"The rhythm of the liturgical seasons reflects the rhythm of life - with its celebrations of anniversaries and its seasons of quiet growth and maturing." (Catholic Culture)
One of the most enjoyable ways of teaching religion in a Catholic family is to focus on the liturgical year. This provides many natural learning opportunities, allows the building of family memories and traditions, and helps to develop a sense of the sacred within daily life. The liturgical year is at the heart of what I am thinking of as yearly rhythm, though I would also include:
- A focus on the seasons, with seasonal crafts, books, foods and decorations.
- Traditional and secular celebrations such as Mothering Sunday and Bonfire Night
- Jewish festivals (important for us as a Catholic-Jewish family)
For the year to have rhythm it takes a realistic approach, not an overambitious one. I have fallen into the trap of swinging between overambition and neglect too many times, and I hope I have now learned my lesson. With beautiful timing - just as I was thinking about this - Meredith of Sweetness and Light wrote about keeping the company of the saints. She gives a list of resources for celebrating the saints, reminds us to start small (that's right ... small, not overambitious!) and lists a series of baby steps to keeping the company of the saints:
These baby steps could be used with any number of children of any age, from toddlers up. In the past I have tended to be quite successful at developing family traditions for the "big" seasons (Advent, Christmas, Lent and, with slightly less success, Easter - maybe I have shot my bolt by the end of Lent?), but have fallen apart in between. Meredith's simple framework will be a great starting point for filling in the gaps.
- Identify Saints to be celebrated for each week and find a reading about them.
- Locate a holy card or image, statue of Saint and a candle (or several candles)
- Designate a prayer table or area in your home for setting up your display
- Plan one activity to start: Mass, cake, tea, craft, special meal or truly, any combination of these, for the Saints, the skies the limit, but remember to start small.
- Plan to say a prayer or begin a Novena to the Saint (or Mary) to be celebrated.
More on the practical working out of a yearly rhythm to come later.
PS. Credit to Meredith for finding the quote at the beginning of this post.