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The Liturgical Calendar

Dear Members of the English-speaking Catholic Community,
In the last Newsletter, we reflected on ‘Proclaiming the Word of God …’
We continue on this theme and we need to know, the liturgy is systematically designed for each Sunday in the year and for each day of the week, including the remembrance of the Saints, holy men and women, for special occasions, e.g. for a marriage, for a funeral, for the days of the week, for all Holy Masses celebrated. The passages from Sacred Scripture are not read out at random. The liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church is divided in three cycles for Sundays, “A, B, C” and for weekdays in two cycles “year 1 and year II”.
The liturgical calendar begins with the 1st Sunday of Advent. There are 4 Sundays in Advent before the celebration of Christmas on the 25th of December. Hence, there is the season of Advent and the season of Christmas, that ends with the feast of the Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Sundays that follow thereafter, revert to the ordinary time of the year until the beginning of Lent. The season of Lent starts with ‘Ash Wednesday’ with the anointing of ashes during the liturgy until Easter night, when we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, the light of the world!
The two seasons at this time of the year, are the season of Lent with 5 Sundays followed by the Holy Week until Easter Sunday; then begins the season of Easter, running through the feasts of the Ascension, the Holy Spirit (Pentecost) until the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, generally celebrated with a parochial procession. In our Archdiocese it is called the Fronleichnam or Corpus Christi Procession. Thereafter, the calendar reverts to the Sundays in ordinary time of the year. There may be up to 33 Sundays depending on the annual cycle A, B or C. The liturgical calendar ends with the feast of Christ the King every year. Subsequently follows the next cycle.
Keeping in mind this systematic design, the liturgical calendar every year can be easily understood as follows: Season of Advent, Season of Christmas, Season of Lent, Season of Easter, the ordinary Sundays in the year.
Each particular season presents passages from Sacred Scripture on the articles of our Faith, for our reflection, for prayer and thanksgiving, and for our personal conversion to remain in communion with our Lord and creator. These passages from Sacred Scripture have specific themes that comprise the entire history of salvation and the doctrine of Jesus Christ’s Gospel in focus.
The season of Advent is a time of preparation, to receive and to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, the second person of the Blessed Trinity, God and man, fulfilling the promise of the Old Testament, when God promises to send a Saviour to redeem fallen humanity and to raise the human person to the dignity he intended at the time of creation. Therefore, this preparation is a time of waiting, characterised by an austere living and personal sacrifices in different forms, to be ready to receive our Saviour.
The season of Christmas is a time of rejoicing at the birth of Jesus Christ. Here begins the absolute salvific act in the Mission of Jesus, being sent, characterized with a period of spiritual rejoicing within our heart and life.
The season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. It is a time for us to reconcile with God. We observe in the Liturgy, our heads are anointed with ashes, reminding us with the words, “Repent and believe in the Gospel”. Christians all over the world spend these weeks in prayer, almsgiving and ascetic living, mortification, all aimed to an inner conversion and purification of oneself.
The season of Lent culminates with the celebration of the Holy Week: from Palm Sunday, the Chrism Holy Mass with the Bishop, blessing of the Holy Oils, the institution of the Holy Mass on Maundy Thursday, when we are reminded, with the ‘washing of the feet’ our call to humility and service as Christ has taught us. Good Friday is universally accepted and remains a special day of prayer, when Christ was crucified on the cross for the salvation of all and passed through his humanity, until the celebration of the Easter vigil on the resurrection, the new and everlasting covenant. Jesus completes his Mission with the ascension, to take his seat at the right hand of God the Father and with his promise, not to leave us orphans, he sends us his Holy Spirit to live and reign in our heart, in our family, in our Church and world, and to point out the truth, because Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life!
During the Ordinary Sundays of the year, the passages from Sacred Scripture emphasize the doctrine of Jesus Christ. In his public ministry, we hear Jesus revealing to us the Kingdom of God, performing extraordinary acts and miracles that cannot be ignored or discarded, the on-going invitation to a call to remain in communion with God and to proclaim his Word to all.
I wish you a spiritual preparation, as we begin this year with the new liturgical calendar, on the 1st of December with the 1st Sunday of Advent.
A Merry Christmas to all!
Cletus Colaço SVD.                                     

This page has been updated on 25.11.2019