Everyday Holiness


Since the third day of creation, the sun and moon have ruled over day and night, hours and seasons. But, if we are not careful, those God-ordained seasons become lost amid the pressures of secular time. We can if we choose let those seasons be lost amid the secular pressures on our time. Or we can celebrate the seasons, in true Anglican Tradition.


In a discussion about Santa Claus, a parent told me, "I think my child knows the real meaning of Christmas. I'm sure she gets that at Sunday School." The fact is though, our children don't learn the real meaning of our faith -- and our adults won't, either -- unless they live it Monday through Saturday as well.

One Easter Sunday morning, I stood outside the church crying "I don't know where to go". Unwelcome there, it was too late to attend any of the other services I knew about. It is, unfortunately, inevitable that from time to time the institutional church lets us down. And the institution is important enough that such let-downs will massively disrupt spiritual lives, as ours have been disrupted. It is at such times that the traditions and observances we have built into our home lives carry us forward in union with Christ.

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Candlemas, Lent

Early Spring 


February 2, 2005: the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple  

As one of the "cross-quarter days" - half-way between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox -warmer climes consider this the first day of spring. The first signs of lengthening days are celebrated by a candlelight service on the eve, call "Candlemas". Decorate your door (we do several interior doors) with symbols of doves and candles. Simple construction paper cut-outs, neatly glued together from different colours and replaced frequently, can be a subtle but persistent reminder of the sacred shape to our lives. If you can't attend a Candlemas service, just this once pray together as a family. Do it by candlelight, perhaps after watching the sun set. Or stage a family candle-light procession around the garden, inside and up to bed. Use the Collect on page 266

9 February, 2005 to 25 March, 2005: Lent  

Lent is our season of self-discipline. Take it seriously. 

  • Get your self-indulgence out of the way enthusiastically on Shrove Tuesday (February 16) by having a Mardis-Gras dinner, where the family wear dress-up clothes and eat pancakes. 

Fast on Ash Wednesday. The Prayer Book declares Ash Wednesday and Good Friday to be our two Solemn Fast Days. Children shouldn't fast longer than from after breakfast until about four o'clock. 

Ask each family member to choose a Lenten Discipline. For the whole of Lent, give up chocolate, or take responsibility for emptying the garbage. Remember, Sundays are NOT part of Lent, so you only have to excercise your willpower for six days in a row. 

Discipline your house, too. Sanctify spring cleaning by turning out your house room by room over the weeks of Lent. Think "less is more" and give away what you don't need to the benefit of others. My child calls this "making our house an Easter House". 

One day each week, bake something together and take it down to the Mustard Seed.

Practice simplicity. Some people remove all pictures and decorations; and even cover all the mirrors in the house with black drop-cloths. 

On the fourth Sunday in Lent, worship at the Cathedral. This is the "motherchurch", from which "Mothering Sunday" takes its name. Bring daffodils to your mother. 

Near the end of Lent, plant forced flowering bulbs, timing them to bloom for Easter. 

March 17, 19 and 20 2005: Spring Ember Days  

The Ember Days are traditionally Days of Solemn Prayer (Fasting, Abstinence and Solemn Prayer on page xiii). On one or all of these days, hold Family Prayers. Use the Collect on page 100 of the Prayer Book.

25 March 2005: Lady Day 

Lady Day is properly called the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin. It's one of the "quarter days", mid-spring in warmer climes, and here an appropriate time for celebrating the end of winter. Break Lent with a special treat. 

20-25 March, 2005: Passiontide 

Attend the whole pageant of Easter worship with your family: the Maundy service and meal on Thursday, the Way of the Cross or similar Good Friday service, the midnight service on Holy Saturday night, and Easter morning. Even small children can feel the drama of these services. 

Have a Christian Seder on Maundy Thursday: a simple meal of bread and wine, cheese, fresh fruit -- apples for those of us in the frozen North, and honey. Borrow a Haggadah (the script for the Seder) from Jewish friends or acquire a Christian one from a Christian bookstore. At the close of the meal or before bed, wash your children's feet and tell the story of the Maundy.

Fast on Good Friday. While you're fasting, bake hot-cross buns with your family. The spices in the buns recall the spices the women brought to the tomb on Easter morning. Children (and those who aren't used to fasting) can break their fast on the warm buns as soon as they come out of the oven. 

27 March 2005: Easter  

Use Holy Saturday to decorate your home. Hike and hunt for pussy-willows, or make paper crocusses, or buy lilies or force bulbs. Easter is the primary festival of the Christian year; more important than Christmas. Make it seem as special. If you made door-decorations for Lent, replace them on Holy Saturday. We made a Noah's Arc on a black background, with a rainbow that we added one colour to during each of the six weeks in Lent. On Holy Saturday, I'll replace the black background with a sky-blue one. 

Add candles to your dinner table for the whole Easter season -- or year-round, but put them away during Lent. I use four candles, a pair at each end of the dinner table. While they are being lit we sing Doxology, one line as each wick is lit: 

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Praise God all creatures here below.

Praise God above, ye heavenly host.

Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.


Lent, Lady Day, Easter

by Pamela Mclean

27 March, 2005 to 15 May 2005: Easter 

Easter is not just a day, it's a season. Leave your Easter decorations up until Pentecost, and add to them (especially during Easter vacation, when a family craft time can be a great relief. Right now, tissue-paper butterflies flutter across my front door, crowd the archway between parlour and dining room, and alight on the rainbow that arches over our Lenten Noah's Ark picture, symbols of beautiful transformed life emerging from the lifeless remnant of the cocoon. 

If you don't normally put candles on your dinner table, do it at least for for the fifty days between Easter and Pentecost. 

Add an ALLELUIA to your table grace or family prayers. We use the Easter greeting after our ordinary grace: Half the family proclaims in unison "Christ is Risen, the other half replies "Christ is Risen indeed", and then everyone shouts together "ALLELUIA!" Consider using the Collect for Easter for your family table-grace. 

The next three festivals are days which I missed sharing with you when, due to stressI missed the deadline for the last Shepherd.

May 1, 2005: May Day, (Saint Walpurga's Day, or the Feast of Saint Philip and Saint James.) 

May Day is traditionally celebrated with a picnic and Maypole dancing. The Calvinist branches of the church banned May Day because of itsWiccan associations. But its hard to ignore May Day as it is the second cross-quarter day and the start of Summer (I can never fathom why television and radio weathermen keep referring to June 22 as the start of Summer when its common name is Midsummer's Day!). Reclaim it for Christ by scheduling the first family barbecue or picnic of the year. Try a May pole, if you're brave, and use the liturgical colours (red, white, purple and green) for the ribbons. Or just use red and white ribbons in honour of the Saints whose day this is: Red commemorates martyred Saints, white unmartyred Saints. 



 

May 4-7, 2005: Rogation 

Our prayer book designates the Rogation Days as days of Solemn Prayer. Even if you don't normally hold family prayers, consider holding them on these days to ask God's blessing on farmers during the crucial time of planting. This year farmers in the Red River valley are in special need of our prayers. Commemorate your own Rogation by planting a tree or your vegetable garden. As you cover over your seeds, pray the collect for the Rogation Days from the prayer book 


May 5, 2005: Ascension Day 


May 15, 2005: Pentecost 

Pentecost commemorates the day Christ's disciples received the Holy Spirit. It's the third greatest celebration of the Christian year after Easter and Christmas, and is one of our four Baptismal Festivals. It's also a traditional day for Confirmations. Celebrate any Baptism or Confirmation anniversaries in your family by lighting Baptismal Candles, inviting Godparents to dinner, and serving special foods or a decorated cake. This is the time to put away Easter decorations and Easter customs, and return to the everyday work of being in Christ. At Pentecost, the focus of the Christian year shifts from the life of Christ to the life of the Church. Use the less hectic days of summer to re-examine your Rule of Life (as described in the Prayer Book), and bring your personal ministries into line with your baptismal covenant. If you don't have an intentional personal ministry, take one on. 


June 2, 4 and 5 2005: Summer Ember Days 

The Ember Days are traditionally Days of Solemn Prayer (Fasting, Abstinence and Solemn Prayer on page xiii). On one or all of these days, hold Family Prayers. Use the Collect on page 100 of the Prayer Book. 


May 22, 2005: Trinity 

Trinity is the second Sunday in the Season of Pentecost. It marks the return to "ordinary time": a "growing" time for the Church. That's why its colour is green. The focus of Trinity is on the three-fold nature of the God we have been experiencing through the year so far: the Father Who gave us Jesus at Christmas; the Son Who redeemed us at Easter, and the Spirit Who redeemed us at Pentecost. Visit a Lutheran church like Saint Matthew's Bridgeland or Sharon (Crescent Heights) to see the beautiful Trinitarian symbols that characterise Lutheran iconography, and copy them to decorate your own doors.

June 24, 2005: Midsummer Day and The Feast of Saint John the Baptist  

This is the third "quarter day". Like May Day, it was supressed by the Calvinist church for its Wiccan associations. Midnight bonfires are a traditional celebration. For us, the fire is the symbol of the Holy Spirit. It reminds us of God going before the Israelites as a pillar of flame, on their trek through the wilderness. Read Exodus to your children by firelight. If you have re-committed to your Rule of Life, dedicate yourself to it by throwing into the flames a list of all the sins you are striving to leave behind. Saint John the Baptist Day is particularly special for Quebecois. 

July 26, 2005: The Feast of Saint Anne 

Saint Anne's Day is special to us as our elder daughter's Name Day. Other Anne's may be interested to know that the heritage site at Saint Anne's (a day-trip north of Calgary) has a special celebration on this day, and may be worth a trip. Or, just have a Name Day party. Use the prayers for a birthday from the prayer-book as your table grace, or the prayers for the commemoration of a Matron or Virgin. 

August 1, 2005: Lammas Day 

Lammas is the third cross-quarter day. It is celebrated in honour of "first fruits". Harvest some of your own produce, or visit a fruit market, and celebrate with a special picnic. Take an offering of "first fruits" to the Mustard Seed or the Food Bank. 

September 2, 2005: Saint Rachel's Day 

Saint Rachel's Day is special to us as our younger daughter's Name Day. Have a Name Day party. Use the prayers for a birthday from the prayer-book as your table grace, or the prayers for the commemoration of a Matron or Virgin. 

September 14, 2005: Holy Cross Day 


September 15, 17 and 18 2005: Autumn Ember Days 

The Autumn Ember Days are traditionally Days of Solemn Prayer (Fasting, Abstinence and Solemn Prayer on page xiii). On one or all of these days, hold Family Prayers. Use the Collect on page 100 of the Prayer Book.

September 29, 2005: Michaelmas 

Michaelmas celebrates the Archangels of God, and is the last of the quarter days. 

October 31, 2005: All Saints Eve

Commonly known as Hallowe'en. Like Walpurgisnacht and Midsummer's, Hallowe'en has Wiccan associations. The Calvinists failed to suppress its observance, but although we still observe it, it has become clearly non-Christian, or even anti-Christian. One Sunday School child, on learning that the first Baptismal promise is to renounce evil, said: "But what about Hallowe'en? I dressed up as a devil." Instead, read your children the Lives of the Saints, and help them dress up as Saints. Anne plans to go as Saint Elizabeth with her apron full of roses, or perhaps as Saint Martha with Rachel as her pet dragon.

November 1, 2005: All Saints Day 

All Saints Day commemorates all God's Faithful departed. Its proximity to Rememberence Day means that the two are often celebrated together in the Church. It is one of the four Baptismal festivals in the church. Celebrate the anniversaries of your family baptisms: 

Invite the god-parents or other family and friends to a special dinner. 

Set the baptismal candle on the table, and remember those whose anniversary it is during grace or family prayers. The prayer for the newly baptised from the prayer book is appropriate here. 

November 20, 2005: Stir-up Sunday 

The old collect for this Sunday begins "Stir up, we beseech thee O God..." It's a good day for baking your Christmas Pudding and Christmas cake. Invite friends -- especially non-Christian friends, since this is a wonderful missionary opportunity -- to come and stir wishes into your cake. As the first person takes up the spoon to stir the wishes in, pray the collect from the prayer book. 

November 25, 2005: St Andrew's Day 

Saint Andrew, who brought his brother to Christ, is the patron of Missionaries and of Scotland.

 

  December

Christmas, Epiphany, Baptisms

by Pamela Mclean



November 27, 2005 to December 24, 2005: Advent

According to our Prayer Book (on page 39), this is the beginning of The Christian Year .

  • Burn Advent candles during family dinner every night.

  • For grace, say the collect for that week from the Prayer Book, while the candle is being lit.

  • Talk about the focus of the four candles, traditionally:

  • God?s gift of Light,

  • the prophets (especially Isaiah),

  • St John the Baptist, and

  • the Virgin Mary.

  • Grow your advent wreath over the four Sundays. Start by surrounding the candles with bare rocks, then add greenery on the second Sunday. On the third Sunday set up your creche and on the fourth set up your tree.


December 17, 18 and 20: The Winter Ember Days


The Winter Ember Days are traditionally Days of Solemn Prayer (Fasting, Abstinence and Solemn Prayer on page xiii). These are the Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday after the third Sunday in Advent. On one or all of these days, hold Family Prayers. Use the Collect on page 100 of the Prayer Book.

 December 25, 2005: Christmas  

The secular Christmas is a one-day orgy of consumerism. But if we don't have everything ready by December 25, we have twelve more days to get it right. By spreading the holiday out until the eve of Epiphany, and reducing its intensity, you can mitigate both the pre-Christmas stress and the post-Christmas let-down.

  • Put your tree up late, so that it will last the full holiday. Victorian families put theirs up on Christmas Eve after the children were in bed.

  • Make a point of visiting with close friends during these twelve days especially those with whom you exchange gifts. Leave their gifts until you can open them together, and thank the giver face-to-face. On Christmas morning open only those gifts from far-away. On Twelth Night, open any remaining gifts from people you didn't manage to visit.

  • At dinner throughout Christmas, use the Collect on page 104 or 107 of the Prayer Book as your grace.

  • On Twelth Night, ceremoniously take down the tree, and draw a clear end to the Christmas season.

January 6, 2006: Epiphany

Epiphany celebrates Christ's revelation to the gentiles, using the symbol of the Kings from the East.

  • Invite non-Christian friends to dinner.

  • Serve special foods: Mince-meat spices symbolize the gifts of frankincense and myrhh. Mincemeat pies are sometimes baked in oblong (manger-shaped) dishes, and the slashes on the crust made to represent the christ-child. Buns shaped like babies in mangers are also traditional.

  • Use the Collect on page 117 of the prayer book at grace or family prayers.

January 8, 2006: the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord

This Feast falls on the first Sunday in Epiphany. It is one of the four Baptismal festivals in the church. Celebrate the anniversaries of your family baptisms: Invite the god-parents or other family and friends to a special dinner.

Set the baptismal candle on the table, and remember those whose anniversary it is during grace or family prayers. The prayer for the newly baptised from the prayer book is appropriate here.



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