While liturgical living may look like it has a lot of online traction, the women I meet face to face in my ministry sing to a different tune. When I'm out giving talks, coordinating traditional communal expressions, or just chatting with people after Mass I hear the same thing over and over, "liturgical living is overwhelming me." It's not that they don't want to do it, it's not that it's not seen as important, but that through social media we have taken the fun out of it. The way it has been expressed is that in order to look like the other happy, "holy" families online, you need to do all the things for all the feast days.
What is Liturgical Living?
I just want to briefly express this so that I can build upon it with the practicals.
Liturgical living is a more modern term that expresses a lived Catholic experience of rituals and symbols that stems from the liturgy & sacraments. This is more often referred to as tradition.
First and foremost, liturgical living takes place with the liturgy and sacraments themselves. Going to Mass is the primary step in this and then a close second would be praying the Liturgy of the Hours. I don't want you to be hard on yourself, we shouldn't downplay receiving the sacraments, so if you are receiving them then you are living liturgically. Going to confession regularly, attending Mass, receiving the Eucharist, and praying is living liturgically. Go by yourself, with your husband, your significant other, your friends, your children, and go often!
Jesus is worthy of our praise, He is worthy of our thanksgiving, and He is worthy of the highest sacrificial offerings that we can make.
Where does that sacrificial offering happen for us as Catholics?
Then we extend the graces we receive with the praise and joy that was experienced in the Eucharistic liturgy to the entire liturgical year and its seasons. This is how Catholic traditions developed, by people coming together over shared belief in Jesus Christ, Mary, and the saints. Those timeless truths of our faith were expressed with elation in cultural, communal, and liturgical expression throughout the ages. Liturgical living was very authentic and very natural, it's only as of late that we have manicured this lifestyle in a way that makes it seem unattainable.
(Image: New Liturgical Movement)
The Culprit of Liturgical Living Burnout!
Stop Trying to Teach & Just Do!
I've said it once and I'll say it again, liturgical living (tradition) is not fundamentally a catechetical lesson or audio visual aid for teaching children about the faith. Therein lies the issue. We have been sold and told to do things in a particular way that doesn't actually reflect the real meaning of Catholic tradition.
The inherent meaning of tradition (liturgical living) is to see the truths of our faith as being real, true, meaningful, and lasting, then as a response we offer our authentic praise and celebration. We immortalize these beautiful truths by festively expressing them over and over throughout the years and invite our whole family, friends, and communities into it. I'm not saying that liturgical living doesn't take any work at all, but that it should be gratifying and authentic to who you are. There is a time and place for intentionally catechizing, but liturgical living is for expressing joy, and it must be done in a way that embraces everyone.
When we approach liturgical living as a lesson to be taught, then of course you are going to get tired and overwhelmed. I know, I taught for over 8 years, constructing lessons with the best books, activities, verbiage, manipulatives, etc. All age based and appropriate for the intended audience. This is exhausting, and to be done for a series of feast days each week throughout the liturgical seasons is nonsensical! I have a lot of moms come up to me and say, how can I do this when I have varying age ranges in my house, it's just not dobable. And they are right, it's not doable and it's also not true to what it means to live liturgically.
Even I try to distinguish online between the things that I am giving ideas on, and the things that we are actually doing. I don't want anyone thinking that they have to do all that I'm sharing, but hopefully we will be inspired by seeing Catholic life and tradition lived out in a real way.
Single Parent Liturgical Living
Another factor that can be attributed to burn out is the fact that most women, particularly mothers, are doing this by themselves in their home. I will address how to get your husband on board in a later post because I think there is much to be said for that. I bring this point up to remind you that liturgical living does not need to be approached as one parent creating Catholic experiences for their children. Going off of our philosophical understanding of tradition, we must then see the importance of involving the entire family and community. That means that how we express merriment for our faith should be done in a way that comes naturally for everyone in the home.
For example, if your family enjoys going on picnics together, then do that for a particular feast day. Feast days can be celebrated with and without having a cutesy connection, they can be lived out by doing things that your family or friends take pleasure in.
The other thing that needs to be stated here is encouragement to lean into your parish and Catholic community. We don't know about all of these amazing Catholic traditions from people living them out privately in their home. They were transmitted because communities experienced the glorification of God in the liturgy and then began expressing that together during various times in the liturgical year, then the tradition was taken into the home.
When you want to celebrate, do it together! Invite your single friends over, friends that are married without children, families with children, retired friends, and family members. Tradition (liturgical living) is so much sweeter when we continue them in the ways that they originated. Who knows, maybe everyone in your community can create and pass down your own!
(Image: Catholic News Service)