Many years ago, I was blessed to be included in a very special New Year’s party, attended by a wonderful collection of delightful people. The wonder and fond memories of this event emerged on a friend’s Facebook post as recently as a few days ago, and yet this party took place perhaps 20 years ago. What made it so special is not easy to explain. Surely, it was the people, above all, but for me, it was also that the people in attendance were showing me a new way to live, a new way to celebrate, a new means of marking time.
You see, this New Year’s party did not take place on December 31st, or even all that close to it. It was on a Saturday evening, just days after Thanksgiving. The occasion was not the end of the traditional calendar year, as organized by Julius Caesar and later tweaked by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. This New Year’s event was celebrating the close of the Liturgical New Year, and the start of yet another procession through the waiting, the birth, the life, the death, the resurrection, and the ascension of Our Lord. This New Year’s party was held to celebrate the close of one journey and the launching of yet another. Though I am a cradle Catholic who had attended twelve years of Catholic school, and was certainly aware that Christmas came every year in the winter and Easter every year in the spring, never had I thought about entering into the stream of salvation history myself, and immersing myself with eyes open into the ongoing story of the life of Christ. Celebrating the Liturgical New Year? I don’t think my brain could have strung those words together into a sentence on the best of days. Somehow, this notion of the walking through the ongoing—ever ancient, ever new—life cycle of Christ was a revelation to me. And what a gift!
Looking back on my days in graduate school (I was blessed to earn a degree in Theology and Christian ministry), it is hard to know what aspects of my time in graduate school touched me most deeply—the teachers I studied under and the classes I took, the books I read, the time spent in prayer, or the time spent with new and beautiful friends. Without a doubt, my three years of study charted the course of the rest of my life, and opened my eyes to how very large, full, abundant, and joyful a life lived in the fullness of the Catholic faith could be.
OK, so some practical tips for celebrating the Liturgical New Year.
Happy New Year!
I am a homeschooling mom of six kids, married to a patient, supportive, and crazy smart husband, whom I met on the internet in the days of screaming modems. Raised on the east coast, I am happily raising my family in the midwest. I love to collect and share traditions, recipes, prayers, crafts, and activities for living out the Catholic Faith in my home and family.