The Church’s liturgical year

FaithIn the beginning God created the light and separated the light from the darkness, God called the light daycatholic and the darkness he called night. God created time and seasons from the void and formless earth (Gen. 1), and the bible says that there is time for everything (Ecc. 3:1-8).

The liturgical year of the Catholic Church is also divided into time and seasons, it makes our worship and liturgy well organised. This division helps us to reflect and meditate on all the apsects of the mysteries of our Lord and savour Jesus Christ. The liturgical year is divided into Six seasons, from the incarnation of our lord Jesus Christ to the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost day. These seasons are: Advent, Christmas, Lent, The Paschal Triduum, Easter and the ordinary time.

THE SEASON OF ADVENT: The advent season opens the Church’s liturgical year; the word advent is from the Latin word adventus, which means coming. AdventIt is the season the Church sets aside to pray and meditate especially on the prophesies of old; how the prophets of old foretold the coming of the messiah. This season is a period of expectant waiting and also a period to prepare for the celebration of the nativity of the Lord. Advent has a twofold character, for it is a time of preparation for the solemnities of Christmas, in which the First coming of the Son of God to humanity is remembered, and likewise a time  when, by remembrance of this, minds and hearts are led to look forward to Christ’s second coming at the end of time. For these two reasons, Advent is a period of devout and expectant delight. Advent season is both Joyful and penitential. Joyful because we await the coming of the Lord and penitential because the Church calls us to repentance and preparation for the reception of the Lord. The penitential nature of this season explains the liturgical color; purple/violet, and the season begins on the evening of the Sunday closest to 30 November and ends before evening prayer 1 of Christmas (Eve).

CHRISTMAS SEASON: The Christmas season is a joyful one that begins with the evening prayer 1 of 24 December  to the feast of the baptism of the Lord,Christmas-Crib-Scene it is the liturgical season or circle when the Church focuses on the mystery of the incarnation. The Church during this season commemorates the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ , we celebrate the beginning of our salvation, we celebrate the faithfulness of God, that what he promised our fathers, he has fulfilled. The Church calls us her Children not to merely commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ but to let him be born again in our hearts. This Jesus is not just the one who lived over Two Thousand years ago but one who lives today and forever. We celebrate and meditate on the mystery of God’s love for us; for God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (Jn. 3:16). The liturgical color for this season is white.

THE SEASON OF LENT: The Lenten season is another liturgical season in the Catholic church, it is penitential in nature, hence the color purple/violet.season-of-lent  Every Christian is called during this season to specially dedicate his or her self to prayer, fasting and alms giving. Lent is ordered to preparing for the celebration of Easter, since the Lenten liturgy prepares for celebration of the Paschal mystery both catechumens, by the various stages of Christian Initiation, and the faithful, who recall their own Baptism and do penance. The Church after celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ during the Christmas season begins to emphasize and meditate during the Lenten season on the very reason why Jesus was born. This season begins on Ash Wednesday, a day our foreheads are marked with ashes to remind us of the call to repentance. This season lasts for 40 days excluding Sundays. Sundays are excluded because every Sunday is considered as resurrection Sunday.

THE PASCHAL TRIDUUM: The Triduum (Three days) is part of the Lenten season but specially celebrated; so, it is considered a separate season.

DALLAS, March 28-31, 2013 - Paschal Triduum. Photo by Mari Davis

DALLAS, March 28-31, 2013 – Paschal Triduum. Photo by Mari Davis

There are Six Sundays in Lent but the Sixth Sunday is called the Passion Sunday or Palm Sunday, it is the Sunday we are reminded of how Jesus triumphantly entered Jerusalem to die. This Sunday marks the beginning of what we call the Holy Week, and the Paschal Triduum is celebrated within this Holy Week. The Tridumm begins with the liturgy on the evening of holy Thursday and ends with the evening prayer 1 of Saturday. The Triduum commemorates the Passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, it is the high point of his mission. Since Christ accomplished his work of human redemption and of the perfect glorification of God principally through his Paschal Mystery, in which by dying he has destroyed our death, and by rising restored our life, the sacred Paschal Triduum of the Passion and Resurrection of the Lord shines forth as the high point of the entire liturgical year. Within the Triduum we celebrate Holy Thursday, (commemoration of the institution of the Holy Eucharist), Good Friday (the commemoration of the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ), and Holy Saturday (Jesus in the Sepulcher). The liturgical color for Passion Sunday is red, Holy Thursday is white, Good Friday is red and Holy Saturday is Violet/purple.

EASTER SEASON: The Easter season begins on the vigil of Easter Sunday and last for fifty days. At Easter we celebrate the triumph of Jesus over death,Resurrection his resurrection . During this season we rejoice because his resurrection is an assurance of our own resurrection, because he lives we too will live. Our joy is expressed in our liturgical color white and alleluia becomes our song. This season comes to an end with the celebration of Pentecost Sunday, the fiftieth day of Easter.

 

ORDINARY TIME: The ordinary time is also a season in the Church’s liturgical calendar or year. Besides the times of year that have their own distinctive character, there remain in the yearly cycle thirthy-four weeks in which no praticular aspect of the mysteryhope in Jesus of Christ is celebrated, but rather the mystery of Christ  itself is honoured in its fullness, especially on Sundays. This period is known as Ordinary Time. It begins on the Monday which follows Pentecost Sunday and ends on the Tuesday before ash Wednesday. The liturgical color is Green.

This is the liturgical circle of the Catholic Church, it is arranged to help our worship and order our meditations. This is one big difference between the Catholic Church and the none Catholics, organization. Everything in the Church is structured in such a way that the Church continues to operate as One, Holy, Catholic and apostolic.

Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA

Joel Okojie is an ordained Catholic Priest in the Order of St. Augustine. He has been a Priest for over a decade. He served as pastor in two different parishes, he was one time Novice Master and a member of the Provincial Council of the province of St. Augustine of Nigeria, and he is currently on a mission in response to the needs of the Church in Canada.

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