I love to occasionally read books that are far outside of my denominational tradition. And no matter if we embrace or endorse those events and methods that have gone before us in the Christian faith, it is crucial to have somewhat of an understanding of our Church history. This was one reason that I recently picked up Joan Chittister’s “The Liturgical Year.”
My favorite chapter was titled “The Sanctoral Cycle.” In it she writes, “The Irish parish had a St. Patrick’s day festival. The Italians had a street fair for St. Joseph’s Day. The Polish celebrated the feast of St. Stanislaus with a great parish dinner of potato pancakes and pierogi. The Slovacks celebrated St. Francis with a parish dance. The Germans had a pretzel sandwiches nand beer in the church parking lot on St. Michael’s Day. The Greeks celebrated St. John; the Russians, St. Vladimir; and years later, the Hispanics and Vietnamese and French I knew, all did the same, with some figure unknown to us” (254).
I am not encouraging today’s Protestant church to implement modern-day version of sainthood. But I do wonder…what is it that our churches are celebrating? What brings us together? That we gather together for meals and anniversaries for? What stories are we telling to our children and our children’s children? Why aren’t we talking about those who have gone before us? Who lived lives worth following? Those who followed Christ no matter the cost? Those who gave everything for the mission in their day and in their time? Those same characteristics that we want to see displayed in the people of our era? Do we recognize that this Story has existed far beyond us and will go on long after us?
The author suggests, “In the lives of the saints, we see in our own time the qualities that make life possible (259).