Give Us This Day: Catholic Calendars Are a Reminder of God's Presence in Everyday Life. (Practicing Catholic)
McGrath, Tom, U.S. Catholic
CATHOLICS BELIEVE IN THE INCARNATION, THE doctrine that says God became flesh and dwelt among us. Approached cerebrally, I find that bit of dogma is darn near unfathomable. It's much better to sneak up on this mystery through life's incarnational experiences--like the family calendar.
I remember the Catholic calendar we had in my home when I was growing up. It hung in our kitchen, next to the phone. In pen, pencil, and even crayon, important dates and occasions were scrawled among the feasts, holidays, and holy days. I remember that our life could hardly be contained in those neat boxes, and our scribbling overflowed into the margins.
That family calendar taught me several important spiritual lessons. Flipping through the months showed how the year was color-coded--with Lent tinted pale purple, Advent a rose-colored hue, feast days gleaming bright red, and Fridays and other selected days sporting a morose green fish.
There was a sense that the year didn't just happen, it was planned. Some grand designer had a sense of what should happen when. The days turned into weeks, the weeks into months, and there was intelligence and design behind it all. Like the phases of the moon that were plotted out in shades of red each month, the color-coded seasons spoke of a regularity that could be relied on and lived by.
Another spiritual lesson came from the illustrations. Some years the calendars would be illustrated with religious art. If we were lucky, the calendar producer used classic oil paintings and we got an aesthetic education as well as religious, getting our first taste of Carravaggio, Tintoretto, Fra Angelico, and Rafael. Other years it would be an extreme stretch to call the illustrations "art," but even those stiff and wooden portrayals of Jesus with the apostles, teaching, healing, suffering, and dying, were intriguing.
Some years the calendar was sent as a thank you by some missionary order, and so the colorful photos would show exotic locations depicting people from around the globe. …