Liturgical Year: An Overview
Because of God’s presence in time in the person of Jesus Christ, time is sacred.
In the Roman Catholic Church, we mark time in relation to Christ. In the liturgical year, beginning with the First Sunday of Advent and concluding with the Solemnity of Christ the King, the Church lives and celebrates the mystery of Christ. The history of salvation unfolds throughout the liturgical year. In addition to celebrating the mystery of Christ, we also honor Mary, the Mother of God, and commemorate the apostles, martyrs and saints.
Advent: Beginning four Sundays before Advent and concluding on Christmas Eve, Advent is the season of preparation for the coming of Christ at Christmas, at the end of time and in the Sacraments.
Christmas: Beginning with the Solemnity of the Nativity of our Lord (December 25), the Christmas season concludes with the feast of the Baptism of Our Lord. This season celebrates the Incarnation, God made flesh in Jesus Christ.
Lent: The primary penitential season in the liturgical year, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and concludes before the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, reflecting the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert fasting and praying. The traditional practices of praying, fasting and almsgiving are intended to aid Catholics in purifying body and soul in preparation for the renewal of baptismal promises at Easter.
Triduum: The Church celebrates the passion, death and Resurrection of the Lord, Jesus Christ, during the Triduum. The one liturgy extending through Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday is the high point of the entire liturgical year, as it celebrates the mysteries of redemption.
Easter: Beginning with the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday and continuing fifty days to the celebration of Pentecost, Easter is the season for rejoicing. Light overcame darkness, and life has triumphed over death.
Ordinary Time: The time between Christmas and Lent and from Pentecost to the Solemnity of Christ the King is “Ordinary Time.” In this case, “ordinary” means numbered, not plain. While the Church does not celebrate any specific aspect of the mystery of Christ during these times, they are not unimportant. During Ordinary Time, the Church learns how to live our faith in our day-to-day lives. Through the teachings of Jesus, we learn how to live as disciples.