The Liturgical Year (Nov. 1)


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Theological Question

How is God present in time? How does God’s intervention into history transform the meaning and purpose of time?


Students will understand the way in which all time is transformed in the paschal mystery and how that transformation is celebrated ritually in an annual cycle.


Students will learn the role of “Sunday” in the liturgical year and how the entire liturgical year is “remembered” in each Sunday celebration.


(after the class has been completed)

Idea starters

  • What do you celebrate this time of year in your home or with your family? Why is the celebration important?
  • Think about two or three annual traditions you have. Why do you do these things year in and year out? In what ways has the meaning of these traditions changed over time?

Read (in preparation for Nov. 8)

 Posted by at 1:15 pm
  • Tim Logan

    I was struck by todays Gospel readings (Lk 14:12-14) and of the image it provided to me. Our Thanksgiving table we celebrate every Sunday for most and for some every day. Is a call to welcome the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind to this banquet. Thus it is very clear when we partake of this banquet then our duty is to share this outward to the rest of the world.

  • Melby Sanchez

    This past week, we learned the purpose of the liturgical calendar. It is to glorify, celebrate and understand the mystery of Christ, from his birth, to his ascension. The liturgical calendar celebrates various events important to the mystery of our salvation. The basic rule of thumb on these events are: Sundays, other Solemnities, Holy Week, and the Octave of Easter always take precedence. These are followed by Feasts, weekdays of Advent (December 17-24), days within the Octave of Christmas, weekdays of Lent, obligatory memorials, optional memorials, weekdays of Advent (through December 16), other weekdays of the Christmas Season, other weekdays of the Easter Season, and weekdays in Ordinary Time.
    We recently observed two of the most revered traditions of our faith in the liturgical year, All Saints’ Day (Nov. 1) and All Souls’ Day (Nov. 2).
    November 1st is the Solemnity of All Saints, a Holy day of obligation. The Mother Church honors her children, all the Saints from every age and nation, who lived well the faith taught by Jesus Christ and who are now with God in glory. In the a tradition, we visit our beloved dead in the cemetery, and stay there for the whole day. This day also serve as a mini-reunion of families where we all gather together to pray and pay respect to our deceased loved ones.
    November 2 is the Commemoration of all the departed Faithful, the Feast of All Souls. On this day, we continue to pray for all souls, who yearn to receive the mercy of God and for them to see Him face to face, and that they may find repose. We also pray for those who have no one to pray for them.
    These two celebrations remind us that our life here on earth is temporary, and when the time comes, we look forward to meet our God in His kingdom in Heaven.

  • Lerma Simpson

    As December is fast approaching, our parish liturgy team is making plans for the Advent and Christmas seasons. When I was a youngster, Advent had no meaning to me because I was so engrossed with the commercialization of Christmas. Preparation meant putting up and decorating the Christmas tree, shopping and browsing through catalogues to see what I could add to my wish list and gathering ideas of what was on others’ wish lists. Anticipation meant counting the days until Santa came for the big visit. Today, I cherish the Advent season. At the beginning of Advent as we hear Jesus’ words, “Be watchful! Be alert!” (Mark 13:33), we hear of Jesus’ second coming. Jesus warns us that we need to be on the look out for him so that we will know when he has come, and we can personally welcome him into our lives. As I reflect on this message, I often ponder as to what Jesus would want to see when he arrives. It certainly isn’t mall shoppers fighting for parking spaces or stressed out parents having to tell their children that there will be no Christmas presents again this year because mom and dad are still out of work. So how can we prepare ourselves so that Jesus does see what he wants to see when he does arrive? Just as the Church environment changes during this time, I am reminded that we too need to change our own internal environment. We can brighten our spiritual life by setting aside the chaos and replace them with quiet moments of prayer; we can sweep up our misgivings and renew our faith; we can open our doors to provide hope to others, and open our windows to let forgiveness in and be left open to forgiving others. As we make these kinds of changes within us, we can certainly be ready to lay out our welcome mats for Jesus and be content that we have prepared ourselves well for his coming and joyfully anticipate the commemoration of his birth.

  • Annabel Tomacder-Ruiz

    I was reflecting on what was discussed during last week’s class and found myself thinking about Easter being the second feast day. We talked about how the people had the longing to celebrate the resurrection. I started thinking about my family and our traditions. I have only one brother, and yet I remembered my home filled with many of my single cousins who have migrated from the Philippines. My parents opened up our home to many family members. In many ways, I have many brothers and sisters. Thanksgiving day parties were always at our home. My mother would plan the feast. I can still remember my mother working in the
    kitchen preparing dishes days before the actually party. It was a time filled with love, happiness and laughter.
    My parents are no longer with us, but we still continue the tradition. We still have Thanksgiving at my home. It’s a lot bigger now with many children and grandchildren. Knowing
    Thanksgiving Day is very busy time with many family members traveling. We’ve decided to move our family Thanksgiving feast a week or two before Thanksgiving. It is usually a time to talk about the good times and to share the memories of my parents. In many ways, my
    parents’ memories continue because we pass on the Thanksgiving tradition with
    the young children in our family.
    I understand now how people back then wanted to celebrate Easter and the resurrection of Christ or to celebrate Christmas and the coming of Jesus. It is the desire to relive that time, even though they may not experience it themselves. It is the same way with Thanksgiving in my home and wanting to re-live the memories of my parents.

  • Ken Louie

    As life’s up and downs come and go there is only one tradition that seems to hold fast is attending Christmas Eve Mass. As I reflect on the liturgical calendar I am reminded that yes…I will not live forever as we see in Jesus’s birth, death, and resurection in the liturgical year. All things born will die, but before reaching heaven I can always be in the real presence of Jesus on earth by meeting him at Mass. Sometime we use temporal language to describe God’s mystery such as heaven being a place and I need to be reminded at times that heaven in not a place but just being in the presence of Jesus, so when Jesus calls me, via purgatory, I will finally be home.

  • Carmen Macias

    Traditions: In
    our home if our birthdays/feast day fell on a Saturday my dad would reminds us
    that we will be accompanying him to daily mass to celebrate our special

    For Christmas, we would not decorate our home until
    the weekend of the 10th because I have three siblings who celebrate birthdays
    in December. My sisters Maria Guadalupe and Elena Guadalupe, yes, you guessed
    it 12 December the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe; that was not so bad but
    my parents would wake everyone early to attend Las Mañanitas my siblings would
    grumble why do we have to go. As we got older, we understood the beautiful feast
    day with its lively music and celebration of the Eucharist. Then of course, we would be able to have hot
    chocolate with pan dulce, in the evening there would be opening of gifts. The 13th
    of December our Feast day of St. Lucy, my sister Lucita Marie would celebrate
    her birthday no so much excitement as the 12th but all the emotions
    were there. Because my mom knew we, all had different personalities and each
    individual had their special day, like baby Jesus. This year I will not decorate my home until
    the 16 of December in keeping with tradition.

    Tamales, was another tradition that my parents
    started, so with seven children they already had an assembly line, my mom would
    have each of us help with the process by scattering our time so we would not
    get tired and argue with each other. My son asked me one time what tradition
    did grandma have I told him many but I told him I enjoyed the times when we
    would make tamales, because we would share stories. Manuel, my son asked if I knew
    how to make tamales and I said yes, so now the tradition has moved to another
    generation, yes Manuel helps with the process.

    Christmas Eve, growing up my family would attend
    Midnight mass it was a glorious celebration and after mass we would go over to
    the Nativity Scene and with Baby Jesus Happy Birthday and give him thanks. We then go home and my dad would place our
    baby Jesus in our nativity scene. In our
    home, we have a Nativity Scene, and Manuel places baby Jesus on the hay.

    Nick, thank you for the time to share my traditions.

  • Brigitte

    I grew up in France and I try to keep up with some of the tradition I am familiar with that I think my children will enjoy. For example, after the 6th of January until the end of January, all bakeries in France offer the Kings’ cake (Galette des Rois) to celebrate the Epiphany. The cake is made of puff pastry with an almond filling. Inside, the filling, the baker hide few figurines. It used to be a representation of baby Jesus. But over the years, the figurine have evolved into beautiful creations that people can collect. The figurines (feves) can be used to play a game if they are in plastic. The person finding the “feve” in his piece is declared King or Queen of the day. Since the cake is not sold here I have learned to make it to the joy of my family.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Annette. This is a beautiful reflection on your family tradition and how that gives you insight into the church’s traditions around the liturgical year. I think you have a good grasp of the function of the liturgical calendar and how celebrating the seasons brings us into the presence of Jesus. Thanks for sharing.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Yolanda. I love this reflection on the baptismal nature of Lent. The focus of my ministry and work these days is on the RCIA. When I think of the elect, who are so close to baptism, I really want their last Lent as catechumens to be filled with the kind of baptismal imagery that you described here. Nice job. And thanks for the picture! It really shows the dignity of the ambo and altar in your worship space.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Tim. Your two posts are a great pair to show the connection between the domestic church and the parish church. You did a great job describing the bounty at your Thanksgiving feast. I can almost taste the turkey! And then I was struck by the connection to the thanksgiving we celebrate at Mass and our mission to bring bountiful blessing to all those in the world who are left out. Thanks for sharing this.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Melby. Thanks for sharing this reflection on the liturgical year and especially the description of All Saints and All Souls day. These are powerful days in the lives of families, and I am always a little bit awed by the reverence Christians show to their deceased loved ones at this time of year. It helps strengthen my faith to see the faith of so many others have in God’s promise of eternal life.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Lerma. This is a really powerful reflection on the Advent season and how all the symbols of the season call us to change. I still get caught up in the commercial aspects of Christmas, but Advent helps me stay at least a little grounded in the deeper message of forgiveness and hope that you described so well. Thanks for sharing this.

  • Barb Villano

    The rhythm of the Liturgical Year is definitely a gift of the Holy Spirit. How else to explain how it all came together so beautifully after centuries of invention? From the early establishment of the Easter celebration to the addition of Advent, it must have been a plan. Wow. It is also as reliable as the seasons, and we wait excitedly at this time of year with the many traditions, such as Midnight Mass and caroling. In our family, we also have Christmas traditions, which we can count on every year. We have the real Christmas tree, that we cut down. Over the years, it went from a family event to now a phone call, “did Dad get the tree again?” Announcing that we got an artificial tree would be treated as if it were the worst heresy in the Church’s history. When we had small children at home, Christmas started with St. Lucy putting candy in the shoes left in the hallway outside each bedroom. Then we had special Italian dishes that are still made, such as Strufoli (honey dough balls) to the 7 Fish on Christmas Eve. Our son comes home for that meal.
    Our traditions are no different than the Church’s. They are an annual reminder to those who came before us, whose heritage we remember and celebrate. It feels comfortable, warm, and secure. It is passed to us by our families and based on great truths, and the stories they gave us need to be retold.They will remain with us and those who follow.

    Lou Villano

  • Irene Dela Cruz

    I thought that Nick’s reference to Stephen
    Hawking’s Psychological Arrow was very creative in highlighting the importance
    of The Liturgical Year. It has been impressed upon me that the Liturgical
    system is not just about here and now, rather it allows us to see the past and glimpse
    the future that Jesus promised us in eschaton. The seasons of Advent,
    Christmas, Lent, Triduum, Easter, and Ordinary times allow us to get a deeper understanding
    of the ministry and message of Christ. When we bring ourselves to the altar
    systematically, our faith is strengthened and our offering gives us hope that one day
    we will join Him in the heavenly kingdom. So to the question as to why can we
    remember the past but not the future? We
    can always counter that in a way the Liturgical Year allows us to do just

  • Reina Hollero

    Considering the idea starters, I could mention two family traditions that helped me become more involved and truly understand the importance over time. Growing up in the
    Philippines, at every Lenten season our family would always be involved with the “Pabasa”, which is the uninterrupted reading and chanting on the life, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is a devotion for thanksgiving, and for some it is one way for them to offer a request. At a young age, this is a good time to have uninterrupted time with my friends, since adults would always ask us to get the food and drinks donated by neighbors. Overtime, I learned that this is not a time to hang around with friends, but rather it is a time for prayers, fasting and giving alms. Lent reminds me to renew my relationship with Jesus through spending more time talking and praying. By fasting, it made me realize that we have so many things around us that create distractions to keep us from staying focused on following God’s will. Through giving alms, we show that God has blessed us to be a blessing also to
    others. Another tradition is the “Simbang Gabi”. This is a 9 days mass/novena before Christmas that usually starts as early as 4am. I remembered my excitement of getting up early to meet my friends, go to mass and have all the delicious food waiting outside the Church.
    I just wanted to complete the 9 days because I had a wish that I was praying for. However, as I have matured, my mind opened and I realized that it is not about the wish that I wanted, but rather the desire to have a spiritual preparation for the birth of our fully divine Jesus Christ, our Savior.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Ken. I’m not sure if you mean Christmas Eve, as in the early evening, or Midnight Mass. When I was a kid, there was no Christmas Eve Mass. Only Midnight, Dawn, and Christmas Day. My family always went to Midnight Mass. I loved it, because there was always a family party before, and it was the only time of the year we kids got to stay up that late. Now, I think most children go to the early evening Mass, and I’m not sure it’s the same. But maybe I’m just being too nostalgic. I really like your reminder that heaven is not a place. Thanks for your fine reflection.

  • Nick Wagner

    HI Carmen. My family did a similar thing about Christmas decorations. My birthday is Dec. 16, and we would always go tree shopping after my birthday. I’m not exactly sure if that was because of waiting for my birthday or if it was because older generations did have the long, extended “pre-Christmas” season that we have today. But I still wait until closer to Christmas to decorate. I love the tamale tradition. I didn’t know about it until I moved to California. And I learned it from an Italian family! The wife’s mother-in-law was part Mexican. The mother-in-law always made tamales for Christmas, involving the whole family. When the mother-in-law died, the Italian daughter-in-law carried on the family tradition. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Brigitte. I always thought the King’s Cake was a Mexican tradition (rosca de reyes)! That’s another holiday tradition I leaned after I moved to California. I know you can get a King’s Cake at Mexican bakeries in San José (and probably even at Safeway). But I don’t think they are made with puff pastry and almond filling. Your version sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing.

  • Nick Wagner

    HI Lou. I hadn’t heard of the tradition of *Lucy* delivering candy to children. Given my name, I grew up with St. Nicholas bringing candy every year. We still celebrate Dec. 6 in my house. (I get candy on St. Nicholas’s Day, my wife gets candy on Valentine’s Day). Thanks for the beautiful reflection on your family tradition and on the beauty of the liturgical year.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Irene. You have a good grasp of the purpose of the liturgical year and it’s role in giving us a deeper understanding of Christ’s message. I like that you noted how we can remember the future through our celebration of the liturgical year! Thanks for sharing your insights.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Reina. I learned about Simbang Gabi after I moved to California (though I’ve never been able to get up early enough to participate). I hadn’t heard of Pabasa before. Is that a home devotion, or does it take place in the church? I like how you contrasted the difference between your childhood understanding of the devotions and your adult understanding. It shows how the Spirit leads us deeper into the mystery of faith as we grow. Thanks for your reflection.

  • Frank Nguyen

    Until now I have been wondering why during Lent of some years, some of the Gospel readings at Masses with catechumens are different than other Masses of that Sunday: readings about the Samaritan woman, the man born blind, and the raising of Lazarus. I haven’t thought of these Gospel readings are of major importance in regard to Christian initiation. It is interesting to know the complex scripture reading selection rules.
    An interesting note I found that during Easter time, the fifty days from the Sunday of the Resurrection to Pentecost Sunday are celebrated as one feast day, as one “great Sunday.”
    I’m not quite understand why the Church celebrates the Feasts of St. Stephen, St. John the Apostle, and the Holy Innocents in the Octave of the Nativity of the Lord.
    As for family traditions, I started a tradition some years ago by changing our home living room with draperies according to the liturgical year besides special decorations for Christmas time. It helps my family to remember and live the spirit according to the liturgical time. As for major feast days of the Lord or the Blessed Mother, we put new fresh flowers on the Lord’s and the Blessed Mother’s altars in our home.