Living the Liturgical Year Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Patrick Gorman, For the Catholic Herald   
Thursday, Mar. 17, 2016 -- 12:00 AM

Most of us have some sense of the Church’s liturgical year. The priest wears purple during Advent, the sanctuary is filled with poinsettias during the Christmas season (and beyond), and our parishes add extra hours for the Sacrament of Penance during Lent. The life of the Church is ordered around the rhythm of the liturgical year.

Unfortunately, most people’s lives are ordered around a different calendar. School starts every fall, December is packed with too many things to do, travel plans are made when the kids are on spring break, etc.

Are these two calendars mutually exclusive? Absolutely not!

The liturgical year is intended to be lived out by Christians not only at Sunday Mass, but in our hearts and homes throughout the year. In fact, it is relatively easy -- and very spiritually enriching -- to develop a few family customs at home. These not only teach us about the liturgical year, but they draw us closer to Christ himself.

Easter Triduum in the home

In a few days we will celebrate the Easter Triduum -- the High Holy Days of our faith. Each day there are liturgies celebrated in the Church. However, that isn’t all that happens. These days -- from the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday through Easter Sunday evening -- are a retreat of sorts, and during the retreat we sometimes gather together for prayer with others in the Church. But the vast majority of hours are spent at home or at work as we live out our lives.

This doesn’t mean you have to take off work to pray all day (although that’s okay, too!). We can give ourselves some reminders to bring us back to what these days recall and celebrate rather than seeing them as simply another weekend.

Below are just a few suggestions to help celebrate the Triduum at home or work. There are numerous ideas and suggestions for the whole liturgical year on our Office of Worship website at

• First, make it a priority to attend the parish liturgies on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday evening, and Easter Sunday (with the whole family, if possible). Put these in your calendar and plan your days around them (rather than fitting them in if there is time). Consider attending other opportunities like Morning Prayer or the Holy Saturday Blessing of Food if they are celebrated in your parish. If you are on the road, check out the website to find a church in the area you are visiting before you go.

• Put a crucifix or cross in a place that you will see often (for example, as a centerpiece for the kitchen table). Perhaps leave your Bible open to the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ last earthly days (citations for these are on our website). Spend a little extra time on these Holy Days praying. Pray for your family and your parish. Pray for those who will receive the Easter Sacraments (Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist) at your parish. You can stop everything to pray, or you can offer short prayers while you are washing dishes, folding laundry, walking from the car to work, etc.

• Avoid distractions. Consider limiting screen time (TV, iPads, smart phones, etc.) or use screen time to watch a spiritually enriching movie (a list of suggestions is available on our website). Read Scripture. Write a letter or call someone who may be lonely. Dye Easter eggs and prepare for the Easter feast.

• And then feast on Easter Sunday (and beyond)! Feast on food, on drink, on joy, on beauty. Wear your best clothes to Easter Mass. If you gave up a beloved treat during Lent, indulge yourself on Easter Sunday. Have an Easter egg hunt with the kids or grandkids. Visit relatives. Enjoy time outside in nature. All things are renewed at Easter, so try to look at everything through a new lens of joy, for through Christ’s resurrection heaven and earth are reconciled; life has conquered death!

This great feast lasts even longer than the 40 day fast of Lent, because Easter is the Great 50 Days! It doesn’t end this year until May 15 -- Pentecost Sunday. That’s a long feast!

There is much more information on our website ( ItHome). If you have traditions that others may find useful, email the Office of Worship at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it



Patrick Gorman is the director of the Office of Worship of the Diocese of Madison.

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