No-one knows human nature better than the God who created it. That’s why He fashioned the world to follow certain rhythms.
As with our daily secular lives, so too with our Spiritual life. The cycle of the liturgical year and its great feasts, are basic rhythms of the Christian’s life of prayer. They commemorate and communicate the mystery of Christ. They are an invitation to regular prayer and intended to nourish continual prayer.
The sacred calendar coincided with the cosmic rhythms. The feasts in the Old Testament marked not only sacred and historic events, but also seed-time and harvest. Jesus was keenly aware of the calendar and its religious significance, as were His disciples. We read in Luke 22:15, how He earnestly desired to eat the Passover with the Twelve. As a child, He and His family faithfully made pilgrimage to Jerusalem at the appointed times. In John’s climactic scene of the crucifixion of Our Lord, we are told that Jesus died on the cross at precisely the moment when the Passover lambs were sacrificed in the Temple.
When the Word became flesh (God became man), all creation and all history found its fulfillment. Here was God in person. The calendar itself reflects this fact. Gradually, the months and days reordered themselves – actually God’s people reordered them – to teach the Gospel in its fullness. So, all of human time coalesced around the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The week no longer led to Sabbath, but to Sunday – the Lord’s Day (the day on which Jesus rose from the dead). The traditional Passover now became the Christian Passover, which is the feast of salvation through the Lord’s passion, death and resurrection.
So it began, the Church marked off not only the days of His life, but of our life today. The year, as it has developed, is like a microscope or telescope, keeping its object always in focus, always near; and its object is Jesus Christ. We have seasons like Lent and Advent, Easter and Christmas, as well as “ordinary time”. The Church also keeps the custom of reserving months – May for Mary and October for her Rosary. November sees the Universal Church remember and pray for the souls gone before us – All Saints Day followed by All Souls Day. On a daily basis, we remember the lives and achievements of individual saints, as they become an example to each one of us as to how we too can live each day with and for God’s glory and the salvation of ourselves and our neighbour.
We are truly blessed to be members of this universal family of believers – the Catholic Church – who, like a Mother, supplies her ‘children’ with all the necessities of life. Our own Mothers filled our days with joyous days of celebration in our own familial surroundings and so too, does the Church give purpose and joy and blessing to each of our days. We are instructed in the truths of our faith and brought to appreciate the inner joys of it, far more effectually by the annual celebration of our sacred mysteries. While the Church’s teaching affects the mind primarily, her feasts affect both mind and heart and have a salutary effect upon the whole of man’s nature. Man is composed of body and soul and he needs these external festivities so that the sacred rites, in all their beauty and variety, may stimulate him to drink more deeply of the fountain of God’s teaching, that he may make it a part of himself, and use it with profit for his spiritual life.
The whole of our Catholic Faith – as the Jewish before it – is full to busting with these wonderful calendrical and liturgical festivities and events!!!
May they become as much a part of our lives as our day to day routines, drawing us closer to the end for which we were made, to share in the joy and glory of a blessed life with the God who loves us.