Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Why the Liturgical Turn?

Observant readers will notice that there have been a lot of liturgical commemorations here at the Guild Review, from the season of Advent to the particular holidays of the Annunciation (aka Lady Day) and Christmas to the feasts of Ambrose, Cecilia, Clare (and Clare again), Francis, Louis and Zelie, Michael (aka Michaelmas), Patrick, and Thomas More. Why is that, you ask?

The simple answer is that my life has been busy and it is much easier to post a prayer and a picture than to write a semi-coherent argument about a topic.

But the increased focus on the liturgical calendar also reflects developments in my life outside the blog. This may be a function of age. When I was younger I had considerable time to devote toward the pursuit of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. I read, widely; I discussed ideas with friends; I turned over arguments in my head and wrote many of them down, some published here. But with the advent of middle age - a family, a mortgage, a 9-to-5 job - I find that much more of my time and energy is spoken for.

But it is here that the liturgical calendar reveals its genius. Built into the very rhythms of the liturgical year are all the great modes of the spiritual life: expectation, adoration, prayer, fasting, alms-giving, sorrow, triumph, and teaching. Below, so to speak, the great movements of the seasons there are the individual feast days, celebrating key moments in the earthly life of Jesus as well as the lives of disciples who sought to imitate him. These saints are as diverse a collection as one could imagine: men and women, rich and poor, priests, religious, spouses, scholars, evangelists, hermits, writers and artists, farmers and craftsmen, from every continent and every century from the Resurrection to the present. Even a passing mention of a handful of them becomes, over the course of a year, a veritable education in Christian living.

Thus, our family has been trying to notice more of the liturgical celebrations, as well as the Quarter and Cross-Quarter Days, great medieval markers of the year. We have done so with small observations: special desserts or crafts with the kids, a prayer for a saint's feast stuck to the bathroom mirror, a special song or story after supper. If your family is interested in doing likewise, resources abound; you might start with Carrots for Michaelmas, one of the many blogs dedicated to living the liturgical year.

In an increasingly secular age which so rarely has the time to pause and think about much of anything, the liturgical calendar invites us to align the rhythms of our daily lives with the heavenly choirs.

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