The slowest of pilgrims, I have come to see how my own faith, fragile as it is, is assisted and sustained by the calendar, by the lectionary – by the seasons of the Church. I want to share my growing understanding that our participation in this cycle is one way we might, as they say, redeem the time. “The days are evil,” writes Saint Paul, imploring us to do something about it. By deliberating attaching our given days to their holy antecedents, we are able to glimpse an eternal significance embodied in our every moment – redeeming our days from what might otherwise be a melancholy emptiness.
For most of my life, I have assumed that each of us must struggle at his or her faith internally, intellectually, and, for the most part, alone. More recently, however, I’ve suspected that such a solitary journey is nothing short of an aberration – even if it is a very common one – and that we fail to appreciate our connections to – our mutual dependence on – one another, we risk lanquishing in a faith half-realized, more or less sleepwalking.
This error is in some measure remedied by our observing the common calendar together: the calendar provides daily reminders that Christ literally walked the earth, and that centuries of his Saints have found his presence available to them at the every moment since. In attending to the calendar, I have come to appreciate how Christ and his saints encourage me, not simply by my thinking of them, but by my living with them- remembering their feast days, recollecting their exemplary lives of prayer, praying to live likewise.
By Scott Cairns
Excerpted from God With Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas, Edited by Greg Pennoyer and Gregory Wolfe (Paraclete Press)