The Catholic Liturgical Calendar
The liturgical year serves as the Catholic Liturgical Calendar. It consists of the cycle of liturgical seasons that determine when feast days and other holy days are observed, and which Scripture and Gospel readings are used at Mass.
Aside from the readings, the liturgical calendar also determines the interior decoration of a Church, the priest's vestment colors, the timing of spiritual seasons and practices such as Lent, and much more. Explore the information below to learn more!
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The Liturgical calendar year begins on the first Sunday of Advent. It is divided into six seasons. The shortest but most holy season is the three day Sacred Pascal Triduum leading up to Easter.
What are the liturgical colors and what do they mean?
- Purple is the color of Penance Preparation and is used during Advent and Lent.
- Red is the color of Sacrifice and is used during Passion Sunday, Good Friday, Pentecost, and the feast of the apostles and the martyrs.
- Rose/Pink are the colors of anticipation and is used on the third Sunday in Advent and the fourth Sunday during Lent.
- Green is the color of Hope, Life and Growth and is used throughout Ordinary Time.
- White/Gold are the colors of Joy & Purity and are used during Easter and Christmas seasons and feasts of the Blessed Mother, angels and saints who weren’t martyred.
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Decoding the Liturgical Calendar
Abstinence & Fasting
A fish is often used to show the days of abstinence from meat during Lent. The Church requires all Catholics 14-years-old and older to avoid meat is a part of special sacrifice on certain days of penance. On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday adults must also fast- that is, they may eat only one full meal- or two smaller ones if necessary for health reasons.
Jesus promised St. Margaret Mary Alacoque that all those who receive Communion on nine consecutive First Fridays with devotion to His Sacred Heart would receive special graces at the time of their death.
The Virgin Mary made a similar offer at Fatima to all who receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, receive Communion, pray five decades of the Rosary, and "Keep me company for 15 minutes while meditating on 15 mysteries of the Rosary" on five consecutive First Saturdays.
Holy Days of Obligation are major feasts on days other than Sunday that are so important that all Catholics are required to celebrate them together at Mass. Today there are six of these holy days in the United States.
Say "feast” and many people think of a party or a banquet. However, the Church uses this term to refer to a day of remembrance of some part of Our Lord's life or of one of the saints and angels.
At Mass on a feast day, the readings and prayers will often relate to the event or saint being honored.
Click the graphic to see a larger image.
A Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him,
and he entered the Pharisee's house and reclined at table.
Now there was a sinful woman in the city
who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee.
Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment,
she stood behind him at his feet weeping
and began to bathe his feet with her tears.
Then she wiped them with her hair,
kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself,
"If this man were a prophet,
he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him,
that she is a sinner."
Jesus said to him in reply,
"Simon, I have something to say to you."
"Tell me, teacher," he said.
"Two people were in debt to a certain creditor;
one owed five hundred day's wages and the other owed fifty.
Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both.
Which of them will love him more?"
Simon said in reply,
"The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven."
He said to him, "You have judged rightly."
Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon,
"Do you see this woman?
When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet,
but she has bathed them with her tears
and wiped them with her hair.
You did not give me a kiss,
but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered.
You did not anoint my head with oil,
but she anointed my feet with ointment.
So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven
because she has shown great love.
But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little."
He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."
The others at table said to themselves,
"Who is this who even forgives sins?"
But he said to the woman,
"Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
Your challenge for this week is to celebrate Ordinary Time by wearing green to Mass and taking a photo with your priest in his green vestments. Send the photo to firstname.lastname@example.org and post it on your own social media accounts using the hashtag #CampCatholic. We will share the photos we receive on our website and social media pages.
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Illustrations by Karen Zainal