The Return to Ordinary Time

By Fr. Kevin Magner

Yesterday was the last day of the Christmas season and we now once again begin the season of Ordinary Time, at least for the next few weeks. Ordinary Time will be interrupted from February 17-May 23, during which we celebrate the seasons of Lent and Easter.

The term Ordinary Time is not meant to convey that this season is common and, therefore, unimportant. It comes from the Latin “ordinalis”, which refers to numbers in a series. This is because the weeks in Ordinary Time are numbered from 1-34. “Ordinalis” comes from the Latin root word “ordo”, from which we get the word “order”. Thus, the numbered weeks of Ordinary Time represent the ordered weeks in the life of the Church.

During the weeks of Ordinary Time we are not focused on a particular aspect of the mystery of Christ (such as in Christmas or Easter), but on the mystery of Christ itself. As the United States Council of Catholic Bishops explains, “The Sundays and weeks of Ordinary Time… take us through the life of Christ. This is the time of conversion. This is living the life of Christ. Ordinary Time is a time for growth and maturation, a time in which the mystery of Christ is called to penetrate ever more deeply into history until all things are finally caught up in Christ. The goal, toward which all of history is directed, is represented by the final Sunday in Ordinary Time, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.”

An interesting symbol of Ordinary Time is the use of the color green for vestments and church decorations. Green is representative of new life and growth. This is associated with the time after Pentecost, the period in which the new Church, enlivened by the Holy Spirit, began to grow and to spread the Gospel to all nations.

Therefore, the return to Ordinary Time should not be viewed as just packing up the Christmas decorations and “getting back to normal”, but as a continuation and deepening of our faith as we travel the path that will eventually lead us to the glory of heaven.

Have a blessed week, everyone!