I wrote some introductory thoughts on the different liturgical seasons for the Military Council of Catholic Women a while back. As we prepare to begin a new liturgical year with Advent coming up in a few days, I thought I share those short thoughts with you, too. Let us pray for one another and help each other grow through the different liturgical seasons.
THE LITURGICAL SEASONS AND THEIR COLORS
The Advent and Lenten seasons share the color violet because they invite us to prepare ourselves for the Lord’s coming as well as to actively walk with Him, as His disciples on the road to Jerusalem, where He willingly chose to suffer and gave Himself up for us. Violet is a penitential color, and so it invites us to bear upon ourselves the spirit of humility. Christmas and Easter share the color white because they remind us of the divine, pure, selfless love that the Lord has for us! Only God who is so in love with us could ever put into action what is humanly imaginable, to live like us in all things but sin and to willingly give Himself up for us as expiation for transgression. The Ordinary Time is signified by the color green, which symbolizes life and its deeper foundation of true hope in Christ Jesus, Who gives us life. Throughout the Ordinary Time, we get to walk, listen, share, and learn from the Lord and all of His life-giving lessons. As life has its own different seasons and changes, our liturgy has its own seasons to teach the important lessons and stages of the Lord’s own earthly journey so we can unite ourselves with Him through the communal act of worship and personal act of prayers.
Many of us, perhaps, by now, know that Advent finds its root in Latin (adventus) and Greek (parousia), inviting us to live a season of waiting for the coming commemoration of Christ’s Nativity. Waiting is hard, and we hate to wait as postmodern people, but all good things in life require waiting and preparation! If we do not wait and prepare ourselves, we might end up going through the motions but lose focus on the significance of why things matter. As the world is getting busy with shopping hustles and bustles, take this season to slow down, learn to wait and prepare our hearts for the coming of the Lord. Let us live that out with the virtues of hope, faith, joy, and peace through the four weeks of Advent.
I saw a meaningful meme a while back, and it continues to resonate with me until today. It states, “Each one of us is an innkeeper who decides if there is room for Jesus.” For us who believe, Christmas is much more than family gatherings and good foods, more than the gifts exchanged, more than the fuzzy feelings with one another. Not everyone has the opportunity to experience those things, but we do have the ability to reflect on what Christ and His nativity mean for us. How wonderful it is to have God who loves us so much that only He can do the unimaginable thing… to let go of His divine glory and power, to become one of us, and to live like us in all things but sin! If we would understand this divine expression of self-giving love, our Christmas season would be more meaningful and full of loving grace.
We like to be captivated and high on excitement, but extraordinariness is often hidden behind ordinary events. Our whole world and all its living matters grow and mature each and every single day, amazingly pushing through many unseen boundaries and limitations, right in front of us if we do not take the time to notice. The supernatural manifestation of God’s wondrous grace is often hidden and interwoven into the very natural ordinariness of life, and it takes a thoughtful mind, reflective heart, and attentive soul to seek, understand, and appreciate His thoughtful expressions of love. Furthermore, as disciples, we are called to live our faith in the very daily and ordinary ups and downs of life, to sanctify the world and radiate Christ where we have been planted. That is why we should be creative in allowing our extraordinary loving faith to be enlivened through ordinary daily devotions.
Lent comes from the Latin word, “Lente,” which means to slow down. This is a hard thing for us who are always on the move and busy with things. It is oftentimes a hard season and many people are dreading it. Too many just going through the motion because they try to follow what everyone else is doing but have not taken personal interest and commitment to take up their daily cross and journey with Christ Jesus. That is why the Church gives us a season filled with many opportunities to walk with Him as His disciples through His most wondrous, personal, intimate, and self-giving expression of love. We can choose to remain bystanders or spectators, or we can follow the Master and Teacher on the road to Jerusalem to understand what it means to love even when it hurts.
Like Christmas, Easter is much more than a day for us as Catholics. Christ took upon Himself all the evils of this world, transformed and made it the great personal manifestation of love that vindicated and conquered, saved and redeemed us. He has shown us how to love as He chose to suffer, died, and rose again for us. The Paschal Mystery and its vindication on Easter remind us that God ALWAYS has the final words, and that word is “LOVE.” Our God is the Vindicator! He has risen and conquered sin, and with Him is our ALLELUIA. We are the Easter people! Let us, therefore, remember that Jesus Christ is not just a choice among many. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We are His disciples and witnesses, the living testimonial that Love had and will conquer this world because GOD IS LOVE.