The Church Year Begins in Advent

The church year doesn’t begin in January, and the church’s liturgical calendar isn’t the same as the secular calendar.

The first Sunday of Advent is the beginning of the new liturgical year. The gospel reading switches over to a different gospel.

Some parishes may begin new programs at the beginning of Advent, or start parish council terms, or make other changes. You may recall that a couple years ago, when we switched over to the new translation of the Mass, that happened on the first Sunday of Advent, too. All that is because it’s the beginning of the new church year.

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12 thoughts on “The Church Year Begins in Advent

  1. Not going to vote, but will comment instead. As a Presbyterian minister’s daughter I knew that Advent is the beginning of the year. But I don’t think our readings were as regularized as the Catholics. (I think for Protestants it is more common to chose readings to fit the sermon rather than a sermon to fit the readings.) But my dad was all about process and probably did use a regular pattern. I have been going to Bar Mitzvahs this year with my older son and the Jews have very regularized system of reading the Torah that repeats annually. The more I learn about Catholicism and Judaism the more common ground I see.I find that pretty amazing given how long ago the separated.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Karla! A number of mainline Protestant traditions use the Revised Common Lectionary, but my impression is that there’s a lot of variation across local churches as to whether and how the lectionary is used.

    If you’re up for a bit more heavy lifting, you might be interested in a post on my other blog on a talk I went to recently, that draws out some additional parallels between Catholic and Jewish worship.

  3. Consider adding an option to your poll called “Knew but didn’t care” or similar. It may be difficult for the blogger to read sometimes, but if you are ready for honesty you may be interested to hear what your readers consider important Catholic tid-bits versus Catholic “mind lint”.

    • Interesting concept, but that would be a project for another blog: the focus of this one is to explore what people know. It does raise the question of why I think these posts will be about things that Catholics “should” know, and whether that might be worth including.

      In general, though, even things that some might consider “mind lint” contribute to a common vocabulary and culture, which in turn creates the background for stories, conversation, and shared experiences.

  4. Had great fun this past weekend at Mass, greeting people on the way out by saying, “Happy New Year.” In my personal unofficial poll I’d say roughly 90% thought I had skipped a month while the remaining 10% may be divided between those who thought my medication had slipped, 7%, and those who said, after a beat, “Oh, oh yes, very good. I see.” at 2% with a hearty 1% saying, “Happy new year” or “Amen, I love advent.”

  5. I never heard of “liturgical calendar” until decades after I was no longer Catholic. I guess they don’t tell you about it in CCD.

    • In contrast, I was an ordained Protestnat (Pentecostal) minister working in the “vineyard” for a number of years and I had not heard of a liturgical calendar until I met a Catholic priest and then an Anglican priest both in the same small community. I thought, brilliant, you mean, I don’t have to make up a text – er I mean be lead by the Holy Ghost to choose one for my little flock in our little town – every Sunday rather but there’s a pattern that one can be guided by that also unites one with millions, nay billions of Christians around the globe. Wow, I got all over that pronto.

      • And, in further contrast, since coming into the fullness of the faith roughly eight years ago I’ve often heard the liturgical calendar or at least the changing liturgical seasons explained often. Our first time, although I already knew by the time as per above, was when we attended RCIA. We were even given a tour of the church, shown the various parts, such as the sacristy and liturgical meaning of same.

  6. Pingback: Magnificat | Gaudete Theology

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