The Importance of Ordinary Time


So, what's up with this "Ordinary Time" business? First of all, it's anything but ordinary.


The term ordinary in English most often means something that's not special or distinctive. Since this is how we most often hear the word used, many think that Ordinary Time refers to parts of the calendar of the Catholic Church that are unimportant. Even though the season of Ordinary Time makes up most of the liturgical year in the Catholic Church, the fact that Ordinary Time refers to those periods that fall outside of the major liturgical seasons reinforces this impression.


Ordinary Time is called "ordinary" not because it is common but simply because the weeks of Ordinary Time are numbered. The Latin word ordinalis, which refers to numbers in a series, stems from the Latin word ordo, from which we get the English word order. Thus, the numbered weeks of Ordinary Time, in fact, represent the ordered life of the Church—the period in which we live our lives neither in feasting (as in the Christmas and Easter seasons) or in more severe penance (as in Advent and Lent), but in watchfulness and expectation of the Second Coming of Christ.


It's appropriate, therefore, that the Gospel for the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (which is actually the first Sunday celebrated in Ordinary Time) always features either John the Baptist's acknowledgment of Christ as the Lamb of God or Christ's first miracle—the transformation of water into wine at the wedding at Cana.


The normal liturgical color for Ordinary Time—other than days within this period which are feast days—is green. Green vestments have traditionally been associated with the time after Pentecost, the period in which the Church founded by the risen Christ and enlivened by the Holy Spirit began to grow and to spread the Gospel to all nations.


There is a wonderful harmony between the mystery of Christ and the celebration of the Saints. Ordinary Time is a great time to explore the lives of the saints on their feast days. As we follow these feast days we can find significance in their lives that can be related to our own.


If you find yourself brought down by post-holiday blues or winter doldrums, focus on your faith and the beauty that unfolds during this very extraordinary time!

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The Cathedral of Saint Peter is the Mother Church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Scranton. The Cathedral has been serving the faithful of the diocese and beyond since 1853.

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