Time is not merely a physical measurement we experience daily but a factor in what we undergo, situations, the people we meet, all melt into this thing we call time. So begins an article in the Kyeongyang magazine on 'Liturgical Time' by a liturgist who is now a parish priest. On Sunday we begin the new liturgical year with the First Sunday of Advent. A new beginning.
In the liturgy, we enter a new time 'zone' going from our earthly limited time into God's dimension of unlimited time. Liturgical time brings us into eternal time and the article precedes to show us why.
As believers, we realize we are here because of the love and grace of God but with finiteness. We are restricted by time and place. That is the situation we are in as human beings. However, Jesus in his life, death, and resurrection calls us to another dimension of life which we have accepted. This new quality of time we entered, with the help of the Holy Spirit, is found in the liturgy.
"The liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time, it is the fountain from which all her power flows" (Const. of the Sacred Liturgy #10). Salvation is already here in faith but not complete, and are drawn daily into its fullness by living the liturgical year. During the year we wait for the coming of Jesus, his birth, his life, passion, death, resurrection, the descent of the Holy Spirit, the whole mystery is laid before us, church life is centered around this cycle of events.
Liturgical time is both horizontal in that it sanctifies our daily life and the sacraments are the verticle element that enters our daily lives especially the Eucharist where the past just doesn't disappear nor the future something distinct, but both reconciled in the here and now.
In living the liturgical life, we are one together with Christ, we are no longer limited by the finiteness of time but participate in the eternity of Jesus; the finiteness of time melts into the eternity of God which continually calls us to a new life in God. Looking at it in this way the believer is not just repeating another year but entering into the life of Christ. We are already living in God's kingdom in faith.
Thus, through the liturgy, the finiteness of man participates in God's eternity, gains strength in it, and returns to his finite time to walk in pilgrimage by living through Christ, with Christ, and in Christ. In other words, the finiteness of humanity and eternity of God come together in liturgical time as a hermeneutic cycle, that presents us with meaning— Any time is the right time for God.
"In the age of the Church, between the Passover of Christ already accomplished once for all, and its consummation in the kingdom of God, the liturgy celebrated on fixed days bears the imprint of the newness of the mystery of Christ" (CC #1164).
Whether in the liturgy or in life if we lose the full meaning of time, that God in his love and grace is always coming and we need to be awake and waiting, otherwise will I not be ill-prepared for the encounter?