A lot of months ago, I declared my intention to really start incorporating the Liturgical Year into our home life in a more meaningful way. Since neither Charles nor I grew up that way, we're starting from scratch here, and if we try to do anything too unnatural -- inorganic to our lives -- it feels flat and forced. It doesn't work or stick. Maybe it's a great idea that we're just not ready for. Or maybe it just wasn't a great idea for us.
Regardless, it's really important to me that we find things that do work for us. I've understood for awhile that our human hearts, for whatever variety of reasons, crave the rhythm of liturgical living. We want to live seasonally -- we plant, tend, harvest. We work six days and rest on the seventh. We spent cold hard cash on decorations and goods for every holiday imaginable. We pepper our year with celebrations of all sorts. Pi day, anyone?!?
As a family, I'd call us "rising intermediate" (read: we're getting better) on the liturgical living scale. We celebrate a lot of days, but we don't go big. We keep it simple.
We have a good grasp on the basics: a big "Sunday dinner" on Sundays. Lent, Advent, Christmas, Easter. We're getting there more and more each year.
We celebrate what Kendra calls the "Big Three" -- birthdays, baptism days, and name days. The person getting celebrated gets to pick what we have for dinner. Bam! Easy Peasy. And since I can't help but celebrate stuff, there are often things like cupcakes and cookies and candles and treats and giving you your favorite breakfast, too.
Thanks to our kitchen chalk board, remembering the saints and feasts is much easier. I try to add an extra little treat or something to our day to acknowledge those saints to whom one or more of us has an additional devotion.
But I've had this nagging issue with Holy Days of Obligation and other Solemnities.
It started in August when, for reasons I no longer remember, I was looking at the school calendar for the parochial school attached to our parish, and I realized that they don't have school on Holy Days of Obligation. Like a thunderbolt, it struck me: as Catholics, these are not merely days that we need to drag ourselves to Mass. They are days that we should be treating as holy days . . . as holidays. Gasp! (No, really, it was that earth-shattering to me.) So, accordingly, I've been trying to, at least, make what would normally be a special or Sunday dinner on those days.
Then, when I was reading Kendra's post yesterday on Solemnities, and starting to feel overwhelmed once again with trying to invent traditions for all of them, the solution dawned on me. Like I said at the beginning, we are at the point where "celebrating the liturgical year" still means keeping it simple. And what could be simpler than adding to the meal we're already enjoying? Adding dessert, which we almost never have as a family? What is more celebratory than dessert? And with the decision that there will be dessert for Solemnities, there was peace.
So today, on the Solemnity of St. Joseph, we're eating roast and having ice cream. Easy, beautiful, and celebratory as that.
St. Joseph, pray for us.