ColumnsDisciple’s Corner

Advent: integrating the liturgical calendar into daily life

Joe Paprocki, in his book “A Church On the Move,” says our local faith communities need to recover a sense for the importance of the liturgical calendar, starting with the most important events of all: the birth, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus.

After that, Paprocki writes, “everything else the parish does, week in and week out, is directed toward the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus, with each Sunday of the liturgical calendar being a ‘mini-Easter.’”

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Perhaps we need to think about how Paprocki’s advice might be useful to the “Domestic Church” — the church in the home — as well.

There was a time in the not too distant past when various things, including the liturgical calendar, shaped Catholics’ daily lives.

The natural seasons of the year made a difference in how we lived, worked and played. Today, daily life isn’t all that much different in summer than in winter.

Sundays were once distinctly different from the other days of the week, but with extended business hours Sundays now are just another workday for some people — or another shopping day for others.

For middle class families, when kids aren’t in school, they’re in day care — or organized sports leagues, but never just at home with mom or dad.

There was even a time when there were separate seasons for major sports, but today, it’s hard to tell when one sports season ends and another begins.

The point I’m making is that life today is pretty much the same from day to day, week to week, month to month. Important events and big celebrations are short-lived — a day or two off work or school, then back to the routine.

When everything’s pretty much the same, there are no really special times — not much to look forward to, and not much to remember afterward.

A sense of rhythm, an ebb-and-flow, busy times and not-so-busy times are missing; life gets monotonous and boring, so people look for odd diversions and extreme, sometimes dangerous and destructive distractions in personal relationships, recreation, entertainment, maybe even politics.

The church’s liturgical calendar offers us an alternative. There is a rhythm to the liturgical year — it’s the rhythm of the Paschal Mystery, a pattern of living, dying, rising and living again in a new way. Big, really important events which we need to prepare for and celebrate afterward — things to remember and things to look forward to which shape how we live and work today.

This Sunday we begin the season of Advent — the first season in the church’s liturgical year. I think it might be a good time to look at how we could integrate the liturgical calendar into our daily lives as individuals and families.

What do you think?

Learn More

Find suggestions on how to celebrate Advent in the family here:

Pray and Reflect

Use one or more of the following questions for personal reflection, group dis­cus­­sion or private journaling:

  • On a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high) rate how aware you are of the liturgical seasons. How would you have rated yourself five years ago?
  • In what ways did your family of origin celebrate the liturgical seasons like Advent and Lent? Do you think it is possible or practical to celebrate the liturgical seasons in your home or classroom today? What do you think would be the biggest value of celebrating the liturgical seasons? How would it affect a family’s day-to-day or week-to-week living?
  • I think celebrating the liturgical seasons….

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Dave Cushing is director of adult faith formation for the Catholic parishes in Waterloo. The Disciple’s Corner is sponsored by the Archdiocese of Dubuque’s Office of Faith Formation and Education and is funded through the Archdiocesan Educational Development Board. It is de-signed to help catechists, teachers, parents, grandparents, guardians and other adults grow in their appreciation of their role as disciples of Jesus Christ.


Catholics are always looking to the past and to the future in order to understand who we are and what we should be doing in the present. This on-going cycle of Salvation History is represented by the church’s liturgical year — a cycle of Sundays, feasts and special seasons which help us remember and celebrate God’s presence in human history.

The liturgical year consists of six seasons:

  • Advent – four weeks of preparation before the celebration of Jesus’ birth
  • Christmas – celebrating the Nativity of Jesus Christ and his manifestation to the peoples of the world
  • Lent – a six-week period of penance and renewal before Easter
  • The Paschal Triduum – the holiest “three days” of the church’s year, where the Christian people commemorate the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus
  • Easter – 50 days of joyful celebration of the Lord’s resurrection and his sending forth of the Holy Spirit
  • Ordinary Time – divided into two sections (one span of 4-8 weeks between Christ­mas time and Lent and another lasting about six months after Easter Time); during these times we consider the fullness of Jesus’ teachings and works among his people[/ms-protect-content][ms-membership-login]