By John Schmoll, Pastor and Camaldolese Oblate St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church, Los Banos
Here we are in the middle of summer heat. Gone are the cool breezes of spring, and the cool breezes in autumn are still too far away.
My favorite seasons are a true autumn and a true spring. My most difficult seasons are summer and winter, due to the heat and the cold.
Temperature-wise, I wish we had twelve months of autumn. However, twelve months of one temperature would not be good for agriculture, at least for what is grown in our areas.
We need all four seasons, because something takes place in each season that contributes to the whole of the crop. We need the entire year for the fullness of the harvest.
It is the same in the Church. We have our favorite seasons of the liturgical year. One person might have a special fondness for the rigors of Lent. Most might have a liking for the joy of Christmas and the glory of Easter.
In our Roman Catholic tradition, our liturgical year is made up of six seasons. The first, Advent (four weeks, at least four Sundays) is where we prepare for the Second Coming of the Lord for the majority of the weeks.
Christmas (two weeks, more or less) is the time of joy in the birth of Jesus. We also celebrate the Holy Family, and the Christmas season closes with the Baptism of the Lord.
Lent (six weeks) helps us to look into our own sinfulness, as well as preparing us for the coming Passion of Jesus.
Holy Week (one week) takes us from the triumphal entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem through Easter Sunday. We make stops along the way for the Last Supper (Thursday), the Crucifixion (Good Friday) and the time in the Tomb (Saturday).
The ultimate celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord for us, as Catholics, is the Easter Vigil (where we celebrate the History of Salvation from Creation to Christ, and we celebrate the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist, all in about a three-to-four-hour-long Mass).
Easter season takes over and lasts seven weeks. During these weeks we try to spiritually digest what the Resurrection of Jesus Christ means for us and how we must practice it in our daily lives.
The longest season of the year is what we call Ordinary Time. It is 34 weeks long, divided into two sections.
The first section is a connector from the Christmas season to Lent (between six to eight weeks). The majority of Ordinary Time occurs after Pentecost.
We call it Ordinary because the Church proclaims one of the three synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark or Luke) in an “ordered” fashion (one story after the next, from which we get the word “Ordinary”).
It does not mean that the season is nothing special. Far from it! Currently we are in the 18th week in Ordinary Time.
This year we are proclaiming the Gospel according to Luke. Next year it will be Matthew, and the year after Mark (we proclaim the Gospel according to John during the Easter Season and during other seasons outside of Ordinary Time).
We have sixteen weeks to go until Ordinary Time is completed, and then we begin a new liturgical year with the season of Advent.
As Christians, of course, we like to spend more of our time on the Resurrection of Jesus. Easter Season is probably our favorite. But without the expectation of Advent, the new life of Christmas, the inner reflection of Lent, the barrenness and suffering of Holy Week, and the putting-of-it-all-into-practice of Ordinary Time, the fullness of the Resurrection could not be harvested.
God bless and Godspeed.