We are approaching the beginning of the Christian liturgical year. In 2010, the first season, Advent, begins the last Sunday of November and takes us through Christmas. After Advent, we have Lent, then Easter, then Pentecost, then ordinary time (or numbered Sundays Pentecost), then back to Advent of the next Christian year. To get through the Bible in an orderly fashion, Christians focus on scripture readings that many mainline denominations have agreed to read at the same time throughout the year. This year, we begin Cycle “A,” having just completed Cycle “C.”
Commencing a new year is an especially good time to make resolution. Mostly, our resolutions - made on January 1st - are past history by January 31. However, as we begin our Christian year, we do not give up or take on a resolution although many mark Lent with a special effort of letting go of a named pleasure. Then, as Easter approaches, many quickly return to eating chocolate. In-the-know-Christians remember that Sundays do not count in the 40 days of Lent, so they can indulge that day.
Why offer this information? As Advent and the new Christian year approach, it seems a good time to rethink our religious practices. Maybe we can give something up for a year. Perhaps it would be a good time to add a practice. I have read that it takes 30 days to make or break a habit. Now is a good time to start. Can’t think of any? Here are a few to consider:
Join a religious book discussion group, make it one that is accessible to all of
Take a Sabbath break to attend a religious service. I know many do; many more do
Spend a few minutes each day in prayer that focuses on thanking God for the gifts
you receive. Gifts include health, recovery, peace, family, a wonderful place to
live. You name it, just frame it in a “thanks” format.
Do prayer walking, that is, walk and pray at the same time. I do not mean walking
past someone’s house and praying that that person will change, but being
deliberate in prayer as you walk from one place to another during your day.
Places where this is appropriate? Going from house to car. On the way to the
grocery store. As you walk through the house to straighten it up. On the way to
the soccer field. I often say a prayer as I drive between Wellsboro and Mansfield.
Visit one person who lives out of home beginning November 29 until she/he returns
home, or until the end of the year. In this way, you may become a friend to
someone who is lonely.
Find the labyrinth in Coudersport and go walk it. Then see how many labyrinths
there are in our area and visit them.
Say the rosary.
Volunteer for a nonprofit organization in our community. Do whatever job needs
to be done. Bring a friend or your kids to help. And do this volunteer work with
love throughout the year.
There are so many things you can do that enhance your spiritual life. They take just a bit of time but bring huge rewards in your own well-being and sense of peace. For me, I need reminding that these are just what I need this time of the year - and, if I am honest, all through the year.