A Catholic sense of time
The rhythms of the Church's liturgical year
Just as nature and our lives are responsive to the seasons of the year - Summer, Spring, Winter and Autumn, the Catholic community's life and mission is shaped by the Church's liturgical year with its distinctive seasons and feasts.
The Church's liturgical year is a celebration of the Pachal Mystery - the mystery of God's revelation in Jesus Christ - his Person, birth, ministry, passion, death and resurrection - and the Holy Spirit.
The celebration of Sunday as the Lord's Day, has its origins in the Jewish Sabbath as a celebration of God's creative work and rest on the seventh day.
The Easter Triduum and Lent
Just as the week hinges on the celebration of Sunday, the liturgical year hinges on the celebration of the Easter Triduum. The summit of the Liturgical Year is the Easter Triduum—from the evening of Holy Thursday to the evening of Easter Sunday. Though chronologically three days, they are liturgically one day unfolding for us the unity of Christ's Paschal Mystery. The Easter Triduum is preceded by 40 days of preparation in the forms of fasting and self denial, prayer and good works or almsgiving. It begins with Ash Wednesday and the giving of ashes.
The celebration of the Triduum marks the end of the Lenten season, and leads to the Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord at the Easter Vigil. - the celebration of Christ's resurrection. The celebration of Easter extends over 50 days concluding with the celebration of the Feast of Pentecost, the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church.
Christmas and Advent
Next in significance is the celebration of Christmas, of the Incarnation, of God becoming human in Jesus. The season of Christmas extends for 8 days and is preceded by four weeks of preparation in the season of Advent. The first Sunday of Advent marks the beginning of the Church's liturgical year.
Seasonal and Festive liturgies
There are many powerful rituals associated with the seasons and feasts discussed above
It is within the Easter Vigil that adults wishing to become Catholics are baptised, confirmed and receive First Eucharist.