Editorial by Rev. Fr. Sebastian Wall, Prior of St. Andrew's House, Carluke, Scotland
June presents us most years with a real flowering of the Church’s liturgical year. This year we celebrate Whitsun, Corpus Christi and the Sacred Heart during June as well as the feasts which always fall in that month, viz. St. John the Baptist and Sts. Peter and Paul.
In common with much of the developed world, Scotland had a predominantly agricultural economy until relatively recently and it may seem odd that the these holy days - Whit week and the various isolated days of sanctification and, therefore, abstinence from work - occur during such a busy time on the land. Nowadays, of course, considerations of weather in the country and commerce in the towns are the principal concerns of modem man. Whit Monday was still a bank holiday in England when I was a boy though that has long since fallen to “Spring Bank Holiday” and the secularisation of modem society continues apace.
That is probably why the bishops, whose decision it is whether a holyday of obligation remains so within their jurisdiction, are probably motivated by the thought that it is better for there to be no obligation to hear Mass on certain days, if the people are not going to go, either because they cannot, due to work, or will not. This makes it quite tricky for us in Tradition, who cannot oblige our faithful under pain of sin, but would like to keep the traditional days holy (particularly Corpus Christi which always, and Sts. Peter and Paul which often falls on a day other than Sunday).
But we must be careful not to let lack of obligation lead to indifference. That is why your priests make considerable efforts to provide you with the possibility of hearing Mass on these days since a) they have been kept so for centuries, through the industrial revolution and well beyond, b) they are still holidays in the universal Church to which we belong and c) they offer worship to God and sanctification to His people. We would like to encourage our faithful too, if it is at all possible (inconvenience notwithstanding) to make similar efforts. The retired and self-employed will obviously find it easier to get to Mass on these days but I urge everyone to make a special effort, making the act virtuous rather than merely required. God will not let Himself be outdone in generosity.
Last month saw the Sacrament of Confirmation being administered in our church in Edinburgh but with faithful from both churches joining forces to provide a worthy ceremony for this great occasion in many of our young people’s lives (and that of Archie McQuater, now in his 91st year). I would particularly like to thank the Glasgow choir for their efforts in making the long journey to enrich the singing during the Mass celebrated after Confirmation.
Please remember also to pray for your priests especially this month, which sees the anniversary of their ordination.
With every good wish and blessing.
Rev. Sebastian Wall (Prior)