By Xandria Eykel
Ordinary Time: The time that falls outside the major Liturgical Seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter. Ordinary Time has two parts, but it remains one season. The first part begins right after the Feast of the Epiphany and runs until Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. The second part begins the Monday after Pentecost and runs until the First Sunday of Advent. This part is typically about twice as long as the first. We are now in the longest season.
Date: Varies by year. This calendar year (2022), the two parts of Ordinary Time start and end as follows:
- Part 1: January 10 – March 1, 2022
- Part 2: June 6 – November 25, 2022
Blue skies, warmer climes, and longer days beckon us to enjoy the outdoors. Summer is finally here! The flowering and verdant trees mark this as the pinnacle of the growing season in our gardens. This physical reality is also true in our spiritual reality. In her wisdom, the Church gives us this growing season through the natural rhythm of our Liturgical calendar.
We are now in the season of Ordinary Time. Ordinary Time represents 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 penance (as in Advent and Lent), but in watchfulness and expectation of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. As in the physical realm, vegetables, fruits, and flowers are teeming with abundant life; we, too, when our lives are ordered to our nature, bear good fruits during this growing season of Ordinary Time.
The Church visually marks this season of growth with the color green in the church linens and vestments symbolizing growth in faith, hope, and love and living out the Good News. The liturgical readings deepen the knowledge and love of Jesus through the lens of His three-year ministry leading up to His passion, death, and resurrection, the culmination of His mission. At the center of this Ordinary Time, the faithful are called to walk in the footsteps of Jesus by proclaiming the Gospel, healing the sick, casting out demons, baptizing people, making disciples, and witnessing to His saving power. This can seem like a daunting call unless we fully yield to God’s gifts of rest, respite, and re-creation.
How appropriate to have the summer months be part of the Church’s Ordinary Time. Nature itself gives us the opportunity to enjoy a leisure walk with a friend, watch the setting sun from the rooftop, beautify our environment, and listen to the cacophony of bird calls and songs reverberating well into the twilight. If you are attentive to those moments, then you will have a deep sense of wonder and awe and instinctively respond with a heartfelt “thank you!” Your gratitude, in turn, unleashes the power welling inside of you to volunteer to “overnight” at the shelter, host a neighborhood men’s night gathering, pray over a salesclerk having a bad day, forgive a betrayal, let go of disappointments, compliment your daughter’s outfit…the list is endless.
The power of the Gospel manifests through our words and deeds in the daily activities of our ordinary lives, even if you are not religious or a believer in God. That power is inexhaustible, but we are not. Therefore, in the beginning, the Creator gave the gift of rest to Himself (Genesis 2:2-3) and in His goodness shared that gift with us. After the exodus from Egypt, God entrusted the sabbath to Israel to keep as a sign of His irrevocable covenant. The sabbath is holy and set apart for the praise of God, His work of creation and His saving actions on behalf of Israel (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2171). To the Jewish people, the sabbath is Saturday. For Christians, the resurrection of Jesus, which occurred on Sunday, ushers in the new creation and the New Covenant. Thus, the Lord’s Day is celebrated on the first day of every week, Sunday, which all Christians are called to keep holy and set apart for the praise of God, His work of creation, and His saving actions on behalf of humanity.
God knows that we need rest. “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath” (Mark 2:27). The Lord’s Day is a time to be renewed and refreshed from the servitude of work and the worship of money (CCC 2172). Similarly, Ordinary Time is the much-needed respite where the faithful are led to graze in green pastures and drink at safe waters, in order to be restored (Psalm 23:2-3). This then allows us to ruminate (“chew”) on God’s Words (through scripture and the Holy Eucharist), strengthening us for the journey home together in communion as one people, one nation. In the 33-34 weeks of Ordinary Time, the Church readings focus on Jesus’ ministry as He ushers in the Kingdom of God through His teachings, healings, and ultimately His saving power by His passion, death, and resurrection.
The life and ministry of Jesus Christ is breathed onto the faithful through His Holy Spirit at baptism (John 20:21-22), enabling the Church to bear good fruits and continue with His work of building His Kingdom this side of heaven. Ordinary Time is fertile ground for the faithful to nurture the seeds of the Gospel through worship, mission, and service.