Our Liturgical Roadmap...
After completing the Christmas Season in January with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we have several weeks of Ordinary Time. Then, we come to Ash Wednesday and the Season of Lent, a period of 40 days, that leads to Holy Week and Easter. Because of these changing liturgical seasons, it makes sense to offer some explanation of the process we undergo each year in our life of faith.
What is the Liturgical Year? What are these seasons?
Before Christmas, there was Advent. After Christmas, along with the several feasts associated with it, is Ordinary Time. Then comes Lent, Easter and Pentecost. Finally, there's more Ordinary Time which runs all the way from just before Summer begins, through Summer and Autumn and concludes in late November with the Feast of Christ the King.
Why is this cycle part of our yearly Christian observance?
This cycle of remembering, reliving and celebrating keeps us focused on Jesus. If we didn't remind ourselves on a regular basis that his life is the story of our own life in God, we might distance ourselves from the person of Christ and the personal relationship we are invited to share with him. Faith might become rules. Behaviour might become self-will. Celebration might become mere human festival. Community might become a club. Christian service might become only well-meaning humanistic social service.
How does keeping the Liturgical Year keep us united to Jesus?
Jesus said, "Take my yoke and learn from me..." He said, 'Pick up your cross and follow me..." He also said, "Apart from me you can do nothing..." and, "Whatsoever you do to the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you do to me..." These words of the Lord remind us that our lives are intertwined with his and with one another. In order to enter into a true communion with the Lord, and with others as well, we need to follow in his footsteps, understand his life among us, drink deeply of the mystery of his coming among us in his birth and ministry, his teaching and healing, and his dying and rising. We need to perceive how all of this opened the way for us to return to the Father and to receive the Holy Spirit. By encountering the life of Christ in all its stages, we are immersed, we are Baptized, into the mysteries and the life of Jesus becomes the very pattern of our own lives. As Scripture says, "In him we live and move and have our being..." The Liturgical Year not only brings us face to face with the historical Jesus, it brings us into communion with the living Lord and teaches us about the mystery of our own birth and life in the world, our own coming to faith and healing, and our own dying and rising in Christ. The Liturgical Year is the story of our past, the story of our life now, and the story of our hopes for the future. Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. The Liturgical Year brings that truth to us at each step of the journey.