Liturgical Calendar

 

The seasons of the Church follow one universal liturgical calendar. The order of the year is as follows:

Advent

Advent marks the beginning of the liturgical calendar. It consists of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. As the people of Israel waited in anticipation for the coming of the Messiah, so we spiritually enter into a season of prayerful preparation to celebrate the Nativity of Our Lord.

Christmas

In the Catholic Church, Christmas is more than one day – it is an octave (8 days) and an entire season that begins on Christmas Eve (Dec. 24), continues through the Feast of the Epiphany and includes the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God . Christmastide concludes with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord in January.

Lent

Beginning on Ash Wednesday and continuing until Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord (the Sunday before Easter), the forty days of Lent is reminiscent of Jesus’ forty days in the desert as He prepared to begin His public ministry. Lent is a season of repentance and renewal of our interior life and of prayerful solidarity with those who are to be initiated into the Church during the Easter season. Lent .

Holy Week & the Sacred Triduum

Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, wherein we remember Our Lord's welcome into the City of David, Jerusalem. To guide our minds and hearts for the week, the Passion is proclaimed at this Mass. This prepares us for the most solemn celebrations in the life of the Church, the Triduum. Consisting of the Evening Mass of the Supper of the Lord (Holy Thursday), Friday of the Passion of the Lord (Good Friday), and the Easter Vigil, the Triduum acts as a continuous act of worshop of these most sacred moments in the life of Christ and our salvation.

Easter

Alleluia – He is Risen! The Easter season celebrates Christ’s resurrection from the dead, his victory over death. Like Christmas, the power and glory of this celebration cannot be contained to a single day, so the Church extends that celebration over the course of an octave (8 days). Christ’s Ascension into heaven is celebrated on the 7th Sunday after Easter. Eastertide concludes at Pentecost, where Jesus sends the Holy Spirit upon the apostles to spread the Gospel to all nations.

Ordinary Time

The season of Ordinary Time explores Christ’s mission and message through the Gospels. This season includes Trinity Sunday (which celebrates God’s self revelation as a Trinity of Persons) and Corpus Christi (which celebrates the Body and Blood of Jesus in the Eucharist). Ordinary Time concludes with the Solemnity of Christ the King which brings the liturgical year to a close.

Sundays & Holy Days of Obligation

Every Sunday throughout the year is considered an extention of Easter Sunday, so the worship offered on Sundays usually hsa more solemnity than that done on regular week days. During the year, in addition to the Sunday worship, the Church also celebrates Solemnities, Feasts, and Memorials which may be on any day of the week. These occur during the year to commemorate special events or persons that are important to our life in the Faith. Catholics who fail to attend Mass, due to free choice or negligence, on any Sunday or Holy Day of Obligation enter into a state of mortal sin. For extenuating circumstances, a Catholic can be released from the obligation by their pastor. For more information, please read here: https://www.ewtn.com/expert/answers/sunday_mass.htm
 
For Catholics in the United States, these days are:
 
January 1st - Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
Thursday of the 6th Week of Easter - Ascention Thursday
August 15th - Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
November 1st - Solemnity of All Saints
December 8th - Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
December 25th - Solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord
 
Whenever January 1st, August 15th, or November 1st falls on either a Saturday or Monday, the obligation to attend Mass is abrogated. For Catholics in the Diocese of Charlotte, the Solemnity of the Assumption is transferred to the following Sunday, the 7th Sunday of Easter.