Questions about Liturgical Ministries

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Answers to  Your Questions about Liturgical Seasons

When is Ordinary Time?

The two periods of Ordinary Time make up most of the liturgical calendar. The Gospel readings at this time focus on the life and ministry of Jesus with many of the readings focusing on the parables and miracles.

When is the season of Lent?

The season of Lent lasts for forty days (excluding Sundays) as it recalls the forty days that Jesus spent in the desert.  It is a season of preparation for Easter. It is a time to make a special effort to pray, fast and do good deeds.  For adults who want to become Christians it is the final time of preparation before their baptism.  Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent.  We get ashes on the forehead as a sign that we are sorry for our sins and want to make a fresh start. It also reminds us that we are made out of dust and will return to dust. Passion (Palm) Sunday is the last Sunday in Lent and the beginning of Holy Week.  On this Sunday the full account of the Passion of Jesus is read to focus the minds and hearts of people on the events that will unfold over the next seven days. The season of Lent ends with the celebration of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday.

What is the the Easter Triduum?

Triduum is the Latin word for ‘three days’.  These three days commemorate the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus and are the most important days in the Christian calendar. The Triduum begins with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday evening. On Good Friday we focus our hearts and minds on the cross as we recall the death of Jesus. The main liturgy on this day is the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion. At the end of Holy Saturday, after dark, the Easter Vigil is celebrated. The Easter Triduum ends with evening prayer on Easter Sunday and the Season of Easter begins.

When is the season of Easter?

The season of Easter continues for 50 days. It is a season of joy as we celebrate Christ’s resurrection from the dead. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead was the basis for the faith and hope of the early disciples, and the cornerstone of the faith of the Church. We also celebrate the day Jesus returned to his Father in heaven.  Traditionally this day is known as Ascension Thursday, which is forty days after Easter. It is now celebrated on the seventh Sunday of Easter.  The following Sunday is Pentecost Sunday and the last day of the Easter season.  On this day we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit and the foundation of the Church.

What happens after the season of Easter?

The second period of Ordinary Time begins the day after Pentecost Sunday and continues until the day before the first Sunday of Advent.  Important feasts celebrated during this time include Trinity Sunday, when we recall the mystery of a triune God, and Corpus Christi, when we celebrate the gift of the Body and Blood of the Lord.  The feast of the Assumption, when we honor Mary who was taken body and soul into heaven, is celebrated on August 15th. November is the month of the Holy Souls, which begins with All Saints Day on November 1st and All Souls Day on November 2nd. The last Sunday in Ordinary Time is the Feast of Christ the King.

Are we allowed to wash the feet of men and women on Holy Thursday?

In 1996, the U.S. bishops proposed a modification that would allow for the washing of women’s and children’s feet during the Holy Thursday service. This proposal received the necessary support of more than two-thirds of the U.S. bishops. Recognizing the support of the USCCB and in keeping with the tradition of the Diocese of Phoenix, Bishop Olmsted allows for the washing of women’s and children’s feet in the Diocese of Phoenix.

When do we celebrate the Ascension?

Ascension Thursday is now called “Feast of the Ascension” because it has been permanently moved to the 7th Sunday of Easter. This year (2005) it falls on Sunday, May 8. The day commemorates the Ascension of Christ into heaven (see Mark 16:19, Luke 24:51, and Acts 1:2).

Beginning around the year 2000, most of the regions of bishops in this country (all but about 7 ecclesiastical provinces of this country), with the approval of Rome, made the decision to move the feast from a weekday (Thursday) to the following Sunday because many people could not attend the weekday celebration. The Ascension is too important a part of the whole Paschal Mystery – Christ’s dying, rising, ascending to the Father, and sending the Holy Spirit, to not be available to the greater community of the faithful.

A regular weekday in Eastertide is celebrated on that (original) Thursday. The Ordo, the small book of “everything you need to know for Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours,” indicates what scriptures for Mass and references for Liturgy of the Hours are to be followed when the Ascension is moved to Sunday. It is because calendars and ordos have to be used by the whole country that you find the double reference (Thursday and Sunday).

Which Bible should I buy to coincide with the texts proclaimed during the Liturgy of the Word?

There is actually no edition of the Bible which will coincide exactly with the liturgical text proclaimed. There are introductory lines which give the context of the reading – not needed if you were reading along previous verses in the Bible. There are omissions of verses for one reason or another. There are short and long forms of various texts. All of these ‘differences’ were put into the text so that the proclamation could be better understood. The Bible, on the other hand, is meant to be read and prayed with by the individual who takes up the scripture and follows as the Spirit leads. The  translation used by the editors with the addition of the above-mentioned adaptations, is the New American Bible (NAB). The Catholic Study Bible, an edition of the New American Bible, also provides excellent commentary for study.

If you wish to follow along with what is being proclaimed at mass there are a number of misalettes, monthly publications and apps that allow you to do just that. Many provide the collect, antiphon and prayers of the day as well.