As I was sitting in our church before Mass this past spring, I though of those who had generously prepared our sancutary for another day. My eyes rested on the beautiful white cloths that adorned the altar. They reminded me where we were: the Easter season. We were embarking on a seven-week season celebrating our salvation through Christ’s victory over death once and for all!
I scanned the church, noticing all the touches of white that made our great celebration uniquely beautiful. They reminded me of our Easter Vigil, when we began in darkness and ended in light with trumpets and alleluias. I thanked God for loving a good party as much as we do.
I was grateful for the visible reminders that it was still Easter, because although we were only two weeks in, my worries and desires that tether me to this world had already distracted me from God’s goodness that I tasted at the Vigil.
The Liturgy Reminds Us
As my eyes rested on the white adornments, an image of our liturgical calendar popped into my mind. The liturgical calendar is the colorful, circular calendar of 52 weeks that marks the seasons and days of our Church year. I noticed the purple seasons of preparation, white times of celebration, green of ordinary time, and other observances, including the red of Pentecost.
The calendar’s colorful representation of the Church seasons reveal where we’ve been, where we are, and where we hope to go. Special days are devoted to Saints. Holy days invite us to worship in community. Celebrations like Pentecost help us stoke the fire of the Holy Spirit Who lives in us.
Every day, we are invited to turn to God in a new way. But this invitation isn’t limited to worship within the Church’s liturgical seasons. We each have an individual journey full of activity and unique needs for preparation, celebration and rest. Perhaps the gifts we receive from the Church seasons could also be received in the seasons of our individual lives, enriching our journeys.
The Unending Rhythm of God’s Love
The most beautiful thing about our liturgical calendar is that each day points to the center. It is from there that God shines His love on the entire year. As its ordered days meet our human desire to live in a world defined by time and season, they unfold the history and mysteries of Christ’s life, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the eternal love of our God who transcends time yet is always near. Each year is different for us, not because God changes, but because we do. Yet, in each liturgical year, each day is present for us as it has been present in every age. And each day reveals the newness of Christ and an opportunity for growth and renewal.
Preparation and Celebration
I thought about the purple seasons, when we are called to prepare for our major Church celebrations.
Four weeks of Advent are offered to prepare for Jesus’s birth at Christmas.
Six weeks of Lent invite us to prepare to accept our Risen Lord at Easter.
I thought about the pain from pruning when we sincerely turn to the Lord in these seasons. About the work it takes to deepen a life of prayer or to simply get one started.
I need time to prepare for celebrations. Just as I clear my calendar to prepare for birthdays and other special events, God offers time to clear my heart to make space for Him. The mystery of our God Incarnate, fully human and fully divine, and His Death and Resurrection are incomprehensibly generous gifts to receive. When my heart is cluttered with distractions, wants and worries, I have little room for God’s gifts. My ability to sincerely seek His will over mine is limited. The party at the end is always worth our effort. The celebration will come, and God uses what little or much that we give to prepare us.
Praise God for His generosity with Ordinary Time! We would be exhausted without it. The season’s name doesn’t do it justice considering the extraordinary growth and rest we receive during its days. Its green color invokes images of grass fields on which to sit with God and listen anew to the stories of His life and teachings.
Instead of taking our breath away as might a celebration (or a painful pruning), Ordinary Time allows us to catch it. And catch it we must. For the days of our liturgical year keep moving, encouraging us to be ready in each moment.
The Liturgical Year as Invitation
God always offers preparation, celebration, and rest for each day, event, and transitional season. He waits patiently for us in each season of our liturgical year. If we open our hearts to Him, He will make us ready.
God invites me into His liturgical year. I long to invite Him into the daily life He’s given me.
The most beautiful walk is one where our liturgical year and the gifts we receive from it are woven together with our individual daily lives.
God loves life and relationships. He celebrates birthdays and anniversaries with us, just as we celebrate Christmas and Easter with Him. He celebrates our gifts and milestones, encouraging us to move forward with a freshly stoked fire, just as we move forward from Pentecost.
Jesus cradles us on the days marked with sadness, loneliness, and longing. He urges us to move forward in our brokenness, just as He cradles us on Good Friday. As we mourn with Him and sit at the foot of His Cross, we know we will move forward in the glory of His Resurrection.
Prepare, Celebrate, Rest
When we prepare, celebrate, and rest with God in our unique journeys as we do throughout our liturgical year, the highs and lows may be covered in His love. Christ’s life gives meaning to our days and guidance for our lives. He encourages us to move forward in hope and anticipation of eternal life with Him.
How is God moving in your life during this liturgical season?
Nikki Frerker is a wife and mother of four who lives in Leawood, Kansas. She spends a portion of her time practicing law in the area of estate planning and enjoys serving as a Catechist for Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at her parish. You may find her running before the sun rises, driving her children around at all hours, or singing praise music just loud enough to embarrass anyone willing to listen. You can find out more about her here.