10 Questions about Ordinary Time

Worship and Prayer Officer Fiona Duque answers some questions about Ordinary Time below! 

What is Ordinary Time?

Ordinary Time is really a time that is quite extraordinary. What is extraordinary is that God is present with us in the ordinary, mundane, ups and downs, joys and sorrows, of everyday life. It is a time that focuses on Jesus’ public ministry. It is sometimes seen as a time of opportunity for people to reflect on the richness of Jesus’ life, his healing, his mission and his teaching.

When is Ordinary Time? 

Ordinary Time is divided into two parts; however, it is still considered a single liturgical season of 33-34 weeks. The first part begins after the Christmas liturgical season and continues until Lent starts. The second part begins on the Monday after Pentecost and ends on the Saturday before the first Sunday of Advent.

Why is it called Ordinary? 

The word ordinary, in this context, comes from the Latin ordo which means order, as in following a particular sequence. In this instance it is numerical (Second Sunday, Third Sunday…) and they take us through the life of Christ.

What colour is Ordinary Time? 

Green is the colour given for Ordinary Time. There are many perspectives around the colour green, and it depends on which theologian you read. We often associate green with new life, growth and hope. If we think about Ordinary Time as a time to nurture our faith by liturgical life of the Church through the Table of the Word at Sunday Mass, then we will find ourselves grounded, watered and in green pastures.

How can I deepen my connection to God and God's creation?

So, if Ordinary Time is a time of hope, growth and new understandings, what might this liturgical season bring to our day-to-day lives? Apart from attending Mass on Sundays and being immersed in the Word of God and the life of Jesus, you could find time to reflect, spend time in nature, read books such as Laudato Si by Pope Francis, and take part in the Seasons of Creation held during September. This is a time to renew our relationship with our Creator and all creation through celebration, conversion, and commitment with each other.

I went to Mass during Ordinary Time but the priest wasn’t wearing Green. Why?

Typically, the priest will be wearing green at Mass on Sundays during this time. However, some Sundays and weekday Masses are special days and white may be worn (or the occasional red). They may be in order of importance: Solemnities, Feasts, Obligatory Memorials, Optional Memorials. Some examples are:  The Most Holy Trinity, Corpus Christi, Christ the King.

Where does the term Ordinary come from historically?

Before the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council (this happened from 11 October 1962 to 8 December 1965), these periods of Ordinary Time were referred to as “the season after Epiphany” and “the season after Pentecost.” In 1969, when the liturgical calendar was revised, the Latin name for this season was “Tempus per Annum” or in English, “Time during the Year.”

What is the Communion of Saints?

Without the intense focus that we have during Lent and Advent, Ordinary Time can be a good time to explore and reflect also on the lives of the saints on their feast days. As we follow the saints feast days there is much to be learnt and to ponder for our lives - what significance can we find and relate to our own season. Some saints you might like to check out are St. Thomas Aquinas - January 28, Our Lady of Fatima - May 13, St. Kateri Tekakwitha - July 14, St. Ignatius of Loyola - July 31, St. Augustine - August 28, St. Francis of Assisi - October 4, and St. John Paul II - October 22.

Other liturgical seasons have ‘things to do’ such as fasting, social justice… so how can you make Ordinary Time special too?

What a great time to focus on the day-to-day life of Jesus. Find time to learn about the Saints. Find new ways to pray – this might come out of your study of the Saints. Create or rejuvenate your home prayer space. Spend time in nature and gain an even deeper appreciation for the wonderful creation that God has gifted us with. As we learn through the humanity of Jesus in this time so too can we learn to be more like Christ in our human world.

I’m not Catholic, how can I experience ordinary time? What can it mean to me?

With the hustle and bustle of our busy world it can be difficult to find order in the chaos. Ordinary Time comes to us after two of those very busy times in the religious, and secular, world - Christmas and Easter. Finding time to get reorganised, to breathe and to refocus on the importance of relationship, being in nature and reflecting on our lives cannot be understated. What a great time to find Christ in the small moments of a day.

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Fiona Duque Image
Fiona Duque

Fiona is the Pastoral Ministries Officer - Worship and Prayer.

Formerly, she was the Ministry Coordinator and Religious Studies Coordinator at St Bede's Catholic College, Chisholm.