Now that you're in the habit of going to Mass and saying regular prayers, it's time to start celebrating! You've already accomplished so much, and celebrating the liturgical year will make it all even more fun and fulfilling.There are only THREE things in this stage we believe are a MUST:
Step 1: Get yourself some candles
- Get yourself some candlesLearn about the liturgical year
- Start that celebrating!
And a candle holder, of course. Your candle will be a constant reminder of the current Church season - don't worry, join our group and we'll make sure you know which season we're celebrating! The candle can be any size or shape, but you need to have at least one candle in each of the following Church season colors:
Put the candle in a place where your family will see it often. Ours is on our kitchen table. Make sure your family understands the candle is a reminder of our Catholic year. The color of the candle reminds us which Church season it is, and what that season teaches us about God. Notice that every Catholic church you see is decorated in these same colors, and the priests' vestments (the clothing he wears during Mass) will also contain these colors.
- Green - symbolizes hope, life, and vitality, and is used for Ordinary Time.
Violet (Purple) - symbolizes mourning and penance, and is used for Advent and LentRose pink - symbolizes rejoicing, and is used for the 3rd week of AdventWhite - symbolizes purity, triumph, and joy, and is used for the Christmas and Easter seasons, funerals, and feast days of Our Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and non-martyred saints
- Red - symbolizes fire and blood, and is used for Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Pentecost, and the feast days of martyred saints
Giving Catholicism even a moment's thought on a frequent basis is a great beginning. As your interest and schedule allow, you can start doing some more.You don't have to stop with one candle, of course. You can change all your candles, put up wreaths, table cloths, etc. It just depends on how much you like to decorate and how important that is to you. Our family is decorating-challenged, so we usually just settle for the kitchen candle.
Step 2: Learn about the liturgical year
Learn about the amazing history of the Catholic Church! The unending faith and humility of the Blessed Virgin Mary, her agreeing to do God's will which changed history forever, the Incarnation of Jesus (when God became man), the strengths and weaknesses of Jesus' closest followers, the humiliating death and glorious Resurrection of our Savior, and all the sinners and saints who chose to follow Him. Our liturgical year is organized so we can recall our history, learn about the good and the bad of humanity, and understand God's Revelation to us.How can you keep track of over 2000 years of Church history? Simple - get a Church calendar. Most parishes hand them out at the end of every year, so it's free for you! If you're in the middle of the year, just ask if they have any leftovers. There usually are some. Calendars usually just help us measure time. But Catholic calendars, also called liturgical calendars, measure much more than that. They remind us of our history, they showcase heroes, they help us recognize the trials so many Christians have endured, and they serve as a constant nudge to follow the Light, the Way, the ultimate, personal, infinite Truth, Jesus Christ. Here's a quick quiz - who is responsible for our modern-day calendar with 12 months lasting 30-31 days and the February variations? Answer: Pope Gregory XIII (1582). The modern calendar is considered accurate to within one day every 20,000 years.To help make things easy our liturgical year is divided into seasons:
Step 3: Start that celebrating!
- Advent - the beginning of our year. It lasts for the 4 Sundays before Christmas.Christmas - this season is the traditional 12 days of Christmas, lasting from Christmas day all the way through to Epiphany, January 6th. Many parishes celebrate Epiphany on the nearest Sunday, just to make sure we all benefit from the symbolism of the entire Christmas season.
- Ordinary time - The longest liturgical season, although it is divided into smaller parts. It comes between the end of the Christmas season and lasts until the beginning of Lent. It starts up again after Pentecost and lasts until the beginning of Advent. It is a time for rest and relaxation and small remembrances of saints, history and wonderful stories. It is a great time to really focus on living a Catholic life.
- Lent - the 6 weeks of preparation before Easter.
- Easter Triduum - Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday
- Easter - the single greatest day of our calendar. The season lasts from Easter until Pentecost, then we go back to Ordinary Time.
The most important celebration takes place every Sunday - our incredible Mass. After that, we get to the icing on the cake! You probably celebrate Christmas, Easter, even St. Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, and Halloween. But did you know that becoming aware of, and even celebrating, religious traditions can help your whole family slow down, reflect, and grow? Those cold, dark days of winter are considerably brightened by Christmas parties, St. Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day celebrations. Lent is usually a time when we are aware of the sufferings of Jesus; at Easter we celebrate the triumphs of Jesus. Those are times for us to reflect on our own trials and celebrations as well. What about the everyday lives of Jesus and his followers? They were just like we are, and we learn about the ups and the downs of humanity during Ordinary Time.
Following the liturgical calendar can make each and every day a reminder of the importance and the wonder of living a Catholic life. Are you ready to get started? It's easy. We'll remind you of the current liturgical season, the color that represents that season, and some ideas for how to commemorate and celebrate special times. (Join us now!)
If you are new to all this Catholic partying, don't worry! Just reminding your family of a special day is often sufficient. If you want to do extra, feel free. If something doesn't fit into your schedule, don't worry. The nice thing about our liturgical calendar is that if you miss something this year, it will be back again next year.
Once you feel comfortable with some Catholic celebrations
Keep building that faith!!