|An easy to hang up and reference|
circular liturgical calendar
#5: The Liturgical Calendar
Evangelicals celebrate Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter. Some have started to join in on Advent and Lent. These are just parts of the Catholic Church's Liturgical Calendar. The Bible doesn't say that Christians are supposed to celebrate Christmas or Easter, but early on the Church has had it's own feast days. The Liturgical Calendar has developed over the centuries and is a rich context within which to live the Christian life.
Not only is there the season of Advent, but Christmas itself is a season. Same with Easter, which lasts 50 days starting on Easter Sunday. Throughout the year there's the feast of Christ the King (last Sunday of the liturgical year), Epiphany (January 6th; commemorating the visit of the Magi), the Baptism of the Lord (falls sometime after Epiphany depending on the year), the Annunciation (March 25th), the Feast of the Holy Innocents (December 28th; commemorating the children slaughtered by Herod), and many others. Plus, there are regular feast days for saints whose life you get to learn about and celebrate.
|Nuns praying the Liturgy of the Hours|
I don't think I knew about the Liturgy of the Hours until I became Catholic, despite the fact that it's been so important in the history of the Church and is practiced by millions of people around the world every single day. The idea is pretty simple: one prays through the Scriptures, focusing primarily on the Psalms, praying at certain hours throughout the day. The primary prayers times are the morning, noontime, evening, and right before bed. The practice dates back to the early Church and seems to have been inspired at least in part by lines in the Psalms that talk about praying multiple times a day and at specific times (like the morning, noontime, etc).
Added to the Psalms and Scripture readings are prayer petitions. The set of prayers is standard, so everyone praying the Liturgy of the Hours is praying the same Psalms, reading the same Scripture reading, and making the same petitions. Aside from the Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours is the backbone of the prayer life of all priests, monks, and nun. Lay people are also encouraged to participate. You can buy a 4-volume set with the prayers and readings, but you can also find it online for free or even get it as a smartphone app.
|St Francis embracing Christ|
on the Cross, 1668,
by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo
So evangelicals don't feel comfortable asking their Christian brothers and sisters in heaven to pray for them. Ok, but that doesn't mean evangelicals can't appreciate, learn from, and be inspired by the lives of holy men and women who've gone before them in the Christian life. Don't throw the baby out with the bath water! The Saints are people who lived their lives radically for Christ in response to God's grace. They show us that the Christian life is not only possible but commendable. We all need role models! Jesus is the perfect model. And we also benefit for having other role models. Instead of looking up to celebrities and rock stars, why not set before our children the lives of people who lived lives entirely dedicated to Christ?
On top of that, the lives of the saints are just plain cool. Many experience miracles, and since the Christian life is dramatic struggle between the good and evil, this often came out very clearly in the lives of the saints.
#2: The Divine Mercy Chaplet
I bet a lot of evangelicals haven't even heard of the Divine Mercy Chaplet. I know I hadn't until I became Catholic. The Divine Mercy Chaplet is a set of prayers that the early 20th century polish nun St Faustina claims Jesus Himself gave to her. Given in the 1930s right in between the two World Wars, the prayers implore God to have mercy on the world through Christ. The chaplet consists of five sets of 11 prayers, with some prayers at the beginning and the end, and so rosary beads can be used to help keep track of the prayers.
|A common depiction the image|
St Faustina claims that Christ revealed
to her, as described in her diary
Eternal Father, we offer you the body, blood, soul, and divinity of your dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.And then you pray this prayer ten times:
For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.You repeat the 'Eternal Father' and 'For the sake' prayer set five times. Then you end by praying this prayer three times:
Holy God, holy mighty one, holy immortal one, have mercy on us and on the whole world.The whole devotion is very beautiful and, I think, a highly needed one in our day. Aside from the Hail Mary in the opening set of prayers, I don't think there's any part of this devotion to which evangelical would object, and I think they would appreciate it greatly.
|People making the Sign of the Cross at a funeral|
If you don't know how do it, to do the Sign of the Cross you touch the fingers of your right hand to your forehead, then down to your heart, then across to your left shoulder, and back across your chest to your right shoulder, and while you do that you say, "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen."
It's simple, beautiful, and reaffirms two of the central mysteries of the faith, the Trinity and the cross of Christ. Evangelicals really should try it. It can be a prayer by itself. With it, we mark ourselves with the cross, reminding us of Christ's sacrifice and that, if we are to be His disciples, we must carry our own crosses. (Luke 8.23) It's a powerful sign, and has been a foundational part of Christian devotion since the early Church. St Athanasius, the great 4th century bishop and opponent of Arius, explains in his famous work On the Incarnation that demons are driven out by the Sign of the Cross, and offers that as proof of the Christian faith. (On the Incarnation, 31) For more, here's great little piece on the meaning of the Sign of the Cross.
What would you add to this list?