Ordinary Time

June 19, 2020

The Pastor's Page

The Liturgical Year. Calendars are divided into sections. For example, the calendar year is divided into months, a month is divided into weeks, a week is divided into days, and a day is divided into hours. The liturgical year is divided into six sections: Advent, Christmas, early Ordinary Time, Lent, Easter, and late Ordinary Time.

Two Divisions. Early Ordinary Time begins on the Monday after the Baptism of the Lord and continues until the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. Late Ordinary Time begins on the Monday after Pentecost and continues until the Saturday before the First Sunday of Advent.

“Jesus invites us to come to him,” St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Cottonwood, Minnesota. Father Michael Van Sloun

Duration. The usual length of early and late Ordinary Time together is thirty-four weeks, although occasionally it is thirty-three weeks.

The “Missing” Sundays. There is no First Sunday of Ordinary Time because the Sunday of the first week belongs to the Christmas Season and it begins on a Monday. The first two Sundays after Pentecost are doctrinal feasts, the Most Holy Trinity and the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, and even though they belong to Ordinary Time, they are not numbered Sundays.

The Word “Ordinary.” The liturgical meaning of the word “ordinary” is very different from its use in usual conversation. Ordinary means normal, unexceptional, or regular, and sometimes it carries the notion of boring, dull, or monotonous. Ordinary Time is none of these. It is derived from the Latin words ordinatim, something arranged in good order, and ordo, a series or a row of things, a lineup. In a liturgical sense, Ordinary Time is well-ordered time.

A Well-Ordered Journey. The Sundays of Ordinary Time are a well-ordered journey through one of the three gospels. It follows the principle of lectio continua, a liturgical term for a continuous reading of a book of the Bible, not in its entirety, but a selection of the most important or distinctive passages, proceeding chapter by chapter, week by week, throughout the course of the liturgical season. In Year A the journey is through the Gospel of Matthew, in Year B, Mark, and in Year C, Luke. The Gospel of John does not have its own year, but rather is inserted into the other three cycles at various places, particularly in the Easter Season.

Point of Emphasis. Each liturgical season has a special focus, Advent on the coming of Christ, Christmas on the birth of Christ, Lent on penance and the Easter sacraments, and Easter on the Resurrection. The focus of Ordinary Time is discipleship, how to live the Christian faith, week by week, with deeper faith and greater conviction, and how to apply the gospel to daily living.

A Symbolic Color. Green is the liturgical color for Ordinary Time, and it has rich symbolic meaning. Leaves are green. It represents life, growth, and increase, and as the year goes on, a person’s spiritual life is to be alive, vibrant, and developing. It also represents hope. When a seed is placed in the ground, the hope is that it will sprout; when it sprouts, the hope is that it will grow; and when it grows, the hope is that it will bear fruit. The hope is that our faith will sprout, grow robustly, and bear much fruit. It also represents eternity. Coniferous trees are green all year long, their needles are green forever, so green pine trees represent eternal life. The objective of Ordinary Time is everlasting life in heaven with almighty God.

About Father Michael Van Sloun

Father Michael A. Van Sloun is the pastor of Saint Bartholomew of Wayzata, MN. Ministerial interests include weekly Bible study, articles on theological topics, religious photography, retreats on Cross spirituality, and pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

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