(This post records a personal reason why I need the church year (i.e. I’m sinful and self-absorbed). Here are some other reasons. I’d love to know your thoughts or experiences concerning this. Please comment below!)
Today, my toddler shrieked the entire way to Trader Joe’s while I cried and pitied myself. By the mercy of the Lord, I managed to insert a favorite cd– The Vanishing Nordic Chorale by Musik Ekklesia. So, over our escalating cries, I turned up the volume to glorious and joyful harmonies– dating back centuries and expressing the heart of the Church.
And there was reality, for both of us.
“Child, you can rage and resent all you want, but it doesn’t change that the universe is full of cosmic harmony, that the cherubim and seraphim are even now singing the ‘Sanctus,’ and that your voice is gloriously small within the great song of God. But even so, you still get the chance to join in.”
The thought did not infuse my soul with glowing joy or eradicate my self-pity, but it was there and it gave me context and (reasonable) comfort.
I need everything that I can get that can pull me out of the lies of self-absorption. I think often of Chesterton’s words in Orthodoxy, “How much larger your life would be if your self could become smaller in it.”
Celebrating the Church Year as fully as I can is another way of wisdom that helps me to be “smaller” and tunes the music of my life to the hymn of all creation. By remembering saints’ days , I am reminded that I am surrounded by a chorus of “so great a cloud of witnesses,” — that the goal of life is not happiness or self-satisfaction, but the imitation of Christ. By participating in the seasons, I join in with the Church of God throughout history and submit my soul to the authority of the ages. I am guided in my devotion to Christ, following the tempo and notation of the masters.
As I begin my Advent preparations, I’m already singing the processional song we always sing in the First Sunday of Advent. It’s what my soul needs– deliverance from myself, into the joyous music of God.
“Come, thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.”