Saturday, February 22, 2014

Pre-Lenten Season

As a Catholic, I have always found Lent to be an extraordinary time of the year for me spiritually.  It is a time of self reflection, prayer and sacrifice in preparation for the time when we remember the ultimate sacrifice Christ made of himself on the cross as well as his Resurrection - which is the highest feast day on our calendar.  Even the seasons in which Lent and Easter occur seem to echo the meaning of these observances -- going through the final days of the  darkness and death of winter (Lent) while looking forward to the light and new birth of spring (Easter).

For "Traditional" Catholics like me (those of us who observe the customs and forms of worship prior to the changes made in the 1960s following Vatican II), Lent begins a bit more gradually than it does in the current Liturgical books -- still beginning officially on Ash Wednesday, but with a time of introduction known as the Sundays of Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima.

These Sundays loosely translated refer to 70, 60 and 50 days before Easter -- Lent being the 40 days of official penance and fasting in preparation for Easter.  Obviously they are not exact number of days, but the idea is that this season is so important that we enter into it gradually to prepare ourselves for the journey ahead which officially commences on Ash Wednesday.

 I always found the names of these Sundays to be just plain cool -- terminology in the older Rite always sounds so much more profound. I do admit however, that my immature American mentality does at times giggle at hearing the term Sexagesima -- and don't pretend you didn't too upon reading it.  It's ok -- as staunchly traditional as I am when it comes to the Liturgy, I think God has a sense of humor too and giggles occasionally Himself.

In the 1970s when a small group of Church officials decided to "modernize" things (that usually never ends up being a really good thing...) they wanted to stream line everything -- make it "simpler" and easier to understand.  This approach in and of itself confuses me -- we live in an age of smart phones and Google where any question can be answered by simply typing it into your phone.  This would be THE TIME then to dig deeper into such subjects, not keep them at a bare-minimum level of presentation or understanding.

This "simplification" also applied to other major feasts where the preparation and conclusion of these feasts were either scaled back or eliminated. -- Octaves after holidays are hardly heard of anyway -- meaning celebrating the feast for 8 days after the actual day -- giving people a time to reflect and enjoy the feast day.  Americans are awesome at practicing "simplifications" like this --- as noted by Christmas tress out to the curb on December 26th.

It saddens me that there is still a movement in the Church to simplify, simplify, simplify in an effort to make the faith more comprehensible to people.  I believe it has had the opposite effect -- we've watered things down so much that they no longer seem important at all.   Lent for example seems to mean little more to main stream Catholics than wearing ashes on your forehead to work/school on Ash Wednesday, enjoying fish fries on Fridays and maybe giving up something during Lent that you really didn't like anyway - and not understanding why you're giving up anything to begin with.

Personally, I think the Church would be far more effective if it simplified it's social teachings and went back more to the fullness of its spirituality.  Welcoming more diversity of peoples and better understanding their circumstances while worshiping in the amazing and inspiring living traditions of our ancestors passed down through the ages --- rather than white washing everything yet sticking to hard line social teachings that never seem to get updated or simplified.

*gets off soapbox*

By the way -- this Sunday is Sexagesima Sunday.  *giggles*

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Lack of communication....

     Not having cable in a few years, I watch a lot of shows online.  I love it - with the right programs like Netflix, you can watch what you want when you want.  Recently I set up an HBOgo account and have been re-watching the series, Sex in the City.
     I wasn't a fan of the show when it started but the first guy I dated really got me hooked on it.  One of the few good things to come from that relationship.  Curling up on the sofa with Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha has been like getting in touch with some old friends.
     Actually, it's the friendship between these women that I find fascinating.  They live their own lives yet are so interconnected with one another.  As many friends as we can say we have on Facebook, how many of us actually have friendships like these women?
     Each television series is a glimpse into the time period in which they were created.  Sex in the City isn't really that old of a show, yet so much has changed.  The most striking thing I notice when I watch this show is how much the girls talk to each other on the phone.  Think about it... how often do you really have a long conversation on the phone anymore?  Probably not often... or at least not as often as you did a decade ago.
     My friend Katie and I were just discussing this in the break room the other day.  We all know someone who is the exception -- that person who is ALWAYS talking on their cell, usually in public where we don't want to hear their conversation. For most of us though, we don't gab on the phone anymore -- it's all texting.   I find it much easier to send a simple text message and get a reply than picking up the phone and engaging someone in conversation.  Though I admit this about myself, I must also admit that it is... well... wrong.
     Texting certainly has its advantages but it has also weakened our own communication skills (not to mention devolving our spelling and use of the English language).  People don't know how to TALK to one another or even hold a conversation.  People are so used to texting back and forth ALL DAY with what might amount to a few paragraphs of text - but put them on the phone and the conversation comes to a screeching halt within two minutes.  What intimidates us about a telephone call?
     Despite my love of classic rotary phones (which I am proud to boast that despite being technology impaired, I can use land-line free on a daily basis via my cell phone - thanks to a miraculous bluetooth router), I rarely actually use the phones.  I think I dust them more than I actually talk with them.  Except for calls to and from my Mom, my phone rarely rings.  To be honest, I'd love to have friends who aren't just close like Carrie and the girls when hanging out at a restaurant or enjoying drinks, but who gab on the phone from time to time... just to check in... sharing the laughs and the warmth of a human voice across the miles.  
     Don't you miss that too?  
     Still, as much as I lament chatting on the phone... if it were to ring right now, the first thing that would pop into my head would be - "why the hell are they calling me?".   -- I'll have to work on that and maybe "reach out and touch someone" more often.