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Friday, 18 January 2013

How ordinary is the ordinary time of the Year?



How ordinary is the ordinary time of the Year? One may ordinarily wonder why in the list of the liturgical season, we find a season referred to as the “Ordinary Time of the Year”. The other seasons of the liturgical year are: Advent, Christmastide, Lent and Easter. These seasons celebrate the preparation of the birth of Christ (Advent), the actual birth of Christ (Christmastide), the passion and death of Christ (Lent) and the resurrection of Christ (Easter). They celebrate in magnificent ways the key events that summarize the life of Christ.


Therefore, one can easily conclude that since the chief mysteries of Christ’s salvific acts have been given special places in the liturgical calendar of the Church and they cannot be stretched to run throughout the year, the period in between them cannot be as important as they are. Hence, they are called “ordinary time”. This assumption is simply incorrect. 

However, the Ordinary time of the year is that part of the liturgical year that celebrates “no particular aspect of the mystery of Christ. Instead on the Last Sundays, celebration is made of the mystery of Christ in all its fullness”. (General Norms for the Liturgical Year, 43).


The Ordinary time of the year is separated into two parts of the liturgical year. The first begins on the Monday following Epiphany Sunday (or the Sunday after January 6) and ends on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. The second part resumes on the Monday after Pentecost and ends on the Saturday preceding the First Sunday of Advent.

It is not called ordinary because it celebrates no particular aspect of the mystery of Christ. Before the 1970 liturgical year, the Sundays of this period were known as the Sundays after Epiphany and the Sundays after Pentecost. Instead, this period is called “ordinary” (from the Latin ordinalis which refers to numbers in a series) because the weeks are numbered or ordered. The traditional Latin term for this period is “Tempus per Annum” (literally Time through the year) but it was later translated to mean “Ordinary time through the year”.

Therefore, rather than mean the “unimportant” time of the year, let us consider it as the “ordered or numbered” time of the year.

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