Friday, 21 May 2010
Enjoying the liturgical year
As we come up to one of the biggest feasts of the year, Pentecost, it is worth reflecting on one of the greatest - but neglected - gifts we have, that of holy time.
The temporale and the sanctorale
The cycle of times of the year (the 'temporale') starting with Advent, of the major feasts that remind us of core doctrines, and constantly remind us of central events of the Gospel. The cycle of saints feasts (sanctorale) reminds us that the Church on earth is only a small part of the wider Church, and that we are joined to the Church triumphant in heaven, and the Church suffering in purgatory. It provides us with examples to emulate. And it reminds us that we are part of a Church that has existed continuously since Pentecost, reminding us of critical events in Church history.
A good case can be made that the last five decades or so have seen a severe attack on the importance of the sanctification of time: the removal of many octaves in the 1962 calendar; the purging of many un-PC saints from the ordinary form calendar; and most of all the phenomemon of Holy Days moved to Sundays.
And as a result of all of this, fewer and fewer, even (perhaps especially) in traditionalist communities, seem to attend daily mass, let alone pay much attention to the cycle of 'propers' (variable texts set for each Sunday, including the Introit etc, and the readings) of the Mass. That's a shame, because they are a rich source of spiritual material.
Creating your own cycle
But there are some ways to incorporate this important source into our spiritual life. So here's my suggestion. Focus each week on the Sunday texts, plus those of any major feasts occurring that week, prepare them before Mass, and choose one to meditate on each day. How much you want to do will obviously depend on time - if you don't have much, perhaps just focus on the collect of the week, or the Gospel. And add to that basic cycle a cycle of the feasts that mean something in particular to you - the anniversary of your baptism, first communion, confirmation, marriage, and so forth.
Want to be a blogger?
There are some fantastic resources on the web to help you get the most out of the day. One I've recently discovered is In the Sight of the Angels, which provides material on the cycle of the year, and is looking for someone to help out on the blog - contact the authors if you are interested.
Another great site is the Monastery of Norcia, Italy, which provides recordings of its daily sung Mass and Vespers (unfortunately for Australians, effectively a day late, but better late then never!).
The are plenty of others too. One of the best aids for those interested in learning (or just listening to) the chants is Renegoupil , which now comes complete with videos.
So make the most of the resources of the internet, and enrich your spiritual life with the traditions of the Church!