If God were truly at the center of your life, would your life look different?
Would you be spending more time in prayer? Would you be attending the liturgy with greater devotion, maybe even studying it so you could really appreciate what God is doing for us in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? Would you be committing to more works of charity? Would you be rescheduling events in your day so that you could pray several times together as a family?
I love what Catholic best-selling author Matthew Kelly says in his books and talks: “We become what we celebrate.” It’s so true! If you become what you celebrate, you become what you cherish, you become what you think about, and you become what you prioritize in your calendar. Do you like what you see when you take out your calendar and look at it?
Does your family celebrate sports above all else? Are your children growing up seeing that any religious activities take second (or third, or worse?) to sports, arts, academics, or something else? Do you believe you can raise them to honor God in their lives by making temporary, passing earthly things the center of your family life?
It might be time to re-prioritize.
In previous posts I have provided some simple suggestions for celebrating some days of the week and days of the year: feast days. These feasts–and many others I’ll cover soon– are very special days, and we must act, since we are Catholics, as if they are indeed special to us—we must commemorate these days as holy and devoted to God. Some Catholic theologians remind us: “Sacraments DO things”—real things in our souls, real things that have eternal effects. And so do our religious practices also “do things”—they bring us into an understanding that Christian time is set apart and sacred to contemplating God and eternal mysteries; they allow us to become more open to and changed by God’s grace as we think about holiness and His grace and love.
Celebrating feast days is not about adding things to the already full to-do list! It is about celebrating the sacred year as a family. Not an accessory, not just a nice detail to add to our lives if we have some spare time, this is an essential form of prayer, and so celebrating the Christian calendar needs to be at the top of our priority lists.
We cannot come close to God without saying yes to His graces and moving towards Him. Prayer is the best way, and celebrating feast days is a high form of prayer. When we celebrate the feasts with the Church and with our local Catholic community (our parishes), we are approaching God in prayer in a unique and exciting way. In attending the Mass of the day, which has a special set of prayers all of its own to commemorate its particular feast, and then selecting ideas from hundreds of years of tradition around the world, families can feast as simply or as elaborately as they choose.
The tradition of feasts is built into two millennia of Christian tradition, and even thousands of years before that in the Jewish tradition. Feasting is a way to enter into the joy and holiness of Heaven, by reflecting here on earth some of the joy and holiness of the eternal feast that Heaven is. Day by day we contemplate, celebrate, and share the beauty and goodness of Christ or His mother or one of the Saints. Our feast days are not ordinary days—each one in some way has been taken by God, through the work of His Holy Church, and been set apart for us to use to come closer to Him.
We can’t let the days of the Church Year pass by for us just like any other days. The world out there is so dark, and so wicked, and so base, although it often looks so pretty! We must be different, since we are Christians, therefore we must act differently—we must pray constantly, and celebrate what is true, good, and beautiful. We must strive, with fear and trembling, to cooperate with God in attaining the salvation of our immortal souls. And if this is not at the top of our priority list, our lives are ultimately failures.