Liturgical Season of Ordinary Time

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USCCB: "The Sundays and weeks of Ordinary Time ... take us through the life of Christ"

The Liturgical season of Ordinary Time in the Novus Ordo rite calendar falls outside of the Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter cycles. It comes in two segments: first, the time after the Baptism of the Lord until Ash Wednesday; second, the time after Pentecost until the first Sunday of Advent.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) explains that Ordinary Time is "divided into two sections (one span of 4–8 weeks after Christmas Time and another lasting about six months after Easter Time), wherein the faithful consider the fullness of Jesus' teachings and works among His people." The USCCB adds: "The Sundays and weeks of Ordinary Time ... take us through the life of Christ. ... Ordinary Time is a time for growth and maturation ... The goal ... is represented by the final Sunday in Ordinary Time, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe."

Ordinary Time, lasting up to 34 weeks, is by far the longest of the Church's liturgical seasons. It derives its name from the Latin word, ordinalis, which refers to the numbering of the weeks. It also represents an "ordered life of the Church" comprised of "watchfulness and expectation of the Second Coming of Christ" that's distinct from the festivities of Christmas and Easter and from the penances of Advent and Lent.

During Ordinary Time, the use of Scripture is emphasized in accord with the dictates of Sacrosanctum Concilium, Vatican II's document on the liturgy, which decreed, "In sacred celebrations, there is to be more reading from Holy Scripture." The document further elaborates, "In this way, a more representative portion of the Holy Scriptures will be read to the people in the course of a prescribed number of years." This wish was implemented by a cyclically ordered lectionary used at Mass containing a schedule of Bible readings that for Sundays "extends over three years" but for weekdays "over two."

Learn how Christ's Kingship is denied in Church Militant's Premium show Liturgical Reflections—Jesus Christ King of the Universe.

Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th. is a staff writer for

Follow Bradley on Twitter: @BradleyLEli