The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) produces a yearly liturgical calendar to facilitate a unified celebration of the Catholic liturgy in the United States. The calendar identifies the principal celebrations for the year as those pertaining to Lent, Easter, the Ascension, Pentecost, the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Advent and Christmas. Catholics believe that Easter, however, "is the greatest of all Sundays, and Easter Time is the most important of all liturgical times."
Lent and Easter
Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday, is a 40-day season immediately prior to Easter. Lent is a time for Catholic Christians to renew their commitment to Christ. The USCCB explains that the "three traditional pillars of Lenten observance are prayer, fasting and almsgiving." Following Lent, the 50 days of Easter are "characterized, above all, by the joy of glorified life and the victory over death." White is the is the traditional liturgical color for this joyous season, although gold and silver may also be used. These celebratory colors symbolize the importance and power of the resurrection to Catholics.
Ascenion and Pentecost
Pentecost is the capstone of the Easter season, it is the celebration of the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church. Traditionally, Catholics may wear red on Pentecost Sunday to commemorate the tongues of fire which appeared over the apostles heads at the first Pentecost. Catholics traditionally celebrate the Ascension of Christ 40 days after Easter Sunday. This celebration commemorates Christ's rising to heaven, his promise to return for his followers and his command to share his love with the whole world.
The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
The celebration of the Feast of Corpus Christi is centered on the Eucharistic Feast and the Church, both symbolic of Christ's body. In the Eucharist, Catholics worship and commune with the Real Presence of the person of Jesus Christ. Celebrating the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ often entails public Eucharistic processions. On this day, Catholics also honor the Church, which the Bible refers to as the body of Christ.
Advent and Christmas
During the season of Advent, Catholics prepare their hearts and minds not only to celebrate Christ's birth at Christmas, but also to welcome him at his second coming. Advent culminates in the Christmas season, when Catholics celebrate the birth of the Savior. Catholics traditionally exchange gifts during Christmas to commemorate God's gift of salvation and to share his love with others. Nativity scenes and Christmas trees are other "popular symbols of the season are a tradition in many Christian homes."
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