Trying to put a few thoughts together on cycles and liturgy.
Having started a new liturgical year with Advent, we find ourselves now on the far side of Christmas, Epiphany, and the Baptism of the Lord. In short, the First Week of Ordinary Time. Ordinary Time, as a season, is broken into two parts by Lent, Easter, and Pentecost. This first part, occurring as it does after the birth and manifestation of The Lord, can be seen to correspond in a way to His life and ministry on earth.
The second part of Ordinary Time, then, begins after the Ascension. Having accomplished everything necessary for our salvation, the Lord departs and the Spirit accompanies the Church through time as it draws ever nearer to the End of Time - the feast of Christ, King of the Universe, which precedes Advent, and so the cycle continues. There’s nothing particularly ordinary about Ordinary Time, except that it feels like a chance to draw a breath or two after the Christmas season. This year we’ve got a fairly long ramp-up to Lent, too. But we’ll have the memorials of the saints, the feria, and everything else besides. Snow notwithstanding, the regular work and school schedules have started and our college kids have returned to campuses to get ready for the next semester.
The cycles of seasons, weeks, and hours show the sanctification of time itself - that strange and wonderful place where the transcendent and immanent meet. The God beyond all categories and definition and the source of all being deigned to become one of us. Still more, He invites us into the ongoing communication of Love that is His very nature - the Father to the Son, and the Son to the Father, the Spirit proceeding from both. We’re part of this conversation in our worship, our liturgy. What’s happening in signs and symbols here on earth is going on in reality in heaven. What’s here is real; what’s there is a more real sort of real. Super-real.
There’s a lot bouncing around in my head at the moment on this, almost certainly because of all the preparatory reading we’ve been assigned for our next class on Liturgy. I’ve managed to finish it well in advance and have started the book on which we’ll be writing papers - The Spirit of the Liturgy by Cardinal Ratzinger/Benedict XVI. It’ll probably go with me on this weekend’s retreat, but I’m also tempted to go with nothing except a bible and breviary. If memory serves, the retreat house has a decent little library so I’m sure I can find something if I need to. Maybe I’ll drag Talley’s Origins of the Liturgical Year for super-nerding on calendar stuff.
In other news, I made some orange marmalade this past weekend and it turned out beautifully. There seems to be something nearly magical about eating orange marmalade when it’s 25 degrees outside - as if we’ve somehow captured the tropics in a jar to eat on our toast. We got to babysit the new grandbaby, too, so it was a fabulous weekend all around. The snow has all melted and things have gotten back to their normal mid-South green and brown. It’s still plenty cold but at least the sun is out.