We return finally to the 24th and Last Sunday after Pentecost in the Traditional Roman calendar, the Solemnity of Christ the King in the newer, post-conciliar calendar. It is also the official close of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. It was an “extraordinary” year because it stands outside the usual 25-year cycle of Holy Years.
Jubilees and Holy Years stem from the Jewish tradition of special times as described in Leviticus 25. In our Catholic history, Boniface VIII established a jubilee in 1300, and they have been celebrated by the Mother Church more or less regularly every 25 to 50 years ever since, with occasional Extraordinary Years.
The liturgical year’s short cycle and the larger arc of jubilees shape our lives. In her wisdom, the Holy Church makes present to us during each liturgical year the mysteries of our salvation, along with sacramental contact with Our Lord’s saving works, from His Incarnation and First Coming to His Second Coming and the summation of all things.
When we engage deeply with our calendar and rites, we encounter transforming mystery. We experience these mystery-bearing cycles and glean more and more as we make our pilgrim way in this life, because we ourselves are a little different each year.
We are our rites and our traditions. When we learn them and use them and they become part of our warp and weft, and when we lovingly pass them on, our lives intertwine the vast web of our forebears with the future generations to whom we owe a stirring legacy.
Speaking of “stirring”, the Last Sunday of the liturgical year, in the Anglican tradition initially, is nicknamed “Stir-Up Sunday”. The Book of Common Prayer, and now presumably in the Missal of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, had for this Last Sunday a prayer which began, “Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord …”, which became a reminder to begin the preparation of Christmas puddings, something perhaps introduced in your sceptre’d isle in the time of Queen Victoria. The English prayer ultimately came from the Latin Church’s ancient Collect for this Sunday, which begins: “Excita, quaesumus, Domine …” But here I am, a Yank, schooling you about Christmas puddings.
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