“The Wonderful Time” — All Year

It’s the octave of Christmas – “the most wonderful time of the year.” I’m taking some moments these days to consider why this time of year is full of wonder…and also why the wonder is often overlooked. 

The thing about seeing the world with wondering eyes is that it has to be a habit for it to happen with any consistency. If we want to be people awake to the miracle and extravagant love of the Incarnation, then we have to be people who practice seeing evidence of it throughout the “ordinary time” of the year…and even in the midst of the less wonderful times in life. 

In fact, if we don’t know what we are looking for, if we mistake the flashy impersonators for the true beauty and goodness, then we will indeed have trouble spotting the wonder of the gospel message in the ups and downs of ordinary life, and possibly even at Christmastime. The joyful anticipation of Emmanuel — “God with us” — is written throughout history, is written on our hearts. He came to make us fully alive (John 10:10) and wonder-filled, to see the world with new eyes, to recognize truth, beauty, and goodness where it is present.

But think what might happen if we haven’t spent the months before December actively remembering and reflecting on the story of redemption history. We might very well — and often do — miss the most wonderful truth revealed to us in our nativity scenes. And even if we suddenly awaken at Christmas and our hearts grasp what we are celebrating most of all — God becoming man to be with us, to stoop low, to share our lot and raise us up in his glory — will we quickly fall asleep again to the wonder of the Christmas message as soon as the decorations are returned to the attic?

I truly believe that we can’t live in the wonder of Christmas if we don’t practice having wondering eyes all the year through. That is why I count the rhythms of our Catholic liturgical year to be such a gift. When we participate in the 365-day cycle of the Church — from Advent to Advent — we are practicing seeing wonder and the wonderful message each day. We are walking through our salvation story and the life of Christ over and over again, year in and year out.

The often mistaken perception of repetition and ritual is that they breed contempt. Oh, no my friend; they breed wonder. Humans never get it all on the first go ’round; we should know that about ourselves by now. But every year in the life of the Church anchors our hearts a little deeper; every return to each liturgical season cleans a little bit more mud from our eyes. So this year, if the hope and wonder of the Christmas season seems to disappear with the festive window displays, I encourage you to enter in more fully to the rhythms of the liturgical year. Mother Church — her feasts, prayers, sacraments, and traditions — will help you see with wondering eyes the evidence of the Incarnation through all of the other seasons. 

Keep wonder alive. Merry Christmas!

Copyright 2018 Jessica Ptomey

 

My Reading Challenge Pick for… “a book by a current Catholic bishop”

We are wrapping up the year for the 2018 Catholic Reading Challenge. I’m down to my second-to-last category…

Category: “a book by a current Catholic bishop”

My Pick: Heaven in Stone and Glass by Bishop Robert Barron

You know when you serendipitously pick up just the right book at the right time? It’s wonderful; isn’t it? This book was like that for me. It was on our bookshelf, and you can never go wrong with Barron. This was one of the easiest, most delight-filled spiritual reads for me. You could totally read it in a day. It’s all about the spiritual significance of the architecture of the great cathedrals. 

I’ve been aching recently to travel to Europe and see these beautiful churches built hundreds of years ago in such glory. One day. Hopefully it will not be too long before we can take our family on an adventure like that. But for now, I’m thankful that I can read about these places. Barron took me where I couldn’t visit myself, and reading about his hours of meditation in France’s great cathedrals fed my soul. 

Of course, I knew generally about some of the spiritual meaning behind the stained glass designs and carved stone figures. But Barron gives insights on the architecture that help shake us out of our modern sensibilities and see the beauty of these cathedrals with medieval eyes. His explanations of patterns and themes will drawn your heart heavenward.  My heart was filled with awe and gratitude that these buildings are part of our spiritual heritage. Now I have even more to look for and appreciate when I do take that pilgrimage to Europe one day. 


What did you read for “a book by a current Catholic bishop”?

Copyright 2018 Jessica Ptomey