By Dennis Fromholzer

The role of music at Catholic masses is simple, but daunting: to give praise and glory to God, to touch the hearts and minds of everyone in the congregation and help connect them to God, and to support and be a proper and fitting part of the liturgy each week.

The Catholic liturgical year consists of six seasons: Advent, Christmas, Ordinary Time, Lent, Sacred Pascal Tridium and Easter.

Throughout the year, the readings and lessons walk us through the life and experience of Jesus Christ. Our goal is to put ourselves in the mindset of the early Jewish people, starting with anticipation for the coming of the Messiah, rejoicing at the birth of the baby Jesus, and then listening to his teaching, and finally, reflection upon his death and resurrection.

There is a rich library of music for each of the church’s liturgical seasons. At Our Lady of the Mountains, we offer a small fraction of that library to the congregation. Hymns that the congregation sing are selected to complement the theme of each season and the messages of the readings for each Sunday.

The Advent season began on the first Sunday of December. Advent is the beginning of the Church’s liturgical year and encompasses the four Sundays leading up to the celebration of Christmas. This year, the fourth Sunday of Advent happens to be Christmas Eve.

Advent is a time of preparation that directs our hearts and minds to Christ’s second coming at the end of time and to the anniversary of Our Lord’s birth on Christmas.

Advent readings call us to be alert and ready, not weighted down and distracted by the cares of this world (Lk 21:34-36). Advent also includes an element of penance in the sense of preparing, quieting and disciplining our hearts for the full joy of Christmas.

Advent devotions, including the Advent wreath, remind us of the meaning of the season.

Christmas celebrates the nativity of Jesus Christ and his manifestation to the peoples of the world. Christmas, one of the most important days of the Church year, is the culmination of the mystery of God becoming flesh. It is a uniquely Christian teaching, the Divine choosing to become one of us.

The liturgical season of Christmas begins with the vigil masses on Christmas Eve and concludes on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. During this season, we celebrate the birth of Christ into our world and into our hearts and reflect on the gift of salvation that is born with him, including the fact that he was born to die for us.

The Christmas tree and the Nativity scene are popular symbols of the season and a tradition in many Christian homes. It is also traditional to exchange gifts with family and friends to honor God the Father’s gift of his only son to the world. Having received the gift of Christ, we naturally want to pass that gift along to our loved ones.

Lent is a 40-day season of prayer, fasting and almsgiving that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends at sundown on Holy Thursday. It is a period of preparation to celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection at Easter.

During Lent, we seek the Lord in prayer by reading Sacred Scripture; we serve by giving alms; and we practice self-control through fasting. We are called not only to abstain from luxuries during Lent, but to a true inner conversion of heart as we seek to follow Christ’s will more faithfully. We recall the waters of baptism in which we were also baptized into Christ’s death, died to sin and evil, and began new life in Christ.

The Sacred Paschal Triduum is the holiest “three days” of the Church’s year, from the evening of Holy Thursday to the evening of Easter Sunday, where the Christian people recall the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus.

The celebration of the Triduum, which includes the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, and Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion, marks the end of the Lenten season, and leads to the Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord at the Easter Vigil.

Easter has 50 days of joyful celebration of the Lord’s resurrection from the dead and his sending forth of the Holy Spirit. The word Easter comes from Old English, meaning simply the East. The sun, which rises in the East, bringing light, warmth and hope, is a symbol for the Christian of the rising Christ, who is the true light of the world.

The Easter Vigil is the Mother of All Vigils and Easter Sunday is the greatest of all Sundays. The season of Easter is the most important of all liturgical times, which Catholics celebrate as the Lord’s resurrection from the dead, culminating in his Ascension to the Father and sending of the Holy Spirit upon the Church on Pentecost.

The Easter season is characterized, above all, by the joy of glorified life and the victory over death expressed most fully in the great resounding cry of the Christian: Alleluia! All faith flows from faith in the resurrection.

Ordinary Time is divided into two sections, one span of 4-8 weeks after the Christmas season and another lasting about six months after the Easter season.

The Sundays and weeks of Ordinary Time—which refers to ordinal or numbered weeks of the liturgical year—take us through the life of Christ.

This is the time of conversion, of living the life of Christ; a time for growth and maturation, a time in which the mystery of Christ is called to penetrate ever more deeply into history until all things are finally caught up in Christ.

The goal, toward which all of history is directed, is represented by the final Sunday in Ordinary Time, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.

Dennis Fromholzer is the music director at Our Lady of the Mountains. The parish will mark its 75th anniversary in 2024. Living Faith is a series of articles by different members of the parish family that will be shared with the Estes Park community over the next several months as part of the anniversary celebrations.