On February 2—forty days after Christmas—the Church celebrates the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, calling to mind the Holy Family’s observance of the Mosaic Law (see Leviticus 12:1–8). Mary comes to the Temple forty days after giving birth to Jesus, and she and Joseph offer for her purification a sacrifice of two turtledoves, the offering prescribed for the poor. In addition, Mary and Joseph present and dedicate Jesus to God, as he is Mary’s firstborn Son (see Exodus 13:2–16).
Since I began seeking to live liturgically—that is, to observe the Church’s calendar and traditions in daily life—I have found that even small acts have introduced a new richness and joy into the rhythm of my days. There is a simple pleasure in anticipating upcoming feast days and other liturgical occasions and observing them in ways either light-hearted or prayerful. In recent years, I have celebrated the Feast of the Archangels (September 29) by preparing angel hair pasta to share with a dear friend, and I baked a honey pound cake for my co-workers on the Memorial of the Passion of John the Baptist (August 29), the patron of my parish, who subsisted on locusts and wild honey in the desert (see Matthew 3:4). Marian feasts are always an occasion to dress in blue and wear a Miraculous Medal. The pleasure of brightening an otherwise monotonous week with such celebrations is accompanied, moreover, with the joy that comes from developing a deeper appreciation for the richness of Catholic tradition and entering more fully into the universality of the Church. Becoming more attuned to the feasts and seasons of the liturgical year has helped me to feel more united with Catholics across the globe and throughout the centuries.
For the first time, the universal Catholic Church will have the option to celebrate the memorial of the Blessed Virgin of Loreto on December 10. This past October 7, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, Cardinal Robert Sarah announced that Pope Francis had decreed that the celebration should be inscribed on the Roman Calendar as an optional memorial.
There is a rich tradition in the Church surrounding guardian angels that goes far beyond the image of a tiny angel perched on one shoulder, opposing the devil perched on the other. Though guardian angels were not given an official feast day until Pope Paul V declared it one in the early 1600s, the Church’s teaching on guardian angels is rooted deeply in both Scripture and Tradition.
Our secular society may speak too much about renewal in mundane, temporary terms (“renewing” a driver’s license) or as an impersonal, policy-driven turnaround (“urban renewal”). But on August 21, the feast day of Pope St. Pius X, it’s helpful to ponder how the Catholic Church thinks about renewal, especially in light of the motto associated with this first Pope elected in the 20th century: “to renew all things in Christ.”