Starting with the first Sunday of Advent and ending on Christ the King, the Church celebrates the mystery of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in its different facets. The incarnation and the paschal mystery are celebrated during the two main cycles of the year: Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter/Pentecost. Surrounding these two main cycles is ordinary time, which is pointed with other feasts of Christ, the Blessed Mother and the saints.
The incarnation cycle celebrates the mystery of God's choice to join us in our humanity and take on flesh. As with all major feasts, there is a time of preparation (Advent) and a time of celebration (Christmas). Although it is common to celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus, in effect, Advent (from Adventus Domini, the coming of the Lord) celebrates the first coming and anticipates the second and final coming of the Lord when salvation will be complete.
The paschal cycle explores the mystery of the sacrificial life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The time of preparation, which begins on Ash Wednesday, is known as Lent (Middle English for "spring time") or the Forty Days. The time of celebration (Eastertide) ends on the fiftieth day with Pentecost. The paschal cycle hinges on Holy Week with the Sacred Triduum as its center. Holy Week begins with the commemoration of the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday of our Lord's Passion. The Sacred Triduum consists of three days of uninterrupted prayer starting with sunset on Holy Thursday, and including the liturgies of Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday.
Feasts of the Lord
Some feasts that celebrate our Lord fall outside the incarnation cycle or the paschal cycle.
Click here to learn more about the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord.
Feasts of Mary
As the mother of Jesus and the premiere saint, the mystery of Mary's life is celebrated on many different days, exploring the depth of her life and her commitment to God.
Feasts of Saints
The saints are the great models for all Christians. Through their sometimes heroic or unassuming life, they show all Christians the different paths to salvation. On feast days we are inspired by their example and we commit ourselves to follow their example.
Click here to learn more about Saint Blase and the blessing of throats.