Ordinary Time

Sometimes you can patch together one great thing and another wonderful thing and make of the patched thing something appealing that works. At other times, when you patch two things together, you end up with a dog’s breakfast. When it comes to the calendar and lectionary for January and February, NZ Anglicanism has done the latter.

Before Vatican II, there were Sundays after Epiphany and Sundays after Trinity. Vatican II came up with a new system for organising the calendar and lectionary: start reading systematically on the Sunday that falls between 7 and 13 January, stop on Ash Wednesday, and start again after the Easter Season until Advent. It counted those 34 weeks as “Tempus Per Annum”.

Now, in English, we are perfectly comfortable to use Latin phrases such as et cetera, ad hoc, or alter ego… but somehow “Tempus Per Annum” is too much of a mouthful, “time during (or through) the year” didn’t make it, and the obscure “Ordinary Time” won (obscure because it’s not ordinary “ordinary”, it’s counting-as-in-‘ordinal numbers’ “ordinary”!).

The Church of England, more recently, came up with its own liturgical Brexit. It would start its “Ordinary Time” (no Latin there, thank you very much, we’re the Church of England!) in February rather than January.

NZ Anglicanism followed the wider Western church’s “Ordinary Time” numbering. But then, in a hankering after mother England, suddenly our church made “Ordinary Time” start in February. BUT – and here’s where NZ Anglicanism shows its creative uniqueness – we, here downunder, would call our first Sunday in February’s starting of Ordinary Time “The 4th (or even 5th – remember this is the Anglican Church of Or) Sunday in Ordinary Time”.

So, in NZ Anglicanism, there is no 1st, 2nd, nor 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – we leap straight in with “The 4th (or 5th) Sunday in Ordinary Time”.

Dog’s breakfast.

The first Sunday in NZ Anglicanism’s Ordinary Time is “The Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time” or “The Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time”. Only in NZ Anglicanism!

Here’s NZ Anglicanism’s unique sequence:

20 Jan: 2nd Sunday of the Epiphany
27 Jan: 3rd Sunday of the Epiphany
2 Feb: The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple
beginning of NZ Anglican Ordinary Time
3 Feb: The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple
Or 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time
10 Feb: 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

I’m not even sure why we need these esoteric, badly-translated-from-the-Latin titles for these 34 Sundays and weekdays Tempus Per Annum. Why not simply refer to Sunday the 20th of January 2019? But that, my friends, would (obviously for some people) make religion, spirituality, and liturgy far too down to earth, too ordinary (see what I did there?). And surely if liturgy is to be liturgy it has to be arcane… beyond the easy accessibility of ordinary people…

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