A Note on Ordinary Time


Mention should be made of the fact that this season in the traditional rite is a part of Tempus ad Annum, "The Season Throughout the Year," which in the 1970 revised rite is translated as Ordinary Time ("Ordinary Time" is supposedly in reference to the "ordinal," or numerical, ranking of the Sundays, not to the mundane character of its liturgies). Both the weeks after Epiphany and the weeks after Pentecost fall under this category. Both periods have green as the liturgical color, both do not include as many special propers, and both use the same hymns in the breviary. The old Roman rite even occasionally draws from the same set of readings for both periods.


Nevertheless, to call the weeks after Epiphany and Pentecost by the same name is potentially misleading because it obscures the fact that both of these periods are shaped differently by their place in the calendar. In the traditional Roman rite, the weeks after Epiphany and Pentecost are each subalternated to the great feasts in whose wake they come. Consequently, they have strikingly different emphases and meanings, even when they are drawing from the same pool of propers. Unfortunately, the term "Ordinary Time" does not always make this clear.

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