Pastors: Ordinary time is anything but ordinary

Ordinary Time in the Catholic Church is anything but ordinary.

Certainly, the weeks surrounding the church’s two major liturgical seasons – Easter and Christmas – celebrate salvation in Christ with particular intensity, solemnity and festivity. But the period being celebrated now as Ordinary Time – between the Lord’s Baptism and Ash Wednesday – and the time between Pentecost and Advent, also have a special value in helping Christians live their faith, said three archdiocesan priests.

They might be compared to living one’s everyday life, said Father Norman Hunke, pastor of St. Thomas More Parish in Omaha; Father Michael Eckley, pastor of St. Pius X Parish in Omaha; and Father Paul Ortmeier, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Lyons and Holy Cross Parish in Bancroft.

"Maybe not all that exciting, but important nonetheless," Father Hunke said.

The focus of Lent and Easter is the Paschal Mystery – Jesus’ suffering, dying and rising. During Advent and Christmas the focus is on the Incarnation – Jesus becoming man.

During Ordinary Time, however, the focus is on all those things that come in between those two great events in the life of Christ, Father Eckley said.

Ordinary Time provides an opportunity to reflect on Jesus’ life and ministry, as well as how Jesus interacts with people during the ups and downs of life, he said.

"It reminds us that he is present in encounters with coworkers, classmates, neighbors, family and friends," Father Eckley said. "We don’t need to look for the Lord in the unusual or extraordinary, but see him present in each ordinary moment of life."

Totaling more than 30 weeks, Ordinary Time is the longest season of the liturgical year. Many important liturgical celebrations take place during Ordinary Time, including Holy Trinity, Corpus Christi, All Saints, Assumption of Mary and Christ the King. The church also continues to celebrate feast days of saints and other events.

Changes at Mass and in the church include Scripture readings during Ordinary Time that tell of Jesus’ teachings, healings and parables. The church has fewer decorations than at Christmas and Easter, and the vestments, and the altar cloth in many parishes, are green, which symbolizes hope and growth, Father Ortmeier said.

Hope also is the focus of much of the liturgical music during Ordinary Time, he said.

"I would think that we would hope for a better life, for peace in the world, for peace in our country, and for people getting along with one another, instead of always fighting one another," Father Ortmeier said.

Father Hunke said people should use Ordinary Time as an opportunity to grow in their understanding of the faith and in their relationship with Jesus. As people go about their days, he said, they might look for ways God is speaking to them and touching their hearts.

"Perhaps God is able to reach us easier in this less eventful time, because there are fewer distractions," he said.

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