Catholic Culture Liturgical Living
Catholic Culture Liturgical Living

The Hallmark liturgical calendar

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | May 27, 2024

Did you celebrate Trinity Sunday yesterday? At the Vatican, the same feast was on the liturgical calendar, but the focus was on the First World Children’s Day.

On January 1 we celebrate the feast of Mary, Mother of God. But if you read the newspapers the next day, the stories from Rome will be about the World Day of Peace.

Not quite two weeks ago the Vatican observed the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly. We have carried news stories on the World Day for Migrants and Refugees, the World Day of the Sick, the World Day of Communications, the World Day of the Poor, and International Friendship Day. If the UN declares a “Day of X,” chances are good that the Vatican will join in the celebration (balking, perhaps, at ideological observances such as Pride Month). If the UN doesn’t set aside a special day for some good cause, the Vatican might take the lead.

We Catholics love children and we love peace. We love mothers and fathers, too, and happily celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day in our homes. Today—Memorial Day—we American Catholics join in grateful prayers for our fallen soldiers. But when these observances are given a semi-official place on the liturgical calendar, they deflect interest from more important, and distinctively Catholic, feasts.

Frankly, most normal people are already favorably disposed toward children—and those who aren’t are not likely to be swayed by upbeat pronouncements from Rome. The doctrine of the Trinity, on the other hand, is a foundational element of Christian doctrine: one that is crucial to a proper understanding of our faith, and at the same time difficult to grasp (and therefore easy to get wrong). Come to think of it, someone who understands the Church’s understanding of the Triune God is, by reason of that understanding, more likely to be devoted to children, for reasons that Father Pokorsky explains in his column today. So a good homily on the Trinity would serve the interests of children, without the need for another World Day. Similarly, a January 1 sermon encouraging devotion to the Mother of God might draw attention to Our Lady of Fatima and her plan for world peace, which is more effective than another round of international negotiations.

Any Catholic who tries to live by the Church’s liturgical calendar comes to realize that the seasons and the feasts have their own natural rhythm. The UN’s “World Days of...” and the Hallmark holidays interrupt that pattern. To what purpose? To sell greeting cards? To satisfy a particular clientele? In your state legislature, some orotund lawmaker might rise this week to introduce a resolution honoring the Boy Scout troop from his constituency that built a new first-aid station at the town beach. The resolution will pass without opposition. Everyone is happy; nothing is lost. But that is the business of politics, not the work of the Church.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a current donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

  • Posted by: dayhut1205 - Jun. 07, 2024 7:39 AM ET USA

    The current papacy is currying favor with the world, plain and simple. The idea is to appear, "of the world" and less aloof and esoteric.

  • Posted by: grateful1 - May. 29, 2024 10:02 PM ET USA

    Sadly, this is yet further confirmation (as if more were needed) that this pontificate is hell bent on reducing the Church to just another NGO.

  • Posted by: ewaughok - May. 29, 2024 5:09 AM ET USA

    Mr Lawler this timely! We live in a completely commercialized society that has its own phony, half-baked days as stand-ins for days of genuine worth. These are days designed purely to make profit, not really to celebrate virtue or human value. And it’s not that making a profit per se is bad, but it is when it’s used to replace holy days provided by God’s Church. Just check Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple for guidance. To resist the replacement of God’s calendar by commercial garbage is important