As a more profound counterpoint to the civil calendar we follow each day, Holy Church has her annual liturgical cycles arrayed across the different calendars of recognised Rites. These cycles help us to keep track of our progress in holiness and to make progress toward heaven.
The first great liturgical cycle, which begins the Church’s calendar year, is Advent/Christmas, which stretches to Epiphany when, traditionally, three manifestations of the Lord’s divinity are celebrated: the Adoration of the Magi; the wedding at Cana; and the Lord’s Baptism. In the reformed, post-conciliar calendar those mysteries were broken up and the Christmas season officially ends with the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. However, the Advent/Christmas cycle has its beautiful ringing echo for 40 days from Christmas through to February 2, Candlemas (the Purification of Mary or, modernly, Presentation). The other great cycle is Lent/Easter, which extends 40 days from Easter through Pentecost (and its traditional Octave). Lent has its pre-echo, so to speak, with the Pre-Lent Sundays (ie Septuagesima, etc), which remind us to start planning our practice of penance and prayer.
Between the great cycles in both the traditional and modern calendars we observe the “Time through the Year” or Tempus per annum. This is the season of green vestments. Traditionally, the Tempus per annum is split into the Season of Epiphany, which extends to the pre-Lent Sundays, and the Season of Pentecost, which runs to the end of the Church’s year, which restarts with the First Sunday of Advent. In the Novus Ordo’s modern calendar these Seasons were suppressed into “Ordinary Time”, which is, better, “ordered time”. Some Protestants call this “Kingdomtide”, which I rather like. In the Novus Ordo, the final Sunday of the Year celebrates Christ, King of the Universe. You might think of the Tempus per annum as the time when we integrate and put into practice in our daily lives what we learned from the mysteries of the greater liturgical cycles.
Speaking of the civil calendar, however, we can also order our devotional practices according to months. Each month has a designated devotion. Everyone knows that May is associated with Mary. July, however, is devoted to the Precious Blood of the Lord, each drop of which is worth the salvation of all who have ever lived. As July continues, pray for Christians whose blood is being shed in terror and persecution. Lord Jesus, crucified, have mercy on us.
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