Ordinal Numbers

This week is the 10th Week in Ordinary Time. Last time we had Ordinary Time (we stopped counting before Lent) it was the 8th Week in Ordinary Time. What happened to the 9th Week?

Firstly, let’s be clear about what “Ordinary” means here. It does not mean “usual”, “common”, “every-day”…

I’m sure you know there are cardinal numbers – that tell us “how many.” 4 posts this week. 2,000 visitors today. These are cardinal numbers.

Then there are nominal numbers. These act a bit like the name of something. A nominal number identifies something. Your phone number. Your IP number. They are nominal numbers.

Ordinal numbers count along a list: 1st, 2nd, 3rd,…

Ordinary Time is called this from ordinal numbers, counting the list of weeks: 1st week, 2nd week, 3rd week… This year (of 52 Sundays) has 19 weeks in Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter – leaving 33 weeks of Ordinary Time. Because some years have 53 Sundays, the Church Year has 34 possible weeks for Ordinary Time. In a year like this year (52 Sundays rather than the possible 53), one week needs to be dropped. We drop the week between the start of Lent and the end of Easter. This year, it is the 9th Week we drop.


But there is a message when we don’t know where the word “Ordinary” actually derives from. There is a message from “Ordinary Time” when we think it means “usual”, “common”, “every-day”…

Most of the year, 34 weeks, is ordinary – usual, common, every-day… Most of our life, in fact, is ordinary. We need to learn to live with the ordinary. If every day was extraordinary – then that would be ordinary wouldn’t it…

The incarnation (Advent/Christmas), the death and resurrection of Christ (Lent/Easter), make the year extraordinary. Otherwise, all would be ordinary. The incarnation, the death and resurrection of Christ, make our life extraordinary.

How can we help each other make our ordinary lives extraordinary?

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