The liturgical cycle includes three years, (A, B, and C) and a two year weekday cycle (Year I and Year II) during which Ordinary Time, as it is called, stops and starts, before and after the seasons of the year (Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter Time). But don’t be fooled, Ordinary Time is not “ordinary,” or “off-season.” It’s a profound opportunity to slowly absorb the wisdom of the Old and New Testament scriptures and allow it to saturate and transform our day-to-day activities.
On Sundays of ordinary time we read mostly from the particular Gospel for that cycle, (Year A=Matthew, Year B= Mark, Year C=Luke). The Gospel of John is also read at various times throughout the year, primarily during Easter. On weekdays during ordinary time, the Gospel readings cycle first through Mark, then Matthew, and finally Luke.
The liturgical year is made up of six seasons: (click the links for more detailed information from the USCCB, The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops)
- Advent: the four weeks leading up to Christmas
- Christmas Time: continues for three Sundays after Christmas (The Feast of the Holy Family, The Epiphany, and Jesus’ baptism)
- Lent: a six-week period of penance before Easter; begins with Ash Wednesday
- The Triduum– Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday
- Easter Time– the 50 days of Easter celebration, which conclude with Pentecost.
- Ordinary Time– the “teaching” time of 4-6 weeks between Christmas Time and Lent, and after Pentecost until the end of the calendar year, generally 34 Sundays in total.