April 1st throughout my entire life has always had a special meaning for me. No, not because it is traditionally in the secular calendar as April Fool’s Day! It is a spiritually significant day because it is the Feast Day of Saint Hugh of Grenoble, or Saint Hugh of Chateauneuf.
There are those that persist in keeping the April Fool’s tradition alive. However, I much rather remember the spiritual heroes on special days. Actually it was my paternal grandmother, Marion that always remembered to send me a feast day card on the Feast of Saint Hugh. It was nothing unusual for her, her husband, son, father and father-in-law were all christened with the moniker Hugh. So keeping the day in mind was most likely a tradition that was held from her earliest days of childhood, marriage, motherhood and grandmotherhood.
It was also the quaint custom of the Sisters Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary that were my educators at Saint Gabriel to give holy cards out on feast days of their students. The Philadelphia Mighty Macs never missed an opportunity to get shopping for religious memorabilia at the old Kilners Religious Goods Shop on Arch Street. I especially remember all of the I.H.M. Sisters that have influenced my spiritual and personal life through their great educational talents and personal support. I am sure most of those sisters are in repose on the lawn at Camilla Hall and are handing out holy cards of the eternal nature.
The tradition of emulating the life of a saint is today considered a novel or even old fashioned tradition usually reserved for older Catholics. Sometimes it is according to some observers, “Not in keeping with Vatican II!,” or just plain olde fashioned. Well it is an especially important tool for teaching Catholic religious principles by providing practical human examples through the lives of the Saints as lives to emulate on our spiritual journey. My daughter is in Catholic school and I never hear any discussion from her about the Saints. I suppose it is a topic that is politically incorrect, socially unpopular or as said before, not in keeping to the Spirit of Vatican II. Well after 45 years of being correctly in the Spirit of Vatican II…we need to once again rely on the sound examples and pillars of our faith as beacons to a world that needs the examples of all of the Saints, Saint Hugh of Grenoble included.
Butler’s, Lives of the Saints was always a popular book in Catholic libraries and schools. Perhaps in our religious educational process for children and adults we need to dust off our copy of Butler’s Lives and use it more frequently. If indeed there is an appreciation of the loves of the saints, there will be an appreciation of the entire journey of our Catholic faith as it has been actively lived since the Apostles.
Just for the sake of doing such…look up your patron saint, learn about his/her life and teach your children to celebrate their saint’s special day.
Family traditions, school traditions and spiritual traditions emerge from activities like this and it makes a great memory of the Church Triumphant and how it continues to affect our lives.
So to all of the other Hughs out there…Happy Saint Hugh’s Day!
Hugh J.McNichol is a Catholic author and journalist that writes on uniquely Catholic topics and issues. He attended Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, where he studied both philosophy and theology. He writes frequently at http://verbumcarofactumest.blogspot.com & http://nothing-left-unsaid.blogspot.com . Hugh writes about his Irish Catholic upbringing and educational experiences at http://graysferrygrapevine.blogspot.com . He has contributed works to Catholic News Agency, Catholic Online, The Irish Catholic, Dublin, the British Broadcasting Company, London and the Philadelphia Bulletin, Pewsitter.com, Blogger News Network & The Catholic Business Journal.