Our Church year begins on the first Sunday of Advent, in late November or early December. This four-week period of waiting and anticipation allows us to prepare for the coming of the Lord at Christmas.
We celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ on December 25. The season of Christmas lasts until the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, and includes celebrations of the Holy Family, and the visit of the Magi at Epiphany.
Winter Ordinary Time
After the Christmas season we begin Ordinary Time, in which we reflect on the early days of Jesus’ ministry, the calling of the disciples, his miracles, and preaching.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and is a time of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, when we are called to repent and return to the Lord with all our hearts. The season lasts 40 days and recalls the 40 days of the flood in the Book of Genesis, and the 40 days days Jesus spent in the desert before being tempted by Satan.
Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday, when we remember Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The week is a somber one as we hear of Christ’s betrayal by Judas on Spy Wednesday, and celebrate the institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood on Holy Thursday.
Triduum lasts three days, beginning with the celebration of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday. On Good Friday we commemorate the Lord’s Passion, venerating the cross, after we hear of Christ’s suffering and death. Holy Saturday is a day of quiet and prayer as we wait for the great Vigil of Easter on Saturday evening, when we celebrate Jesus’ passage from death to life.
The Easter season lasts 50 days and begins with Easter Vigil, as we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord. During the seven weeks of Easter we recount the risen Christ’s visits to the Apostles, Jesus’ Ascension into heaven, and on Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles.
Summer Ordinary Time
After Pentecost, until the next liturgical year begins in Advent, we enter into our longest period of Ordinary Time. We focus on Christ’s mission and his call to ongoing conversion. On the final Sunday of Ordinary Time, we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King, and reflect on God’s sovereignty over the universe.