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Toward holy rhythm

With the occasionally crisp, subtle coolness of September in Virginia, my pace usually quickens just a bit in expectant hope. September brings order — the order of days that follow along the tracks of a schedule, the order of deadlines and appointments written in ink. I love order; it gives me a sense of security. Order brings rhythm and rhythm underscores a family in harmony with each other and God.


This September, the week after school started, I found myself staring at a tangle of crossed out “definites” in colors as numerous as the children for which they stood. There was no harmony. We had been walking in chaos and the dissonant noise reached an ear-splitting crescendo. I shut it all down. We completely upended our extracurricular schedule and prayed about some new ventures in new places.


It was with great relief that I pulled out a fresh calendar page and began to ink anew the pegs upon which our daily, weekly and monthly routines would hang. In the past couple of days since posting the schedule, the incessant, slightly anxious chorus of “What are we going to do today?” has subsided. Each one of the nine of us knows who is going where and when, and who is going to transport them there. That is the secular routine that gives our time a certain rhythm.


There is a different rhythm, though, that is not at the whims of dance drama or soccer shuffling. It is the rhythm of God’s voice that provides the beat of our lives. We are a liturgical people, created to walk peacefully in rhythm with our Maker. Liturgy is the cadence of a life of faith. Our early September chaos was a clanging that came with being out of step with God’s song.


Of course, formal liturgies infuse the life of Catholics with peace and grace. The liturgy of the Mass is source and summit of faith — that union of God where sign and symbol, Word and song, prayer and petition, mind, soul, and body are joined in union with the Creator and Lord of the Universe. The Liturgy of the Hours is the ancient prayer of the universal church, the Lord calling us to Himself again and again throughout the day and even in the dark of night. God wants life to be a liturgy. He wants to press Himself into every crevice of our days. He wants to be the structure and the order, the scaffolding upon which we drape sacred rhythm. When we live liturgy with our whole selves, it is the infusion of body and soul that creates a seamless life lived for Jesus.


I had a colorful tangle of scratched outlines of commitment. The scratches were of my own making. When I penned those dates and times in for my children, I knew I was committing them to a place where the sacred liturgy that sings in their souls would meet the noise of the secular world. Sometimes, that works out just fine. Sometimes, we easily hear the thrumming of God’s heart even in places not designated “God places.” But sometimes, the incessant noise of the secular so out-yells the voice of God that we lose our place in the rhythm of the song we want to sing. We had reached that furious din. It was time to cross it all out and start fresh.


In the quiet stillness of blank calendar pages, I asked Him to make very clear what His holy rhythm is. I took a deep breath and a fine-tipped pen, and I created utter chaos in the lives of our family for a brief period in order to re-establish the liturgical rhythm we hold so dear. I scratched those things which clanged hard against His song and I asked Him if and how to fill the blank spaces.


Life is liturgy. There is no corner of our lives that cannot be holy. He calls us to be in rhythm with Him and He assures us that His order is where true security is found. We meet Him in the prayers we whisper alone and when we gather as a Christian community. But we also meet Him in daily chores, in books we read, in conversations we have, and in people we meet on ordinary Tuesday afternoons.


God wants to be securely at the center of the day and He wants the day ordered around Him. He exhorts us in the words of St. Paul to the Romans, “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Everything we do with these human bodies we do for Him. Everything.


Foss, whose website is elizabethfoss.com, is a freelance writer from Northern Virginia.



© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016