children and saving sailors from storms at sea.

Somewhere along the line, the St. Nicholas legend became the Santa Claus legend, and the tradition of giving gifts in his honor (like good ole’ St. Nicholas did in his day) was carried to Christmas Day. (Of course, that’s not the only gift influence on Christmas, but part of it.) A coworker pointed out to me that perhaps St. Nicholas is sitting somewhere in heaven, feeling similar to all those people who have birthdays in December, saying, “Man, I just get lumped in with Christmas! Having your day in December stinks!” He turns to St. Patrick and laments, “No fair, you get the whole month of March in your honor!”

Practice some random act of kindness in honor of St. Nicholas today. And if you have an extra bag of gold, by all means pass it along to someone in need.

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What is the proper greeting on All Souls Day? “Happy All Souls Day” doesn’t seem quite right. Anyway, today is All Souls Day, and I hope yours is good. This strange trilogy of holidays — Halloween-All Saints-All Souls — all centers around All Saints Day (Nov. 1). The church has been celebrating All Saints Day since the 3rd century; it’s an opportunity to commemorate all the saints (known and unknown), the glories of heaven and the church triumphant. Halloween is All Hallows Eve, the eve of the celebration of all those hallowed saints. When people got the bright idea to dress in costumes and ask for candy, I know not.  As for All Souls Day, it seems that celebrating all the saints that have passed before us made people to want to also remember all the slightly-less-than-saintly friends and family who have died (admittedly, I think it also stemmed from pagan celebrations of putting out food and such for the dead to join you in a meal?). So, today on All Souls Day there are requiem masses to remember the faithful departed. If you are in DC and would like to attend an All Souls Day requiem, there is one tonight at 6:30 at Ascension and St. Agnes, near metro center.

 

From Brian Andreas and the wonderful people at StoryPeople, today’s story of the day:

I don’t know if I really believe in all the saints, she said, but I pray to them anyway.

It makes every night feel more like a slumber party.

Let us now sing the praises of famous men,
our ancestors in their generations.
2 The Lord apportioned to them great glory,
his majesty from the beginning.
3 There were those who ruled in their kingdoms,
and made a name for themselves by their valor;
those who gave counsel because they were intelligent;
those who spoke in prophetic oracles;
4 those who led the people by their counsels
and by their knowledge of the people’s lore;
they were wise in their words of instruction;
5 those who composed musical tunes,
or put verses in writing;
6 rich men endowed with resources,
living peacefully in their homes–
7 all these were honored in their generations,
and were the pride of their times.
8 Some of them have left behind a name,
so that others declare their praise.
9 But of others there is no memory;
they have perished as though they had never existed;
they have become as though they had never been born,
they and their children after them.
10 But these also were godly men,
whose righteous deeds have not been forgotten;

14 Their bodies are buried in peace,
but their name lives on generation after generation.
15 The assembly declares their wisdom,
and the congregation proclaims their praise.

–Sirach 44

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