It takes saints to make saints. For centuries the Church has called us to walk with and remember those of her members who followed Christ most perfectly. She has done this to inspire us to desire to be like them as they desired to be like Christ. But, what about today? What about the noise, distractions, and confusion that we seem to be bathed in daily? How do we keep our life’s heading on course to Heaven amidst so much that is pulling and pushing us in other directions?
Well, it would help to spend some time in the treasury of the Church. You see, you are what you think about, what you mediate upon, what you see around you every day. The Church has always known this, and she has a storehouse of rich treasures for the mind and heart. The liturgical year of the Church is but one chamber of this mansion of a treasure house. In it we find commemorations, feasts, fasts, saints, pivotal events in salvation history, and monuments to Christ and His Church. I would propose that rediscovering this treasury and bringing it forth is an important part of rebuilding our culture for Christ.
Have you ever heard of Sts. Rufina and Secunda? They are sisters and virgins who were martyred in the early Church by the Romans and remembered on the traditional calendar on July 10. When they were taken before the judge, and St. Rufina was to be scourged, her sister cried out to the judge, “Why do you judge my sister to honor and me to dishonor? Be pleased to beat us both together, for we declare that Christ is God.” Could we say such a thing today? That is why the Church recommends them to us, and why we should endeavor to remember them and make them known.
Did you know that the Church traditionally has had a period before Lent known as Septuagesima? This period of two and a half weeks follows the season of Epiphany where we rejoiced with the Wise men to whom the revelation of the birth of the God-man was made. The liturgy for Septuagesima and the other two Sundays before Ash Wednesday, present to us why we must go to the Desert of Lent. The Church reminds us of the fall, the flood, Abraham and Isaac, and the mourning of the Israelites in Babylon. To remember these things helps a horror of sin to grow in our hearts, and a desire to be made clean and never to be separated from Christ. The Church urges us to consider these things before Lent arrives so that our hearts may be moved by a courageous desire to take up the Lenten fast, join Christ in the desert and let Him scrub our souls clean for Easter.
It is with a desire to make these lost gems shine again in our homelife that my wife and I began a journey to find something that could help us stay guided by the liturgical year despite the business of modern life. Not having found much, we decided to try and make something, and that something has grown into The Illustrated Liturgical Year, a fully illustrated set of calendars that hang on your wall to remind everyone where they are in sacred time. These calendars don’t measure the months of the year, they measure the sacred seasons of the Church. Each day is colorfully illustrated with the saint, feast, or commemoration of the day. In the borders and frames are placed imagery inspired from the Divine Office, Dom Guéranger’s The Liturgical Year, and the readings in the Liturgy. The colors of the frames call to mind the season we are in, like gold for Christmas and wood for Lent.
The Illustrated Liturgical Year is like a little icon of icons drawing from the art traditions of both East and West, medieval and classical, and is meant to be in the home making little children (and grownups) wonder, “Why does she hold a palm in her hand?” “Why does he have a little devil on his head?” “Did he really sail across the ocean on his cloak?”
We believe that an integral part of deepening our faith means being more firmly rooted in the Tradition of the Church. Whether you follow the new calendar or the Traditional calendar, we need to not forget the things that previous generations have held in such high regard. The Illustrated Liturgical Year is a simple way to see many of these things all at once and to take your time looking into them and rediscovering them for yourselves and your families.
Sophia Institute Press has graciously come along and allowing us to reach more people than we ever could have on our own, and you can take a look at and order volume 1, The Christmas Cycle, in time for Advent at their website.