Liturgical Year
Part 1 Introduction

Chapter y15 The Roman Calendar and The Roman Lectionary

Preliminary Questions

Bibliography

Origins of the Current Lectionary

The Structure of the Current Lectionary

 

Second Reading on Sundays

Second Reading on Weekdays

Roman Calendar: Text and Commentary

Table of Liturgical Days According to their Order of Precedence

Rank of Celebrations

The Revised Lectionary

Martyrology

Spirituality of the Season

To Think About

Preliminary Questions

What have you been taught about the structure of the Lectionary? What is the relation between the Lectionary and the liturgical year? Do you see any value in an ecumenical Lectionary?

What role does Sacred Scripture play in your prayer? Do you have a system for reading the Scriptures or do you just "open the book and read?" What role does Scripture play in your communal prayer? How is the Bible read during the course of the year?

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Bibliography

American Catholic Saint of the Day

 

For a biography of the saint celebrated today in the Roman Calendar, click the icon at the right.

 

Second Vatican Council. Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.  Chapter V "The Liturgical Year. (Discursive section, 102-105; Dispositive section, 106-111.)  

General Instruction on the Roman Missal, 9.  

Lectionary for Mass

Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy.  The Liturgy Documentary Series Number 1.  Lectionary for Mass: Introduction, 1982.  $6.95.  USCC publication number 839. 

Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy.  Study Text 8:  Proclaim the Word: The Lectionary for Mass, 1982.  $6.50.  USCC publication number 840.

Mertz, Mary Ann. "A Cantor's View: 'How can I get through Lent and Easter?'" Liturgical Musics News, Lent/Easter 1996, p. 6.

Richstatter. "The Liturgy of the Word: The Mass-Part One." St. Anthony Messenger Press. 60 minute cassette.

Richstatter, Thomas, O.F.M. "The Lectionary and the Liturgical Year: How Catholics Read Scripture," Scripture from Scratch, Cincinnati: St. Anthony Messenger Press, July, 1995.  Text available at http://www.americancatholic.org/Newsletters/SFS/an0795.asp

Studia Liturgica 21:1 (1991) contains the survey articles on the various lectionaries currently in use. These articles served as background for the August 1991 meeting of the Societas Liturgica in Toronto on the theme Bible and Liturgy. The papers from this congress have been printed in Studia Liturgica 22::1 (1992).

General Intercessions

Andrew D. Ciferni, O. Praem, "General Intercessions in the Celebrations of the Eucharist: A Writer's Guide", FDLC Newsletter, Nov-Dec 1991, Volume 18, No. 6.

Paul De Clerk, La priére universelle dans les liturgies latines anciennes: Témoignages natristques et textes liturgiques. Liturgiewissenschaftliche Quellen und Forschungen, band 62 (Münster, Westfalen 1977).

Thomas Richstatter, "General Intercessions," New Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 17, p 241.

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Seasonal Spirituality: Paying the Liturgical Year

By Fr. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M.

You can probably get to heaven without knowing all the ins and outs of the Church's Liturgical Year! But Sunday Eucharist (and indeed all of the Church's official, liturgical prayers) will be more meaningful and fruitful for you if you have some understanding of the purpose and structure of the Liturgical Year.

Sunday Mass is not simply something we "watch" or something we "go to." It is something that we do; we are active participants in the celebration. And as with anything that we do, the more that we understand what we are doing, the more meaningful (and enjoyable) the action becomes.

The Way We Read the Bible

Even the most casual Mass goes notices that during the course of a year there are certain variations in Sunday Mass: some days the priest wears green, other Sundays he wears violet; The flowers and other decorations in the church change from time to time; sometimes they are more elaborate and sometimes they are very sparse. The songs are different at various times of the year: there are Easter hymns and Christmas carols. But the liturgical year is not primarily concerned with knowing when to expect Easter lilies when to expect poinsettias. The key to understanding the liturgical year is found in the selection of the readings from sacred Scripture which change Sunday to Sunday. In fact, the liturgical year can be accurately described simply as "the way Catholics read the Bible."

At the time of the Second Vatican Council (1962 to 1965) the bishops realized that if they were going to "impart an ever increasing vigor to the Christian life of the faithful" (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, #1) it would be "essential to promote [a] warm and living love for scripture". (CSL, 24).

To this end they set out to restore the Bible to its central place in the lives of Catholics, for if we are to follow Christ, we must know Christ. To know Christ, we must know the Scriptures. "Ignorance of the Scriptures (as Saint Jerome has said) is ignorance of Christ." (Constitution on Divine Revelation, 25) Therefore: "The treasures of the Bible are to be opened up more lavishly so that a richer share in God's word may be provided for the faithful. In this way a more representative portion of holy Scripture will be read to the people in the course of a prescribed number of years." (CSL, 51)

The Lectionary

Several plans were submitted to achieve this goal. The one that was accepted and implemented was based on the fact that there are three synoptic Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The proposal was to read each of these Gospels during the course of a year over a three-year cycle. The book which contains this "plan" for selecting which Scriptures are to be read is The Lectionary (from the Latin word for "a reading," lectio).

Ordinary Time and Liturgical Seasons

There are various ways to read a book. Ordinarily, you would start at the beginning and read to the end. But there are some books, especially treasured, well-loved books that we return to time and time again, from which we select those familiar passages which are especially appropriate for us at particular times. (I have some favorite novels and stories that I referred to in this way; perhaps you do also.)

During the course of the Church Year, we read the Bible in each of these two ways. During most of the year we read from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke (and the other books of the New Testament) from beginning to end in a more or less continuous fashion. And there are times when we select particular passage based on the theme and content. We pick out passages based on a theme during the liturgical seasons of Lent/Easter and Advent/Christmas. We read the books in a semi-continuous fashion during the "non-seasonal" time, the time "per annum" ("Ordinary Time"). Each year we concentrate on one of these Gospels. A simple way to tell what Gospel we are currently reading on Sunday is to divide the year by 3 (e.g. 2011 ÷ 3) and if the remainder is 1, we are reading Matthew (cycle A); if the remainder is 2, we are reading Mark (cycle B), and if the year is evenly divisible by 3 we are reading Luke (cycle C). The Gospel according John Gospel is featured during the seasonal times.

The Sunday Lectionary

As Sunday "the first holy day of all" and "the foundation and core of the whole liturgical year" (Constitution on the Liturgy, 106), the Sunday Lectionary was arranged so that Catholics would hear the major part of most all the books of the Bible on Sundays over the course of three years. On Sundays we hear four passages from Scripture.

In addition to the Gospel, a selection from the other books of the New Testament -- during the Liturgical Seasons the selection is made to fit the theme of the season. During the non-seasonal times, the passages are selected so that the books are read in a more or less continuous way: for example during cycle A (the year of Matthew) we read from I Corinthians (the first 7 weeks), Romans (the next 16 Sundays), Philippians (4 Sundays) and I Thessalonians (5 Sundays). During the non-seasonal time (Ordinary Time) there is no thematic connection between the Gospel and the other New Testament reading; they are two, independent sequences.

When the passages for The Lectionary was being selected, the authors thought that to have a third, independent cycle of readings from the Old Testament would be too many "themes". It was decided that a selection from the Old Testament would be chosen in reference to the Gospel for that particular Sunday. And the Old Testament passage is followed by a selection from the Book of the Psalms. While priests and members of religious communities were familiar with the Book of the Psalms, the authors of The Lectionary wanted to make the riches of God's own "Song Book" available to all Christians and selected those psalms which would give "a taste" of these inspired prayers.

The Weekday Lectionary complements the Sunday Lectionary and offers an even wider selection of readings from the Bible. On weekdays during "Ordinary Time" a major part of each of the synoptic gospels is read during the course of the year and a selection of the other books of the Bible is read over the course of a two year cycle.

The current lectionaries have responded to the Council's directive: "The treasures of the Bible are to be opened up more lavishly [at the Eucharist], so that a richer share in God's word may be provided for the faithful. In this way a more representative portion of holy Scripture will be read to the people in the course of a prescribed number of years." (Constitution on the Liturgy, 51) Currently our Lectionary contains 14% of the Old Testament and 71% of the New Testament (85% of the Bible); whereas the Missal of 1963 (the Missal in use before our current Lectionary) contained only 01% of the Old Testament and only 17% of the New Testament (18% of the Bible).

But what does it mean?

But understanding the arrangement and structure of the Lectionary is not the most important part of the Liturgical Year. The key to our understanding the meaning of the liturgical year lies in the notion of presence.

"Presence" can be as is a difficult concept for contemporary Americans. It seems that we are continually multitasking, dividing our attention among many concerns, worrying about the past and concerned about the future. It is increasingly difficult to be totally present what is happening now.

Being present to God's mysterious plan for the universe lies at the heart of the Church Year. We believe that Christ is truly present in the Eucharist under the appearance of bread and wine. We believe Christ "is present in His word, since it is He Himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church." (Constitution on the Liturgy, 7) And we believe that Christ is present in a special, mysterious way when we celebrate the Liturgical Year. "Recalling the mysteries of redemption, the Church opens to the faithful the riches of the Lord's powers and merits, so that these are in some way made present in every age in order that the faithful may lay hold on them and be filled with saving grace." (CSL, 102)

The liturgy is very different from, for example, going to see a movie about WWII. Through the sights and sounds of the film, we can picture real or imaginary events that took place at that time. But when we celebrate the mysteries of Christ during the course of the Liturgical Year, we do not merely recall past events. The liturgy enables us to pass from our "past-present-future" chronological time and to enter into God's "time of salvation" (the Kairos) so that we, through grace and mystery, become present to the event. When we celebrate the Eucharist, we actually become present to the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. The spiritual hymn "Were You There When They Crucified My Lord" got it right. Yes, we were there. Indeed we are there now! At the Eucharist, we recline at table with the apostles at the Last Supper; we are there with Mary and John at the foot of the cross; we stand in wonder with Mary Magdalene in wonder and awe at the empty tomb. We do not have to feel disappointed that we were "born too late" because all the wonderful events of Christianity happened long ago. The wonderful events of Christianity are happening NOW.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms that "we must continue to accomplish in ourselves the stages of Jesus' life and his mysteries. ... For it is the plan of the Son of God to make us and the whole Church partake in his mysteries and to extend them and to continue them in us and in his whole Church." (CCC 521) The Catechism of the Catholic Church acknowledges that this is a difficult idea to understand and reminds bishops and those responsible for teaching the faith that "this also demands that catechesis help the faithful to open themselves to this spiritual understanding of the economy of salvation as the Church's liturgy reveals it and enables us to live it." (CCC 1095)

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Origins of the Current Lectionary

The formation of the Lectionary was entrusted to Working Group 11

Godfrey Diekmann, O.S.B. (relator, USA; replaced in June 1965 by Vagaggini)
Gaston Fontaine, C.R.I.C. (secretary, Canada)
Heinrich Schurmann, Germany
Prof. Pierre Jounel, France
Pacifico Massi, Italy, biblical exegesis
Emmanuel Lanne, O.S.B., Belgium, Eastern liturgy
Heinrich Kahlefel, C.O., Germany
Joseph Feder, S.J. (added in November 1965)
Cyprian Vagaggini, O.S.B., Italy
Canon Andre Rose, Belgium, liturgy and exegesis
Adrian Nocent, O.S.B.
Aimon-Marie Roguet, O.P., France
Klemens Tilmann, C.O., Germany, pedagogy, appointed 3-16-66
Henri Oster, priest, France
Jean Gaillard, O.S.B., abbot of Wisques, France
Hillaire Marot, O.S.B., Belgium
Lucien Deiss, C.S.Sp.

The coetus first gathered the history of how Scriptures had been used in the Liturgy. Father Fontaine made a systematic collection of the biblical passages used in the various liturgies, ancient and modern, Western and Eastern, both in the Catholic Church and in the non-Catholic ecclesial communities; 1) in the Western liturgies: Roman, Gallican, Ambrosian, Spanish, and Italian (North and South Italy); and 2) in the Eastern liturgies: ancient liturgy of Jerusalem, Nestorian, Jacobite, Syro-Catholic, Syro-Malancar, Syro-Chaldean, Syro-Malabar, Jacobite of India, Maronite, Armenian, Coptic, and Byzantine; and 3) in the liturgies of the Reformed Churches: Anglican of England and India, Reformed Church of France, Lutheran Church of the Scandinavian countries, Old Catholic Church of Germany.

This work of comparative liturgy summarized eighty years of scholarly research. In over fifty splendid comparative tables, these workers of the liturgical reform had managed to show how  the Bible had been used in the Eucharistic celebration over the course of eighteen centuries. Their labors made it possible to identify constants and variants, and thus pointed out a sure path  that the new organization of readings might follow. Their work also made it possible for "sound tradition II to be "retained," while yet allowing "the way [to) remain open to legitimate progress" and "any new forms . . . [to) grow organically from forms already existing" (SC 23).

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The Structure of the Current Lectionary

  1. Three synoptic gospels - three yearly cycles of readings, each with two parts.

    1. Each of the three cycles has: Semi-continuous times and Theme times.

    2. Most people go on Sunday, some during the week, some pray the Liturgy of the Hours.  Therefore 3 cycles:  Sunday, Weekdays, Hours.

  2. Sunday cycle semi-continuous readings

    1. Three Synoptic Gospels, Three Cycle Lectionary: MATTHEW / MARK / LUKE. Cycle A B C. To find the cycle for the current year cycle, take the year (e.g. 2010) and divide by three. if the remainder is one, we are reading a cycle A, Matthew; remainder 2, read Mark; no remainder, read Luke.) E.g. 2010 divided by three = 670 with no remainder - in 2010 the Church is reading cycle 3 (cycle C) Luke.

    2. The Second reading: see table below.

    3. The First reading: Type and archetype

      1. advantages: only two themes for the homily

      2. disadvantages: no reading of the Hebrew Scriptures for themselves.

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Second Reading on Sundays

Order for the Second Reading on Sundays during the Season of the Year

Sunday

Year A

Year B

Year C

2

1 Corinthians, 1-4

1 Corinthians, 6-11

1 Corinthians, 12-15

3

"

"

"

4

"

"

"

5

"

"

"

6

"

"

"

7

"

2 Corinthians

"

8

"

"

"

9

Romans

"

Galatians

10

"

"

"

11

"

"

"

12

"

"

"

13

"

"

"

14

"

"

"

15

"

Ephesians

"

16

"

"

"

17

"

"

"

18

"

"

"

19

"

"

Hebrews, 11-12

20

"

"

"

21

"

"

"

22

"

James

"

23

"

"

Philemon

24

"

"

1 Timothy

25

Philippians

"

"

26

"

"

"

27

"

Hebrews, 2-10

2 Timothy

28

"

"

"

29

1 Thessalonians

"

"

30

"

"

"

31

"

"

2 Thessalonians

32

"

"

"

33

"

"

"

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Weekday cycle

  1. Gospel -- one cycle for all years

    1. Mark weeks 1-9 [9 weeks]

    2. Matthew weeks 10-21 [12 weeks]

    3. Luke weeks 22-34 [12 weeks]

  2. First reading:  see the table in your Lectionary.   Two cycles:  Cycle I in odd numbered years; cycle II, even numbered years.

  1. Liturgy of the hours

    1. Complements weekday cycle

    2. Only half printed because of space and money limitations

Second Reading on Weekdays
during the Season of the Year

Week

Year 1 [odd]

Year 2 [even]

Gospels

1

Hebrews

1 Samuel

Mark

2

"

"

"

3

"

2 Samuel

"

4

"

2 Samuel, 1 King, 1-16

"

5

Genesis, 1-11

1 Kings, 1-16

"

6

"

James

"

7

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus)

"

"

8

"

1 Peter, Jude

"

9

Tobit

2 Peter, 2 Timothy

"

10

2 Corinthians

1 Kings, 17-22

Matthew

11

"

1 Kings, 17-22; 2 Kings

"

12

Genesis, 12-50

2 Kings; Lamentations

"

13

"

Amos

"

14

"

Hosea; Isaiah

"

15

Exodus

Isaiah; Micah

"

16

"

Micah; Jeremiah

"

17

Exodus; Leviticus

Jeremiah

"

18

Numbers; Deuteronomy

Jeremiah; Nahum; Habakkuk

"

19

Deuteronomy; Joshua

Ezekiel

"

20

Judges; Ruth

"

"

21

1 Thessalonians

2 Thessalonians; 1 Corinthians

"

22

1 Thessalonians; Colossians

1 Corinthians

Luke

23

Colossians; 1 Timothy

"

"

24

1 Timothy

"

"

25

Ezra; Haggai; Zachariah

Proverbs; Qoheleth (Ecclesiastes)

"

26

Zachariah; Nehemiah; Baruch

Job

"

27

Jonah; Malachiah; Joel

Galatians

"

28

Romans

Galatians; Ephesians

"

29

"

Ephesians

"

30

"

"

"

31

"

Ephesians; Philippians

"

32

Wisdom

Titus; Philemon; 2 and 3 John

"

33

1 and 2, Maccabees

Revelation

"

34

Daniel

"

"

 

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The Roman Calendar: Text and Commentary

 1975 ICEL. Taken from Norms Governing Liturgical Calendars,  USCCB Publication No.928, pp 22-24.

TITLE II:  THE PROPER DATE FOR CELEBRATIONS

56. ...

58. For the pastoral advantage of the people, it is permissible to observe on the Sundays in Ordinary Time those celebrations that fall during the week and have special appeal to the devotion of the faithful, provided the celebrations take precedence over these Sundays in the Table of Liturgical Days. The Mass for such celebrations may be used at all the Masses at which a congregation is present.

59. Precedence among liturgical days relative to the celebration is governed solely by the following table.

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Table of Liturgical Days
According to their Order of Precedence

I.

1. Easter Triduum of the Lord's passion and resurrection.

2. Christmas, Epiphany, Ascension, and Pentecost.
        Sundays of Advent, Lent, and the Easter season.
        Ash Wednesday.
        Weekdays of Holy Week from Monday to Thursday inclusive,
        Days within the octave of Easter.

3. Solemnities of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and saints listed in the General Calendar.

All Souls. (see below for anticipated Masses when All Souls falls on Sunday)

4. Proper solemnities, namely:

a. Solemnity of the principal patron of the place, that is, the city or state.

b. Solemnity of the dedication of a particular church and the anniversary.

c. Solemnity of the title of a particular church.

d. Solemnity of the title, or of the founder, or of the principal patron of a religious order or congregation.

II.

5. Feasts of the Lord in the General Calendar.

6. Sundays of the Christmas season and Sundays in Ordinary Time.

7. Feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the saints in the General Calendar.

8. Proper feasts, namely:

a. Feast of the principal patron of the diocese.

b. Feast of the anniversary of the dedication of the cathedral.

c. Feast of the principal patron of a region or province, or a country, or of a wider territory,

d. Feast of the title, founder, or principal patron of an order or congregation and of a religious province, without prejudice to the directives in no. 4.

e. Other feasts proper to an individual church.

f. Other feasts listed in the calendar of a diocese or of a religious order or congregation.

9. Weekdays of Advent from 17 December to 24 December inclusive.

Days within the octave of Christmas.

Weekdays of Lent.

III.

10. Obligatory memorials in the General Calendar.

11. Proper obligatory memorials, namely:

a. Memorial of a secondary patron of the place, diocese, region, or province, country or wider territory, or of an order or congregation and of a religious province.

b. Obligatory memorials listed in the calendar of a diocese, or of an order or congregation.

12. Optional memorials; but these may be celebrated even on the day listed in no. 9, in the special manner described by the General Instructions of the Roman Missal and of the Liturgy of the Hours.

In the same manner obligatory memorials may be celebrated as optional memorials if they happen to fall on the Lenten weekdays.

13. Weekdays of Advent up to 16 December inclusive.

Weekdays of the Christmas season from 2 January until the Saturday after Epiphany.

Weekdays of the Easter season from Monday after the octave of Easter until the Saturday before Pentecost inclusive.

Weekdays in Ordinary Time.

60. If several celebrations fall on the same day, the one that holds the highest rank according to the preceding Table of Liturgical Days is observed. But a solemnity impeded by a liturgical day that takes precedence over it should be transferred to the closest day not listed in nos. 1-8 in the table of precedence; the rule of no. 5 remains in effect. Other celebrations are omitted that year.

61. If the same day were to call for celebration of evening prayer of that day's office and evening prayer I of the following day, evening prayer of the day with the higher rank in the Table of Liturgical Days takes precedence; in cases of equal rank, evening prayer of the actual day takes precedence.

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), No. 380
"Among the Masses for the Dead, the Funeral Mass holds first place. It may be celebrated on any day except for Solemnities that are holy days of obligation, Holy Thursday, the Easter Triduum, and the Sundays of Advent, Lent, and Easter, with due regard also for all the other requirements of the norm of the law."

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Rank of Celebrations

Celebrations are either Solemnities, Feasts, or Memorials

Memorials are either Universal (obligatory) or Local (optional) [ = Vatican II principle of "Subsidiarity."]

THE (14) SOLEMNITIES

Movable
Holy Trinity
Corpus Christi
Sacred Heart
Christ the King

January
1  Octave of Christmas, Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
6  Epiphany

March
19 Joseph, husband of Mary
25 Annunciation

June
24 Birth of John the Baptist
29 Peter and Paul, apostles

August
15 Assumption

November
1 All Saints

December
8 Immaculate Conception
25 Christmas

THE (25) FEASTS

Movable
Holy Family
Baptism of the Lord

January
25 Conversion of Paul, apostle

February
2 Presentation of the Lord
22 Chair of Peter, apostle

April
25 Mark, evangelist

May
3 Philip and James, apostles
14 Matthias, apostle
 31 Visitation

July
3 Thomas, apostle
25 James, apostle

August
6 Transfiguration
10 Lawrence, deacon and martyr
24 Bartholomew, apostle

September
8 Birth of Mary
14 Triumph of the Cross
21 Matthew, apostle and evangelist
29 Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, archangels

October
18 Luke, evangelist
28 Simon and Jude, apostles

November
9 Dedication of Saint John Lateran
30 Andrew, apostle

December
26 Stephen, first martyr
27 John, apostle and evangelist
28 Holy Innocents, martyrs

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THE (65) OBLIGATORY MEMORIALS

January
2 Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, bishops and doctors
17 Anthony, abbot
21 Agnes, virgin and martyr
24 Francis de Sales, bishop and doctor
26 Timothy and Titus, bishops
28 Thomas Aquinas, priest and doctor
31 John Bosco, priest

February
5 Agatha, virgin and martyr
6 Paul Miki and companions, martyrs
10 Scholastica, virgin
14 Cyril, monk, and Methodius, bishop
23 Polycarp, bishop and martyr   

March
7 Perpetua and Felicity, martyrs

April
7 John Baptist de la Salle, priest
11 Stanislaus, bishop and martyr
29 Catherine of Siena, virgin and doctor

May
2 Athanasius, bishop and doctor
29 Philip Neri, priest

June
1 Justin, martyr
3 Charles Lwanga and companions, martyrs
5 Boniface, bishop and martyr
11 Barnabas, apostle
13 Anthony of Padua, priest and doctor
21 Aloysius Gonzaga, religious
28 Irenaeus, bishop and martyr

July
11 Benedict, abbot
15 Bonaventure, bishop and doctor
22 Mary Magdalene
26 Joachim and Ann, parents of Mary
29 Martha
31 Ignatius of Loyola, priest

August
1 Alphonsus Liguori, bishop and doctor
4 John Vianney, priest
8 Dominic, priest
11 Clare, virgin
14 Maximilian Mary Kolbe, priest and martyr
20 Bernard, abbot and doctor
21 Pius X, pope
22 Queenship of Mary
27 Monica
28 Augustine, bishop and doctor
29 Beheading of John the Baptist, martyr

September
3 Gregory the Great, pope and doctor
13 John Chrysostom, bishop and doctor
15 Our Lady of Sorrows 
16 Cornelius, pope and martyr, and Cyprian, bishop and martyr
27 Vincent de Paul, priest
30 Jerome, priest and doctor

October
1 Theresa of the Child Jesus, virgin
2 Guardian Angels
4 Francis of Assisi
7 Our Lady of the rosary
15 Teresa of Jesus, virgin and doctor
17 Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr

November
4 Charles Borromeo, bishop
10 Leo the Great, pope and doctor
11 Martin of Tours, bishop
12 Josaphat, bishop and martyr
17 Elizabeth of Hungary, religious
21 Presentation of Mary
22 Cecilia, virgin and martyr

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The Revised Lectionary

The Bishop's Committee on the Liturgy presented the first volume of the revised edition of the Lectionary for Mass, containing the New American Bible translation of Scripture, at the June 1992 meeting of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops at the University of Notre Dame. Volume I includes all readings assigned for Mass on Sundays, solemnities, and feasts of the Lord.

Work on the revised lectionary began in 1983, when NCCB Committee on the Liturgy established a Lectionary Subcommittee under the chairmanship of Des Moines Bishop William H. Bullock, then Auxiliary Bishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, to implement the changes which were contained in the second Latin edition of the Ordo Lectionum Missae, published by the Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship on January 21, 1981. The first meeting of the subcommittee, composed of biblical, liturgical, and patristic scholars, was held on December 3, 1983.

The subcommittee began its task by first making a thorough study of the 1981 revised Order of Readings for Mass as well as the variation of that order of reading prepared in 1982 by the ecumenical North American Consultation on Common Texts (CCT). (In November 1982 the members of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops had approved a controlled experimental use of the CCT Order of Readings, but that action failed the required confirmation of the Apostolic See.)

In 1985 the late Archbishop John F. Whealon of Hartford was appointed chairman of the Lectionary Subcommittee. Several issues relating to the ultimate completion of the lectionary were then underway within the NCCB. Archbishop Whealon himself was involved in reviewing the translation of the Revised New Testament of the New American Bible. Several other bishops from the Committee on Doctrine and on the Liturgy were studying the issue of inclusive language in Scripture translations. Archbishop Whealon directed the Lectionary Subcommittee to begin preparing the text of the revised lectionary even while these other concerns were still unresolved.

The various components of the Lectionary were approved by the NCCB as they were completed. In 1986 the NCCB Administrative Committee approved the revised New Testament of the New American Bible. In November 1990 the full body of bishops approved the principles for preparing the pericopes from the New American Bible which would be contained in the lectionary. They also approved Criteria for the Evaluation of Inclusive Language Translations of Scriptural Texts Proposed for Liturgical Use, a document formulated by a Joint Committee of the Liturgy and Doctrine Committees to provide guidance to the bishops when they were asked to approve any new inclusive-language Scriptural translations proposed for use in the liturgy.

In November 1991 the NCCB approved a new translation of the Book of Psalms for the New American Bible and a slightly revised translation of "Verbum Domini," which concludes every reading in the lectionary.

All the components of the revised lectionary have now been approved by the NCCB, and the Sunday readings have been prepared. Proofreading of the entire text by individual members of the Liturgy, Doctrine, and Pastoral Practices Committees is now underway. Every page of the manuscript is being reviewed by three persons. The Sunday volume of readings was approved by the NCCB in June 1992. Volume I will include readings for Sundays, solemnities and feasts of the Lord and will use the New American Bible with Revised New Testament and Book of Psalms. Volume II, containing all weekday readings, ritual Masses, etc., was approved in November 1992.

The new lectionary is published in four volumes:

Volume I, first published in 1998, consists of readings for Sundays and Solemnities.

Volume II, includes the Proper of Seasons for Weekdays, Year I (odd numbered years), as well as the complete Propers and Commons of the Saints.

Volume III includes the Proper of Seasons for Weekdays, Year II (even numbered years), as well as the complete Propers and Commons of the Saints.

Volume IV includes the Ritual Masses and the Masses for Various Needs, Votive Masses, and Masses for the Dead.

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Martyrology

(The following is adapted from an article published by Zenit news service (Zenit.org).

The first new "Roman Martyrology" in four decades was presented today [October 2, 2001], listing more than 6,500 names of officially recognized saints and blessed.

The new Martyrology was presented at the Vatican Press Office by Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Estévez, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

"It is not a history book to learn all the details of the life of a saint," the Chilean cardinal explained. "It is a text that celebrates holiness, that extraordinary gift which is the fruit of the Christian vocation."

The last edition of the "Roman Martyrology" dates back to 1956. The new edition follows the reform brought by the Second Vatican Council, and takes into account the saints and blesseds proclaimed by Paul VI and John Paul II.  John Paul II has beatified 1,265 individuals, including 1,016 martyrs, and canonized 452 people, including 401 martyrs. Next Sunday he plans to beatify seven more people.

The first "Roman Martyrology" was published in the 16th century. Pope Gregory XIII approved the Martyrology in 1586.

The new list includes 6,538 names, although the saints corresponding to the names are far more numerous. Many saints' names are unknown.

The work gives a list of saints and blesseds for each day of the year. The name is accompanied by brief information on the place of death, ecclesial status, activity and charism. Excluded from the Martyrology are names not recognized officially by the Church. Very often, their hagiographies are confused with legends. Cardinal Medina said he would soon publish a comprehensive list of them.

The new Martyrology also includes figures of the Old Testament venerated as saints by the Church, such as the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah, and Joshua, Gideon and King David.

The voluminous work in Latin will be translated into other languages.

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Spirituality of the Season

[Reprinted from: Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M. "Spirituality of the Seasons: The Challenge of Ordinary Times," St. Anthony Messenger, 103:2 (July, 1995) p 57.]

Next Sunday at Mass you will probably hear "Today is the Twelfth (or Thirteenth or Fourteenth, etc.) Sunday in Ordinary Time." What is this Ordinary Time that we will be hearing about from now until December?

If we take "ordinary" to mean "usual, average, of inferior quality or second-rate," it will be hard to get excited about the Spirituality of Ordinary Time! However these days are not "ordinary" in that sense. "Ordinary" here means first of all "not seasonal." Ordinary Time is the time which is not part of the seasons of Lent/Easter or Advent/Christmas.

We are not accustomed to think of "non-seasonal" time with regard to the natural year. Most parts of our country experience the seasons of spring, summer, fall, and winter, and it is always one season or another. In contrast, the Church Year has two seasons: Easter (with its time of preparation, Lent; the Triduum and Easter itself; and the Great Fifth Days of Easter) and Christmas (with its time of preparation, Advent; Christmas itself; and the feasts of the Christmas Season). In addition to these two seasons, the Church Year also has non-seasonal, "Ordinary Time." It's something like this: What if instead of "spring, summer, fall, and winter" we spoke of "ordinary time, summer, ordinary time, and winter." "Ordinary Time" in the Church Year is something like that, but there is a very important difference.

The Church Year is not determined by the weather, or by which flowers are in bloom, or where the sun comes up. The Church Year is the way we read Sacred Scripture!

During the seasons of the Church Year, the readings from Scripture are chosen according to the theme of the season: Lent -- Baptism themes; Easter -- resurrection; the Great Fifty Days of Easter -- Acts of the Apostles and finding our roots; Advent -- Isaiah and joyful expectation of impending liberation; Christmas -- God's taking flesh. During ordinary time, the readings are not chosen according to a theme. Rather the various books of the Bible are read in a continuous, beginning to end, fashion.

The bishops at the Second Vatican Council knew that if they were to fulfill their desire "to impart an ever increasing vigor to the Christian life of the faithful" (Constitution on the Liturgy, 1), they would have to restore the Bible to its central place in the lives of Catholics. Christian Spirituality means that we are animated, invigorated by the Holy Spirit to carry on the work of Christ. "The Lord wills that his disciples possess a tremendous power: that his lowly servants accomplish in his name all that he did when he was on earth." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 983) To carry on the work of Christ, we must know Christ. To know Christ, we must know the Scriptures for, as the Council stated: "Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ." (Constitution on Divine Revelation, 25, quoting St. Jerome)

To achieve this end the Council decreed: "The treasures of the Bible are to be opened up more lavishly, so that a richer share in God's word may be provided for the faithful. In this way a more representative portion of holy Scripture will be read to the people in the course of a prescribed number of years." (Constitution on the Liturgy, 51)

The "plan" for achieving this goal is contained in the book we call the Lectionary. The genius of our Lectionary is this: As Sunday "the first holy day of all" and "the foundation and core of the whole liturgical year" (Constitution on the Liturgy, 106) and as there are three synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke present a "similar view," syn-opsis in Greek), the Lectionary calls for a three year Sunday cycle. During the first year we will read Matthew; during the second, Mark; and the third, Luke. (John's Gospel is featured during the seasonal times.) A simple way to tell what Gospel we are currently reading: Divide the year by 3; if the remainder is 1 we are reading Matthew; 2, Mark; 0, Luke. This year, 1995, we are reading Luke.

The Spirituality of Ordinary Time 1995, is the spirituality of the Gospel of Luke: the gospel of mercy and forgiveness, the gospel of the little ones and the poor, the gospel of universal salvation.

Each Sunday at Mass there are three readings from scripture. Ordinarily, the first reading is taken from the Old Testament and is chosen in the light of the Gospel reading for the day. The second reading is taken from the Letters of Paul or from the other writings of the New Testament; these are also read in a semi-continuous fashion so that over the course of the three years we hear a selection from each of the books of the New Testament.

Ordinary Time enables us to hear the whole Gospel -- not only the Big Stories of birth, death, and resurrection -- but all the "in between" stories, parables, and teachings. Christian Spirituality is not just Christmas and Easter! It is all the days in between -- the ordinary days. And perhaps that's what makes it difficult.

I have been trying to develop a Christian Spirituality for some fifty years now and the hardest part of following Jesus is simply that, for the most part, it is so terribly ordinary! Trying daily to be patient and tolerant; trying daily to be a peace maker; trying daily to live simply; trying daily not to want all the things I see on television; trying daily to care for my health and to get enough exercise (well, almost daily). We read in Luke's Gospel that to follow Jesus we must take up our cross daily. (Luke 9:23)

Most things that I want I can go to the store and buy: a new book, a pair of shoes, a computer. Sometimes I wish spirituality was like that -- that there was someplace I go and buy it and get it over with, without this day by day struggle with the ordinary. --

But I also know from my experience that the truly valuable things I have -- the ability to speak a foreign language, to play a musical instrument, to count someone as friend -- weren't bought. They were acquired by continual effort, day after day, week after week. So too our relationship with God -- our spirituality. It is acquired through the ordinary, the daily, the uneventful.

Parents tell me that raising a child is like that: day after day, little by little, encouraging, correcting, challenging, comforting, until the values of the parents are caught by the child. And one day you look up and realize that here is a grown-up son or daughter that looks and acts and thinks more like you than you'd sometimes like to realize! A mother told me recently: "How wonderful it is to see you children grow up and to have your adult sons and daughters as friends." I can picture God saying that about us!

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To Think About

1.  What are the general principles which directed the formation of the current Lectionary?

2.  How can you find out what cycle is being read if you do not have an Ordo?

3.  Name the books of the Bible which are the basic to the development of a spirituality of Lent, Easter, Advent, and Christmas.

4.  Anscar Chupunco says that in our culture we normally eat first and then sit around and talk. He has suggested that at Eucharist the meal sharing more properly comes before the story telling. What do you think about this arrangement for the structure of eucharist?

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Copyright: Tom Richstatter.  All Rights Reserved.  This page was created by Fr. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M.  Every effort has been, and is being made to acknowledge sources when the ideas are not my own.  Any failure to comply with the United States Copyright Act (Title 17, United States Code) will be corrected immediately should I become aware of it.  This site was updated on 03/05/14 .  Your comments on this site are welcome at trichstatter@franciscan.org