Despite the fact that yesterday was the feast of Ss Cyril and Methodius, proclaimed Patrons of Europe by Pope John Paul II, Pope Francis was sticking to the pre-1962 calendar and keeping the Feast of St Valentine! As far as I can glean, St Valentine has been purged from the new calendar, which seems a pity as "Valentine's Day" seems to grow ever more popular in the secular imagination. Yet another instance of the Church shooting itself in the foot by "reforming" and breaking the age old links with the popular culture that in some ways at least, still remains rooted in its Christian past. It would seem sensible to make the most of such links and reclaim them and remind people of where they come from, rather than jettison them. It would appear that Pope Francis must agree - perhaps we will see the Feast of St Valentine properly restored to its liturgical celebration?
St Pudsey - Pray for us.
Unfortunately, I suspect that we too often in the Church now ride on the coat-tails of secular feasts because we've lost confidence in our own Traditions. We can't wait to put on a red nose but seem ever less keen on walking around with ash on our foreheads. Pudsy Bear seems so much more appealing than our own patron saints. Our leaders are keen on jumping on any political bandwagon that happens to be passing - the social security safety net may or may not be failing but the safety net for souls in a Church where the catechetical and school system have failed to teach generations the importance of the Truths of the Faith is certainly failing and a national disgrace. We should not be inspired by ideologies aimed at merely improving the world but rather guided by the Faith.
Reclaiming our Traditions and reclaiming culture are one and the same thing. The proper care and celebration of our religious Faith will always lead to great works being done for those most in need but a focus on the social and the secular without the underpinning of the Faith leads to a relativism that the children of Belgium might not care for quite so much now that they can "enjoy" the same rights as the grown ups. In the lives of the great "social justice" saints (as they are now often portrayed) it was the Faith that came first, the Faith that they included at the heart of their "programmes", the Faith that was foundation, building block and context - never an "add on". They managed to do their work not IN SPITE of keeping to the Church's Tradition but BECAUSE of remaining faithful to it - including, for the vast majority of them, celebrating Mass in Latin, ad orientem and without wanting to overthrow the doctrine of the Church on Faith and morals in favour of the secular mores of the day. The lepers embraced by St Damien were not looked on with favour by the mores of the day; the vagabond children educated by St John Bosco were not cared for by the secular institutions of the day; the slavers of the day would have been castigated by St Peter Calver, etc etc.
From Pope Benedict XVI's Deus Caritas Est:
40. "The saints are the true bearers of light within history, for they are men and women of faith, hope and love."
"33. With regard to the personnel who carry out the Church's charitable activity on the practical level, the essential has already been said: they must not be inspired by ideologies aimed at improving the world, but should rather be guided by the faith which works through love (cf. Gal 5:6). "