Saturday, January 23, 2010
All About Ordinary Time
Ordinary Time Definition and Summary
Ordinary Time is the liturgical period outside of the distinctive liturgical seasons, and runs 33 or 34 weeks. In Latin, Ordinary Time is called Tempus Per Annum ("time throughout the year"). Ordinary Time falls between Christmas and Lent, and between Easter and Advent, exclusive. Prayers: Ordinary Time Prayers
The Latin Tempus Per Annum ("time throughout the year") is rendered into English as "Ordinary Time." Many sources, online and in print, suggest that Ordinary Time gets its name from the word ordinal, meaning "numbered," since the Sundays of Ordinary Time, as in other seasons, are expressed numerically. However, others suggest the etymology of "Ordinary Time" is related to our word "ordinary" (which itself has a connotation of time and order, derived from the Latin word ordo). Ordinary Time occurs outside of other liturgical time periods, periods in which specific aspects of the mystery of Christ are celebrated. According to The General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, the days of Ordinary Time, especially the Sundays, "are devoted to the mystery of Christ in all its aspects." Ordinary Time, depending on the year, runs either 33 or 34 weeks.
Basically, Ordinary Time encompasses that part of the Christian year that does not fall within the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, or Easter. The Catholic Church celebrates two periods of the year as Ordinary Time. The first period begins after the Feast Baptism of the Lord (the Sunday after The Epiphany) has ended. Some interpret this to mean that Ordinary Time begins on Sunday night, while others, including The General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, specifically mention the first period of Ordinary Time beginning on the Monday after the Baptism of the Lord. Either way, the point is the same. The next Sunday is still reckoned "The Second Sunday in Ordinary Time," because it is the Sunday of the second week in Ordinary Time. The reckoning can be confusing, and has many asking "what happened to the first Sunday in Ordinary Time?" This first period of Ordinary Time runs until the Tuesday evening before Ash Wednesday. The Second period of Ordinary Time runs from the Monday after Pentecost until Evening Prayer is said the night before Advent begins. This includes Christ the King Sunday, the final Sunday of Ordinary Time. In some denominations, the Sundays of the second period of Ordinary Time are numbered "Sundays After Pentecost."
Ordinary time does not need to be "ordinary," and is not meant to mean that somehow we get a break from the Liturgical Year. The opposite is true: Ordinary Time celebrates "the mystery of Christ in all its aspects." Many important liturgical celebrations fall during Ordinary Time, including, Trinity, Corpus Christi, All Saints, the Assumption of Mary, and Christ the King. In addition, the Church continues to celebrate Saints days and other events such as The Octave of Christian Unity. The major feasts, when occurring on a Sunday, trump the regular Ordinary Time Sunday lessons and liturgy. In the American Catholic Church, Corpus Christi is usually transferred to a Sunday, so often there are fewer than the 33 or 34 Sundays labeled "Sundays of Ordinary Time," although these Sundays still fall within Ordinary Time. We also may remember and celebrate the parts of Jesus' life that were ordinary, much like our own lives. The color of green is appropriate because it is the most ordinary color in our natural environment.
The use of the term "Ordinary Time" was used before the Second Vatican Council, but it was not until after the council that the term was officially used to designate the period between Epiphany and Lent, and the period between Pentecost and Advent. Rather than being called the "Season of Ordinary Time," the times were called "Season After Epiphany" and "Season After Pentecost" After the new Catholic Calendar took effect in 1969, these older designations were no longer used. However, some groups (including some Anglicans) still use the older designations. Interestingly, the Church in the Patristic period never seemed to effectively and concisely classify or label Ordinary Time, even though the time certainly existed.