Introduction The Catholic liturgical calendar is the cycle of seasons in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church. The Church year begins each year with Advent; the season of awaiting Christ’s coming, and ends with the final Saturday of Ordinary time. Within the standard calendar year, the Church year starts in early December (or the end of Nov.) and goes through the following November. The Church year consists of six liturgical seasons: Advent, Christmas, Ordinary Time after Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Ordinary Time after Pentecost. Seasons begin or end based on a movable feast and so some seasons vary in length from year to year, and vary as to the calendar dates.
Advent Advent begins the Sunday closest to the feast of St. Andrew, which is November 30th. Therefore Advent always falls sometime between November 28th and December 3rd, and lasts until the Nativity of the Lord. The season always has somewhere between 21 and 28 days. The Advent season is the time of waiting and preparing for the coming of Jesus. This refers both to the anniversary celebration of the Incarnation – the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, as well as the second and final coming for which we are waiting and preparing. The liturgical colours of Advent are Purple and Rose, with Rose being used only on the third Sunday of Advent.
The Advent wreath The Advent wreath is a circular garland of evergreen branches representingeternity. On that wreath five candles are typically arranged. Each candle represents an aspect of the spiritual preparation for the coming of the Lord.On the second Sunday second purple candle is lit. This candle represents love and is called “Bethlehem Candle” symbolizing Christ's manger.On the third Sunday the pink candle is lit. This candle is called the "Shepherds Candle" and it represents joy. The fourth and last purple candle, oftentimes called the "Angels Candle,“ represents peace and is lit on the fourth Sunday of Advent.
Christmas The Christmas season begins with the celebration of the birth of Jesus, Christmas day, or as a vigil on Christmas Eve. The Feast of Christmas lasts 12 days, until Epiphany. However, the time from Epiphany until the Baptism of the Lord is also included in the Christmas season. Traditionally, Epiphany had been fixed to January 6th, and the Baptism celebrated on the octave of Epiphany, which was January 13th. In most countries, the Epiphany is now celebrated on the Sunday closest to January 6th, and the Baptism celebrated the following Sunday. The Christmas season is a time of rejoicing in the Incarnation.
Christmas Traditions The various traditions after Christmas day are also included: the Octave of Christmas, the Feast of the Holy Family, Mary, the Mother of God, the Feast of the Epiphany with the Magi or Three Kings and et the end the Wedding Feast of Cana the Lord’s first miracle.
Ordinary Time after the Baptism Begins on Monday after the Feast of the Baptism through Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. After the celebration of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Ordinary Time begins. Ordinary does not mean plain. The name comes from “ordinalis” meaning "showing order, referring to order of succession.” It is used in this sense to refer to the order of the counted weeks. That is to say, it is a season of counted weeks. Ordinary Time after the Baptism focuses on the early life and childhood of Christ, and then on His public ministry.
Lent The season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday and lasts until the final Saturday before Easter, Holy Saturday. Lent is a penitential season. It recalls the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert, and the 40 years the Israelites wandered in the desert. Lent focuses on the events leading up to Christ’s passion, and finally on the Passion itself. Lent is 40 days long. This does not include Sundays, as Sunday is always a day for rejoicing in the Resurrection. Altogether, it covers 46 calendar days, the 40 days plus the six Sundays. The liturgical colours of Lent are violet or purple, On Passion Sunday (Palm Sunday) and on Good Friday the colour is red. White or violet is worn on Holy Thursday and Holy.
Ash Wednesday Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, the season of preparation for the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday. On that day during Mass, the ashes which give Ash Wednesday its name are distributed. The ashes are made by burning the blessed palms that were distributed the previous year on Palm Sunday: After the priest blesses the ashes and sprinkles them with holy water, the faithful come forward to receive them. The priest dips his right thumb in the ashes and, making the Sign of the Cross on people’s forehead, says, "Remember, man, that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return".
Palm Sunday On Palm Sunday Christians celebrate the Triumphant Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, the week before his death and resurrection. For many Christian churches, Palm Sunday, often referred to as "Passion Sunday," marks the beginning of Holy Week.
Station of the Cross For Roman Catholics throughout the world, the Stations of the Cross are synonymous with Lent, Holy Week and, especially, Good Friday. The Stations originated in medieval Europe when wars prevented Christian pilgrims from visiting the Holy Land. European artists created works depicting scenes of Jesus journey to Calvary. The faithful installed these statues or paintings at intervals along a procession route, inside the parish church or outdoors. Performing the devotion meant walking the entire route, stopping to pray at each "station." The Stations can also be performed privately, at any time of the year, even at home.
Holy Thursday Holy Thursday is the day Jesus celebrated the Last Supper. Holy Thursday is the oldest of the celebrations of Holy Week. It is a day on which Catholics remember the institution of three Sacraments; Holy Communion, priesthood and the Mass. During the Last Supper, Christ blessed the bread and wine with the words that priests to consecrate the Body and Blood of Christ during the Mass. In telling His disciples to "Do this in remembrance of Me," He instituted the Mass and made them the first priests. Before that Christ washed the feet of his disciples and said; "A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another."
Good Friday Good Friday, commemorates the Passion and Death of our Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross. No Mass is celebrated on Good Friday; instead, the Church celebrates a special liturgy in which the account of the Passion according to the Gospel of John is read, a series of intercessory prayers are offered, and the faithful venerate the Cross by coming forward and kissing it. The Good Friday liturgy concludes with the distribution of Holy Communion.
Easter vigil Easter vigil liturgy that marks the beginning of Easter. The vigil is divided into four parts: • service of light, • liturgy of the Word, • liturgy of Baptism • liturgy of the Eucharist.
Easter The Easter season begins with the Easter Vigil, which is celebrated after night falls on the evening before Easter Sunday. The season of Easter is a joyous, celebratory season. It begins with celebrating Christ’s resurrection and ends by celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus. Christ’s ascension into Heaven is celebrated just prior to Pentecost. The Easter season last 50 days, from Easter Sunday through Pentecost. The liturgical colours of Easter are white, for most days, and red for Pentecost.
Pentecost Pentecost Sunday is one of the most ancient feasts of the Church, celebrated early enough to be mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles (20.16) and St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians (16.18). Pentecost should be celebrated with great solemnity. In fact, in the past the entire period between Easter and Pentecost Sunday was known as Pentecost. In olden days during those 50 days, both fasting and kneeling were strictly forbidden, because this period was supposed to give us a foretaste of the life of Heaven.
The Feast of Corpus Christi The Feast of Corpus Christi, or the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ (as it is often called today), goes back to the 13th century. On September 8, 1264, Pope Urban IV issued the papal bull "Transiturus," which established the Feast of Corpus Christi as a universal feast of the Church, to be celebrated on the Thursday following Trinity Sunday. The feast is celebrated with a Eucharistic Procession, in which the Sacred Host is carried throughout the town, accompanied by hymns and litanies. The faithful venerate the Body of Christ as the procession passed by.
Ordinary Time after Pentecost The second period of Ordinary Time is the longest liturgical season. Ordinary Time resumes after Pentecost and runs until the final Saturday before Advent. This period of Ordinary Time focuses on Christ’s reign as King of kings, and on the age of the Church. This is the age we live in now, which is the time between the age of the Apostles and the age of Christ’s second and final coming for which we are ever preparing. The final Sunday in Ordinary Time is the Feast of Christ the King; the Saturday after this feast is the final day of Ordinary time.