Dear Friends in Christ,
This weekend we commemorate and celebrate the Ascension of our Lord into heaven. The actual feast was this past Thursday but in most United States dioceses, the observance is transferred to Sunday. While it is good that so many more people are able to attend Mass by having it on the weekend, it is also a bit sad in that we lose by not having “Ascension Thursday” forty days after the feast of the Resurrection. Perhaps in the future, we will again be able to recover this marking of sacral time.
From the very beginning of salvation history, the people of God have marked time as sacred. Throughout the history of Israel, the great Jewish feasts of Pesach (Passover), Shavuot (Pentecost), Sukkot (Tabernacles), Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement) and Rosh Hashanah (New Year’s) delineate the marking and passing of time. These annual feasts mark the action of God in the lives of His people as does the weekly celebration of the Sabbath, the Day of Rest, the Lord’s Day. On these great feast days, work by the people was prohibited so they could focus on the works of God. These feasts, the annual and the weekly observances, were reminders that all creation, including time itself and every good thing, is first the gift of God.
As Catholics, we follow the example of Israel in marking time and celebrating God’s works by our own feasts and celebrations. Our feasts celebrate God’s work of our salvation. We celebrate annually in both days and seasons (the Twelve Days of Christmas, the 50 Days of Easter, Advent, Lent and Ordinary Time). We celebrate our creation by God, and our being created anew by Christ’s Death and Resurrection, by our weekly observance of the Lord’s Day. The Christian Sabbath (Sunday) like the Jewish Sabbath (Saturday) is a day of rest and prayer where we are to focus on the Lord and the gifts that come from Him.
In our busy world, we too eagerly fill our days and weeks creating the illusion that we are the masters of the universe. Our busy schedules not only cause us to grow weary and tired, but contribute to a ‘spiritual amnesia’, a forgetting of God. In our secular age, it is more important than ever that we take the time to stop and remember God. In this era of ever-increasing busyness, rapid change and the acceleration of time, families need more than ever to slow down and rest. Too many of us do not know how to rest, reflect or be refreshed in our souls. We are always on the go 24/7/365. We get nervous if we don’t have anything to do. Fatigue and frustration are too often all we know, and we are afraid to slow down or stop. We constantly live in the dread of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). In being constantly on the go, constantly running, we delude ourselves in thinking that we are really in charge of everything and that everything depends on us. Our busyness is toxic to our relationship with God and with each other.
Living liturgically means that we shape our lives not around our accomplishments, but on God’s. Marking time in a sacred way, gives us no choice but to slow down. To live liturgically is to mark each Sunday and holy day as a gift, as a feast. It can be frightening to think that we can’t run to the store on Sundays or use the Lord’s Day to catch up on chores or the backlog of work at the office. It can be scary to realize that we might have to actually spend time with our family. When we run around all the time, stopping is not something that we easily do. It doesn’t feel “natural”. However, it is being constantly in motion that is unnatural and unhealthy. God has made us and He knows we need rest. It takes time, practice and determination to change our bad habits. We need to rest our bodies and our minds. We need time to renew our souls in prayer and worship. We need time to renew our remembrance of God and his mighty works. It takes time and practice to get our families accustomed to a slower pace. To be spiritually healthy, we need to celebrate our love for God each day, each week, and annually.
In Pace Christi,