Why is Ordinary Time – ordinary?

Have you noticed the green vestments and linens in the front of church?  It can only mean one thing – Ordinary time!   Now my children used to think that this meant it was the boring part of the year in church – no exciting Easter season, no Lent or Advent to get ready for exciting holidays.  But actually Ordinary time is anything but!

Our Church’s liturgical calendar is divided into several seasons – just like our own calendars hanging on the wall!ordinary time

It begins with the First Sunday of Advent – our “New Year”.  These four weeks of preparation, seen in the church as purple vestments and linens, are to get us ready for the beauty and mystery of Christ’s birth at Christmas.  Now, even though many a Christmas tree are kicked to the curb on Dec. 26 (sometimes literally), Christmas Eve is only the beginning of the Christmas season.

The Christmas season lasts well into January and ends after the Feast of the Epiphany usually on the celebration of the Baptism of Christ.  During this celebratory season, white is the traditional vestment worn in church.

Now begins Ordinary time – the time that occurs first between Christmas and Lent.  Shown by green vestments and highlighted by Jesus teaching in the gospel, Ordinary time is split by the Lenten and Easter season beginning again sometime in May.

Depending on the calendar year, Lent, beginning on Ash Wednesday, is to prepare us to celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ, is a time of prayer, fasting and alms-giving that starts sometime in March or April, lasting for 40 days.  It culminates with Holy Week and then Easter Sunday.  While the vestments are purple during Lent (for “preparation” again), Holy Week is celebrated with red vestments and on Easter, white vestments help bring the Church to new life in Christ again.

The Easter season lasts through to Pentecost forty days after Easter.  Pentecost with the celebration of the Holy Spirit coming down upon the apostles has red vestments worn for the tongues of fire that came down to the apostles.

After the Easter season, Ordinary time starts back up again, with its green vestments and Gospels from Christ’s ministry and teachings.  Ordinary meaning “counted” or “ordinal” is just a means of measuring the days in the church.

So my kids may consider it the ordinary time.  But if I look at my own life, much of it is also ordinary time – highlighted by celebrations and holidays.  But the most of it is the daily grind of schedules, obligations, school, work.  But it is in this time that the Church teaches times of learning and growth.  We hear parables, healings, and teachings of Christ in the Gospels.  We can dig more deeply within ourselves during these so-called “ordinary” times to grow and love more richly.  And when we look back at the ordinary times of our lives, I hope that we will find times of great blessing and a rich spiritual life.  Mirroring the green vestments, may our hearts grow rich and lush in the graces of God.ordinary time2

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