Welcome to the wearing of the green, green vestments that is. The weeks of the year outside of seasons such as Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter are termed “ordinary time.” It’s a rather dull-sounding description, isn’t it? “Ordinary” time, hmm …
But in this case, the word “ordinary” does not refer to its typical meaning: “common, usual, or unremarkable.” Instead, it comes from the English word “ordinal” meaning “relating to a thing’s position in a series.” Some examples of ordinal numbers are “first,” “second,” and “third.” Thus ordinary time refers to weeks/Sundays that are numbered (e.g., 15th Week/Sunday in Ordinary Time).
The Latin description for this time is Tempus per annum (time through the year). Each week is merely designated as “Hebdomada # x” (Week # x).
These terms or titles seem somewhat uninspiring. This is especially the case when we consider that the old calendar (replaced in 1970, but still used in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass) numbered these Sundays and weeks in reference to Epiphany or Pentecost (e.g., Third Sunday after Epiphany, or Fourth Sunday after Pentecost). The pivotal events of Epiphany and Pentecost therefore set the tone for the following weeks e.g., “This is Third Sunday since our Lord was manifested to us,” or “This is the Fourth week since the Holy Spirit was granted to us for our mission.”
Alas, we are not likely to see the current calendar replaced any time soon, so welcome to Ordinary Time, and more specifically to the First Week of the Year!
But maybe there is some inspiration here after all. The faith is not just something reserved for extraordinary moments and seasons. It is meant to be lived in all the ordinary moments of life, too; it is meant to be lived throughout the year.
The liturgical readings and prayers of Ordinary Time emphasize discipleship. What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus in matters involving money, time, priorities, etc.? How do we encounter the Kingdom of God and perceive it in our daily lives? What are the conditions of discipleship? How will we ultimately be judged? These are some of the themes of Ordinary Time.
So encounter God in the “ordinary,” in the time throughout the year, even when on vacation this coming summer. There is no vacation from our vocation. Do not miss what God is doing, even in the ordinary.
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