Ah, here we are again, that time of year when we work to get back into the hustle and bustle of school and schedules. It is a time to make a plan and think ahead. It is in the midst of all this planning and running around that I keep getting the nudge to stop and contemplate what it is that I am actually doing this for. I see it as God tapping me on the shoulder saying, “Ahem, don’t leave me behind.” It is in this moment that I realize my planning isn’t incorporating the Lord in the events of everyday life.
So how do I live in such a way that the Lord is the focus of all I do? What can I do as a parent to give this way of living to my children? Now some may ask, why does this matter? It matters because it is important to always to have God in our thoughts. In Proverbs 4:23 it says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” I know when I keep something always before me it becomes a habit and I am able to do it without thinking. If I live the liturgical calendar and not a worldly one then my thoughts are focused on the Lord and what truly matters.
It was during this time of deep thought I happened upon some friends who shared how they get this done and I wondered why I’d never thought of it before: Living the Liturgical Year. How brilliant. So what does that mean? It means using the liturgical calendar and working with it and around it on a daily basis. It is a time to celebrate our faith that has so many blessed feasts and solemnities. Most people I know who do this found out about it from friends and family.
One friend I know, Sarah, says, “Our feast day celebrations grew out of a talk given by a priest at our mom’s group. Celebrating feasts in a way that is enjoyable for both children and adults was a central part of his talk on living the Liturgical Year. This means not only should the kids be excited about playing with their friends, doing crafts, and eating sweets, but the adults should be able to enjoy themselves with good food, libations, and lively conversation. In addition to the ‘celebratory’ portion of the feats days, there is also always a time of prayer that is centered on the feast.”
Another friend I know, who also is named Sarah, says, “We generally go out for ice cream on solemnities. It is something we rarely do otherwise and we always just make a big deal in talking about how these are special days and so we should celebrate. Since we generally avoid sweets and meat on Fridays as an act of penance we always want to balance that out with feasting between our fasting.”
Wow! That was my first thought. I so wish I’d known about this before. What a beautiful way to make our faith a part of our lives. At first, it may seem like a daunting task, but remember that God likes simplicity, so start small and simple. It is the love in which you do it that matters.
So I started to think about this even more and wondered why more people weren’t doing it. Why was I not hearing about this throughout the church community… and then it hit me that it was up to us as a church community to spread the word.
One couple, Sarah and Paul, choose to host an Annunciation Party each March 25th (or on its transferred date, as necessary). While another couple, Sarah and Ryan host an Assumption Party each August 15th. At this party, after a brief prayer, each child releases a blue or white balloon to be “assumed into Heaven” just like Mary. This idea can be used for other feasts where everyone gathers to pray a prayer such as the Angelus and releases a single balloon each. Also, each person could attach a personal prayer to the balloon and have it “taken up to Heaven.” Some families host an Epiphany party and a St. Joseph’s Day Party.
It is in the coming together to celebrate as a community that we glorify God and keep Him forever in our hearts. This is an opportunity to give our faith in its richness to our children. Sarah says, “As Catholics it is too often said that we have too any rules and restrictions, but in reality these rules and restrictions set us free to really embrace and celebrate the gifts God has given us. These feasts are some of those gifts so we always want to enjoy them.”
So find a liturgical calendar and plan a party. Invite your family and friends. Have everyone bring a food, drink, and prayer to share. Have an activity for the children (craft/game/coloring pages/yard to run in). Make it simple, make it fun, and enjoy the Lord with each other. Let us celebrate our faith and make it a part of our everyday thoughts. Let us rejoice and be glad!