Pastoral Message – October 3, 2021
Happy Festival Weekend to All Y’all!
Ever since this batch of priests showed up here at Saints Simon & Jude we have heard of the glories of the Fall Festival. Literally, the first question we asked of the Pastoral Council, the MEC board, the Finance Committee and just parishioners at large was “What’s the most vibrant ministry in the parish?” The answer, without exception, was “The Festival”. And then just roaming around town, and stating I was the new Pastor of Saints Simon & Jude, I heard about the Festival from random Huntington Beachers. (By the way, are we Huntington Beachers? Or Huntington Beachians? Or Huntington Beachanders? Or maybe we’re all just “Dude”. Someone, please let me know.)
Anyway, the concept of “Festival” has been on my mind. And since I’m Pastor, it’s my job (and my joy) to bring God into consideration, thus “baptizing” the Festival a bit more. So, I’d like us all to consider the Godly and spiritual worth of a Catholic Parish Festival.
Catholic parish fiestas, carnivals, festivals have roots in our liturgical calendar, particularly the sanctoral calendar. The Roman Catholic Church is famous for remembering and liturgically celebrating Saints. There are numerous, different Saints recognized daily in various places throughout the world. And parish communities throughout the world are identified by Saints – they are the heavenly patrons of their namesake parishes. So, while the whole Church marks the year with Saints days, a particular parish will celebrate its namesake Patron Saint on that particular Saint’s feast day. Parish Festivals are usually celebrated around or on the parish’s Saint’s day. (Obviously, Saints Simon & Jude is an exception. Poor Simon & Jude! We haven’t done much as a parish to celebrate their Feast day – which is Oct. 28th. Instead, the parish Festival is based on the Feast of Francis of Assisi who’s Feast day is Oct. 4th. We’ll have to see if we can’t give a bit more pizzazz to our real Patrons’ day!) So Catholic Festivals have roots in calendars – marking time, consecrating the year and celebrating Saints. All of these calendars and festivals can be traced back even further to our Jewish roots.
The Hebrew word that we would translate as “Feast” or “Festival” is derived from two other words. One which means “Divinely appointed time” and the verb “to dance”. So a Festival is a divinely appointed time to dance. That sounds like we can kick up our heels with God’s approval.
In ancient Israel, some feasts and festivals followed natural seasons based on farming and agrarian life. There were harvest feasts, planting feasts, feasts based on the phase of the moon, which included making offerings to God. There were feasts that celebrated the history of the people of Israel and their relationship with God – think Passover or Chanukah. Some Festivals were more somber and what we would call penitential, focusing on fasting and prayer – like Yom Kippur.
And while all of these Festivals reflect a yearly cycle, or even a 7-year cycle or 7 times 7-year cycle (google search Sabbath year and Jubilee year in the Bible), they also reflect every 7th day – the Sabbath day, or for us Christians – Sunday. Sunday is a divinely appointed day when we worship God in Spirit and in truth. It is a Festival day that we too often take for granted.
If only we reverenced each Sunday in the same way we reverence Christmas, or Easter, or Thanksgiving, or Superbowl Sunday. And if only we as a parish would reverence each Sunday as much as we focus on Festival weekend. That’s my not so secret goal. I’d love it if in a few years when somebody asks about Sts. Simon and Jude, the first answer someone would hear… “Their Sunday Mass is the best thing going!” or the “Their most active ministry praising God and serving Huntington Beach”. That doesn’t diminish the annual Festival we’re celebrating this weekend. But if we up our attitudes about a feast and festival every Sunday, then it makes the annual Festival even more holy, special, and a special time time when holy fellowship happens. We need a divinely appointed time to kick up our heels! Let’s expand our vision to include Sundays all the more. And let’s expand our mission to share Christ’s faith, hope, and love to Huntington Beach.
Enjoy yourselves! And say at least one “Hail Mary” for every beer consumed. (And not one of those rapid fire “Hail Marys” where you slur all the words together. Really be intentional and full of grace, not IPAs!)