It all started with a Calendar
Since I was a child, I always had a calendar on my wall. I enjoyed keeping birthdays of my family and friends, and marking future events so that I would have something to look forward to. In my younger days, I habitually picked out my calendar in December, for the upcoming new year. It reflected whatever I was into at that time, a Boy Band, Favorite Animals, Cars, Sports team, etc. Calendars we're, and still are, a big part of my life! As I grew into an adult, I realized not everyone uses a calendar… In fact, I had observed so many people have adapted to using their phone for everything, including remembering appointments and special days! Even though I had access to calendars on my iPhone, I still like to go home and put everything down on my wall calendar. I like my established habit of looking at my calendar everyday to see what’s happening today.
Something that was missing from my early days, was the Church calendar. Because I was not a very good Catholic, I had no idea there were Saints of the Day, and didn’t remember from Catechism class what a Season, or Solemnity was. Once I started my journey back to Communion with Jesus, after a devastating life event, I was given a calendar as I exited Mass on a Sunday in January, 15 years ago. I said to myself, “cool, now I have an extra calendar for the kitchen!” I had no idea what made this calendar different from my Golden Retriever 12 month calendar I already had. What a life changer this “free” calendar was. Not only was I able to know when Ash Wednesday was this year, I also saw that just about every day there was a Saint of the Day. This got me curious, I asked myself, “who are these people?” The first Saint that was on my radar was Saint Sebastian, on January 20th. I decided to look him up on the internet. I found he was the Patron of Athletes (I used to be one, too!). I also learned what being a Martyr for the faith meant. He has an awesome story of persecution, and perseverance that moved me. I thought his name was pretty cool too…Sebastian. As I continued on my faith journey, I was once asked who my Patron Saint was. Not really knowing what that meant at the time, I said, “Saint Sebastian!” I wasn’t prepared to answer such a question, and he was the only one I researched at the time. This again, gave me more food for thought. What’s a Patron Saint, and who is mine? This lead me to find out important things like, what day was I Baptized? Who was my Confirmation Saint, and why? What Saints had a similar lifestyle like mine, including occupation, hobbies, etc.? More importantly, how many Patron Saints can I have, because I can’t choose! I then discovered a paperback book called Lives of the Saints. It was ordered by date, and gave a little story and prayer for the Saint of the day (there are many Saints per day, but just one is selected per day for the book). This little practice was changing me. I was learning my faith through the lives of the Saints. What they went through, just like me, and how they sacrificed, suffered, and persevered. I then learned that there are two Church Calendars, a Traditional Calendar, and a New Calendar. What in the world??? Why was I celebrating Saint Benedict on July 11th, and someone else was celebrating him on March 21st? It got me to realize, the church was established almost 2000 years ago. There have been many council’s, over the ages, and at a very recent council, the calendar was changed. It doesn’t make the “old” traditional dates and practices, null and void, but are in addition, and these new dates coincide with the “New Mass” (Novus Ordo). On their Feast Day, the Saint is mentioned by name in the Liturgy of the Eucharist!
So, now that I learned there are two calendars, I didn’t want to miss anything! The free calendar from my local parish, only had the feasts of the New Mass. How do I get the Traditional calendar? For a while, I had a certain app on my phone that filled the void. Since I didn’t adapt well in previous years to the digital calendar, it was frustrating me that I didn’t have the ability to foresee upcoming feasts so that I could properly plan to celebrate, (like buying green beer for Saint Patrick’s day). This was a problem solved for me when I discovered at a Catholic Gift Shop that I was frequenting, a selection of wall calendars from Tan Books. Not only was the calendar beautiful with classic Catholic Art, it had everything for every day of the year, both Traditional and New calendar, and plenty of space in every square for me to continue to keep track of birthdays! This was the perfect calendar for me (and any serious Catholic), that I continued to buy it every year.
Now, for the missal. Another observation I was making at Mass was the Pew Missal that was tucked into the pews. How do you use this? I didn’t quite understand why only some things were dated, and how to jump around properly. As soon as I thought I understood it, the books were changed (because the season changed) and I had to figure out the layout all over again. I was back at the Catholic Store looking for a “how to” book for the Order of the Mass. I found what I needed, and purchased my own missal so that I can mark in it, put tabs, and really participate correctly at Mass. I was a student again, without realizing it. I wanted to be good at this, to honor God in the highest form possible. I heard it been said that it’s ok if you don’t know all the responses, just be present, God understands. In my great zeal, I couldn’t settle for that. I am reunited to someone I deeply love. I don’t want to lose this love. If I don’t build a strong foundation to the highest form of prayer, I could easily lose my way again. I grew and grew in my faith, always learning something new. Then came the cycles. The New Mass has three cycles, A, B, C. It rotates the readings at Mass every three years. The Traditional Mass has only one cycle, and it stays the same year after year. Since I was growing an interest in this Traditional Mass, I now need a different Missal. Slowly, I was building a library of Catholic Books, Missals, Catechisms, and so much more. There was so much to learn and know, but a great Saint once said, “It’s a journey of a lifetime”. So I am now on this journey. There is no time for much of anything else, and I would have it no other way. As a Lay Person, it is our duty and obligation to know our faith. As parents, we must teach our children, and as adults, we must continue to grow. The state of the Church depends on it!
I share this story for those who need to hear it. How to start is not the same for everyone. I opened Saint Paul’s Catholic Books and Gifts, so that I can be a resource, and coach for anyone who wants to start or continue this journey. I don’t know everything, and I am far from being a Theologian, or Historian, but I will continue to grow by the Grace of God. Many of us were born into this beautiful faith, and some lose their way. Others were not given any faith, and had to discover it on their own. Everyone has their own story, and I would love to hear yours. Wherever you are on your journey, we hope that our selection of books, and everyday items will help you along the way.
Remember, it all started with a Calendar.
Praise be Jesus Christ.