The Liturgical Year
Lecture 2 – November 10, 2010
First Hour – Mar Bawai Soro
Lordly Feasts: Extensions of Sunday
A List of the Feasts of the Lord
Compiled by Bishop Bawai Soro
Movable Feast; falls on the 2nd Sunday of Advent (2nd Sunday in December)
Gabriel, the Angel of God, visits Mary, the 2nd Heaven, to bring her the good news of the Incarnation of the Son of God. Mary, whose availability to God the Father and obedience to His will, is endowed with the grace to become the Mother of the Son of God and the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Through the Annunciation, God establishes the New Covenant with man and becomes closer to him in order to renew his race in accordance to man’s original image in the Garden. So far, God had spoken to man (the Prophets) in order to guide him through the path of redemption, but at the fullness of time, in the Feast of Annunciation, God the Son becomesman so that man reconciles and returns to God and become his son, through adoption.
II. Nativity (Christmas):
Immovable feast, which falls on December25th
The Feast commemorates the birth of Jesus the Son of God and Son of Mary in Bethlehem. Christmas is celebrated on December 25, which marks the beginning of the season of Epiphany (Shining) of Jesus Christ, which lasts twelve days. The New Testament provides two accounts of the birth of Jesus: one in the Gospel of Matthew and the other in the Gospel of Luke. They both relate that Jesus of Nazareth was the child of Mary, who was betrothed to Joseph, a descendant of King David. Both Gospels also present the conception, preceded by an angelic annunciation, not as the result of marital relations, but of the power of the Holy Spirit. Through the celebration of Christmas, the Church believes that Jesus is the Christ or Messiah promised in the Old Testament, the Incarnation of the Son of God, the 2nd Person of the Trinity.
III. Infancy & Growth:
Movable feasts falling between Christmas & Epiphany
Following the Birth of Jesus, the Church celebrates a number of feasts commemorating significant events in the life of the Infant and Child Jesus: the visit of the Magi, the memorial of the Holy Innocent, the Presentation of Christ in the Temple of Jerusalem (to fulfill the Old Testament Law and the prophecy of Simeon the Old, who was promised that “he should not see death before he had seen the Christ) and Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple.
Immovable feast, which falls on January 6th
This is the feast that celebrates the revelation of God the Son as a human being in Jesus Christ. The Church commemorates the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, seen as his manifestation to the world as the Son of God, initiating his public life, teaching, healing, miracles, passion, death & Resurrection.
V. The Great Fast:
Movable Fasting Period of 7 Weeks before Easter
The Great Lent is a period of seven weeks of liturgical celebrations leading up to the Feast of the Resurrection of Christ (Easter Sunday). During these weeks, the Church prepares the believer through prayer, penitence, almsgiving and self-denial, leading up to the events of the Holy Week that are linked to the Passion of Christ and culminates in Easter, the celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection from the dead. This period of fasting and abstinence corresponds to 40 days, which Jesus spent in the desert before the beginning of his public ministry, where he endured temptation by Satan. Great Lent was originally a period of catechesis for new converts in order to prepare them for baptism and confirmation on Easter Vigil.
VI. Palm Sunday:
Movable feast, which falls on the Sunday before Easter
Palm Sunday commemorates an event mentioned by all four Gospels, namely, the triumphant entrance of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem a few days before his Passion and the cleansing of the Temple. Before entering Jerusalem, Jesus sent two disciples to retrieve a donkey that had been tied up but had never been ridden. Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem, with the people spreading their cloaks and small branches of trees believing that it was the Jewish Messiah who was entering Jerusalem. The people sang part of Psalm 118 “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you.” (Ps 118: 26)
VII. Passover Thursday:
Movable feast, which falls on the Thursday before Easter
The Christian feast which falls on the Thursday before Easter that commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles. It is followed by Good Friday. The Lord’s Supper initiates the Easter Triduum, the three days of Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday, which represent the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. The ceremony of the Washing of Feet is normally performed in churches on this holy day.
VIII. Good Friday:
Movable occasion, which falls on the Friday before Easter
Good Friday, also known as Friday of Sorrows, commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary. It is followed by the Saturday of Light. The Lord’s Supper initiates the Easter Triduum, the three days of Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday, which represent the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. It is observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum on the Friday preceding Easter Sunday.
IX. Saturday of Light:
Movable occasion, which falls on the Saturday before Easter
Holy Saturday is the day after Good Friday. It is the day before Easter and the last day of Holy Week, in which Christians prepare for Easter. This day commemorates the day that Jesus Christ’s body lay in the tomb. It is the day that Christ “rested” physically in the tomb and raised up from the Hades (Sheol) to Paradise those who had been held captive there. Originally, Saturday of Light was the when new converts to Christianity, who were catechized during the Great Lent, were baptized and confirmed on Easter Vigil.
X. Easter Sunday:
The Feast of Feasts, movable, celebrated on the Sunday following the 1st Paschal Full Moon between March 22nd and April 25th
Easter is the central and main religious feast for Christians. It marks the end of the Great Lent, the season for fasting, prayer, and penance and initiates of the beginning of spiritual joy and liturgical celebration. According to the four Gospels, Jesus was resurrected from the dead early on Sunday, which is the third day after his crucifixion on Friday. Easter Sunday is appropriately linked to the Jewish Passover, the ancient celebration of Yahweh delivering the People of Israel safely from the persecution of the Egyptians. On Easter Sunday, Jesus Christ achieves victory over death, when the Lord God gives Him the Resurrection from the dead. This Resurrection symbolizes eternal life to all those who also believe in Him as their Lord and Savior. The meaning of Easter therefore symbolizes the complete verification of all what Jesus preached and taught and the affirmation of all the miracles He performed during His earthly life and ministry. Jesus’ Resurrection gave the final and irrefutable proof that He was really the Son of God Innate and the expected Messiah, who conquers death once and for all.
Movable Feast, 40 days after Easter
Ascension of Jesus is the “moment” when the resurrected Jesus was taken up to heaven in his resurrection body (Acts 1:9-11) while his eleven Apostles were watching. Through his Ascension, the Lord Jesus Christ is now seated on his heavenly throne. He consummates the union between his divinity and humanity, as his glorified human body is now also at the right hand of God the Father. According to the Gospels, the Ascension of Jesus into heaven is a necessary prerequisite for the sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
Movable Feast, 50 days after Easter
Pentecost means “fiftieth day”. It commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus’ Apostles, his Blessed Mother and many others of his disciples who gathered together in Jerusalem for the Jewish harvest festival, fifty days after the Resurrection. In this way, Pentecost therefore denotes the “birth” of the Christian Church. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit his People was promised by God through the prophet Joel (Joel 2:28-29). At Pentecost, this prophecy was fulfilled, when the disciples were suddenly empowered to proclaim the gospel and to go out into the streets of Jerusalem and began preaching to the crowds with boldness and vigor the good news of the Gospel. They spoke in the native tongues of the people present from the various regions of the Roman Empire. The climax of this dramatic event was when Saint Peter addressed the crowd, preaching to them about Jesus’ death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins. The result was that about 3,000 converts were baptized and became Christians. (Acts 2:1-41).
Immovable Feast, on the 6th of August
The Transfiguration of Jesus is an event reported by the Synoptic Gospels in which Jesus is transfigured upon Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-8, Luke 9:28-36) and becomes radiant, speaks with Moses and Elijah, and is called “Son” by God. The presence of Moses and Elijah represent the Law and the Prophets of the Old Testament, and their recognition of, and conversation with, Jesus symbolize how Jesus fulfils “the law and the prophets”. (Mt. 5:17-19)
XIV. The Cross:
Immovable Feast, on the 14th of September
The Feast of the Cross commemorates the finding of the Cross used in the crucifixion of Jesus. While Good Friday is dedicated to the Passion of Christ and his Crucifixion, the feast celebrates the meaning of the cross itself, as the instrument of our salvation. It is important especially because the Lord invited us to bear our crosses and said: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matt. 16:24) (Mark 8:34). He made the bearing of the Cross a condition for the discipleship to Him. So, this way the Cross resembles the different aspects and phases of our suffering which we bear in view of our love for God and the love for our neighbor, for the sake of the Kingdom of God.