Vestment colors are used to represent the mood of the Mass
being celebrated. The color for the altar cloth and the celebrant's sash will
be of this color. There are four possible vestment colors.
Violet - Represents Expectation, Purification, or Penance. Used during Lent and Advent.
White (or Gold) - Represents Joy and Triumph. Used during the Paschal Triduum, Easter, and Christmas, as well as for Holy Days and Feast Days throughout the year.
Red - Represents Royalty, Fire, and Martyrdom. Used on special Feast Days and Holy Days throughout the year.
Green - A sign of Life and Growth. Represents Ordinary Time.
For Sundays and other special days throughout the church year, there are three sets of readings assigned for the day. These readings are assigned to Liturgical Years A, B, and C. Years which are evenly divisible by 3 are assigned year C, such as 1995. Year A follows year C, Year B follows Year A, and Year C follows Year B. Bear in mind that Liturgical Years start on the first Sunday of Advent of the previous year, so December 1, 1996 started Liturgical Year B.
For weekdays in ordinary time and other special days throughout the church year, there are two sets of readings for the day. These readings are assigned to Liturgical Cycles I and II. Odd years are assigned cycle I, and even years are assigned cycle II. Bear in mind that Liturgical Cycles start on the first Sunday of Advent of the previous year, so December 1, 1996 began Liturgical Cycle I.
The seasons of the liturgical year begin with Advent, a time of preparation for the Christmas season. The Christmas season celebrates the birth of Jesus (on December 25) and continues until the Baptism of Our Lord. This is followed by the first of two periods of Ordinary Time, which continues until Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent, a time of penitence leading to the Paschal Triduum after the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday. The Triduum is the three days before Easter. Easter Sunday marks the start of the Easter season, which continues as a time of celebration until Pentecost Sunday. Pentecost Sunday marks the start of the second period of Ordinary Time, which continues until the Advent season begins again.
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One of the precepts of the Church is to keep holy the day of the Lord's Resurrection; to worship God by participating in Mass every Sunday and holy day of obligation; to avoid those activities that would hinder renewal of soul and body, for example, needless work and business activities, unnecessary shopping, and so forth.
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These are days which the Church has set aside as having special meaning. There are several types of celebrations. Some are events in the life of Christ. Some are days dedicated to a particular saint. There are three types of feast days. Optional Feasts are not universally celebrated. Holy Days of Obligation are days on which Catholics are required to attend Mass. All other celebrations are celebrated, but Catholics are not obligated to attend.
Fasting is restricting eating to one full meal and
two lighter meals in the course of a single day, and prohibits eating between
meals. Adults who have not yet reached their sixtieth year are bound by the
Canon Law to fast. Pregnant women and people who are sick are not obligated to
Abstinence is refraining from eating meat. People who have completed their fourteenth year are bound by the Canon Law to abstain.
Anyone who feels that they cannot fulfill the law of abstinence or the law of fasting should consult a parish priest or confessor.