Background - Liturgical Calendars
Christ’s saving work is celebrated in sacred memory by the Church on fixed days throughout the course of the year. Each week on the day called the Lord’s Day the Church commemorates the Lord’s resurrection. Once a year at Easter the Church honours the resurrection of the Lord and his blessed passion with the utmost solemnity. In fact through the yearly cycle the Church unfolds the entire mystery of Christ and keeps the anniversaries of the saints.
The General Norms for the Liturgical Year and Calendar (GNLY) is the Church document which introduces the Church's celebration of the liturgical year and how it is celebrated.
Through the year the Church commemorates on specific days events in the life of Christ and Our Lady, mysteries of our faith and the lives of saints. These dates are recorded in Calendars.
Solemnities, Feasts and Memorials
As the Church's liturgy and the liturgical year are primarily celebrations of Christ's Paschal Mystery the celebrations of the Calendar are given rankings. There are 4 rankings:
- January 1 - Mary, Mother of God
- January 6 - The Epiphany of the Lord §
- March 19 - St Joseph
- March 25 - The Annunciation of the Lord
- The Ascension §
- Holy Trinity
- The Body & Blood of Christ
- The Sacred Heart of Jesus
- June 24 - The Birth of St John the Baptist
- June 29 - Ss Peter & Paul, apostles §
- August 15 - The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary §
- November 1 - All Saints §
- Christ the King
- December 8 - The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
- December 25 - The Birth of Our Lord §
- Patronal Solemnity
- Anniversary of Dedication
§ are Holydays of Obligation in England and Wales
- The Baptism of the Lord §
- January 25 - The Conversion of St Paul, apostle
- February 2 - The Presentation of the Lord §
- February 22 - The Chair of St Peter, apostle
- April 25 - St Mark, Evangelist
- May 3 - Ss Philp & James, apostles
- May 14 - St Matthias, apostle
- May 31 - The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
- July 3 - St Thomas, apostle
- July 22 - St Mary Magdalene
- July 25 - St James, apostle
- August 6 - The Transfiguration of the Lord §
- August 10 - St Lawrence, deacon & martyr
- August 24 - St Bartholomew, apostle
- September 8 - The Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary
- September 14 - The Triumph of the Cross §
- September 21 - St Matthew, apostle & evangelist
- September 29 - Ss Michael, Gabriel & Raphael, archangels
- October 18 - St Luke, evangelist
- October 28 - Ss Simon & Jude, apostles
- November 9 - The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica §
- November 30 - St Andrew, apostle
- December 26 - St Stephen, martyr
- December 27 - St John, apostle & evangelist
- December 28 - The Holy Innocents, martyrs
- The Holy Family §
§ are Feasts of the Lord and replace the Sunday Liturgy when they fall on a Sunday.
All other celebrations are Memorials of which there are two types: Obligatory and Optional.
So that the purpose of the liturgical year to unfold the mystery of Christ is not lost the General Norms for the Liturgical Year and Calendar offers a table of liturgical which indicates the order of precedence where two celebrations occur on the same day.
Propers & Commons
Where specific texts are provided for a celebration for Mass (Missal and Lectionary) or the Divine Office these are called Propers. Where no text is provided texts are chosen from the relevant Common (i.e. Common of Martyrs etc.).
The Church recognises that a particular celebration can have more significance in one area other another, i.e. St George is a Solemnity in England whereas elsewhere in the world he is an optional memorial. There are, therefore , different degrees of Calendars.
The Universal Calendar is celebrated by the whole Church. There are pages for each month of the Universal Calendar.
Some celebrations are celebrated over a whole continent such as the 6 patrons of Europe who are celebrated as feasts within Europe.
- February 14 - St Cyril and St Methodius
- April 29 - St Catherine of Siena
- July 11 - St Benedict
- July 23 - St Bridget of Sweden
- August 9 - St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)
Each country can have a National Calendar celebrating Saints of national importance. There is a National Calendar for:
Each diocese can have its own Calendar commemorating the diocesan patron(s) and Saints significant to the life of the diocese.
Each religious order can have its own Calendar commemorating its founder and saints of the order. In a parish belonging to a religious order this calendar would be followed.
Parishes dedicated to Our Lady, where the title is not in the Calendar, celebrate the patronal feast on August 15 or on another Marian feast which fits in better with the particular title,
The Anniversary is celebrated on:
- the anniversary of the date of dedication.
- the nearest Sunday to the dedication where that Sunday either falls in Christmas or Ordinary Time (i.e. not Advent, Lent or Easter).
- where the date is unknown on the Sunday before the Solemnity of All Saints (November 1).