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Ordinary Time

May your Ordinary Time be extraordinary!

There are normally fifty-two weeks in a year. These are made up of the Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter Seasons. Normally that leaves thirty-four weeks of “Ordinary Time”. Those weeks start from The Baptism of the Lord up to Lent, and start again at the Day of Pentecost.

There is nothing “ordinary” about “Ordinary Time”. Ordinary Time is not about common, regular, mundane, or run of the mill. Ordinary Time comes from the word “ordinal” as in “ordinal numbers”. Remember your Maths: Cardinal numbers answer “how many?” “Ordinal Numbers” tell the rank, they answer “what position?” Ordinal Numbers are first, second, third, fourth, etc.

Ordinary weeks count forward from The Baptism of the Lord. After the Day of Pentecost, however, they are checked backwards from the last week of the Church’s Year which is always the 34th week of Ordinary Time. So sometimes a week is dropped out – as again in 2009. In 2009 the week prior to Lent was the 7th week in Ordinary Time. The week following the Day of Pentecost is the 9th week in Ordinary Time. Next week (following Trinity Sunday) is the 10th week in Ordinary Time. Hence, one can see why Sunday 14 June is the 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time (actually technically the Sunday in the 11th week of Ordinary Time).

The Sunday after Trinity Sunday is often celebrated as Corpus Christi, and in our church as Te Pouhere Sunday. The Baptism of the Lord, the Day of Pentecost, and Trinity Sunday always replace the “Ordinary Sunday”, other “bold letter” Sundays might also. Each Ordinary Sunday is limited to a particular week in the year. Eg. the 5th Ordinary Sunday is always the Sunday between 4 February and10 February, the 11th Ordinary Sunday is always the Sunday between 12 and18 June.

The suggestion in the New Zealand Lectionary that the collect for the Day of Pentecost be used during the week following is confused and confusing. I cannot locate the formulary that would have this as advised by the lectionary. Nor can I see any logic in this. Nor can I understand the liturgical purpose of following its suggestion to have two collects.

The Day of Pentecost ends the fifty day season of Easter (that’s what the Greek word “Pentecost” means!) It does not begin a “Pentecost Season”. In the Nicene canons we are forbidden to kneel on Sundays and the Bishops at the Council of Nicaea were horrified to hear of people kneeling during Pentecost – by which they meant the fifty days of what we now call the Easter Season (Council of Nicaea, Canon 20).

During the week following the Day of Pentecost, the collect is that of the ninth week in Ordinary Time. During the week following Trinity Sunday the collect is that of the tenth week in Ordinary Time. Trinity Sunday also is a feast, not the start of a season.

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3 thoughts on “Ordinary Time”

  1. Yay for Ordinary Time!

    It bothers me when people put The Nth Sunday after Pentecost (or Trinity) but use an Ordinary time lectionary. The name of the day should unambiguously indicate the propers. But some people seem to object to the term so we’ve largely lost this deep connection.

  2. For Latin Rite Catholics it is always obligatory to kneel at the very least through the Roman Canon until after consecration. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal makes that very clear.

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