Calendar Overload

I managed to forget that yesterday was Canada’s Thanksgiving Day. Possibly only our Canadian oblate and friends registered the lapse, and, being Canadians, forgave as soon as they noticed. Today the liturgical calendar gives us the memoria of Blessed John Henry Newman, the feast of St Denis of Paris (and his companions) and a lovely mish-mash of local devotions, depending on where one happens to be. I can cope with that, but it is also Libraries Week and I don’t know how many special ‘days for’ everything under the sun. It seems that the further we get from Christianity, the more we multiply our secular commemorations in an awkward kind of parallel liturgicalism. I am suffering from calendar overload, and possibly you are, too. Being asked to pray for whatever good (and sometimes not so good) cause has attracted a Twitter hashtag is one thing; being expected to order our priorities according to these newly-coined ‘days for’ is another. The Church, of course, was here long before our our secular counterparts with her adoption of saints and martyrs as patrons of this, that and the other. St Denis, for example, is patron saint of those suffering from frenzy, strife, headaches, and hydrophobia. Bl. John Henry is too recently beatified to have attracted official patronage of any except the Ordinariate, but I’m sure it won’t be long before he also has a string of causes to his name. It is perhaps perverse of me, but I find the older, liturgical commemorations, throwing as they do light on the concerns of our forebears, much more human and much less strident than the demands made on us by many of our contemporary ‘days’. Mind you, Libraries Week has definite appeal . . .


11 thoughts on “Calendar Overload”

  1. No worries, Thanksgiving Day up here is officially today, the Monday, but most celebrate it at home on the Sunday, as that gives one a day off to relax before heading backwards to work.. most churches will be decorated along harvest themes…
    The guest of honour for us was an 18 pound turkey served up with all the traditional accompaniments.. lots of leftovers, too!

  2. This week is also Prisons Week, which is perhaps pertinent for Christians. I pray for the Prison Fellowship, which works in Prisons to bring Jesus and the Gospel a little closer to those who are receptive.

    They also provide activities, prison visiting and courses. Doing God’s work in quite dark environments.

    I have nothing against Libraries week itself, but in terms of importance, unless you have lost your local library due to austerity, than they don’t figure in my prayer diary.

  3. I am aware that this maybe flippant…or not.
    Many years ago on British TV was a series, “Me Mammy”.
    The Mammy had a cupboard filled with various Saints statues.
    Depending on the problem one would be pulled out and prayed to.
    Many of these saints were ancient and part of popular culture in Eire.
    Personally I am fed up with so many days for all sorts of causes.
    Surely prayers to saints cover just about everything life has to throw at us.

    • Yes! I think today is Mental Health Day, but we often pray for those who suffer mental health difficulties and I’d be sorry if we only remembered them on one day of the year and then thought our duty done.

  4. I sometimes wonder if some of these contemporary ‘memorial’ days are somehow related to the increasing intrusion of the greetings cards/gifts industry to urge us to buy and send cards & gifts for very many and new specific things… grandmother/grandfather day….auntie/uncle day….I’ve even seen one that was for ‘parent’s new partner day’! The danger is that we reach a state of overload with all the various needs jabbing us in the arm for attention. Maybe the answer is to pray for others as widely as we can but also to listen to what God might want to say to us about specific needs?……

    • I fear you may be right about the commercial interests at work, though days meant to raise awareness of mental health, autism, and so on are, one would hope, less subject to it. I am with you on the need for prayer and discernment.

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