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Posted: Oct 08 2006 at 7:28am | IP Logged Quote aussieannie

I have been inspired to pick up Maria VonTrapp's book again after visiting a few blogs and I read today where she said that they have their celebration/cake for a particular feast on the Eve, that the eve is very important.

Can someone share with me their thoughts on this, does that mean, strictly speaking, the evening of the feast day should not be celebrated in as part of that day's feast?

I don't mind the idea of it - I would just like to hear if others already do it, do the children find it confusing or is there something really special about doing it this way?

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Posted: Oct 08 2006 at 11:58am | IP Logged Quote JennGM


Here's my take. Bear with me.

First of all, define feast. The calendar has Solemnities, Feasts, Memorials and Optional Memorials, Solemnity being the highest. All Holy Days of Obligation are Solemnities. There are 15 plus Easter solemnities throughout each Liturgical Year.

Feasts aren't as high ranking. They can be bumped if a Sunday rolls around. Solemnities are moved.

In most of our daily language we say "Today is the feast of ...." to include all the "rankings" but not all are (or should be) celebrated in the same manner. Remember that as the Domestic Church we are bringing the Liturgy into our home, so we take our cues and instructions from Holy Mother Church.

Some of the older books were written before the calendar was reformed. There were many "Eves" celebrated...leaves me a bit confused reading my old Daily Missals.

But way before that, the traditional way of preparing for a high feastday was fasting and abstaining the night before. Some of that might relate to preparing to receive Communion (since it was a long fast, and so few times people received it). Some traditions that still remains from these fasting and abstaining are the Polish Wigilia or the Seven (or eleven) Fishes for Italian Christmas Eve dinners.

With the Reformed Calendar it's an automatic and not really indicated that we have vigils. Sundays and Solemnities the Divine Office and the Liturgy of the Mass reflect that the evening before begins the celebration. You have Evening Prayer I and II for these days, and Vigil Masses.

So, in that sense, these high feast days would be totally appropriate to celebrate along with the Church on the eve of the Solemnity.

Do I do it? Not really...only if I know that the next day we'll be gone, or can't zoom in the focus on the feast the way we would like to in our home. We usually take the vigil as time to prepare and discuss for the next day.

Jennifer G. Miller
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Posted: Oct 08 2006 at 12:45pm | IP Logged Quote MaryMary

It is my understanding that we can celebrate on the eve because it follows the Judaic tradition of celebrating a feast beginning at sundown the day before. This is why we can fulfill our Sunday obligation by going to Mass on Sat. evening.

The only time we really do this as a family is, as Jen said above, when celebration on the actual feast day is compromised.


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Posted: Oct 08 2006 at 2:47pm | IP Logged Quote MicheleQ

MaryMary wrote:
It is my understanding that we can celebrate on the eve because it follows the Judaic tradition of celebrating a feast beginning at sundown the day before. This is why we can fulfill our Sunday obligation by going to Mass on Sat. evening.

Not exactly. We can fulfill our Sunday obligation the night before because of how Sunday ranks. The same doesn't apply to a regular feast day. The liturgical day runs from midnight to midnight, but the observance of Sunday and solemnities begins with the evening of the preceding day.

The General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar explains it this way:

According to their importance, celebrations are distinguished from each other and named as follows: solemnities, feasts, memorials.

Solemnities are counted as the principal days in the calendar and their observance begins with evening prayer of the preceding day. Some also have their own vigil Mass for use when Mass is celebrated in the evening of the preceding day. The celebration of Easter and Christmas, the two greatest solemnities, continues for eight days, with each octave governed by its own rules.

Feasts are celebrated within the limits of the natural day and accordingly do not have evening prayer. Exceptions are feasts of the Lord that fall on a Sunday in Ordinary Time and in the Christmas season and that replace the Sunday office.

Memorials are either obligatory or optional. Their observance is integrated into the celebration of the occurring weekday in accord with the norms set forth in the General Instructions of the Roman Missal and the Liturgy of the Hours.

Obligatory memorials occurring on Lenten weekdays may only be celebrated as optional memorials. Should more than one optional memorial fall on the same day, only one may be celebrated; the others are omitted.

On Saturdays in Ordinary Time when there is no obligatory
memorial, an optional memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary is allowed.

God bless,

Michele Quigley
wife to my prince charming and mom of 10 in Lancaster County, PA USA
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