All posts tagged: festivity

The Sham Practice of Christmas

As one of the great festivals of Christianity approaches, the malls are decked with holly, sales, and “Santa Baby.” Human beings are wired for festivity but could most of us even define what a festival truly is? And does our commercialized bastardization of Christmas still qualify as one? When I picked up 20th century German Catholic philosopher Josef Pieper’s In Tune with the World: A Theory of Festivity, I realized this seemingly familiar idea of festival was more elusive than I expected. Did I not know what festivity was? Apparently not. The short treatise begins with a quote from St. John Chrysostom: “Ubi caritas gaudet, ibi est festivas” or “where love rejoices, there is festivity.” Like “love,” a word that we often use and yet may struggle to define, festivity is an idea we have trouble getting to the heart of. In addition to Pieper, I would like to recruit a well-known guide for us in our search for the meaning of festivity: the “squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching covetous old sinner” turned grateful philanthropist, …

Advent Fun and Festivity: St. Lucy’s Day

Today the Church celebrates the feast of St. Lucy, a third-century Sicilian girl who pledged her virginity to Christ and endured a martyr’s death when she refused to renounce her faith. Numerous versions of St. Lucy’s martyrdom are told: one version says that she miraculously became unmovable when a group of soldiers tried to drag her off to a brothel in order to violate her virginity. Another version relates that, when even a team of oxen couldn’t move Lucy, soldiers piled kindling around her and attempted to set it ablaze, but the wood could not be lit. Still another version states that the soldiers gouged out her eyes before beheading her (hence her symbol of eyes on a plate and her patronage of those suffering from blindness or other eye ailments). Of course, these varied versions are more the stuff of legend than of fact; however, at their core, they all present us with the witness of a courageous young woman who chose to suffer and die rather than betray her beloved spouse, Jesus. In many …