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Times and Tides

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    Times and Tides

    Times and Tides

    And God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth." And it was so. And God made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. (Gen 14-17)

    Our world was made with a rhythm – days and night, seasons and years. And God saw that it was good. This gives us a rhythm to our life.
    "For everything there is a season,
    and a time for every matter under heaven:
    a time to be born, and a time to die;
    a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
    a time to kill, and a time to heal;
    a time to break down, and a time to build up;
    a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
    a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
    a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
    a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
    a time to seek, and a time to lose;
    a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
    a time to rend, and a time to sew;
    a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
    a time to love, and a time to hate;
    a time for war, and a time for peace."
    (Eccl 3:1-8)

    Catholic life has a rhythm to it; a rhythm of times and tides
    “And te tide and te time þat tu iboren were, schal beon iblescet." (St. Marher, 1225) [1]

    Tide as St. Marher used it, and as the Catholic Church uses it, refers not to the ebbing and flowing of the seas but to a period of time. Thus we refer to Eastertide and Christmastide (and in England Whitsuntide – though that has become archaic now).

    The Church’s year contains two great feasts, Easter and Christmas, each preceded by a time of penitential preparation and fasting (Advent and Lent respectively).

    The year starts with Advent (around the end of November) and leads up to Christmas. It is a time to reflect on Christ’s first coming and also on his future second coming.

    In the secular world Christmas begins as soon as October and finishes with Christmas Day. But in the Catholic Church Christmas begins on the Eve of Christmas Day with the Vigil Mass and finishes with the Baptism of the Lord (on the Sunday after the 6th January). That period is known as Christmastide. Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of our Saviour and in Christmastide we continue to continue to reflect on that event, the joyous exclamation of the angels, the visit by the shepherds and the homage paid by the pagans, represented by the wise men, who journeyed hundreds of miles to prostrate themselves before the Christ child.

    Easter begins with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on the evening of Holy Thursday and finishes at Pentecost. Jesus prepared for his coming ministry by spending forty days of fasting in the desert. During Lent, which precedes Easter, we spend forty days preparing for the great celebration of his death and resurrection. The time between Easter Sunday and Pentecost is Eastertide and a continuing time of celebration.

    The rest of the year is known as Ordinary time, but that is punctuated by feast days, of Jesus, of Mary and the other Saints in heaven. These give us a rhythm to our year and a reminder of the heroes of old who passed on the faith to us, often at the cost of their lives and who are models for us.

    The liturgical year is a great gift which takes us though the life of Christ.
    "Unlike pagan religions which see time as an endless cycle, Christians see time as being linear; it has a beginning and will have an end. Within Christianity's linear, "big picture" sense of time, though, the passing of hours is experienced as cycles of meditations on holy things. Think of a spiral -- of a circle of time moving ever forward toward His Coming -- and you will have a sense of "Catholic time."" (from

    [1] For those curious for a translation of the quote from St. Marhers, in more modern English it is (apparently) v "the tide abides for, tarrieth for no man, stays no man, tide nor time tarrieth no man" from which we get the saying “Time and Tides wait for no man”
    'Time and tide wait for no man' - the meaning and origin of this phrase
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