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Liturgical Calendar

From earliest times the Church has gathered on Sundays to celebrate the good news of Jesus Christ. Over time an annual cycle of Christian memory-making has also developed, which allows us to remember his life, death, and resurrection; to celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit; and to recall the ministry of the holy people who have spread the Christian faith over the centuries. 

Through the structuring of our Christian memory, the past is able to come into our present.

The liturgical or Church year is divided into several seasons. It begins in late November or early December with Advent, which looks forward to Christmas. The visit of the wise men to Jesus is remembered at Epiphany, after which there is a period of ‘ordinary time’. The six weeks of Lent prepare us for Easter, which celebrates Jesus’s resurrection, leading forward to his Ascension and the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church at Pentecost. ‘Ordinary time’ then resumes until the end of the year.

So-called ‘ordinary time’ is hardly boring. It allows for more continuous reading from the Bible, for the exploration of other themes such as creation and the environment, and for creative responses to saints’ days.

In Christian churches one of four colours - purple, green, gold (or white) and red - referred to as 'liturgical colours,' are used for altar linen, clergy robes and various hangings. The colour reflects the season, so that for instance in Advent purple is used, a colour of royalty because we are preparing to welcome the coming of a king. Purple is used again in Lent because it also symbolises suffering and pain. 

At Christmas and Easter the colour changes to white or gold, both bright optimistic colours for festivals, times for joy and celebration. Between the festivals green cloths symbolise all living things, renewal and promise of new life. And finally, red is the colour of fire, used in churches to celebrate Pentecost and saints’ days.

Liturigcal calendar
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