Columnists Mark my words

On Feb. 29, go ahead and leap to a conclusion

Father Mark Goldasich is the pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Tonganoxie. He has been editor of the Leaven since 1989.

by Father Mark Goldasich

Have you ever wished to have more time to get things done? Well, your wish has just been granted. This coming Thursday, Feb. 29, you get a whole day added to 2024! It’s not really magic; this happens to be a leap year.

The reason for this “leap” is explained nicely on the website Leap years exist “because a single year in the Gregorian calendar is slightly shorter than a solar year — the amount of time it takes for Earth to completely orbit the sun once. The calendar year is 365 days long, but a solar year is roughly 365.24 days long.”

To make up for that .24 discrepancy, we add a day about every four years to keep our calendars in sync with the seasons. If we didn’t add that “leap day,” eventually summer in the Northern Hemisphere would start in December instead of June, according to the National Air and Space Museum!

Now that we got that little science lesson out of the way, it’s time to ponder how you’ll spend this extra day. I suggest that you simply celebrate the gift of life by doing something fun. Just because we’re in the season of Lent doesn’t mean we have to be gloomy.

Here are a few things you might consider:

• Take a leap of faith. If you’ve been putting off a big decision, letting some item languish on your to-do list, or are simply wanting to try something new, why not dive into it on Feb. 29?

• Create a leap year time capsule to be opened in four years. Grab some items like photos of your family, lists of favorite things (like movies, books or games), a newspaper from the day, predictions for the next four years, a summary of prices (for grocery items, gas, stamps, milk, etc.) or a letter to your “future” self (summarize what’s happening in your personal life now, where you hope to be in four years, etc).

• Reminisce about the last four years. Consider the challenges you’ve faced, relish your accomplishments, set goals for things you’d like to change or flip through photos to relive memorable family gatherings or vacations.

• Actually leap, as in jumping rope or playing leapfrog.

• Engage in a craft project like constructing an origami frog. (You’ll find samples online at:

• Take a 29-minute walk.

For a more spiritual bent on the day, how about trying out these items:

• Make a list of 29 blessings that you’ve received.

• Do a good deed. Volunteer at a nonprofit, offer to assist a neighbor in some chore, visit an elderly relative, reconnect with a friend or surprise someone with a little gift. You may want to designate the 29th of every month for something like this.

• Observe (an almost) holy half-hour. Spend 29 minutes in quiet prayer or reading the Bible or a spiritual book.

• Declutter for 29 minutes with the intention of finding items to pass on to a local charity.

• Donate $29 to a cause (or several causes) that are important to you.

All the above are tame compared to a Leap Day custom in Ireland, known as Bachelor’s Day or Ladies’ Privilege. Legend has it that St. Brigid asked St. Patrick in the fifth century “that women be given the opportunity to propose (once every four years), since men were too slow to do so,” according to (And yes, there were penalties for refusing.)

I’ll end this “leap day” reflection with the following:

Did you know there’s a species of deer that can jump higher than the average house? This is due to its powerful hind legs and the fact that the average house can’t jump!

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Fr. Mark Goldasich

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