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Ordinary Time

Apart from those seasons having their own distinctive character, thirty-three or thirty-four weeks remain in the yearly cycle that do not celebrate a specific aspect of the mystery of Christ. Rather, especially on the Sundays, they are devoted to the mystery of Christ in all its aspects. This period is known as Ordinary Time.
General Norms for the Liturgical Year and Calendar, 43

What is Ordinary Time?

“Ordinary Time” is the name given to the tempus per annum (the ordered, or numbered, ‘time through the year’) and it is the largest season of the Church’s liturgical year, consisting in total, of thirty-four weeks. Ordinary Time is divided into two separate periods. The first, shorter period, is from the Baptism of the Lord until Ash Wednesday (when the Season of Lent begins). The second, longer period of Ordinary Time starts on the Monday after Pentecost and continues until the First Sunday of Advent.

The liturgical colour for Ordinary Time is green – a colour which symbolises hope and everlasting life. During Ordinary Time, the Sunday Gospel readings are taken from the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew in Year A, Mark in Year B and Luke in Year C) and present to us Jesus’ life and teaching week by week, as we move through the liturgical year. Thus at the beginning of Ordinary Time, the Gospel readings are appropriate to the feasts of Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord which have just been celebrated; and towards the end of Ordinary Time, they taken on a more eschatological theme as Advent approaches.

Ordinary Time in the family:

Throughout Ordinary Time, families are encouraged to focus on the themes of the weekly Mass readings in their families and there are many ways in which the Domestic Church can unite family life with the liturgical life of the Church.

A fairly easy way to bring the Church into your home, is for all the family to sit around the meal table on Sunday and discuss the Gospel reading for the day. Allow the children to tell, in their own words, what they have heard in the Gospel. Parents can comment afterwards – and explain in simpler language, any points that the children have missed, or misunderstood. Younger children can tell what they learned at the Children’s Liturgy group – and perhaps show and explain any pictures they have drawn, or worksheets they were given.

There are many feasts and celebrations throughout Ordinary Time. Children love listening to stories and there is plenty of opportunity to read stories about the saints days that occur throughout the Church’s Year. Try to encourage your children to learn and remember the date of their Patronal Feast (the feast day of the saint they are named after) and have a celebration in your family to mark this date. You can also celebrate the anniversary of your child’s baptism – this does not need to be complicated or expensive: why not invite their godparents to a ‘tea party’ with sandwiches, cakes and soft drinks?

In May or October, the months of the Rosary, why not invite a couple of the members of the Legion of Mary to come to your home to pray a simple children’s rosary around your family’s statue of Our Lady? Or why not have a short, simple procession around your garden in honour of Our Lady?

Throughout Ordinary Time, there are a number of celebrations in the parish, which will help your family to focus on feasts and solemnities which occur throughout the year, for example the May procession, the Corpus Christi procession and All Saints Fireworks.

Summer months during Ordinary Time are a great time to make a family pilgrimage. Perhaps you may decide to go somewhere like Rome or Lourdes, but there are many pilgrimages which can be made within Britain, even as a day trip, for example Walsingham (the parish takes a coach each June to Walsingham for the Diocesan pilgrimage), or to our Diocesan Shrine at Great Billing. If you are taking a spring or summer break somewhere in the UK, why not try to find out if there is an interesting shrine, pilgrimage site, or place of historical interest to Catholics in the area you will be visiting?