Monday, December 8, 2008

A holy day of obligation I'll never forget

Growing up Catholic and going to 12 years of Catholic school, I had plenty of people to remind me back then of the various holy days of obligation (the ones lay Catholic are obliged to observe). Now I often don't even know when Easter falls. But hey, it moves!

However, there's one holy day I'll never forget and that's today, December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (not a movable feast). And that's because it's *also* my brother Fast Fizzy's birthday (which means he always had the day off from Catholic school, the bastard!). And it is *also* his only child's birthday, who was born on his 40th birthday -- nice present, eh?

So happy birthday to Fast Fizzy and Youngest Niece, who turn 55 and 15 respectively today!

Oh, yeah, and happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception, too, if you celebrate it.

(FYI for those of you not in the know, the feast of the Immaculate Conception celebrates the conception of *Mary*, the mother of God, not her conception of Jesus. Oh, and "immaculate" means unmarked, spotless [as in sinless] -- not miraculous, though I suppose it has a touch of the miraculous. Still, that's not the primary meaning. Just think of someone's "immaculately clean" house. While the "immaculate reception" was a funny *sounding* sports pun, it actually made no sense whatsoever. I'm still trying to figure out how a reception could be spotless. I suppose, though, it could be clean in an additional metaphorical sense, but that's not what they were trying to convey. Anyway, this bothers me almost as much as the misuse of "literally" and "aggravating," for which, see below. Usually I'm not this pedantic, but for some reason these three things get to me. Oh, and the redundancy of "irregardless." Shudder. That one was made worse by the fact that I once had a boss who used that 'word' about 10 times a day, usually to mean, "Stop talking -- I don't care what you have to say," so he was both rude and redundant.)


Dame Eleanor Hull said...

The error that is driving me right round the bend of late is use of subject pronouns after prepositions. People seem to think that any time you have a plural subject, you use subject rather than object pronouns. "Between you and I," "they gave it to she and I," etc.---I'd be happy to give in on "impact" and any number of other mild irritants if we could get back to me, her, and him in the right places.

Ooh--my verification word is "exlesuff." Sort of a misspelling of exclusive, but evocative of exsufflation. OK, I'll shut up now.

Anonymous said...

it is my mission in life to correct three errors in my students:

1. The immaculate conception refers to the conception Mary, not to the conception of Jesus (as outlined here)

2. The term "resurrection of the body" refers to the general resurrection of all humanity at the end of time, not the resurrection of Jesus.

3. Constantine did not make Christianity the "official religion" of the Roman empire in any straightforward and/or legally binding sense.

if one tends toward the pedantic, best to pick a few errors on which focus one's energy, eh? And irregardless is so irritating I can hardly stand it.

Erick said...

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the immaculate conception itself a miracle, and so, metaphorically, the forward pass bouncing off of two other. . . never mind.

Anonymous said...

I don't remember that my Catholic H.S. let us off for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. I think it was just one of those days when they forced us all to go to Mass in the gym - like a pep rally in every way except for its seriousness.

In any case, the Immaculate Conception was one of a handful of things that started getting me to think, "hey, maybe people are just making all this stuff up." It seemed like a hasty patch for a bug in the system that could suggest that Jesus was born with Original Sin. Maybe that's why, apparently, up until the 19th century, the Church was uncharacteristically lax about enforcing belief in the Immaculate Conception.

In light of all that, I don't have any trouble seeing why a reception couldn't be as immaculate as a conception. But, once you start analyzing the difference between receiving and conceiving, well, at least for me, it all starts getting very adolescent.

Anonymous said...

The F. of the I.C. is also the patronal feast of the United States, as proclaimed by the pope some time before he proclaimed that the I.C. was dogma, an announcement which itself came some time before Vatican I proclaimed that the Pope was capable of proclaiming dogma. 19th c. Italian popes = awesome!

Also, apparently Eadmer of Canterbury was one of the Feast's most vigorous proponents, and this endears the occasion to me for some reason. Probably because after the I.C. and St. Anselm, Eadmer's favorite things were forgeries!

Bardiac said...

It makes sense, though, since if the Immaculate Conception were Jesus being conceived, then there'd either be a miraculously short pregnancy, or a miserably long one.

I like that Lady Day is 9 months to the day before Christmas. Helps me remember that one :)

ps. One of my very favorite pictures is Raphael's of Anne and Mary with the kid.

Bardiac said...

Doh, Leonardo, NOT Raphael!

Jonathan said...

The sense of "aggravating" which seems to bother you has old citations in the OED.

Dedalus said...

Wait--I don't remember getting Holy Days of Obligation off of school! They would just drag us off to mass in the middle of the day. What a rip-off.

I like the Feast of the Assumption. It just sounds funny. (You know what happens when you Assume!) It's a celebration of complacency! Are we gonna have a feast day this week? I dunno. I guess. Why wouldn't we?

Well, it's just interesting that the questionable pun was even possible. Why does football fetishize fancy Latinate words like "reception" and "incompletion," instead of just saying "catch" or "not a catch?" Is there something--dare I say it?--Catholic about professional football?