Happy New Year! It might seem strange to be using this greeting at the end of November, but for us Christians, the new year begins with the Season of Advent. We still follow the regular calendar in everyday life, but the church calendar is important, too.
While the regular calendar is a way of marking the seasons of spring, summer, fall, and winter, the church calendar marks the great seasons in our Christian life. The church begins each year with Advent (the four weeks before Christmas). Then there is the Christmas season, followed by Ordinary Time, then Lent (the six weeks prior to Holy Week), Holy Week, Easter season, and another Ordinary Time. Each of these “seasons” has its special celebrations and Holy Days celebrating our lives as Christians.
For me, the church calendar focuses on the great mysteries of our faith and gives great meaning to the regular events on the regular calendar. For example, Christmas is not just a time of giving gifts and taking a break from work. It is a time of remembering with the Incarnation, God becoming human. Easter is not just a time of celebrating spring break, family meals, dressing up, and planting gardens. It is a time of remembering with the Passion of Christ, his arrest, suffering, dying, and rising, and ascending into heaven and sending the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
Some might think that we have enough calendars. We have school calendars, work schedules, sports calendars, celestial calendars and hunting calendars. We all seem to live by calendars. Of all of these calendars, I like the church calendar most of all. While we all live by the regular calendar, it can sometimes be boring. While we mark major historical events and important people in history, layering major religious events on it gives it more meaning, and reasons for celebrating. Did you know that every saint has a day dedicated to it?
While the secular calendar is wonderful and useful, it can never give us the more wonderful and exciting and moving experiences we enjoy when we celebrate the deeper meanings of Christmas, Easter and all the other people and events that the church calendar offers. Happy new year!
“May the Lord bless and keep you. May he let his face shine upon you and give you his peace.”