Q) Why does the year of the Church begin with Advent? And why not on January 1st?
A) That’s a great question! It gives me the opportunity to talk a little bit about how we Catholics keep time, which is a different way of keeping time than the world. At the very center of the Church’s annual calendar and of her understanding of time in general is the tremendous feast of Easter, which is the preeminent celebration of our salvation and the most complete manifestation of the merciful love of God and of God. his plan. It is commemorated every Sunday, which is meant to be a little Easter. Around this great solemnity like the planets revolve four other major celebrations, between which and through which the Church weaves a powerful group which includes the lives of the saints, the ordinary time and the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent. and Easter. These four great feasts are Christmas, Epiphany, Ascension of Christ and Pentecost. As we can see, these feasts follow the life of the Lord and the great mysteries of his life and his mission. It is therefore natural that the year of the Church begins with the preparations for Christmas, a feast day assigned to December 25, nine months after March 25, the feast of the Annunciation, which is the date assigned. to the conception of Christ. For many centuries now, Advent has been marked by four weeks, although it is not known why and when this was defined.
Let me take this opportunity to say that Advent, like Lent, is supposed to be marked by a penitential character, although much less than Lent. But Advent is always meant to be a time of preparation, and part of that preparation should be repentance from sin.
January 1 marks the start of the Gregorian calendar, the most popular tool for tracking the progress of the year. It’s fine (and probably pretty much necessary) to follow this calendar for bills, birthdays, milestones, and employment, but we Christians also need to remember that we keep time differently from the rest of the world. in a significative way. In this we bear witness to the fact that we are in the world, but not of the world. It is especially important to honor Sundays, each of which should be the highlight of each week, by focusing on the major holidays of the year and celebrating them well. This includes having a good Advent.
Q) Why is the Gloria omitted from Mass during Advent? When will we hear it again?
A) Advent is, again, a time of solemn preparation for Christmas, and part of that preparation includes penance. One of the ways in which the Church marks this penitential character of the season is the omission of the Gloria from the Sunday mass. This omission is to remind us that we are not yet quite ready to celebrate the coming of Christ, but that we must strive to remain vigilant and awake for his coming. The Gloria will resonate again during the First Christmas Mass, which is celebrated in most churches on Christmas Eve. This is an appropriate return date, for the hymn itself is inspired by the very angels who announce to the shepherds the arrival of the Messiah. However, it is also true that the Gloria is still sung or recited on feast days during Advent. For example, Saint-André (November 30), the Immaculate Conception. (Dec. 8), Our Lady of Guadalupe (Dec. 12), or the celebration of a patronal feast in a parish, will always have a Gloria. On these days the Church pauses briefly in the calm of Advent to rejoice in the triumph of her Saints. So sing this Gloria at the top of your lungs! Consider this a practice for Christmas.
Father Erickson is the pastor of the Transfiguration in Oakdale. Send your questions to [email protected] with “Why do Catholics do this?” in the subject line.
Category: Why do Catholics do this