AUGUST 2022: The LITURGICAL YEAR
Blessed Sacrament Catholic Parish is celebrating the Year of Catechesis from July 2022 – June 2023. The theme of the Year is: Journeying Together in Renewing our Faith. Each month, a new topic is addressed.
August 2022 Topic: The LITURGICAL YEAR
Liturgy refers to the official public worship of the Catholic Church.
The origin of Liturgy is to be found in the institution by Christ of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and the Sacraments, as well as in His example and precepts concerning the necessity and mode of prayer.
While Christ laid down the essentials, He left the development of details to His Church, to carry out this task under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Liturgy has a two-fold function;
- Glorification of God
- Sanctification of man
Liturgical celebrations are carried out within the church’s liturgical calendar which runs through the Church’s Liturgical Year.
- Trinitarian and Paschal- every act of worship is directed to the Father, through His Son, Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit. The Paschal mystery refers to the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ which led to our salvation.
- Ecclesial- means a Communal celebration to which Christ is the Head.
- Gathering together in an ordered assembly and communion of the baptized according to different roles and charisms.
- Sacramental - liturgy is a celebration through a pattern of symbolic, ritual movements, gestures, and verbal formulas. These are used to express deeply and meaningfully the faith in Christ.
- Ethically oriented - the liturgy relates directly to moral life. Liturgical worship and Christian Morality go together.
- Eschatological - Liturgy commemorates Christ’s saving Mystery; ( i.e His passion, death and resurrection) and points to the glory to come.
The celebration of the liturgy is carried out within the Church’s liturgical year or calendar.
The Liturgical Calendar begins every year during the month of November on the First Sunday of Advent and runs through to the Solemnity of Christ the King.
The liturgical year is the temporal structure within which the Church celebrates the holy mysteries of Christ: From the Incarnation and the Nativity to the Ascension, to Pentecost, and to the wait in joyful hope for the Lord's coming.
During the liturgical year, 'the celebration of the Paschal Mystery is the most privileged moment in the daily, weekly and annual celebration of Christian worship'. Consequently, the priority of the Liturgical year over any other devotional form or practice must be regarded as a touchstone for the relationship between Liturgy and popular piety.
The Liturgical Calendar is a tool that kindles the hearts of Catholics so that they will remember God’s marvellous plan of salvation that was accomplished through the birth, life, death and rising of Christ Who once again walks the earth in our time and presence.
In each cycle of the Liturgical Calendar, you will find six Seasons:
Advent is the Season that includes four Sundays preceding Christmas. The Advent Season marks the beginning of the Liturgical Calendar. It always begins in late November or early December. On November 30th or on the Sunday that is the closest to this date, the Catholic Church begins the Liturgical Season of Advent. Advent ends on December 24th before the evening prayer of Christmas.
The word "advent" is derived from the Latin word “adventus,” which means "coming" or "arrival." During this time the faithful are admonished to prepare themselves for the coming of the Lord Jesus in three ways:
- First, to prepare themselves for the coming of the Lord as the Judge, either at death or at the end of this world, whichever may come first.
- Secondly, to prepare themselves to receive the Real Presence of our Redeemer at Christmas through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.
- Thirdly, to prepare themselves for the coming of Christmas, the birthday anniversary of the Lord's coming into this world as God incarnate.
Christmas is the season when Catholics and other Christian Churches give thanks to God the Father for the birth of His Son, Jesus Christ. This Season lasts 12 days, beginning on Christmas Eve (December 24th) and continues to the Feast of Epiphany (January 6th).
The word “Christmas” comes from “Christes Maesse,” which means “Christ’s Mass.” This is the Old English name for the service of Holy Communion that commemorates the birth of Christ. Christmas is one of the three great Feasts that are celebrated by the Catholic Church. The other two are Easter and Pentecost.
The Following feasts are celebrated within Christmastide; Feast of the Holy Family, feast of Mary Mother of God, Epiphany and the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ordinary Time I begins with the Monday that immediately follows the Baptism of the Lord. It ends on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. During this part of the Liturgical Calendar, all the Sundays are numbered consecutively. During this time frame, the Liturgy of the word (Church readings) is devoted to the mysteries surrounding the life of Christ.
Lent is a 40-day Liturgical Season that initiates the most sacred part of the Christian year. It begins on Ash Wednesday, covers 6 Sundays, and ends at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on the evening of Holy Thursday.
During Lent, Catholics are called to meditate with awe and thanksgiving on the great Paschal mystery, the salvation God offers to us sinners through the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The season of Lent is a highlight in the Catholic calendar.
Lent precedes and prepares for Easter. It is a time to hear the Word of God, to convert, to prepare for and remember Baptism, to be reconciled with God and one's neighbour, and of more frequent recourse to the "arms of Christian penance": prayer, fasting and good works.
Because the Season of Lent is a time of penitence, reflection and prayer that is solemn and restrained, flowers are generally removed from the sanctuary. Songs of praise such as the “Gloria in Excelsis” and the “Alleluias” are removed from the Liturgical Calendar.
Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday, or ‘Passion Sunday’, which unites the royal splendor of Christ with the proclamation of his Passion.
The procession, commemorating Christ's messianic entry into Jerusalem, is joyous and popular in character. The faithful usually keep palm or olive branches, or other greenery which have been blessed on Palm Sunday in their homes or in their workplaces.
Palms and olive branches are kept in the home as a witness to faith in Jesus Christ, the messianic king, and in his Paschal Victory.
“Triduum” is Latin for “Great Three Days.” The Easter Triduum, of 3 days duration, recalls the events of the First Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
Every year, the Church celebrates the great mysteries of the redemption of mankind in the most sacred triduum of the crucifixion, burial and resurrection. The Sacred Triduum extends from the Mass of the Lord's Supper to Vespers on Easter Sunday and is celebrated "in intimate communion with Christ her Spouse".
The Easter Season begins with the celebration of the Easter Vigil on Easter Sunday and ends 50 days later with Pentecost Sunday.
The fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost are celebrated in joyful exultation as one Feast day, or better as one ‘‘great Sunday’’ During this season, above all other, it is a time to sing the Alleluia
Eastertide concludes with Pentecost Sunday, the fiftieth day, and its commemoration of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the apostles (cf. Acts 2, 1-4), the Church's foundation, and the beginning of its mission to all nations and peoples.
The mystery of Pentecost exhorts us to prayer and commitment to mission and enlightens popular piety which is a ‘continued sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church. He arouses faith, hope and charity, in the hearts [of the faithful] and those ecclesial virtues which make popular piety valuable.
Beginning on the Monday following Pentecost Sunday until the Saturday before the 1st Sunday of Advent, Ordinary Time II is celebrated.
The months during Ordinary Time II are a time of growth for its members as the church meditates on the Bible's teachings as they apply to the daily life of each believer.
The Solemnity of Christ the King commemorates the closing of the liturgical year. It reminds us that over and above being the universal King, Christ is the Head of the Body, the Church. His Divine reign stretches out from the alpha of time to the omega.
During the year, in addition to the Sunday worship, the Church also celebrates Solemnities, Feasts, and Memorials which may be on any day of the week. These occur during the year to commemorate special events or persons that are highly revered by the Catholic Church.
Each and every day is sanctified by the liturgical celebrations of the People of God, especially by the Eucharistic Sacrifice and the Divine Office. The liturgical day runs from midnight to midnight. However, the celebration of Sunday and of Solemnities begins already on the evening of the previous day.
On the first day of each week, which is known as the Day of the Lord or the Lord’s Day, the Church, by an apostolic tradition that draws its origin from the very day of the Resurrection of Christ, celebrates the Paschal Mystery. Hence, Sunday must be considered the primordial feast day. Because of its special importance, the celebration of Sunday gives way only to Solemnities and Feasts of the Lord.
Solemnities, Feasts, and Memorials
In the cycle of the year, as she celebrates the mystery of Christ, the Church also venerates with a particular love the Blessed Mother of God, Mary, and proposes to the devotion of the faithful the Memorials of the Martyrs and other Saints.
Celebrations, according to the importance assigned to them, are hence distinguished one from another and termed: Solemnity, Feast, and Memorial.
Solemnities are the highest degree and are usually reserved for the most important mysteries of faith. These include Easter, Pentecost and the Immaculate Conception; the principal titles of Our Lord, such as King and Sacred Heart; and celebrations that honor some saints of particular importance in salvation history, such as Sts. Peter and Paul, and St. John the Baptist on his day of birth.
Solemnities have the same basic elements as a Sunday: three readings, prayer of the faithful, the Creed and the Gloria which is recited even when the solemnity occurs during Advent or Lent. It also has proper prayer formulas exclusive to the day: entrance antiphon, opening prayer, prayer over the gifts, Communion antiphon, and prayer after Communion. In most cases it also has a particular preface.
A feast honors a mystery or title of the Lord, of Our Lady, or of saints of particular importance (such as the apostles and Evangelists) and some of historical importance such as the deacon St. Lawrence.
The feast usually has some proper prayers but has only two readings plus the Gloria. Feasts of the Lord, such as the Transfiguration and Exaltation of the Holy Cross, unlike other feasts, are celebrated when they fall on a Sunday.
A memorial is usually of saints but may also celebrate some aspect of the Lord or of Mary. Examples include the optional memorial of the Holy Name of Jesus or the obligatory memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
From the point of view of the liturgical elements there is no difference between the optional and obligatory memorial. The memorial has at least a proper opening prayer and may have proper readings suitable for the saint being celebrated. The readings of the day may be used, and the lectionary recommends against an excessive use of specific readings for the saints so as not to interrupt too much the continuous cycle of daily readings.
As you may have observed, during the liturgy, the colors in which the priest is dressed and the color in which the Church is decorated varies depending on the Seasons, the Feast, funerals, etc...
The Catholic Church uses the following guideline regarding what colour should be used:
White (or gold) since it is festive; a joyful colour is used during the Christmas and Easter seasons, and on major feast days, such as, on the celebrations of the Lord other than of his Passion, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, of the Holy Angels, and of Saints who were not martyrs, and on the Solemnities of All Saints.
Violet represents charity, expectation, purification, or penance. It is used during the seasons of Advent and of Lent. It may also be worn for Funerals.
Green is a sign of life in nature and as such it represents growth, life and hope. Green is the colour worn most often during liturgies in Ordinary Time. It symbolises the graces that draw people into the life of God. Most of the Church's year is Ordinary Time.
Red symbolises both blood and fire. It is the colour that is used on Passion (Palm) Sunday, Pentecost Sunday, and for celebrations of the Sacrament of Confirmation. It is also the colour that has traditionally been associated with martyrs – those who have shed their blood for their faith – and so it is worn on the feast days of martyrs.
Rose pink is an optional colour that may be used on the Third Sunday of Advent and the Fourth Sunday of Lent. On both of these days, the Entrance Antiphon calls us to rejoice, so the pink vestments mark a softening of the penitential tone of the season.
The "Lectionary," the Mass readings from the Holy Bible, follows a Sunday cycle and a weekday cycle. The Liturgical Calendar follows a three year cycle, each year being represented by the letters, A, B and C.
During the year A cycle, the Gospel of Matthew is the primary Gospel that is used for the readings. In year B, Mark is the primary Gospel. In year C Luke is the primary Gospel. The Gospel of John is proclaimed on particular Sundays in each of the years.
On weekdays in Ordinary Time, there is a 2 year cycle numbered I and II. Year I is read in odd number years such as 2005, 2007, 2009. Year II is read in even number years such as 2006, 2008, 2010.
It should be noted that if a person attends the Holy Mass everyday for 3 years, having been present for all the readings of the 3 cycles, most of the Holy Bible will have been read to him during that time frame.
As a general rule, Weddings and Funerals can take place throughout the liturgical year. Weddings are discouraged but permissible during lent (from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday). Weddings may not be celebrated during the Holy Week, that is, the week before Easter Sunday. Funerals may not be celebrated during the Easter Triduum, the three days before Easter. Also, funerals may not be celebrated before or during Christmas and New Year when these fall on a weekday.
This sequence of seasons is more than just marking time; it is a structure within which the story of Jesus and the Gospel message is recounted throughout the year and people are reminded about the significant aspects of the Christian Faith.
While not directly a part of most services of worship beyond Holy Days, the Christian Calendar provides the framework in which all worship is done.
I suggest that each family should strive to have the following books;
- The General Instruction of the Roman Missal
- The Daily Missal
- The Vatican II Documents: Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.
You can also visit credible websites like https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism to learn more about the Catholic Faith.