Liturgical Year
Part 7 Non-Roman

Chapter 71 Alternative Calendars

Preliminary Questions

Bibliography

The Jewish Feasts

The Contemporary Lutheran Calendar

The Contemporary Maronite Calendar

To Think About

Preliminary Questions

 

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Bibliography

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The Jewish Feasts

 

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The Contemporary Lutheran Calendar

The Reformers' calendar

For more than four centuries the Lutheran Churches have carefully kept several biblical saints' days, together with Reformation Day, on their calendars (even if these days usually went unobserved in most congregations). These are the Lesser Festivals or Minor Festivals familiar to Lutherans in North America at least since the Church Book of 1868. The Reformers' simplified calendar of saints had come to include only the traditional days of the twelve Apostles and four Evangelists, the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, three events connected with the Incarnation (the Presentation, the Annunciation, the Visitation), the Conversion of St. Paul, St. Michael, St. Stephen, and Reformation Day (October 31). In some places, Mary Magdalene and Holy Cross Day (September 14) were also popular. All Saints Day was made to honor everyone else.

The impression of church history that resulted from this calendar was that after biblical times nothing worth our attention happened until 1517, when the gospel was heard again through the Reformers, and that no worthy examples of Christian life have been lived since then. The new calendar seeks to present a more balanced reflection of the richness of Christian history. A calendar of commemoration conveys something of the breadth of Christian history and provides a richly assorted variety of the young and old, learned and ignorant, people of action and contemplative, whose common denominator is simply that the grace of God worked mightily within them. In certain remarkable ways they have shown the world something of the greatness of God revealed in Jesus Christ and in our lives as well, and for that they are remembered with thanksgiving.

Hearing the Challenge Anew

In choosing representative Lutheran Book of Worship people for commemoration, rigid doctrinal tests are impossible if a calendar is to suggest something of this richness and diversity of the revelation of God through the lives of people. There are those who are dismayed to find Lutherans remembering George Fox, whose followers do not celebrate the sacraments, yet not including in their commemorations such seventeenth century teachers of Lutheran Orthodoxy as Mertin Chemnitz, James Andreae, and John Gerhard. The inclusion of John Calvin (to some the rival from the Reformed churches), Martin Luther King, Jr., John XXIII, and Dag Hammarskjold have to each been questioned once or twice. The calendar as well as church history, however, urges us to remember not only those with whom we are comfortable because they are "our kind" and speak our language, but also those bristly souls who by their opposition to what we find familiar and acceptable urge us to reconsider the very nature of the Christian faith. Thus, for example, George Fox challenges us not to take the church building (the "steeple house") nor the ministry overseriously, and Catherine of Siena boldly tells the pope to return from Avignon to Rome. We are thus urged by the calendar to listen to new and unaccustomed voices with their insistent challenges that impel us to grow in our faith and knowledge of the nature of the church and God's ways with the world. In the evangelical tradition, we do not praise the saints so that they may hear us but that we may once again hear them.

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The Contemporary Maronite Calendar

 

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To Think About

1.  Compare the present Roman Liturgical Year with any other way of celebrating the cycle of Christian Mysteries.

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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 09/08/13 .  Your comments on this site are welcome at trichstatter@franciscan.org