Ordinary Time

Last Sunday, at the beautiful feast of Candlemas, all Christmas joy and festivity was officially ended. We have been out of the Christmas Season for several weeks, however, and see the green vestments and altar cloths at Mass now. What does all this mean? It’s Ordinary Time, of course!

But let’s get into a time machine and go back about sixty years, and take a look at the calendar of the Ecclesial (Church) Year that was used until the late 1960s/early 1970s. Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, lots and lots of Latin words, “Ember Days,”…uh oh, WHERE IS ORDINARY TIME?

Ordinary Time used to be called “Tempus per Annum” or, “Time throughout the Year.” Don’t you wish they would go back to calling it that? In my last year of teaching Sunday School, a religiously-sensitive, extremely bright boy (whom I am convinced has a vocation to the priesthood) told me that he thinks “Ordinary Time” is the worst season of the Ecclesial Year because it is so boring: even Lent is better, because although you are giving things up you are at least DOING something. I agreed wholeheartedly with him, because I have felt the same way since I was his age. But “Ordinary Time” nowadays is different than “Tempus per Annum” was sixty years ago, and I think we should observe and make some changes to our practice (and attitudes!) in our Domestic Churches.

T.P.A. was divided, like our Ordinary Time is, into two sections, both interrupted by the Lenten and Easter seasons:

  1. Time after Epiphany
  2. Time after Pentecost.

(Clearly the old calendar focused our thoughts around the importance of those two feasts!) When we think about Ordinary Time in relation to the other feasts and seasons of the year, it no longer seems so bleak, boring and pointless. Time after Epiphany contained several weeks of preparation for Lent (!!!) called Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima, that I will discuss in future posts.

Keep your time machine ready to jump into and explore that with me in the next few weeks!


(Of course, they have the post I wish I would have written about Ordinary Time at CatholicCulture that you’ll want to check out over there: the author writes about some of its history, some of its purpose, and her thoughts on this season as a time of planting and tending the fields of our spiritual lives.)


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