What is Ordinary Time?
The four seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter are times of special significance for Catholic people. Two of them are for preparation, and two are for celebration. They focus us on faith’s “greatest hits” – the birth of the Messiah and His death and resurrection. The remainder of the year is known as Ordinary Time, 34 weeks that fall into two parts: one between Christmas and Lent, the other between Easter and Advent.
You know how sometimes after Christmas you’ll hear people say, “Boy, am I glad the holidays are over”? We love the big feasts, but we also like to get back to our ordinary lives. That’s the way it is with Ordinary Time. For many priests and parish staff members, after the excitement of Christmas and Easter, it’s a kind of relief to get back to ordi-nary duties and take care of the essen-tials of parish life. During these weeks, Mass celebrants wear green vestments. Green is the color of hope and new life.
We should not think of Ordinary Time as dull. It has its own highlights – first communions and confir-mations, weddings, parish carnivals – and holy days like the Assumption of Mary and All Saints’ Day. But Ordinary Time is mostly about rolling up your sleeves to do the work of Christ – and then, like the farmer who admires his harvest, taking time to marvel at what God has been imperceptibly growing in our families and in us.
Why go to Mass on the Sundays of Ordinary Time? We may know people who only come to Mass for Christmas and Easter. Besides our obligation to say thanks to God all the time, one of the reasons to go to Mass during Ordinary Time is to increase our knowledge of the Bible and to discov-er readings that are not familiar to us. The Sunday Gospel readings follow a three-year cycle: a year for Matthew, a year for Mark (with a little of John) and a year for Luke. You can also hear St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, or less-well-known parables and teachings of Jesus. Ordinary Time is a chance to bring more of Christ’s message into our everyday lives.
Ordinary Time is mostly about rolling up your sleeves to do the work of Christ.
Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter inspire us to rededicate ourselves to the Lord, preparing and celebrating. Ordinary Time teaches us to live the Gospel patiently and peacefully throughout the whole year.
Msgr. William Belford
Pastor, St. Teresa of the Infant Jesus, Staten Island
Author, Parish Liturgy Basics,
Oregon Catholic Press