The book, Positive Discipline, has an excerpt that says:
One of the most encouraging things parents can do for their children is to spend regular, scheduled special time with them. You may already spend lots of time with your children. However there is a difference between have to time, casual time, and scheduled special time.
That advice is standard advice here in the USA. Your children need regularity in their lives. They need you to spend regular planned scheduled times with them. They need to know that you will be there at those times, that you will put aside other commitments in order to spend time with them. Only the most severe emergency should keep you from that scheduled time with your child. Even after the emergency is over, you need to go to your child and explain what was so critical that you needed to be absent. And, it had better not simply be that you had a business deal to close. The advice on regularity applies not only to your time with your children, but also to how you train up a child in the way s/he should go. The best advice is that you have chore charts, regularly scheduled tasks that teach them responsibility, and point them in the way they should go. Many, many good solid Christian parents have followed this advice successfully and raised up responsible God-loving children. Many good solid Christian paperbacks have been written urging you to follow that advice, as a parent.
But, we make a mistake when we apply this only to children. We make a mistake when we think that when we become adults, those methods should no longer apply to us. But, God obviously thought otherwise. The Jewish Sabbath and the Christian Sunday are God-imposed regularity upon our lives. The Old Testament feasts, and yes, the Church’s feast days are also imposed regularity upon our lives. God wishes to raise sons and daughters who will become responsible mature Christians. In order to do that, he regulates our lives in the same way that we regulate our children’s lives when we are training them in the way they should go. The difference is that as legal adults, we are much more able to rebel successfully than a child is able to rebel against us. In fact, God allows our rebellion. That is what it means that he gave us free will. But, I digress.
We are about to enter the period of Great Lent. This is a period of regularity that God places on our lives through Holy Tradition. This is a period when God draws near to us, precisely through the regularity of the Lenten observances. Those regularities work on our souls the same way as special times and chore charts work on the life of a young child. If we will not be proud, but rejoice in being able to be a child again and comply, then the patterns of Lent will become very special times when God will spend his time with us. We will begin to look forward to those times (whether the fasting, the Bridegroom Services, the Pre-Sanctified liturgies, etc.) as much as a child looks forward to the special times that are spent with his father or mother. We will begin to wish that the clock would move faster so that we could finally arrive at the special time.
Ultimately, we, also, are children. We are children of God. And, just like all children, we need regularity in our lives. The older I get, the more I reject the idea that being open to the Spirit means that our services should have little regularity and that our lives should have no pattern. It is true that the Holy Spirit does unusual things. But, I have begun to realize that, most often, the Holy Spirit works to regularize our lives, so that the lives we live may be lives that reflect God’s character. And God is the God who created an incredibly regular universe, whose trajectories and workings are so regular that entire sciences can be built upon that very regularity. The part that blows my mind is that the very same God who has no two snowflakes look-alike is the same God that has so structured the universe that we can mathematically describe the regularities that lead to those completely irregular snowflakes.
So, this Great Lent rejoice in the regularities. Commit yourself to follow them, and see how God draws near to you and you draw near to him.