Village feasts: Healing the hatred
Christ was very specific in his teaching. "Love one another." The true sign of a follower of Christ is the love for his brethren. Therefore, if we Maltese are truly Christian, not just a synthetic sham, how can we live with the hatred generated by village feasts? I am sure that the Church authorities are not happy with this ridiculous situation. The past mistakes when so many feasts had been allowed to develop will now require draconian action. The various elements in each parish, more often than not instigated by certain members of the clergy, have to be brought under control.
How is it possible to venerate Saint Mary while at the same time insult her spouse? How can we pay homage to Saint Mary under one title while we despise her under a different title? A few decades ago it had been decided to minimise the escalating pique by limiting the decorations and festivities of secondary feasts. But although at the time this seemed to be a good solution, in fact it has caused more divisions. Certain short-sighted actions by the Curia have also missed the point and aggravated further bitterness.
What do I suggest? My idea is no panacea but I feel that it is worth considering in depth and even try it out on an experimental basis. I suggest that in those parishes where the main feasts are held in honour of St Mary and St Joseph, or even more, where both feasts are in honour of St Mary, that these be amalgamated into one or two weeks of village festivities. The titular feast will still be held on the appointed day, especially when this falls on August 14, but usually these feasts are preceded by a novena which give ample scope to hold other festivities. Thus the secondary feast could be celebrated as part of the novena. During a novena there will be one or two Sundays. Thus, one of the Sundays will be dedicated to the secondary feast.
The church will be decorated in full, and not partially, for the full duration of the novena. This means that while the church has been decorated for the main feast, the secondary feast will still be celebrated with the same décor as befits the saints in heaven. Even in the case of street decorations, instead of duplication, with certain streets being left bare, the combined decorations will add further to the festive spirit.
As far as I know these villages have expanded and new areas would gain by the combined street decorations. After all, these belong to all the parishioners and I hope that in our religious feasts we do not practise "parishioner" discrimination. The same holds good for band marches, when both clubs would be required to participate on a reciprocal basis.
Some might object, but on what basis? Should we wait for the Curia to impose such arrangements? I do not think so. Each parish should strive on its own steam. The parish priest could persuade the band cubs and committees to work together. Once the idea is accepted, even if just in principle, then certain other details such are silver vases, angels and other irrelevant factors, could be ironed out. Once there is Christian goodwill, surely the love of Christ will be more than enough to forge the unity we all dream of. Christianity is about unity of love and not divisive hatred.