Living the Liturgical Year Without Mass

When I started attending daily Mass, I became more involved with the liturgical year. The seasons, feast days, and celebrations were all at the forefront of my mind. With the Masses I attended, and the saints I celebrated, I was learning what the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: that different aspects of the Paschal mystery unfold and weave throughout the year (CCC 1171).

Since I lived in areas where Mass was offered at many different times, this ritual became part of my daily routine. It helped me grow closer to God and the saints. Occasionally, when I couldn’t get to daily Mass, I would become extra irritable or impatient with others. In my mind, this behavior wasn’t my fault, necessarily—it was all because I hadn’t been able to attend Mass and become magically holier.

Recently, I relocated, and with a new schedule and surroundings, have not been able to attend daily Mass very often. As the days began ticking by where I couldn’t attend daily Mass, I started to realize that I couldn’t depend on Mass for my “holiness routine” each day. Yes, daily Mass is wonderful, and I highly encourage it. But for many people, attending daily Mass is not prudent or possible. At first, this thought terrified me. No! I’m doomed to be cut off from the liturgical year because I can’t make it to daily Mass! A few moments later, the lightbulb went off. I realized that God calls each and every person to a high level of holiness, despite the fact that he or she may not be able to attend Mass each day. Furthermore, we can—and should—live out the liturgical year even when we can’t do it the “easy way” by attending daily Mass.

Particularly when I can’t attend daily Mass, I’ve learned different practices which help me to live the liturgical year. I’d like to share a few of these ideas with you all.

Hang a Catholic calendar on your wall. Every year, most Catholic churches have stacks of calendars sitting in the back (typically, they are sponsored by funeral homes). These calendars usually denote days that are important to Catholics. Put the calendar in a prominent place, so that you can keep track of different feast days and liturgical seasons!

Pray the Liturgy of the Hours. Catholics worldwide pray with the same psalms every day in the Liturgy of the Hours. With digital and print formats available, the Liturgy of the Hours is widely accessible to the laity. There are several different hours, which can vary in length. Commit to pray even one of the “hours” each day, and experience the liturgical awesomeness.

Pray the Rosary. I love the Rosary, but it’s hard to sit down for 15 minutes and actually pray it. So, I learned to start with a decade or two a day. Sometimes, I’ll pray the Rosary while going on a walk or washing the dishes. Whatever works best for you, make sure to take the time to meditate on the Paschal Mystery and talk with the Blessed Mother.

Read about the saints. There are tons of books and websites dedicated to the saints. Find a saint whom you really like, and take him or her on as a special patron. Talk to the saint on a daily basis. Ask him or her to help you out with this whole “striving for holiness” business—because the saints have been through it all.

Celebrate the days dedicated to the saints. The Church celebrates many saints, and as members of the Church, we should celebrate them, too! After all, the saints gave an incredible witness on Earth, and help us each day as we journey towards Heaven. The Catechism states that in celebrating all of these feast days, “the Church on earth shows that she is united with the liturgy of heaven” (CCC 1195). I personally need as much help as I can get, so I definitely like the reality of uniting myself with everyone in Heaven ☺ Celebrate the saint’s day with special prayers, clothes, dessert, doing an activity associated with the saint, in some other fun way (for example, I recently celebrated the birth of St. John the Baptist at a water park)!

As Catholics, living out the liturgical year is an amazing way to grow in our Faith, fall more deeply in love with God, and bring the saints into our daily lives. There are numerous ways of living out the liturgical year; the ideas I presented in no way show the wide range of liturgical year practices and traditions. So research, pray, and integrate even one extra practice into your routine. Let’s live out the liturgical year, even when we can’t make it to daily Mass.