The Celebration of the Christian Mystery
The liturgical year
Beginning with the Easter Triduum as its source of light,
the new age of the Resurrection fills the whole liturgical year with
its brilliance. Gradually, on either side of this source, the year is
transfigured by the liturgy. It really is a “year of the Lord’s favor.”
The economy of salvation is at work within the framework of time,
but since its fulfillment in the Passover of Jesus and the outpouring
of the Holy Spirit, the culmination of history is anticipated “as a
foretaste,” and the kingdom of God enters into our time.
is not simply one feast among others, but
the “Feast of feasts,” the “Solemnity of solemnities,” just as the
Eucharist is the “Sacrament of sacraments” (the Great Sacrament).
St. Athanasius calls Easter “the Great Sunday”
and the Eastern
Churches call Holy Week “the Great Week.” The mystery of the
Resurrection, in which Christ crushed death, permeates with its
powerful energy our old time, until all is subjected to him.
At the Council of Nicaea in 325, all the Churches agreed that
Easter, the Christian Passover, should be celebrated on the Sunday follow-
ing the first full moon (14 Nisan) after the vernal equinox. Because of
different methods of calculating the 14th day of the month of Nisan, the
date of Easter in the Western and Eastern Churches is not always the same.
For this reason, the Churches are currently seeking an agreement in order
once again to celebrate the day of the Lord’s Resurrection on a common
In the liturgical year the various aspects of the one Paschal
mystery unfold. This is also the casewith the cycle of feasts surround-
ing the mystery of the incarnation (Annunciation, Christmas, Epiph-
any). They commemorate the beginning of our salvation and
communicate to us the first fruits of the Paschal mystery.
The sanctoral in the liturgical year
“In celebrating this annual cycle of the mysteries of Christ,
Holy Church honors the Blessed Mary, Mother of God, with a
special love. She is inseparably linked with the saving work of her
Son. In her the Church admires and exalts the most excellent fruit
of redemption and joyfully contemplates, as in a faultless image,
that which she herself desires and hopes wholly to be.”
43 St. Athanasius (
1: PG 24, 1366.