Living as a Catholic provides a certain rhythm to life which I very much enjoy. The seasons of the Church's calendar present us with a degree of variety and interest which most people never experience. I like the fact that we deny our bodies certain things at certain times of year in order to celebrate the great feasts and festivals more joyfully. When I have taken fasting seriously, the delight and joy that comes afterwards has sometimes been overwhelming.
Although today is a Friday, and usually a day of penance and abstinence, it happens to be the great Solemnity of the Birthday of John the Baptist. A solemnity is a major feast - the highest ranking of feasts in fact - and it means that all penitential practices are called off. Whatever we normally deny ourselves - and soon we will be united in a common Friday fast - it doesn't apply today. (This is only the case for Solemnities. If a lesser feast falls on a Friday we are still required to do penance.)
I once heard a priest tell his congregation that they had a very serious duty to carry out on Solemnitites. He warned them that they had an obligation to celebrate. He told them to go home and treat themselves, adding that this didn't apply to non-Catholics. I thought this was a nice touch given that those outside the faith often view Catholicism in wholly negative terms.
I therefore encourage my small band of readers to celebrate the Solemnity in style. Honour Our Lord in a special way today. Give yourself a treat - a glass of wine, a nice meal, that forbidden piece of chocolate. Its all part of the rich tapestry of Catholic life.