This is the time of where I start plugging my ears, trying not to hear the seasonally incorrect Christmas music that has begun. I used to get agitated by it (ok, I still do), but I’m starting to see secular Christmas and the Nativity I celebrate as two distinctly different holidays celebrated by two different peoples. I’ll let them have their weird three-month-long consumerist ritual, because I have six weeks (Advent + Christmastide) of something beautiful and sacred.
I think society has forgotten how to use calendars. We fill up days and weeks with penciled-in plans and deadlines. We work towards Friday nights and dread Monday mornings. But we don’t look past the next page in the planner. We don’t acknowledge seasons. If we paid attention to changes in the weather, the time of harvest, the wax and wane of the moon and adjusted accordingly, I think society would breathe a bit easier. A meditative inhale instead of a busied intake.
I love the liturgical calendar. A time to prepare, a time to make amends, a time to celebrate, a time to learn, a time for everything under heaven. Advent and Lent give me weeks to properly prepare for Christmas and Easter. Holy Week builds up appropriately to the climax of the Resurrection. In many ways, I like referring to the liturgical calendar instead of the standard Gregorian. Calendars that mark events mean more than calendars that just count off days. That’s why to me, the next year is actually 409 days long.
Pope Benedict XVI has declared the Year of Faith (Oct. 11, 2012-Nov. 24, 2013) to be a time for Catholics to deepen their knowledge of faith and develop a deeper relationship with Christ. The year begins on the 50th anniversary of Vatican II. It is also the 20th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. So Catholics are encouraged to read and better understand these documents. (Maybe that means no more holding hands for the Our Father during Mass? One can hope.)
Considering that I spent the last year converting, I feel like my theological studies are pretty up-to-date, so I’m looking for ways to commemorate the Year of Faith. While more Adoration and more prayer/scripture reading are on the list, I wanted to find something special or something I particularly needed. I’ve decided to focus on the saints and Mary. While I do believe in the Catholic understanding of saints, it’s been hard for me to practice. I’ve never felt very comfortable praying to saints. In the big picture, it’s not really bothered me; I’ve let my faith grow rather freely, unsaddled by expectations of where I think I should be. If I’m not into Marian devotion, I don’t force it. But at the same time, I look at all these saints and feel like I’m missing out on some great opportunities. So I’m going use this year to at least familiarize myself with more of the saints and see where that takes me.