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Readers’ Quiz – On the Liturgical Calendar in the Roman Missal

Editor’s note: Have you found recent days and weeks in quarantine flying by or dragging along? Imagine if we didn’t have the Church’s liturgical benchmarks—Palm Sunday, Triduum, Easter, and Pentecost—to mark our days? To help us appreciate the nature of liturgical time and how it directs us to eternity, this issue of the Roman Missal Quiz focuses on the liturgical calendar.


The Roman Missal, which includes Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and the General Roman Calendar, is the true measure of liturgical time.

On the Liturgical Calendar in the Roman Missal


  1. In addition to its Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum (which promulgated the Roman Missal), the General Instruction, and norms on the distribution of Holy Communion, what other document is printed at the beginning of the Roman Missal?


  1. How many Holy Days of Obligation does the Roman Missal list?
    1. 10
    2. 7
    3. 5
    4. 0


  1. True of False: the Roman Missal considers Solemnities as the most important of all liturgical days.


  1. The Roman Missal’s liturgical calendar includes how many seasons in the liturgical year?
    1. 4
    2. 5
    3. 6
    4. 7


  1. True or False: the revision of the Roman Missal following the Second Vatican Council eliminated Rogation and Ember Days.


  1. March 25 may be the most significant day of the liturgical year. Not only does it remember the incarnation of Jesus, it also stands as a marker of Christ’s eventual death. Consequently, it is not uncommon that the Solemnity of the Annunciation falls during Holy Week or the Easter Octave. When this happens, what becomes of the liturgical observance of the Annunciation?


  1. True or False: According to the Roman Missal, the proper Mass for a given Sunday (that is, readings and orations) must be used for that Mass to fulfill the faithful’s Sunday obligation.


  1. Some saints—St. Theresa of Calcutta, St. Christopher, St. John Henry Cardinal Newman—are not entered on every nation’s liturgical calendar. Can these saints still be celebrated liturgically?


  1. According to the Roman Missal, the Second Eucharistic Prayer should be used:
    1. On weekdays.
    2. On Sundays.
    3. On Sundays when the pastor has to make time to celebrate multiple Masses.
    4. At funerals.


  1. How many weeks are there in Ordinary Time?



Readers’ Quiz Answers:

  1. Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and the General Roman Calendar. These norms were promulgated by Pope Paul VI in February 1969 by the Apostolic Letter Mysterii Paschalis.
  2. 0. While the Roman Missal—which includes Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and General Roman Calendar—mentions Holy Days of obligation, it does not give a complete list of these days. Rather, it is the Code of Canon Law that identifies ten: “the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Epiphany, the Ascension, the Body and Blood of Christ, Holy Mary the Mother of God, her Immaculate Conception, her Assumption, Saint Joseph, Saint Peter and Saint Paul the Apostles, and All Saints” (1246 §1). Of these ten days, the Code goes on to say, some may be transferred by conferences of bishops to Sunday and others suppressed.
  3. “On the first day of each week, which is known as the Day of the Lord or the Lord’s Day, the Church, by an apostolic tradition that draws its origin from the very day of the Resurrection of Christ, celebrates the Paschal Mystery. Hence, Sunday must be considered the primordial feast day” (Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and the General Roman Calendar, 4). During Ordinary Time, Sundays may give way to Feasts of the Lord and Solemnities.
  4. 6. The Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and General Roman Calendar, along with the divisions found the Missal’s Proper of Time, identifies six seasons: Paschal Triduum, Easter, Lent, Christmas, Advent, and Ordinary Time.
  5. True and While no specific days are provided in the General Roman Calendar, the Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and General Roman Calendar explains that “On Rogation and Ember Days the Church is accustomed to entreat the Lord for the various needs of humanity, especially for the fruits of the earth and for human labor, and to give thanks to him publicly” (45). “Rogation” comes from a Latin word meaning “to ask” or “to petition” (from rogo, rogare). On these days, the Church asks or petitions God for a fruitful harvest from fields, gardens, orchards, and flocks. While the Rogation Days are customarily celebrated in the Spring—on April 25 and for the three days leading up to the Ascension of Jesus—the reforms of the Second Vatican Council allowed these days to be “adapted to the different regions and different needs of the faithful” (Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and General Roman Calendar, 46). “Ember” finds its roots in the concept of “recurring” or “cyclical,” since these days had been observed every three months, near the beginning of each season. For three days at the beginning of each season—on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday—the Church fasted, prayed, and performed acts of charity. Like the Rogation Days, the Embers Days were meant to find local expression after the Second Vatican Council so that they could better respond to the needs of a given diocese.
  6. “As to the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, whenever it falls on any day of Holy Week, it shall always be transferred to the Monday after the Second Sunday of Easter” (Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and the General Roman Calendar, 60).
  7. The Roman Missal, in fact, doesn’t speak to this question at all. Rather, rules governing the Sunday obligation are found in the Code of Canon Law. Here—and contrary to what many expect to find—the Code does not oblige the faithful to attend a Mass that uses the proper readings for the Sunday. Rather, for example, a Mass on Sunday that celebrates Confirmation or a parish patron suffices. Indeed, the Mass need not even be in the Roman Rite, but could be a divine liturgy of an Eastern Church. According to Canon 1248 §1, “A person who assists at a Mass celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the feast day itself or in the evening of the preceding day satisfies the obligation of participating in the Mass.”
  8. Yes: “On weekdays in Ordinary Time, there may be chosen either the Mass of the weekday, or the Mass of an Optional Memorial which happens to occur on that day, or the Mass of any Saint inscribed in the Martyrology for that day, or a Mass for Various Needs, or a Votive Mass” (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 355). Since every saint and blessed will be listed in the universal Martyrology, any of these saints may be celebrated on weekdays in ordinary time using orations and readings from the appropriate section in the Common of Saints.
  9. On weekdays. “Eucharistic Prayer II, on account of its particular features, is more appropriately used on weekdays or in special circumstances. Although it is provided with its own Preface, it may also be used with other Prefaces, especially those that sum up the mystery of salvation, for example, the Common Prefaces. When Mass is celebrated for a particular deceased person, the special formula given may be used at the proper point, namely, before the part Remember also our brothers and sisters” (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 365).
  10. 33 or 34. “Besides the times of year that have their own distinctive character, there remain in the yearly cycle thirty-three or thirty-four weeks in which no particular aspect of the mystery of Christ is celebrated, but rather the mystery of Christ itself is honored in its fullness, especially on Sundays. This period is known as Ordinary Time” (Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and the General Roman Calendar, 43). Why the variation? The Norms continue: “Ordinary Time begins on the Monday which follows the Sunday occurring after January 6 and extends up to and including the Tuesday before the beginning of Lent; it begins again on the Monday after Pentecost Sunday and ends before First Vespers (Evening Prayer I) of the First Sunday of Advent” (44). If the upcoming First Sunday of Advent begins early, one of the weeks of Ordinary Time is omitted coming out of the Easter Season. That is, the week of Ordinary Time that has Ash Wednesday may be the 6th week in Ordinary Time, but the Monday after Pentecost may pick up with the 8th week in Ordinary Time. If the First Sunday of Advent falls later, each of Ordinary Time’s 34 weeks will be observed.



The Editors