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You are here: Documents > The Liturgical Year > General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar  Back one page.

Table of Contents
Table of ContentsChapter II-a. Liturgical DaysChapter II-a. Calendar and Celebrations to be EnteredEndnotes

Chapter II-b. The Yearly Cycle

17. By means of the yearly cycle the Church celebrates the whole mystery of Christ, from his incarnation until the day of Pentecost and the expectation of his coming again. [6]

I. Easter Triduum

18. Christ redeemed us all and gave perfect glory to God principally through his paschal mystery: dying he destroyed our death and rising he restored our life. Therefore the Easter triduum of the passion and resurrection of Christ is the culmination of the entire liturgical year. [7] Thus the solemnity of Easter has the same kind of preeminence in the liturgical year that Sunday has in the week. [8]

19. The Easter triduum begins with the evening Mass of the Lord's Supper, reaches its high point in the Easter Vigil, and closes with evening prayer on Easter Sunday.

20. On Good Friday [9] and, if possible, also on Holy Saturday until the Easter Vigil, [10] the Easter fast is observed everywhere.

21. The Easter Vigil, during the holy night when Christ rose from the dead, ranks as the "the mother of all vigils." [11] Keeping watch, the Church awaits Christ's resurrection and celebrates it in the sacraments. Accordingly, the entire celebration of this vigil should take place at night, that is, should either begin after nightfall or end before the dawn of Sunday.

II. Easter Season

22. The fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost are celebrated in joyful exultation as one feast day, or better as one "great Sunday." [12]

These above all others are the days for the singing of the Alleluia.

23. The Sundays of this season rank as the paschal Sundays and, after Easter Sunday itself, are called the Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Sundays of Easter. The period of fifty sacred days ends on Pentecost Sunday.

24. The first eight days of the Easter season make up the octave of Easter and are celebrated as solemnities of the Lord.

25. On the fortieth day after Easter the Ascension is celebrated, except in places where, not being a holyday of obligation, it has been transferred to the Seventh Sunday of Easter (see no. 7).

26. The weekdays after the Ascension until the Saturday before Pentecost inclusive are a preparation for the coming of the Holy Spirit.

III. Lent

27. Lent is a preparation for the celebration of Easter. For the Lenten liturgy disposes both catechumens and the faithful to celebrate the paschal mystery: catechumens, through the several stages of Christian initiation; the faithful, through reminders of their own baptism and through penitential practices. [13]

28. Lent runs from Ash Wednesday until the Mass of the Lord's Supper exclusive.

The Alleluia is not used from the beginning of Lent until the Easter Vigil.

29. On Ash Wednesday, a universal day of fast, [14] ashes are distributed.

30. The Sundays of this season are called the First, Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Sundays of Lent. The Sixth Sunday, which marks the beginning of Holy Week, is called Passion Sunday (Palm Sunday).

31. Holy Week has as its purpose the remembrance of Christ's passion, beginning with his Messianic entrance into Jerusalem.

At the chrism Mass on Holy Thursday morning the bishop, concelebrating Mass with his body of priests, blesses the oils and consecrates the chrism.

IV. Christmas Season

32. Next to the yearly celebration of the paschal mystery, the Church holds most sacred the memorial of Christ's birth and early manifestations. This is the purpose of the Christmas season.

33. The Christmas season runs from evening prayer I of Christmas until the Sunday after Epiphany or after 6 January, inclusive.

34. The Mass of the vigil of Christmas is used in the evening of 24 December, either before or after evening prayer I.

On Christmas itself, following an ancient tradition of Rome, three Masses may be celebrated: namely, the Mass at Midnight, the Mass at Dawn, and the Mass during the Day.

35. Christmas has its own octave, arranged as follows:

a. Sunday within the octave is the feast of the Holy Family;

b. 26 December is the feast of Saint Stephen, First Martyr;

c. 27 December is the feast of Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist;

d. 28 December is the feast of the Holy Innocents;

e. 29, 30, and 31 December are days within the octave;

f. 1 January, the octave day of Christmas, is the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. It also recalls the conferral of the holy Name of Jesus.

36. The Sunday falling between 2 January and 5 January is the Second Sunday after Christmas.

37. Epiphany is celebrated on 6 January, unless (where it is not observed as a holyday of obligation) it has been assigned to the Sunday occurring between 2 January and 8 January (see no. 7).

38. The Sunday falling after 6 January is the feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

V. Advent

39. Advent has a twofold character: as a season to prepare for Christmas when Christ's first coming to us is remembered; as a season when that remembrance directs the mind and heart to await Christ's Second Coming at the end of time. Advent is thus a period for devout and joyful expectation.

40. Advent begins with evening prayer I of the Sunday falling on or closest to 30 November and ends before evening prayer I of Christmas.

41. The Sundays of this season are named the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Sundays of Advent.

The weekdays from 17 December to 24 December inclusive serve to prepare more directly for the Lord's birth.

VI. Ordinary Time

43. Apart from those seasons having their own distinctive character, thirty-three or thirty-four weeks remain in the yearly cycle that do not celebrate a specific aspect of the mystery of Christ. Rather, especially on the Sundays, they are devoted to the mystery of Christ in all its aspects. This period is known as Ordinary Time.

44. Ordinary Time begins on Monday after the Sunday following 6 January and continues until Tuesday before Ash Wednesday inclusive. It begins again on Monday after Pentecost and ends before evening prayer I of the First Sunday of Advent.

This is also the reason for the series of liturgical texts found in both the Roman Missal and The Liturgy of the Hours (Vol. III-IV), for Sundays and weekdays in this season.

VII. Rogation and Ember Days

45. On rogation and ember days the practice of the Church is to offer prayers to the Lord for the needs of all people, especially for the productivity of the earth and for human labor, and to give him public thanks.

46. In order to adapt the rogation and ember days to various regions and the different needs of the people, the conferences of bishops should arrange the time and plan for their celebration.

Consequently, the competent authority should lay down norms, in view of local conditions, on extending such celebrations over one or several days and on repeating them during the year.

47. On each day of these celebrations the Mass should be one of the votive Masses for various needs and occassions that is best suited for the intentions of the petitioners.

Table of ContentsChapter II-a. Liturgical DaysChapter II-a. Calendar and Celebrations to be EnteredEndnotes

You are here: Documents > The Liturgical Year > General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar  Back one page.

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You are here: Documents > The Liturgical Year > General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar  Back one page.

Home | New | FAQ | Search | Forum | Links

All contents © copyright, 1998-2019
The Catholic Liturgical Library