Liturgical Calendar

Calendars serve an important purpose in our lives. They help us to stay organized and give structure and discipline to our routines. They mark important events and celebrate major milestones in our lives and in the lives of our loved ones, such as birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. Calendars also help us to mark the passage of time by connecting us with the past and preparing us for the future. The marking of time and seasons helps us to make sense of the world around us. 

The Church Year is centered on the celebrations of Christmas and EasterIn a similar way, the liturgical calendar helps us to remember the life of Jesus in a meaningful way. Jesus entered our world in time and space, and the liturgical calendar of the Church is an attempt to express and participate in the fullness of Jesus’ experience on earth. The purpose of the Liturgical Year Calendar is not to mark the passage of time, but to celebrate and understand more fully the entire mystery of Jesus Christ, from his incarnation and birth until his ascension, the day of Pentecost, and the expectation of his return in glory. During the course of a year, the Paschal mystery—the Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus—is viewed from different angles, in different lights.

The Church Year is centered on the celebrations of Christmas and Easter:

  • The early Church commemorated the Last Supper, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus every Thursday, Friday and Sunday. It wasn’t long before local churches starting observing an annual solemn celebration of the Resurrection, usually around the time of Passover but not always on the same day; this was the origin of the Easter feast. After this feast became permanently fixed on a Sunday in the whole Church, the three days (Triduum) before it became the annual solemn remembrance of the Last Supper and Crucifixion. The celebrations of Holy Week – the last week of Lent – evolved later from the Triduum celebrations.
  • The original celebrations of Christ’s birth on December 25 at Rome and on January 6 in the East gave rise to the “12 days of Christmas,” and with them the Christmas season. 
  • After Christmas and Easter became established feasts, the Church would baptize large numbers of new members on Christmas and Easter Day. Those who were to be baptized would fast for 40 days beforehand, as would members of their families and their communities in solidarity with them. These periods of fasting and preparation evolved over time into the seasons of Advent and Lent.
  • The 50 days of the Easter season, beginning with Easter Sunday and ending with Pentecost, recall the Jewish celebrations of the Passover feast (Easter is the Christian Passover) and the Feast of Weeks (also called Pentecost) 7 weeks after Passover.
  • All the weeks not part of the Advent, Christmas, Lent or Easter seasons are called Ordinary Time, because the weeks are marked simply by ordinal numbers (first, second, third, etc.)

The Church’s year begins on the first Sunday of Advent (the Sunday closest to November 30) and ends on the Saturday after the Feast of Christ the King (the last Sunday of Ordinary Time). The Liturgical Calendar tells us what readings and prayers the Church has designated to be used in the liturgies for each day. It also names the feasts celebrated during each season, such as the dates of remembrance of the Saints.



Advent/Christmas is the beginning of the Church's liturgical year

Lent is a solem preparation for the Resurrection of Our Lord

Paschal Triduum/Easter are the three most exciting days of the liturgical year!

Ordinary time is the rest of the liturgical calendar!

Holy Days are special days when the Church observes special people and events that make our faith special

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