Part One. Sacred Time.
Growing up, I was often overwhelmed with guilt over what seemed to be a great divide between my religious life and my secular life. When I read Thomas Howard’s, Splendor in the Ordinary, it helped me overcome this divide:
we can offer “things up in acts of consecration and praise. This is what lifts those things from the heap of mere ordinariness and makes them extraordinary (holy). They are ordinary things, of course, like eating and drinking and working and playing and bread and wine; but it is the ordinary stuff lifted up which is holy…Holy things are ordinary things perceived in their true light, that is, bearers of the divine mysteries and glory to us. Looked at this way, eating becomes Eucharistic, and working becomes the opus dei (“Work of God”), and loving becomes an image of the City of God. It is our task in [our home] to take these ordinary things and by lifting them in oblation, to hallow them to the service for which they were given to us here, which was to bring us to the habitation of God, where we are set free to live in the splendor where eating and drinking and working and playing are known for what they really are: forms of perpetual worship and therefore bliss” (p. 18-19).
The church calendar becomes one way we can lift up our ordinary days into something holy. Time becomes sacred when we break away from a life merely following deadlines, class schedules, birthdays, vacations, our agendas, and instead incorporate these into the sacred.
The Sacred, holy and mystical, invites us to ponder and appropriate the meaning and purpose of our life:
For me, this occurred even in my very first Lent when I attempted to give up sugar and dessert without knowing much about it at all. Having a serious sweet tooth this was bad news--I suffered headaches and cravings, but this prompted me to prayer and a deeper dependence on God and also taught me just a little bit more about the sufferings of Christ which then prepared me for the Lent of 2003 when we had our first miscarriage --Christ’s suffering and death took on a whole new meaning.
Then there was our first Advent when we couldn’t understand why no one was singing Christmas hymns which has turned into the cherished tradition of singing Advent hymns and the O Antiphons starting on December 17th.
There was the Advent also where we were forced to wait on God who was convicting us of the need to change our lives, our place, perhaps even our calling, but no answers were clear on what that change should be. And so we Waited and Waited and understood more about the world’s wait for the Second Coming. We speak of this time as our moral conversion, learning about welcoming Christ into our lives in a whole new way.
There was the Winter I had fallen into despair and darkness and it was only at the Light of Christ shining forth on Epiphany which brought me hope.
There was the Easter Monday I went on my first Emmaus Walk, walking and talking with Christ, seeing Him where I had been blinded before.
And then climbing the highest mountain in the area on the Day of His Ascension, all five of us laid back in the tall grass, holding hands and looking to the heavens.
Having our children baptized at Pentecost this past year became a new way for me to understand what being incorporated into the church means as we celebrated the church’s inception and my children’s welcome into it all on the same day.
Time is now counted in a different way for us. There is much less of a separation between the Sacred and the Secular. The ordinary things are holy; the mystery of Christ is more fully revealed. And this is what the church year does, it moves us beyond simply viewing the Gospel as a fact, to see it also as a means of inhabiting God’s unfolding drama.