What is the Liturgical Calendar
The Liturgical Calendar is the cycle of seasons in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church. Each new year begins with Advent, the season of awaiting Christ's coming, and ends with the final Satruday of Ordinary time. The year consists of six liturgical season, which are listed below.
Advent is the First Sunday of Advent through December 24. It begins the Sunday closest to the Feast of St. Andrew, which is November 30. Thus, Advent always falls sometime between November 28 and December 2. It lasts until the Nativity of the Lord. The season of Advent is the time of waiting and preparing for the coming of Jesus. This refers both to the anniversary celebration of the Incarnation, as well as the second and final coming for which we are waiting and preparing. The Liturgical colors of Advent are Purple and Rose, with Rose being used only on the third Sunday of Advent.
The season of Christmas lasts from December 25 until the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This 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, but in most countries, Epiphany is now celebrated on the Sunday closest to January 6, and the Baptism of the Lord is celebrated the following Sunday. The Christmas season is a time of rejoicing in the Incarnation. The liturgical color of Christmas is white.
Ordinary Time after the Baptism begins the Monday after the Feast of the Baptism. and is the first of two celebrations of Ordinary Time. Ordinary does not mean plain. The name comes from "ordinalis" which means "showing order, denoting an order of succession." It refers to the order of the counted weeks. Ordinary Time after the Baptism focuses on the early life and childhood of Christ and His public ministry. The liturgical color for both seasons of Ordinary Time is green to signify that we are growing in our faith. As in all seasons, other appropriate colors are worn on particular feast days.
The season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday and last 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 which does not include Sundays (always a day for rejoicing in the Resurrection). Altogether, it covers 46 calendar days, the 40 days plus the six Sundays. The liturgical colors of Lent are violet or purple, traditionally more of a red-violet color than the deep purple of Advent. Rose may also be used on the fourth Sunday during Lent. On Passion Sunday (Palm Sunday) and on Good Friday (which has no Mass but a service remembering Christ's passion) the color is red. White or violet is worn on Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday (once again, there is no Mass but there are other services on Holy Saturday).
The season of Easter begins with the Easter Vigil, which is celebrated after night falls on the evening before Easter Sunday. The season of Easter is a joyous season. It begins with celebrating Christ's resurrection and ends by celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followersof Jesus. Christ's ascension into Heaven is celebrated just prior to Penecost. The Easter season lasts 50 days, from Easter Sunday through Pentecost. The liturgical colors of Easter are white for most days and red for Pentecost.
Ordinary Time after Pentecost is the second period of Ordinary Time and the longest litrugical 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 preaparing. Again, the Liturgical color of Ordinary Time is green, however, as in all seasons, other appropriate colors are worn on particular feast days.
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