The Catholic Church sets aside certain days and seasons of each year to recall and celebrate various events in the life of Christ. In its Roman Rite the liturgical year begins with Advent, the time of preparation for both the celebration of Jesus' birth, and his expected second coming at the end of time. This season lasts until 24 December (Christmas Eve). Christmastide follows, beginning with First Vespers of Christmas on the evening of 24 December and ending with the feast of the Baptism of Jesus. Lent is the period of purification and penance which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Thursday. The Holy Thursday evening Mass of the Lord's Supper marks the beginning of the Easter Triduum, which includes Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. These days recall Jesus' Last Supper with his disciples, death on the cross, burial, and resurrection. The seven-week liturgical season of Easter immediately follows the Triduum, climaxing at Pentecost. This last feast recalls the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus' disciples after the Ascension of Jesus. The rest of the liturgical year is commonly known as Ordinary Time.
There are many forms of liturgy in the Catholic Church. Even putting aside the many Eastern rites in use, the Latin liturgical rites alone include the Ambrosian Rite, the Mozarabic Rite, and the Cistercian Rite, as well as other forms that have been largely abandoned in favour of adopting the Roman Rite. Of this rite, what is now the "ordinary" or, to use a word employed in the Letter of Pope Benedict XVI accompanying the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, the "normal" form is that which developed from the Second Vatican Council to the present day, while the form in force in 1962 is authorized as an extraordinary form of the Roman Rite without restriction in private celebrations and under certain conditions in public celebrations. The liturgical calendar in that form of the Roman Rite (see General Roman Calendar of 1962) differs in some respects from that of the present ordinary form, as will be noted below, and also from the earlier General Roman Calendar of Pope Pius XII, the still earlier General Roman Calendar of 1954 and the original Tridentine Calendar. These articles can be consulted with regard to the Roman-Rite liturgical year before 1962.
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