FIRST PART OF THE ECCLESIASTICAL YEAR
CYCLE OF CHRISTMAS
The Mystery of the Incarnation
Cycle of Christmas
Advent. First Sunday of Advent to Dec. 24.
Christmastide. December 24 to January 13.
Time after Epiphany. January 14 to Septuagesima.
In her liturgical cycle the Church, to whom God has committed the work of our sanctification, has instituted a method of holiness whose aim is to make our souls like Christ Himself, for as St. Paul tells us, the Father has predestined us " to be made conformable to the image of His son." [Romans VII, 29.]
Every year, therefore, the Church keeps the different anniversaries connected with our Lord's life to enable us to take part in all His mysteries, to offer them in homage to Almighty God at the Holy Mass, and ever more and more to experience their salutary effects within our souls. Thus it follows, that each liturgical season represents one particular aspect of our Lord's life and has a special efficacy for our sanctification.
If we wish to be convinced of this, we have only to study the Missal and we shall find that the Church, whose petitions are always heard by almighty God, asks for us the graces which correspond to the different feasts which she keeps, varied as these are, and differing also in the effect which they have upon our souls. For this reason it is of the greatest importance that we should recognise the characteristic spirit of each season of the Church's liturgical year, that we may always put ourselves in the necessary dispositions for rendering to almighty God that peculiar glory, which the season brings and to benefit by its special graces.
If we permit ourselves to be guided in this way throughout the whole year by our Holy Mother the Church, we shall accomplish our sanctification most methodically and we shall glorify God, as the psalmist says, " according to the greatness of His power".
This is the great assurance that liturgical prayer can give us as being the official prayer of the Church and, for that reason, a sacramental full of power.