When the Father eternally reflects upon Himself infinitely, a person is generated – the Son. When he reflects upon Himself finitely in space and time, a multitudinous array of things or “res” were created in differing complexities and beauty. All things were created in relation to each other at the service of Man whose stewardship demands that he cooperates with the Blessed Trinity to assist in their perfection.
We live in a hierarchical world. Sometimes that does not work out so well especially when it is a challenge with a supervisor or boss. Still, our Lord instilled within creation a natural hierarchical order by means of complexity which also reflects the perfections of the Blessed Trinity: Mineral → Plant → Animal → Man → Angel.
After the Fall of Man, the relationships within creation were wounded and thus in need of salvation and sanctification. Through His life, passion, death, resurrection and ascension into heaven, our Lord Jesus won for us our salvation and then poured out His Holy Spirit to sanctify all of creation.
At the center of His soteriological work is the Liturgy. Not only does the Liturgy continue to re-present His saving work but sanctifies us and all of creation. This renewal of salvation includes time through the liturgical year.
In his encyclical, Meditor Dei no. 39, Pope Pius XII provides us a definition for the liturgical year:
The Liturgical year is Christ himself who lives on in the Church.
He continues to explain:
…the liturgical year is the person of Christ who journeys with the Church along the path of the calendar year. The journey is marked by the liturgical feasts that unfold the entire mystery of Christ from his birth to his return in glory.
The Liturgy assists us in celebrating the salvific mission of our Lord as He sanctifies time by the very fact that He stepped into time. As we know by experience, there are some events in our life that we have deemed to be more important than other. And, it is no different with the Body of Christ.
Much to no ones’ surprise, the secular calendar competes for the same allegiance – many times distracting us from the homily proclaimed by the liturgical calendar. The world has its own sacrosanct cycle based on the seasons and the vestiges of corrupted Catholic feasts. In some cases, it has set up parallel feasts that are meant to overshadow our Christian heritage. The Church however is not concerned for she continues to respond by taking back what is rightful hers – time. For instance, can you explain why the Church has placed the following feasts on its corresponding day (no cheating by using Google):
- January 1 – Mary, Mother of God
- February 14 – Sts. Cyril and Methodius
- March 25 – Annunciation
- April 23 – St. George
- May 1 – St. Joseph the Worker
- June 24 – Nativity of St. John the Baptist
- November 1 – All Saints
- December 25 – The Incarnation
In fact, our culture is a reflection of how we live out our liturgical life in time. The word culture comes from the Latin cultus from which we also receive the word cult. A culture is defined by what it worships – what is at the center of its heart.
CCC1207 It is fitting that liturgical celebration tends to express itself in the culture of the people where the Church finds herself, though without being submissive to it. Moreover, the liturgy itself generates cultures and shapes them.
Our hearts should ask, “Do we pay more attention to the secular cycle than we do to the Sacred Liturgical year?” We all know the old saying, “Tell me how you spend your time and I will tell you what is really important to you.” Within the context of the liturgical year, we could easily adapt the question and ask “What and how do we celebrate” which would begin to reveal what is important to us. Whose allegiance has captured our heart’s attention?
Our year is laid out to slowly reveal the mystery of the our Lord while calling us to deep union by penance, sacrifice, and prayer through physical, mental and spiritual purification and celebration. We have our major and minor Lents. Times of celebration during the Easter season and Christmastide. Periods of reflection and quiet supplication during Ordinal time. In her wisdom, Mother Church continues to redeem time with her liturgies to win back the hearts of man and help them conform their lives to the Gospel.
Join me today and consider the two following questions, “Do I participate in the liturgical year or do I pick and choose what appeals to me without regard to the context in which that Solemnity, Feast, and/or Memorial has been placed?” and “Which do I prefer to celebrate – the secular feasts or the feasts of our Sacred Tradition?”
May our Lord conform our minds to His watch and thus sanctify us through the sacerdotal calendar.
P.S. – Answers can be found tomorrow.