“Out of Sync”

For most of my life I followed an academic schedule. The year began at Labor Day and ended mid-June. I had an ingrained sense of time from that routine. After I retired and began attending the Catholic church pictured above I learned to move to a different schedule. There the year begins in Advent, the time leading up to Christmas, usually late November and runs until the next November. This new calendar has now been imprinted in me and I am comforted by the predictability.

Which brings me to the sense of being completely out of sync during this year. We went into isolation in mid March and missed the great feasts of Easter and Pentecost. We are nearly through Advent and are still unable to gather for worship. After Christmas season we will enter what the Church calls Ordinary Time, but there will still be nothing ordinary about it for us.

Catholic worship is very physical. While we joke about standing, sitting, kneeling, repeat, our bodies are quite accustomed to the practice. And the pinnacle of worship is a walk to the front of the church to receive Communion, a physical wafer in our physical hand. And much physical action happens before and after the service as we greet one another, often with a hug. We are an embodied religion and we experience much of our faith through our body.

While I watch Mass streamed on television, it becomes a listening experience rather than a fully embodied one. I am not surrounded by music: I can’t smell the incense or oil used at special times; I can’t take the bread and wine into my body. While seeing and hearing the Friars is much better than no contact, much is missing. That makes my worship feel as out of sync as the calendar.

Here’s hoping that enough Americans get vaccinated that it is safe to return to church or any other activities that people need to feel grounded once again. It turns out that routine is underrated. I miss it terribly.

16 thoughts on ““Out of Sync”

  1. Never having had a religious upbringing, and no inclination to become involved in any organised religion, I find the routines of all churches quite strange. I know nothing of Advent, Palm Sunday, Ash Wednesday, or any other notable celbration involving Saint’s days or Holy days.
    Despite that, I know many people who take great comfort from religion, and the routine and rituals that surround it. With that in mind, I can sympathise with your dislike of that disruption.
    Best wishes, Pete.


  2. Oh, I truly understand. I am not Catholic, but Episcopalian, and used to a higher church. So, we’re pretty close here. The routine and season is predictable, comforting, and uplifting. This is a hard and unsettling time.


  3. We’ve been blessed that we have been able to go to church in person for quite a while. In addition, John and grandson David go to the church every Tuesday to help with the taping of the service for the following Sunday. Many people are not comfortable being inside — understandable, but sad. I hope we will be set free eventually.


  4. You are absolutely right about the sense of being completely out of sync during this year. And whilst I like spontaneity (lacking this year as well)we humans need a certain amount of routine to ground us. Like Pete, I am not involved in organised religion, but have certain routines in my days and weeks.


  5. I’m not this type of person with such a schedule and actually reading your “calendar of events” in this way, I can fully understand “how it’s not the same” and possibly won’t be, for some time. And then when you do return, who will be missing – not necessarily via the virus but through other ongoing causes – including moving away from the locality or moving in with family or ???

    I chose a number of years to stop attending fibre (fiber) events both regularly or one-off and so in a way I’m already in another schedule of my own. Plus all study, be it academic or art has been curtailed. I had planned to return to either (undecided then) but now they too are off my calendar as I battle with a new me with health issues…


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