Home » Mormonism » There is no Liturgical Year in Mormonism

There is no Liturgical Year in Mormonism

mormon-jesus-palm-sundaySince today is Palm Sunday in some churches, I feel obliged to say something about liturgical years.  I had never even heard of a liturgical year until I really started studying Orthodoxy.  I had heard of Lent – particularly that my Roman Catholic best friend seemed to eat a lot of fish at certain times of the year.  But the concept of celebrating the life of Christ through the year, or that different parts of the year could have different meanings (besides Christmas and Easter), was entirely alien to my religious experience.  Until just a couple of years ago I didn’t even know what Palm Sunday was.

I feel that this is something significantly lacking in Mormonism.  With the exception of fast Sundays and conferences, there is no organized cycle through the year with didactic value at all.  The curriculum in classes change every year, and we sing Christmas hymns all December, that’s about it.

So whenever a religious holiday or liturgical season passes without any mention in church, I get kind of frustrated.  I feel that members of the Church would have so much more of an emotional connection with the events that took place in Christ’s life if they would just organize some kind of liturgical year – or recognize one that exists already.  There’s no reason given in church why they reject the use of such calendars, and little to no recognition that they even exist.

So as far as saying something specifically about Palm Sunday – I don’t know how.  I know the origin of the day – Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem.  But as far as what Palm Sunday means emotionally to people, or what I’m supposed to be pondering during it – I have no idea.

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4 thoughts on “There is no Liturgical Year in Mormonism

  1. I’ll make a feeble attempt at describing how we Orthodox understand the the church calendar, which is inextricably tied to the Christian life. In a nutshell, as Christians we are on a journey to the Kingdom of God. Simultaneously, the Kingdom is already present among us. We are fallen and have lost Paradise, the original state of our creation as creatures intended from the beginning to be divinized and to live a life in communion with God. We have lost God and we are in exile. At the same time, God is everywhere present and fills all things. Even though we are fallen, God waits for us in the innermost chambers of our heart. We are thus simultaneously journeying to God and are also with God, since we are members of the Body of Christ. The services, ascetic practices, and the church calendar embody these themes of expectation and fulfillment. We experience both, year in and year out, at every feast, in every fasting period, and in the Divine Liturgy. At every Divine Liturgy, we journey to the Kingdom and stand with the angels, worshipping God as Christ comes to us and offers himself to us materially in the Eucharist, in the form of bread and wine. On Palm Sunday, to use your example, we await the Lord as he approaches (expectation) and we rejoice as he enters the holy city (fulfillment). Throughout holy week this cycle repeats itself at every service, as we journey with the Lord at each step of his final week on earth, building to the ultimate expectation and fulfillment: his impending death and Resurrection, by which the work of our salvation will be (has been) accomplished. At Pascha, sometime after midnight, after we have earlier in the week commemorated the institution of the Eucharist; participated in the foot washing service; heard the 12 passion gospels read; reenacted his death, taking down from the cross, and burial; and held His funeral service, we will exult as we conclude this journey toward the Resurrection and proclaim Christ’s victory together, singing over and over again:

    Χριστὸς ἀνέστη ἐκ νεκρῶν,
    θανάτῳ θάνατον πατήσας,
    καὶ τοῖς ἐν τοῖς μνήμασι
    ζωὴν χαρισάμενος.

    Christ is risen from the dead,
    Trampling down death by death,
    And upon those in the tombs
    Bestowing life!

    Yesterday, we celebrated the Vesperal Liturgy of the Annunciation, commemorating the Angel Gabriel’s announcement to Mary that she would be the Theotokos (Mother of God). This creates our expectation of the Birth of our Lord nine months from now, which will be fulfilled during the Feast of the Nativity.

    All of this means that, unlike churches that have discarded liturgical worship and the calendar, we do not merely talk and make speeches about Christ. We live and participate in Christ. This is a profound difference.
    To respond to your last sentence, we Orthodox don’t merely ponder the events of Christ’s life; we live them. I hope that’s helpful.

  2. I don’t like the word ‘reenacted’ that I used in reference to the death and burial of Christ. It’s a remembrance service. The priest removes an image (icon) of Jesus from the cross and place it in a bower representing the tomb. A lamentation (or funeral) service is then held.

  3. I really appreciate that comment. And yeah, that’s getting at what I was trying to say so much better than I did. Having a liturgical year means “participating in Christ’s life” as the year goes on. And that’s so different than just having days that commemorate this or that event. I really long for that experience.

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