Q: How does one decide how to establish a Marian patronal feast? For example, Our Lady of the Lakes?
A: Patronal feastdays are often a very local affair unless predetermined of sorts by a specific feastday, which is not the case for Our Lady of the Lakes. Here are some observations: 1) Which of your villages already have Marian Patronal Feastdays and refer to or are close to lakes (in Random Lake and in Cascade). Could or should one of them become the feastday of the new parish for the sake of safeguarding some of the established traditions? This solution might not be "politically correct" possible given "holy rivalry" among the old parishes. But what about the "new" parish Church? Is it one of the explicitly Marian parishes? If yes, should its patronal feast become that of the new parish? 2) The Index of Liturgical Marian Feasts (Holweck, 1925) mentions two Our Lady of the Lakes (Barbaqua and Bertinoro) whose patronal days are celebrated on the second Sunday after Easter, respectively, on the Saturday following the Ascension. You might want to inquire among other Our Lady of the Lakes parishes when they celebrate their feastday in order to discover the rationale for their choice. 3) It could be advisable to link the patronal day with a firmly established liturgical Marian memorial or feast so as to know what content (prayers, title, tradition) is to be celebrated since Our Lady of the Lakes is an "artificial" title due to geography more than life events or virtues of Mary.
Here are some suggestions: 1) March 25, Annunciation of the Lord. Mary becomes Mother of God. Lakes have been compared to the womb of a mother where life is generated. 2) May 31, Visitation. Mary visits Elizabeth to offer charitable assistance and proclaim the mercy of God. This describes the Church's mission and the mission of every single Christian. The symbolism of the lake is closely related to missionary activity. It designates obstacles and distance but also relatively far and fast traveling, echoing Mary's own haste to see her cousin. 3) August 22, Queenship of Mary. Mary shines forth as queen and intercedes as mother. Her role in the Church is thus highlighted: It is good to have a mother and queen as patron. Our Lady of the Lakes expresses a certain dominion (queen) and, at the same time, her role as mother (water=origin of life). 4) September 8, Birth of Mary. Mary is the dawn of salvation and hope of the entire world! The symbols of water and birth are gain in some relationship to each other. These are only some examples on how to combine more classical Marian feasts with the appellation Our Lady of the Lakes. But let me formulate three guidelines drawn from the above: 1) It is important to safeguard existing traditions if they are alive and well and provide some continuity and corporate identity. There may be a historian among you who can help. 2) The lakes should be a part of the patronal feast and the various celebrations related to it. Thus, it would be advantageous to schedule it during the good season (spring, summer, early fall). 3) Make the patronal feast a liturgical feast and connect it with some well established "spiritual" tradition.
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