My friend Sr. Julie writes: This morning I overheard some locker room talk at the gym. From what I could gather two of the women were school teachers. One mentioned that in her school (I don’t think it was Catholic) all of the religious holidays are no longer observed. Instead schools are going with national holidays such as International Women’s Day. While I am pleased that such national holidays are recognized, I do have some questions. How widespread is this? What kind of impact (if any) do you see in terms of catechesis? I would be most grateful for your thoughts.
This is obviously part of the ongoing secularization of our society. When I was a kid, attending a Catholic grade school, holy days of obligation were often also holidays. In my entire life, I have never NOT had Good Friday off (except when serving as a parish staff member, of course!). I’ve always had time off for Easter and Christmas. All of this reinforced the Catholic calendar. I (many of us) grew up in a culture that was favorable to the practice of the Catholic faith. The example that Sr. Julie points out may not seem like a big deal, but it is part of the ongoing secularization of our culture. The most significant impact in my mind, and a positive spin on all this, is that, in order for us to live a Catholic lifestyle, we need to be more intentional and proactive in doing so, often taking stands that are counter-cultural (such as going out for pizza with friends on a Friday during Lent and asking that our needs for meatless pizza be met). Situations like this force us to think about why we do what we do and require us to prepare to talk about the reasons we do them. As catechists, we are called to help those we teach understand what it is that they do as Catholics. In other words, it calls us to live the new evangelization!