The Church has divided her year into periods of time, and the most common of those is about to call it quits once again. ‘Ordinary Time’ occurs in 33-34 weeks each year, and will make its final appearance next Sunday, November 23rd.
Ordinary Time occurs just after Christmas season, and then again just after Easter. It covers a large period at the end of winter, through the entirety of spring and summer, and into mid-fall. It is the entirety of the year outside of Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter.
The name of Ordinary Time does not denote that there is something less special, or in other words the common meaning that we give to the word ‘ordinary’. Instead it draws its name from the word ‘ordinal’, which means ‘numbered’, because the Sundays that make up Ordinary Time are indeed numbered.
During this time all the days, but especially the Sundays, are devoted to the mystery of Jesus Christ in every aspect of His existence. The first Ordinary period of a calendar year begins after Mass is said on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which falls the Sunday after the Epiphany. Thus the Mass on that day is said to be in Christmastide, but the Evening Prayers would fall in Ordinary Time.
This first period will then last until what has become commonly known as ‘Fat Tuesday’, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. At that point, Lent begins, and Ordinary Time will not return until Pentecost. When this second Ordinary period begins, it will then run right up until Advent.
During these Ordinary Time periods, the Church may indeed emphasize those ordinary aspects of Christ’s life. The teachings and verses of Scripture that cover his interactions with his family and friends, his day-to-day life and teachings, those things that occurred outside of his birth, death, and resurrection.
Prior to the Second Vatican Council closing in 1965, the Church called these periods of the year ‘Season after Epiphany’ and ‘Season after Pentecost’, and there remain some Anglicans and other groups who still recognize these older terms. But in the broader Church, a new Catholic Calendar was issued beginning in 1969, and the Ordinary Time designations have been used ever since.
So next Sunday you can go to Church and say goodbye to Ordinary Time. In so doing, you will also be anticipating one of the most joyful times of the year, what has become known even in the secular world as ‘the most wonderful time of the year’. The following week, the first Sunday of Advent is observed, and we begin the run-up to the greatest event in the history of mankind, the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
NOTE: This is another in the ‘Sunday Sermon’ series which comes each Sunday. Simply click on that below Label to visit all of the previous entries in the Series.