Be an (April) fool for Christ

The Denver Catholic would like to announce it will not be partaking in April Fool’s Day. In other news, the Pope has decreed Denver Catholic the greatest Catholic publication in the history of the world.

Ok, you got us.

Everybody loves April Fool’s Day. It’s a free pass to play pranks and openly engage in tomfoolery, and who doesn’t love a good prank — or tomfoolery?

The truth is, if you’ve ever pulled a gag or caused mischief on April Fool’s Day, you have the Catholic Church to thank, according to some historical accounts.

It was Pope Gregory XIII who, in 1582, would unknowingly give rise to the world’s silliest holiday. He issued a decree ordering that all Christian nations adopt a standardized calendar, called the Gregorian calendar. This moved the new year from the end of March to the first of January, causing a great deal of confusion for some. Those poor saps who were ignorant to this new tradition or simply didn’t want to observe it were mocked as “fools.”

And thus a day practical jokes – most done in good fun, and some admittedly not – was born, one that endures to this day.

In many stories, the literary archetype of the “fool” is often portrayed as a bumbling, clueless jokester who lives up to his namesake. Being a fool is not an admirable thing to strive to be; quite the contrary, in fact. Why would anybody desire to make a fool of themselves? It’s a perplexing thought.

As it were though, the entire Christian faith is founded on the life of one man who was thought by many to be just that: a fool.

The Christian life, it could be argued, is a call to foolishness. As Elvis Presley once sang, “If I’m a fool for loving you, then that’s just what I want to be.” If anyone can lay claim to be a fool (and justifiably so) for loving a particular person (or in our case, group of people), it’s Jesus Christ. His teachings were radical – foolish, some might say – but as the human embodiment of God the Father, loving like a fool is what he came to teach.

When was the last time you loved like a fool?

Perhaps we’ve been thinking about April Fool’s Day all wrong. Instead of being a fool to someone, why not be a, as St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians, a fool for someone; namely, Christ. Don’t put a “kick me” sign on your wife’s back; put a “kiss me” sign on your forehead. Yes, April Fool’s Day is done in good fun and is not bad in and of itself, but as with any other day, let it be an opportunity for conversion, that our hearts might be more conformed to that of “Christ the Fool.”

COMING UP: Q&A: USCCB clarifies intent behind bishops’ Eucharist document

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Last week, the U.S. bishop concluded their annual Spring meeting, during which much about the Church in the U.S was discussed. In particular, the bishops voted to draft a document on the meaning of Eucharistic life in the Church, which was approved by an overwhelming majority.

Since then, speculation about the nature of the document has run rampant, the chief of which is that it was drafted specifically to instigate a policy aimed directly at Catholic politicians and public figures whose outward political expressions and policy enactment do not align with Church teaching.

The USCCB has issued a brief Q&A clarifying the intent of the document, and they have emphasized that “the question of whether or not to deny any individual or groups Holy Communion was not on the ballot.”

“The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life,” the USCCB said. “The importance of nurturing an ever
deeper understanding of the beauty and mystery of the Eucharist in our lives is not a new topic for the bishops. The document being drafted is not meant to be disciplinary in nature, nor is it targeted at any one individual or class of persons. It will include a section on the Church’s teaching on the responsibility of every Catholic, including bishops, to live in accordance with the truth, goodness and beauty of the Eucharist we celebrate.”

Below are a few commonly asked questions about last week’s meeting and the document on the Eucharist.

Why are the bishops doing this now?

For some time now, a major concern of the bishops has been the declining belief and understanding of the Eucharist among the Catholic faithful. This was a deep enough concern that the theme of the bishops’ strategic plan for 2021-2024 is Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope. This important document on the Eucharist will serve as a foundation for the multi-year Eucharistic Revival Project, a major national effort to reignite Eucharistic faith in our country. It was clear from the intensity and passion expressed in the individual interventions made by the bishops during last week’s meeting that each bishop deeply loves the Eucharist.

Did the bishops vote to ban politicians from receiving Holy Communion?

No, this was not up for vote or debate. The bishops made no decision about barring anyone from receiving Holy Communion. Each Catholic — regardless of whether they hold public office or not — is called to continual conversion, and the U.S. bishops have repeatedly emphasized the obligation of all Catholics to support human life and dignity and other fundamental principles of Catholic moral and social teaching.

Are the bishops going to issue a national policy on withholding Communion from politicians?

No. There will be no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians. The intent is to present a clear understanding of the Church’s teachings to bring heightened awareness among the faithful of how the Eucharist can transform our lives and bring us closer to our creator and the life he wants for us.

Did the Vatican tell the bishops not to move forward on drafting the document?

No. The Holy See did encourage the bishops to engage in dialogue and broad consultation. Last week’s meeting was the first part of that process. It is important to note that collaboration and consultation among the bishops will be key in the drafting of this document.


Featured photo by Eric Mok on Unsplash