The Catholic Calendar

Definition Page

Vestment Colors

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.

 

Liturgical Years

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.

Liturgical Cycles

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.

Seasons of the Liturgical Year

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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Holy Days of Obligation

Holy days of obligation are special feasts on which Catholics who have reached the age of reason are seriously obliged to assist at Mass and avoid unnecessary work. See Sunday Obligation below.

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Sunday Obligation

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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Feasts, Memorials, Commemorations and Solemnities

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.

 

Fast and Abstinence

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 fast.
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.

 

 

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