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The liturgical year begins with
Evening Prayer I (traditionally called First Vespers) of the First
Sunday of Advent. The season of Advent continues through the four Sundays
of Advent and ends at Christmas Eve.
Advent is a time of preparation,
through fasting and prayer, for Christmas.
Even though Christ was actually born over 2000 years ago, during Advent we
prepare our hearts to receive Jesus into the world each year
as a light to the nations, at a time when our calendar is reaching its darkest
period. Advent is also a time of looking forward to Christs Second
Coming in the last days.
At Christmas we celebrate the
Word become flesh, coming to dwell among us as the light of the human race,
just after the darkest point of the solar year. Christmas, therefore, is
a holy day second only to Easter in the Roman calendar.
The Octave of Christmas
(octave means eight; hence the octave of Christmas lasts for eight
days) begins with Christmas day and ends after the Solemnity of Mary, Mother
The season of Christmas ends,
and Ordinary Time begins, on the Monday after the Solemnity of the Baptism
of the Lord, which signifies the purification of the world, through Christ
Ordinary Time derives its name
from the word ordinal, meaning number. This season, therefore,
is a season of weeks counted by numbers, from the First Week in Ordinary
Time through the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time. (Depending on the placement
of Lent and Advent in any calendar year, Ordinary Time may end before the
The liturgical season of Lent
lasts for 40 weekdays in remembrance of the 40 days and nights that Christ
spent fasting in the desert, tempted by Satan. The
beginning of Lent, Ash Wednesday, therefore comes 40 days (excluding Sundays)
Lent, in commemoration of
Christs fasting and prayer, is for all His faithful a time of
fasting and prayer.
Because of the austerity of Lent,
Alleluia is not said in prayer or sung in liturgy during this
The season of Easter begins at
the Easter Vigil.
But before that, the week previous
to Easter is called Holy Week; it begins with Passion Sunday (Palm Sunday)
and culminates with the Triduum. The Triduum (a Latin word
for a three-day period) begins with the Mass of the Lords Supper on
the evening of the Thursday of Holy Week and includes Good Friday, and Holy
Easter is such a special
timethe celebration of our Lords resurrection, without which
there would be no Christianitythat it continues not just for the joyful
week following Easter (the Octave of Eastereach day celebrated
as a solemnity of the Lord), but for 50 days (including Sundays and counting
Easter Sunday itself) of the season of Easter.
The season of Easter comes to
a close, and Ordinary Time returns, on the Monday after Pentecost