The Living Rite column explores what you will see, hear, taste, touch or smell while at church this weekend.
As I was saying, before being interrupted by the seasons of Lent and Easter, we are in Ordinary Time.
Ordinary Time can be very confusing because it encompasses two different time periods in the church’s liturgical year. It begins on the Monday after the feast of the Epiphany, pauses for the seasons of Lent and Easter, and then resumes after Pentecost.
It is difficult to establish when the Catholic Church began keeping Ordinary Time. We know it existed before the Second Vatican Council. However, it was not until 1969, after the Council, that the term was officially used to designate the periods between Epiphany and Lent and between Pentecost and Advent. Prior to that, we used designations like the “Season After Epiphany” and “Season After Pentecost.” Some Protestant churches still maintain these older designations.
On Sunday, Feb. 7, we celebrated the Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time and then took our liturgical pause for Lent and Easter. This Sunday we will resume —but at the Tenth Sunday of Ordinary Time? Does it appear as if a few Sundays of Ordinary Time have gone missing?
We need to know that a great feast always supersedes a Sunday’s designation as Ordinary time. Those who have been attending a weekday Mass know that the past several weeks (since May 16), these have been celebrated as being in Ordinary Time; so the tally has been counted as it should.
In common usage, the word “ordinary” can be used to describe things that are nondescript or dull. However, there is nothing “dull” about Ordinary Time in the Catholic Church. Granted, during Ordinary Time, we are not focusing on the coming of Christ (Advent), or the birth of Christ (Christmas), the preparation for the Passion and death of Christ (Lent) or the Resurrection of Christ (Easter). Rather we are taking all that we have gained from celebrating these great mysteries and striving to grow closer to the Lord and deepen our spiritual lives. We are getting our lives in order — which is where the word “ordinary” in this usages comes from.
During Ordinary Time, let us make a greater effort to unite ourselves with the Scriptures and sacraments. In particular, let us remember that, even in summer, the Lord is inviting us to keep the Sabbath with him — the Sunday Eucharist does not take a vacation.
Since the church is using this season to “count,” perhaps it is a good time for us to count as well. Count your blessings. Perhaps you could begin a gratitude notebook, in which to record all the blessings you experience each day. Count how many minutes you give to God.
This is an ideal time to count (order) your things. How many coats, shoes, ties or purses do you have? Take count of your decorative items and the dishes contained in your cupboards. Take those things you are no longer using and donate them to St. Vincent de Paul. It is a great way to serve others in need.
The count has begun. Ordinary Time is this day, this moment. Now, live it in an extraordinary manner.
Zahorik is pastoral associate at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish, Oshkosh.