Introducing Children to the Liturgical Seasons

The worldly parent focuses only on the natural seasons: fall, winter, spring, and summer. However, you, Dear Parent, child of Holy Mother Church, must not dwell solely in the natural but, more importantly, in the supernatural—that is, the Church’s liturgical life.

Through the liturgical seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, Ordinary time, and her many feast days, the Church beckons you to zealously guide your children to dive deeper into Christ’s sacred mysteries. As Noah boldly summoned his family to the ark, as St. Joseph heroically led Mary and Jesus to Egypt, and as Saints Louis and Zelie Martin led their children to holiness, so you too must imitate these splendid witnesses.

In fact, St. Louis loved reading Dom Gueranger’s Liturgical Life to his daughters to prepare them for the Church’s great feasts. How will you prepare your little one to encounter God during the holy days and the ordinary days of his life? Will you go through the motions like our secular world, celebrating Christmas and Easter with little readiness and solemnity? Or will you allow the One who set the world into motion to redirect your and your children’s hearts to deeper conversion and gratitude for Christ’s salvific work? How will you and your little one tap into the inexhaustible riches of Christ, Our Lady, St. Joseph, and the saints’ feast days?

As a parent, the liturgical life must be the heart of your spiritual life because it is Christ’s life made manifest in time and through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The liturgical life is not some trite celebration of Christ’s life; we do not commemorate some past event like the Jews do with Passover; instead, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the apex of the liturgical life, makes present Our Lord’s life—that is, what was, what is, and what will become before our very eyes. Hence St. Peter Eymard, the great lover of the Holy Eucharist, once wrote about midnight Mass, “We really go to Bethlehem and we find there not a memory, not a picture, but the divine Infant Himself.”[1]

Yes, Dear Parent, the liturgical life is meant to conform you and your child completely to Christ and His mysteries by the power of the Holy Spirit. It enthrones His Sacred Heart and Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart in you and your little one’s heart. The liturgical life is heaven on earth; it is a foretaste of the beatific vision.

Our children are not conformed to Christ because we are more conformed to this fleeting world. The great apostle St. Paul declared, “Be not conformed to this world; but be reformed in the newness of your mind, that you may prove what is the good, and the acceptable, and the perfect will of God” (Rom 12:2). In each liturgical season, Dear Parent, you must lead your children to encounter Christ with renewed vigor and love.

During the Advent season, you must ready your children to meet Christ just as He will come again at the final judgment. In the Christmas season, you must prepare your children to meet Christ in His poverty and humility. In the Lenten season, you must guide your children to detach themselves from this world, especially sin. Most importantly, your children must see your joy permeating through your penance and sacrifices just as Christ willingly embraced His cross.

During Holy Week and then in the Easter Season, you must accompany your children to the “solemnity of solemnities,” the foretaste of eternity by dying with Christ in order to rise with Him. But what about the ordinary time? Yes, the ordinary liturgical season composes the lengthiest season in the Church. Never tire, Dear Parent, of living the ordinary in an extraordinary way.

While the Church looks forward to her great feast days like Christmas and Easter, just as your children look forward to their own milestones—such as obtaining their driver’s license, attending college, getting married, being ordained a priest—you must show them that God is found most in the present moment, in the humble workshop of Nazareth where Our Lord spent thirty years of His life.

Our secular world remembers its heroic leaders, presidents, and significant historical dates with greater affection than many of us recall our saintly brothers and sisters who have persevered in the Faith. Schools and offices are closed to honor mere men who often sought their own glory. It is time for you, Dear Parent, to remember the great exemplars of our Faith—men and women who sought only God’s glory.

The greatest homage you can give to these heavenly friends is to attend Holy Mass in their honor or invoke their intercession frequently. Develop a special devotion to the saints, and teach your children to do so, especially the ones they are named after. Dear Parent, we do not always choose the saints; they often choose us. The struggles they faced and overcame are likely the same you and your little ones are now encountering. Never go a day without seeking their help. Make no mistake: the saints long to help us infinitely more than any of our earthly friends.

Remember this, Dear Parent: the earth’s axis towards the sun causes the seasons to change; so too, Dear Parent, your liturgical devotion and piety towards the Eucharistic Son and love for the saints will cause your children’s hearts to be set ablaze with fire.

[1] Peter Julian Eymard, The Real Presence: Eucharistic Meditations (New York: The Sentinel Press, 1938), pp. 239–40.

Source: Parenting for Eternity by Conor Gallagher, Published by TAN Books (cf. Chapter 2: The Virtue of Piety).