Liturgical Calendar





Liturgical Calendar, Year of Prayer




   Like most cultures, our Judeo-Christian tradition is guided by cycles of time.  Though    distinct from civil time, sacred time is not separated from it but gives it meaning and    makes it sacred. God, the author of history, is present and at work in history, and it is    through the two concentric circles of civil and sacred time, that we live and work out our   salvation. 






What Is the Church’s Year of Prayer?

"Today we begin the Year of Prayer; that is, a year dedicated to rediscovering the great value and absolute need for prayer in personal life, in the life of the church and in the world," the Pope said, after praying the Angelus with visitors in St. Peter's Square Jan. 21, 2024.

The pope called for the special year to help prepare Catholics worldwide for the Holy Year, which begins with the opening of the Holy Door in St. Peter's Basilica Dec. 24. The year 2024 also should be about rebuilding and renewing spiritual pathways and practices so that the spiritual significance of the jubilee can "emerge more clearly, something which goes far beyond the necessary and urgent forms of structural organization," said Archbishop Rino Fisichella, pro-prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization's section for new evangelization, which is coordinating the Holy Year.

It is a time to get back to basics: to discover how to pray and how to educate people in prayer so that prayer can be effective and fruitful.


The Liturgical Year, Week, and Day 

Living the Church’s year of grace calls for an understanding and devotion towards the year, the week, and the day. The year has been developed according to two cycles: the temporal and the sanctoral. The temporal cycle includes: (1) the Advent-Christmas cycle, or, in the Byzantine Churches, Philip’s Fast-Christmas, (between November 10th -14th), and (2) the Easter cycle, Lent, Passiontide, Easter and its extended celebration, Ascension, Pentecost. The Sundays after Pentecost to the Christ the King belong to Ordinary time. The sanctoral cycle celebrates feasts of the Mother of God and the saints according to the calendar year. 

If Easter is the center of the liturgical year, then Sunday is the weekly celebration of Easter. Sunday, the Lord’s Day symbolizes the eternal rest and joy of heaven. It points to a state of peace between man and nature and a faint resemblance of that messianic kingdom where lion and lamb lie down together and swords are turned into ploughshares (Is 11).  The day, every day, brings with it its own ups and downs when we unite with Christ in his Paschal Mystery.

Liturgical Life in the Middle Ages

In medieval times, the Church year guided the lives of the faithful and united them in a spiritual bond.  From Baptism to the Eucharist to the Last Anointing, from processions and pious devotions to blessings of crops, animals, and boats, the church year “shaped their perception of the world and their place in it,” and these “central moments gave Catholics the key to the meaning and purpose of their lives” (Eamon Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars, 11-46). As a way of making sacred the French countryside, churches and cathedrals dedicated to the Mother of God were built in strategic locations to resemble the constellation Virga. The French cities that formed the constellation of Virga are: Amiens, Evreux, Rouen, Bayeux, Spica, Chartres, Paris, Reims.

By Sr. Joan L. Roccasalvo, C.S.J.


USCCB - Understanding the Liturgical Colors