Future Priests of the Third Millennium

A little insight into the life of seminarians from various dioceses preparing for ministry as Roman Catholic priests, including daily activities, personal interests, special events, the spiritual life, news from the seminary, and almost whatever comes to our minds!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Blessing of the Liturgical Year

Photo courtesy Reuters and news.yahoo.com

Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving and even the Fourth of July have the potential to evoke great emotion from me. I think many people experience this - even the commercials on TV try to play on this fact. Come Christmas and Easter, I always find myself yearning for the experience that I had in my childhood around these celebrations: the long time of preparation and expectation which finally gives way to the big celebration! Midnight Mass for Christmas and the candle-light Vigil for Easter! It all was so perfect, simple and happy.

I have heard it said, however, that that's all just sentimentalism and people just need to grow up and accept the fact that things change. Take the practice of Midnight Mass, for example: "It's not reasonable to ask people to stay up late, put up with whiny kids and throw off their whole schedule just for Mass late at night. God couldn't care less when you worship Him." So I've heard it said. The only problem, however, is that if we are constantly changing the smaller aspects of how we do something, we lose sight not only of the specialty of the thing, but we no longer understand the thing itself, we no longer value it and we give up what we ought to hold dear.

This over-intellectualization of the faith disregards a full consideration of our human nature. We aren't just brains on a stick - we are creatures of habit who are drawn to goodness. Maintaining traditions and emotional attachment to them is good! Throughout much of the year, we do things so much the same. Because of this, we begin to look very closely at everything we do, what we believe. And this is good. We risk, however, becoming too adult in our worldview, too detached from and forgetful of the faith, too compartmentalized and fragmented in our daily lives.

These events, however, remind us of a more elementary experience of God. We are called back to the simplicity of God's love as shown us (ideally and hopefully) through our families in our childhood and in the great celebrations surrounding the mysteries of God's love for the world. We regain insight into the profundity of the life we are living. We ought not become so fragmented, so adult and so sophisticated that we lose sight of the whole. We need the sentiment which accompanies our memories so that we can recall the truth about life, about God. Practices which have childhood memories and sentiments attached to them help us remember what it was like as a child and strive for that same simplicity today. They allow us to see the world as children which, after all, is the only way that we will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

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