The Liturgical Year Explained

The liturgical year consists of 3 essential elements: Incarnation Cycle (Advent-Christmas), the Paschal Cycle (Lent through Pentecost) and Ordinary time (everything else). The liturgical year was developed with clear times of fasting and feasting. Lent and Advent are times of fasting while the end of the fasting is a period of feasting. Common fasting days are Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Sunday is a feasting day because we celebrate the Holy Eucharist.

The term chronos refers to “our time or ordinary time”. This is defined as counted, sequential, routine, past, present, future and is accountable. Karios is “God’s creative time” and refers to the cycles of Incarnation and Paschal. It is “now, infinite, not measurable”. St. Paul referred to karios as “favorable time”.

The “festivals” of the Catholic Church are known as the Solemnities and Feasts. The Solemnities are considered, the highest degree of importance. These are reserved for the solemn mysteries of faith and we celebrate these at Easter, Sacred Heart of Jesus, Immaculate Conception, Annunciation, Pentecost, Assumption, and Peter and Paul. At the mass, we have three readings, a psalm, the Creed and the Gloria, celebrated as we do on Sunday’s.

The Feasts are less solemn. These celebrate a mystery of the faith or a title of Jesus and some more important saints. Feasts are celebrated at the daily mass using the readings of the day. These include optional and obligatory memorials including the Transfiguration and Exaltation of the Cross. Most saint days are memorial celebrations as well as some of the titles of Mary. During Lent and Advent, these are called commemoratives and are not celebrated due to the Season.

Advent begins the Church year and is celebrate at the fourth Sunday prior to Christmas in anticipation of the birth of Christ. Lenten tradition is the fasting of forty days to imitate Christ in the desert. This season begins on Ash Wednesday and reaches its climax during Holy Week, where we celebrate the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. After Lent, we return to Ordinary time until Advent.

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