When Is Ash Wednesday 2012?

Ash Wednesday is February 22, 2012.  The Diocese of Rapid City has a very readable liturgical calendar here.


Catholic Boot Camp: Solemnities, Feasts, and Memorials

Have you ever wondered why we Catholics do what we do? I don’t mean the high theological moral issues, but why does the priest where white on certain days, green on others, and pink (er, . . . rose) on one day of the year? You never have to wonder again! Catholic Boot Camp will answer all your questions and, hopefully, bring out the meaning behind a lot of what we do. Check it out every Thursday.

A “solemnity” is principal celebration of a mystery of prime importance. Father Edward McNamara, a professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum University, explained in a news item in 2008:

Solemnities are the highest degree and are usually reserved for the most important mysteries of faith. These include Easter, Pentecost and the Immaculate Conception; the principal titles of Our Lord, such as King and Sacred Heart; and celebrations that honor some saints of particular importance in salvation history, such as Sts. Peter and Paul, and St. John the Baptist on his day of birth.

Each solemnity has several unique liturgical elements such as its own opening prayer, communion antiphon, and so on. This liturgy takes precedence over a regular weekday or Sunday liturgy when they conflict. What are the solemnities for the Church generally? In the United States for 2010-2011, they are:

  • December 8, 2010:       Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • December 25, 2010:      The Nativity of our Lord
  • January 1, 2011:     Octave Day: The Blessed Virgin Mary, The Mother of God
  • January 2, 2011:    The Epiphany of the Lord
  • March 19, 2011:     Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • March 25, 2011:    The Annunciation of the Lord
  • April 25, 2011:      Monday of the Octave of Easter
  • April 26, 2011:      Tuesday of the Octave of Easter
  • April 27, 2011:     Wednesday of the Octave of Easter
  • April 28, 2011:     Thursday of the Octave of Easter
  • April 29, 2011:     Friday of the Octave of Easter
  • April 30, 2011:     Saturday of the Octave of Easter
  • May 1, 2011:          Divine Mercy Sunday
  • June 2, 2011:         The Ascension of the Lord
  • June 12, 2011:      Pentecost Sunday
  • June 19, 2011:     Most Holy Trinity
  • June 24, 2011:    The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist
  • July 1, 2011:  The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
  • August 15, 2011:  The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • November 1, 2011:  All Saints Day
  • November 20, 2011:  OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST THE KING


Feasts are a step down from solemnities.  Professor McNamara explained:

A feast honors a mystery or title of the Lord, of Our Lady, or of saints of particular importance (such as the apostles and Evangelists) and some of historical importance such as the deacon St. Lawrence.

The feast usually has some proper prayers but has only two readings plus the Gloria. Feasts of the Lord, such as the Transfiguration and Exaltation of the Holy Cross, unlike other feasts, are celebrated when they fall on a Sunday. On such occasions they have three readings, the Gloria and the Creed.

Finally, per Fr. McNamara, a “memorial” is “usually of saints but may also celebrate some aspect of the Lord or of Mary. Examples include the optional memorial of the Holy Name of Jesus or the obligatory memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”