August 14, 2017
Today I want to talk about something that drew me to the Catholic Church: the liturgical year. It’s been on my mind lately because I have just begun using the gorgeous Blessed Is She planner, and I’m re-inspired to celebrate the church year at home. In my downtime you’ll find me Googling “catholic liturgical year” and “living liturgically” and “celebrating the liturgical year at home” and filling up my Pinterest board. #nerd
Photo from the Blessed Is She website
The liturgical year is not an expressly Catholic thing. From what I can tell, it is also celebrated by Orthodox, Anglicans, Episcopalians, Lutherans, and to a lesser extent Methodists (although I attend a modern Methodist church that is not liturgical in the least). However, Catholics celebrate many more feast days, especially for saints.
I am assuming that most people reading this are familiar with what the church year is, but basically it is the cycle of celebrations and observances that determines the Scriptures read, prayers said, and how we live. Here is a simple image that shows the cycle with the basic overview:
I became interested in the Church Year a long time ago. I knew about it from my own reading and church classes I took in college, along with some vague memories of celebrating parts of it when we attended more liturgical churches in my childhood. I think my interest turned to action when my children started getting old enough to remember traditions that we set in our home. I was also influenced by my Catholic best friend who would speak to me of feast days, and solemnities, and ways that they observed the seasons. It was appealing to me that it was a thing they did with the entire church, not just on their own.
My personality type is an ISFJ, and we are VERY big on traditions and routines. As I get older and more settled into myself, I realized that I should embrace this. Although the church we attend is about as un-liturgical as you can get, I decided to start celebrating church holidays at home anyway. In fact, I made that a new year’s resolution in 2016.
Now that I am attending weekly mass, I can say that I find it overwhelmingly meaningful to celebrate the church year with the whole body of Christ. To be reading and meditating on the same Scripture, to be remembering the same events – it feels like such a relief. I feel at home.
Photo by Every Sacred Sunday – a new mass journal I’m pumped about
Starting now, my goal is to refine our traditions for Advent, Christmastide, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost. I also plan to take it month by month and try to plan for additional small celebrations at home (or with friends if possible) for the main feast days/observances, and any saints that are important to me or our family. First, I will have to accumulate some resources (like children’s books about saints, props like peg dolls and liturgical colored linens) – I hope to have some basics by the end of the year. Then next year I can begin incorporating these into our routine and share what we do here.
A note: this is an area in which some people go crazy in a Pinterest-perfect way. And if you stay home, have the time, and it brings you joy, that’s awesome! I personally do not have the time and even though I enjoy this stuff to an extent, I have to rein it in because I would burn out. I never intend to celebrate every feast day (because there are a million), and I want to keep it simple and meaningful.
I would love to hear if/how you celebrate the liturgical year!