Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Joan Chittister's recent book, The Liturgical Year: The Spiraling Adventure of the Spiritual Life, (Thomas Nelson, 2009).

The church's liturgical year isn't just an arbitrary collection of dates. It's a cycle that can draw you beyond the immediate details of your current life and into something much more significant: the story of God's work in the world. As you immerse yourself in the liturgy throughout the year, you'll discover God's time connecting with your time - empowering you to live the abundant life He intends for you.

Here's how you can connect with God through liturgy:

Follow in Jesus' steps.  Liturgy moves you to reflect on various parts of Jesus' historical life and encounter His presence with you in fresh ways each time. Jesus' life intersects yours through liturgical worship. You find out what makes life matter by following Jesus through every element of it, as He calls you to leave behind superficial pursuits and move forward with greater meaning and purpose. 

Each part of the liturgical year reminds you of God's goodness in a different way, inspiring you to live life faithfully in response to that reality. As you walk where the liturgy leads you - closer to Jesus - the rhythms of heaven and Earth connect, and you can see your life more and more from God's perspective. What's insignificant fades away, and what matters most becomes more visible.  You deal with your concerns in this world by attuning them to eternal values. Each new liturgical season urges you to ask yourself what Jesus' life now means to you, and how His life is affecting your own. 

Learn from Sundays.  Sunday, the Sabbath day of rest and worship, is a time to start each new week remembering Jesus' Resurrection and the freedom that has made possible. It strengthens you to endure life in this fallen world, continuing your own journey to the Cross with the hope your salvation gives of eternal life, and encouraging you to take the good news of the Gospel to others. When you participate in Sunday worship, you discover more about who Jesus is, who you are, and how you can grow to become more like Him. 

Learn from Advent.  The liturgical year begins with the first Sunday of Advent - the season that leads you beyond your present self to the self that waits for God. It helps you deal with uncertainty and wait for God to answer your prayers at the right time and in the right way. Advent teaches you how to look for signs of God's work in your life that you may not have noticed before. It helps you leave the past behind, stop worrying about the future, and live fully in the present. As you walk forward in life, without knowing yet how God will work out situations that concern you, Advent challenges you to entrust your circumstances to God and invite Him to do what's best with them.

Learn from Christmas and Epiphany.  Reflecting on the Incarnation - God coming to Earth to live among us as Jesus in our space and time - shows that God knows your pains and hopes, and is willing to walk closely with you through any situation. When you consider the ultimate gift of Jesus, ask yourself what gift you'd like to give God to express your gratitude. How will you live more faithfully after being inspired by the Christmas story?  When you think about the star that people followed to Bethlehem to see the infant Jesus, ask yourself where you're looking for guidance as you walk through life. Are you turning to God to lead you in the right direction?