The Liturgical Year
I joined our parish’s RCIA team this year and will be delivering my first topic - The Church - in a couple of weeks. I had already signed up to teach about the liturgical year a bit later on, and have that lesson all set and ready to go.
One of the books I used for background material is With Christ Through The Year: The Liturgical Year in Words and Symbols by Fr. Bernard Strasser, OSB. This little book is out of print, as far as I can tell, but I managed to get a used copy from Amazon awhile back. It looks to have once lived in a Jesuit college library.
It’s a wonderful old little book, and I’ve found myself going back to it every so often as the year passes. Here’s a bit from the general introduction:
But the Church year is not primarily a commemoration of the history of our redemption, a recalling of the past. Nor is it a mere anticipation of the joys of our future life in eternity. Rather, the liturgical year is the opportune present. It is the day on which, as our Lord says, we are to work out our salvation (John 9:4), the grace-laden present which alone to belongs to us since the past is irrevocably gone and the future quite uncertain.
The sanctification of time is something really want to highlight during the lesson. There is nothing ordinary about Ordinary Time at all, really. The days proceed to and from Sunday. The year proceeds to and from Easter. Writ large, the calendar recapitulates the history of salvation and our patient wait for the Lord to return in glory. Examined closely, and you’ll find the days (and even hours) tied one to another, pointing and re-pointing to Christ through the Scriptures and feasts. God created the world to show forth and communicate his glory. That his creatures should share in his truth, goodness and beauty - this is the glory for which God created them CCC, 319. The cosmos exists in time; so time should also show forth the glory of the Creator.
Faithful co-operation with the mind and spirit of the liturgical year will acquaint us more familiarly, too, with the life, works, suffering, and death of Christ, and this help us to center our life more completely in His and so live in closer conformity with His divine ideals. Our Christ-life, ever growing more perfect under the beneficent influence of each liturgical year, will help us to achieve even within ourselves the primary purpose of the Church, that is, the glory of God and the sanctification of souls.