Most of our parish members grew up in non-liturgical Christian churches. So, for many of us, the historical church year was a compelling, but foreign concept. Our priest, Fr. Wayne, often says that it takes around 10 years for the church year to get in your bones, deeper in your yearly rhythm than the secular calendar.
As we approach the beginning of a new church year with this Advent season, we want to consider a few reasons why in fact this is a wise practice, both godly and practical for our families.
- The human condition of living in time, enjoying change (at times!) and yet also needing permanence. C.S. Lewis, through the words of the demon Screwtape, states:
“The humans live in time, and experience reality successively. To experience much of it, therefore, they must experience many different things; in other words, they must experience change. And since they need change, the Enemy [God] (being a hedonist at heart) has made change pleasurable to them, just as He has made eating pleasurable. But since He does not wish them to make change, any more than eating, an end in itself, He has balanced the love of change in them by a love of permanence. He has contrived to gratify both tastes together in the very world He has made, by that union of change and permanence which we call Rhythm. He gives them the seasons, each season different yet every year the same, so that spring is always felt as a novelty yet always as the recurrence of an immemorial theme. He gives them in His Church a spiritual year; they change from a fast to a feast, but it is the same feast as before.”
- The Unity of the Church. As the Church prepares for Advent, it is encouraging that we are preparing together for a season that has been part of the Christian rhythm for millennia. It is unifying that our celebrations and observances are not based upon the arbitrary decisions of a single pastor or leadership team.
- Systematic Observance of ALL the Gospel. The church year means that we don’t accidentally exclude a truth or event that is important for the life of our souls. I remember my first Michaelmas, realizing that I didn’t remember the last time I had thought about angels. My imagination needed Michaelmas to remind me that the cosmic realms are densely populated, not empty, with beings who serve the Lord and us.
The church year creates a schedule for our souls. It makes space for us to be empty in order to be filled. It is wisdom for us, based upon a pragmatic knowledge of the human condition.
This blog, the Homely Hours, is dedicated to taking the historic traditions of the Church and helping to make them simple for busy families.