I've spent the last year or so really trying to connect with Catholic social media. This time last year, I was truly lonely. I spent most of time with a infant and had little to no adult conversation aside from my mom on the phone and my husband when our paths crossed through his demanding work schedule. My deep dive into Catholic social media has led me to an excellent Catholic mamas group on Facebook, the Blessed Is She community, bloggers, Twitter profiles, and Instagram stories. Oftentimes, these inspiring Catholic women write or talk about liturgical living. Something I can recall wanting to do for years but not really knowing what it was called or what it really looked like, let alone how to do it.
I was somewhat raised to live liturgically. My Catholic elementary school celebrated St. Nicholas's feast day, blessed our throats on the Feast of St. Blaise, and organized a Mardi Gras each year for its students. My mother arranges her manager scene to show the Three Kings traveling to Bethlehem and does not put baby Jesus out until Christmas Eve. Living liturgically means celebrating the variety of feasts that the Catholic Church has each year. It helps to remember our Catholic faith, our Catholic tradition even when it isn't Sunday! In my own home, I model my manager scene like my mom's and enjoy making pancakes every Fat Tuesday, but I want to do more!
The Catholic Church maintains its own liturgical year, independent of the world-wide new year that begins each January. The first Sunday of Advent (next Sunday!) marks the beginning of the new liturgical year. We begin with the story of Jesus' conception during Advent and celebrate his birth during the Christmas season. The Christmas season lasts until January 8th, with the feast of the Epiphany. We are then in Ordinary Time until Lent as we prepare for the Tridium (also known as Holy Week) and the joyful Easter season that follows it. Throughout this is scattered the many, many feast days dedicated to different saints of the Church.
Praying liturgically, or in line with the liturgical calendar, means we intercede through and remember the saints on their feast days. We honor solemnities and Holy Days of Opportunity to attend Mass. Ultimately, the point of living and praying in this manner is that we are constantly reminded that the Church is much more than a place we go on Sundays to fulfill an obligation. Being Christian is something we always are. We always have something to celebrate as members of the Boyd of Christ! Whether it is the feast of holy man or woman or it is a season of special prayer and giving, we are always Catholic.
So, to celebrate the beginning of a new liturgical year, why not make a "new year's resolution" for our faith? How can you do better to always be Catholic, always be Christian, always be a follow of Christ? What can you do to make this new year be a better year for your relationship with Christ and His Church?
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My then-boyfriend, now husband, said it best several years ago, "Proper preparation prevents poor performance." as a reminder to himself to keep on top of his practicing responsibilities as music major. Although that period of lives have long since past (neither of us have touched our instruments in three years), the message remains true. When we prepare properly, whether through practicing our saxophone solo for weeks or by studying for our final exam, it prevents us from performing poorly and not succeeding.
We also have to prepare for spiritual life. How can we possibly perform well, overcoming the temptations of daily life, if we have not properly prepared? Just like we prepare for the day by resting, eating, getting dressed, etc., there are things we can do to prepare for each day. As the Apostles tell us, we should rise up and pray each day. The saints model this for us as well. Time spent with Christ each day arms and equips us for the battle each day can be (whether we realize it or not). We struggle each day against a variety of things; against the temptation culture offers us, against the flesh and blood rulers of our world who try to tell us things are good that are not.
"Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."
And how do we do that? It is deceptively simple. We pray, we attend Mass and worship God whole-heartedly, we receive spiritual nourishment through the Eucharist...
"Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints."