St. Joseph Catholic Church

Sandpoint, Idaho

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The Liturgical Year at St. Joseph

The mystery of Christ, unfolded through the cycle of the year, calls us to live his mystery in our own lives. The seasons are celebrated throughout the year as a proclamation and renewal of the Paschal Mystery of Christ.

Advent:

Advent comes from the Latin word meaning "coming." Jesus is coming, and Advent is intended to be a season of preparation for His arrival. While we typically regard Advent as a joyous season, it is also intended to be a period of preparation, much like Lent. Prayer, penance and fasting are appropriate during this season.

For many Christians, Advent wreaths are a favorite way to celebrate the month of December leading up to Christmas Day. The four weeks of Advent are symbolized by the four candles on the advent wreath. The first three candles are purple (the color symbolizing penance), and the last is pink.

As Christ's Advent, or “coming,” draws nearer another candle is lit, with each candle dispelling the darkness a little more. Thus, the Advent wreath helps us to spiritually contemplate the great drama of salvation history that surrounds the birth of God Incarnate who comes to redeem the human race.

Christmas:

The season of Christmas recalls the Nativity of Jesus Christ and his manifestation to the people of the world. Christmas Day, celebrated on December 25th of each year, is one of the most important days of the Church year. It is the feast of the incarnation, the feast of God becoming flesh.

The liturgical season of Christmas begins with the vigil Mass on Christmas Eve and concludes of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, or Epiphany. During this season, we celebrate Christ's coming into our world, our lives, and our hearts. The gift of salvation we receive was born with Him, and He was born to die for us.

Popular symbols of the season include the Christmas Tree and the Nativity Scene. We also exchange gifts with family and friends to honor God our Father's gift of his only son to save the world.

Lent:

Lent is a 40-day period of penance before Easter. It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday.

During Lent, we are asked to devote ourselves to prayer, reading Scripture, and service, which includes giving alms. Giving alms is the sharing of our God-given time, treasure, and talent with those in need. We are also called to practice self-discipline through fasting and other ways throughout the season. Fasting does not just mean abstaining from meat on Fridays; it means multiple forms of symbolic self-denial.

In Lent, the baptized are called to renew their baptismal commitment. For those yet to be baptized, but who have decided to become Catholic through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, this is a period of learning and discernment.

A truthful observance of Lent stems from recognizing our baptismal renewal. We recall those waters in which we were baptized into Christ's death, died to sin and evil, and began a new life in Christ.

Sacred Paschal Triduum:

These are the holiest three days of the Church's year. Christian people recall the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus during this time. The Triduum begins on the evening of Holy Thursday, and ends on the evening of Easter Sunday.

Each of the three days unfolds for us the unity of Christ's Paschal Mystery. Three liturgical services take place:

Easter:

Easter consists of 50 days of joyful celebration of the Lord's resurrection from the dead and His sending forth of the Holy Spirit. There is so much joy during Easter, it cannot be contained into one day. The Easter season ends on the Feast of the Pentecost.

This is the season of joy: The joy of glorified life and the victory over death. It is expressed fully in the resounding cry of the Christian: Alleluia! In its entirety, the Christian faith flows from the Resurrection.

The Octave (first eight days) of Easter are particularly celebrated, as though every day of the Octave is a little Sunday.

The word "Easter" comes from the Old English simply meaning the "East." The sun which rises in the East brings light, warmth, and hope, and is a symbol for the Christian of the rising Christ, who is the true light of the world.

Ordinary Time:

This season is divided into two segments: One span of 4-8 weeks after the Christmas Season, and another lasting about six months after the Easter Season.

The Sundays and weeks of Ordinary Time take us through the life of Christ. It is living the life of Christ.

Ordinary Time is a time of growth and maturation, a time in which the mystery of Christ is called to penetrate ever more deeply into history.

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