Ministry of Liturgical Environment

 altar linens

Just as the term Church refers to the living temple, God's People, the term church also has been used to describe the building in which the Christian community gathers to hear the word of  God.The church is the proper place for the liturgical prayer of the parish community, especially the celebration of the Eucharist on Sunday, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and reservation of the Eucharist. Churches, therefore, must be places "suited to sacred celebrations," "dignified," and "beautiful." Architecture and art become the joint work of the Holy Spirit and the local community, that of preparing human hearts to receive God's word and to enter more fully into communion with God.

The Ministry of Liturgical Environment at St. James, contributes to the church's visual enhancement during liturgical celebrations.  It was created to conceptualize an inviting and fitting environment of worship during the different liturgical seasons and annual celebrations.  The ministry strives to provide an ambiance of tranquility and beauty to help us focus on the liturgy and prayer through Altar and other ornaments, flowers, plants, etc., throughout the "Liturgical Year."


What is the Catholic Liturgical Year?

Also called the Church year or the Christian calendar, the Catholic liturgical calendar is the cycle of seasons in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church. The Church year begins each year with Advent, the season of awaiting Christ’s coming, and ends with the final Saturday of Ordinary time. Within the standard calendar year, the Church year starts in early December (or sometimes the end of November) and goes through the following November.

The Church year consists of six liturgical seasons: Advent, Christmas, Ordinary Time after Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Ordinary Time after Pentecost. Seasons begin or end based on a movable feast and so some seasons vary in length from year to year, and vary as to the calendar dates. The following is a brief overview of the Catholic liturgical seasons: their durations, their purpose and focus, and the liturgical year colors.


Liturgical Seasons


Advent: First Sunday of Advent through December 24th

Advent begins the Sunday closest to the feast of St. Andrew, which is November 30th. Therefore Advent always falls sometime between November 28th and December 3rd, and lasts until the Nativity of the Lord. The season always has somewhere between 21 and 28 days.

The Advent season is the time of waiting and preparing for the coming of Jesus. This refers both to the anniversary celebration of the Incarnation, as well as the second and final coming for which we are waiting and preparing.

The liturgical colors of Advent are Purple and Rose, with Rose being used only on the third Sunday of Advent.


Christmas: December 25ththrough The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

The Christmas season begins with the celebration of the birth of Jesus, Christmas day, or as a vigil on Christmas Eve. The Feast of Christmas lasts 12 days, until Epiphany. However, the time from Epiphany until the Baptism of the Lord is also included in the Christmas season. Traditionally, Epiphany had been fixed to January 6th, and the Baptism celebrated on the octave of Epiphany, which was January 13th. In most countries, the Epiphany is now celebrated on the Sunday closest to January 6th, and the Baptism celebrated the following Sunday. The Christmas season is a time of rejoicing in the Incarnation.

The liturgical color of Christmas is white.


Ordinary Time after the Baptism:Monday after the Feast of the Baptism through Shrove (Fat) Tuesday

After the celebration of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Ordinary Time begins. Ordinary does not mean plain. The name comes from “ordinalis” meaning "showing order, denoting an order of succession.” It is used in this sense to refer to the order of the counted weeks. That is to say, it is a season of counted weeks.

Ordinary Time after the Baptism focuses on the early life and childhood of Christ, and then on His public ministry.

The liturgical color of Ordinary Time is green; however, as in all seasons, other appropriate colors are worn on particular feast days. (For example, blue is typically worn for Marian feast days.)


Lent: Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday

The season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday and lasts until the final Saturday before Easter, Holy Saturday. Lent is a penitential season. It recalls the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert, and the 40 years the Israelites wandered in the desert. Lent focuses on the events leading up to Christ’s passion, and finally on the Passion itself.

Lent is 40 days long. This does not include Sundays, as Sunday is always a day for rejoicing in the Resurrection. Altogether, it covers 46 calendar days, the 40 days plus the six Sundays.

The liturgical colors of Lent are violet or purple, traditionally more of a red-violet color than the deep purple of Advent. Rose may also be used, where it is the custom, on Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday during Lent). On Passion Sunday (Palm Sunday) and on Good Friday (which has no Mass but a service remembering Christ’s passion) the color is red. White or violet is worn on Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday (once again, there is no Mass but there are other services on Holy Saturday).


Easter: Easter Vigil though Pentecost

The Easter season begins with the Easter Vigil, which is celebrated after night falls on the evening before Easter Sunday. The season of Easter is a joyous, celebratory season. It begins with celebrating Christ’s resurrection and ends by celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus. Christ’s ascension into Heaven is celebrated just prior to Pentecost. The Easter season last 50 days, from Easter Sunday through Pentecost.

The liturgical colors of Easter are white, for most days, and red for Pentecost.


Ordinary Time after Pentecost: The day after Pentecost through the final day before Advent

Once again, Ordinary does not mean plain. The name comes from “ordinalis” meaning "showing order, denoting an order of succession.” It is used in this sense to refer to the order of the counted weeks. That is to say, it is a season of counted weeks.

The second period of Ordinary Time is the longest liturgical season. Ordinary Time resumes after Pentecost and runs until the final Saturday before Advent. This period of Ordinary Time focuses on Christ’s reign as King of kings, and on the age of the Church. This is the age we live in now, which is the time between the age of the Apostles and the age of Christ’s second and final coming for which we are ever preparing. The final Sunday in Ordinary Time is the Feast of Christ the King; the Saturday after this feast is the final day of Ordinary time.


Vestment Color - Meaning

Vestment colors are used to represent the mood of the Mass being celebrated.  Ther color for the altar cloth and the celebrant's sash will be of this color.  There are four standard vestment colors.

Violet - Represents Expectation, Purification, or Penance.  Used during Lent and Advent.

White (or Gold) - Represents Joy and Triumph.  Used during the Pachal Triduum, Easter, and Christmas, as well as for Holy Days and Feast Days throughout the year.

Red - Represents Royalty, Fire, and Martyrdom.  Used on special Feast Days and Holy Days throughout the year.

Green - A sign of Life and Growth. Represents Ordinary Time.

Other colors may be substituted where traditionally appropriate, if desired.  Some typical examples are Gray, used for funerals, or Pink, used on the third Sunday of Advent and on Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday during Lent).


Church Precepts

Holy Days of Obligation

Holy days of obligation are special feasts on which Catholics who have reached the age of reason are seriously obliged to assist at Mass and avoid unnecessary work.

The the Holy Days of Obligation for the United States are:

January 1st: Mary, Mother of God - Refer to "B" below.

January 6th: Epiphany - Refer to "A" below.

Ascension of Our Lord

Holy Body & Blood of Christ  - Refer "A" below.

August 15th: Asumption - Refer to "B" below.

November 1st: All Saints - Refer to "B" below



A - Transferred to the following Sunday

B- If the date is Saturday or Monday there is no obligation for that year.


Sunday Obligation

One of the precepts of the Church is to keep holy the day of the Lord's Resurrection; to worship God by participating in Mass every Sunday and holy day of obligation; to  avoid those activities that would hinder renewal of soul and body, for example, needless work and business activities, unnecessary shopping, and so forth.


Feasts, Memorials, Commemorations and Solemnities

These are days which the Church has set aside as having special meaning. There are several types of celebrations. Some are events in the life of Christ. Some are days dedicated to a particular saint. There are three types of feast days. Optional Feasts are not universally celebrated. Holy Days of Obligation are days on which Catholics are required to attend Mass. All other celebrations are celebrated, but Catholics are not obligated to attend.


Fast and Abstinence

Fasting is restricting eating to one full meal and two lighter meals in the course of a single day, and prohibits eating between meals. Adults who have not yet reached their sixtieth year are bound by the Canon Law to fast. Pregnant women and people who are sick are not obligated to fast.
Abstinence is refraining from eating meat. People who have completed their fourteenth year are bound by the Canon Law to abstain.
Anyone who feels that they cannot fulfill the law of abstinence or the law of fasting should consult a parish priest or confessor.



For additional information or to volunteer your time:


Annie Rodriguez

Telephone:  863-465-7675, cell 863-840-0305



For additional information or to volunteer your time with altar linens:


Jean Warren

Telephone:  863-465-3864, cell 863-840-3075