Living the Liturgical Year, Part 4: Celebrating Your Story

If you missed the first part of our series (1), (2), (3) we’ve been exploring how to do this thing called liturgical living. Last time, we dug into the details of how to craft a celebration that feeds the soul.

It’s not all saints and solemnities, though. God ordained the Christian home to be the nexus of faith on earth, and some of the best celebrations on the Church calendar are right under your roof!

Hummingbird Cake

Today, I want to touch on four reasons to celebrate in your domestic church:

  1. Baptismal anniversaries
  2. Wedding anniversaries
  3. Namedays, and
  4. The Sacrament of Reconciliation (or confession).

Please, don’t think of what I’ve written as rules or even recommendations. (Remember, we talked about that here–how it’s all about what you bring to the table.) This is simply a smattering of humble ideas from out of my scattered mommy brain to get you started.

This is your family’s faith story. The best way to tell it is your way. Just please make sure you do tell it–the whole Church is richer for your sharing.

BAPTISMAL ANNIVERSARIES

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St. Therese of Lisieux wrote in her autobiography that she considered the day of her baptism (as opposed to her birthday) to be the true day of her birth.

For most families (and even some single folks), it would be impractical to celebrate our baptismal anniversaries with the fanfare of a birthday party. Still, it is certainly an occasion worth celebrating.

In our home, we have a simple ceremony after our evening meal where the anniversarian (that’s a thing, right?) is invited to light his or baptismal candle and renew their baptismal promises. (When the children are very young, we do this for them.) We keep all the candles, as well as the text for the renewal of promises in a drawer in our dining room for this purpose.

You might attend Mass at the church of your baptism (if you still live in the area) or take time to pray over and reflect on your spiritual growth through the past year and where God might be calling you in the next. You could record your prayers and thoughts in a special journal so that you can look back and see God’s leading from year to year.

If you don’t know when you were baptized, contact the church or parish of your baptism (ask your parents or godparents, if you are able). They should have that information for you.

WEDDING ANNIVERSARIES

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“Married persons are…the permanent reminder to the Church of what happened on the Cross…”
– St. John Paul II

So often today we think of marriage as being only about the spouses, but Scripture tells a different story. It’s true that marriage exists for the betterment of the spouses, but it’s so much more than that.

Believe it or not, Christian marriage is a living testament to God’s love for his Church. It’s a vocation, but it’s also a mission and a ministry. Married love is meant to be shared.

I strongly encourage all couples to celebrate their love story in a special way on their anniversary. It doesn’t matter so much what you do as that you do something to honor the day – and each other. 

You might consider going to a location that’s significant to your marriage (such as the coffeehouse where you first met), having dinner at a favorite restaurant (without the kids!), or sharing an activity you both enjoy (indoor rock climbing, anyone?).

If you haven’t already done so, take a little time to learn your spouse’s love language. Try to incorporate it into your celebration.

Many people like to exchange gifts to mark their anniversaries. One idea my husband and I have tried is to purchase a gift together. It may not be stereotypically “romantic,” but we have had such fun choosing something that will bless our home and our family for years to come.

One year we downloaded some photo editing software, touched up our favorite family photos, bought a bunch of frames at a craft store, and spent the afternoon of our anniversary hanging pictures and reliving memories.

A vacation or night away is another great “together” gift.

In addition to celebrating as a couple, you may want to think of ways of sharing your love on this special day. You could attend Mass together. Look through your wedding photos with your children. Talk to them about what it was like to date and fall in love.

If it’s a milestone anniversary, you could publicly renew your vows. I remember when my best friend’s grandparents hit their 50th. They had a special ceremony in the church where they were married, followed by a ballroom reception. I will never forget that day or the example of their beautiful love.

I understand that not every couple feels like celebrating every time their anniversary rolls around. Marriage can be tough, and life throws some serious curveballs. But no matter what chapter is being written for you this year, do take time to celebrate (even in a small way) this unique, beautiful, sacred, glorious love story of yours. (And thank you, because the whole world is made better by your love.)

NAMEDAYS

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I first learned about nameday celebrations when I was newly married and pregnant with Sugar. I’d been reading Maria von Trapp’s autobiography, in which she talks about the celebrations they had for the children on these special days.

A nameday is the day on which a Catholic celebrates his or her patron saint. So, whatever your patron or patroness’s feast day is, that’s your nameday! (For those named after the Blessed Mother, May Day or May 1st is the day conventionally used.)

Don’t know your patron? Check out this website.

If you were not named for any saint (I wasn’t), you may find yourself in the position of being able to choose your own patron.

For ideas of practical and meaningful ways to celebrate your nameday, check out Monday’s post.

CELEBRATING THE SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION

st. john vianneyCatholics celebrate 7 sacraments. Some (like Holy Orders) are received only once. Others can be received many times. After Holy Communion (which I’ll cover in Part 4 of this series), Reconciliation is the most frequently received sacrament.

Catholics celebrate Confession in preparation for reception of First Holy Communion. There are a number of things you can do to make preparation and reception of a child’s First Reconciliation special, but what’s even more important is helping your family build a habit of going back by making every reception special.

I’m not promoting bribery. After all, God’s grace and forgiveness way beat anything we can give. But the fact remains that many children (and adults!) focus on the fear of confessing their sins. The promise of a little something sweet afterward can help shift that focus back onto God’s goodness, helping to instill a lifelong love of the sacrament.

You know how best to motivate your own family. Mine loves to celebrate with vanilla ice cream. The white symbolizes purity and the sweetness represents God’s grace.

You can get vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt at COSTCO’s food court (no membership required) for around $1.50 (depending on your location) and McDonald’s has vanilla cones for $1! Or you could treat the kids to ice cream and grab yourself a mocha. Even if you have a large family celebrating Confession once a month, these are some very affordable (and tasty) options.

continue the conversation: Leave a comment below to share how you celebrate your faith story!

stay tuned: We’ll wind up our series next time by looking at ways to make Sunday special! 

To read the rest of the series:
Part 1: Where to Start?
Part 2: Cherry-Pickin’ Christian
Part 3: A How-To for Holy Days

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