Welcome to the Catholic Catalogue Book Club! We're reading The Catholic Catalogue, by Melissa Musick and Anna Keating.
I grew up Catholic but haven’t always been sure what it means to live out my Catholic faith beyond Sunday. After marrying Joel and becoming a mom, I found myself especially drawn to and inspired by families who really kept the spirit of Sunday alive every day within their homes – feast day celebrations, special prayers and blessings, children named after patron saints, sacramentals and sacred art strategically placed throughout their home and more. I desired to cultivate that spirit within my home, too.
A good friend once advised, “Stay close to the logic of the liturgical cycle since theology is first and best done in the furnace of the divine liturgy.” That’s a really smart way of saying: Keep your domestic church, your home, in step with Holy Mother Church. She knows her stuff! The liturgical calendar is so very rich in tradition, it really can help bring purpose and order to your home. I heeded that advice, and indeed, I find that when I’m in step with the Church and her daily ebb and flow, all of us inhabitants here at Das Schmidt Haus seem to be in sync, too.
So yeah, I dig this everyday Catholicism stuff, and it’s been a privilege to participate in this book club for The Catholic Catalogue by Melissa Musick and Anna Keating. I’m finding the book a most thoughtful yet practical resource for the practicing Catholic who desires to, as my friend says, stay close to the logic of the liturgical cycle.
I was assigned two sections from the book to cover in this post: Christmas and Winter Ordinary Time. Talk about a tale of two cities. First we have the Christmas season with all its cheerful celebrations and special feast days. A few well-known and beloved saints fall within the Christmas season --- St. Stephen, St. John the Apostle, the Holy Innocents, and St. Thomas Becket. The Christmas season also has us joyfully ringing in the New Year and ending the Twelve Days of Christmas with a house blessing on the Feast of Epiphany.
Then we move into Winter Ordinary Time. Say hello to February, the shortest month of the year, yet the one that may feel the longest. The authors pose a thoughtful question about Ordinary Time.
“What will we do with most of the days of our lives, days that are filled with small repeated acts --- of work, of rest, of play, or prayer, of weeding the garden?” (The Catholic Catalogue, Musick, Keating 142)
Working, playing, living, dying. It’s the ordinary stuff of ordinary life, and we do most of that in Ordinary Time. This is really the time when we weave the fabric of our lives hopefully from the thread of the seasons and feasts we’ve just celebrated.
Then right before we enter Lent, Holy Mother Church throws us a bone with Mardi Gras, or Carnival, on the day before Ash Wednesday. I think that of the sections I was assigned for this book club, the “How to Carnival” is my favorite. How the authors approach this section is really a microcosm of how they approach much of their book. Musick and Keating give readers tangible ideas for increasing the “play” without increasing the frenzy of preparation … more fun, less exhaustion with an emphasis on enjoying the festivities in community. Get some friends together and go bowling, ice skating, or dancing. Invite neighbors over for doughnuts. Host a game night. For someone who loves hosting, yet doesn't love the preparation often required in the kitchen that accompanies hosting, the following quote really struck a chord: "The emphasis is on community, a community getting their sillies out before the season of cleaning house and heart begins" (p.156).
Finally, I think one of the reasons this section and emphasis on community resonated with me so gets to the heart of my opening sentence about growing up Catholic but not always being sure what it means to live out my Catholic faith beyond Sunday. According to American social norms, it often feels that Christians, or believers of any faith tradition for that matter are encouraged, even expected, to practice a private, interior faith. Yet the Catholic Church with all her daily acts of liturgical beauty really is something spectacular to share joyfully and communally. As my family and I have found ways to intentionally (and hopefully) joyfully share the Catholic faith with others, I've discovered that's how I can live out my faith beyond Sundays. And it feels good! Real good.
To Ponder, Reflect, and Discuss:
- Does my friend's advice to stay close to the logic of the liturgical cycle resonate with you? If so, what are some meaningful daily acts you and your family can consider to achieve this goal?
- How do we keep Winter Ordinary Time from simply becoming "let's just hurry up and get to the next liturgical party" time?
- Thinking specifically of Christmas, how can you increase the "play" of this season without increasing the frenzy of preparation?
Feel free to comment on your own thoughts from this week's reading, your impressions and reflections, and/or your answers to these questions.
Next week, we'll cover Part Two: Seasons of the Church Year (#32-44). For the complete reading schedule and information about our Book Club, visit the Catholic Catalogue Book Club page.
Copyright 2016 Lisa Schmidt
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