The Liturgical Calendar: Ordinary Time


The second half of the year is when the liturgical calendar slows down.  The Easter season lasts for fifty days and concludes with the celebration of Pentecost (the red rectangle at the bottom of the circle).


The time between Pentecost and the beginning of Advent is known as Ordinary Time.  It’s called “ordinary” because these are counted weeks (think of ordinal numbers–same Latin root), but I still like the association with the more common definition of ordinary.  These are the weeks to take all of the things you’ve learned from the special seasons and work them out in your everyday routines.

In the Cycle of Light [Advent/Christmas/Epiphany] we celebrated the Incarnation (God with us); in the Cycle of Life [Lent/Easter] we contemplated salvation (God for us); now in Ordinary time we concentrate on the outworking of that redemption (God through us). The incarnate and risen Christ is present in the world now in a different way; the Spirit indwells the believer to enable a fruitful life and empowers the church to engage in redemptive mission. We reveal his light, we exhibit his life and we embody his love.
(Gross, Living the Christian Year)

I usually have a decoration on my dining table that is a visual symbol for our season.  During Ordinary Time I like to use the communion set that my husband picked up at an old church rummage sale (You’ve looked at it for 24 days now–it’s the background of my series picture).

I love it because it is a symbol for both the sacred (the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper) and the everyday (eating and drinking).  It reminds me of the words of Paul: “As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

The traditional scripture readings for the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, and Easter focus almost entirely on  the life of Christ.  Ordinary time challenges us with the question: If Christ is who he says he is, then what?  We have thirty-something weeks left in the year left to study the epistles and the Old Testament to get a notion of how the truth of Christ plays out in all the categories of our thoughts and actions.

The presence of Christ in our home sacralizes our ordinary moments and our Ordinary Time; it turns bread and wine into opportunities to remember him and his work in us and in the world.  It’s also a chance to participate in his work in the world as we look for opportunities to point others toward him by words and habits that embody truth, goodness, and beauty.

Keep Reading: Special Holidays

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