What’s so ordinary about Ordinary Time?

Anna Hurdle, Director of Children’s Formation

Our children of the atria of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd are oriented to the time and rhythm of the church year through a variety of colored materials, songs, chasubles, and liturgical calendar puzzles. The liturgical year begins with the Season of Advent, a time  to prepare and await for the feast of Christmas. We have just  transitioned from celebrating the  resurrection of Jesus at Easter to Ordinary Time or the Season after Pentecost. The liturgical calendar lifts up for us the life of the Church, as it commemorates the life of Jesus Christ. Ordinary Time lasts about half of the liturgical year. Often in the atrium, we refer to the season as “growing time.”

Sofia Cavalletti writes in The Religious Potential of the Child: Six to Twelve Years Old: “In modern life, the way we live time has been referred to as “mercantile time”—a way that is out of sync with nature’s rhythm. In the structuring of “mercantile time,” the occupations of time prevail; humans organize their jobs and lives according to precise schedules. “Mercantile time” calls for strict adherence to the clock, not to natural cycles. It is short and discontinuous in comparison to the regular rhythm of nature and also to the irregular but slow rhythm of the movement of history. Liturgical time is whole; it envelops the past, the present and the future. It offers us, who live mercantile time in our daily lives, a pause—a pause that is charged with possibilities for newness of life. It isn’t that one way of living time—mercantile or liturgical—can be substituted for the other. Rather, each must be known for what it is, and the two must be integrated in the harmony of life.”

In our culture, the term “ordinary” suggests a commonality, a familiar routine that connotes a drab, dull and monotonous state. IIn the culture of the Church, Ordinary Time is called “ordinary” not because it is mundane, but because the weeks of Ordinary Time are numbered. The Latin word ordinalis, which means numbers in a series, comes from the Latin word ordo. The weeks of Ordinary Time represent the ordered life of the Church. 

It seems that over the least three months, that the lines between mercantile time and liturgical time have become blurred.  We had to find new ways to celebrate and observe the liturgical seasons, fasts and feasts. A friend even shared that she felt we were living in an extended Lent. However, many others have shared that their lives are not following strict schedules and adherence to the clock, that life is following a more natural pace and rhythm.  These days, time doesn’t seem ordinary at all.  As we continue to navigate the coming weeks and months, let us remember that during this time, we are not alone, we are walking with the Good Shepherd, we are living the life of Christ.

Anna Hurdle, Director of Children’s Formation