by Steve Bell
I have written, in company with several guest contributors, a series of online, media-rich books introducing seekers to the fertile tradition of the Christian calendar year. It is available for download through a dedicated app at PilgrimYear.com.
In my work as a wandering minstrel and troubadour, I am sensing amongst the Christian faithful a deepening longing for personal and corporate contemplative experience that is rooted in, and nourished by, the rich traditions of the church. This longing is neither a naive yearning for a Pollyanna past that never really was, nor an insecure desire for the safe boundaries of rote practice and unblinking adherence to cold ritual; but rather, it is a suspicion that embedded in the time honored traditions of the church—with her annual cycle of fasts, feasts and remembrances of her most colorful and inspiring saints—there is on offer a counter narrative to the broad contemporary assumption of meaninglessness and ultimate alienation.
Christianity believes we live in a meaning-drenched universe—one in which every aspect of creation, from the macro to the micro, co-inheres to reveal the dynamic relationality of its loving Creator: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God unto the ages of ages.
We believe God is love, and that we have come from God and are returning to God. We believe that all that exists is God’s good idea, bears God’s imprint and radiates God’s life. God sustains all. We have been made for union with God and with each other. Human kind, in particular, has been given charge to steward creation and serve as its priest, gathering all creation into one voice in praise to the glory of God our Maker.
Devotional attention to the rhythm and cycles of the Christian calendar year grounds us individually and corporately in this core narrative, as we annually rehearse and re-harrow the story that fashions the Christian mind, body and soul.
The Christian calendar year begins with Advent, which reflects on the profound dignity of the human person, who is created to receive the seed of God and bear it forth for the sake of the world. Christmastide and Epiphany reveal in tandem the astonishing humanity and glorious divinity of Jesus Christ, our spouse. Lent through to Easter reveals that ours is essentially a love story, one in which the devastations of infidelity are not glossed over, but deeply felt and grieved. Yet the deathward spiral wrought by those infidelities is ultimately overcome by self-donating, covenant love, which redeems those devastations and issues forth Easter joy and abundant, evergreen life. Ordinarytime, the longest season of the Christian calendar year (from the end of Eastertide through to the beginning of Advent) looks down from the lofty heights of Easter joy upon the astonishing holiness of our daily lives and, as a consequence of all we have considered, reveals that the daily is impregnated with the divine. Indeed, the ordinary is extraordinary.
Joan Chittister writes, “Like a great waterwheel, the liturgical year goes on relentlessly irrigating our souls, softening the ground of our hearts, nourishing the soil of our lives until the seed of the Word of God itself begins to grow in us, comes to fruit in us, ripens in us the spiritual journey of a lifetime.” (from The Liturgical Year)
And so I have written, in company with several guest contributors, a series of online media-rich books introducing some people, and reintroducing others, to this fertile tradition. It is available for download through a dedicated app called PilgrimYear.
The PilgrimYear experience takes the reader on a pilgrimage through the various themes, feasts, fasts and saints’ days that serve as landmarks and rest stops for the journey. Because of the online format, we are able to employ not just text, but song, poetry, visual art and video to enhance the experience. The experience is not the fullness of the Christian calendar year, but a good taste. We hope it can be a rich and meaningful encounter with an evergreen tradition that has nourished souls for centuries.
The collections may be purchased independently or as a complete series.
Note: Because of the format, the PilgrimYear experience is amenable to new chapters and contributions into the future. Once downloaded, fresh contributions will automatically be added to your collection as they are written.
To access individual collections or the entire series visit:
NOTE: If you have purchased Pilgrim Year in the former Snippet format, you will be receiving a separate email from us with special instructions and a discount for when you re-signup on PilgrimYear.com. If you’ve missed the email, contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“These meditations combine a scholar’s learning, a poet’s precision, a musician’s imagination, an adult’s realism, and a Christian’s faith—and faithfulness.”
— John Stackhouse, author / theologian
Winnipeg based singer/songwriter Steve Bell has been recording and touring his rootsy, troubadour-styled music for over 25 years. Increasingly he has been invited to teach in seminaries, colleges and conferences on various themes including the spirituality of the Church calendar tradition, worship and contemplative prayer.
Guest contributors to PilgrimYear include Malcolm Guite, Alana Levandoski and Bob Bennett.