“What time is it?” is one of the most asked questions around the world. Perhaps that’s because from the beginning of time, humans have enjoyed marking time. Take a look back at this year’s calendar. How did you mark time? What events did you observe? Birthdays? Anniversaries? How did you celebrate them? When we mark another birthday, for example, we usually celebrate with friends and family who gather together to share a meal and a birthday cake. We also perform some sort of ritual, e.g., we sing “Happy Birthday” and blow out candles on the cake. On our birthdays, we might remember our past but we don’t reenact our birth! We remember and celebrate the past in ways that give meaning to the present.
In the same way, events on the liturgical calendar are marked by friends and family who gather together to share a meal and to perform a ritual. We gather to celebrate major occasions like Christmas and Easter and other less solemn occasions throughout the year.
We observe days in the life of the universal Church such as the Dedication of St. John Lateran, the cathedral church of Rome, on November 9. We keep anniversaries that pertain to our parish such as the Anniversary of the Dedication of our Church on October 24, and we keep memory of our parish patron, St. Thomas Aquinas, on his feast day January 28. We remember other saints and martyrs on the anniversaries of their death, and we remember Mary, the Mother of God, on several days during the year.
Most of our liturgical calendar is dedicated to mark some aspect of the life of Jesus. Sunday by Sunday and year after year we remember events that happened in the life of Christ. We remember his birth, his childhood, and his ministry. We remember his death, his resurrection, and his ascension. We remember these occasions not by reenacting them, for they could never be repeated, but by remembering and celebrating them in ways that give meaning to the present. If we listen to the texts of the liturgy, we discover that our celebration of these events is always focused on the present.
“Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)
Psalm refrain for Christmas Mass during the night
“… today you have revealed the mystery of
our salvation in Christ as a light for the nations.”
Preface of the Epiphany of the Lord
“This is the night of which it is written:
the night shall be as bright as day.”
The Easter Proclamation (Exsultet)
“This is the day the Lord has made,
let us rejoice and be glad.” (Psalm 118:24)
Psalm refrain for Easter
These texts call us to an experience with the person of Jesus in our present. They tell us that God meets us right here, right now, today. They remind us that the time to live the Gospel is now.