Blog # 289 The Liturgical Year - Feasts
There are several distinctive characteristics of the Catholic church that are so familiar and such regular experiences there might be a danger of taking them for granted with the result they are less effective in aiding us on our way to the holiness to which we are daily summoned by the love and presence of Emmanuel, Jesus the Word of God Come Among Us.
Our whole Sacramental System, from Baptism through our anointing of those who are in danger of death is not only a reminder of the special love of Jesus for us throughout our lives but a share in His special love, encouragement, support and power on the occasion of various turning points and crossroads in our spiritual journey, individually and as a community of Christian believers. Our use of holy water at the entrance of our churches reminds us of our gift of new supernatural life and of our vital union with Jesus and one another as branches on the vine , the Church.
The use of a crucifix in a place of honor, pictures or statues of our family patron Saints, and a Bible available for reading in our sitting rooms all lend themselves to encourage us to be reminded of our Christian identity and our Father's invitation to grow in our likeness to Jesus.
The Liturgical Year which annually reenacts for us Sunday after Sunday the life death and Resurrection of Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit upon us is a powerful help in focusing for us the story of our salvation with an invitation to claim that story as our own.
Let me share with you a few three dimensioned analogies that have helped me clarify and benefit from our Sunday liturgical readings: a song book, a home video of Grandma's 80th birthday party, playing cards, seeds, a recipe book, a crucifix.
What have all of these in common? There is something real in each of them that comes from the past and reaches to the present, inviting a response. Sing it again, play it again, plant another garden, bake another cake, remember Grandma.
See her wonderful smile again. Introduce her to her four year old grandchild, though Grandma died at the age on eighty seven six years ago. This is how we loved her on her eighty seventh birthday. This is how she sang for us. This is what she said of Grandpa who died fifteen years before. It is different, yes, but also the same as it was when we were with her on her birthday. The video helps us remember.
Watching it again helps us renew and grow in our love for Grandma. It is not just another TV show. We keep it and plan to watch it again. It is similar with the other items listed above. Seeds for more tomatoes. New and different tomatoes, but the same breed we enjoyed last season, and connected with them in the seed. The same playing cards, bridge, the same name of the game mother played last night, but now you are playing with a different set of friends.
You found the recipe for the great spaghetti sauce you enjoyed in that famous restaurant in New York when you were there for your fifteenth wedding anniversary. Now it is another special day, your sixteenth anniversary. You are not in New York. But you remember. You put the recipe together and it has been cooking all afternoon on your stove. Your kitchen smells very much like a famous restaurant in New York. How happy you and John will be when you light the candles and sit down for supper together. The spaghetti sauce has everything the recipe called for, but it has that additional ingredient that makes it uniquely special this evening, your anniversary love.
It is something like all of this with the feasts we celebrate throughout the Liturgical Year. Something real happened in the past. We believe. We remember. We sing it again, We watch it again. Jesus is born and we are there. Jesus claims to be God. Jesus teaches. Jesus dies on the wood. We are there. He asks us the same questions He asked Peter and the other disciples. He shares with us the same message He shared in Jerusalem. He offers us the same love He offered in Bethany. We are invited to respond, to make it our own. The same recipe, a new bag of flour. God's love, yesterday, and today in us! Thank You, Lord!