Liturgical Year
Part 2 Sunday

Chapter y25 Feasts of the Lord

Feasts and Solemnities of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit

Preliminary Questions

Bibliography

Overview

Event Feasts

Idea Feasts

The Presentation in the Temple
The Baptism of the Lord

The Transfiguration

The Triumph of the Cross

The Ascension


Trinity Sunday
The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

Corpus Christi

The Sacred Heart of Jesus

Christ the King


To Think About

Preliminary Questions

Do you have a favorite feast day?  Which is it?  What is it about this day that is meaningful to you?

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Bibliography

A.G. Martimort (Editor). The Church at Prayer, Volume IV, The Liturgy and Time
Jounel, "The Feasts of the Lord in Ordinary Time", pp 97-107.  

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Overview

In a broad sense, every liturgical day on which we read a Gospel recount of an event in the life of Jesus can be considered a "feast of the Lord".  In The Church at Prayer Jounel states that:  "Seven feast of the Lord are celebrated in ordinary time.  Three of them are common to all the liturgical families: the Transfiguration of the Lord, the Triumph of the Cross, and the Feast of Dedication.  Four are peculiar to the West: the Trinity, Corpus Christi, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and Christ the King." (P. 97)

Years ago (1967) Father Josef Goldbrunner, a German Jungian psychologist, during a course on spirituality and ministry at the University of Notre Dame (Indiana) told us that one of the requirements for a celebration is "an event."    He distinguished between feasts which celebrate an "event" and feasts which celebrate an "idea."

Part of celebrating an event is the "irrational element", an element that is beyond our control, not in our hands.  At a birth we are not sure what kind of person the child will become. At a reunion we celebrate; but what if before our celebration one of the parties is killed in a car accident; what if...? There is an area here that is not in our hands; something beyond the human. At a marriage we celebrate that the two have found each other; that their love can create new life.

Goldbrunner suggests that "idea" feasts are "thin and empty." 

On the other hand, recall Fr. Michael Himes' Principle of Sacramentality which states: That which is always and everywhere true must be noticed, accepted, and celebrated somewhere, sometime.

Below is a list of the major "events feasts" and "idea feasts" of Our Lord celebrated in the Liturgical Calendar.  Note that "anamnesis" (becoming present to the mystery) functions somewhat differently in each of these two categories. 

Event Feasts

Conception March 25  Solemnity  Rank #3 (according to the Table of Liturgical Days According to their Order of Precedence)

Birth  December 25  Solemnity   Rank #2  [Note: one of the three feasts of "light" : star, star, candle.]

[Circumcision and Naming  January 1--now The Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God] 

Finding in the Temple  Sunday after Christmas,  Feast Rank #5  [Gospel for the Feast of the Holy Family]

Presentation  February 2  Feast  Rank #5 (40 days after Christmas 7+31+2=40) [Note: one of the three feasts of "light" : star, star, candle.]

Epiphany January 6  Solemnity  Rank #2 [Note: one of the three feasts of "light" : star, star, candle.] (Epiphany:  3 kings, baptism, Cana)

Baptism  Sunday after Epiphany / First Sunday per annum  Feast  Rank #5  - January 6 ( Epiphany:  3 kings, baptism, Cana) 

[First Sign (Miracle) at Cana  January 6 (Epiphany:  3 kings, baptism, Cana)]

Transfiguration  August 6  Feast  Rank #5 (40 days before September 14) (An ancient tradition held that Jesus was transfigured 40 days before he was crucified. August 6 is 40 days before September 14, the Triumph of the Cross.)

[Jesus visits Lazarus, Martha & Mary  "Lazarus Saturday" Saturday before Passion Sunday]

Entry into Jerusalem  Palm Sunday Rank #2

Last Supper and Betrayal  Holy Thursday  Triduum Rank #1

Death  Good Friday  Triduum Rank #1

[Burial  Good Friday - Holy Saturday - Easter Sunday ]

Resurrection  Easter  Triduum Rank #1

Ascension  Solemnity  Rank #3 40 days after Easter [according to Luke and the liturgical calendar]  

Pentecost  (Jesus sends the Holy Spirit) [Easter day according to John; 50 days later according to Luke and the liturgical calendar]]

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Idea Feasts

Holy Trinity   Sunday after Pentecost  (From the year 1334) Solemnity Rank #3

[Holy Name of Jesus] Second Sunday after Christmas (From the year 1721, then moved to January 2)

Corpus Christi   Thursday Solemnity Rank #3 (Sunday) after Trinity (From the year 1264)

[Precious Blood] contained in celebration of Corpus Christi. (In 1849 Pope Pius XI instituted this feast in gratitude for his return to Rome after the victory of 1848 restoring the Papal States to the Pope after their conquest by Napoleon.)

Sacred Heart Friday after [the Second Sunday after Pentecost, or in the USA] Corpus Christi Solemnity  Rank #3

Holy Family  Rank #5 Sunday in octave of Christmas (From the year 1921.  Instituted to retard the breakdown of family living)

Christ the King  Solemnity Rank #3 Last Sunday of the Year (From the year 1925. Monarchy was loosing ground in Europe to Communism.)

Triumph of Cross September 14  Feast Rank #5 (Heraclitus, King of Jerusalem returned the Holy Cross on September 14, 629, after the Persians had captured it in 614.)

 

For a similar list of Marian Feasts see Chapter m41 The Life of Mary in the Liturgy

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The Presentation in the Temple

Presentation  February 2  Feast  Rank #5 (40 days after Christmas 7+31+2=40) [Note: one of the three feasts of "light" : the star of Bethlehem for the Shepherds; the star leading the magi,  and at the presentation of Jesus in the temple, Simeon proclaims Jesus to be "a light for revelation to the Gentiles." (Lk. 2:32 NRSV)]

 

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The Baptism of the Lord

Baptism  Sunday after Epiphany / First Sunday per annum  Feast  Rank #5  - January 6 ( Epiphany:  3 kings, baptism, Cana) 

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The Transfiguration

Transfiguration  August 6  Feast  Rank #5 (40 days before September 14) (An ancient tradition held that Jesus was transfigured 40 days before he was crucified. August 6 is 40 days before September 14, the Triumph of the Cross.)

Richstatter Homily 2008

Have you ever had relatives that you really didn't like come to your house "for a visit" and stay a few days? You know the "relief" you feel when they are gone and that "underlying dread" that some day they might come back.

Jesus came to earth for a visit. And today we celebrate the fact that he left and went home and we might have that underlying dread that some day he might come back.

If that is your understanding of the Feast of the Ascension, I would invite you to take a deeper look at the mystery. It has been my experience that many Catholics, when they imagine "Jesus" they limit that image to Jesus of Nazareth. Some don't get that far and have the Second Person of the Trinity sort of loosely "clothed" under the appearance of Jesus but is still so divinely transcendent and unapproachable that the whole mystery of the incarnation is defeated! The task of the Christian is to meet Jesus, fully divine and fully human, but a Jesus who has passed through death and by the Holy Spirit has incorporated us into Himself so that with St. Paul, we can say "Now, I am no longer living, but Christ is living in me. We are Christ's Body. Not everybody gets it.  Here are some ways to tell if you get it or not.

Implications of "we are Christ's Body"

We are the living dead.  Not the "zombies" of movies.  But dead in Christ. Think for a moment of the things you are worried about right now. How many of these things will you be worried about after you are dead? -- That's the point. We are dead. We have died in Christ. All that stuff that the "un-dead" are worried about should no longer concern us. We are in Christ.  Just as the Solemnity of the Resurrection celebrates
our rising from the dead; today's Solemnity of the Ascension celebrates our entry into heaven. This is what Paul tells the Ephesians:  "May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, / give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him. / May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, / that you may know the riches of glory for us who believe."

God has placed Christ as head of the Church, which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way."This "inner vision"  this seeing with "the eyes of your heart"  helps us to see as Christ sees.  And Jesus saw the kingdom as already present in our midst, now.  "God was so real for him that he could not distinguish God's present activity from any future activity. He had a poetic sense of time in which the future and the present merged, simply melted together, in the intensity of his vision."  (
The Five Gospels, pp 136-137.)

Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, "The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, 'Look, here it is!' or 'There it is!'
For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you."  (Luke 17:20-21)

When I pray "the Lord will come again"  I am not thinking of some day far off in the future; the Lord will come again now, today, in the Eucharist, in the people I meet, in the man asking for help at my door.  "His ascension is our glory and our hope." (Opening Prayer) As we set the table we pray that our gifts of bread and wine "help us rise with him." (Prayer over the Gifts)

"The meaning of Christ's Ascension," writes Pope Benedict XVI, "expresses our belief that in Christ the humanity that we all share has entered into the inner life of God in a new and hitherto unheard of way. It means that we have found an everlasting place in God." It would be a mistake to interpret the ascension as "the temporary absence of Christ from the world." Rather, "we go to heaven to the extent that we go to Jesus Christ and enter into him."
 Heaven is a person: "Jesus himself is what we call 'heaven.'" (Quoted from Magnificat, May 2008, p 31)

We have come together this morning to share this meal which is the sign and sacrament of our Resurrection and Ascension. Holy Spirit transforms us anew, we who eat the Bread and drink the Cup, into the Body of Christ so as to form One Body, One Spirit. (Eucharistic Prayer, quote from EP IV)  If it acts like a duck and talks like a duck, it's a duck. We are the Body of Christ.
We have to act like Christ and talk like Christ for people to be able to tell who we are. It is this "inner vision" of who we are that enables a Mother Teresa of Calcutta to care for the dying, or Dorothy Day to feed the poor, or Francis of Assisi to embrace the leper.   They saw the Body of Christ caring for the dying Christ, feeding the poor Christ, embracing the rejected Christ.  "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." 

Not everybody gets it. "When they had gathered together they asked him, 'Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?'"The disciples didn't get it. They are still think "him and us". Matthew tells us: "The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.

Today's challenge: Look deeper. Look beyond the bread and wine.  Look beyond the Jesus of history.  Move from doubt to faith, hope, and joy.  Jesus lives and we are His Body.  Alleluia.

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The Triumph of the Cross

Triumph of Cross September 14  Feast Rank #5 (Heraclitus, King of Jerusalem returned the Holy Cross on September 14, 629, after the Persians had captured it in 614.)

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The Ascension

Ascension  Solemnity  Rank #3 40 days after Easter [according to Luke and the liturgical calendar]  

 

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Trinity Sunday

Holy Trinity   Sunday after Pentecost  (From the year 1334) Solemnity Rank #3

LaCunga, Catherine Mowry. "Making the Most of Trinity Sunday".  Worship 60 (1986) 210-24.  Reprinted in Between Memory and Hope (Maxwell E. Johnson, Editor)  pp 247-261.

One example is the word "person" used of God in the plural.  For us today a person is a psychological reality, connoting "individual center of consciousness."  It is virtually impossible to explain why "three divine persons' in our sense of the word would not mean "three gods."  It would be more correct for us to say that God is a person who manifests him/herself in three distinct ways.  It is not essential to use the language of "three persons' when preaching on the mystery of divine love.  The word does not occur either in the Bible or in early Christian creeds.  As Rahner says, by conveying god's radical nearness among us as Word and Spirit, "everything that needs to be said has really been said" (Sacramentum Mundi, vol. 6 [New York:  Herder & Herder, 19780]  s.v. Trinity in theology, 307f. Quoted in LaCunga, p 250 fn 8).

In the NT, as also in early Christian creeds and in early Christian theology East and West, "God" and "Father" are synonyms.  Not until the fourth century does "Father" acquire the intra-Trinitarian sense of "eternal Father who begets the eternal Son."  In any case, to equate divine paternity with masculinity is unreflectively literal.  There is every theological (and now cultural) reason to use both pronouns when calling God Father (e.g., God the Father, in his/her wisdom...").  Likewise, the Holy Spirit is not female any more than the Father is male.  Thus it is equally appropriate to use both personal pronouns of the Spirit, e.g., "The Holy Spirit, in his/her wisdom. . . " (LaCunga, p 252, fn 12)

"In summary, the gradual incorporation of the Feast of Trinity Sunday is symptomatic of the increasing abstractness of Western Trinitarian theology from the end of the fourth century on.  As it moved away from its original focus on salvation history toward a metaphysics of intra-divine life, Trinitarian theology became an account of God in se rather than God pro nobis.  By the end of the patristic period, Prosper of Aquitaine's (fifth-century) axiom, legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi (the law of prayer determines the law of belief) had in effect been reversed; because of the threat to Christian faith posed by Arianism and other 'heresies,' liturgy came to function as a defense against doctrinal deviations.  Lex credendi in many cases dictated lex orandi." (LaCunga, p 257)

Divine fatherhood in its intra-Trinitarian sense (the ingenerate father eternally begetting the son) should be distinguished from two other senses of divine paternity:   God as "father of us all" (source of all that is), and God as "father of Jesus Christ" (Abba).  The former conveys what it meant to call God Father of Israel or Father of the world.  Abba is a familial  -- not a metaphysical -- name which depicts the intimacy of God's relationship with Jesus. (LaCunga, p 259, fn 33)

TRINITY:  An interesting and helpful metaphor for the trinity is explained in the talk by Dr. Michael Corso "Leadership for the Evolving Face of Catechesis" given at the Sunday opening session of the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership, April 14, 2002.  (Sr. Mary Emma) -- He also explains "persona" well.  -- Music in the mind of the composer, the written score, the performed work.  We are all jazz variations on the theme that is Christ.

The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

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Corpus Christi

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The Sacred Heart of Jesus

In 2016 the Jubilee for Priests falls on the 160th anniversary of the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, instituted by Pope Pius IX in 1856 .

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Christ the King

Roman Calendar (BCL document series) p 70: The solemnity of Christ the King, instituted by Pius XI in 1925, and formerly celebrated on the last Sunday in October, now occurs on the last Sunday of Ordinary Time, in order to highlight the eschatological significance of this Sunday. (Segue to the First Sunday of Advent)

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To Think About

 

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Copyright: Tom Richstatter, Franciscan Province of St. John the Baptist, Cincinnati Ohio, Order of Friars Minor. 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 06/02/16 .  Your comments on this site are welcome at trichstatter@franciscan.org