Benedictus Deus

Benedictum Nomen Sanctum eius

Liturgical Cycles

Filed under: Liturgical Calendar — September 2, 2007 @ 9:47 pm

Until recently I was little confused on the distinction between the Temporal Cycle and the Sanctoral cycle. Somehow I missed the whole section on that topic in my St. Andrew missal which explains it. Turns out it’s pretty simple.

The Temporal Cycle (sometimes called the Proper of Time) involves all the liturgical seasons and times. According to my missal, “its aim is to show us our Lord in the traditional setting of the great mysteries of our holy religion.” It is divided into two parts or sub-cycles, the Christmas Cycle and the Easter Cycle. Each of these is further sub-divided into time before, during and after the two great feasts. The purpose of these sub divisions is to “prepare the soul for them, to allow it to celebrate them with solemnity, and then to prolong them for several weeks.” This prolongation allow us to continue to celebrate holy mysteries which are related to the great feast itself.

The Christmas Cycle is composed of Advent, Christmas, and Time After Epiphany. The Easter Cycle is composed of Septuagesima, Lent, Passiontide (totaling nine weeks of preparation), Easter season itself, and Time After Pentecost.

The Sanctoral Cycle (or the Proper of Saints) is simply the yearly cycle of Feast days and commemorations. First among these are the ones for the Blessed Virgin. Then come the Holy Angels, followed by (in order of importance to the incarnation) John the Baptist, Joseph, Peter and Paul, and the other apostles. Next in rank are national saints, diocesene patrons and so forth. Next are dedications of churches, martyrs, pontiffs, doctors, and confessors (I think those are all equal). These ranks are layed out in Pius X’s Divino Afflatu.

If there is clash between the Sanctoral and Temporal cycle the rank the feast is what determines which mass is said.

There is a little more to it than that (like octaves) but that is basically it. So to clear up the confusion I had last Christmas, Time after Epiphany is still part of the Christmas Cycle, but it is the prolongation, not part of Christmastide itself.

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