Fr Rodney Kissinger, S.J.
The Liturgical Year is the Church’s most constant and the most effective teacher. Each year the liturgy celebrates all of the important events in the life of our Lord, so that we can experience them again, understand them better, and model our lives on them. The Liturgical Year developed slowly over the centuries and is still a work in progress.
Originally it was simply 52 Sundays. Sunday has structured the history of the Church for 2,000 years and today is still the definable and indispensable element in Christian identity. The Eucharistic Assembly is the heart of Sunday. It is the celebration of the presence of the living Lord in the midst of his people. It is a powerful and essential support group for Christian life in a counter-Christian culture. In the Liturgy of the Word we hear the Word of God as it was gradually and progressively revealed through the patriarchs and prophets, culminating in the Person of Jesus Christ. In the Liturgy of the Eucharist we celebrate the one sacrifice of Calvary by which we are all saved. And we receive the Eucharist which is the source and sign of union and unity in the community.
In the second century the Feast of Easter was established. Then in the fourth century the Feast of Christmas was established. Then there slowly developed a period of preparation (Advent and Lent) and a period of celebration (Christmastide and Eastertide) for each of these feasts. So we have today the two liturgical seasons of Christmas and Easter.
Between these two seasons there is Ordinary Time. Not Ordinary in the ordinary sense but ordinary in the sense of ordinalis, the Latin word for numbered. These are called the Numbered Sundays, 33 of them, which witness to the original, basic weekly Sunday celebration of the Paschal Mystery. Feasts of the Saints are sandwiched in between the Seasonal Sundays and the Numbered Sundays. They proclaim the work of Jesus in his followers and offer us an example of what it means to be a disciple and an apostle.
The Liturgical Year developed slowly over the centuries and still is a work in progress. More than half of the Liturgical Year is Ordinary Time so there is room for more Feasts. And there is a great need especially for more Jewish Feasts. Christianity is not a new religion that started from scratch. It is the Judaeo-Christian Religion. When the Liturgical Year begins on the First Sunday of Advent a lot is assumed from Judaism. We should have Feasts celebrating these events.
We should have a Feast of Creation. How relevant it would be for us today in this age of the big bang and secular humanism. It would help us to realize that man is the lord and steward of creation and will have to give an account of his stewardship of the air we have to breathe, the water we have to drink and the land we have to live on.
We should have a Feast of the Institution of Marriage, between a man and a woman, celebrating the family as the fundamental unit of society. This surely would be relevant in our same sex marriage culture. Then we could have a Feast of the Fall of Man. How humbling it would be to have to factor Original Sin into all of our economic and political plans and strategies. Other possibilities would be a Feast of Abraham, Our Father in Faith, reminding us that salvation is not through blood but through faith. And a Feast of The Exodus, would remind us of Sinai and the Ten Commandments.
These feasts would help to
ease the tension between Christians and Jews. And converts from Judaism
would not feel that they have given up their religion but that they are
really coming home to the fullness of Judaism realizing that Jesus is
the glory of Israel.
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