Q. 1. What does the Catholic Church mean by the "Liturgical Year?"
A. 1. The liturgical year is the temporal structure within which the Church celebrates the holy mysteries of Christ: "From the Incarnation and the Nativity to the Ascension, to Pentecost and to the wait in joyful hope for the Lord's coming". In other words, The liturgical year, also known as the church year, consists of the cycle of liturgical seasons that determines when feast days, including celebrations of saints, are to be observed, and which portions of Scripture are to be read either in an annual cycle or in a cycle of several years.
The Liturgical Calendar begins every year during the month of November on the First Sunday of Advent and runs through to the Solemnity of Christ the King.
The "Lectionary," the Mass readings from the Holy Bible, follows a Sunday cycle and a weekday cycle. The Liturgical Calendar follows a three year cycle, each year being represented by the letters, A, B and C.
During the year A cycle, the Gospel of Matthew is the primary Gospel that is used for the readings. In year B, Mark is the primary Gospel. In year C Luke is the primary Gospel. The Gospel of John is proclaimed on particular Sundays in each of the years.
On weekdays in Ordinary Time, there is a 2 year cycle numbered I and II. Year I is read in odd number years such as 2011, 2013, 2015. Year II is read in even years such as 2012, 2014, 2016.
It should be noted that if a person attends the Holy Mass everyday for 3 years, having been present for all the readings of the 3 cycles, most of the Holy Bible will have been read to him during that time frame.
In each cycle of the Liturgical Calendar, you will find six Seasons:
(5) Easter, and
(6) Ordinary Time.
During the year, in addition to the Sunday worship, the Church also celebrates Solemnities, Feasts, and Memorials which may be on any day of the week. These occur during the year to commemorate special events or persons that are highly revered by the Catholic Church.
The entire Church is required to follow the approved Universal Liturgical Calendar. The Universal Calendar originated from the Congregation of the Liturgy at the Vatican. It contains monthly guides that must be followed by all the faithful.
For more information on the "Liturgical Year," please go to this webpage.