Ordinary Time

Liturgical year

Ordinary Time refers to season of the Christian liturgical calendar, particularly the calendar of the ordinary form of the Roman rite of the Catholic Church, although some other churches in Western Christianity also use the term. In this context, the English name “Ordinary” translates the Latin term ordinalis and is used because the weeks are numbered in a series; numbers in a series are called ordinal numbers (second, third, fourth, and so on). For other examples of this use, see Ordinary (liturgy) and Ordinary (officer). It is a common misconception that in this context “ordinary” means “regular”, plain”, or “unexceptional”.

Ordinary Time is celebrated in two segments: from the Monday following the Baptism of Our Lord up to Ash Wednesday; and from Pentecost Monday to the First Sunday of Advent. This makes it the largest season of the Liturgical Year.[1]

Since 1970 in the ordinary form of the Roman rite in the Catholic Church, Ordinary Time comprises two periods: one beginning on the day after the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (the end of the Christmas season) and ending on the day before Ash Wednesday, the other beginning on the Monday after Pentecost (the conclusion of Eastertide) and continuing until the Saturday before Advent Sunday (The First Sunday of Advent).

The Church numbers the weeks of Ordinary Time. Several Sundays bear the name of feasts or solemnities celebrated on those days, including Trinity Sunday and the Feast of Christ the King.

The liturgical color normally assigned to Ordinary Time is green.

Periods of Ordinary Time

In the Catholic Church, Ordinary Time begins on the day following the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. The Church normally celebrates this feast on the Sunday after Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord (6 January). However, some dioceses, including those in the United States of America, always celebrate Epiphany on the Sunday after Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (1 January); when they celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord on Sunday (7 or 8 January), they move the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord to Monday (8 or 9 January), respectively.

Therefore, Ordinary Time starts on Tuesday (9 or 10 January) in those years and dioceses. The Christmas season includes the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, so Ordinary Time begins the next day (Monday or Tuesday, not on Sunday). However, the Sunday after the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is always counted as the “Second Sunday of Ordinary Time”.

Ordinary Time continues through the day before Ash Wednesday, which falls between 4 February and 10 March (inclusive), and marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. Thus, for Roman Catholics, the period of Ordinary Time between Christmas and Lent may end amid the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, or ninth week of Ordinary Time. Ash Wednesday is a moveable feast which occurs on the 40th day (excluding Sundays) before the Solemnity of the Resurrection of the Lord (Easter Sunday).

Ordinary Time resumes on the Monday following Solemnity of Pentecost, which is the Sunday between 10 May and 13 June that marks the 50th day of Easter. Ordinary Time concludes with the Saturday afternoon before the first Sunday of Advent (27 November to 3 December). Ordinary Time thus always includes the entire months of July, August, September and October and most or all of June and November. In some years, Ordinary Time includes a portion of May, or a day or two in early December, or both. The Catholic Church substitutes the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King of the Universe in the place of the 34th Sunday in Ordinary Time, the last Sunday of the season.

Weeks in a year

The actual number of complete or partial weeks of Ordinary Time in any given year can total 33 or 34. In most years, Ordinary Time comprises only 33 weeks,[2][3] so the Church omits one week that otherwise would precede the resumption of Ordinary Time following Pentecost Sunday. For example, in 2011, the Sunday before Ash Wednesday was the ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, but the day after Pentecost Sunday began the 11th Week in Ordinary Time.

In the Church of England, a similar situation arises with “Sundays after Trinity”, as Sundays in the second period of Ordinary Time are termed (until the final four, which are termed “Sundays before Advent”). The total number of Sundays varies according to the date of Easter and can range anything from 18 to 23. When there are 23, the Collect and Post-Communion for the 22nd Sunday are taken from the provision for the Third Sunday before Lent.

In the Episcopal Church (United States), it is normal to refer to Sundays after Epiphany and Sundays after Pentecost. The use of Ordinary Time is not common.

In the Orthodox Church and in the Eastern Catholic Churches, Sundays are all numbered after Pentecost which runs through the following year. Orthodox do not have Ordinary Time.

Solemnities and feasts within Ordinary Time

Weeks of Ordinary Time
movable by Lent
movable by Easter
Week Beginning on or after
1 Jan 7
2 Jan 14
3 Jan 21
4 Jan 28
5 Feb 4
6 Feb 11
7 Feb 18
8 Feb 25
9 Mar 4 (3 in leap years)
6 May 8
7 May 15
8 May 22
9 May 29
10 Jun 5
11 Jun 12
12 Jun 19
13 Jun 26
14 Jul 3
15 Jul 10
16 Jul 17
17 Jul 24
18 Jul 31
19 Aug 7
20 Aug 14
21 Aug 21
22 Aug 28
23 Sep 4
24 Sep 11
25 Sep 18
26 Sep 25
27 Oct 2
28 Oct 9
29 Oct 16
30 Oct 23
31 Oct 30
32 Nov 6
33 Nov 13
34 Nov 20

In addition, certain solemnities and feasts that fall on Sundays during Ordinary Time preempt the observance of an ordinarily numbered Sunday. On preempted Sundays, the liturgical color of the feast or solemnity replaces the liturgical color green. These feast days include, in the Roman Catholic calendar, any holy day of obligation, any other solemnity, any feast of the Lord, and the Commemoration of All Faithful Departed Souls.

On the universal calendar, these include:

The following observances always preempt a Sunday in Ordinary Time:

Other solemnities which outrank Sundays of Ordinary Time vary from parish to parish and diocese to diocese; they may include the feast of the patron saint of a parish and the feast of the dedication of the parish church.

In addition, if a solemnity or feast that outranks a Sunday of Ordinary Time, such as those mentioned above, should occur during the week, a priest celebrating Mass with a congregation may observe the solemnity on a nearby Sunday. Such a celebration is traditionally called an “external solemnity,” even if the feast in question is not ranked as a solemnity. If an external solemnity is celebrated on a Sunday, the color of that celebration is used rather than green.

Use of the term

Before the liturgical reforms of 1970, there were two distinct seasons in the Roman Breviary and Roman Missal, known as the season after Epiphany and the season after Pentecost, respectively. Liturgical days in these times were referred to as the –nth Sunday after Epiphany or Pentecost, or Feria II,III,IV,V or VI after the –nth Sunday.

With the reforms came the introduction of four liturgical weeks, the 6th through 9th weeks of Ordinary Time, which could fall either after Epiphany or after Pentecost, making the old numbering scheme unusable, and the term tempus per annum was used to describe both of these seasons. Before the reforms until the present, the term tempus per annum has been used to describe the season of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary that is not part of Advent or Christmastide, and so tempus per annum extends from Matins on 3 February through None on the last Saturday before Advent.

Following the lead of the liturgical reforms of the Roman rite, many Protestant churches also adopted the concept of Ordinary Time alongside the Revised Common Lectionary.

Kingdomtide exception

Some Protestant denominations (most notably the United Methodist Church) set off the last 13 or 14 weeks of Ordinary Time into a separate season, known as Kingdomtide.

See also


  1. ^ http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/overviews/seasons/ordinary_time/ordinary1.cfm
  2. ^ Lectionary Calendar and Movable Feasts
  3. ^ There are 34 weeks of Ordinary Time in years with dominical letters A or g or some combination containing A or g, i.e., Ag, bA, or gf. All other years have 33 weeks of Ordinary Time, with the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, or ninth or 10th week dropped from the calendar that year.
  4. ^ In the United States, white may be used in place of violet on All Souls Day.

External links

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Ordinary Time, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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