Ordinary Time is a liturgical period, within the church year which runs 33 or 34 weeks (Bennett, 2008). It falls between the end of Christmastide, following the Epiphany, and the beginning of Lent. It then resumes after the Easter season, following the Pentecost and proceeds until the beginning of Advent (Ordinary Time, 2009). It is called Ordinary Time because its name is derived from the word ordinal , which means “numbered” (Bennett, 2008). During this period of the church year, the weeks are numbered, and comprise all periods not covered by the “strong seasons” of Lent, Easter, Advent and Christmas (Ordinary Time, 2009).
There are a few Sundays during this period which are commemorative, including Trinity Sunday, The Feast of Christ the King and The Feast of Corpus Christi. The liturgical color for Ordinary Time is green (Ordinary Time, 2009).
Ordinary Time specifically begins on the day of the Baptism of the Lord, which normally falls on the Sunday following the Epiphany, on January 6 th . However, in America the Epiphany is celebrated on the first Sunday after January 1 st . If the Epiphany falls on January 7 th or 8 th , then the Baptism of the Lord is celebrated on the following Monday. The liturgical color for this day is white (Ordinary Time, 2009).
From this day, Ordinary Time continues until Ash Wednesday, marking the first day of Lent. The liturgical color for this day is violet. Following Lent, Ordinary Time will resume on the day after Pentecost Sunday. The color for Pentecost is red. This period will continue until the first Sunday of Advent, which calls for the color violet. The last Sunday before Advent celebrates the Solemnity of Christ the King. Within the Roman Catholic Church, this is always the 34 th Sunday in Ordinary Time. In years where there are only 33 weeks in Ordinary Time, which is more common, the week that follows Pentecost Sunday skips a week in the numbering sequence (Ordinary Time, 2009).
There are occasions throughout the year where a holy day of obligation or another special day may preempt the numbered Ordinary Time Sunday. Some of these days include the Presentation of the Lord, the birth of John the Baptist, the Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul, the Transfiguration, Holy Cross Day, All Saints Day, All Souls Day and the dedication of St John Lateran. When these day preempt an Ordinary Time Sunday, the color is also preempted to represent that particular day (Ordinary Time, 2009).
The term Ordinary Time should not lead the faithful to think that these periods during the year are less than extraordinary. On the contrary; this is a period of time where the mystery of Christ is celebrated in all of its aspects. It is a time to reflect on Jesus' life on this earth, much of it spent in ordinary terms, like our own lives. The color green is used to represent this period of the church year because it is the most natural color in our environment (Bennett, 2008).
One last note on Ordinary Time. It wasn't until after the Second Vatican Council that the term Ordinary Time was used to address these periods during the church year. Before then, these two periods were referred to as The Season After Epiphany and the Season After Pentecost (Bennett, 2009).
Bennett, D. (2008). All about ordinary time: Ordinary time history, information, prayers, resources, traditions & more. Retrieved April 22, 2009, from http://www.churchyear.net/ordinary.html
Ordinary time. (2009). Retrieved April 22, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ordinary_Time