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.”
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!
This is so, so lovely….thank you!~
Well put: “It’s what my soul needs – deliverance from myself, into the joyous music of God.”
I grew up Catholic, but we were bad Catholics. We went to mass maybe 3 times a year, at most. And even though I went to CCD, I never really understood the Church year or its purpose. Then later my family became Evangelical, so the Church calendar was considered ancient and meaningless because it TOLD us what to focus on instead of letting our emotions lead us (This is not to disparage the Evangelical community – I owe so much to that community and am grateful I experienced it. I have found that each denomination has its own strengths and weaknesses to deal wrestle with – I say often that my faith would not be what it is today without Evangelicalism.).
It was not until recently, after being a part of the Anglican community for a couple years now, that I have really begun to appreciate the value of the Church calendar. I think part of it is that I have kids, so it keeps us in a rhythm as a family and keeps us focused on what matters in life. But another part of it is exactly what you said: it keeps me out of myself. Being a part of something bigger than me, bigger than my church, bigger than my town, keeps me grounded emotionally but it also elevated me spiritually. This is not just some activity that the pastor’s wife or some local committee decided to do, it is an ancient. It is universal. And it connects me to all believers, not just the ones I worship with on Sunday. This has made me fall in love with the Church calendar year.
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