St. Thomas – Dec 21st

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Full disclosure, I’m going to step back a bit with this.  Rather than talk all about Thomas, who was an interesting fellow (a man both honored for his devout and strong faith, and his lack of it – Doubting Thomas), I’m going to talk about why this Feast Day is different than some of the earlier ones that have come up on Eating Liturgically since the start of Advent.

Those others – St. Nicholas and St. Lucia – were feast days for those saints, and ones I personally chose to recognize with a treat and reflection.

St. Thomas the Apostle, from Saint Paul the Apostle Church in Westerville, Ohio

St. Thomas is a FEAST DAY, and for me is a full-day Feast.  All in.

Why?

Well – Thomas was an Apostle.  Nicholas and Lucia were sainted and are characters of note in our Christian history – but they are neither Apostles nor Evangelists.

Basically, every day pretty much has the recognition of *somebody* on the liturgical calendar.  It can be marvelous to check out each day and to read about each person.  These are days of optional observance.

There’s a category of Feasts that are above these. The principal feasts of the church year are Easter Day, Ascension Day, the Day of Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, All Saints’ Day (Nov. 1), Christmas Day, and the Epiphany (Jan. 6). Ascension Day is celebrated on the Thursday forty days after Easter. The Day of Pentecost is the eighth Sunday after Easter, the fiftieth day of the Easter season. Trinity Sunday is the Sunday after the Day of Pentecost, nine Sundays after Easter. All Saints’ Sunday is the Sunday following All Saints’ Day, Nov. 1, and the feast may be observed on either day. The principal feasts take precedence over any other observance.

The feasts of the Holy Name (Jan. 1), the Presentation (Feb. 2), and the Transfiguration (Aug. 6) also take precedence over the usual Sunday observance if they fall on a Sunday. These are Feasts of our Lord. Other Feasts of our Lord include the Annunciation (Mar. 25), the Visitation (May 31), St. John the Baptist (June 24), and Holy Cross Day (Sept. 14). Other major feasts include all feasts of Apostles, all feasts of Evangelists, St. Stephen (Dec. 26), the Holy Innocents (Dec. 28), St. Joseph (Mar. 19), St. Mary Magdalene (July 22), St. Mary the Virgin (Aug. 15), St. Michael and All Angels (Sept. 29), St. James of Jerusalem (Oct. 23), Independence Day (July 4), and Thanksgiving Day.

 

This year, with Christmas Eve falling on a Sunday, I’ve seen a lot of chatter on social media from my Catholic friends, talking about what their “obligation” is for mass – do they need to do one on that Sunday, or must they do two? (Answer – two – one for Advent 4 and one for Christmas.  Boom.)

 

Mmm…Thumbprint Cookies from Flikr…

I don’t think these principal feasts have that same “obligation” feel…but I did see a resemblance in that the Principal Feasts trump whatever day they fall on – be it a Friday Fast, a regular Sunday service…or personally, the fact that today is a really busy kind of stressful day for me as my family prepares for the Christmas season.  It matters not – St. Thomas is a Principal Feast, and I have to stop and honor it, savoring the day.

This wasn’t the easiest today, and I’m going to try to prepare better next year.  I made a note on my calendar for 2018 (Google calendar – it’s the best) to be all done with our Christmas prep by Dec 20th…so I can wake up on Dec 21st ready to Feast for St. Thomas, and to enjoy the last quiet Advent days before Christmas.

 

Anyway, I managed to combine Christmas Prep with St. Thomas feast – my son and I are making Thumbprint Cookies, and will talk about how Thomas doubted and had to physically touch Jesus’ resurrected palms and side to believe – and how he is still honored as an Apostle, who spread the Word to new continents and peoples.  (And the fact that I can bring the cookies to family Christmas gatherings?  Bonus.)

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