A monk friend of ours likes to complain, jokingly, about the incredible inconvenience of the Liturgy of the Hours. When you are feeling bright and chipper, you are bound to end up chanting songs of gloom, doom and lament. When you are sporting your Eeyore-shaped glasses and life seems grim, King David wants you to break into a raucous song of praise with all of creation.
I feel the same silly annoyance with the seasons of the Church at times. Introvert that I am, I look forward to the times of penitence. It is easy for me to make the figurative trip into the desert and wait for God to speak in the blessed, blessed silence. It’s not that I enjoy fasting and mortification, but the simplicity and quiet of Advent and Lent are a balm to my soul.
Seasons of feasting, on the other hand, are a challenge. We are at day four of the twelve days of Christmas, and already I feel my spirit flagging. It’s like watching my toddler play. He runs around at warp speed and hollers with pure joy for having little legs to stomp in mud puddles. My mama heart melts watching him, but the sheer magnitude of his exuberance is totally exhausting.
Fortunately for me, the Church doesn’t permit chronic asceticism. When faced with the magnitude of God’s love made manifest in a tiny child born in Bethlehem, the only proper response is to rejoice. Rejoice! Or as my sister likes to say, “Party like a Catholic.”
The rigors of Lent and Advent are purgative. Through them we are stripped of our old-self and transformed. The seasons of Easter and Christmas are just as necessary to our growth in holiness, however. We are, after all, made for a life of joy and everlasting happiness with God.
For today, and for every day of this holy season, the Church invites me to come out of myself and to adopt the heart of a child. I must join my voice with the heavenly hosts singing and praising the glory of God nestled in the manager. Like my son, I will stomp my feet, clap my hands and sing at the top of my lungs. I will give all of my heart, mind and body to please the Infant King. My sanctification in this life and my calling in the next is joy, so today I will rejoice.