Thursday, January 17, 2013

What Is Ordinary Time?

Ordinary Time is the period of the liturgical year that falls between Christmas and Lent, and between Easter and Advent. Thus, having just concluded the Christmas season with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we are now in Ordinary Time.

Often, when we hear the word “ordinary” we think of something that is mundane, or banal, or dull. But, we should not think of this time in such a way.

The word “ordinary” comes from the Latin word ordinarius, which means "customary, regular, usual, orderly." This time is called ordinary because the Sundays that fall within it are numbered and succeed in an orderly fashion.

Christmas and Easter, with their climactic joy and celebration, are the great mountain peaks of the liturgical year. Ordinary Time, then, is the vast verdant meadows that lie between. As Christians we are called now to descend these peaks and, like sheep who hear the voice of their shepherd, pasture and graze in these meadows with Christ as He feeds us with His Word and His Eucharist. This makes the color green, with its connotations of life and growth, very appropriate.

Without a great liturgical feast to prepare for or celebrate, the Sunday liturgy becomes all the more important during Ordinary Time. 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" (no. 43).

If you are not in the habit of making the most out of your Sunday, now is the time. Remember, God did not say to keep holy the Lord’s “hour” or the Lord’s “45-minutes” (if the homily happens to be short). We are called to keep holy the Lord’s day.

Perhaps before the family heads off to church, someone (ideally the father) could read the readings for the day aloud and everyone could discuss their meaning. Or, on the ride home from church, the parents could ask the children if they remember what was mentioned in the first reading, or what the pastor talked about in his homily.

When you get home, don’t immediately turn on the TV or hop on the internet. Take a trip to the library and have everyone check out a book. Take a nap. Exercise. Write in a journal. Play outside. Visit a friend or relative you haven’t seen in a while. Do something nice for someone else. PRAY! Worshiping the Lord, doing good works, and rejuvenating yourself is really what Sunday is all about.

For more on Ordinary Time, see the following: Pax Christi,


  1. Good day!
    I made the mistake of composing this comment without having read your entire "post." Specifically, I had not yet scrolled down to see your Q&A: "Why is this season called Ordinary Time?"

    Nevertheless, in case it adds some little fact or other, I will post the comment ...

    "Often, when we hear the word 'ordinary' we think of something that is mundane, or banal, or dull. But, we should not think of this time in the liturgical life of the Church in such a way." (phatcatholic)

    Indeed, we should not, because the Church does not use the word, "ordinary," with those definitions in mind. Instead, she uses it with a definition in mind that we tend to forget. Coming from the Latin, "ordo" (meaning "order"), "ordinary" means, "of a kind to be expected in the normal order of events." The Sundays in Ordinary Time are in the "normal order of events," not in the extraordinary order of events that we encounter during Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter times.

    Here is the #1 definition of "ordinary" in Noah Webster's 1828 dictionary:
    "According to established order; methodical; regular; customary."


  2. What a great illustration! I know some people who are averse to the term "Ordinary Time" because it sounds so bland. That picture definitely puts a positive spin on it!


Related Posts with Thumbnails