“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:10).
We are approaching a season that involves preparation with real purpose. We begin filling the calendar with planned events for family, friends, co-workers and neighbors. Please don’t forget to reference another important calendar – the Liturgical Calendar of the Catholic Church. The new liturgical year begins on Dec. 2, the first Sunday of Advent. What could be more important than preparing a way for Jesus?
Church liturgy is directed by this annual calendar, which observes the main events in salvation history. The cycle of celebrations, prayers and readings are divided into six seasons: Advent, Christmas, Ordinary Times, Lent, Easter Triduum and Easter. The Holy Days of Obligation and moveable feast days are listed each year with events highlighted during Holy Mass. The calendar is available on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop’s website.
The Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship publishes the Liturgical Calendar, which was revised in 1969 when the Novus Ordo (new order of the Mass) was first printed under the direction of Pope Paul VI. The publication states: “In this yearly cycle the Church celebrates the mystery of Christ from his incarnation until the day of Pentecost and the expectation of His second coming.”
The Eucharist is Christ himself! In the accounts of the Lord’s Supper, we hear the words: “Do this in remembrance of me” as we reenact the life and death of Jesus. Our participation in the Mass has greater meaning when we arrive prepared for the celebration. The theme and the color scheme used in every celebration increase our sense of awareness and appreciation. The liturgical colors used in the Church calendar have very significant meaning for each cycle. Listen closely to the theme in the readings and the Eucharistic prayers of the Mass —the ordered life of the Church. The numbered weeks of Ordinary Times in the Church are anything but ordinary, and this season makes up most of the liturgical year. This ordinary time refers to the part of the year when Christ, the Lamb of God, walks among us and transforms our lives!
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “The law of prayer is the law of faith: the Church believes as she prays. Liturgy is a constitutive element of the holy and living Tradition. For this reason, no sacramental rite may be modified at the will of a minister or the community” (CCC #1124-25). It is a privilege to enter into this prayerful sacrament that fills us with grace for our journey.
The mystery of the Mother of God is also at the heart of worship in the Church. There are seven Holy Days and Feast Days honoring Mary in the liturgical calendar. Did you know that in the liturgical calendar every Saturday is dedicated to Our Lady, provided the day is not set aside for other commemorations? Her witness has transformed the world throughout history. She ended the old law and began the new covenant with God. Mary only speaks six times in Scripture, yet she is one of the greatest forces in history. The first Christian persecution took place in 1 A.D. when Mary and Joseph fled Egypt to protect the child Jesus. Mary is at the heart of it all. You can read more about her influence in a great book titled: “The Marian Option—God’s Solution to a Civilization in Crisis,” by Carrie Gress. God chose Mary to intervene in renewing society, and her motherly aide is needed today for every purpose under heaven! Amen!