By: Allison Ramirez
Peace be with you! Over the past few years, November has begun to feel like the turning of the tide: the time of year when I begin to slow down and reflect on the year that is steadily coming to a close. Oddly, December is not the month that I reflect, but instead, the month of November. A few years back, I learned that the new liturgical year in the church begins not on the first day of January but at the end of November with the start of Advent. With this revelation came my focus shift from “new year’s resolutions” to “new church year resolutions.”
Towards the end of November, I have begun to reflect on my life not just through the seasons of the year: winter, spring, summer, fall, but on my life through the liturgical year – in other words, how I lived and responded to God and to the events of my life during the Advent, Christmastide, Ordinary, Lenten, and Easter seasons.
To help with this reflection, throughout the year, I jot down all the good and not so good moments that happen: new job opportunities, job losses, new milestones reached, dreams accomplished, unexpected hardships, disappointments, relationship strains and successes. That way, I have something to review at the end of November. I don’t count tallies of good and bad, I simply read over these events, and I thank Jesus for how he was with me during each and every moment. I then make goals based on the upcoming liturgical year (intentions to grow closer in my faith, virtues I would like to work on and vices I would like to cast off, new spiritual practices to try, etc.).
My hope is that this effort toward intentional liturgical living is helping me keep in mind Christ throughout the seasons of my life, by recalling his life and the reality of coexisting with joy and sorrow, success and setback: through the celebration of his birth, through his going with less and suffering through Lent, through the joy of Easter, and through the often mundane, daily tasks of ordinary time, growing as I live through each season.
Regardless of how “successful” or “unsuccessful” the year as a whole turned out to be from earthly standards, I am beginning to view my life through these liturgical lenses, and in doing so, working to become a baby-bit holier each year of my life.
In all actuality, the past four years of my life have been the hardest years I have lived through: leaving home for the very first time to college, graduating with my degree and landing my first “real” job, getting engaged, battling through the pandemic, getting married, losing my job, publishing my first book, getting hired for an exciting new job, and SO much more. And yet, these past four years have also been the richest of my life, and the times of greatest transformation for me.
As I near the end of this November, I am both proud and humbled of all that has been accomplished in me this year through God’s grace, and I invite you to do the same. As well, with eager anticipation of the new liturgical year and the opportunities that will be presented there to live a life of great love, raise your heart toward him who loves you faithfully in all seasons.
Yours in faith, -Allison