Church time blues

SJC3611-29A few days ago, I decided to look for answers to some questions I’d been lugging around for a while.

For instance, what’s the difference between the liturgical year and the church calendar?  What are lexionary cycles?  And why does Steven prepare for the Sunday readings using workbooks marked A, B, or C?  Why does Ordinary Time come around twice?  Why is it called Ordinary Time?  What signals a season’s start and its ending?  Are blue vestments now worn to differentiate between Advent and Lent?

Of course, during the search and find process, new questions always come up; but here’s what I’ve found in the meantime.

Liturgical year

The liturgical year is divided into four parts.  Its two themes, or cycles— Christmas and Easter— are based primarily on the Gospel of John.  Each cycle has its seasons and colors.

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The Christmas cycle consists of Advent, Christmastide, and the time after Epiphany.

The Easter cycle has four seasons: Septuagesima; Lent (Quadragesima); Paschaltide, or Eastertide; and the time after Pentecost.  Moreover, the last two weeks of Lent are called Passiontide.  Holy Week with its Sacred Triduum— Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday— begins with Palm Sunday and is the second week of Passiontide and the last week of Lent.

Ordinary Time, on the other hand, isn’t associated with a theme; hence, its name.  Its thirty-three or thirty-four Sundays are divided into two sections, which recount the life and work of Christ based on the three remaining gospels.  The first part lasts from Monday after the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord through Tuesday before Ash Wednesday; the second, Monday after Pentecost until Saturday evening following the Feast of Christ the King.  This holy day ends the liturgical year, after which the new year begins with the Christmas theme.

Gospels are presented in three-year cycles: Matthew, A; Mark, B; and Luke, C.  First readings, based on the Old Testament, support the message in the corresponding day’s gospel.  Second readings are taken from the apostles’ letters in the New Testament.  Although the letters are delivered sequentially, Peter’s and John’s are read during the two church themes: Christmas and Easter.  Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians is read at the start of Ordinary Time in Years A, B, and C, since it covers assorted topics and is rather lengthy; James’s Letter to the Hebrews, in Years B and C.

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Church calendar

The church calendar refers to four types of remembrances.   Feast days denote the dates when saints died, or entered heaven.  Memorials honor saints, dedications of churches, or other such special times in church history.  Commemorations are celebrations during which parts from two separate Masses are combined to acknowledge both special days, since they can’t be transferred to other dates.  Holy days, usually observed with a Vigil Mass, glorify events in the life of Jesus, Mary, or other important saints.

Lexionary

A lexionary is a book of lessons that contains the scripture readings sequenced in such a way that the life of Christ is told from beginning to end each calendar year.

Colors

The colors of liturgical vestments depend on the occasion. 

vestments2White  is for Easter, Christmas, and Holy Days; red, for Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Pentecost Sunday; green, for Ordinary Time; violet or purple, for Advent, Lent, and Requiem Masses; violet, white, or black, for funerals; and rose, for the third Sunday of Advent and the fourth Sunday of Lent.  Vestments that are either festive or different in color may also be worn.

In the United States, gold- or silver-colored vestments are also allowed on solemn occasions.

Church time blues

And, personally, I like the idea of royal blue for Advent not only to distinguish the season from Lent, but also to signal that the birth of the Infant is near: a joyous occasion, blue, as opposed to a somber event, purple.  However, ten of the twelve online articles I read expressed their dislike, disdain, disgust, and/or disapproval of blue vestments.

One priest referred to a musical parody on the color blue.  Another saw red at the sight of a priest wearing blue.  If he closed his eyes, he wrote, the colors would blend as purple, which meant compliance with church rules.  A couple mentioned blue is worn on special occasions in other countries, while two others noted that Protestants have adopted the color blue for Advent.  One blogger was tickled pink to see Pope Benedict XVI wearing blue, and a different source described blue in optimistic shades of patient anticipation.

Maybe I won’t see blue vestments become a reality in my lifetime, but I can dream.

After all, blue is Father Xaviour’s favorite color, as well as the color of the tile near the walls in our new church building.  But, no, I haven’t asked Father’s opinion on blue vestments yet.

Links to explore

In the meantime, I’ve got some excellent links to follow (on homilies, church customs, and celebrations) before revisiting the Fish Eaters’ list of recommended movies to view during the liturgical year.

Maybe you’d like to do the same?

November 29, 2010

On entering church for eleven o’clock Mass yesterday, the first day of Advent, I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Blue on the altar?  Amazing.

Since replacing the photo on the left (2009) with the photo on the right (2010) on our church blog yesterday, I’ve revisited Sunday’s post numerous times.

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The blue is so bright and uplifting compared to the subdued purple that the altar appears to be signaling a glorious event.

I wonder, Will Father Xaviour wear blue to match next year?  Will I see blue vestments during Advent in the Catholic Church in my lifetime?

Links of interest…  Advent blues…  Approved colors (meaning / more)…  Blue: chasuble / color / not a liturgical color / not for Christmas / rant & poll (more – still more)…  Calendar of saints…  Catholic fidelity (why I am Catholic)…  Colorful guide to the liturgical year in one infographic…  Gospel: homilies / Luke / page: index – introduction…  LectionaryMatthew, A / Mark, B / Luke, C…  Liturgical: calendar / colors / feast days / memorial (liturgy) / seasons & cycles (more) / time travelvestments (more) / year…  Movies with Christian themes…  Ordinary time (symbols)…  Proper of saints: Sanctoral cycle…  Seasonal customs…  Solemnity…  Why do priests wear green in Ordinary Time

WP post…  Blue heaven…  Call of service…  Concrete abstraction…  Growing pains…  Prayer power…  Prayerful ways…  Simple yet profound…  Sweet Jesus

Kindred acorns

If you watched the AFC-NFL Pro Bowl on Sunday, you know that the famous Mannings played on opposite teams.  Each a great quarterback in his own right, Peyton and Eli wowed spectators the entire game.  The brothers played in different halves, so fans doubled their viewing pleasure.  I told Steven that the game was a win-win and cheered for both sides.

Nature, nurture

Still, what’s the attraction for the fans?  Is it that the brothers followed in their dad’s footsteps or that they have a great family dynamic?  I can’t decide which impacted them more.  Nature or nurture?

The Manning brothers are indeed talented and highly regarded in their professional lives.  Moreover, fans love them, even if their public presence is different: Peyton’s commercials exude a comedic flair; Eli’s, focus on purposeful public service.

Also during Sunday’s game, Steven and I got the answer to our big question this season: Is Ronde Barber, cornerback for Tampa Bay, related to the charismatic Tiki, former running back for the NY Giants?

What a hoot to watch Tiki interview his mirror image on the TV screen!  The Barber brothers are identical twins with more than football in common.  Not only do they write books together, but they also host The Barber Shop on Sirius NFL radio.  Tiki and Ronde are equally personable and bright, but Tiki writes children’s books.  Another difference?  Tiki has two sons; Ronde, two daughters.

Although their parents divorced when they were kids, their dad was a star running back; so, again, which influenced them more?  Nature or nurture?

Religious siblings

In the case of the Mannings and the Barbers, the acorns didn’t fall far from the oak, but have you ever pondered the nature-nurture factor among our Catholic saints?

Until a few days ago, I’d only read about one saint, the Little Flower, whose four sisters were nuns, too.

Considering that their mom died when Thérèse, the youngest, was four, one can only imagine the enormity of parenting five daughters, let alone instilling such impeccable Christian values in one’s children.  No wonder Pope Benedict XVI beatified their parents, Marie Zélie and Guérin Martin, in Lisieux on October 19, 2008!

This week the church celebrates the feast days of three siblings: a nun whose twin brother founded the Benedictine Order and two missionary brothers whose linguistic giftedness lit the darkness.  Moreover, among these siblings, Saints Benedict, Cyril, and Methodius share the distinction of being Europe’s co-patrons.

Scholastica

Scholastica (c. 480-543; Feb. 10th), foundress of the Benedictine Sisters, lived about five miles away from her twin brother, Benedict of Nursia, Italy.  Since rules prohibited members of the order from entering each other’s residence, the siblings met halfway between his Monte Cassino monastery and her convent to discuss spiritual matters.

After one such meeting, Scholastica begged Benedict to spend the night so that they could spend more time together, but he refused.  When Benedict learned that Scholastica asked for God’s intervention, he was furious.

How dare she waste God’s time on such a trivial request!

“I asked a favor of you, and you refused it.  I asked it of God, and He has granted it!”

Scholastica died three days later.

In his Dialogues (c. 540-604), St. Gregory the Great wrote that God honored Scholastica’s request because she’d always placed him first in her life; and, as a gift to her brother, God allowed Benedict to witness his twin’s ascent to heaven as a dove.

One has to wonder…  Could Scholastica have sensed her death was near?  Might she have wanted time to talk about heaven with Benedict?  How would he have felt had he not spent the extra time with his sister before her death?

Because of her devotion to God St. Scholastica is known as the saint of right relationships, and she’s also the patroness of convulsive children and nuns.

Scholastica’s Benedictine Sisters seek God through prayer, work, silence, and community.  They believe that silence invites God’s presence and grows their heartfelt efforts for others in the world around them (YouTube, n. d.).

Cyril and Methodius

Unlike the quiet Benedictines, brothers Cyril (Constantine, c. 827) and Methodius (Michael, c. 826) carried the message of Christianity with voiced intent. 

Sons of prominent parents, a Greek father and a Slavic mother, their uncle provided them protection and opportunities when their father died.  Constantine studied in Constantinople where he became a deacon and learned Arabic and Hebrew.  Michael was a government official until he entered the monastery, received the sacraments, and changed his name to Methodius.

In 860, the brothers were sent out as missionaries to prevent Judaism from taking hold in the Khagan, an effort which wasn’t altogether a failure since some of the people embraced Christianity.

On returning home, Constantine became a university professor.

In 862, Constantine and Methodius were invited to preach Christianity in the territories belonging to Great Moravia so that Prince Rastislav could rid his lands of the German missionaries who taught in Latin.

During the next four years, Constantine and Methodius fulfilled their true mission in life through their wholehearted belief that people should practice their faith in their native language.  The brothers’ extraordinary background, education, and multilingual giftedness prepared Constantine and Methodius for their lifetime achievement.  Creating the basis for the Cyrillic alphabet, still used by Russians today, resulted in the Slavic language through which translations of written church materials were possible and future missionaries could teach.  This great feat earned Constantine and Methodius the title of saints, “equal to the apostles” (Orthodox Wiki, 2008),

Around 866, the brothers were summoned to Rome to defend their work.

At that time, Constantine took his monastic vows and changed his name to Cyril.  He died soon after, never returning to Great Moravia where he and Methodius had been made welcome.  Methodius became bishop and then archbishop before being imprisoned and released; but constant opposition debilitated him.

Eventually, however, he returned to Great Moravia and, together with his wife, continued to spread Christianity until his death in 885.

Building community

Like the Pro Bowl athletes, this week’s sibling saints, Scholastica and brothers Cyril and Methodius, appear to have received much support and encouragement from family members and interested others.  Never mind the healthy, although sometimes overwhelming, doses  of discomforting disequilibrium sprinkled along life’s path.

Sooo…  Which influenced the call to service— nature or nurture?

Realistically, heredity and environment are both to be credited, of course.  The important thing, Christians will say, is that each individual fulfilled his or her mission, respectively, by building community within God’s kingdom.

Prayer

O God, to show us where innocence leads you made the soul of your virgin, Saint Scholastica, soar to heaven like a dove in flight.  Grant through her merits and her prayers that we may so live in innocence as to attain to joys everlasting.  This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.

July 11, 2013

“Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way; the love of Christ must come before all else” (St. Benedict).

July 11, 2014

“It is well to deny ourselves that which is permitted in order to avoid more easily that which is not” (St. Benedict).

December 28, 2014

If you wish to have pious, good children, you must first of all yourselves be God-fearing and lead good lives.  As the tree, so will the fruit be (St. John Vianney).

December 4, 2015

The first necessity is to find in your soul a respect for your vocation.  Once you have this sense of mission, this sense of dedication to a cause more worthwhile than any purely personal claim, the rest can follow.  Prayer, self-sacrifice, loyalty, perseverance, and in fact the whole list, come spontaneously to the soul who concentrates upon the vocation over the hill.  These virtues come spontaneously…but, of course, this does not mean that they come easily (Dom Hubert van Zeller, Holiness for Housewives and other Working Women).

February 2, 2016

“It is well to deny ourselves that which is permitted in order to avoid more easily that which is not” (St. Benedict).

Links of interest…  Barber: Identical twins / playmates / Ronde / Tiki…  Benedictine benedictions…  Beatification of St. Thérèse’s parents (more)…  Benedictine Sisters (video)…  Chapel of the patron saints of Europe…  Genetics are not as predictive as we might think…  Manning: book / Cooper / Eli / Peyton / weirdly alike…  Pope Benedict…  Pro Bowl…  Sisters of St. Benedict (IN):  Monday messages / prayer requests / stories / virtual tour / ways of prayingwebsite…  Society of the Little Flower…  St. Benedict: & joyful aging& St. Thérèse: Father & child / luminous star of history / option for today / three things to know about his medal…  St. Scholastica: about (more) / Benedict’s sister (twin) / book / feast (Feb 10) / icon (more) / litany / stories…  Sts. Cyril & Methodius: about (more) / apostles (more) / brothers / co-patrons / death (Cyril) / enlighteners / feast (more – more) / July 7 / love & evangelism / memorial / origin & ethnicity / patron saints / prayer (more – readings – vocations) / profile (more) / veneration…  What was Old Church Slavic…  What would Cyril & Methodius do

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