Learn Why the Liturgical Year Marks the Seasons of the Church

Holy Church considers it her duty to celebrate, with a sacred remembrance and on certain days of the year, the saving work of Her Divine Spouse.

Newsroom (12/12/2021 5:30 PM, Gaudium Press) In certain regions of the earth, where the seasons of the year announce their arrival and manifest their permanence in a categorical and defined way, we can contemplate nature clothed in the most diverse garments. From the strong red tones of autumn to the varied and splendid colours of spring, the vegetation undergoes transformations that dazzle an attentive and contemplative eye. Between golden and polychrome, winter brings a virginal blanket of whiteness, which covers the defoliated trunks and offers the necessary elements for a re-flowering.

The snow, falling from the heavens, becomes water that runs down and deeply penetrates the earth, bringing irrigation and fertility. Thus the animals of the field find food again, the birds sing and the flowers blossom. The Son of God Himself seemed surprised to see such excellencies when He exclaimed: “Consider how the lilies of the field grow; they neither labour nor spin. Yet I say to you that even Solomon at the height of his glory was not arrayed like one of these” (Mt 6:28-29).

An image of the Liturgical Year

This cyclical succession of time, which God gives to nature by providing all the diversity of living beings with the conditions necessary for their existence, is an image of a much more sublime reality contained in the treasures of the Holy Catholic Church: the Liturgical Year.

Like the seasons, which encourage the fertile soil to produce branches and flowers to finally bear delightful fruit, the Liturgical Cycle, in the course of the different seasons, causes the seed of Divine Life, present in the souls of Christians through the Sacrament of Baptism, to germinate, grow and bear fruit.

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Celebrations made up of two parts

Through the Lord’s redeeming sacrifice, offered once only and renewed at each Mass, the mysteries of salvation become a source of constant grace. This rhythm of celebrations is formed by two intrinsically related parts: the first, leaving the darkness, moves towards the light; it is the Christmas Cycle. In the other, light reigns, life conquers death: it is the Easter Cycle.

But what exactly is the Liturgical Year? Holy Church considers it Her duty to celebrate, with a sacred remembrance, on certain days of the year, the saving work of Her Divine Spouse. She develops the whole mystery of Christ’s life in the course of the year: from the Incarnation and Birth, to the Ascension, Pentecost and the expectation of the Lord’s second coming. In this way, it opens up the riches of the treasury of the sanctifying power and merits of the Lord so that the faithful, in contact with them, may be filled with grace.

The principal liturgical times and solemnities

The structure of the Liturgical Year comprises, chronologically, the following principal times and solemnities: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, part of Ordinary Time, Lent, Easter, Pentecost and the continuation of Ordinary Time, which culminates in the feast of Christ the King. Throughout the sequence of times, and in a special way during Ordinary Time, the Church also renders veneration to the Blessed Virgin and the Saints.[1]

[1] BOROBIO, Dionisio (Cord.). The celebration in the Church. São Paulo: Loyola, 2000, v.III.

Compiled by Sandra Chisholm

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