For the ten years of my Priesthood, I've always been assigned to parishes that had side altars to Our Lady. So for the feast days, I enjoyed decorating these altars. But now I'm in a place that neither has side altars, nor seems to have flowers in the church. Since I've only been here for about six weeks, I promised myself I'd sit back and not do anything, waiting to see whether the parish buys flowers, or whether parishioners bring flowers themselves.
Last night and this morning I got my answer. Neither happens, and I've got the shakes because I want to run to the store and get some flowers. Of course, the shakes could be the 4-shot espresso iced coffee I'm chugging.
I miss simple piety. One of my friends is pastor of a parish in Maryland. Over the past few days, leading up to today, his parishioners bring flowers from their gardens (and probably more than a few supermarkets' flower departments). They take a personal ownership in decorating Our Lady for her feast day. Of course, I've also seen other places in which the attitude is, "What a shame no one decorated that statue. Of course, I'm much too busy to do such a thing, but someone in the parish should do it."
I always liked decorating the altars. For someone who'll never have biological children, I always felt it was something akin to what parents do when they put presents under a Christmas tree, and then wait to see their childrens' expressions of surprise when they see it all in front of them. Some flowers here, a few candles there, the occasional reliquary, and -boom- Catholic joy!
Who knows? Our Lady's birthday is coming up. Maybe then.