Every year on December 8th, the Saint Gregory’s community celebrates the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The regular daily routine is forgotten for the day, and the students instead attend a beautiful High Mass, participate in a sevens rugby tournament, and attend a banquet in the evening. Over the years, several traditions have formed surrounding the school banquets. At every banquet for example, each class sings a folk song they have been especially preparing for the occasion. But there are also some traditions that are particular to certain banquets. One such tradition is the singing of the Boar’s Head Carol by the senior class as they process around the room with the object of their song. Such traditions, says Hilaire Belloc, nourish the soul in a mystical way and help to make sense of the strange and perhaps even horrifying fact of our mortality. At Saint Gregory’s we wish to show the students under our care the importance of good and beautiful traditions so that they in turn might show it to their families and communities and thereby make the beginning of a restoration of what is quickly and tragically being lost in the world today.
Man has a body as well as a soul and the whole of man, soul and body, is nourished sanely by a multiplicity of observed traditional things. Moreover, there is this great quality in the unchanging practice of Holy Seasons, that it makes explicable, tolerable, and normal what is otherwise a shocking and intolerable and even in the fullest sense, abnormal thing. I mean, the mortality of immortal man.
The boys of St. Gregory’s celebrated the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception with a day of feasting. It was the second of four banquets they hold every year, and which are central to the spirit of their school. The Academy is a family and the domestic meal is the expression of community—it is a sign and celebration of the gratitude that follows and flows from those labors of love and life that bind people together. This is especially the case when celebrating the familial ties that all share under the Motherhood of the Mother of God. As Catholics, we are a people united by the hallowed ties of family and faith, who have the strength to smile in the face of tribulation and yet rejoice in the good things of heaven and earth. Banquet days at St. Gregory’s are days of enjoyment (in Latin, fruor, “I enjoy;” related to “fruitfulness”)—not days of mere pleasures. The sturdy fare heaps high on the boards together with that type of plenteous cheer that is well grounded in the sweat and suffering that begets true enjoyment. Our banquets, like our salvation through the Mediatrix of all grace, is the fruit of toil and trust. This is the heart and origin of the Immaculate Conception Banquet, and it is an experience that is slipping away from the culture at large. The idea and ethics of meals is deteriorating into a hurried and harried pre-packaged affair punctuated by interruptions. If anything can help reverse the trend, it is those old-fashioned and sacred approaches to food and fellowship that remind us what it means to hold a Feast Day and why it is important.
On December 8th, the students at Gregory the Great Academy celebrated the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady. The day consisted of a sevens rugby tournament followed by a banquet in the evening. Congratulations to senior Vincent Audino who captained the winning team.