Celebrating the Church Year

At Bourne Abbey the liturgy is shaped by the rich diversity of the Church’s year underpinned by the daily offices. All Sundays celebrate the paschal mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ whilst reflecting the character of the seasons in which they are set.

By following the liturgical cycle the Church enters into the moods and rhythms of the Christian year, from the birth of Jesus, through the drama of the events in Holy Week to his ascension.

This cycle deepens our Christian experience and becomes part of the rhythm of our lives – whether it is the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday or a candle lit for our departed on All Souls’ Day, the experience changes us.

The Church’s year, with its cycle of seasons, thus provides the Church with its most compelling way into the mystery of faith.

The Church year begins in Advent. Advent is a season of expectation and preparation, when the Church reflects on the first coming of Christ as well as anticipating his second coming. The mood of the season is a mixture of hope, penitence and joy.

Christmas celebrates the birth and Incarnation of Jesus Christ.

Epiphany commemorates the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles and the visit of the Magi to the Christ child. The season of Epiphany examines the revelation of Christ’s glory through a number of key events at the beginning of his life and ministry.

Candlemas celebrates the Presentation of Christ in the Temple and the ritual purification of the Virgin Mary. With its theme of light it also denotes the end of the Christmas and Epiphany season.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent. Lent is a time for penitence and growth in order to enter more deeply into the mystery of Christ. Subsequently, during Passiontide, the mood changes and goes a little deeper into the mystery of the cross.

On Good Friday, the high altar is stripped and all candles, votive lights and the sanctuary lamp are extinguished, as a symbol of the devastation in the aftermath of Christ’s death.

Easter celebrates the resurrection of Christ from the dead. The Easter season is a time of joyful reflection on the effect of the resurrection.

Ascension Day remembers Jesus’ ascension into heaven 40 days after his resurrection.

Pentecost commemorates the outpouring of the Holy Spirit onto the disciples and the founding of the church. Pentecost also marks the end of Eastertide.

Trinity Sunday is the day the Church reflects on God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three persons yet one God. Trinity Sunday commemorates and honours not an event, but a reality – the Holy Trinity.

All Saints is when the Church commemorates all saints, both known and unknown.

Throughout the years saints days are also marked – often on the date of their death.