THE LITURGICAL CALENDAR AND THE LITURGY OF THE HOURS
The Liturgy of the Hours follows the same liturgical
calendar as that used for Mass and so the day of the Liturgical Year
celebrated at Mass will be celebrated in that day's office as well.
The Church understands the Liturgy of the Hours to be both a
preparation for the Eucharist and the extension of the action of the
Eucharist: praise and thanksgiving offered to God, throughout the day.
~ This is the Liturgical Calendar of the Church
printed according to a given calendar year. In addition to Ordos which
are printed for particular dioceses (e.g. the one for the dioceses of
New York and Albany published by Paulist Press), most publishers of
editions of the Liturgy of the Hours annually offer an ordo
specifically keyed to their edition. Your first copy of this Ordo
is usually included when you purchase a particular edition of the
Office. This Ordo will be a GREAT HELP
in determining which celebration should be prayed on any given day as
it gives you the page numbers in that edition for each hour of
INFORMATION ON THE ARRANGEMENT OF SEASONS AND FEASTS IN THE LITURGICAL
This information is provided to give some additional
help in understanding the complex arrangement of seasons and feasts.
It is arranged as follows:
TYPES OF CELEBRATIONS IN THE LITURGICAL CALENDAR
KINDS OF MEMORIALS
the core of the Church's liturgical year. Every Sunday is considered
by the Church to be a "little Easter." As a result of this, Sunday
celebrations have several characteristic features:
celebration of Sunday begins on the evening before,
i.e. on Saturday evening. From very early in her history the church
began the celebration of major feasts with prayer on the evening
before, and so one mark of the most important celebrations in the
Church's calendar today is this extended liturgical day. Each Sunday
and Solemnity (major celebration) begins on the evening of the day
before with Evening Prayer I (First Vespers). Evening Prayer II
(Second Vespers) is celebrated on the evening of the day itself.
Each new week of
the Liturgical Year begins on Sunday. In Ordinary time, for example, the Twenty-second week
in Ordinary Time, begins with the Twenty-second Sunday of Ordinary
Time. The subsequent days of the week are known as Monday of the
Twenty-Second week, Tuesday of the Twenty-Second week, etc.
celebrations are not replaced by any other feast. The only exception to this is that Sundays in
Ordinary Time and in the Christmas Season are replaced by Solemnities
of Our Lord, Our Lady and the Saints and by some Feasts which, in a
given year, fall on a Sunday. Some Solemnities and Feasts which, when
they fall on a Sunday will be celebrated instead of the Sunday
ordinarily assigned to that day are:
of John the Baptist
Peter and Paul, Apostles
Assumption of Our Lady
Exaltation of the Cross
Dedication of the Lateran Basilica [The Mother and Head of all
the Churches of the city (Rome) and of the world. (Inscription
by Pope Clement XII)}
In the United
States the Solemnity of Epiphany is always celebrated on a Sunday
in the Christmas Season and the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the
Lord (Corpus Christi) is always celebrated on the Sunday after Trinity
(cf. the table giving the order of precedence of liturgical
the celebration to be used will be either that of the Liturgical
Season (Lent, Easter; Advent, Christmas, Epiphany; Ordinary Time) or
of the calendar day. Several kinds of celebration may occur on
weekdays. These include:
Weekdays of the liturgical season, i.e. of Lent, Easter, Advent,
Christmas, Epiphany, Ordinary Time (Proper of the Season)
Weekdays of the calendar of celebrations of Our Lady and the Saints,
arranged according to calendar dates. (Proper of the Saints)
CELEBRATIONS IN THE LITURGICAL CALENDAR
are divided into different categories according to their relative
importance in the life of the Church. The order of these celebrations
going from most important to least important is:
are the most important celebrations in the life of the Church. In
addition to solemnities in the Universal Calendar, certain
celebrations are solemnities for one particular church or religious
congregation, but not for all. These would include the patron of a
parish, e.g. Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish,
or the founder of a religious congregation, e.g. Saint Francis of
Assisi for Franciscans. Saint Patrick's Day is observed as a Solemnity
in the Archdiocese of New York because St. Patrick is the patron of
Things to know
about solemnities include the following:
Solemnities begin with Evening Prayer One on the preceding day.
find Hymns, Prayers, Readings and Psalms for a given Solemnity one
should look first at what is unique to this particular
celebration. These texts will be found in the Proper of the Saints,
or, for some solemnities of the Lord, in a special section for
Solemnities. In the case of Easter, Christmas, Epiphany and a few
others, these texts will be found in the Proper of the Seasons.
is not found in the Proper for the day will be taken from the Commons,
e.g. the Common of Our Lady, of the Dedication of a Church, etc. The
proper will give you the page reference in the common for those
prayers which it does not contain and which will be supplied by the
the celebrations of slightly lesser importance than solemnities.
Things to know about feasts include the following:
Feasts (with a few exceptions) are celebrated within the calendar day
and begin with the morning office.
find those parts of the office which are specific to a particular
feast one should look first at the calendar date in the Proper
of the Saints.
is not found in the Proper for the day will be taken from the Commons,
e.g. the Common of the Apostles, of Martyrs, of Virgins, etc. The
Proper will give you the page reference in the Common for those
prayers which it does not contain and which, therefore, must be
supplied from the Common.
are celebrations of other saints and events in the life of the Church.
In developing her calendar the Church seeks to strike a balance
giving primary emphasis to the major liturgical seasons in which the
life of the Lord is yearly placed before her people and
providing opportunities to celebrate Our Blessed Mother and other
people who have faithfully lived the Christian life and can serve as
models and examples for those on the same road to commemorate events
which have in some way been milestones in the life of the Church or of
a community within the Church.
For this reason,
and also because the Church is world-wide and not all individual
saints are equally important to all members of the Church, some
memorials of saints are commemorated by the universal church, others
by smaller groups for whom those saints have a special significance.
KINDS OF MEMORIALS
order to help her members to keep in their vision the world-wide
community of believers, the Church calls for the universal celebration
of some saints from every age and every continent, designating them as
Obligatory Memorials in the Universal Calendar. These are memorials
which the Church asks everyone to celebrate, unless the celebration is
superceded by a season or feast of greater significance.
At the same time there are some saints who, although
not widely known, have great significance for a local area, culture or
nation, or for those whose baptismal name places them under his or her
patronage. While not wishing to deprive those who venerate these
saints of the opportunity to do so, the Church does not wish to impose
this obligation on the entire Church. These saints are celebrated as
"optional" memorials, meaning that a community or individual may
choose whether or not to celebrate that particular saint.
How to Tell an
Obligatory Memorial from an Optional Memorial
the Proper of the Saints, after each date and name, the rank of the
celebration is given in red. Obligatory Memorials will have "Memorial"
printed in red below the name of the saint or event being
commemorated. If there is nothing printed under the name the
celebration is an optional memorial.
Things to know
about memorials include the following:
are specific to the celebration of a particular saint will be found on
the calendar day in the Proper of the Saints. As a general rule, when
a Memorial is celebrated everything found in the Proper of the Saints
for that day should be used.
in the proper for the day, the Hymn for Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer
and the Office of Readings may be taken either from the weekday in the
four week Psalter or from the common appropriate to the saint being
celebrated, at the choice of the community or individual praying the
office. (The Proper for the individual saint or event will tell you
the correct Common for the day's celebration.)
in the proper for the saint or event being observed the Psalms and
antiphons for Morning and Evening Prayer and for the Office of
Readings are taken from the current weekday in the Four Week Psalter.
In Morning and
Evening Prayer, apart from anything provided in the Proper, everything
from the reading to the Intercessions inclusive, may be taken
either from the common appropriate to the saint being
celebrated, or from the current weekday in the Four
Week Psalter. When an antiphon for the Gospel Canticle is provided in
the Proper for the day it should be used. If it is not provided there,
the antiphon used may be chosen either from the common or the current
weekday, depending on the choice made above.
In the case of
Obligatory Memorials, or when an Optional Memorial is to be
celebrated, the prayer should be taken from the Proper of the Saint
being celebrated for that day.
In the Office of
Readings, unless provided in the proper, the psalms and the first
reading are taken from the current weekday of the four week Psalter.
The closing prayer is taken from the Proper of the Saint. For
obligatory memorials the second reading is taken from the Proper of
the Saints. For those who choose to celebrate an optional Memorial the
second reading is taken from the Proper of the Saint if one is
provided; if not, the second reading may be taken either from the
common or from the current weekday of the four week Psalter.
Where to find the rank of a
~ The Universal Roman Calendar
gives the rank of all of the celebrations it contains. Ranks of other
celebrations can best be found in the Ordo for a given year.
Celebrations for Dioceses, Parishes and Religious Congregations
to celebrations in the General Roman Calendar, dioceses, parishes and
religious orders have their own proper celebrations. For example, the
Feast of Saint Patrick is celebrated as a solemnity in the Archdiocese
of New York because he is the patron of the Archdiocese. The patron
saint of a parish should be celebrated as a solemnity in that parish
and, if it falls in Ordinary Time, may be transferred to the nearest
Sunday. The same holds true of the feastday of a founder or foundress
of a religious order which is celebrated as a solemnity by the members
of that order. Finally, the anniversary of the dedication of its
cathedral in a given diocese and the anniversary of the dedication of
the church in a parish are observed as solemnities by the people
served by that diocese or parish.
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© Sister Janet
Composed for the Archdiocese of New York Liturgical Commission.