The liturgical calendar overlays the secular calendar and associates the liturgy of the church with the secular calendar. Click on a season for an explanation of its significance. The colors on the chart represent the colors of the vestments worn on the majority of the days in each season.
The liturgical year begins with Advent, which always contains four Sundays. A suitable devotional for this season of preparation is the Advent Wreath. The Christmas decorations which appear in the church during Advent are only in preparation for the coming of the Christ Child.. Christmas lights are not lighted yet.
The Christmas season, during which we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, includes the Feast of the Holy Family, the Feast of the Mother of God, and Epiphany. The church remains decorated with Christmas lights and greenery during this season.
|The Christmas song The Twelve Days of Christmas was written because Catholics in England during the period 1558 to 1829 were prohibited from ANY practice of their faith by law - private OR public. So they used the words as one of the "catechism songs" to help young Catholics learn the tenets of their faith.
During the season between Christmas and Lent, the readings focus on Jesus’ early ministry of teaching, and healing, and the gathering of disciples. Mardi Gras (“Fat Tuesday”) celebrations often mark the end of this season.
The word "ordinary" in Ordinary Time comes from the word ordinal. Counted Time would be a better translation.
The occurrence of Easter determines the length of this counted time. Easter falls on the 1st Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox. It falls between March 22 and April 25.
Ash Wednesday begins a 4-day Lenten prelude. Lent continues until the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday. Lent is a time of penance observed with fasting and abstinence. A suitable devotion for Lent is praying the Stations of the Cross.
The Pascal Triduum is a separate season during what is often called “Holy Week”. This three-day observance begins on the evening of Holy Thursday with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and ends on Saturday evening with the Easter Vigil. The ceremonies of this special season celebrate the death and resurrection of our Lord.
The Easter season is 50 days long, with the Feast of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit, marking its end. Ascension Thursday occurs 40 days after Easter Sunday, although it may be celebrated on the following Sunday. Readings during the Easter season focus on Jesus’ teaching after the Resurrection.
The longest liturgical season is that of the weeks following Easter. The first two Sundays in this season mark the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity and, in the United States, the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi). The last Sunday of the liturgical year is the celebration of the Feast of Christ the King.