Living the Christian Year
The spiritual rhythm of the year traces the life of Christ and the life of the church through the liturgical seasons. Each has its own gifts to offer us.
Our story commences with four weeks looking forward with anticipation toward the celebration of Jesus' birth, the fulfillment of Israel's hope and the fulcrum for all of God's promises for the world. In Advent, we look backward at the fact that Jesus has come for us once and watch forward, eager for Jesus to come for us again.
Christmastide, another name for the Christmas season, lasts for the 12 days after Christmas until Epiphany. This is a time to reflect on Jesus' Incarnation. White is the color for Christmas.
The Epiphany celebrates the visit of the Wise Men to the Christ Child and the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles -- marking Jesus' mission of moving into the world and making himself known. Epiphany enters us into Ordinary Time, where we remember all Jesus' works and words.
Lent is a time of preparation and repentance, as we look toward the hope Jesus won through his cross and resurrection. Lent is 40 days (the number of days Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness and one day for each year Israel wandered in the desert). However, every Sunday during Lent is a feast day, a day for celebrating Resurrection.
Holy Week begins with the sixth Sunday in Lent, which is Palm Sunday, and runs through Holy Saturday. It also includes Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. The days of Holy Week (Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday) serve as the climax of Lent and preparation for Easter.
EASTER AND THE GREAT 50 DAYS
Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus the Christ from the dead. Easter lies at the center of the liturgical year and has been observed at least since the fourth century. Easter is a 50-day season of feasting and joy.
The word "Pentecost" means "fiftieth day". Pentecost reflects on the time the apostles and early followers of Jesus were gathered in the upper room for the empowerment from God to proclaim the Gospel throughout the world. And now, the Church lives in God's mission for the world.
After Pentecost, beginning with Trinity Sunday, this longest season of the church year invites us to live out both the ordinariness and the power of Christian faith. Ordinary time celebrates "the mystery of Christ in all its aspects," and the parts of Jesus' life that were ordinary, much like our own lives.
CHRIST THE KING
Christ the King Sunday celebrates the all-embracing authority of Christ as King and Lord. The church year ends with a celebration of our hope of Christ's just and merciful reign over all creation.