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The Liturgical Calendar: Feast Days and Their Rank

On the first week of the Bread of Life Discourse, I noted that we would not celebrate the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time because the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary supersedes it in liturgical rank. How is this determined? We delved a bit into the liturgical calendar in mid-July, but here we will explore it a bit more.

Generally speaking, there are four ranks of liturgical days. From highest to lowest these are: solemnity, feast, memorial, and ferial.  Within each of these ranks, there are sub-rankings. For example, some solemnities are more important than others. This is the case with today’s celebration: while each Sunday in Ordinary Time is a solemnity, Solemnities of the Lord, Mary, and Saints are ranked higher. When two feasts coincide, whichever feast ranks higher is the one that is celebrated. There are also cases where a Feast of the Lord, such as the Presentation on February 2 or Transfiguration on August 6, outranks a Sunday in Ordinary Time. All of these precepts are designed to help us enter fully into the life of our Lord, the life of his Church, and celebrate his Sacred Liturgy where he reveals his paschal mystery in the Church’s celebration. This table shows the ranking of liturgical days and how it is determined what is celebrated.

1. Easter triduum of the Lord's passion and resurrection.
-Christmas, Epiphany, Ascension, and Pentecost.

2. Sundays of Advent, Lent, and the Easter season.
-Ash Wednesday.
-Weekdays of Holy Week from Monday to Thursday inclusive.
-Days within the octave of Easter.

3. -Solemnities of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and saints listed in the General Calendar.
-All Souls.

4. Proper Solemnities, namely:

a. Solemnity of the principal patron of the place, that is, the city or state.
b. Solemnity of the dedication of a particular church and the anniversary.
c. Solemnity of the title, or of the founder, or of the principal patron of a religious order or congregation.

5. Feasts of the Lord in the General Calendar.

6. Sundays of the Christmas season and Sundays in Ordinary Time.

7. Feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the saints in the General Calendar.

8. Proper feasts, namely:

a. Feast of the principal patron of the diocese.
b. Feast of the anniversary of the dedication of the cathedral.
c. Feast of the principal patron of a region or province, or a country, or of a wider territory.
d. Feast of the title, founder, or principle patron of an order or congregation and of a religious province,
e. Other feasts proper to an individual church.
f. Other feasts listed in the calendar of a diocese or of a religious order or congregation.

9. -Weekdays of Advent from 17 December to 24 December, inclusive.
-Days within the octave of Christmas.
-Weekdays of Lent.

10. Obligatory memorials in the General Calendar.

11. Proper obligatory memorials, namely:

a. Memorial of a secondary patron of the place, diocese, region, or province, country or wider territory, or of an order or congregation and of a religious province.
b. Obligatory memorials listed in the calendar of a diocese, or of an order or congregation.

12. Optional memorials. In Lent, memorials listed as obligatory in all calendars become optional.

13. -Weekdays of Advent up to 16 December inclusive.
-Weekdays of the Christmas season from 2 January until the Saturday after Epiphany.
-Weekdays of the Easter season from Monday after the octave of Easter until the Saturday before Pentecost, inclusive.
-Weekdays in Ordinary Time.



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