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Journey through Ordinary Time

Jul 1

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7/1/2018 5:38 PM  RssIcon

As we make a journey through Ordinary Time, there are times when our regular flow of ‘Sundays in Ordinary Time’ get interrupted by another feast coming along. Today is one such occasion as we celebrate the Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist, the great pre-cursor of our Lord. We will certainly discuss this great feast during our homilies this weekend, so I wanted to take this space to clarify why and when certain feasts get to take the place of others, etc.

As we know in the Church, there is a certain hierarchy of structure: Pope to Bishops to priests to the parish community, etc. That same structure is reflected in the concept that is known as ‘increasing solemnity,’ such that some feast days have a higher importance than others. For example, Christmas and Easter are always and everywhere the highest and most important feasts on the Church’s calendar, as they are the key moments in the history of salvation.

From there, the liturgical seasons that lead up to and away from these two great feasts are next in line in order of solemnity. The Sundays of Advent, Lent and Easter are never replaced because they are preparatory or celebratory feasts connected with Christmas and Easter, respectively. (The Sundays of the Christmas season are the exceptions that prove the rule, however, as the Sunday between Christmas and New Year is the Feast of the Holy Family; the first Sunday of the Year is usually the celebration of the Epiphany; but those two feasts are very connected with Christmas, so it still fits!)

The next level down are ‘Patronal Feasts’ and ‘Feasts of the Lord,’ which all hold a greater place than ‘Sundays in Ordinary Time.’ Feasts of particular locations, (Patronal Feasts), are also able to be moved to a Sunday in order that the entire community is able to celebrate that feast, hence we are able to move the Feast of St. John Neumann to a Sunday in January (which also happily coincides with the establishment of the parish!) At Corpus Christi, our Patronal Feast is also a Feast of the Lord and is always celebrated on a Sunday, so a win there!

The feast we celebrate this weekend is also a ‘Feast of the Lord,’ as these are feasts that have a particular importance in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Yes, we know that this feast is for St. John the Baptist, but since it is his singular role to point the way to the Messiah who was to come after him, his birthday gets celebrated with a unique and special devotion.

Next down the list are Sundays in Ordinary Time, as we count the weeks during which nothing special or extraordinary is happening. These weeks allow us to pass the time and to slowly allow the Lord and the Spirit to grow in our hearts, as we see the crops growing out in the fields. We go through the Gospels and hear the proclamation of the Kingdom week after week.

Finally, during the week we have two types of memorials that can replace regular weekdays in Ordinary Time: Obligatory and Optional Memorials. As the names suggest, we are required to celebrate the ‘obligatory’ days, while we may celebrate the ‘optional’ days, at the discretion of the priest or the community. (As a general rule, I nearly always use the presidential prayers for optional memorials, as they are good reminders of our desire to follow the saints to the glory of heaven.)

And that’s that, the ‘lowest’ days of liturgical worship are regular week days in Ordinary Time, just to count the days as the summer goes past. I hope this helps to clarify why we get to celebrate St. John the Baptist’s birth, while other great saints, as important as they are, only get to be celebrated throughout the week.


God Bless,

Fr. Kyle Schnippel

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Deacon Ron answers your questions.


Re: Why do we place a white pall on the casket of the deceased at funeral Masses?
I have been wondering about that. Thank you for explaining it.

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