FROM THE DESK OF MRS. PAT FARRELL
Over the last couple of weeks, we have all had more than the usual amount of activity in our homes.
People have been coming and going and those of us who have “semi-independent” young adults most likely asked more than a few questions such as “Where are you going?” (especially when handing over the car keys) “Are you ready yet?” “Who are you waiting for”?
The little people in my life – 2 and 3 year old children of my niece- spent quite a bit of time with their noses pressed to the front window looking for “their people” – older cousins or other favorite people. “When is he coming?” is a frequent refrain as they wait.
Now that things are a bit more tranquil, I could not help but turn these questions, thoughts, and this excitement to this coming weekend. For we begin a time of great anticipation in our lives as people of faith. We begin a new liturgical year on Sunday, with Advent.
What exactly is the liturgical year and why does it have a different calendar than the secular calendar by which we mark time in our interactions with the culture?
Quite simply, the liturgical year and its companion calendar is not just another way to mark the passage of time. Its purpose is to understand, celebrate and glorify the mystery of Christ. We begin the year with Advent, the first season in the liturgical calendar, which enables us to prepare properly for the incarnation and the birth of Christ – or Christ living among us fully human and fully divine. This certainly reminds us that through our call to faith and our baptism, we are to live differently – primarily according to the rhythms of divine life, not secular life.
The Christmas Season then follows, beginning with the birth of our Lord, celebrates the Epiphany, and concludes with the Baptism of the Lord. The Feast of Baptism of the Lord also begins the season of Ordinary Time, which traces the public ministry of Jesus. Lent interrupts Ordinary Time, and lasts for 40 days in preparation for Easter. Easter Season begins with the Easter Vigil Mass, is followed by the 40 days leading to the Ascension and then concludes 10 days later with Pentecost. After Pentecost, Ordinary time resumes and concludes with the Solemnity of Christ the King, the last Sunday of the liturgical year. That is the “circle of life” for believers.
But we are not left with a calendar that we have to figure out how to interpret. We are given a “guide book” called the Lectionary. This is the book of readings that are proclaimed at our daily and weekly celebrations of the Eucharist – or Mass.
We can see how the Lectionary is tied to the Church Year as it takes us on an annual trip, almost like a “vacation” from the demands of the secular calendar. At it is a most fascinating “vacation”, indeed. Once again, it takes us from anticipating and celebrating the birth of Christ (Advent, Christmas, Epiphany), to the cross and the resurrection, to the inclusion of each one of us in this lived experience (Lent and Easter, and Pentecost). In this sense the key aspects of the story of Jesus are emphasized, which can be a helpful way to keep the reason for Christ’s presence among us, within us.
These stories are so significant that they deserve to be told in a special way. Thus the church has developed a pattern or cycles for proclaiming these stories. The start of a new liturgical year, beginning with the first Sunday of Advent, also marks the transition from one Lectionary cycle (A, B, or C) to the next.
These cycles are a result of the Second Vatican Council, which ordered a change in the Sunday readings at Mass so that Catholics would become more familiar with the text of the Bible. As a result we now have a three-year cycle of readings built around readings from the three synoptic Gospels—Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The Gospel of John is interspersed throughout these three cycles.
This Sunday we begin YEAR C (the Gospel of Luke) which will be read from December 2, 2018 through November 24, 2019.
Weekday readings will be taken from either Year I or Year II of the Daily Lectionary, Year I is read in odd-numbered years (2009, 2011, etc.) and Year II is used in even-numbered years (2010, 2012, etc.) The Gospels for both years are the same. During the year, the Gospels are read semi-continuously, beginning with Mark, then moving on to Matthew and Luke. The Gospel of John is read during the Easter season (for more details on these selection of readings see http://www.usccb.org/bible/liturgy/index.cfm).
So during the season of Advent let us return to those simple family of faith questions. “What (or who!!) are you waiting for?” “When will He come?” “Are you ready yet?”.
You will find the answers in God’s Word (Scripture and the Lectionary readings) and in your heart.